Friday, March 09, 2007

Indonesia's Biofuel Expansion on Rainforest Peatlands to Accelerate Climate Change


"Indonesia’s rainforests contain 60% of all the tropical peat in the world. Peatland rainforests are wet, swampy rainforests that when drained and cleared, their peat filled soils become highly susceptible to long burning, carbon and methane rich fires. Such rainforests on peat soils are one of the world’s most important carbon sinks and play a vital role in helping to regulate the global climate. They are also very rich in biodiversity and a refuge for species like orang-utans, since most of the non-peat lowland forests have already been cleared.

Rainforest peatlands are being destroyed fast; primarily by palm oil, timber, and paper and pulp companies. The Indonesian government has endorsed a massive biofuel program which foresees an increase in oil palm plantations from currently just over 6 million hectares to eventually over 26 million hectares...."

Read the rest at http://www.ecoearth.info/alerts/send.asp?id=indonesia_peatland --because I can't figure out how to get it to hide the rest of the post :)

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A River Reborn


River Reborn: The Restoration of Fossil Creek
The inspiring rebirth of a biologically critical river in Arizona is recounted in A River Reborn: The Restoration of Fossil Creek. The one-hour documentary examines the ecological effects of a dam and hydroelectric facility on the waterway and chronicles the 15-year effort that led to decommissioning.



A River Reborn is a powerful case study in environmental restoration. It is emblematic of a broad reassessment of rivers and dams globally, as well as the growing effort to balance fulfillment of human needs with protection of the natural systems that support human life. This includes the safeguarding of precious water resources and the protection of threatened and endangered species. As a focal point for this reassessment, Fossil Creek reveals both challenges and opportunities associated with riparian restoration...

This documentary will be air on PBS at KTWU Topeka and KTPS Wichita, but the air date has not been determined yet.

Audio News Story Link

A planning strategy for Kansas watersheds has been developed and is called "Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies" or "WRAPS." Numerous projects are on the ground across the state including several in our back yard: Tuttle Creek, Milford and the Middle Kansas are a few examples (there are lots of others too). The projects exist in various phases from planning and development to assessment and implementation.

If interested in more info, here's a link for ya: Kansas WRAPS

Or if you want to know how to get involved, I'd love to chat with you about it.

One thing that is missing from many of these projects is grassroots, and especially, student involvement. I think students would bring a fresh and creative perspective to our water quality and quantity problems.

Also, here is a link to three service learning projects in which K-State students got involved with water-related issues in local communities: Dr. Nancy Muturi's student project and Dr. Alok Bhandari's student projects at Ft. Scott and Manhattan.



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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

the Da Versity Code :)


To lighten things up a bit :).. From the maker's of the Meatrix... check out the Da Versity Code



A parody of the DaVinci Code.

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Winning Isn't Everything...


Today's post from the Daily Om: Winning Isn't Everything: Competing With Yourself.


March 6, 2007
Winning Isn't Everything
Competing With Yourself

The urges that drive us to compete with others tend to be straightforward. Years of both evolution and societal influences have shaped us to pit ourselves against our peers. The needs and desires that inspire us to compete with ourselves, however, are entirely personal and thus far more complex. A need to outdo our earlier efforts-to confirm that we have grown as individuals-can motivate us to reach new heights of accomplishment. We are capable of using our past achievements as a foundation from which we venture confidently into the unknown. Yet if this drive to compete with our former selves is the result of low self-worth or a need to prove ourselves to others, even glowing successes can feel disheartening. Examining why we compete with ourselves enables us to positively identify those contests that will enrich our existence.

There are many reasons we strive to outdo ourselves. When we are ambitious in our quest for growth, we are driven to set and meet our own expectations. We do not look to external experiences of winning and losing to define our sense of self-worth. Rather, we are our own judges and coaches, monitoring our progress and gauging how successful we have become. Though we seek the thrill of accomplishment tirelessly, we do so out of a legitimate need to improve the world or to pave the way for those who will follow in our footsteps. Be careful, though, that your competitiveness is not the result of an unconscious need to show others that you are capable of meeting and then exceeding their standards.

