Friday, December 29, 2006

Gas Explosion in Nigeria


Fast Facts Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer, the world's seventh-biggest exporter and fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.
(AP)







Gasoline gushing from a ruptured pipeline exploded Friday as villagers scavenged for fuel, setting off an inferno that killed up to 200 and left charred bodies scattered around the site in this oil-rich country of mostly poor people. Grim-faced rescue workers swung corpses into a mass grave as dozens of other scorched bodies awaited collection. It appeared some victims tried to flee the unfolding disaster only to be overtaken by flames spreading across the fuel slick. The stark outlines of white skeletons lay against a beach charred black by fire. Other bodies floated alongside dozens of plastic jerrycans in the nearby waters of the coastal mangrove swamp. The jerrycans, which had contained pilfered gas, were twisted by the heat of the explosion. More than 1,000 people in Nigeria, Africa's oil giant, have died in recent years when fuel they were pilfering from pipelines caught fire — and officials said it would likely happen again. "Because this thing has happened many times before, we thought it would be a deterrent, but apparently it wasn't enough deterrent for these people who died," said Lagos State Health Commissioner Tola Kasali, surveying the scene near Ilado, about 30 miles east of the main city of Lagos. "Anywhere you have a pipeline in this country, you have this problem because people are greedy and they want quick money," Kasali said. It was not known what set off the fire. An FBI official in Washington said the bureau was working on the case but did not explain whether foul play was suspected. The FBI often gets involved in criminal investigations abroad when Americans are involved or when asked by the host country. Police and rescue workers said villagers were collecting the gushing gas when the fuel ignited, and Lagos Police Commissioner Emmanuel Adebayo said 150 to 200 people died. The Red Cross had said it was treating survivors, but no live victims were seen. By day's end, about 100 of the dead had been interred, and Kasali said cleanup efforts would resume Saturday. He said the uncollected bodies pose a health risk to the millions of inhabitants of Lagos, whose skyline could be seen on the horizon. "We just decided to give them a mass burial because no one can recognize them — even their family members can't identify them," he said. "We're concerned that if we don't do that, we'll create a health emergency in Lagos since it happened by the shore and the water will just flow back into the city." The blaze took place far from the center of the fishing village of Ilado, and it was unclear if there were witnesses. Boatsmen said they heard an explosion before dawn and saw the glow of flames. The pipeline was run by Nigeria's state oil company and was used to transport gasoline across the country for national consumption. The impoverished people of Nigeria often tap pipelines, seeking fuel for cooking or resale on the black market. The highly volatile gasoline can ignite, incinerating those collecting it. In 2004 a pipeline exploded near Lagos as thieves tried to siphon fuel, killing as many as 50 people. A 1998 pipeline blast killed more than 700 in southern Nigeria. Most of Nigeria's oil is pumped in the southern Niger Delta region, far from Lagos. Pipes carry the crude to refineries across the nation. Nigeria, which normally pumps 2.5 million barrels of crude per day, is Africa's largest producer and the fifth-largest source of imports to the United States. It was unlikely Friday's blast would affect exports. The pipeline explosion slowed a drop in crude oil futures as the International Energy Agency sharply cut its forecasts for world oil demand. Nigerian militants have kidnapped foreign oil workers to press their demands for local control of oil revenues by inhabitants of the oil-producing south, who feel cheated out of the wealth produced in their backyards. Other groups have used kidnappings as bargaining chips to prod oil companies to increase jobs or improve benefits. Hostages are usually released unharmed. Three captive foreign oil workers in the oil hub of Port Harcourt were released Friday, a day after they were snatched from a bus as they headed to work, regional police commander Samuel Adetuyi said. It was the second attack this week on foreigners in Port Harcourt, where many oil companies keep their main Nigerian operations. On Wednesday, a gunman on a motorcycle shot and killed an American worker for the U.S. drilling equipment maker Baker Hughes Inc. The FBI is helping with the investigation.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

disturbing news about closing of federal libraries


Cost-cutting moves at the EPA and elsewhere deny researchers and the
public access to vital data, critics say.


Closure of 6 federal libraries angers scientists


By Tim Reiterman, Times Staff Writer
December 8, 2006



The NASA library in Greenbelt, Md., was part of John C. Mather's daily
routine for years leading up to the astrophysicist's sharing of the 2006
Nobel Prize for shedding new light on the big bang theory of creation.
He researched existing space hardware and instrumentation there while
designing a satellite that collected data for his prize-winning
discovery.

So when he learned that federal officials were planning to close the
library, Mather was stunned.

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"It is completely absurd," he said. "The library is a national treasure.
It is probably the single strongest library for space science and
engineering in the universe."

Mather is one of thousands of people who critics say could lose access
to research materials as the government closes and downsizes libraries
that house collections vital to scientific investigation and the
enforcement of environmental laws.

Across the country, half a dozen federal libraries are closed or
closing. Others have reduced staffing, hours of operation, public access
or subscriptions.

In Washington, books are boxed at an Environmental Protection Agency
library that helped toxicologists assess health effects of pesticides
and chemicals. The General Services Administration headquarters library
where patrons conducted research on real estate, telecommunications and
government finance was shuttered this year, as was the Department of
Energy headquarters library that collected literature for government
scientists and contractors.

Officials say the cutbacks have been driven by tight budgets, declining
patronage and rising demand for online services. And they say leaner
operations will improve efficiency while maintaining essential
functions. "We are trying to improve access and ... do more with a
little less money," said Linda Travers, acting assistant administrator
for the EPA's office of environmental information.

Although hundreds of federal libraries remain open, critics say the
downsizing, especially at the EPA, demonstrates the Bush
administration's indifference to transparent government and to
scientific solutions to many pressing problems.

"Crucial information generated with taxpayer dollars is now not
available to the public and the scientists who need it," said Emily
Sheketoff, head of the American Library Assn.'s Washington office. "This
is the beginning of the elimination of all these government libraries. I
think you have an administration that does not have a commitment to
access to information."

Opponents of the EPA's reductions say they are likely to slow the work
of regulators and scientists who depend on librarians and reference
materials that are not online.

They fear that some publications will never be digitized because of
copyright restrictions or cost. They worry that important material will
be dispersed, discarded or lost. And they contend that many people will
lose access to collections because they cannot navigate online services.

In addition to shutting its headquarters library and a chemical library
in the nation's capital, the EPA has closed regional libraries in
Chicago, Kansas City and Dallas that have helped federal investigators
track sources of fish kills and identify companies responsible for
pollution.

The plans prompted the EPA's own compliance office to express concern
that cuts could weaken efforts to enforce environmental laws. EPA
employee unions decried the severity of a proposed $2.5-million cut in a
library budget that was $7 million last fiscal year. And, at the request
of three House committees, the Government Accountability Office now is
examining the reductions.

"Congress should not allow EPA to gut its library system, which plays a
critical role in supporting the agency's mission to protect the
environment and public health," 18 U.S. senators, nearly all Democrats,
said last month in a letter seeking restoration of library services
until the issue can be reviewed.

The EPA said the president's proposed budget had accelerated efforts to
modernize the system, and they said that library visits were declining.

"I think we are living in a world of digitized information," said
Travers of the EPA. "In the end there will be better access."

Travers said all EPA-generated documents from the closed libraries would
be online by January and the rest of the agency's 51,000 reports would
be digitized within two years. The EPA, she said, would not digitize
books, scientific journals and non-EPA studies but would keep one copy
of each available for inter-library loans.

The Library of Congress has digitized more than 11 million items in its
collection of 132 million, and it retains the originals. But Deanna
Marcum, associate librarian for library services there, said maintaining
library space with staff provides important benefits, especially at
specialized libraries.

"The librarians are so accustomed to doing searches and know the sources
so well, and it would be difficult for scientists to have the same level
of comfort," she said. "So, will they take the information they get and
use it rather than being exhaustive in their searches?"

An EPA study in 2004 concluded that the libraries saved millions of
dollars a year by performing time-consuming research for agency staff
members. The general public also uses EPA's libraries.

When a sanitary district proposed a sludge incinerator along Lake
Michigan in Waukegan, Ill., a few years ago, activist Verena Owen went
to the EPA library in Chicago, and with help from a librarian researched
how much mercury comes from incinerators and its toxicity. Owen said her
findings helped a successful campaign to relocate the plant.

When she recently heard the library had gone dark, Owen was outraged:
"If I had known about it, I would have chained myself to the bookcase."

The EPA's chemical library in Washington assisted scientists who
developed drinking water standards and studied the effects of
pesticides. "It allowed scientists to check on what they were being told
by companies registering new chemicals," said Linda Miller Poore, a
longtime contract librarian there.

In May, after learning the library would close, Poore took a job at
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center library in Greenbelt, Md., a facility
that supports space exploration and global warming research.

