Check out this amazing, inspirational video about 350.org events on Saturday:
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Check out this amazing, inspirational video about 350.org events on Saturday:
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Subject: Tell Pesticide Peddlers: We support Michelle Obama's organic garden.
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has a bone to pick with Michelle Obama. MACA represents chemical companies that produce pesticides, and they are angry that Michelle Obama isn't using chemicals in her organic garden at the White House.
In an email they forwarded to their supporters, a MACA spokesman wrote, "While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made [us] shudder." MACA went on to publish a letter it had sent to the First Lady asking her to consider using chemicals -- or what they call "crop protection products" -- in her garden.
Michelle Obama and has done America a great service by publicizing the importance of nutritious food for kids (she's growing the garden in partnership with a local elementary school class) as well as locally grown produce as an important, environmentally sustainable food source.
I just signed a petition telling MACA's board members to stop using Michelle Obama's garden to spread propaganda about produce needing to be sprayed with chemicals. I hope you will, too.
Please have a look and take action.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Harnessing the Power of Individuals and Communities to Solve Climate Change
Please vote now. When you get to the JustMeans web site click the 'Support it' button on the upper right side of the page. Registration on their site is quick and free, and JustMeans promises not to spam you.
Voting ends Tuesday, April 7th - but please don't wait until then!
If our project receives the most votes it will greatly help our chances of being funded. Please vote now and provide your thoughts and ideas in the comment section - those help a lot, too. Please help us make the work of solving climate change personal and powerful.
The Vermont Energy Investment Corporation - a nonprofit energy efficiency and renewable energy business of 170 people - recently adopted a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" (BHAG) to offset their carbon footprint by 10,000-fold in 20 years! By 2027, they will avoid 10,000 pounds of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for every pound they contribute, and they'll avoid 20 million tons annually of GHG emissions by 2027. Harnessing the power of individuals, we want to help every organization and community to set and achieve similar GHG reduction goals.
We live in a world of workplace communities similar to VEIC. We believe that community carbon footprints and reduction strategies must leverage the power of the individual. The personal decisions we make (the foods we eat, where we go on vacation, the cars we drive, how we heat our houses) have huge impacts. We're building a comprehensive and portable suite of tools and incentives for empowering individuals - singly and collectively - as members of communities that want to better understand, manage and reduce their carbon footprints and impacts on the shared environment. We'll use the campaign to help workplace communities everywhere to track emissions and progress, use social networking and incentives from businesses to inspire and motivate, and embrace ideas like internal carbon trading, games, incentives, and challenges. As we develop, test, and refine these ideas, we'll promote our results widely with the help of TrueMajority and other partner organizations - while making our open-source ideas and toolkit free to organizations and communities around the world so that they can use and continually improve the toolkit to help change the world one person at a time.
Please help fund our project by clicking here now.
Posted by Melissa at 3:14 PM
Saturday, March 28, 2009
For too many reasons, cancer and other issues of health have been on my mind recently. Below are a few articles I came across recently that I'd like to share here. More to come...
Radon is the Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer in the US
Radon is a radioactive gas released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soil.
Radioactive particles from radon can damage cells that line the lungs and lead to lung cancer.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is associated with 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year.
Studies showing a link between radon and lung cancer in humans include studies of underground uranium miners and of the general population exposed to radon in their homes.
Testing is the only way to know if your home has elevated radon levels. Health authorities recommend radon testing and encourage corrective action when necessary.
***I've been experiencing a slight addiction to pretzels covered in a sweet yogurt coating that I can buy in bulk at the local food coop. One of the ingredients is fractionated palm oil, so I decided to look into it... What I discovered has turned me off from my little tasty snacks.***
I've noticed an influx of "health" foods containing fractionated palm oil. How is this different from regular palm oil and from palm kernel oil? Is it healthier?
