Why Local Currencies Could Be On The Rise In The U.S. -- And Why It Matters

IMG_1653As of this summer, you can be broke in Santa Barbara, California, and still afford organic produce from the farmers’ market. You can be dollar-broke, that is—but if you have enough Santa Barbara Missions tokens jangling in your pocket, earned in exchange for helping out at a number of local nonprofits, you’ll be set.

SB Missions, a new local currency in Santa Barbara, began circulating in July, soon after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law repealing a section of the state’s corporation code that prohibited the issuance of currencies other than the dollar. Though SB Missions would have launched in July with or without that excision from the state constitution, the currency’s founder, Ben Werner, says the nod from regulators helps put the whole Missions economy at ease—which is likely to be, as in any economy, a boon for growth. And the same is likely to be true for California’s dozens of other active community currency systems.

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiegilbert/2014/09/22/why-local-currencies-could-be-on-the-rise-in-the-u-s-and-why-it-matters/

Are we babying our kids? Can riskier playgrounds make healthier adults?

Kellan Mogil climbed, barefoot, up a wood plank that was haphazardly perched on a mound of dirt.

He wanted to see what was in a giant hole that two bigger boys were digging.

The two-and-a-half-year-old's mother was sitting more than a dozen feet away at a table, talking to a friend.

All was as it should be at the Anarchy Zone playground, part of the Ithaca Children's Garden. The "adventure playground" encourages kids to play in ways that would make some parents cringe.

It is a partially fenced-in dirt spot, stocked with boards, shovels, wheelbarrows, old tires, fabric, rope and mud. What it becomes depends on a child's imagination. Parents are encouraged to stay out of the way unless they want to play along.

The message of the Anarchy Zone, part of a growing free-play movement: Kids suffer when play is too structured and too safe.

Related: Phys Ed Teacher Says Anarchy Playground is Just What Kids Need

It's not just about the playground. The main point is to put kids in charge of their own play. Let them build what their imaginations dream up without parents who say "Don't" and "Put that here."

Read more: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/09/are_we_babying_our_kids_can_riskier_playgrounds_make_healthier_adults.html

Tackling climate change presents a ‘golden opportunity’ for public health

For Carol Kelly, biking to and from work is a no-brainer: She doesn’t have to deal with the notorious Seattle traffic, she can exercise without visiting the dreary gym, and she saves money on gas.

And, of course, she acknowledges that her swap of a tailpipe for pedals contributes — at least in a small way — to tackling climate change.

“I don’t necessarily connect it to climate, but it’s a bonus,” said Kelly, 47, a fine arts professor at Seattle University, as she waited on her bike at a stop sign Friday evening in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle. “The planet is going to burn up. If everyone were on bikes, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem.”

Biking, walking, and other active forms of transportation are just a few ways that reducing our use of fossil fuels may benefit not only the planet but also our health and the economy, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Monday — to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City.

The new study also unveils the latest predictions for heat waves resulting from climate change in the decades ahead.

“It’s getting hotter,” said Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and lead author of the new study. “And it’s the extremes that matter most to public health.”

Even a small shift in average temperatures, say an increase of 2 degrees Fahrenheit, can result in a large jump in the number of extremely hot days. Add in the extra variability in temperatures predicted with climate change and those dangerous extremes may become all the more frequent, as illustrated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Read more: http://grist.org/cities/tackling-climate-change-presents-a-golden-opportunity-for-public-health/

The Multiple Benefits of Economic Localization

2014 920 local stDespite the negative impressions we get from the mainstream media, and the very serious consequences of global warming, I believe there is cause for real hope. There is a good possibility that inspiring human-scale solutions around the world can multiply and transform our political and economic landscape over the coming years. And it all starts with an increased awareness or consciousness.

My experiences in numerous cultures over three decades, have revealed to me that most of our serious problems originate from a culture shaped by skewed economic priorities. We have been gradually ensnared in a global economic system that thrives on separation—cutting us off from one another and from nature. Unwittingly, we have ended up supporting an "Economics of Unhappiness."

In part this is because, in the current system, it has become nearly impossible to support oneself doing meaningful work, like growing food, protecting the environment, or helping other people. Most of us are familiar with the glaring statistics of inequality around the world—CEOs often making as much as thousands of times the income of the lowest paid workers; jobless growth, outsourcing, and cut-throat competition. And, of course, the ever-lengthening work week and the high stress levels of workers everywhere. There are also the mounting costs of education, leaving many graduates with crippling debt. Overall, it is a daunting situation for young people aspiring to make a positive difference in the world, while still earning enough money to cover their basic needs.

Read more: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/26325-the-multiple-benefits-of-economic-localization

Antarctic ice melt causes small shift in gravity

Gravity — yes, gravity — is the latest victim of climate change in Antarctica. That’s the stunning conclusion announced Friday by the European Space Agency (ESA).

“The loss of ice from West Antarctica between 2009 and 2012 caused a dip in the gravity field over the region,” writes the ESA, whose GOCE satellite measured the change. Apparently, melting billions of tons of ice year after year has implications that would make even Isaac Newton blanch. Here’s the data visualized.

Read more: http://grist.org/climate-energy/antarctic-ice-melt-causes-small-shift-in-gravity/

Something else that is also happening due to this Antarctic ice melt but which no one seems to want to talk about – seriously – and it is this that because while one sides melt the other is piling on ice the Earth axis is actually shifting and a tilt could have rather devastating effect on life as we know it. Ed.

Share your commute and save money

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

LiftshareIf you would pass a filling station selling gasoline for just 66pence a liter you would stop and buy some – in fact you would be filling your tank – wouldn't you?

That may just sound too good to be true but if you are driving alone to work there is a way to halve you fuel costs while helping to protect the environment – by sharing your journey with others also going to work along the way.

From October 6 to October 10 it is National Liftshare Week so it's a great time to give liftsharing a try.

Find out how you can reduce your travel costs and your environmental footprint by joining the Liftshare Network for free at liftshare.com.

You don't even have to have a car to get involved – plenty of existing members are drivers looking for someone to share the costs with.

The typical commuter who liftshares every day saves around £1,000 a year, so why not get involved and see how much you could save.

© 2014

Pledge 4 Plastics

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Pledge4Plastics_1Brits are being asked to recycle one more plastic bottles a week as part of a national drive to boost plastics recycling.

The bottles can come from every room in the home whatever the color, shape or size, and include fizzy drinks, water, squash, sauces, cooking oils, washing up liquid, shampoos, conditioners, fabric conditioners, household cleaning products, bleaches, detergents, garden and car products. This recycled plastic can then be turned into new items including toys, phone covers and even football shirts.

Get involved today by pledging your support at www.pledge4plastics.co.uk or on Twitter using #pledge4plastics.

One thousand limited edition phone covers, available for iPhone 5C/S and Samsung S5, have been designed exclusively for #Pledge4Plastics, to reward those who register their support online, tweet @pledge4plastics or like the official Pledge 4 Plastics Facebook page.

You could, obviously, also get more than the additional bottle to the recycling bin and why not also think of ways to reuse those plastic bottles. That is even better for the Planet than recycling.

