Hemp – a lifeline to the future?
It is often said that in war the first casualty is truth. Nowhere is this more accurately seen than in the so-called war on drugs. Beginning with an hysterical media campaign by the Randolph Hearst press in the early 1930’s the image of Cannabis was transformed from a valuable fibre crop and important source of oil and medicine to “ a heathen devil weed with its roots in hell”. Whether by design or circumstance the suppression of Cannabis paved the way for a dramatic transformation of the world’s economy.
Prior to the late nineteenth century the world operated on a carbohydrate based system, where all fibre, fuel and medicine required to meet human needs was produced by photosynthesis, with the sun’s energy utilised to combine carbon dioxide and water into cellulose, the basic building material of the natural world. During the twentieth century much of this carbohydrate was replaced by hydrocarbons generated by the extractive coal and oil industries. In place of natural Hemp fabrics came the petrochemical fabrics. Nylon, polyester and other synthetics were manufactured on a massive scale and promoted by aggressive advertising. In place of the paper bags and boxes came the ubiquitous plastic bag.
Billions of these toxic, non-degradable items have been manufactured only to be used once and then discarded, to find their way into streams and waterways and eventually to coalesce into massive submerged islands of garbage in the Pacific and other oceans, releasing a toxic time bomb of hormone disrupting chemicals into the marine and human ecosystems. Instead of paper being made from annual fibre crops vast tracts of ancient forest have been felled and chipped, then cooked with chlorine and other hazardous chemicals to produce an inferior product when compared to what it replaced.
The destruction and contamination of the natural world is not the only adverse effect of the suppression of Cannabis. Again, whether by design or circumstance the legislation put in place to enforce the prohibition has served as a template towards the establishment of a repressive police state with an incremental curtailment of individual liberty. Under the guise of preventing damage from the “scourge of drugs” the population has been subject to phone tapping and other methods of surveillance, intrusive and often violent police raids and a range of chemical surveillance including enforced testing of hair, urine and saliva. The majority of the current prison population comprise non-violent drug offenders, especially in the United States, where the privatisation of the prison industry has created a repressive but highly profitable industry for the Wakenhut corporation and other prison industry players.
The damaging consequences of the prohibition are not restricted to individuals, but are felt across the geopolitical sphere. Because much of the Cannabis and the other plant based drugs are grown in third world countries, political intervention under the guise of drug interdiction has been and continues to be manipulated for political purposes, by serving as a pretence for military action. The invasion of Panama and the political turmoil in Afghanistan, Mexico and Colombia, to name a few, are the results of the militarisation of the war on drugs. Despite the mass of evidence implicating the amerikan military in drug dealing on a massive scale, including the importation of many tons of cocaine from South America to the US to help fund their covert activities, the drug war warriors continue to claim the moral high ground.
However, due to the tireless efforts of thousands of Hemp activists around the world the tide is slowly starting to turn. Cannabis Hemp can now be grown legally in most countries, although the United States remains a notable exception. Whilst still a minor player on the world scene the scale of the Hemp industries and the range of products are steadily rising, due to the increasing acceptance of the concept of industrial agriculture. In order to produce true sustainability industrial agriculture seeks to use annual crops as the starting point for factory production, replacing mined inputs such as iron ore and coal.
But can Hemp and other select crops really make an impact on the looming environmental catastrophe? Imagine our country one generation into the future, following the passage of a law requiring all industrial production to be completely non-toxic, biodegradable and sustainable. In this world cars and many other things are now made of Hemp bio-plastic. This material is not new. It was developed by Henry Ford in 1941, who made a car body that was one sixth the weight of steel but had ten times the impact resistance. Documentary footage of this remarkable achievement is available on the internet. Future generations will never know what a panel beater actually did and the insurance industry will be much downsized. Perhaps in this future world those responsible for suppressing such valuable green technology will finally be brought to task.
Australia earns about $400 million a year by selling old growth forest chips, but we import finished paper products to the value of $1.4 billion. The use of trees and chlorine in paper making in the future world is now a receding memory. Modern non-wood paper making factories operate surrounded by green fields of Hemp. The billions of dollars saved on imports are invested into massive reafforestation programs, stabilising erosion and facilitating the return of biodiversity.
Synthetic fabrics are long gone, replaced by breathable naturals of Hemp, ramie or bamboo. Hempcrete is a building material manufactured from the chipped inner fibre of the Hemp stalk. Mixed with lime, ground slag or other additives, it forms a cellulose cement lighter than conventional materials but with improved thermal and acoustic insulation properties. The material is fireproof and completely resistant to termites. Hempcrete revolutionises home building in the future.
