Thursday, October 30, 2008

A rose is a rose is a rose

Well, maybe not every rose is made equal. Some roses, given the right upbringing, may be nothing but sweetness. Who doesn't love the soft velvety petals and that delicate scent. But what if your rose comes with a lot more than you bargained for? What am I talking about you ask? You'll understand when you read this excerpt from "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman below:

"A flower, like a human, is two-thirds water. The amount of water a typical floral exporter therefore ships to Europe each year equals the annual needs of a town of 20,000 people. During droughts, flower factories with production quotas stick siphons into Lake Naivasha [Kenya], a papyrus-lined, freshwater bird and hippo sanctuary just downstream from the Aberdares. Along with water, they suck up entire generations of fish eggs. What trickles back whiffs of the chemical trade-off that keeps the bloom on a rose flawless all the way to Paris.

Lake Naivasha, however, doesn't look quite so alluring. Phosphates and nitrates leached from flower greenhouses have spread mats of oxygen-choking water hyacinth across its surface. As the lake level drops, water hyacinth--a South American perennial that invaded Africa as a potted plant--crawls ashore, beating back the papyrus. The rotting tissues of hippo carcasses reveal the secret to perfect bouquets: DDT and, 40 times more toxic, Dieldrin--pesticides banned in countries whose markets have made Kenya the world's number one rose exporter. Long after humans and even animals or roses go, Dieldren, and ingeniously stable, manufactured molecule, may still be around."

So, please, don't buy me roses. (I know you were all going to ;p )

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