A Answer (Published 10/18/2002)
Updated on 3/30/2005
You've asked a good question about a rather confusing subject. The African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) or its American hybrid variety (Elaeis oleifra) is widely cultivated in tropical areas and produces a fleshy fruit from which two oils are extracted: (1) palm oil from the fruit and (2) palm kernel oil from the pit. Both contain a lot of saturated fat, but of the two, palm oil is the healthier, both because it has less saturated fat and because it has high antioxidant activity from a significant content of natural vitamin E (including both tocopherols and tocotrienols). It can also be extracted gently by pressing the pulpy fruit.
Rees Moerman, product engineer at Spectrum Naturals, a California company, which sells high quality expeller-pressed oils, tells me that unlike palm oil, palm kernel oil can't be obtained organically. Instead, the oil must be extracted from the pit with a gasoline-like hydrocarbon solvent. In short, palm kernel oil is a cheap, unhealthy fat, and I recommend avoiding food products containing it.
Fractionation is a further phase of palm oil processing, designed to extract and concentrate specific fatty acid fractions. Fractionated palm oil, as found in food products, has a higher concentration of saturated fat than regular palm oil and is used for the convenience of manufacturers who like its stability and melting characteristics. The healthful aspects of natural palm oil are largely lost in the process. I've noticed that fractionated palm oil is a common ingredient in many power bars sold in health-food stores.
The bottom line is that of all these oils, organic, minimally processed palm oil is the healthiest, followed by conventionally processed palm oil. Palm kernel oil is less healthy still, and fractionated palm oil is the least desirable.
***Andrew Weil, M.D. answers a question I've often wondered about: incense and lung health***
Is it true that incense can cause cancer? I was told that it is very bad for your lungs.
Answer (Published 10/17/2008)
New research suggests that long-term exposure to burning incense does present a danger to the respiratory tract including increased risks of nasal/sinus cancers and malignancies of the tongue, mouth and throat. While this new study, from Denmark, didn't find any increased risk of lung cancer, the American Lung Association (ALA) has decided to list incense as a risk factor for all respiratory disorders. A spokesman for the ALA said that burning incense isn't as big a risk to the lungs as smoking, but is still hazardous, because incense smoke contains known carcinogens such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), carbonyls, and benzene.
For this study the Danish researchers interviewed more than 61,000 Singapore Chinese between the years of 1993 and 1998. All of the participants were 45 to 74 years old at the time and none had cancer when they were first interviewed. The research team then followed the participants through 2005 and found that 325 of them developed respiratory tract cancers associated with incense use. The risks increased both in smokers and in individuals who never smoked indicating that smoke from burning incense has an independent effect on the respiratory tract. The study was published in the October 1, 2008 issue of Cancer.
Earlier research from Taiwan showed that burning incense in a badly ventilated temple produced PAH concentrations 19 times higher than they were outside and slightly higher than they were at a local traffic intersection. Levels of the PAH benzopyrene, thought to cause lung cancer in smokers, were as much as 45 times higher in the temple than they were in homes where residents smoked tobacco. Concentrations increased dramatically during major ceremonies when more visitors than normal were present and hundreds - even a thousand or more - sticks of incense were burned simultaneously.
Whether or not you burn incense at home, you should be aware that any smoke can be a significant source of indoor air pollution, including combustion products from candles, which can emit varying amounts of soot and pollutants. If you must use candles, keep wicks trimmed to 1/2 inch, make sure there is no debris in the wax and don't burn candles in a draft.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Posted: 10 Nov 2008 02:00 AM CST
In case you missed Al Gore's OpEd in yesterday's New York Times:
... Here is the good news: the bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis.
Economists across the spectrum — including Martin Feldstein and Lawrence Summers — agree that large and rapid investments in a jobs-intensive infrastructure initiative is the best way to revive our economy in a quick and sustainable way. Many also agree that our economy will fall behind if we continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign oil every year. Moreover, national security experts in both parties agree that we face a dangerous strategic vulnerability if the world suddenly loses access to Middle Eastern oil...
... What follows is a five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to producing 100 percent of our electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years. It is a plan that would simultaneously move us toward solutions to the climate crisis and the economic crisis — and create millions of new jobs that cannot be outsourced.