© 2014

Big Idea: We need a New Science of Physical Economics

It’s time we put economics into some sort of physical scientific context that makes sense. Economists have drifted off into a disconnected world where, blinded by massive amounts of money and mystery, they see themselves as a kind of high priesthood calling the shots for practically everything, then saying they were blindsided by the debacle in the real estate world and the up-trading in wildly irresponsible and, strictly honest to say, greedy derivatives. And now they are fumbling around trying to decide which theory to apply to address the world deficit situation and spreading underemployment – among a number of other deadly serious things. Meantime they seem to have no idea whatsoever what to actually build physically and thus they are not developing anything like a strategy for a recovery that actually fits the situation on our oh-so physical planet Earth at this time of its Great Recession.

Some of us, if not economists, knew something was profoundly wrong with overvalued real estate sometime around 2005 or 2006; it seemed utterly obvious. Meanwhile the economists kept pumping the bubble for higher returns to those with money to invest and for themselves in the Priesthood. From our supposedly naïve non-economist point of view, myself and my friends, it was simply a little common sense.

Read more: http://www.filmsforaction.org/news/big_idea_we_need_a_new_science_of_physical_economics/

The Cradle-to-Cradle Solution

Imagine a world in which all the things we make, use, and consume provide nutrition for nature and industry—a world in which growth is good and human activity generates a delightful, restorative ecological footprint.

While this may seem like heresy to many in the world of sustainable development, the destructive qualities of today’s cradle-to-grave industrial system can be seen as the result of a fundamental design problem, not the inevitable outcome of consumption and economic activity. Indeed, good design—principled design based on the laws of nature—can transform the making and consumption of things into a regenerative force.

This new conception of design—known as cradle-to-cradle design—goes beyond retrofitting industrial systems to reduce their harm. Conventional approaches to sustainability often make the efficient use of energy and materials their ultimate goal. While this can be a useful transitional strategy, it tends to reduce negative impacts without transforming harmful activity. Recycling carpet, for example, might reduce consumption, but if the attached carpet backing contains PVC, which most carpet backing does, the recycled product is still on a one-way trip to the landfill, where it becomes hazardous waste.

Read more: http://www.filmsforaction.org/news/the_cradletocradle_solution/

Coca-Cola Paid $1,000,000 to Make Sure You Don’t Know This


Coca-Cola has been having a rough time. The company owns Honest Tea, Odwalla, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Simply Orange, and other products marketed to health-conscious consumers. But it is best known for making Coke, a product that is utterly devoid of nutritional value and is often blamed for contributing to the obesity epidemic — an epidemic that is costing hundreds of billions of dollars and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

With demand for the company’s carbonated and artificially flavored sugar water declining, hope for Coca-Cola’s profitability has been increasingly resting on the brands it markets as healthier alternatives. Bloomberg.com reports that sales of Coca-Cola-owned brands like Honest Tea, Powerade, and Simply Orange are the company’s new profit center.

But there’s a problem.

In October, campaign finance reports revealed that Coca-Cola had secretly contributed more than a million dollars to the fight against GMO labeling in Washington. It took the state’s Attorney General suing the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association (GMA) for what turned out to be an $11 million violation of the state’s campaign finance laws to reveal these secret contributions. But now that the truth has been exposed, some healthy food activists are fighting back.

Read more: http://www.wesupportorganic.com/2014/02/coca-cola-paid-1000000-to-make-sure-you-dont-know-this.html

Gorilla Glue is amazing

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

And no, they did not pay me to say this. Chance would be a fine thing.

23629-1002-2-3ww-lAt the GARDEN PRESS EVENT 2014 I got a bottle of this glue – and yes, that event is a while back now – and I already have used it for repairing the handle of an old garden trowel, together with some sugru®, to great effect.

The other day I bought a set of 12 wood carving chisels from Lidl and with one of them the blade had come out of the handle. I know, I should have gone back and exchanged it, in all reality, but decided that I could not bother to make the trip to the store again and thought I would fix it myself.

The first thought, as it would be a case of bonding metal (the tang of the chisel blade) to wood (the inside of the handle), to use “superglue” but as I would have had to use a whole tube at a cost of somewhere in the region of £3 I decided to give Gorilla glue another try instead. And, well, it worked. The blade appears to be very solid now in the handle.

I hasten to add that I have not used the chisel – as yet – on a lathe where the vibrations might be a different kettle of fish and neither do I use a lathe. But the blade appears to be very much set in the handle now with the resin of the glue.

Not knowing what chemicals actually make up the Gorilla glue I can't directly say how green or not it may be but it can fix things and that is one of the points I want to make here.

Fixing with glue – whatever kind – is often very green indeed regardless of what the glue's components may be. Here, I know, it was a case of fixing something that should not have been “broken” in the first place but returning the entire case would have meant, and I know that for certain, that Lidl would have just thrown the case, with the tools away, after issuing me with a replacement.

I encountered that a few times now such as with a small shortwave radio receiver where the mains adapter burned out after a short while and, instead of sending a new adapter it was cheaper for them to send an entire new boxed radio with adapter and telling me to keep the other radio also.

Waste is created in our society on so many levels that repair even in this case of the chisel was the greener option than a return for replacement. Thus, thanks to Gorilla glue and a wait of about 24 hours at least something was, once again, kept out of the waste stream and, probably, the landfill.

© 2014

Global Economic Sharing: The Most Important Debate of Our Time?

Almost everywhere we look, there is an emerging debate on the importance of sharing in relation to the grave challenges of our time. This conversation is most apparent in the sharing economy movement that has now taken the United States and Western Europe by storm, opening up a new set of questions about how sharing – that most simple human value and ethic – can really serve the needs of all people and the planet. For many, the practice of sharing represents a global cultural shift towards empathy, trust and generosity, and holds the greatest source of hope for economic and social transformation. For others, the idea of integrating the principle of sharing into economic relations is vitally important and invigorating, but toothless as a strategy for resolving the world’s crises if it remains beholden to corporate interests and the growth imperative.

What’s seldom recognised, however, is how the global conversation on sharing is often conducted implicitly and unknowingly by campaigners, activists and progressive analysts. For example, in the now mainstream discussion on how to reform the systems and structures that lead to inequality, there is the implicit question of how to share resources more equally among society as a whole. While the best-selling economist Thomas Piketty has recently forewarned the prospect of an increasingly unequal future, the authors of The Spirit Level have already demonstrated that the most prosperous, happy and healthy nations all distribute their wealth in a more egalitarian fashion. In this way, relating the principle of sharing with economic and social policy is clearly important for debates on eradicating poverty and reversing extreme inequality, as it directly points to the need for distributive justice and long-term structural solutions that cut to the heart of how we organise societies.

Similarly, in the international discussions on sustainable development there is an implicit focus on the need for greater economic sharing, which frames the basic challenge of how to ensure that everyone can consume a fair share of resources within the Earth’s limits. Even for peace campaigners and anti-war activists, the principle of sharing is central to the problem of interstate conflict over land, fossil fuel reserves and other key industrial materials. But this imperative question is often left unspoken: how can governments find ways of sharing the environmental commons more equitably, and thus finally change trajectory from our current path towards intensified resource competition, accelerating climate change, and the eventual possibility of a third world war?