But Poore said she was notified recently that the Goddard library would
be closed Jan. 1, leaving its collection available only online. She said
she was fired Nov. 17 after telling patrons about the plans. The company
that employed her declined to comment.

Mather, the Nobel-winning astrophysicist, said the library's paper
collection is indispensable. "If we ended up moving into an age where
paper did not exist, we would need the equivalent to reach all the texts
and handbooks, and until the great library is digitized, I think we need
the paper," he said.

In the wake of complaints from scientists and engineers, the center's
operations director, Tom Paprocki, said the library was being funded
through March and that officials were exploring whether to preserve part
of it.

The discovery of discarded scientific journals last year in a dumpster
at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley prompted a union
grievance.

Plans to slash library space later were scaled back, said union
president and scientist Paul K. Davis. "If not for our efforts, about
three-quarters of the library materials would have been gone," he said.

At the Energy Department's headquarters, people researched radiation
exposure of family members who worked with atomic energy or weaponry.
And the library staff helped DOE employees and contractors.

This summer the library closed, except the law section, and became an
online service. "By taking our headquarters library and making it
virtual, more people can access it than just being in Washington," said
Energy Department spokeswoman Megan Barnett, adding that the
department's labs often have their own libraries.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rocky Mountain Sustainability Summit


Rocky Mountain Sustainability Summit:Forging Solutions at Colleges and UniversitiesFebruary 22-23, 2007University of Colorado at BoulderOnline registration has begun! To register, visithttp://ecenter.colorado.edu/rmss2007/register.html

The 2007 Rocky Mountain Sustainability Summit will provide a networkingforumfor representatives from campuses in the Rocky Mountain Region to learnabouta variety of environmental issues facing institutions, explore ways ofimproving campus practices and policies, and ultimately work toward boostingthe triple bottom line of environmental, social and economic sustainability.The summit will include:--Sessions and workshops covering: institutionalizing sustainability; bestpractices for operationalizing sustainability; creating a culture ofsustainability; current and cutting edge issues; collaborative peer groupnetworking; regional sustainability strategies--Featured speakers: David Orr, Hunter Lovins, Salt Lake City Mayor RockyAnderson, Senator Ken Salazar (invited), Senator Gary Hart, Governor-ElectBill Ritter (presumptive), and others to be announced soon--Plenary panels on "Elevating Sustainability in the Mountain States Region"and "Campus Leadership for Climate Action"--Pre-Summit workshop on February 21st: "Fostering Sustainable Behavior"withCommunity Based Social Marketing expert Doug McKenzie-Mohr--Screening of "Rules of the Game" and discussion with Solitaire Townsend ofFuterra--Green Products Expo with the latest sustainable products and services forinstitutional applicationsRequest for Campus Liaisons - Can you help spread the word about this eventtostudents, faculty and staff on your Rocky Mountain campus? Please emailrmss2007@colorado.edu to learn more about being a campus liaison.Summit Sponsorship - Campuses, agencies, and corporations can support thisevent! For more information, visit:http://ecenter.colorado.edu/rmss2007/sponsors.htmlGreen Products Expo - Does your company offer a green product or servicethatyou would like to display at our Green Products Expo? We are now acceptingexhibitors! For more information, visit:http://ecenter.colorado.edu/rmss2007/expo.htmlFor more info: http://ecenter.colorado.edu/rmss2007/Registration deadline is February 12, 2007.

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Solar cell breakthrough claimed


"With funding from the Department of Energy, Boeing-Spectrolab has managed to create a solar cell with 40.7% sunlight-to-energy conversion efficiency"

The solar cell represents "the highest efficiency level any photovoltaic device has ever achieved," according to David Lillington, president of Spectrolab. That claim has been verified by the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Most of today's solar cells are between 12% and 18% efficient. Some of the ones used to power satellites are around 28% efficient. In 1954, 4% efficiency was state of the art.

In October, Google said it planned to install 9,200 solar photovoltaic panels at its Mountain View headquarters in 2007. Google's solar panels, made by Sharp, are 12.8% efficient. It expects to generate 30% of its peak energy usage during the summer from solar power.


Source: EETimes

http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=196602149

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Toyota factory turns landscape to arid wilderness


"The 'green-living' Toyota Prius has become the ultimate statement for those seeking to stress their commitment to the environment. However, the environment-saving credentials of the cars are seriously undermined by the disclosure that one of the car's essential components is produced at a factory that has created devastation likened to the arid environment of the moon."

"Toyota gets the metal from a Canadian company whose smelting facility at Sudbury has spewed sulphur dioxide into the air for more than a century.

The car giant buys about 1,000 tons a year from the plant, which is owned by Inco, one of the world's largest nickel-mining companies.

Fumes emerging from the factory are so poisonous that they have destroyed vegetation in the surrounding countryside, turning the once-beautiful landscape into the bare, rocky terrain astronauts might expect to find in outer space.

Once the nickel is smelted it is sent 10,000 miles on a container ship journey which in itself consumes vast quantities of fuel and energy.

First it is shipped to Europe's biggest nickel refinery at Clydach near Swansea, South Wales. From there it is transported to the Chinese cities of Dalian and Shenyang to be turned into a lightweight substance called nickel foam.

The final stage of the manufacturing process takes place in Japan where the Prius batteries are made."



Source: The Mail On Sunday

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=417227&in_page_id=1770

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wakarusa 2007


Dates and merchandise.

2007 Festival Dates and 30% off Merchandise
12.6.2006
We're pleased to announce that Wakarusa 2007 will be taking place on June 7-10. Stay tuned to www.wakarusa.com for initial artist announcements and on-sale information. The Wakarusa online store is offering a 30% discount through the end of December simply by entering the following coupon code during the checkout process: SQLVQ1037 Note: This coupon code expires December 31st.
Waka Winter Classic
12.6.2006
The Wakarusa Music Festival will be traveling to 19 cities this winter in a quest to locate the best and brightest musicians the country has to offer. At every stop on the tour, several bands will compete in a regional talent showcase. The winner of each talent showcase will receive an invitation to play at Wakarusa 2007. But it doesn’t end there. The winners in each city will also have their music featured on our website and will compete in an online talent showcase. The three bands that receive the most votes in our online competition will get to play the Revival stage at the festival along with a host of other surprises. Want to take part in one of our talent showcases? Just head on over to www.wakawinterclassic.com for all of the details.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Forest Ethics: Victoria Secrets


Victoria Secret is finally changing their ways!

WE DID IT! The DIRTY secret got out, consumers spoke up, and Victoria's Secret realized there is nothing SEXY about forest destruction.

Today, Victoria's Secret's
parent company, Limited Brands, announced it will stop using paper from Endangered Forests like critical caribou habitat in the Albertan Foothills for its catalog. After two years of campaigning, Victoria's Secret started to and will continue to work to phase out the use of any Endangered Forests products. The company has ensured that at least 10 percent post-consumer waste paper will be used in it's main catalog.

This is a big step, not only for Victoria's Secret, but for the entire catalog industry. A strong environmental standard has been set and the entire industry will be hearing from us - forest destruction will no longer be tolerated! Today's decision is proof that consumers like you really can make a difference.

Let's give thanks! Send the CEO a nice big THANK YOU! Take Action!

When we began this campaign, two years ago, Victoria's Secret was printing 395 million catalogs every year on paper that contained NO recycled content. We made it clear that we were not going to stand by and watch one of our planet's most vital resources be destroyed to sell panties.

Now they've made commitments to use better paper and we couldn't have done this without YOU! Getting a multi-billion-dollar corporation to change its practices is no small feat and that's exactly what we've accomplished. We not only celebrate this victory but we also celebrate your support during the past two years to make this possible.

And while this is an important milestone, there is still work to be done. Victoria's Secret has outlined an excellent policy, but any policy has to be successfully implemented in order to be effective.

So, you'll be hearing from us in the near future. We've got lots of work to do to get the rest of the catalog industry to understand the impact their paper has on our forests. Victoria's Secret's steps today builds momentum for change within the entire sector at large.

Again, thank you! And, please take a moment to say thanks to the CEO of Limited Brands, Victoria's Secret's parent company, for going green!
Take Action!

For the Forest,
Liz Butler
Organizing Director
ForestEthics

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Projects for Peace: $10,000 grant opportunity


Projects for Peace: $10,000 for a project for building peace of your design
Deadline to campus officials is January 15, 2007

More information at:
http://kwd100projectsforpeace.org/

*100 Projects for Peace* is an invitation to all undergraduates enrolled as
of fall 2006 at any of the 76 American colleges and universities in the
Davis United World College Scholars Program. These students are invited to
design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer of
2007. The 100 projects judged to be the most promising and do-able will be
funded at $10,000 each. The objective is to encourage and support today's
motivated youth to create and tryout their own ideas for building peace in
the 21st century.