Hempcrete sets like concrete but can be cut like timber. Any unwanted structure can simply be ground up and thrown into the new mix. A more “organic” style of building can develop, because it is now a straightforward process to rearrange internal walls and make any other changes to a home to suit changing family needs. In some European countries nearly half of all dwellings are owner built. Hempcrete dramatically reduces the cost of housing by simplifying construction. For example, a roof cast of hempcrete reinforced with bamboo can replace a tiled roof, fascia and guttering. This roof will have better thermal and acoustic insulation than the tiles, it will be resistant to hail and will greatly reduce the risk from bushfire.
In addition to the direct benefits of hempcrete in construction it also functions very efficiently to sequester carbon dioxide. Bio-sequestration is the process by which plants take up carbon dioxide and water and use the sun’s light to synthesise glucose and then cellulose. If the cellulose is used in long lasting structures, then the atmospheric carbon dioxide is effectively removed or “sequestered”, improving the weather health on Earth.
The average Australian family generates about ten tons of carbon dioxide each year. One hectare of Hemp can sequester up to twenty tons of carbon dioxide annually. The average hempcrete house would sequester about forty tons. When a house is made of hempcrete it is not only this direct carbon dioxide which is saved. Using bricks, tiles and other fired ceramics generates a huge amount of carbon dioxide in manufacture.
An average brick house generates up to five hundreds tons of carbon dioxide in its total construction and the housing industry generates a large proportion of the country’s domestic carbon dioxide output. A large scale change in building methods would facilitate our compliance with targets such as, or preferably exceeding, Kyoto levels. Unlike the doomsayers who claim that compliance with such protocols would harm the economy, a large scale transition to Hemp based paper, building and fabrics industries would function as a massive economic stimulus, creating quality employment and export opportunities, unlike the short sighted consumer based stimulus strategies currently in use.
In the areas of health and medicine the use of Hemp could lead to dramatic improvements in society.
Hemp seed is one of the richest sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant based form of the essential fatty acid omega 3. ALA has an eighteen carbon backbone, which is elongated in the body to a twenty-two carbon chain to form DHA and EPA. In this form omega 3 is incorporated into the brain, forming a critical part of the neuronal membrane. Omega 3 from marine sources occurs as DHA and EPA and taking omega 3 in this form bypasses the need for the conversion.
However, ALA has beneficial effects itself and using marine derived omega 3 places a severe strain on the aquatic environment. Further, omega 3 is a very reactive molecule and the harsh industrial conditions used in the extraction and deodorisation of the oil leave it with less than optimal activity, with detectable levels of contaminants including mercury and PCB found in many commercial samples. Fortunately, most individuals can readily convert ALA to DHA and EPA in sufficient quantity for optimal brain development.
Luckily, two groups with particular need for DHA and EPA, pregnant women and young children, are particularly efficient at this conversion. The enzymes responsible for the conversion can be impeded by an excess of saturated fats, so for optimal results these must be reduced in the diet. There are two essential fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6. They are referred to as essential because they cannot be synthesised by the body, but must be obtained in food. The ideal ratio for optimal health between the intake of omega 3 and omega 6 is one part omega 3 for each three parts of omega 6. The industrialisation of the western diet has had the critical effect of seriously reducing the intake of omega 3 whilst at the same time dramatically increasing the omega 6 intake, due to the mass marketing of canola and other inferior oils.
The body maintains homeostasis by a dynamic balance between opposing forces. For example, the musculo-skeletal system balances opposing flexion and extension muscles to maintain posture. Biochemically, the body maintains its interior homeostasis by delicately balancing pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects. The body must be able to mount an effective inflammatory response to repel microbial invaders and as an adjunct in wound healing, but it must then be able to down-regulate this inflammation to prevent unwanted collateral damage to adjacent tissue. In general terms the omega 6 fatty acids and their derivatives are pro-inflammatory, whilst the omega 3 series produce mediators which down regulate the inflammatory response. With a predominance of omega 6 and a deficiency of omega 3 the body is in a permanent state of excess inflammation. The release of inflammatory cytokines initiates the process of tissue damage which, if the process continues long enough, manifests as illnesses, including vascular disease, loss of vision and dementia. When the synovial joints are affected osteoarthritis results, causing much pain and suffering for a large proportion of the population.