First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity.
Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used...
Third, we should help America’s automobile industry (not only the Big Three but the innovative new startup companies as well) to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available as the rest of this plan matures...
Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting...
Fifth, the United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here at home, and by leading the world’s efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation.
Of course, the best way — indeed the only way — to secure a global agreement to safeguard our future is by re-establishing the United States as the country with the moral and political authority to lead the world toward a solution...
Read the whole piece here.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I've been using this blog mostly as a place to dump all the environmental and health news I find interesting. I enjoy sharing important information with anyone who might happen to stumble upon paradoxish.com or receive my blog emails. I generally don't take the time to put in much of my own comments because I usually feel the article or video I'm linking to speaks for itself. But today is different.
While the information below is self-explanatory, I still wanted to put in my own plug for this bicycle organization project in Cape Verde (Africa) that my friend Ross started. A great west-coast company called Sonadei is supporting Ross' organization focused on helping people in Cape Verde raise money to buy helmets, learn basic bike maintenance and get out cycling more often. Sonadei has made cool t-shirts with a Cape Verde design (you can even get them made out of recycled cotton! they're really soft!), the proceeds of which benefit the African organization. Sonadei also makes it really easy to make a donation to the organization through Paypal.
Click on the image below to check out the Cape Verde t-shirts. You can click on "recycled t-shirts" once you're on the site to find the Cape Verde recycled t-shirts in many colors and sizes. Please consider Sonadei's Cape Verde t-shirt as a great gift for someone this holiday season - and get out there on your bikes before the snow starts!
Here's some info from the Sonadei website:
I leave you with Ross' advice. After you buy a Cape Verde t-shirt, "And then, since you are already on a roll, take a walk, ride a bike, put yourself back into the cradle of nature that we have left behind when we built our little empire. Pick up one piece of trash; make the world we all share a better place. If we don’t love one another, who will?"
Happiness in cycling to all,
(PS- sorry if the formatting looked strange for some of the text; not sure how to get around that; believe me, I tried!)
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Our attention has been consumed with Wall Street drama and the comedy event of the season -- tonight's vice-presidential debate -- but many people don't realize that in most states if you're not registered to vote by Monday, you cannot vote for president in November. In some states, the deadline is as early as this Saturday!
Will you do me a favor? Beginning right now, will you start asking everyone you know if they are registered to vote? Before you say hello, will you ask, "Hey, are you registered to vote here in (name of town)? 'Cause the deadline is Monday, and you have to be registered where you live." (Click here to find out what the deadline is in your state and click here to find out what the procedures are to sign up and vote. If you are a college student and want to find out where your vote counts most, click here.)
For the next couple of days, each of us has to do whatever we can to get people registered. Especially people who have recently moved, or students who are at college (students can vote where they go to school). Obama's two strongest bases -- young people and African Americans -- are traditionally the two groups who have the lowest voter registration and the lowest voter turnout. For Obama to win, this must change -- and it has to change today or tomorrow, not next week.
So send an email to everyone in your address book and attach this link so they know how to register and what the deadline is. Call the local Obama headquarters or the NAACP or black pastors or student Dems and offer your time to register people this weekend. It's called "the ground game," and it's where we always lose to the Republicans. Each of us need to commit to doing something in the next 48 hours to get the unregistered registered.
The more enlightened states allow you to register the day you vote. But in most places the deadline to register is this Monday, October 6th at 5pm.
Thanks for taking the time to make sure everyone you know is registered, and for helping them out if they're not.
P.P.S. Bill Maher's new film, "Religulous," opens tomorrow. It's hilarious and it raises some important and controversial questions. Go see it if you have a chance. It's directed by Larry Charles, the director of "Borat."