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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Zaadz... plant the seeds...


Zaadz. It's Dutch for "seed." Amazing how much potential is in a tiny seed, eh? We think so, too. That power reminds us of the amazing potential within each of us. We thought the idea of creating a company that inspires and empowers you to bring your "seed" to actualization would be pretty powerful. So, we created "Zaadz."

Zaadz' Mission. We're gonna change the world. Our math goes like this: you be the change + you follow your bliss + you give your greatest strengths to the world moment to moment to moment + we do everything in our power to help you succeed + you inspire and empower everyone you know to do the same + we team up with millions like us = we just affected billions = we (together) changed the world..

To see more, check out the website: http://www.zaadz.com/.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Holcomb Power Plants


http://www.2020vision.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=6090


Do it.... seriously.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

100 Mile Thanksgiving


A 100-MILE THANKSGIVING:
ARE YOU READY TO BUY LOCAL?

By Neal Peirce

This November, celebrate a 100-mile Thanksgiving. Prepare a feast of turkey or choice meat, vegetables and ingredients, all raised within 100 miles of your dinner table..



That’s the message from a coalition of “eat local,” sustainable agriculture groups including 100MileDiet.org, Local Harvest and EatLocalChallenge.com. And they have an attractive pitch. It’s that a Thanksgiving of local ingredients will put fresher and healthier food on your table than lots of industrial-scale, long-distance produce. The local food will also, claim these groups, support nearby, small farm operations most likely to --
* Pay their workers a living wage,
* Grow a diversity of crops, often without pesticides,
* Slaughter their animals in a humane fashion, and
* Sell only locally, recycling dollars into the economy of your own region, restoring some measure of the direct, city-country relationships that are so often lost in today’s overwhelmingly conglomeratized, globalized food manufacture and distribution system.

The 100-mile pitch is parallel to an early October column I wrote using the spinach e-coli scare to ask why we ship -- on big trucks spewing greenhouse gases -- fresh produce that could be grown almost anywhere as much as 3,500 miles, destroying markets for local farmers.

Not everyone, in turns out, agrees. My (e-)mailbag was soon flooded with messages from friends and strangers alike, proposing I eat crow because global efficiency and vagaries of local markets doom close-to-home agriculture anyway.

Why? Customers, they note, go first for the low prices that the familiar chains -- Safeway to Wal-Mart -- deliver best. Who wants a winter of canned and frozen vegetables and fruits, when California, year-round warm and supported by government-subsidized irrigation, can keep fulfilling our desires, from lettuce to grapes to kiwis? Local produce isn’t always better tasting. Anyway, my critics said, sprawl has eaten up the choicest farm land around cities -- do we really believe, for example, that New Jersey is still the “Garden State”?

Are some of these arguments correct? Yes. It’s unrealistic to expect resurgent local farming to make a big dent fast against today’s super-efficient agribusiness/mass food marketing machine. And there’ll always be exceptions: Who’d want to give up cranberries for Thanksgiving?

But that’s not to say agriculture that’s scaled more thoughtfully, more to the states and metro regions where we live, can’t have a strong future. Not at all.

First, consumers want choice. And increasingly, they value health. Many of the freshest (and most vitamin-packed) tastes are local -- qualities easily lost in long-distance transportation. Think heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn and fresh berries.

Many of us will select (and pay additionally) for meats and poultry raised in normal local farm conditions rather in than agribusiness’ brutally packed body-to-body animal production facilities.

Second, economics: Local agriculture creates jobs and recycles dollars in a home region, rather than shipping them out to distant suppliers. Check a recent report by the Michigan Land Use Institute and Michigan State University’s C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems, for example. It found that $1.9 billion of higher-value fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in Michigan comes from other states and countries -- even while 74 percent of Michigan fruits and 44 percent of its vegetables are sold at relatively low prices for canned, frozen or dried products.

Third, there’s also a strong social side: direct farmer-to-buyer ties strengthen cohesion and civic capital across a metropolitan region. And finally, the environment: viable farms preserve relished greenspace.

The real challenge isn’t total system change; instead it’s finding a balance, a start to moving the needle back a few notches, to regionally diverse agriculture and food distribution.

One solution: a proposed $9.5 million state government investment starting with intense marketing of fresh Michigan foods to Michiganders. Other suggested steps: start up a state farmers’ market association, increase food stamp use by farmers’ markets, offer low- interest loans for cooling, storage and packing equipment, and move aggressively to get state and local government agencies to expand local food choice by school cafeterias, child care centers, universities and prisons.

With such steps, it was argued, net farm income in Michigan could be boosted $164 million, spurring at least 1,889 new jobs -- and possibly many more -- as new profitability draws entrepreneurs and stimulates innovation.

Parallel efforts in the other 49 states could trigger a major rebalancing of American food policy, complementing urgent national needs from farm and land conservation to healthier eating habits and less obesity. Not a bad bargain!

Additionally, the fast-growing national trend to organic foods may give new vigor to local farming. (Organics reportedly require 2.5 times more labor than conventional farming, and reap 10 times the profit.) True, several big grocery chains are muscling into the previously limited organic market. But gourmet chefs and others willing to pay organics’ substantial extra cost are likely candidates for selecting the freshest, locally grown products.

Mechanized, long-distance, shrink-wrapped agriculture still rules the roost in America. But we can all be rebels. Think about it as you plan your Thanksgiving Dinner.
------------
Note: In last week’s column on election day initiative votes, the Maine vote rejecting the “Tabor” amendment was shown as 54-36 percent; the correct figure is 54-46 percent. .

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Rose´s Response


Here is the full text of the response Rose wrote to Chuck Armstrong's anti-recycling Collegian editorial. Included is the bibliography. Ignore the asterisks--they were there for editing purposes.

Chuck Armstrong’s article about recycling raises the valid point that the issue is complex. But beyond that, the article is riddled with inaccuracies.

Claim #1: Recycling is more expensive than disposal. That depends on where in the nation you live, and how well your recycling system is designed (1). Many recycling programs are still too young to judge their comparative costs. As communities divert waste from garbage to recycling, they may recover capital costs by reducing garbage collection, achieving economies of scale by recycling heavily, and selling recyclables. Indeed, many cities find recycling cheaper per ton than disposal (2). *Even small cities like Manhattan can afford to recycle, though, as the existence of Howie’s Recycling demonstrates.*

Claim #2: Most virgin materials are cheaper than recycled materials. Environmental Defense Fund reports the opposite, at least for paper (2). And there continues to be a market for recycled materials (2,3). Regardless, these pricetags do not reflect all environmental costs. When you compare the whole life cycle of a product made from virgin material and disposed of, versus one made from recycled material and then recycled, the latter reduces solid waste output, energy use, and most categories of air and water pollutants (4). This is because using recycled materials bypasses all the extraction and processing needed for virgin materials (3).

Claim #3: Recycling paper doesn’t “save trees” because we have tree farms. Tree farms replace natural forest ecosystems, thereby reducing wildlife habitat (2,5). Recycling one ton of paper (Americans use 1/3 ton per capita per year) saves 17 mature trees (6). Moreover, paper is the largest single component of landfill space (1,7).

*Claim #4: Smog-belching recycling trucks harm the environment. As mentioned above, garbage trucks can be retired as waste streams are diverted to recycling, and one must consider the whole life cycle of recycled versus disposed-of products, not just one step.*

Claim #5: Landfills are environmentally benign. Even with modern design regulations, landfills can still leak toxic leachate into the soil (2,7). Even if a landfill drainage system collects all leachate, it must still be treated. *Landfills also account for 36% of U.S. emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas*, and very few landfills refine their methane for fuel (2). Additionally, landfill sites are very limited in some parts of the country (1,7).

Recycling is not the whole picture, though—“Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” in that order. Recycling, though, is a valuable contributor. In 2000, recycling saved the equivalent of 6 million homes’ worth of energy (5). Aren’t savings like that worth our tax dollars?

List of Works Cited

1) Environmental Protection Agency. Last updated October 23, 2006. Frequently Asked Questions about Recycling and Waste Management.
http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/faq.htm. Last accessed 11/19/06.

2) Denison RA, Ruston JF. July 18, 1996. Anti-Recycling Myths: Commentary on “Recycling is Garbage” (John Tierney, New York Times Magazine, June 30, 1996). Environmental Defense Fund.
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/611_ACF17F.htm#endnotes. Last accessed 11/19/06.

3) Environmental Protection Agency. January 1998. Puzzled about Recycling’s Value? Look Beyond the Bin. PDF of brochure.
http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/recycle/benefits.pdf. Last accessed 11/19/06.