Like knights in shining armour the pharmaceutical corporations offered their response, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs called NSAIDS. These chemicals are based on aspirin but have been modified to exhibit a more rapid effect, better analgesic properties or some other characteristic to give their product a marketable edge over the competition. NSAIDS have generated an industry with multi-billion dollar sales annually, despite the fact that they are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people globally. As a spin off advantage for the corporations, the most frequent side effect of the NSAIDs is gastric irritation, often leading to ulceration. To the NSAID billions were added the billions of dollars from the sales of antacids like zantac and more recently the proton pump inhibitors. All this expensive medicine and the progression of the disease is barely slowed with the hapless patient then requiring complex surgery to managed the damaged joint. Is any of this really necessary? People who strive to maintain a reasonable omega 3/6 balance and also keep their bodies free of oxidative stress by regular intake of natural plant based anti-oxidants are generally not troubled by osteoarthritis or other degenerative diseases.
Also, they are rarely troubled with blood pressure problems and they have no need for anti-depressants, two major money spinning drug groups for the global pharmaceutical companies. The behaviour of the pharmaceutical companies often challenge ethical boundaries and the relationship between “big pharma” and the public could be likened to a fox minding the pigeons. Of course, over the years certain pharmaceutical products such as the anti-malarial drugs have greatly reduced human suffering, but the modern pharmaceutical industry appears bent on a course of medicalising the population, for conditions which are often caused in the first place, by their subsidiary companies in the food industry.
The ethically challenging behaviour of big pharma and the unholy alliance that exists between global pharmaceutical corporations and media was clearly seen during the recent swine flu drama. Using techniques of molecular biology researchers have provided convincing evidence that what the public was told was a wild type pig virus actually contained genetic elements from human, avian and porcine sources. The probability of this happening by chance is vanishingly small and the likelihood is that the offending virus was actually a recombinant creation intended as a immunisation agent for large commercial piggeries. It is noteworthy that unlike the earlier avian influenza outbreak, where millions of birds were slaughtered, the current swine flu caused no deaths in their nominal host, the pig.
It cannot be known if transition to humans was by an accidental or an intentional release, but the behaviour of the media was instructive. Swine flu horror stories filled the nightly news and each death that was in the slightest way flu related was reported. As the grim statistics seemed to mount it was inconvenient to note that the deaths were generally in people with advanced stages of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and emphysema. In fact, the death rate was lower than seasonal influenza, but big pharma made a fortune as citizens and governments rushed to stock up on anti-viral medications.
Huge stockpiles of tamiflu manufactured for the fizzled bird flu scare now found a ready market. Despite the lack of evidence of public health risk millions of dollars of public money were spent on questionable vaccines. People blessed with a functioning memory will recall this was not the first swine flu scare campaign. In 1974 Richard Nixon tried to mandate universal immunisation for swine flu, but the program was abruptly ceased after thousands of people were paralysed by the vaccine.
Over the last century cane sugar has gone from being a rare luxury food to a massively over-consumed health risk. Added in large quantities to soft drinks and most processed foods, in the sedentary body it causes wild swings of blood sugar with mood disturbances and widespread oxidative stress as the excess glucose attaches to haemoglobin and other tissue or is transported to adipose stores where it adds to a swelling girth. The type II diabetes epidemic continues unabated, while key culprits like McDonald’s use PR gurus to re-invent themselves as a health food restaurant, while still peddling the same toxic mass of saturated fats and sugar they call food.
The derangement of the diet leads to disturbances in blood chemistry, especially the lipid profile, with increases in low density lipo-proteins and total cholesterol. Based on pathological studies showing cholesterol in artery narrowing atheroma, the medical and pharmaceutical establishment devised the cholesterol theory of heart disease, claiming that high levels of serum cholesterol impregnates itself into the arterial wall, thereby causing disease. With cholesterol as the number one bogey man the pharmaceutical industry then presented the frightened public with magic bullets, the statins, certain to cure all their problems. These drugs cause serious side effects but despite this the statins have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. Yet there are many weaknesses in the cholesterol theory and the observed facts are better described by considering oxidative stress as the key initiating event in atheroma formation.
Oxidative stress results from the action of oxygen free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules with unbalanced electron clouds that can damage any tissue they come into contact with. These free radicals are an inevitable result of biochemical respiration. However, oxidative stress is dramatically increased by exposure to toxic chemicals, additives, volatile fumes and electro-magnetic radiation. Like sparks flying from a camp-fire free radicals can cause damage to the tissues they occur in, if they are not quenched. In its well state the body is equipped with an impressive endogenous anti-oxidant system, in addition to exogenous anti-oxidants found abundantly in tree and vine ripened fruit and berries and in vegetables. In the oxidative stress theory, disease results from an inflammatory reaction occurring around sites of oxidative injury.