Read more: http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/global-economic-sharing-the-most-important-debate-of-our-time/

Permaculture and the Myth of Scarcity

This is the second article in our series by the speakers of Voices of Hope in a Time of Crises, a one-day event, which will explore localized solutions to our global problems and launch the International Alliance for Localization. Join the discussion on November 8th at The Cooper Union in New York City.

permacultureAt a conference a couple weeks ago, an activist who does work in Africa recounted an encounter she had with the minister of agriculture of a certain African country. The minister spoke with excitement about the high-tech agricultural technologies he was bringing into the country in partnership with large agribusiness companies, so the activist brought up the topic of organic agriculture. The minister said, “Stop. You don’t understand. We cannot afford such luxuries here. In my country, people are starving.”

This reflects a common conception about organic agriculture – that it sacrifices productivity in the interests of the environment and health. It stands to reason that if you forgo pesticides and chemical fertilizer, yields are going to suffer.

This, in fact, is a myth. In Sacred Economics I cite research showing that when it is done properly, organic growing methods can deliver two to three times the yield of conventional methods. (Studies showing the opposite are poorly constructed. Of course if you take two fields and plant each with a monocrop, then the one without pesticides will do worse than the one with, but that isn’t really what organic farming is.) Conventional agriculture doesn’t seek to maximize yield per acre; it seeks to maximize yield per unit of labor. If we had 10% of the population engaged in agriculture rather than the current 1%, we could easily feed the country without petrochemicals or pesticides.

It turns out, though, that my statistics are way too conservative. The latest permaculture methods can deliver much more than just double or triple the yield of conventional farming. I recently came across this article by David Blume chronicling his nine-year permaculture enterprise in California. Running a CSA for 300-450 people on two acres of land, he achieved yields eight times what the Department of Agriculture says is possible per square foot. He didn’t do it by “mining the soil” either – soil fertility increased dramatically over his time there.

Read more: http://theeconomicsofhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/permaculture-and-the-myth-of-scarcity/

'The World Is Not Dying. It's Changing': Anthropologist Wade Davis Has Hope For The Future

Wade Davis has a lot of nerve being cheerful. Someone who can list as many threats to the world’s future as he does should be a tormented wreck.

Humanity’s soaring population, eco-degradation, the rapid loss of the world’s languages — these are not exactly things that make Davis’s heart soar.

But Davis brings a New Year message of hope for people who despair about the world’s chance of surviving. And when this affable and famous explorer, anthropologist, voodoo expert and soon-to-be University of B.C. professor expresses hope, you listen.

“The world is not dying. It’s not falling apart. It’s changing,” Davis says. “What young generation has ever come into its own in a world free of peril?

“I personally believe that pessimism is an indulgence, despair an insult to the imagination. There are wonderfully positive things out there.”

People have stopped throwing garbage from cars. Schoolchildren know what the biosphere is. These things are not small potatoes, Davis says. “These are great environmental victories.”


He says one of the two greatest revelations of his lifetime was Apollo 8’s emergence from the dark side of the moon on Christmas Eve 1968 to see the Earth climb over the moon’s surface. For the first time in history, human beings saw an earthrise — and were made to understand that they share a living world.

Read more: http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/the-world-is-not-dying-its-changing-anthropologist-and-explorer-wade-davis-has-hope-for-the-future/

Why Cultural Diversity Is as Essential to Human Survival as Biological Diversity

Just as we recognize the importance of biodiversity for the survival of the planet, so we must preserve the diverse ways of knowing that exist among humanity.

In the late 1990s, a Ugandan intellectual and civil society activist called Paulo Wangoola returned home to the Kingdom of Busoga on the Eastern shores of Lake Victoria. After 25 years of work in various parts of Africa and abroad, his message to his Elders was this:

“We, the children of Afrika, will never realize our full potential if we continue to depend wholly on the content and ways of knowledge of the European peoples. Our way forward must be linked to the recovery, replenishment and revitalization of our thousands of years old Indigenous knowledge.”

With those words came a decision by Wangoola to withdraw from the economic structures of the Western world, return to a subsistence life style, and dedicate himself to the creation of a village-based institution of higher education and research known as the Mpambo, Afrikan Multiversity: a place for the support of mother-tongue scholars of Afrikan Indigenous knowledge.

Fast forward to 2005 in Durban, South Africa, where some of the inhabitants of the tin-roofed shacks of the city created a blockade on Kennedy Road to protest the sale of land originally promised to the poor for building homes, but subsequently offered to a commercial developer.  The efforts of those living in these shacks have grown into “Abahlali baseMjondolo,” the shack-dwellers movement.

Read more: http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/knowledge-democracy/

6 Rules for Greener Dishwashing

Learn how to wash dishes by hand—for times when a dishwasher isn't available or appropriate—and save the most water possible.

6 Rules for Greener Dishwashing - Photo courtesy Sergio Alvarez/Flickr (UrbanFarmOnline.com) #greenliving #sustainability In the house I share with two roommates, we call our dishwasher the fourth roommate. We pity him because while he is much appreciated, he is certainly overworked. With all of the from-scratch cooking and baking going on here, there are often large pots, heavy pans that have no business in the dishwasher, and sharp knives that require hand washing—plus all of the plates and mugs that didn't make it into this load of the already overfull appliance.

Tackling a mess like this or the one you may have in your kitchen can be done with water conservation in mind, following these rules.

1. Hand Wash Big Items

Your spaghetti pot might fit in the dishwasher, but it'll take up valuable real estate that could be occupied by six or more plates. It’s more water-wise to wash big pots like this by hand.

Other items that should be washed by hand, according to the American Cleaning Institute, include:

  • wooden items (like spoons and bowls)
  • silver and pewter
  • milk glass
  • china and other delicate dishware
  • hand-painted items
  • items with metal trim
  • cast iron
  • cutlery

2. Soak Pots and Pans ASAP

The longer that squash-and-cheese dish sits after coming out of the oven, the more glue-like the stuck-on food will become. Give it a tiny squirt of soap or a few shakes of baking soda and a bit of hot water to soften up ASAP.

3. Wash Your Stack In Order

The American Cleaning Institute suggests washing dishes in order of cleanliness: glassware and flatware first; then plates and serving dishes; then cookware. I've always known to wash first anything that will come in direct contact with your mouth, then remaining glass items, and then items in order of cleanliness.

Save the greasy or bacteria-filled dishes for last. Don't share wash water with a dish that contained raw meat or other potential pathogens. Drain and scrub the sink to eliminate leftover bacteria after washing the nasties.

Read more: http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/sustainable-living/green-living/6-rules-for-greener-dishwashing.aspx

Climate change is our global enemy, says Desmond Tutu

ISIS has nothing on climate change compared to our global enemy, which is climate change

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

climate-change-articleRetired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize winner and long-time environmental advocate, released a powerful video urging world leaders arriving in New York City for this year’s UN Climate Summit to “move beyond the fossil fuel era.”