4) Denison RA. 1996. Environmental life-cycle comparisons of recycling, landfilling, and incineration: A review of recent studies. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 21: 191-237.

5) National Recycling Coalition. 2006. Environmental Benefits of Recycling.
http://www.nrc-recycle.org/resources/enviroben.htm. Last accessed 11/19/06.

6) Utah State University Recycling Center. No date given on website. Facts and Figures.
http://www.usu.edu/recycle/FunFacts.htm. Last accessed 11/19/06.

7) Botkin DB, Keller EA. 2003. Environmental science: Earth as a living planet, 4th edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 668 p.

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U.N. conference ends with little progress on climate action


Here's the latest from Grist and NY Times:
In a monstrous anticlimax, the U.N. climate summit in Nairobi, Kenya, ended with a decision to ... review the Kyoto Protocol in 2008. "From Christian Aid's point of view that's simply not good enough, and we need some heads to be knocked together by somebody," said Andrew Pendleton of the charity organization. U.K. environment minister David Miliband put a finer point on it: "I come away from this conference with two senses: one, the world community can make progress when it puts its mind to it, but two, my goodness we really need to up the momentum, we need to increase the acceleration." Most agree that won't happen until the U.S., responsible for about 25 percent of the world's emissions, agrees to cuts -- not likely until post-Bush. "Everyone is waiting for the [U.S.]," said Paal Prestrud, head of Oslo's Center for International Climate and Environmental Research. "I think the whole process will be on ice until 2009." We'd make a melting-ice joke, but we're too busy crying.

NY Times link

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Bill Maher: this is dated but inspiring



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Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Solar Spain"




"Spain, the new up-and-coming European country, has just passed a law requiring every new or newly renovated building to have solar power systems."

"All homes now have to have, at least, hot water solar systems and all new businesses have to generate solar electricity. Other regulations in the new building code include mandatory use of insulation, maintenance of heating and cooling systems and use of natural light. All together, these practices should decrease electricity use by up to 40%.

Spain, which is both enjoying and loathing a gigantic boom in construction, is hoping to control some of that growth as well as mitigate its impacts with the new regulations. The construction lobby, of course, is furious, saying that building costs will go up over 10%. The government does not seem too unhappy about that, but cites it's own figures that say the costs of construction will be recouped by energy savings within a couple years."

Source: Treehugger

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"The Case of the Mislabeled Case"


"Wal-Mart accused of incorrectly labeling organic products"

"Ah, Wal-Mart -- always reliable for some good old-fashioned eco-drama. This week, the Cornucopia Institute, an activist group representing small farmers, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that accuses Wal-Mart of incorrectly labeling or otherwise misrepresenting various products as organic in some stores. Visiting a dozen stores in four Midwestern states, the group found several troubling misrepresentations. In one case, "all-natural" yogurt was labeled organic; in several stores, non-organic products were residing in an organic-designated cooler. "We live and die by the reputation of the organic label," says Cornucopia cofounder and organic farmer Mark Kastel. "If Wal-Mart cheapens it, we all lose." Wal-Mart pooh-poohed the accusations and defended its organic offerings. Nevertheless, the USDA has opened an investigation into the retailer's organic-labeling practices; violations of labeling standards can carry a fine of $10,000 per instance."

Source: Grist


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Election Report: Greenest Day in American Political History


Greetings:
Last week's elections were a huge victory for the environment. The
following message was sent from the Natural Resources Defense Council
and highlights some of those key victories.

A couple of main points:
* Of the "Dirty Dozen" (the 13 members of Congress targeted by the
League of Conservation Voters for the poorest environmental voting
records), nine were defeated.

* Dozens of candidates -- from both parties -- who ran on
forward-looking energy policies were chosen by voters. At least 20
pro-environment challengers unseated anti-environment incumbents in the
House.

* New leadership has promised aggressive oversight of President Bush's
Interior Department and Forest Service, which have done little but
front for energy and timber companies.

It is a good read and perspective of where the national environmental
policies might go in the next few years. The details are below.

Cheers,
Gerry

Gerry,

You and I have got a lot to celebrate -- finally!

We have fought so unbelievably hard for six long and difficult
years to defend our environment against a House and Senate
leadership that has endeavored -- often on a weekly basis -- to
sacrifice our natural heritage for the sake of Big Oil and other
powerful special interests.

Thanks to your incredible support and tenacious activism, we
have held the line against overwhelming odds. We have fended off
attacks on the Arctic Refuge, on endangered wildlife, on clean
air and clean water -- in the undying hope that, one day, the
political landscape would have to change.

And did it ever change last Tuesday! In one fell swoop, the
American voter terminated the Congressional onslaught against
nature and gave us new leaders who share our deepest values of
environmental protection.

And while Iraq and corruption were the big issues, don't let
anyone tell you the environment didn't play a role in this
election. The billion-dollar handouts to Big Oil . . . the
energy policies written by polluters . . . the fanatic denial of
global warming science -- these were all part and parcel of the
corruption and out-of-touch ideology that Americans had grown
sick and tired of.

If you need more proof, consider this: of the "Dirty Dozen" (the
13 members of Congress targeted by the League of Conservation
Voters for the poorest environmental voting records), nine were
defeated.

On the flip side, eight out of nine of the League's
"Environmental Champions" won their races. Dozens of candidates
-- from both parties -- who ran on forward-looking energy
policies were chosen by voters. At least 20 pro-environment
challengers unseated anti-environment incumbents in the House.
And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won strong voter support by
signing a Global Warming Solutions Act.

Last Tuesday may well go down as one of the greenest days in
American political history.

The people have spoken. They've had it with corporate cronyism
and the failed policies of nineteenth century oil barons. They
want a clean energy economy that will break our dependence on
oil, slow global warming, spare our natural heritage from
destruction and create millions of new high-tech jobs.

And NRDC is laying the groundwork for turning that vision into a
bipartisan political reality come January 3rd. We'll be working
in a Congressional landscape that is profoundly changed. The new
House and Senate majority leaders are committed to many of the
policy objectives that NRDC has advocated for years.

Speaker-elect Pelosi has promised that she'll start tackling the
energy issue in her first 100 hours in office!

And you won't be seeing the same old Congressional attacks on
our wildlife refuges, national forests and clean air. In fact,
the new leadership has promised aggressive oversight of
President Bush's Interior Department and Forest Service, which
have done little but front for energy and timber companies.
Oversight, imagine that!

Now, I don't want you to think we've lost our perspective in the
afterglow of Election Day. We know what the realities are. We
know we've got our work cut out for us.

For starters, this Congress will be as besieged by special
interests as any other. It's no accident that candidates promise
us the moon but often deliver far less. Getting environmental
legislation passed will mean reaching out to both sides of the
aisle and outworking the polluting interests that will oppose us
at every step of the way.

We won't have to wait long for our first test. The current
Congress is not gone yet, and a lame duck session in December
could do a lifetime of environmental damage. Friends of Big Oil
in both parties may unite and try to pass a bill that opens
protected coastal areas to drilling.

NRDC will be turning up the pressure on ALL members of Congress.
That's where you come in. In the end, you're the only ones who
can prevail on Senators and Representatives to vote their
environmental commitments. You'll be hearing from me soon to
make your voice heard.

As for President Bush, his Administration has not even paused
this month in its drive to dismantle our environmental
safeguards. So NRDC must continue to fight in the federal
courts, which have repeatedly rejected this Administration's
pro-polluter policies.

In the weeks ahead, I will be reporting to you in more detail on
NRDC's plan for advancing our environmental agenda in the next
session of Congress.

But I can share one key element of that plan right now: You.
Since this Congress came to power, you've helped NRDC defend the
environment against the most withering attack in modern American
history. And now that we're going on the offensive, we'll need
you more than ever.

We need your idealism. We need your activism. We need your
support. If we have all of those, we are going to do great
things for the environment over the next months and years.

Sincerely,

Frances Beinecke
President
Natural Resources Defense Council

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Solar Recharged Audio, by Ben Champion




You may or may not be at all interested, but I thought I'd share some exciting news.

After five years of searching, I've finally found a true high fidelity audio solution that can be fully powered with solar power - from source to sound. It would match my high efficiency speakers perfectly.

http://www.redwineaudio.com/Products.html
http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?topic=30937.0

These products have gotten absolutely astounding reviews in terms of audio quality, they run on rechargeable batteries, and someone recently brought up the option of solar-powered recharging on the above audio discussion forum - to which "Vinnie", the owner and builder of Red Wine Audio products was definitely receptive, as you can see for yourself.

Now I just have to wait a little while for them to start becoming available on the second-hand market at sub-kilobuck prices.

