The PBS science program "Nova" aired a very good episode this week called "Saved by the Sun"... if you missed it (or even if you didn't!), the show's companion web site below offers more great info and resources about solar power. And here's a petition on the topic of solar power that could use some support! Thank you!
Lightweight cart gives Sombra the rabbit a new lease on mobility
Sombra was rescued almost three years ago from a yard littered with gasoline cans, car parts and the corpses of friends who perished due to horrible abuse and neglect.
Today, with those painful memories far behind her, Sombra is still apt to encounter a few familiar components of cars-now working with her instead of against her.
Sombra has a new lease on mobility, thanks to a two-wheeled cart. And, while her tires are not nearly the size of those carrying a Prius or pick-up truck, they suit her just fine.
The cart's two modest wheels are attached to flat rods of metal that fit into a lightweight frame. The metal rods allow the wheels to adjust up and down, and flaps of fabric keep Sombra's legs from dragging the ground. The frame is secured to her body by a strap that fits across her chest.
California shelter staff pay special attention to Sombra and her new ride, making adjustments to her cart as needed to ensure comfort and mobility.
Sombra's wheels mean an increase in activity and quality of life for the lovely white rabbit, who was sometimes sidelined by problems with her legs, especially her back ones.
Sombra's leg problems were first noticed last spring, when she was found in the rabbit barn unable to easily walk. We didn't know why her legs had weakened, and after a visit to U.C. Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, we discovered that neurological damage was causing the problems.
The veterinarian recommended we continue giving Sombra special care, as well as medication for any pain associated with her condition. In addition, Sombra receives physical therapy from shelter staff to strengthen her legs and keep them loose.
The sweet and personable rabbit is ambulatory by primarily using her front two legs to get around. The cart is utilized during those times when her condition prevents her from moving easily about and helps her enjoy life to its fullest potential.
The first time Sombra was in the cart, it took a moment for her to figure it all out. But then the light went on, and Sombra quickly realized the wheels allowed her to zip around the rabbit pen, munching the choice grass and picking the best spot to hang out with her best friend Goldie.
Now, with or without the cart, Sombra enjoys a quality of life unimaginable during her early days among the trash of her "caretaker's" yard. Her new wheels help give her access to all the joys of life-and put even more distance between her present and her terrible past.
Link to story & Farm Sanctuary's web site: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/adopt/healthcare_sombra.htm
This is a bit of wisdom from Arun Gandhi, director of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence in Memphis, TN, a non-government institute that teaches the philosophy of non-violence. Here Arun tells of a formative lesson he learned while living in India with his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi... We have to remember, when we talk about violence, it’s not just the physical violence that we see around us. There is much more to it than just physical violence. And grandfather made me aware of this one day when I was coming back from school and I had this little notebook, writing pad and a pencil. And I was about 13 years old at the time, quite an irresponsible 13 year old. Walking home absentmindedly I looked at the pencil. It was about 3 inches long, and I said I deserve a better pencil. This is too small for me to use. And I was so confident that grandfather would give me a new pencil that without a second thought, I threw that pencil away.
And that evening when I went and asked grandfather for a new pencil, instead of giving me one he subjected me to a lot of questions. He wanted to know what happened to the pencil I had in the morning, how did it become small, where did I throw it away, and on and on and on. And I couldn’t understand why he was making such a fuss over a little pencil until he told me to go out and look for it. And I said, “You must be joking! You don’t expect me to go out and look for a pencil in the dark?” He said, “Oh yes I do, and here’s a flashlight.” And he sent me out with the flashlight to look for this pencil and I must have spent two or three hours searching for it.
And when I finally found it and brought it to him he said, “Now I want you to sit here and learn two very important lessons… The first lesson is that even in the making of a simple thing like a pencil we use a lot of the world’s natural resources and when we throw them away we are throwing away the world’s natural resources and that is violence against nature. Lesson number two is that because in an affluent country we can afford to buy all these things in bulk, we over-consume the resources of the world. And because we over-consume them, we are depriving people elsewhere of these resources and they have to live in poverty. And that is violence against humanity.”
And that was the first time I realized all of these little things that we do every day. I mean just think about it... how many useful things we throw away every day because we have such a lot of it. How much food we throw away every day. How many good clothes we throw away because we have new ones. All of this, every time we throw away something and waste something, is violence.
Found on the web site of the Spiral Diner & Bakery, an all vegan, mostly organic, environmentally-friendly restaurant in Ft. Worth, TX.