In an associated editorial that was published in the British newspaper, The Observer, he argues that the same boycott, divestment and sanction tactics used against firms which did business with apartheid-era South Africa must now be applied to institutions that exploit fossil fuels.

“Never before have human beings been called on to act collectively in defense of the Earth. As a species, we have endured world wars, epidemics, famine, slavery, apartheid and many other hideous consequences of religious, class, race, gender and ideological intolerance. People are extraordinarily resilient. The Earth has proven pretty resilient, too. It’s managed to absorb most of what’s been thrown at it since the industrial revolution and the invention of the internal combustion engine,” he wrote.

Until now, that is, when science clearly indicates that our environment is carbon-saturated. Tutu continued, “If we don’t limit global warming to two degrees or less we are doomed to a period of unprecedented instability, insecurity and loss of species. It is time to act.”

Archbishop Tutu frames the issue as the premier human rights challenge, linking the most devastating effects of climate change – deadly storms, drought, rising food prices and the emergence of “climate refugees” – directly to the world’s poor. He rightly illustrates that developing states, which emit far less carbon than industrialized nations, will pay the steepest price.

He describes sensible, scalable ways we can be agents of change. “Boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil fuel companies; demand that their advertisements carry health warnings; organize car-free days and other platforms to build broader societal awareness; and ask our religious communities to speak out on the issue from their pulpits. We can encourage energy companies to spend more on the development of sustainable energy products, and we can reward those companies that demonstrably do so by using their products to the exclusion of others,” he stated in his editorial.

He urged swift action by nations and individuals alike, including freezing fossil fuels exploration, redirecting investments into renewable energies, encouraging governments to stop accepting lobbyist money from the industry and holding those who have damaged the environment legally liable for the harm they have caused. No histrionics or hype, just simple strategies to start now.

However, in addition to that, it is not just governments that need to divest and boycott companies that profit from fossil fuels and other destructive practices. We all, as individuals, families, groups, organizations and businesses, must join this boycott for only when we, when consumers, send a strong message to the corporations (and our governments) will anything ever happen. If we hurt their profits they will change, and only then. And still we must remain watchful that they do not use the greenwash machine but that they act honestly.

When it comes to energy companies (and the government support for them) we must also insist that the move from fossil fuel is not one towards nuclear but towards renewables, solar, wind, methane (natural gas) from anaerobic digestion, and such like.

We can do it and we must do it.

© 2014

Natural Ways to Improve Digestive Health

Use these simple, natural tips to improve your digestive health.

Bowl of Kale, Potato and White Bean SoupNausea, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, cramping, bloating, flatulence. We’ve all endured intestinal upset—sometimes at supremely inopportune moments. Digestive problems can manifest on airplanes, during business meetings, on bus trips in foreign lands, during a first date, while running a marathon and even on stage.

While some of us have more sensitive systems than others, we all have control over a number of factors that influence our digestive health. Try the following tips to keep your system running smoothly and toss intestinal complaints out the window.

Eat Mainly Plants

Plant chemicals and nutrients promote overall health and protect against cancer, inflammation and free radical damage. On the other hand, processed meat and red meat, especially meat cooked at high temperatures, is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Plant-based diets also provide fiber, which, combined with plenty of fluids, prevents constipation. There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and passes through the intestinal tract unaltered. Sources include whole grains (whole wheat, brown rice, barley, farro, bulgur and couscous), popcorn, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage and celery.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel, which slows digestion and enhances feelings of satiety. Bacteria that normally inhabit the intestinal tract ferment the gel, which promotes bowel health. Sources include oats, barley, beans, flax seeds, psyllium seed husks, nuts, carrots, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries and blueberries.

According to one study, for people with IBS, soluble fiber appears to alleviate symptoms, while insoluble fiber may do the opposite. Consult your physician to consider whether reducing insoluble fiber may be helpful for you.

Read more: http://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/natural-remedies/improve-digestive-health-zm0z14mjzpit.aspx

USDA Grants Final Approval to Toxic New GMO

Seriously?!?! This move will increase toxic pesticide use up to sevenfold, according to the government's own estimates.

usda-approves-new-gmo-dark-corn-fieldDespite the objections of hundreds of thousands of Americans and more than 50 members of Congress, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted final approval to a new generation of genetically engineered (GE) crops on Wednesday.

According to the agency's own findings, the move could result in up to a sevenfold increase in the use of an older, more toxic herbicide known as 2,4-D, a compound used in Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The new GE crops, also known as GMOs, approved include Dow's Enlist Duo corn and soy. These crops were developing to survived sprayings of both glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller, and 2,4-D.

Ironically, the approval comes at a time when GMO crops are failing miserably. In just a few short years, weeds have been able to adapt and outsmart glyphosate, the herbicide sprayed on most GMO crops today. This "superweed" development has forced farmers to abandon millions of acres of farmland infested with extremely hard-to-kill weeds.

"The USDA's approval of these crops is proof that today's destructive, industrial agriculture model, based on a system of GMO mono-crops, is a failure," says Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica. "Farmers have been sold the lie that they can increase yields and prevent crop failure from weeds by buying Monsanto’s and Dow's GMO seeds and dousing them in toxic poisons, also manufactured and sold by Monsanto and Dow. But just as scientists predicted, these 'miracle' crops are evolving to resist the poisons thrown on them, causing the USDA and the EPA to approve increasingly toxic poisons to fight increasingly resistant weeds. Where does the escalation end?"

Read more: http://www.rodalenews.com/usda-approves-new-gmo

Who’s Really Reading Books These Days? Surprise—It’s Not Who You Think

A new Pew Research Center survey found that when it comes to cracking open books, young adults under age 30 are totally crushing it.

Get ready to say good-bye to the stereotype of the texting and selfie-posting millennial holed up in Mom and Dad’s basement binge-watching The Vampire Diaries. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, Americans younger than 30 are more likely than any other age group to have read a book in the last year.

For its Younger Americans and Public Libraries report, Pew conducted cell phone and landline surveys of more than 6,200 people over the age of 16. They found that 43 percent of millennials under 30 read on a daily basis, slightly more than the 40 percent of folks age 30 and over who read every day. What’s more impressive is that 88 percent of the under-30 crowd had read a book in the past year, compared with 79 percent of those 30 and older.

Indeed, the report’s authors found that young adults read a median of 10 books every year. Although the demise of the printed book is often predicted, it turns out that only 37 percent of young adults report that they read an e-book in the past year—they’re still down with old-school paperback and hardback texts.

It might be tempting to chalk up the high reading rates of young adults to their status as students. However, Pew broke out the data and found that 25- to 29-year-olds read on a daily basis at the same rate as college-age 18- to 24-year-olds. Interestingly enough, the 25- to 29-year-olds were more likely to read on a weekly basis (27 percent) than the 18- to 24-year-olds (22 percent).

Read more: http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/09/16/unexpected-truth-about-who-really-reading-books-america

Reading from books is better for you than reading online

Just half an hour of reading, either with a book or a tablet, can have a multitude of positive effects on your mental health, and 'slow reading clubs' are popping up around the world to do just that. Just don't check Twitter halfway through...

book-clubThe Slow Reading Club of Wellington in New Zealand is a small group of people who all go to a cafe at the same time, shut their phones off, and read for an hour. It doesn’t sound that revolutionary, but the ‘slow reading’ movement has been gaining momentum around the world, and research has suggested that it could be having many significant effects on the participants’ brains.