By the way, if you read the forum at all, "EDS" is smart to bring up the issue he does, but he's completely ill-informed about the topic. Typical of economists, he assumes there's a hidden "inefficiency" somewhere with solar power, and his unique powers of economistic discernment allow him to notice the emperor is wearing no clothes, even though he didn't even bother to open his eyes to check. Solar power has a healthy energy profit ratio - the amount of energy produced relative to the amount required to produce the energy. Richard Nelson at K-State has current figures, but the numbers back in 2002 when I was studying this intently were that solar gave a 10:1 energy profit over the life of the solar cells, biodiesel gave 3:1, ethanol was about 1.2:1, and industrial scale wind turbines were 80:1. When the first barrel of oil was drilled in 1859, the ratio was 100:1; now it's somewhere around 20:1, I think. As we use up the easy-to-find oil, this ratio will continue to decline for oil.


~Ben Champion

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It heats. It powers. Is it the future of home energy?



"Down in Bernard Malin's basement is a softly thrumming metal box that turns natural gas into hot water and generates $600 to $800 worth of electricity a year - a bonus byproduct of heating his home.

"It's like printing money," says Mr. Malin, the first person in Massachusetts - perhaps in the nation - to own a residential "micro combined-heat-and-power" system, also known as micro-CHP."



"Since Malin changed his home heating system to micro-CHP in February, 18 other families in the Boston area also have adopted the technology, which squeezes about 90 percent of the useful energy from the fuel. That's triple the efficiency of power delivered over the grid.

Factories and other industrial facilities have used large CHP systems for years. But until the US debut of micro-systems in greater Boston, the units had not been small enough, cheap enough, and quiet enough for American homes.

Home heating systems that produce a kilowatt of electricity - like Malin's - and bigger units that pump out about 4 kilowatts are already available in Europe and Japan. They'll make their commercial US debut in New England in January.

Micro-CHP, by contrast, is an advanced hybrid of existing technologies: an internal-combustion engine generator married to a high-efficiency home furnace.

In Japan, more than 30,000 homeowners have installed micro-CHP systems driven by quiet, efficient internal-combustion engines, each housed in a sleek metal box made by Honda. Japan is ahead because gas utilities have been subsidizing and promoting the systems. In Britain, where the systems look like dishwashers and sit under kitchen counters, 80,000 systems made by a New Zealand company are on order."

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Moving Beyond Trash Talk


"Visitors at Pacific Lutheran University, in Tacoma, Washington, are hard pressed to find a garbage can in faculty and staff offices these days...



Nearly half of the 500 employees volunteered to trade in their garbage cans last month for plastic quart-sized containters bearing the words "Can the Can," in an effort to increase recycling and reduce waste.

Owners of the desktop cans are responsible for emptying them into communal trash bins rather than relying on the cleaning staff, says Amy L. Cockerham, a spokeswoman. Most refuse is recycled or composted, and only food-contaminated objects like candy wrappers and paper coffee cups land in the trash. The logic is simple: Cutting down the size of cans cuts down the amount of trash put in them, like gastrointestinal surgery.

David L. Kohler, director of facilities management, who forfeited his own garbage can 11 years ago, says the new program will save $2,000 annually in garbage-can-liner costs. The goal in the next five years, he says, is for the university to be recycling 85 percent of its waste--well above its 60-percent rate of early October.

Toby R. Beal, the university´s Web-content manager, was initially skeptical. "Who´s going to come and clean this nasty little can on your desk?" he thought. But after reluctantly trading in his wastebasket, the little green container has started to grow on him. "I might have to get a little Sesame Street Oscar the Grouch to sit next to it," he says."

-- Jane R. Porter





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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time


What is CouchSurfing?You're probably here at CouchSurfing to find a free place to stay or people to hang out with while you are traveling. After your first experience of either surfing or hosting, you'll find out that what you get out of it is so much more. We help to create a better world by opening our homes, our hearts and our lives.

What is CouchSurfing?You're probably here at CouchSurfing to find a free place to stay or people to hang out with while you are traveling. After your first experience of either surfing or hosting, you'll find out that what you get out of it is so much more. We help to create a better world by opening our homes, our hearts and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing changes not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!CouchSurfing.com helps you make connections worldwide. You can use the network to meet people and then go and surf other members' couches! When you surf a couch, you are a guest at someone's house. They will provide you with some sort of accommodation, a penthouse apartment or maybe a back yard to pitch your tent in. Stays can be as short as a cup of coffee, a night or two, or even a few months or more. When you offer your couch, you have complete control of who visits. The possibilities are endless and completely up to you.The friendships made through CouchSurfing enhance members' lives and contribute greatly to making the world a better, safer, more peaceful place. Signing up for a free couch and ending up with amazing adventures and a global family--that's what CouchSurfing is all about!



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Terrorism??


House Passes the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act



The House has passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act despite opposition from dozens of organizations including the National Lawyers Guild, Humane Society and Natural Resources Defense Council. The bill makes it a felony for animal rights activists to engage in non-violent protests that result in businesses losing money. Legal experts say a protester could be charged with terrorism if they engaged in a sit-in that caused a business to lose profits. Congressman Dennis Kucinich said the law would have a chilling effect on non-violent protest. Kucinich said the country has to be very careful of painting everyone with a broad brush of terrorism.ost here.



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African nomads to be first people wiped out by climate change


Kenya's herdsmen are facing extinction as global warming destroys their lands


Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editorSunday November 12, 2006The Observer
They are dubbed the 'climate canaries' - the people destined to become the first victims of world climate change. And as government ministers sit down in Nairobi at this weekend's UN Climate Conference, the people most likely to be wiped out by devastating global warming will be only a few hundred miles away from their deliberations.
Those people, according to research commissioned by the charity Christian Aid, will be the three million pastoralists of northern Kenya, whose way of life has sustained them for thousands of years but who now face eradication. Hundreds of thousands of these seasonal herders have already been forced to forsake their traditional culture and settle in Kenya's north eastern province following consecutive droughts that have decimated their livestock in recent years.

Earlier this year the charity commissioned livestock specialist Dr David Kimenye to examine how the herders are coping with the recent drought, uncovering a disastrous story. Over two months, Dr Kimenye talked to pastoralists in five areas across the Mandera district, home to 1.5 million people.
The study discovered that:
· Incidence of drought has increased fourfold in the Mandera region in the past 25 years.
· One-third of herders living there - around half a million people - have already been forced to abandon their pastoral way of life because of adverse climatic conditions.
· During the last drought, so many cattle, camels and goats were lost that 60 per cent of the families who remain as herders need outside assistance to recover. Their surviving herds are too small to support them.
The new findings follow recent warnings from the UK Met Office that if current trends continue one-third of the planet will be desert by the end of 2100. The scientists modelled how drought is likely to increase globally during the coming century because of predicted changes in rainfall and temperature around the world.
At present, according to their calculations, 25 per cent of the Earth's surface is susceptible to moderate drought, rising to 50 per cent by 2100. In addition, the areas susceptible to severe drought - 8 per cent - are expected to rise to 40 per cent. And the figure for extreme drought, currently 3 per cent, will rise to 30 per cent.
And what is doubly worrying about Kimenye's research is that it has revealed that a system of nomadic pastoralism that has, over the centuries, been able to cope with unpredictable weather patterns and regular drought has been brought by climate change to the point of utter extinction.
It is a fact not lost on those who have been forced out of their historic lifestyle to settle at the Quimbiso settlement. Nearby is a stinking pit where the bones of the last of once thriving herds were dumped and burned - victims of the worst drought in living memory.
The families who until a few months ago herded these animals across northern Kenya and beyond now huddle in this riverside settlement, their children prone to malaria and other illnesses, but at least close to a reliable source of water. Now they are completely dependent on aid handouts for most of their food.
'Our whole life has been spent moving, but we are desperate people. People who have lost our livelihood,' says Mukhtar Aden, one of the elders at the Quimbiso settlement. 'We didn't settle here by choice, it was forced upon us.'
Everywhere are tales of huge livestock losses. In one roadside settlement, which now depends on selling milk from its few remaining animals to passing trucks, a man produces a book recording the dark days of the drought. One entry, for 15 February, shows that the community lost more than 500 sheep and goats and 250 cattle in a single day.
And while rain did came to the region for the first time in more than a year last month, it was too late for the makeshift roadside communities who no longer have animals to put out to pasture.
Wargadud is another sizeable community running along either side of the region's main road. The chairman of Wargadud's water users' association is Abdullahi Abdi Hussein, who describes how the periods of rain have got shorter and the dry spells longer - changing the pattern of four seasons on which the pastoral communities depended.
And while there were always droughts, he says: 'Decade after decade it has been getting more severe. It has only been getting harder and harder and more and more serious.'

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What's in Your Wal-let?