For organic gardeners in North America! Now that the seed and gardening catalogs are starting to appear, it's a good time to share this informative and helpful article from the Groovy Green Magazine...
If we're to become a nation of farmers, and a nation of people who take home and small scale agriculture seriously, I think it is important to think about our seed sources. After all, without good, safe, reliable sources of seed, there is no agriculture - period.
I'm a big advocate of buying locally, but as I just told a friend, seeds are one thing that I don't always purchase from my local retailer. There are several reasons for this. The first is that my local retailer tends to carry commercial garden center varieties of seed, which come from very far away. There are good reasons to want to buy local seed, from plants that have already adapted to your particular climate. Often the seed I mail order from far away is more local than the seed that I would buy from my neighborhood garden shop. The second reason is that I can often get organically grown seed if I buy by mail - and even though you don't eat the seeds themselves, there are excellent reasons to want to avoid drenching the field your seeds are grown in with pesticides and chemicals. Also, small seed companies often struggle to get along, and they need all the business they can get. Finally, there is so much variety out there in food plants that buying locally simply wouldn't allow me to try as many different things - if I had to rely on local sources there'd be no Glacier Tomatoes coming early, no Stein's Late Flat Dutch Cabbage hanging on in my garden until December.
There has been a heavy consolidation of the seed industry in the last few years, to its detriment.
The darkest force here has been the evil Monsanto, the Satan of agricultural corporations (and that's saying something since there are quite a few other dark angels out there), who bought up Seminis a couple of years ago. Now Seminis is the wholesaler that provides much of the seed for the seed trade, including many classic hybrids and nonhybrid varieties. And recently, I've just learned that Seminis has bought Burpee seeds - the largest single mail order supplier. http://groovygreen.com/groove/?p=868. (NOTE: This isn't true, see update at bottom of article) Now I have a fondness for the Burpee seed catalog, and there are a couple of non-hybrid varieties of theirs I love - a red french marigold, a cherry tomato. But I won't be buying there again. Pity, but I have no desire to support Monsanto's chemical agriculture, their attacks on farmers, their attempts to patent seeds created through laborious home breeding. And I try very hard to avoid Seminis varieties of seed. Because Seminis is a wholesaler, and sells to many of the seed companies that send out your catalogs, it can be difficult to tell where your seed originated. That means that I'm pretty much limited to some of the funkier catalogs out there. The good thing about that is that those catalogs have a large selection, a lot of neat stuff, and are usually good stewards of the environment. Giving them my money is an excellent thing.
Fedco seeds, for example, out of Maine, was the first catalog I know of to drop all Seminis varieties, and I applaud them for it. I love their catalog, and http://www.fedcoseeds.com/, and they have wonderful prices and quality. Much of their seed is locally grown, a lot is organic, and they are well worth the visit. They do not sell seed year round, so if you are planning a fall garden, order now. They also have one of the best selections of fruit trees out there in their tree division, and I get most of my potatoes from them. They are my source for, among other things, the bulk sweet alyssum I undersow among my cucumbers and melons to attract pollinators and they were the source for my beloved "Benchmark" green beans, sadly discontinued this year. But I'll trust their recommendations that the replacement is even better.
Baker Creek Heirloom seeds www.rareseeds.com is totally out of my region, and I don't know for sure that they don't get any seeds from Seminis, but I doubt it. They have the biggest selection of open pollinated (that is, not hybrid) seeds I've ever seen in a catalog. They were started by a 17 year old boy, who is now a 27 year old married man, and it is run as a family business. One of my first seed orders ever came from them, before knew about local seed, and I get a lot of things from them anyway - I've almost always been happy with their seeds, and they carry many things suitable to my climate. Plus, they have wonderful service and are strongly opposed to GMOs and are interested in the political implications of our seed choices. Black Futsu squash is pretty amazing, as is their huge collection of sweet peas.
High Mowing Seeds http://www.highmowingseeds.com/ is another one I recommend. They grow all their seed locally (to their Vermont area) and while they are expanding their hybrid offerings, offer an alternative to Seminis by growing out many of the classic OP varieties, including Waltham Broccoli and Long Pie Pumpkins. They have good prices, good service and they sent me 25lbs of buckwheat within a week of my order.
What more can you ask for (full disclosure - the family that runs it are somehow connected to the church my mother and step-mother attend, which is how I got my first copy of their catalog, but I assure you my alliegence is purely to their seed) from a seed company?