Members of the group would happily tell you that the benefits they’re getting from their commitment to 'slow reading' include improvements in concentration and the ability to think through difficult concepts and emphasise with other people's feelings and beliefs, and a slew of recent studies seem to back these claims up.

According to Jeanne Whalen at the Wall Street Journal, a study published last year in the journal Neurology and conducted by researchers from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center and Departments of Neurological Sciences at the Rush University Medical Center in the US, showed that in 300 elderly people, those that engaged regularly in activities that challenged them mentally, such as reading, had slower rates of memory loss as they aged. And last year, a separate study published in Science revealed that reading literary fiction could actively improve your ability to understand and empathise with other people’s mental states and beliefs.

"Yet reading habits have declined in recent years,” says Whalen. "In a survey this year, about 76 percent  of Americans 18 and older said they read at least one book in the past year, down from 79 percent in 2011, according to the Pew Research Center."

Because many of us now read more on our phones than we are from books and even tablets, we’ve unwittingly changed the way we take in words. In 2006, an eye-tracking report by scientists at the US-based research group, Nielsen Norman, showed that people read web pages in an “F” pattern, scanning the top line all the way, then halfway across the next few lines, and then only down the left side of the page, all the way down to the bottom of the article. This kind of reading helps us scan quickly for important words to spark our interest, but does nothing for our ability to actually gain a deeper understanding of what we’re reading.

Read more: http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141809-26196.html

Seattle to fine residents, businesses for wasting too much food

Dumpsters in Seattle (Reuters/Marcus Donner)Seattle wants its residents to compost food scraps so much the city will begin fining homes, apartment buildings and businesses that throw away too much food mixed with their garbage, according to new rules passed by the city council.

Starting in January, trash collectors “can take a cursory look each time they dump trash into a garbage truck,” the Seattle Times reported. From the start of the year until the end of June, residents whose trash consists of at least 10 percent food waste or certain paper products will receive a warning from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), the Associated Press said.

On July 1, the fines will begin.

Single-family homes will face a $1 fine on their next garbage bill if they don’t comply with the new rules. Trash collectors will enter the violation into a computer system their trucks already carry, and will leave a ticket explaining the details of the fine on the garbage bin.

Apartment buildings and businesses must also comply with the 10-percent-or-less threshold, but commercial properties will receive two warnings before they are hit with a $50 fine on their next bill. Inspectors will check dumpsters on a random basis, the Times reported.

Read more: http://rt.com/usa/190428-seattle-composting-food-trash-fines/

Bilboket, the first social network of your neighborhood

BilboketYou know when your run out of sugar or salt and that you are by yourself at home and the first think you think about is going to your neighbor and ask for a little bit of sugar or salt?

Or this one time you had to rush out the door, for any urgency, and you asked your next-door neighbor the typical favor of watering your plants or feed the cat?

Yes. Of course you did at least once.

Our neighbors are people with who we share more than we think: neighbor meeting, little talk in the elevator, anecdotes, favors, and even mad when the technician is late to repair the light of the staircase… In the end, our neighbors are people with who live in community with, people we welcome everyday with a big smile that they always give back even in our worst days.

So, why not create a virtual community for neighbors and extend the radius, not only within your building or neighborhood but also with adjacent areas?

Read more: http://blog.cronnection.com/sharing-economy/bilboket-first-social-network-neighborhood/

The Carbon Underground: Reversing Global Warming

If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current levels [398 ppm.] to at most 350 ppm " ~ Dr. James Hansen

Since Dr. James Hansen, a leading climatologist, warned in 2008 that we need to reduce the amount of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere to 350 parts-per-million (ppm) in order to preserve life on Earth, little has been done to get us there.

It's getting late. If we're going to preserve a livable Earth, we the global grassroots, must do more than mitigate global warming.

We must reverse it.


Hint number one: not by politely asking out-of-control corporations and politicians to please stop destroying the planet.

Hint number two: not by pinning our hopes for survival and climate stability on hi-tech, unproven and dangerous, "solutions" such as genetic engineering, geoengineering, or carbon capture and sequestration for coal plants.

Hint number three: not by naively believing that soon (or soon enough) ordinary consumers all over the planet will spontaneously abandon their cars, air travel, air conditioning, central heating, and fossil fuel-based diets and lifestyles just in time to prevent atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from moving past the tipping point of 450 ppm or more of CO2 to the catastrophic point of no return.

Read more: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/09/18/carbon-underground-reversing-global-warming

Indigenous Knowledge and Global Wellness

Medicinal HerbsModern medicine has enabled people to live longer lives, but what have we lost in turning our backs on traditional ways of healing? Today, heart disease is the number one cause of death around the world. An estimated 17.3 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2008, representing 30% of all global deaths. Although we often associate these conditions with industrialized countries, and indeed more than a third of Americans are considered obese, surprisingly over 80% of these deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries (WHO, 2012). Rates of other diseases associated with modern lifestyles, such as diabetes and cancer, are not far behind. What can we learn from indigenous healing practices to bring about less costly and more sustainable solutions for improving health in both North and South?

Natural healing in Nepal
The Tharu people of central Nepal have cultural belief systems that demonstrate an immense knowledge and respect for the Earth’s biodiversity. These systems contain rules and rituals that define how the environment should be treated – as integration of body, mind and spirit – for the wellbeing of the people in the world. Remarkably, the Tharu are immune to malaria and this immunity may have developed due to their longer residence in the forest, where they developed human-nature coexistence (Dhakal et al, 2011; Gunaretne, 1999). The Tharu healers—Gurau—base their healing practices on observing nature and using resources from the surrounding ecosystem.

In my own childhood experience of traditional knowledge, many herbs and spices were used to cure minor diseases. For example, my mother used to mix ginger juice and camphor to massage for chest pain and cough. This was an alternative to Vicks Vaporub (mentholated topical cream used for cough suppression). Simple body pains, minor stomach disorders, sinus infections and headaches were treated within the household. Treating illness in this manner may have helped to prevent other diseases by stopping the initial problem. This way of healing also avoided the side effects common with pharmaceutical drugs.

Read more: http://theeconomicsofhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/indigenous-knowledge-and-global-wellness/

9 things everyone should know about cooking

chopping onions“I don’t cook.”

Those words baffle me whenever I hear them – and they do crop up in a surprising number of conversations with other young people my age. Sometimes these non-cookers seem proud of their lack of skill, shrugging it off as if preparing food were not necessary at all: “We just eat out a lot.” I try not to look too stunned and leave my thoughts unsaid: “Good luck with ever saving any money and maintaining a healthy weight.”

I’m one of the lucky few in my generation whose parents made sure to teach me how to cook from a young age. To this day, it’s the most useful skill they’ve ever taught me – far more so than 15 years of violin lessons.