Wal-Mart issues a progress report on its experimental eco-store


The company greens hate to love is releasing a report today on progress at its year-old, experimental eco-store in Aurora, Colo. Wal-Mart is trumpeting its successes, from waterless urinals to LED lights in its freezers, and acknowledging its, uh, challenges, such as wind turbines that have short-circuited and recycled rubber sidewalks that have warped and faded. The mega-behemoth has also met with Target, Costco, and other competitors to try to gain allies (and drive costs down) as it seeks to green its other stores. While progressives shiver at the company's labor record, they're praising these new steps. "None of this is 'greenstanding,'" says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "They deserve the chance to show that their business model is compatible with high standards, not just low prices." High standards are swell and all, but Wal-Mart execs emphasize that the real reason for the shift is to save the company and its customers money. And the good press doesn't hurt.



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Monday, November 13, 2006

crazy bob wisdom...


crazy bob wisdom...check it out...


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Saturday, November 11, 2006

How to Green Your Heating


Consider that roughly two-thirds of a home’s annual energy use goes toward space and water heating, that in most American homes, winter heating is responsible for sending nearly four tons of greenhouse gases into the air each month, and that as much as half of all the energy used in the home is wasted. Efficient heating is starting to sound pretty good about now, no?

1. Seal the leaks!

2. Cover your glass

3. Stay ventilated

4. Spread the heat

5. Heating wisely

6. Peel a drape

7. Start a fire (but not like a caveman)

8. Getting into (cheaper) hot water

9. Be passive

10. Cuddle up


Read the tips here


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Technology Review: Cheap, Superefficient Solar


Technologies collectively known as concentrating photovoltaics are starting to enjoy their day in the sun, thanks to advances in solar cells, which absorb light and convert it into electricity, and the mirror- or lens-based concentrator systems that focus light on them. The technology could soon make solar power as cheap as electricity from the grid.

The goal is to engineer a concentrating system that focuses sunlight, that tracks the movement of the sun to keep the light on the small solar cell, and that can accommodate the high heat caused by concentrating the sun's power by 500 to700 times--and to make such a system easy to manufacture.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Organic Farmer Jon Tester Elected to United States Senate


Jon Tester, an organic farmer and leader in the organic movement since 1987, has been elected as a U.S. Senator from the state of Montana. A third generation farmer from Big Sandy, Montana, he has been farming organically for nearly twenty years.

In 2005, Tester and his wife Sharla were named outstanding agricultural
leaders by the College of Agriculture at Montana State University.
Their T-Bone Farms is a diversified organic operation
with 1400 acres (567 hectares).

The stated goals of their operation are:
To produce high quality food; To use environmentally sound farming practices ;To improve soil health on their farm; andTo keep the farm in their family.Their crops this year included hard red wheat, hard white wheat, kamut, lentils, and purple barley. Tester is a strong believer in green manures, a type of cover crop grown to be plowed under and
incorporated into the soil, adding natural sources of nitrogen and
phosphorous, not to mention improving and protecting the soil.

Tester has been a leader in the organic movement for more than a decade. He
served as the national treasurer for the Organic Crop Improvement
Association International, and helped to develop the Montana Organic
Certification program.

Bob Quinn, an organic farmer and President of Kamut International, said "We
all started in organic farming nearly 20 years ago in north-central
Montana, and since that time Jon Tester has been a great supporter of
sustainable and Organic Agriculture - not only on his farm, but also
while he was serving at the Montana State Senate. I'm sure he'll be
a strong voice for sustainable and Organic Agriculture in the U.S. Senate
as well, as someone who has learned it by experience." He added "We are
extremely happy as an organic community" that Tester has been elected
to the U.S. Senate. They have been neighbors and friends for 30 years.

According to Thomas B. Harding, former IFOAM President, colleague of Jon Tester and Director of Agrisystems International, "Jon Tester, now U.S. Senator Elect Jon Tester, is an extraordinary man - one who walks his talk, an excellent organic farmer, dedicated to the family farmer, the farm community and to Organic Agriculture in general. He sees the big picture and he will make a very great difference to all of us as he meets his

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Buy Local Day


What if on just one day every year millions of American consumers voted with our dollars in favor of locally owned and operated businesses, instead of big-box, chain stores?

Saturday, November 18, 2006 BUY LOCAL DAYwww.buylocalday.org
Why Buy Local?• Local businesses produce more income, jobs, and tax receipts for local communities than big box stores do. • Local businesses are more likely to utilize local ads, banks and other services. • Local businesses donate more money to nonprofits and are more accountable to their local communities. • Supporting local businesses preserves the economic diversity of our communities and the unique character of our neighborhoods. • Supporting local businesses is good for the environment, because it cuts down on fuel consumption. Buying locally produced goods reduces the need to ship goods from thousands of miles away and also cuts down on the distances shoppers travel.* And don’t forget to also buy Fair Trade, organic and green! ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH, LET’S BUY LOCAL!Let’s send a message on November 18th, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, that we support our hometown businesses and oppose the negative impacts of chain stores and big box stores on our communities. Many communities have already organized citywide “buy local days,” but this year, we will bring together cities throughout the country to make this a national effort. We hope you’ll join us!

November 25: Buy Nothing Day For years now, people around the world who want to make a statement against consumerism and over-consumption have been organizing Buy Nothing Day events in their cities. These events are coordinated by the Canadian group AdBusters.

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Power Aware Cord by Static


POWER AWARE CORD by STATIC!
by Emily



Sometimes it just helps to visualize things. The Power Aware Cord by Static! does just that, representing personal energy consumption through glowing pulses, color, and intensity of light. While most powercords are utilitarian (and in general, rather ugly), Static!’s aesthetic solution brings the issue of energy consumption literally, to light, urging users to be aware of and reflect upon the energy efficiency of electrical devices in their home. Just how does it work? Electroluminescent wires embedded in the cord produce varying patterns of glowing and pulsating colors to indicate the level of energy being used at a given time.

The Power Aware Cord represents a different approach to green design- one not necessarily rooted in materiality, but focused on user experience and the visual representation of relevant issues. We love the anthropomorphic approach that engages the user on an interactive level, creating an aesthetic and educational connection between object and person.

Power Aware Cord by Static! Electroluminescent

The glowing Power Aware Cord is brought to us by Static!, a joint project between the Swedish Interactive Institute’s POWER and RE:FORM studios. Static! investigates design as a medium for increasing our awareness of energy usage and how to stimulate changes in energy behavior. The Power Aware Cord, designed by project designers Anton Gustafsson and Magnus Gyllensward, is just one of many design prototypes conceived and produced through an active collaboration between designers, engineers, and artists.


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Got Trees? The Original Tree-huggers


By embracing the Gandhian method of satyagraha nonviolent resistance, the movement has prevented the destruction of thousands of trees since April 1973.


Got Trees? The Original Tree-huggers
By Amy Laughlin

“What do the forests bear? Soil, water, and pure air.” While this may seem like an appropriate bumper sticker slogan, this phrase is the motto for the Chipko movement, an assembly of indigenous peoples in India fighting for their forests. By embracing the Gandhian method of satyagraha nonviolent resistance, the movement has prevented the destruction of thousands of trees since April 1973.

The word “Chipko” appropriately translates to “embrace” or “hug,” as the Chipko’s main nonviolent action is to cling to trees in an attempt to ward off tree-cutters. For them, tree hugging is serious business and a way to ensure their very survival.

The Chipko movement originated in the Uttarakhand region in northern India in the early ‘70s when the government began restricting areas of forest and auctioning them off to lumber companies. Natives who lived in the mountainous and hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh were losing the trees which provided them with food, fuel, fodder for cattle, and stabilized their soil and water sources. In an effort to protect their natural resources, the peoples of Uttar Pradesh split into many small, decentralized groups and followed axe men and tree-cutters to their prospective sites, demonstrated against the removal of the trees, and finished by hugging the trees. Their peaceful demonstrating reached its zenith in 1980, when India’s then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, implemented a 15-year ban on tree felling in India.

The movement has since spread to nearly all mountainous regions of India and can almost be considered the “sibling” of another, older environmental movement: the Bishnois. This western India-based religion is a sect of environmentally-aware followers who preserve plants, trees, and protect wildlife in an effort to uphold their sacred traditions.

The Bishnois originated in the 15th century in a village near Jodhpur. A local man, Jambhoji, adopted a philosophy that states “nothing—human or not—deserves to be killed.” Thus, he and his followers embarked on a new lifestyle that included a ban on killing animals and the felling of trees.

The story of Amriti Devi perfectly symbolizes all that the Bishnois look to achieve. She and 362 other Bishnois were sawed to death when they hugged trees in an effort to stop loggers from leveling a forest in 1730. This act of sacrificing oneself is not uncommon in the Bishnois way of life. They fiercely protect their environment by any means, whether it is by not hunting, waiting to use trees until they are dead or have fallen down, or by sharing their crops with hungry animals.