When atheroma are subject to careful biochemical analysis it is found that the cholesterol in the plaques, ingested by immune cells known as foamy macrophages, is actually rancid. Rancidity is the state of an oil that has been subject to oxidative stress from excess light, heat or chemical exposure, in the absence of sufficient protective antioxidants. It is the rancidity of the oil that initiates the inflammatory reaction to cause the plaque, not the cholesterol itself. The proper treatment should be to address the oxidation, not to artificially manipulate the level of cholesterol. Additionally, oxidative stress on the membrane of the platelets render them overly “sticky”, setting the stage for a vascular event, whether a myocardial infarction, a cerebro-vascular accident or ischaemia of a limb. Whilst certain genetic characteristics of an individual or group may render them susceptible to oxidative stress in a particular site or tissue, the underlying pathology remains oxidative stress.
Without wholesale dietary and lifestyle changes the health of the population will continue to deteriorate, they falling victim to a range of chronic degenerative illness until the society is unable to afford the health care costs involved. The current unbalanced, devitalised, de-mineralised and generally deficient national diet has led to preventable conditions imposing a serious social and economic cost on the community. It is estimated that up to 90% of Australian school children are not getting optimal quantities of omega 3 and this can be expected to impact on brain development and intellectual functioning. An ideal intake of omega 3 is also required for the optimal functioning of the immune system. Deficiencies can manifest as allergies, autoimmune diseases and other expressions of immune dysfunction.
Hemp seed offers a unique combination of important nutrients, including a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 and an impressive array of vitamins and minerals. Hemp seed has a particularly high level of vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant protecting the omega 3 from rancidity. Vitamin E, so often deficient in a processed diet, is critical for vascular health, by maintaining the pliability of the blood vessel wall. The protein in Hemp is balanced and easily absorbed. Australia is the only country on Earth which still has restrictions on advertising the food uses of Hemp seed. It is permissible to use the product topically but not as food. This is the same situation as exists with raw milk, where over zealous regulators have restricted a product based on poor science, economic self-interest and political bias.
But in our future world things are running more smoothly. The legislation requiring all products to be completely non-toxic has seen the end of the junk food industry. After only a few years of eating a wide range of Hemp seed based foods and other health promoting practices the benefits are being seen in the population. With the reversal of the diabetes epidemic there are huge saving in health care. The surplus is spent expanding the cycle networks around the cities and other public health amenities.
Maternal and perinatal health improves and there is a reduction in the currently alarming high level of asthma in children. Optimised nutrition brings many advantages. Like a fire that is brightly stoked instead of smouldering and smoky the metabolism becomes more efficient at converting food to energy. The mental and physical vigour of the population increases and we are ushered into a renaissance of learning and creativity. Released from the shackles of junk food toxicity the human mind is free to explore new ways of interacting and dealing with formerly intractable problems and we are ushered into a new era of peace and prosperity.
But how likely is it that we will ever see the passage of legislation aimed at ensuring the health and prosperity of the Earth and all the people on it? The economic and political system at the present time appear to be controlled by a cabal of crooks with the moral integrity of reptiles. In a world crying out for satisfaction of the basic needs of food, clean water and shelter over seventy percent of the world’s scientist are employed by military. The combustion of fossil fuel is recognised as a direct threat to the well being of the planet, yet an enormous proportion of the fossil fuels consumed is used by the military. How many low wattage light bulbs need to be installed to cancel a single flight of a B1 bomber?
Will it make a real difference if we strive to reduce our food miles if vast fleets of huge battleships and submarines are constantly prowling around the oceans? The movement of millions of troops around the world, along with heavy equipment and massive quantities of ammunition causes pollution on a grand scale. The atmosphere is continuously degraded by fleets of military planes, training, conducting exercises or engaged in offensive action. The economy of the United States is dependant on their war industries with a trillion dollar “defence” budget being spent even as more and more people find themselves dispossessed of assets and homeless, with no social security or health care.
The application of advanced computer technology and robotics have opened a chilling new phase in asymmetrical warfare, with predator drones controlled from half a world away unleashing deadly fire on unsuspecting targets, combatant or civilian, man, woman or child alike. Along with advances in combat technology there has been advances in mass psychology and news management. News is now sanitized to suit a particular viewpoint and any opposing voice is starved of the oxygen that access to the mainstream media brings. So-called false flag operations have been developed to a fine art. The war in Vietnam, which cost over two million Vietnamese lives and left a legacy of chemical contamination and genetic damage, was started on a fabrication. In the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the US claimed Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked their vessels in international waters. It is now officially admitted that no such attack occurred yet at the time the media beat the war drums and the people followed.