Consider, too, that successful efforts that would be deemed more than good enough when evaluated from an external perspective may not satisfy our inner judge, who can drive us ruthlessly. In order to attain balance, we have to learn the art of patience even as we strive to achieve our highest vision of who we are. When we feel drained, tense, or unhappy as we pursue our goals, it may be that we are pushing ourselves for the wrong reasons. Our enthusiasm for our endeavors will return as soon as we recall that authentic evolution is a matter not of winning but of taking pride in our progress at any pace. .

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Ken Wilber: on the environment...


An excerpt from "A Brief History of Everything," by Ken Wilber:


"KW: Yes, the point of a genuine environmental ethics is that we are supposed to transcend and include all holons in a genuine embrace. Because human beings contain matter and life and mind, as components in their own makeup, then of course we must honor all of these holons, not only for their own intrinsic worth, which is the most important, but also because they are components in our own being, and destroying them is literally suicide for us. It´s not that harming the biosphere will eventually catch up with us and hurt us from the outside. It´s that the biosphere is literally internal to us, is a part of our very being, our compound individuality-- harming the biosphere is internal suicide, not just some sort of external problem.

So we can have a profoundly ecological view without being merely ecological, or reducing everything to the simple biosphere. We need an approach that transcends and includes ecology-- precisely because the noosphere transcends and includes the biosphere, which transcends and includes the physiosphere. We don´t need an approach that simply privileges ecology in a regressive flattening to one-dimensional life, to the flatland web of life.

...

And the flatland web-of-life theorists simply focus on the equality of being and miss the holarchy of realization. They think that because a shrimp and an ape are both perfect manifestations of the Divine-- which they are-- then there is no difference in depth between them, which is reductionistic in the most painful and embarrassing fashion.

So we want our environmental ethics to honor all holons without exceptions as manifestations of Spirit, and also, at the same time, be able to make pragmatic distinctions in intrinsic worth, and realize that it is much better to kick a rock than an ape, much better to eat a carrot than a cow, much better to subsist on grains than on mammals.

If you agree with those statements, then you are acknowledging gradations in depth, gradations in intrinsic value-- you are acknowledging a holarchy of value. Most ecophilosophers agree with those statements, but they can´t say why, because they have a hierarchy that denies hierarchy-- they have only the flatland web of life and bioequality, which is not only self-contradictory, it paralyzes pragmatic action and cripples intrinsic values." (pgs. 38-40)




This passage connects with me and the way I have always thought about the way I live my life. I have never understood conversations with non-environmental types about why I appear to be an "environmentalist", and just as much, I have never understood conversations with environmental types about why we appear to be environmentalists. From Wilber´s words, it would seem very natural that I have felt this way. This demonstrates environmentalism to be internal to us, more than just a part of us, but our fundamental constituent parts.

The thing that gets most on my nerve is when I talk with and witness other environmental types, most of whom I consider my closest friends, not realizing this internal nature. Not realizing that their ability (or inability) to change their everyday actions is precisely and directly linked to their ability (or inability) to "save" themselves, where "save" means survival in whatever context is chosen (could be something as simple as being happy).

Perhaps I just don´t see it, or perhaps I am just too self-centered and arrogant to see outside myself. But I am constantly reminded of this lack of commitment. Here Wilber gives me direction because he suggests a reason for that lack of commitment.

So, I challenge you to try harder... and while you´re doing it, push me to try harder too.

What do you think?

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Quorum


Taylor and more!  Annotated


"What the Quorum represents, even by its very name, The Quorum, is a coming together that would be a place for everybody. Not the elimination of difference. Not this painting over of the fact that we have differences: we see things differently, we have different cultural traditions, we have different celebrations, we have different ways of existing. But, the Quorum represented as a place to be, an acceptance of that difference. And a notion that though we have boundaries that are cultural and traditional, that those boundaries could be permeable, that we could move back and forth, in and out of each others worlds, based on a notion of mutual respect. Based on the notion that here was a place that everyone was allowed to be. You could be here, you could share your story, you could share your music, you could share your experiences, you could share your secrets, as long as the common notion of respect, that we could all be in the same space and not hurt each other, existed.