Before offering loggers her head, Amriti Devi is said to have uttered: “Sar Santey Rookh Rahe To Bhi Sasto Jaan,” which roughly translates to “If a tree is saved from felling even at the cost of one’s head, it’s worth it.” This credo is a reflection of the commitment and environmental awareness practiced by the Bishnois.

Both the Chipko and Bishnois movements are still in existence. Jodhpur is still the central area for many practicing Bishnois and a thriving community of very happy animals. The Chipko movement has grown to include concerned students and youth in the areas surrounding the original region of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttaranchal) and is still the original group of “tree huggers.”

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Discussion


Two Hualapai girls hold up a poster with the simple request, "SAVE THE PEAKS", save them from what? A resort that has and continues to pump artificial snow.


In the view of the American Indians here, the spirits that inhabit the San Francisco Peaks, certainly did not appreciate it when a ski run was built a quarter of a century ago on one slope. Now, treated wastewater is being piped up from Flagstaff and sprayed on the mountain so the resort can make more snow to ski on. Operators of the Arizona Snowbowl said it could go out of business without making snow because winter precipitation is so erratic in the high desert here. The resort, which has proposed the snowmaking under a plan to expand the ski runs, and the Forest Service, which approved the plan, both say the water would be cleaned to the highest degree, A-plus in the industry vernacular, though falling short of potable. This plan interferes with many of the tribe's religious practices, including the gathering of mountain water and herbs that the artifical snow would taint. The Sierra Club, who has backed the tribes unsuccessful attempts at stopping the resort, accuse the defendants, the resort and the Forest Service, of not adequately studying whether the effluent could harm people, especially children who consume artifical snow whether on purpose or not. This water is essentially treated sewage which they call reclaimed water. The resort balked at using fresh water since it is so scarce in Arizona to begin with. Mr. Mapatis, the Hualapai spiritual leader told the court that he gathered plants and flowers for use in healing ceremonies and that after a woman gave birth he brought the placenta to the mountain to ensure the newborn has a healthy life. Members of his tribe use water from the mountian in sweat lodge ceremonies and apart from the environmental aspect, these peaks are prominent in the Hualapai creation story. "It would be like putting death on a mountain," Mr. Mapatis said. To show their sensitivity to the tribes, the resort hired someone to close down a pumice mine used to make stone-washed jeans. Yet the snow-making resort is still in full-operation part of the year.
Their Website: THIS IS WHERE ARIZONA GOES TO SKI!

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We can make a difference!



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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wal-Mart Introduces Packaging Scorecard


November 7, 2006 8:27 AM - Eric Kane, New York, NY

photo_packaging.jpeg As part of Wal-Mart’s continuing efforts to address its environmental footprint, the company established a goal to reduce packaging used by suppliers by 5% by 2013.



In an effort to achieve this target, the retail behemoth has announced an innovative scorecard system. The scorecard will allow manufacturers to rank their current use of packaging. Scores will be given on several relevant categories including: greenhouse gas emissions produced per ton of packaging, raw material use, packaging size, recycled content, material recovery value, renewable energy use, transportation impacts, and innovation. Beginning in 2008, Wal-Mart will make purchasing decisions based on the scorecard results. Say what you will about Wal-Mart, but this policy will force manufacturers in a variety of sectors to reexamine their packaging processes. To see a demo of the scorecard system visit www.scorecardlibrary.com.


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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Warming World, Cooling Profits?


Climate change could send the global economy into a serious recession, according to a report released today by United Kingdom chief economist Nicholas Stern. The study also makes recommendations on ways to slow and potentially stop further climate change.

Most studies on the effects of global warming have predicted that the detrimental effects on the world's economy will be minimal to modest. Those forecasting a more radical impact assume that changes in weather patterns will wreak havoc on fishing and farming and will displace millions of people via hurricanes, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events. Yet even these studies don't go far enough, according to Stern's report. Part of the problem, he and colleagues note, is that previous economic studies underestimated the rise in global temperatures caused by climate change. Using a more accurate estimate, the group predicts that climate change could slash the global gross domestic product by 5% to 20%.
On the positive side, countries could reduce this loss to 1% by investing in more environmentally friendly technologies, according to the report. Toward that end, Stern's team calls for an integrated international approach to tackling global warming. But it also reminds rich nations that they have to bear the brunt of the economic investment, especially those in Europe and North America that are responsible for 70% of all carbon dioxide emissions to date.
"There is much in the report that most people can agree with, such as sustained investment in research on developing new carbon free technologies," says economist Richard Richels, director of global climate change research at the Electric Power Research Institute, a non-profit based in Palo Alto, California. But he notes that the report makes certain assumptions to calculate the costs of curbing global warming, such as assuming that countries will adopt the cheapest ways to reduce emissions. This might not always prove feasible, he says, in which case he says the costs would be much higher. "This is not an argument for inaction, but can affect what is realistic in the short term."

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Solar Powered City


Australian Solar Cities: Adelaide and Townsville

November 1, 2006 5:30 PM - Warren McLaren, Sydney

SolarMalleeTrees.jpg


We’ve been a bit slack in updating progress in the Australian Solar Cities, a $75 million AUD initiative to trial solar power and energy efficiency programs in four grid-connected metropolises.

Fitting though that the first official designated city would be South Australia’s capital, Adelaide—it was founded 170 years ago by Colonel William Light! The nitty gritty? 1,700 solar photovoltaic panels will end up on homes and commercial buildings — a doubling of South Australia’s current photovoltaic capacity. 7000 smart meters will be installed that, “together with fairer pricing structures, will help people monitor their energy use and save electricity.” 40,000 energy efficiency and information packages to be distributed. If all this comes to pass, they expect a 9 megawatt cut in peak electricity demand, meaning less power plant capacity requiring funding. This is said to represent $5 million AUD a year in lower electricity costs. A reduction 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year, with a further cut of more than 500,000, should a take-up of Green Power is achieved. Apparently this will be equal to taking 80% of the area’s car fleet off the road. Can’t be bad. Meshes well with Adelaide’s companion plan to be recognised as a Green City, of which the above pictured solar-powered street lighting form a part.

The second city announced as a Solar City is Queensland's Townsville. They’ll get $15 million AUD from the Australian Government to instal solar panels on 500 homes and businesses, which when combined with other measures its figured to
cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50,000 tonnes. ::Solar Cities.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

PARKing day protests campus congestion



Members of Students for Environmental Action said the prevention of driving is the best solution to the parking congestion at K-State at a protest Monday.

Adrienne Stolwyk, fourth-year student in architecture and member of Students for Environmental Action, occupies a parking stall in the K-State Student Union parking lot Monday morning as part of the organization's protest event, People Advocating Renewable transit at K-State. The event aimed to raise consciousness about parking problems.
Media Credit: Steven Doll
Adrienne Stolwyk, fourth-year student in architecture and member of Students for Environmental Action, occupies a parking stall in the K-State Student Union parking lot Monday morning as part of the organization's protest event, People Advocating Renewable transit at K-State. The event aimed to raise consciousness about parking problems.



More than 20 members of SEA presented PARKing (People Advocating Renewable transit at K-State) day Monday in the K-State Student Union parking lot. The protesters used club funds to pay the meters of the parking stalls they occupied.

The goal was to inform students of the need for renewable and mass transportation options.

"Building parking garages is addressing the parking congestion problem too late," said Becky Clark, SEA president and senior in biology.

"We want to see increased discussion on campus about parking. When SGA (Student Governing Association) pushed for the parking garage, most people were for it, but I think most of those people want a parking garage because they have been told by SGA to want one," Clark said. "There are four pages in the university's master plan, and parking is mentioned 47 times, and mass transit is only mentioned once."

SEA conducted a survey of residents of the Chase Manhattan and Founders Hill Apartment complexes and learned that, of those surveyed, 70 percent would use mass transit if it was available. The survey also found students in those areas spend an average of $20 a week in gas, or $1,040 a year.

The bio-diesel mass transit buses that have been proposed by SEA would cost a student taking 18 credit hours for three semesters, or 54 credit hours, $81 a year.

SEA also proposed other solutions. Members want K-State to follow examples set by other universities, like the University of North Carolina, and limit parking permits to students who live outside a preset boundary. UNC sets this limit 2 miles from the bell tower at the center of campus. Ideally, SEA would like K-State's boundary to be set 1 mile from Anderson Hall.

Hailey Petersen, freshman in biology, proposed a different solution.

"Underclassmen, particularly freshmen, shouldn't have cars," she said.

SEA liked Petersen's proposal.

"My father graduated from K-State in 1981, and he said he wasn't allowed to have a car as a freshman," said Jamie Gentry, freshmen in animal science and pre-veterinary studies.

