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Our readers write from Bakersfield, California

(Editor's note: The stories below were written by students at Bakersfield Adult School. Thank you to teacher Bonnie Vaughan.)

The impact of the cotton industry on the environment

by Katy Ayala

There is nothing better than use a t-shirt made of cotton. It is really soft and warm. But do we really know how this cotton t-shirt affects the environment?

According to the World Resources Institute, cotton is the most common natural fiber used to make clothing, but it is a very thirsty crop, requiring 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt. That's what a person drinks in two and a half years! Eco Outfitters, a company that manufactures uniforms with organic cotton, says that cotton farming uses more pesticides than any other area of agricultural production. "Seven out of 15 of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to man are used to grow cotton. This high use of pesticides poisons our air, water, and soil and obviously it has a severe impact on our ecosystems."

They also explain that all the processing stages of cotton production, including bleaching, dying, and finishing, use large amounts of toxic chemicals. "Up to 250 ml of chemicals are typically used in the production of a single cotton t-shirt," they say.

Most people are not aware of this problem. I had no idea that a simple t-shirt causes so much damage to the earth. We should think more about this problem. We can't stop using clothes but maybe we should think twice the next time that we want to buy a new cotton t-shirt.

Global Warming

by Suelen Santos

Global warming can have devastating consequences for the planet. One of the most apparent effects of global warming is the increase in temperatures around the world. "The average global temperature has increased by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) over the past 100 years," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We can observe this in many places around the world. Ice is melting in both polar ice caps and this is a problem because the level of the ocean is rising. Lakes are warming, hot places are hotter and cold places are colder and this can make animals change migration patterns and plants change the dates of bloom. If we humans do not treat our planet better we will lose it. We need to preserve our trees and plant more trees. We need to think better in our day to day actions how we cannot pollute the planet. If we do this we can mitigate the effects of global warming.


by Siaka Tien

Desertification is a problem which concerns the life of the whole world environment. As BBC mentions: "No continent, except Antarctica, is immune from desertification. The problem is particularly acute in Africa, which has 37 per cent of the world's arid zones. About 66 per cent of its land is either desert or drylands." My country; Burkina Faso, is a real illustration of this bad situation.

Burkina Faso is located in sub-Saharan Africa. It is surrounded by Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Mali and Niger. The northern part of my country is very concerned by this problem of desertification.

"The Sahel in the north typically receives less than 600 millimeters (24 inches) of rainfall per year and has high temperatures, 5-47 degrees Celsius (41-117 degrees Fahrenheit)" said the BBC (British Broadcasting Company). With desertification, no part of nature is saved: water is difficult to find, the soil is eroded, the weather gets hotter and hotter, and the temperature increases more than 40 degrees Celsius. The consequences of that situation are bad: trees and grasses disappear, animals die, men suffer very much and try to survive, everything is sad.

To fight against desertification the government encourages people to plant trees. So, during the rainy season, a lot of trees are being planted in all the parts of the country. But during the dry season, a lot of trees die. The government encourages people to plant during the rainy season and to water the crops during the dry season. The best way is to plant trees earlier, at the beginning of the rainy season. Then, before the rain stops, the trees are already developed. It is what people try to do right now

By doing this, they try to be like this motto of the country: "Land of the people living in integrity"


Our readers write from England

(Editor's note: Hongjing Li sent her story via email. She told us that she learned about our newspaper from a friend in Kentucky. Her story has been edited for length.)

The snowman

by Hongjing Li

I live in Frome-- a small and artistic town in England. It's so cold recently that we had a lot of snow. I'm a Mandarin teacher in the UK (United Kingdom). I come from the south of China. I never saw so much snow in my hometown. So I was as excited as the children here. When the snow was thick enough, I went to the garden behind the house. I wanted to make a snowman. It was my first time to do this. At this moment, my landlord came to help me.

It's not easy to make a snowman the same as the one in our minds. The snow was too dry to make a big ball. We just tried to build it up to make its body look strong. We made a big and tall body. Then my landlord found a red hat and green scarf. We tried our best to make a small ice ball as a head, using two potatoes as eyes and one potato as a nose. So, we finished. This snowman was not a man, but a lady. So I called it snowlady.

After the happy work, I watched a short cartoon called The Snowman. It tells a lovely story. A boy made a snowman. Then it came to life. The boy led the snowman around his house showing him interesting toys. Then the snowman took the boy flying to his hometown in a secret forest. There were many other snowmen, and a Santa. They sang songs and danced together and had a happy time. When it was time to leave, the snowman took the boy flying home. The boy went to bed. And when he woke up the next morning, the snowman was gone. He just left the hat and scarf on the ground. Everything looked like a dream.

I thought maybe I could get up at midnight to see my snowlady. Would she take me flying to her secret forest? Ha-ha, a sweet day dream.

Today, it's sunny. My snowlady has gone. Maybe she is really on the way home. I will miss her.