Seeds of Change is sort of the Industrial good guy. They have a very polished catalog, and lots of wonderful varieties. They are not local to me (NM), but I like them anyhow. I'm not sure I totally trust anyone who has a line of processed foods, but they also do a lot of neat plant breeding, and have a great book section. Italian White eggplants produce very well for me here in upstate NY, and Golden Giant Amaranth is both beautiful and a delicious and nutritious grain crop. Their prices are high, and their bulk selection isn't great, but they are worth a look. www.seedsofchange.com.
You'd think I might want to buy seed from Gurneys, Vermont Bean Seed, Totally Tomatoes, Select Seeds and Jung's, and sometimes I wish I could, but they are all essentially the same company now, part of the great consolidation, so I mostly avoid them. You can read more about this at www.gardenwatchdog.com
There are three grey area companies that I do sometimes support, although less and less because I can't find out their policies on Seminis. I'm very fond of the Pinetree Seed catalog www.superseeds.com, and Johnny's seed company was the catalog I grew up with - until I was in my late 20s, I thought all seed came from Johnny's www.johnnyseed.com. And then there's Territorial, the fascinating catalog focused on the pacific northwest, www.territorial-seed.com. I like them, but I am increasingly focusing my ordering on companies that grow more open pollinated, non-commercial seed. Still, Johnny's was where I discovered "Fortex" pole beans, and got my very first and still beloved Jacob's Cattle seeds.
Given a choice, my favorites are the catalogs that are in a different category entirely - not only are they good catalogs, but they are noble causes, and any money you spend there will enrich the world.
Bountiful Gardens is a terrific small seed company that is run in part by John Jeavons, the person who has most devoted himself to figuring out how to feed the world in small spaces. Not only do they have great seed, but they are a great cause. They also have a remarkable variety of compost, fiber and other uncommon crops. For those of you in northern CA and the Pacific NW, this is probably the place to buy, but all of us can get some wonderful things from them. http://www.bountifulgardens.org/. I'm going to take another stab at rice this year, from their offerings. Don't forget to look at their books, if you are at all serious about feeding yourself.
Sand Hill Preservation Center, run by the amazing Glenn Downs, is devoted to preserving heirloom breeds of poultry and seed. They are a single family operation, and you have to wait your turn for things. But if you can get things from them, you should. They are well worth your dollar, and virtually everything they offer is produced on farm. While you are picking out seed, don't forget to check out the chickens and ducks - I definitely want some Marans. They do not take internet orders, and they are picky about how things work. But that's ok - they are such a good cause that we just have to get over ourselves and wait politely for this tremendous gift they are giving us. http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/ Don't forget to say "thank you" for keeping our heritage alive and our food more secure.
Finally, and in a class entirely by itself, is Seed Savers Exchange, at www.seedsavers.org. You can buy seed from them directly, and they have a wonderful selection. Even if you don't save seed, you should become a member - the Seed Savers Exchange has been losing members, and more and more people are the only repositories of a particular kind of tomato, or green, or millet or pea. The Irish potato famine and the corn blight of the 1970s should be evidence to us that relying on one particular crop is unbelievably dangerous - we need all the genetic diversity we possibly can get. The people at Seed Savers are keeping our heritage, our history and possibly our food security alive, and they need you at the very least to join up and give them money. But why only do that? Because the very best place to get seed is not from a catalog at all, but from your own garden, or your neighbors. So join seed savers and consider maintaining one or two or 20 varieties of seed yourself. Grow them out year after year, and save a little to trade to others. This is good practice for yourself, and enhances your own security - after all, if you ever couldn't get seed, having some at home is a big thing. But most of all, it is a way of your participating in the provisioning of the earth.
There are great books out there about seed saving - my personal favorite is Suzanne Ashworth's book _Seed to Seed_, and I'm also fond of Carol Deppe's _Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties_, which is a surprisingly fun read for ordinary gardeners, even if you never plan to breed a thing. Because the amazing thing is that when you grow out a plant and save seed, you *are* breeding. That is, the plant begins to adapt to your region, and after a few generations, you've got a strain of something that is truly your own. It is a magical process, and one I'm still experimenting with. But more people need to do it.
Update January 12, 2007
I have represented rumor as fact. In my "Where to Buy Seeds and Where Not To" essay, I claimed that Seminis had bought Burpee, which appears not to be the case. I apologize for screwing up.
A new year is such a good time to resolve to make the changes we know in our hearts we need to make. Let this be the year that everyone who cares about animals, who cares about the environment, who cares about global warming, who cares about world hunger, and who cares about their own health and well-being resolves to transition to a plant-based diet. It's easier than you think, the benefits are enormous, and there is a lot of support out there! It's time. Your only regret might be that you didn't do it sooner...