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Friday, September 12, 2008
Vicious: Sarah Palin’s War on Wolves
by Marybeth Holleman
Contrary to what Palin would have Americans believe, only 14 percent of Alaskans hunt. Of those, a small percentage are true subsistence hunters. Palin wants wolves and bears scraped from the landscape so it’s easier for urban hunters to get their kill in a weekend.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
This email forward courtesy of mom seems worthwhile to share here. Similar parallels exist throughout nature, not just with food. We are what we eat.
It's been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish... all before making a human. He made and provided what we'd need before we were born. These are best & more powerful when eaten raw.
God left us a great clue as to what foods help what part of our body!
A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye... and YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.
Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.
A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.
Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
Avocadoes, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).
Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.
Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.
Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries
Oranges, Grapefruits, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.
Onions look like the body's cells. Today's research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, Garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Democrats are caving on offshore drilling.
As reported by the Christian Science Monitor (emphasis added):
"... In a shift on Saturday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the House will take up comprehensive energy legislation next month that includes partially lifting the 1981 ban on offshore drilling...
"... On Friday, Senate majority leader Harry Reid said that the Senate will also examine lifting the ban, which now covers all but central and western portions of the Gulf of Mexico and some parts of Alaska...
"... Until Saturday, Speaker Pelosi called the notion that more drilling would lower prices at the pump a hoax and said that there would be no votes on this issue on her watch.
"With the US controlling some 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, drilling in protected sites won't solve the problem of high gas prices in the short term, if ever, Democrats said.
"... In a bid to force an offshore drilling vote, GOP senators blocked votes on all other elements of an energy plan, including a popular measure to extend tax breaks for renewable energy."
What's happened is that the Democrats are losing political ground on this issue and the Republicans are holding to ransom the rest of the Democrats' energy agenda. For reasons of politics, therefore, the Democrats have decided to let the offshore drilling slide.
Over on ClimateProgress, Joe Romm, for whom I have great respect, has written repeatedly about how offshore drilling is a crock and won't make gas cheaper, but he has also written that he thinks the Democrats may as well compromise with the Republicans on this point.
I disagree. And this is not a party political point I'm making. It's not even a savvy policy point. This is a plain old disappointed citizen's point.
The disappointment comes from the fact that politicians on both sides of the aisle still don't really get that climate change is a planetary time bomb. They still think it's a political football.
The Republicans are using offshore drilling to score political points. The Democrats are relenting in order to avoid those Republican points being scored.
Neither party is exhibiting the type of leadership needed by the people of the United States and the rest of the world on this offshore drilling issue. It's a simple repeat of the gas tax pandering from earlier in the present election cycle--except that this time we can't be proud of the outcome.
Here's the thing. There is no question that high gas prices are killing people at the pumps and that this is awful. But what we absolutely don't need are false solutions that do nothing but perpetuate the illusion that we can continue to depend on fossil fuel.
When does a leader who cares about climate change draw a line in the sand? If not offshore drilling then where? Do we let the debate proceed next to shale oil extraction and coal liquification or do we begin the battle for hearts and minds now?
Instead of pandering to short term opinion trends, we need to expand on the vision of a better life for Americans and citizens of the planet that doesn't depend on oil.
A vision where our city kids don't suffer from asthma, where our lakes and rivers don't die of acid rain, where we preserve the great heritage of our beautiful land, where we aren't forced to spend upwards of 15 percent of our incomes on owning and fueling our cars, where we are independent of foreign oil and where we don't allow our planet to literally melt.
What would leadership towards that kind of vision look like when it comes to offshore drilling?
It would look like our Democratic and Republican politicians siding with the truth and with the people. It would look like leading from principle instead of leading from opinion poll figures. It would look like drawing the line in the sand on climate change now instead of later.
A principled political leader on this issue would say that high gas prices make life hard, but that offshore drilling won't help and explain why. A principled leader would do the right thing and use the opinion polls to help them figure out what needs to be explained to the people rather than what direction the policy wind should blow.
We are going to have to face some hardship on energy. And the reasons they are going to be difficult is that we didn't heed the warnings sooner which would have allowed us to make the transition smoother.