The acme of this black art was seen in New York, on September 11, 2001. For the first time in history a steel framed skyscraper collapsed due to fire, caused by the impact of a jet liner, or so it was reported. However, the world trade centre towers did not fall over, but dropped at free fall speed and were pulverized into dust, landing neatly in their own footprint one hundred and ten floors below. Two planes hit the two towers that morning, but at 5 pm a third structure, Building 7, also collapsed in a similar fashion, its forty seven floors again falling at free fall speed and landing neatly in its own footprint. Building 7 was not hit by a plane but was demolished in a like manner to the towers. Building 7 was the site of a major FBI investigation into the business affairs of Enron, Halliburton and other companies but all evidence was completely destroyed.
An inspection of the video footage reveals enough evidence to convince a reasonable observer that the three buildings have all the features of controlled demolition. Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, a public interest research group comprised of industry professionals, used electron microscopy and chemical analysis to investigate the collapse. Chemical residue of the military incendiary thermate has been detected in large quantities in the dust of the towers. Aviation gasoline does not burn hot enough to melt steel yet pools of molten metal were found for several weeks under the debris. As soon as it was cool enough to handle, this steel was loaded onto security equipped trucks and shipped to Taiwan to be melted down, destroying valuable evidence that could easily have establish the truth of the matter. It is said that unless we learn the lessons of history we will be condemned to repeat them.
So what are the lessons of history? After the first world war political power in the German parliament, the Reichstagg, was equally divided between the national socialists, the communists and independents, but to pass significant legislation required a two thirds majority. In 1933 a mysterious fire destroyed the Reichstagg. Despite having no evidence to substantiate their accusations, the national socialists accused the communists and used the hysteria surrounding the event to take their seats, giving themselves the political power to enact their legislation, especially the homeland security act, which gave them sweeping power to control information and detain citizens.
From there it was a short march to a completely totalitarian state. This false flag operation led to world war two with the violent deaths of tens of millions of people and global destruction on an epic scale. The similarities between the modus operandi of the Reichstagg fire and the world trade centre is chilling. But how unexpected is any of this? In 1995 a group calling itself PNAC (program for a new American century) including such notable members as Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz made the statement that progress would be slow “ barring a catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbour”. With this new “Pearl Harbour” they have succeeded in replacing the effete communist bogey man which fueled the cold war, with the blood crazed Islamist who is being used to fuel the ongoing war on terror.
The financial stresses imposed by the current economic situation make it a full time occupation for most people just to feed, clothe, educate and shelter their families. Having the time and energy to engage constructively in the political process is a luxury few can afford and with the media focusing on one irrelevant issue after another only, it has become the twenty-first century version of bread and circuses. However, all empires eventually fall. The Roman empire fell because it overextended itself militarily and financially, came to rely on mercenaries and client states and was afflicted by depravity, with a failure of decent human behavior. But there is a profound difference between the fall of empires then and now. As Albert Einstein famously said “ the splitting of the atom has changed everything, except man’s way of thinking, therefore we plunge towards unparalleled catastrophe”.
The challenge facing the world today is no less than a choice between the light and darkness. A cabal of judeo-christian psychopaths armed with thermonuclear weapons appear intent on creating a self-fulfilling prophecy based around the biblical Armageddon story, with a conflagration beginning in the Middle East. The chilling reality is that key players in creating the current situation appear to hold an intractable belief that they will, as described in their biblical text, be wafted bodily to heaven, leaving the unworthy to struggle alone with the mess. The corruption of the message of the judeo-christian bible has had a profoundly negative effect on the relationship between humanity and the natural world. Conferring exclusive possession of a soul to humans has placed humanity outside of the biological web of life we are so clearly a part of.
The interpretation that all plants and animals have been created for the use of humans has reinforced the message of separateness and paved the way for the ruthless exploitation of the natural world, that is now a looming threat for the entire biosphere. The industrial use of Hemp and other fibre plants on a massive scale can cure many of the global environmental ills, while generating significant economic benefits. The use of Hemp foods can heal and re-vitalize the population. But can the juggernaut of avaricious capitalism, with its indoctrination to mindless consumerism, be overcome in time to save what precious remnants we have of the natural world, before they are obliterated as completely as the trees on Easter Island? What is required is a complete revolution.
No adjustments, amendments or other tinkering to the current economic system can begin to approach a solution. A revolution in humanity’s relationship to the natural world needs to be the starting point for this process. Then we may have a chance to pass that critical piece of legislation that prohibits products that are not completely safe and non-toxic, rather than the current situation of prohibiting the solution.
2010, Dr Andrew Katelaris MD