I’ve come to realize that cooking doesn’t have to be a big deal. We as a society have never been more obsessed with the idea of cooking. We cook vicariously through the Food network, Top Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen. The problem is that these shows present an overly glamorized version of cooking, and almost make it appear too difficult for us non-celebrity chefs. These shows do no favours for the would-be home cook, who would be much better off sitting down with a copy of Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything and starting from page 1.

If I could give my non-cooking friends any advice, this is what I would tell them:

Read more: http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/9-things-everyone-should-know-about-cooking.html

Food Tank Think Tank Initiates Assessment of Innovation in the Food System Through Two Collaborative Efforts

Food Tank is launching a one-year project to evaluate the potential for democratizing innovation and analyzing the true cost of food.

CHICAGO, IL, September 24th, 2014 (Press Release) – Food Tank is launching two collaborative efforts over the next year with support from the McKnight Foundation. These projects will marshal increased awareness and research on democratizing innovation and true cost accounting while honing in on the Collaborative Crop Research Program’s goal to collaborate with smallholder farmers, leading local researchers, and development practitioners while exploring solutions to sustainable, local food systems.

Food Tank will assess how agricultural innovation spreads among communities and in rich and poor countries alike and the potential for those practices to be replicated, scaled up, and used around the world. In addition, the organization will be working with collaborators and partners to highlight the work being done around true cost accounting in the food system.

The partnership will help significantly scale up, broaden, and deepen the interconnectedness of global agriculture problems through research, strategic collaborations, events, webinars, videos, databases, and more.

“Food Tank is incredibly excited to collaborate with the McKnight Foundation on these issues. It’s more important than ever to find ways for farmers, businesses, and policymakers to replicate innovations and understand the true cost of food,” says Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank.

Farmers, scientists, researchers, NGOs, and others are currently creating innovative, on-the-ground solutions for a more nourished world. At the same time, the high prices consumers pay for food rarely reflect the true cost of its ingredients, from fertilizer production and water use to land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. Food Tank’s partnership with McKnight Foundation will share groundbreaking innovations in agriculture and highlight the true cost of cheap food.

“Across programs, collaboration is at the heart of McKnight’s interests; it is explicit in our mission statement and in our guiding values,” said Jane Maland Cady, International Programs Director at McKnight Foundation.

Throughout 2014-2015, noteworthy activities will include:

  • Collaboration with experts and partners to share experiences and learn from one another
  • Publication of unique Food Tank By The Numbers Reports
  • Crowdsourcing ideas, innovations, practices, and knowledge around the two issue areas
  • Weekly articles and series on Democratizing Innovation and True Cost Accounting
  • Contribution to McKnight’s Agroecological exchange beta site
  • A new innovations database, drawing on experts in food and agriculture
  • Two live-streamed TedX-styled events, bringing together leading speakers on True Cost Accounting and thought leaders on Democratizing Innovation
  • Webinars featuring relevant experts on True Cost Accounting and Democratizing Innovation
  • Infographics and videos based on Democratizing Innovation and True Cost Accounting

The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grant-making, collaboration, and the encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based family foundation had assets of approximately US$2 billion and granted about US$86 million in 2013.


Food Tank is a think tank focused on feeding the world better. We research and highlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.

Don't throw it out; repair instead

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

repair1“Fast fashion” relies on consumers accepting poor quality clothing as a given, in exchange for lower price-points on the garments they wear. As long as we view our clothing as disposable and easily replaceable, we’ll keep throwing it away and buying more of it. But this mindset is doing irreparable damage to our Planet – not to mention our wallets and our closets.

Does it take more effort to repair your clothes instead of tossing them right away? Of course, but it’s also infinitely more rewarding. Next time you’re tempted to toss a damaged or outdated garment in the trash, try one of these creative fixes instead:


Small tear? Loose button? Wonky zipper? Fix it yourself!

There’s been a huge resurgence in the popularity of sewing in recent years, and for good reason: repairing your own clothes is fun, thrifty, and surprisingly empowering. Whether you take a basic sewing class, enlist a family member to teach you, or turn to the wisdom of YouTube. Sewing and mending is a skill you’ll use for a lifetime.

Hole in your jeans? Add lace!

If closing the hole or adding a subtle denim patch isn’t an option, turn the hole in your jeans into a feminine fashion statement by sewing a small piece of lace underneath. Voila! Your pants are reborn.

Lost a button forever? Replace it with vintage!

It’s incredibly annoying to realize you’ve lost a button (especially if it was of the unique or hard-to-replace variety), but you can always take it as an opportunity to reinvent the whole look of your garment. Track down some interesting vintage buttons at your local thrift store and swap out all the buttons with a mix and match assortment. The resulting look is stylish, quirky, and guaranteed to speed up your lost button mourning process.

Too big, too small, doesn’t fit quite right? Take it to the tailor!

For items that are in otherwise good condition, but destined for the throwaway pile due to fit issues, a trip to the tailor is in order. Raising the hem, taking the waist in or out, adjusting the fit to shape your body, or altering the neckline can make a garment feel brand new. Extensive tailoring can be a bit pricey, but it’s still almost always cheaper than buying a new garment, and you can’t beat the custom fit of a tailored piece.

Stain on your t-shirt? Hide it with ruffles!

So you spilled mustard or coffee down the front of your shirt. It happens to the best of us. But that doesn’t mean your shirt is a lost cause. This ruffled t-shirt DIY is a brilliant way to cover the stain and reinvent your shirt in the process. Pair your new ruffled top with a simple blazer and you’ll look so great you might be glad your klutzy ways forced you to get creative.


Shrunk your sweater? Turn the sleeves into boot socks!

It doesn’t get much easier than this DIY solution: just cut off the sleeves and layer under boots for a cute winter look. Sew on lace or other embellishments for an even more personalized look.

Ripped, stained, stretched, or damaged beyond repair? Repurpose it!

There are an infinite number of ways to reinvent and reuse clothing that seems unsalvageable. Button-up blouses that have seen better days can be reborn as pillow covers into pillow covers. No matter how shredded a pair of jeans are, if you have a pocket, you can make a denim wallet. At the very least, you can always cut fabric up into rags to use for cleaning around the house.

As fun and rewarding as it can be to mend your clothing yourself, the best way to avoid getting stuck in a cycle of constant repairs is to buy high quality clothing that’s built to last. You can only repair or reinvent a flimsy dress so many times before it’s relegated to the rag pile, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping. Higher quality garments might cost you a bit more up front, but they pay off in the long run. Cheap clothing often ends up in landfills. Quality clothing, when cared for and repaired properly, often ends up hanging proudly in the closets of daughters and granddaughters. So, shop accordingly.

This also, by the way, goes for the clothes for the guys and the guys also would no go wrong to know how to sew, including how to sew leather goods. Why throw away an otherwise perfectly good belt just because the sewing has come undone at the buckle end, for instance? Or because the buckle has got damaged. Replace with a thrift shop find and make a new belt. It is not rocket science and not difficult.

The message of “don't throw it out; repair instead” goes for other things too. Don't just toss and buy new. Instead learn how to fix your things and, maybe, also those of others. You could establish a new sideline business doing it and start a trend even of new small repair businesses.