But the good news is that, if we don't get diverted by political hoaxes like trying to squeeze a small amount of oil out of our coasts and instead invest in renewable energy and efficiency, we will soon have an energy system that is clean, long-lasting, independent of foreign oil, and will save the planet for our grandchildren.
What's happening today, with Pelosi's decision, is that the politicians of both parties have exhibited their lack of faith in the people's ability to understand the issues and the possibilities.
If the politicians pander on offshore drilling then all they do is postpone the conversation, allow it to move one step closer to shale oil and liquified coal, and confuse the voters with their double-talk. They forgo their responsibility to lead.
That's sad. It's disappointing. And it's wrong.
Photo courtesy of Socius in Daejeon.
Monday, August 11, 2008
NPR Misses Real Story, Plants Wrong Seeds
by Frances Moore Lappe
I depend a lot on NPR, so my heart sank as I listened to Morning Edition's recent series on the world hunger crisis. Using Honduras as its case study, the four-part series reinforces dangerous myths that actually block us from seeing the real solutions to hunger all around us.
We're told that "across the globe .... [f]ood is expensive and there's not enough food to feed empty stomachs." No. In fact the world produces enough to make us all plump. True, today an estimated 100 million additional people are, or will soon be, facing hunger as food prices exceed their budgets, but the deeper lack they're experiencing is not food itself. It is power.
Drawing the distinction between lack of food -- a symptom -- and lack of power -- a cause -- is essential to seeing solutions. Yet this series portrays as progress examples that do nothing to correct, and in fact worsen, the underlying power imbalances at the heart of hunger.
In the broadcast, we hear that Wal-Mart is a solution because it provides a market for poor Honduran farmers who otherwise would have no way to sell their produce. But if access to a market is, in itself, farmers' salvation, here at home each year more than 10,000 farmers would not be going under. The question is who controls a market: Where the answer is a few monopsony buyers -- what Wal-Mart represents in the NPR case study -- power remains with them. They set the terms and they decide whether to stay or to leave.
Fortunately, in Latin America and elsewhere some rural communities are beginning to free themselves from distant, monopoly power. Imagine this: In what may be the pesticide capital of the world, the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, pests developed insecticide resistance and genetically modified (GM) cotton failed to live up to Monsanto's promises. Farmers faced catastrophic losses, triggering thousands of suicides, and many then began to move in another direction. Now, almost two thousand villages are embracing community-managed sustainable farming using natural pest controls, not purchased chemicals, and are enjoying improved incomes and health.
Yet, the NPR series ignores such hopeful examples. It notes gloomily that most small Honduran farmers will cut back on production this year, despite higher prices for their crops, because "prices for fertilizer and pesticides have gone up even more than food prices."
In a disturbing disconnect, the series still promote as solutions not only purchased farm chemicals but genetically modified seeds; yet the cost of these seeds puts them out of reach of many poor farmers, as acknowledged at the tail end of the second piece in the series. Worse, and not acknowledged, are the documented, serious environmental and health risks linked to GM seeds.
NPR misses the real story: On every continent one can find empowered rural communities developing GM-free, agro-ecological farming systems. They're succeeding: The largest overview study, looking at farmers transitioning to sustainable practices in 57 countries, involving almost 13 million small farmers on almost 100 million acres, found after four years that average yields were up 79 percent.
NPR chose to reinforce the myth that the only hope for poor rural people is dependency on concentrated economic power when, all over the world, poor farming communities are discovering their own power to work with each other and with nature to build healthier, more secure, and more democratic lives.
What a lost opportunity.
Frances Moore Lappe of the Small Planet Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the author of sixteen books, most recently Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity, and Courage in a World Gone Mad.
Posted by Melissa at 9:28 PM
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Click on the boot to vote for this new Doc Martin design from Project Porchlight. Better yet, check out the Project Porchlight website to learn more about energy efficiency and how we can all make a difference by changing just one lightbulb.
Just click on the boot and then click "Love it" when you are taken to the site that opens.