And what came in from the outside when the Quorum was attacked, I guess is the word I can use, what came in from the outside was this notion that "No", we cannot exist together, we won´t do that. The only way that we can exist is if we separate ourselves. And I think that human beings can have that tendency of fear and separation and isolation and that sort of militaristic "I need to protect myself, I need to build my weapons, I need to make sure I can kill who would hurt me." That´s one model for living; and it´s a terrible model, you always have to look over your shoulder, you always have to worry about who doesn´t understand you and who wants to get you.



And the other model is "No," we have to look across those lines. Not in an effort to say, we have all to be the same, we all have to accept these universal cultural values, no, because diversity is survival. But we have to be able to look across those lines in an effort to say, "I respect your right to exist in the same comfort and safety that I exist." And if humanity embraces that model, a hundred years from now, we´ll have Quorums everywhere. If humanity embraces the other model, a hundred years from now we may not be here. Because with a world packed with dangerous weapons, isolationism, the lack of understanding, the notion of "I´ve got to kill you before you get me," or "I can´t let your children talk to my children." We will not survive that.



So, the Quorum is the only model for surviving, and it´s a wonderful model."







-- The Quorum - Virginia Kennedy

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the place of food


Progress in Human Geography, Vol. 31, No. 1, 23-42 (2007)
DOI: 10.1177/0309132507073527
© 2007 SAGE Publications

The place of food: mapping out the ‘local’ in local food systems
Robert Feagan

Wilfrid Laurier University at Laurier Brantford, 73 George Street, Brantford, Ontario N3T 2Y3, Canada, rfeagan@wlu.ca

‘Local food systems’ movements, practices, and writings pose increasingly visible structures of resistance and counter-pressure to conventional globalizing food systems. The place of food seems to be the quiet centre of the discourses emerging with these movements. The purpose of this paper is to identify issues of ‘place’, which are variously described as the ‘local’and ‘community’ in the local food systems literature, and to do so in conjunction with the geographic discussion focused on questions and meanings around these spatial concepts. I see raising the profile of questions, complexity and potential of these concepts as an important role and challenge for the scholar-advocate in the realm of local food systems, and for geographers sorting through them. Both literatures benefit from such a foray. The paper concludes, following a ‘cautiously normative’ tone, that there is strong argument for emplacing our food systems, while simultaneously calling for careful circumspection and greater clarity regarding how we delineate and understand the ‘local’. Being conscious of the constructed nature of the ‘local’, ‘community’ and ‘place’ means seeing the importance of local social, cultural and ecological particularity in our everyday worlds, while also recognizing that we are reflexively and dialectially tied to many and diverse locals around the world.


Link to whole article (.pdf)...

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Growing Growers Apprenticeships...


Growing Growers Taking `07 Apprentice Applications

OLATHE, Kan. - A subculture living within 200 miles of metro Kansas
City is getting bigger and better.


As a result, the area - including K.C. - is already eating better,
according to Ted Carey, program coordinator for the Growing Growers
program. More locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables are showing
up in restaurant fare, grocery stores and farmers markets. Plus, an
ever-increasing amount is coming from certified organic farms.

The Growing Growers program is a cooperative effort that has
influenced this growth. As part of its apprenticeship program, it
networks successful market farmers with new and aspiring growers. It
also provides professional development training that´s helping
existing farmers improve and expand..

Released: March 5, 2007

"The metro area has more farmers markets and market farmers than ever
before. But, the demand for locally grown products is still bigger
than the supply," said Carey, who is a Kansas State University
Research and Extension horticulturist at K-State´s Olathe Research
Center.

Nearby community-supported agriculture programs are turning away
people who´d like to be members, Carey said. Both grocery stores and
restaurants are reporting they´d like to get more locally grown
products than currently are available.