© 2014

Waste Less, Live More Week 2014

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

22-28 September is Waste Less, Live More Week organized by Keep Britain Tidy and supported by Business in the Community.

Waste Less, Live More Week aims to raise awareness that environmental and social issues are interlinked and tackling these issues together is a far more effective solution.

It is only, much like was the case with the National Recycle Week, as shame that very little mention of it seems to be made in the media due to, it would appear, much as with the Recycle Week, that no press releases seem that have been sent out, or not enough of them, and also that the general media does not seem to be interested.

It is becoming more and more evident and should be clear to see to even a blind man with a white cane that we are currently living in a world that is stretched beyond environmental limits and failing to support the health and wellbeing of many. Change is necessary but it can only happen if we all work together on this. “Waste Less, Live More” is an approach to doing this. It is very much about rethinking how we live our lives in ways that reduce our environmental impact, whilst improving the health and happiness of ourselves and each other.

The theme for 2014 is Be Resourceful.

Being resourceful is about finding new, creative and inventive ways to live better, within our means. The week is about involving a wide range of organizations and individuals to come together to host a week of events and activities which highlight that what’s good for the environment is good for us.

Mother Earth is so generous with Her gifts that it is about time we started giving something back to her. One way we can impact positively on the environment is by limiting the amount of waste we produce, and the best way to do this is by re-using and re-purposing stuff we already have.

I have written many articles on that matter, as regular readers will know, and also a book, “Let's Talk Rubbish”, which is currently undergoing a revision and the new, improved (and enlarged?) book should be available, hopefully, sometime early next year.

Our grandparents and their parents and grandparents before them were used to being resourceful through circumstance – when food, energy and materials were scarce, they improvised, modified and made do with whatever they could get their hands on. In the modern age we have lost the habit of being resourceful and have fallen into wasteful ways. However, it is not too late to stop the rot – read on for ideas on being resourceful with DIY and crafting.

Develop the habit of looking at everything through the eyes of a recycler. Old wine barrels turn into bespoke sink units, antique doors become dining tables, a piece of driftwood fixed with a glass top makes a unique coffee table, bead necklaces morph into chandeliers, old light bulbs live again as Christmas baubles.

It starts with the small things and many people today, unfortunately, no longer possess the eye that our grandparents and those before them had – had to have, maybe – and just cannot see the reuse potential, neither in items of waste that they “produce”, at home and at work”, or that they may find somewhere.

A tin can that many would clean up, as often one must, to put into the recycling bin can become the pencil bin you need or want for your desk, whether at home, in the home office, or at work. And with a little dressing up the this pencil bin can even be better than anything you may be able to buy.

Instead of going out and spending money on sets of glass storage jars, even if they may be made, as the label says, from recycled glass, reuse those in which you get produce from the store, such as jam, honey, pickles, etc. Our ancestors did just that. And they even used the right kind of such jars as drinking vessels, as drinking glasses were expensive to buy back in those days. I do that at home very much on purpose and why also not.

Being resourceful is all about living with what you have. By being creative and open-minded about the materials available to us, we can help protect the environment and save money too. Isn’t that reason enough to have a go at resourceful living? So, have fun exploiting the potential of the humblest items of waste that is “produced” by you, by your place of work, or that you find having been thrown away by others. It is fun and also a good way to save money and do a little bit to saving the environment by not allowing those items to go into the waste stream, not even the recycling stream.

We must remember that while recycling is better by far than landfilling or incinerating our waste being able to reuse and upcycling is better by far still, much better in fact.

© 2014

Scientists say the ozone layer is recovering

This undated image provided by NASA shows the ozone layer over the years, Sept. 17, 1979, top left, Oct. 7, 1989, top right, Oct. 9, 2006, lower left, and Oct. 1, 2010, lower right. Earth protective but fragile ozone layer is finally starting to rebound, says a United Nations panel of scientists. Scientists hail this as rare environmental good news, demonstrating that when the world comes together it can stop a brewing ecological crisis. Photo: NASA, AP / NASAWASHINGTON (AP) — Earth's protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported Wednesday in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet.

Scientists said the development demonstrates that when the world comes together, it can counteract a brewing ecological crisis.

For the first time in 35 years, scientists were able to confirm a statistically significant and sustained increase in stratospheric ozone, which shields the planet from solar radiation that causes skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.

From 2000 to 2013, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in the key mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up, said NASA scientist Paul A. Newman. He co-chaired the every-four-years ozone assessment by 300 scientists, released at the United Nations.

"It's a victory for diplomacy and for science and for the fact that we were able to work together," said chemist Mario Molina. In 1974, Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland wrote a scientific study forecasting the ozone depletion problem. They won the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/Scientists-say-the-ozone-layer-is-recovering-5746063.php#photo-6843068

100% Renewable Energy as Centerpiece of a Climate Action Plan

Climate Change is back on the political agenda. On 23rd of September, Heads of States are meeting in New York to pledge climate action. This is good news as it is about time. The rising economic, health-related, and environmental costs of burning fossil fuels, combined with the accelerating impacts of climate change repeatedly emphasize the urgency for transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy (RE). Those ready to lead the fossil fuel and nuclear phase-out and a 100 % renewable energy transition must speak up in New York and inspire the world.

From North America, to Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania: Local, regional and national governments demonstrate that 100% RE is technically possible, economically advisable, socially imperative and environmentally inevitable. They also highlight that the decision to phase out fossil fuels is solely dependent on political will.

100% RE is already reality today…

In Germany, a network of 100% RE regions includes 74 regions and municipalities that have already reached 100% renewable energy targets. One of them is Rhein-Hunsrück District. As of early 2012, the District of Rhein-Hunsrück with about 100.000 inhabitants officially began producing more than 100% of its electricity needs, crossing an important milestone on the way to creating a truly 100% renewable energy system. In early 2014, it is estimated that Rhein-Hunsrück already produced over 230% of its total electricity needs, exporting the surplus to the regional and national grid, or re-directing it into local transportation, hydrogen or methane production. Through improvements in energy efficiency and the extension of renewable energy, the district has converted energy import costs into regional jobs and added value. Within 15 years, Rhein-Hunsrück District`s CO2 emissions were reduced by 9.500 tons, the cost savings amount to € 2 million.

Read more: http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/100-renewable-energy-as-centerpiece-of-a-climate-action-plan/

Battlefields to Farm Fields: Veterans Heal Themselves and Feed a Nation

black-veteran-farmers-The-Raifords-GroundOperationsBecause the vast majority of America’s farmers are aging fast, the country needs one million new farmers over the next 10 years to continue feeding itself.

Fortunately, the Cavalry is coming to the rescue — literally, from the Marines, Army, Air Force and National Guard.

With their physical conditioning and discipline, returning U.S. veterans are the ideal candidates to become the next generation of farmers to provide the nation with food security. Recognizing the connection between local food security and national security, these young men and women are forging a network in sustainable agriculture to benefit us all.

Veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries, as well as other physical and emotional wounds of war, often find it difficult to reintegrate back into a traditional job and daily routine. Through sustainable farming, veterans are able to heal from these wounds through working on the land, creating a nurturing life, and finding a support system of other veteran farmers.