Go see it at the source!

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Post a video!


How did you get those cool videos to show up in the coblog?

One of the things the coblog enables us to do is embed media. In this post, learn how to embed video...

YouTube is a shining example of the democritization of media via web 2.0 principles. Although this is not the only video source online, it is certainly the most used. YouTube is basically the video version of Flickr (where Flickr is for photos). One of the most amazing things about the new web is that it is now being designed to come to the user, rather than making the user find it. Therefore, instead of providing a link to a video you watched in your post, why not embed the actual video, make the video come to us?

YouTube has made this really easy. All you have to do is copy the text (code) in the "Embed" box that is located to the right of the YouTube video you are watching. Then, click over to the "Edit Html" tab in the text editor for you post, find the place you would like for the video to appear, and paste the code you copied from your video. If you hit the "preview" button you can see if you did this successfully before posting.

For Google Video, the process is the same. However, on the Google Video site you are going to click the "Email - Blog - Post to Myspace" button, and then click the "Embed HTML" option to find the code you must copy and paste.

It really is as easy as that. And now you´re a webmaster!

Any questions?


All it takes is participation...

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On Posting...


While this is a collective blog and thus anyone who is a member can post to it, there are some directions and guidlines for posting. Please read this post so that we can keep the coblog organized, efficient, and usable.

1. The coblog now has what is called "peekaboo" posts. This means that on each post, only a summary is shown initially. There is then an option to click "read more..." which will open the full post. Likewise, there then appears "summary only..."which when clicked will return the post to summary view. The reason for including this feature is to make the coblog more readible and usable. Many posts end up being fairly long. This causes the user to have to scroll a great deal. With peekaboo posts, this problem is averted because summaries are all that is shown. Now, what does this mean for you? Well, in order to create a peekaboo post, you must follow these instructions:

Each peekaboo post will consist of two parts, the summary and the main part. The summary can simply be the first couple of sentences of the post, with emphasis on making it flashy to draw people to want to read more. When you open the text editor to create a post, you will see the following:

"Type your summary here.

Type the rest of your post here."

You must highlight the first line and overwrite it with your summary. Then you must highlight and overwrite the second line with the rest of your post. (for any html savvy people, this is just to ensure that the main post is within the span) If your post is short and you do not think it needs a peekaboo post, simply write the entire thing over the "Type your summary here" line and delete the "Type the rest of your post here" line.

2. In order for the coblog to be organized, the Labels must be utilized. Therefore, when you post, ensure that you enter labels (separated by commas) in the label box just below the text editor. These labels can be anything, but it is generally a good idea to use more than one and to try to use labels that have already been created, which you can find in the label cloud on the coblog.

Very important! The coblog now has a tabbed menu at the top of the post entry column. Right now, it consists of "Home" (all posts), "News" (posts labeled "news"), "Discussion" (posts labeled "discussion"), "Audio" (posts with embedded audio), "Video" (posts with embedded video), and "Instructions" (posts labeled "instructions"). In order to increase usability, make sure to label your post with either "news" or "discussion" (the "instructions" label is to be reserved for developers to post information pertaining to the use and functionality of the coblog along with tutorials). This will help us maintain two distinct sections for the coblog. If you would like to have more tabs, and thus more options for labeling, leave comments on this post so that they can be developed.


In review: 1. Make your post a peekaboo post! 2. Label your post appropriately! This means it must have at the very least one of the following labels: "News", "Discussion", "Audio", or "Video".

Any questions?


All it takes is participation...




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MTV Cribs



MTV actually stopped taping at a rapper's house and plans to cut the segment from the show because he has normal cars.


Personally I think the best Cribs I've ever seen was the lower-middle class suburban house that Redman showed off (not that I've seen many, but this is pretty good =).

But maybe Wu-Tang isn't good enough for MTV viewers. Check the quotes from the producer in the last paragraph:




MTV abruptly halted filming of the latest episode of "Cribs" yesterday, and plans to scrap the entire segment that featured a tour of platinum-selling rapper P-Krunk's mansion in suburban Atlanta.

Producers said the show was going well until they were led outside to check out his fleet of presumably tricked-out rides. "We were shocked, and dare I say appalled, when P-Krunk opened up his garage door and exposed two non-customized, frequently driven vehicles showing a bit of wear and tear: a 1998 Ford Aerostar minivan and a 2001 Toyota Corolla."Unfazed by the producers' grimaces and gasps of disappointment and confusion, P-Krunk began a detailed tour and description of his average autos.

"Check it dawg, my minivan is mad sensible. It gets crazy gas mileage and it's hella roomy, yo. I'm big pimpin' when I load up my shorties and my crew and we kick it at the Mickey D's drive-thru," said the married, 28-year-old father of two. "Gotsta have the removable back seat too, so me and my boo can be loading up bags of garden mulch and manure at Home Depot." The rapper carefully wiped down the exterior of his minivan—gently cleaning some dirt off the "My Child is an Honor Student at Peach Tree Prep" bumper sticker—with a chamois and moved on to his "main ride."

The bass was definitely not humping his face as the tinny hip-hop songs barely trickled out of the two, standard three-inch speakers mounted in the grey plastic dashboard.

"You feeling my Corolla?" P-Krunk queried as he relaxed in the cloth-covered driver's seat of the moderately priced, four-door, grey family sedan and played with the small plastic knobs of his factory-installed AM/FM radio with cassette and single CD player. "I like my B.Seigs & Freeway playing at a low, pleasant volume so I can pay attention to the roadeezy fo' sheezy." The bass was definitely not humping his face as the tinny hip-hop songs barely trickled out of the two, standard three-inch speakers mounted in the grey plastic dashboard.

When a cameraman pointed out that the car was missing a hubcap, the rapper laughed and said, "No big thang, nothing a twenty-spot can't fix down at the junk yard."

Asked if he plans on buying more expensive performance cars or a giant Hummer like many of his newly rich contemporaries in the near future, P-Krunk quickly responded, "Ten grand for rims? No my brother, this baller is hanging on to his paper. I don't need to be rollin' on dubs to represent and I sho' as shizzle don't plan on being a broke-ass bitch this time next year. Who do I look like, Hammer?"

"Cribs" segment producer Jonah Rothelsberg explained the reasoning behind shelving the show. "I appreciate P-Krunk's unique taste, but we have a responsibility to our young viewers and advertisers to show the real lifestyles that are true to the artist's genre of music. A rapper who doesn't capriciously spend all his money on cars and 100-inch plasmas is an anomaly that strains credibility. Our viewers would think we made this up or were trying to punk them." Rothelsberg cleared his throat and continued with a grin in a fake urban patois, "Sorry playa, my homies just ain't havin' it."

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

SEA Perspective


So this is the first time I have ever actually written on a blog and I am not entirely sure what I think about it yet. As many of the people reading this know I was and sort of still are a member of SEA for four years or so. I am reading this business strategy book for fun right now and it made me reevaluate some of the different things that I did in college with SEA. Here is a list of all the things that I did with SEA for the four years or so I was in it.

1. Protested Secretary of Interior Gail Norton and had Charles Benjamin give a rebuttal speech.
2. Dorm Carpet Recycling (messy)
3. Craft work (still going strong)
4. 04 political tabling (Boyda lost but not a bad time)
5. KSU Coalition for Peace (yeah that was my bad)
6. Dorm Recycling (i had this my freshman year)
7. Local Buyers Guide
8. The time we gave out hemp ribbons in exchange for people not driving to school.
9. Speakers: Svaty, Benjamin, Buffalo, Wind People, Global Exchange Bloke,
10. Camping & Canoeing
11. Sherow Campaigning (that was really good up until the end)
12. Greek House recycling (not really sure what happened)
13. Aggieville Recycling
14. In-Stadium Recycling
15. TailGate Recycling
16. Candidate Forum in '04 (same night as Dylan, bad turnout)
17. Countless Voter Registration
18. Tuttle Creek Clean Up
19. Sunset Zoo Clean Up (my dad is still mad at me for making him do that)
20. Curbside Recycling
21. Anti-Parking Garage
22. Manhattan/K-state Public Transportation

This is by no means a complete list but just what I came off the top of my head in 5 min. Some of them worked some of them never got off the ground. One thing that bothered me about them is that we kept on coming back to the same issues and it seems like we never learned from our mistakes. Each semester or year someone would mention dorm recycling and we would treat it like no one had ever tried this before. I don't really think that this is anyone persons fault, things just fall through the cracks. I'm not sure the best way to solve this; maybe take notes on the individual committee activities. Each week or month creating a time line with all of the different things that they did and all of the different people that they talked to. Imagine me advocating more structure. I love SEA and all of my friends that I met there but it would nice to see some things get all the way done. Hindsight is 20/20 right? Back to work for me.

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