For those who´d like to help fill that demand, Growing Growers is now
accepting apprentice applications for the 2007 growing season. The
program offers two approaches to this on-the job training at an area
host farm:

* Work at least 20 hours a week for regular wages - which sometimes
can include room and board.

* Work a minimum of four hours a week as a volunteer.

This year, those accepted as apprentices will have to pay $150 for
books. A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant helped the four-year-
old program get started, but Growing Growers now is having to become
self-sustaining.

Apprentices will still have free access, however, to the program´s
series of monthly study sessions, workshops and tours at nearby sites
in both Kansas and Missouri. The series also is open to other would-
be local growers and any established growers wanting to develop a
particular aspect of their operation.

"A good number of our graduates are already working in farming or in
some aspect of local foods. Several have started their own farms.
Others are working for existing farms and looking for their own
land," Carey said. "Some have been very creative about finding ways
to put their new skills and knowledge to use.

"One apprentice, Hilary Brown, went on to start the Local Burger
restaurant in Lawrence, using almost all local meats and vegetable
products. A couple of graduates have found you can turn a big back
yard into a niche garden - one that supplies an unusual herb or a
vegetable used in ethnic recipes."

Those interested in apprenticing should contact the Growing Growers
program manager by e-mail (growers@ksu.edu) or phone 913-488-1270.
She can direct them through the application process, which includes
visits to possible host farms.

Later, Kelly also will supply some of the apprentices´ one-on-one
training.

More information about the overall Growing Growers program and its
various offerings is on the Web at http://www.growinggrowers.org.

That page now includes a link to a new service - a listserv for
current market farmers interested in (1) asking questions of or
sharing information with peers, (2) combining orders with peers to
qualify for discounts on bulk purchases of seed and other supplies,
and (3) receiving peer and Growing Growers information and ideas on
ways to become more efficient and effective.

The Growing Growers program is a cooperative effort of Kansas State
University, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the Kansas Rural
Center and the Kansas City Food Circle (a community organization).


-30-


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State
University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension
Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful
knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state,
federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices,
experiment fields, area Extension offices and research centers
statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.


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rachel's challenge...


A story of inspiration, courage and kindness. Rachel's challenge is a school assembly and training program that was birthed out of the Columbine High School Tragedy in 1999. Rachel Scott was a remarkable young lady who believed her life would have an impact on the world. And it did...

Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Her acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the contents of her six diaries have become the foundation for one of the most life-changing school programs in America - Rachel's Challenge.

See the video...

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Who Killed the Electric Car?


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Eating Better Than Organic


Eating Better Than Organic
Friday, Mar. 02, 2007 By JOHN CLOUD

Organic apples in the produce section at a Whole Foods Market in Willowbrook, IL. on January 5th, 2006. Whole Foods Market along with other organic food distributors is trying to bring down the cost of organic foods to attract the family on a budget..


Not long ago I had an apple problem. Wavering in the produce section of a Manhattan grocery store, I was unable to decide between an organic apple and a nonorganic apple (which was labeled conventional, since that sounds better than "sprayed with pesticides that might kill you"). It shouldn't have been a tough choice--who wants to eat pesticide residue?--but the organic apples had been grown in California. The conventional ones were from right here in New York State. I know I've been listening to too much npr because I started wondering: How much Middle Eastern oil did it take to get that California apple to me? Which farmer should I support--the one who rejected pesticides in California or the one who was, in some romantic sense, a neighbor? Most important, didn't the apple's taste suffer after the fruit was crated and refrigerated and jostled for thousands of miles?

In the end I bought both apples. (They were both good, although the California one had a mealy bit, possibly from its journey.) It's only recently that I had noticed more locally grown products in the supermarket, but when I got home I discovered that the organic-vs.-local debate has become one of the liveliest in the food world. Last year Wal-Mart began offering more organic products--those grown without pesticides, antibiotics, irradiation and so on--and the big company's expansion into a once alternative food culture has been a source of deep concern, and predictable backlash, among early organic adopters.