“As a combat veteran, I was involved in a lot of destruction. “ says Mike, a former Marine. “Shifting from that to growing something, seeing something thrive, does something on a very deep spiritual level.”

Read more: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/battlefields-farm-fields-veterans-heal-feed-nation/

Biking or walking may be the secret to a happier life

happy bikeThere are many anecdotes about the joys of trading in a car for a bike, and now researchers in England are backing this idea with data. A study from the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research finds that people who switch from commuting by car to biking or walking improved their overall well-being.

Researchers examined data from 18,000 commuters in Britain, collected by the British Household Panel Survey. They looked at mental health indicators such as feelings of worthlessness, sleepless nights, the ability to face problems and unhappiness. People who walk or cycle to work reported better concentration and lower levels of stress, compared to people who drive a car.

The study controlled for a number of factors that also impact well-being, like income, relationship changes and switching jobs.

Read more: http://www.treehugger.com/health/biking-or-walking-may-be-secret-happier-life.html

7 Spices That Could Extend Your Life

Super healing powers are hiding out in your spice cabinet.

Spice Up Your Life

Avoid an overflowing medicine cabinet by tapping into the healing powers hiding inside your kitchen cabinet. More and more modern-day research identifies what ancient healers have known for centuries—spices hold amazing healing properties. With many overflowing with natural compounds that deter type 2 diabetes, one of the nation’s fastest-growing medical problems, spices could serve as an economical way to save lives. The best part? They’re delicious! Enjoy!


corrianderSuperfood effects: Aromatic and medicinal, this spice has been shown to ease anxiety and help people sleep. It’s also an important spice for people living with type 2 diabetes. A 2011 study published in the Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences found coriander acted as a natural blood-sugar and cholesterol regulator.

Use it: Ground coriander seeds pair well with eggs, salad dressings, chili sauces, and guacamole.

Try it: Coriander-Scented Baby Potatoes

Read more: http://www.organicgardening.com/cook/7-spices-that-could-extend-your-life

Australia Scientists Print Cheap Solar Panels Onto Flexible Plastic

Australian-researchers-plastic-printed-solar-cells-CSIROAustralian solar power scientists have developed a cheap and fast way to print solar cells onto plastic — plastic that can be used to cover an iPad or tint the windows covering a skyscraper.

Using organic solar ink and a new printer, a consortium of scientists from Australian universities can now print solar collectors onto flexible pages of PET plastic 16 inches long by 12 inches wide.

“It’s very cheap. The way in which it looks and works is quite different to conventional silicon rooftop solar,” said senior research scientist Dr Fiona Scholes. “Connecting our solar panels is as simple as connecting a battery.”

Read more: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/australia-scientists-print-cheap-solar-panels-onto-flexible-plastic/

Why we should revive the art of saving seeds

Tomatoes to French or runner beans, there’s no need to buy seeds. Simple steps save them and preserve heritage varieties, advises our Vertical Veg man as part of his series about container gardening

Seeds from a heritage variety of French beansUntil 50 or 60 years ago, saving some of your own seed was an integral part of the gardening year for most vegetable gardeners. Over generations, their dedication helped to create a rich diversity of vegetable varieties, adapted to suit the local soil and climate. Knowledge of how to save seeds has largely been lost by amateur gardeners and today many of us assume that they are something you have to buy in packets from seed suppliers.

This is a shame. Not least because there is something immensely rewarding about saving a few of your own seeds. You get to watch them grow the following year. You can share them with your friends and neighbours, or give them away as presents. You can take them to seed swaps to exchange for other intriguing varieties. And by saving your own seeds you can also help to preserve heritage varieties, many of which are in danger of being lost.

Some vegetables are easier to save seeds from than others. When growing in a small space, it’s easiest to save good quality seeds from “self-pollinated” crops. This is because self-pollinated plants hold all the genetic information they need for healthy offspring within one plant (so even if you are only growing one plant you can save seeds from it – although the more the better). Self-pollinated crops include tomatoes, French and runner beans, lettuce, peas, chillies, and peppers.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/12/why-we-should-revive-the-art-of-saving-seeds

7 Reasons You Need to Eat More Eggs

Eggs—the most perfect food on Earth?

7 reasons why you should eat more eggsMany Americans were raised on the theory that eggs were loaded with artery-clogging cholesterol, and that eating them was a surefire way to promote coronary heart disease. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though. When Wake Forest University researchers reviewed some of the top scientific studies, they found no link between eating eggs and heart disease.

In fact, many leading health experts call eggs the perfect food. The white part and the yolk work together to bring you an ample serving of important vitamins, healthy fats, trace minerals, and other nutrients—all in one convenient, low-calorie package. After all, a single whole, large egg contains just 72 calories. They’re easy to cook, too—nature’s healthy version of convenience food. Here are seven reasons to put eggs back on your menu.

Read more: http://www.organicgardening.com/living/7-reasons-you-need-to-eat-more-eggs

One Weird Trick to Fix Farms Forever

Does David Brandt hold the secret for turning industrial agriculture from global-warming problem to carbon solution?

CHATTING WITH DAVID BRANDT outside his barn on a sunny June morning, I wonder if he doesn't look too much like a farmer—what a casting director might call "too on the nose." He's a beefy man in bib overalls, a plaid shirt, and well-worn boots, with short, gray-streaked hair peeking out from a trucker hat over a round, unlined face ruddy from the sun.

Brandt farms 1,200 acres in the central Ohio village of Carroll, pop. 524. This is the domain of industrial-scale agriculture—a vast expanse of corn and soybean fields broken up only by the sprawl creeping in from Columbus. Brandt, 66, raised his kids on this farm after taking it over from his grandfather. Yet he sounds not so much like a subject of King Corn as, say, one of the organics geeks I work with on my own farm in North Carolina. In his g-droppin' Midwestern monotone, he's telling me about his cover crops—fall plantings that blanket the ground in winter and are allowed to rot in place come spring, a practice as eyebrow-raising in corn country as holding a naked yoga class in the pasture. The plot I can see looks just about identical to the carpet of corn that stretches from eastern Ohio to western Nebraska. But last winter it would have looked very different: While the neighbors' fields lay fallow, Brandt's teemed with a mix of as many as 14 different plant species.

"Our cover crops work together like a community—you have several people helping instead of one, and if one slows down, the others kind of pick it up," he says. "We're trying to mimic Mother Nature." Cover crops have helped Brandt slash his use of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. Half of his corn and soy crop is flourishing without any of either; the other half has gotten much lower applications of those pricey additives than what crop consultants around here recommend.

But Brandt's not trying to go organic—he prefers the flexibility of being able to use conventional inputs in a pinch. He refuses, however, to compromise on one thing: tilling. Brandt never, ever tills his soil. Ripping the soil up with steel blades creates a nice, clean, weed-free bed for seeds, but it also disturbs soil microbiota and leaves dirt vulnerable to erosion. The promise of no-till, cover-crop farming is that it not only can reduce agrichemical use, but also help keep the heartland churning out food—even as extreme weather events like drought and floods become ever more common.

Read more: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/09/cover-crops-no-till-david-brandt-farms