Nearly a quarter of American shoppers now buy organic products once a week, up from 17% in 2000. But for food purists, "local" is the new "organic," the new ideal that promises healthier bodies and a healthier planet. Many chefs, food writers and politically minded eaters are outraged that "Big Organic" firms now use the same industrial-size farming and long-distance-shipping methods as conventional agribusiness. "Should I assume that I have a God-given right to access the entire earth's bounty, however far away some of its produce is grown?" asks ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan in his 2002 memoir, Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods. Nabhan predicted my apple problem when he vacillated over some organic pumpkin canned hundreds of miles from his Arizona home. "If you send it halfway around the world before it is eaten," he mused, "an organic food still may be 'good' for the consumer, but is it 'good' for the food system?"

I had never really thought about how my food purchases might affect "the food system." Even now I don't share the pessimism and asceticism of the local-eating set. In her 2001 memoir, This Organic Life, Columbia University nutritionist Joan Dye Gussow writes that her commitment to eating locally "is probably driven by three things. The first is the taste of live food; the second is my relation to frugality; the third is my deep concern about the state of the planet." I don't have much relation to frugality, and, perhaps foolishly, I'm more optimistic than Gussow about our ability to develop alternative energy sources.

But I care deeply about how my food tastes, and it makes sense that a snow pea grown by a local farmer and never refrigerated will retain more of its delicate leguminous flavor than one shipped in a frigid plane from Guatemala. And I realized that if more consumers didn't become part of the local-food market, it could disappear and all our peas would be those tasteless little pods from far away.

Still, the fact that not all locally grown products are organic had me worried. Even if most Americans wanted to buy locally grown organics, they wouldn't be able to find many. In a few not-too-dry, not-too-wet, not-too-warm regions--central California is one--it is possible to find abundant organic produce grown locally. But if you live in a humid climate, say, the moisture that encourages bacteria and fungi means that growing without pesticides is much more risky, expensive and rare. Consequently, in the Hudson Valley of New York, near me, it's very difficult to find fruit that hasn't been sprayed with chemicals at least once. In other regions, like the upper Midwest, most big farms don't grow any vegetables for local markets, conventional or organic. Instead, they produce commodity crops like corn and soybeans for sale to food processors. At a large Hugo's grocery store in Jamestown, N.D., last summer, I noticed only one local product: flour, which is milled in-state from local wheat. But there were organic apples and oranges from out of state.

Farmers' markets often feature organic produce from nearby farms, but not everyone lives near a farmers' market--and most products at the markets aren't organic. "I've been to farmers' markets, and there's people hauling stuff from the truck that they got at a wholesaler," says Joseph Mendelson III, legal director of the Center for Food Safety, a liberal Washington group that supports strong organic standards. Mendelson prefers the "gold standard" of locally grown organics, but he is rather frightening on the subject of nonorganic food, whatever its origin. When I asked him whether I should favor local products, he replied, "I don't know what local means. Do they use local pesticides? Does that mean the food is better because they produce local cancers?"

All of which further tangles my original question: The organic apple or the conventionally grown local one?

It turns out to be a frustratingly layered choice, one that implicates many other questions: What's the most efficient way to grow food for all? Should farms be big or small, family- or corporate-run? How do your choices affect the planet? What tastes better? And then there's that little matter of cancer.

Let's get that one out of the way at the start. If scientists could conclusively prove that agricultural chemicals are harmful, we would all go organic. But it's not clear, for instance, that the low levels of pesticide typically found on conventional produce cause cancer. The risks of long-term exposure to those residues are still undetermined.

Even if conventional foods don't turn out to be as dangerous as organic advocates claim, several recent studies have suggested that organic foods contain higher levels of vitamins than their conventionally grown counterparts. In a paper published in October in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a team from the University of California, Davis, demonstrates that organically grown tomatoes have significantly more vitamin C than conventional tomatoes. Even so, the same study shows no significant differences between conventional and organic bell peppers.
.

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