Have you felt helpless as the earth warms? As followers of the McDougall Diet, we have the power to cause hard-fought changes that will slow global warming. And it is not too late. Our success hangs upon whether or not we can convince very large numbers of people to make the morally responsible decision to follow a plant-food based diet. You and I, who already live on oatmeal, pasta salads, and bean burritos, have had eating experiences which allow us to see the world differently. Our friends, family, and co-workers havent a cluethey cannot imagine life without beefsteak, fried chicken, and cheese. So, the opportunity is ours to take.
According to the 2006 UN report, global production of meat and milk will more than double by 2050. We cannot let this happen. Our planet is already being devastated. Long-overdue changes based on the truth could halve livestock usage by 2015
To become prepared, there are two things I am asking you to do: First, watch Al Gores documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, (now on DVD; Transcript: at http://www.hokeg.dyndns.org/AITruth.htm), and then read the introduction (at least) to the 2006 United Nations report, Livestocks Long Shadow. Armed with this information you will be able to make a real difference, beginning with the people closest to you. Our mission is to cause a dietary revolution; an uprising essential for cooling the planet.
It means if there is something wrong, those who have the ability to take action, have the responsibility to take action.
Nicolas Cage (2004) From the movie, National Treasure, interpreting the meaning of this sentence from the Declaration of Independence, But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Buying a hybrid car and switching to energy efficient light bulbs are important, but these actions pale in consequence compared to the effects we can get by causing planet-wide, dietary changes. Present levels of meat- and dairy-eating may become synonymous with death to our civilization. We stand on a precipicethe planet is ours to save.
Livestocks Long Shadow
According to a report, Livestocks Long Shadow Environmental Issues and Options, released in November of 2006 from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock* emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to every one of the most serious environmental problems. (The release of this report was not covered by any of the major news outlets, only a few mentions are found on the Internet.)
*livestock refers to beef cattle, dairy cattle, chickens, pigs, and a few other animals domesticated for food uses.
The Following Are Some of the Findings from the UN Report:
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all transportation emits 13.5% of the CO2. In addition to CO2, environmentally toxic gases produced by livestock include nitrous oxide, methane, and ammonia generated from the animals intestinesbelching, flatus, and manure. The report says The impact is so severe that it needs to be addressed with urgency.
Produces 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2.
Accounts for 37 percent of all human-induced methane (which is 23 times as warming as CO2).
Generates 64 percent of the ammonia, which contributes to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.
The total area occupied by grazing livestock is equivalent to 26 percent of the ice-free terrestrial surface of the planet. In addition, the total area dedicated to producing feed crops for these animals amounts to 33 percent of the total arable land.
Clearing forests to create new pastures is a major source of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former rainforests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. The forests are the major sinks for removing the greenhouse gases from the atmospherethey are the lungs of the Earth.
The livestock business is among the most serious users of the earths increasingly scarce water resources; in addition, contributing to water pollution, excessive growth of organisms, depletion of oxygen, and the degeneration of coral reefs, among other things.
The major water-polluting agents are animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers, and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.
In the United States livestock is responsible for 55 percent of the erosion and sediment, 37 percent of the pesticide use, 50 percent of the antibiotic use, and a third of the load of nitrogen and phosphorus put into freshwater sources.
Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of above and below ground water resources. Significant amounts of water are withdrawn for the production of feed.
Livestocks very presence in vast tracts of land and its demand for feed crops also contribute to loss of other plants and animals; livestock is identified as a culprit in 15 out of 24 important ecosystems that are assessed as in decline. The loss of species is estimated to be running 50 to 500 times higher than background rates found in the fossil record.
Is Change Realistic?
Al Gore wants us to switch to more efficient forms of transportation, not to give up our cars overnight. An enthusiastic campaign to reduce our dependency on livestock would not have as a primary goal making everyone become vegan (eliminating all animal foods); but more realistically, to cut the consumption of meat and dairy productssay, in half in 8 years. That could mean something as simple as asking people following the Western diet to consume on average two to three times more mashed potatoes (or other starchy vegetables) daily, instead of their usual animal-based foodsI believe this is not too much to request in order to save the earth!
Al Gore Does Not Discuss the Role of Food Animals
Not once during the 96 minute presentation, An Inconvenient Truth, did Al Gore mention animal foods as a cause of global warming or suggest any form of management of livestock as a solution. This oversight would be similar to not mentioning cigarette smoking in a discussion of lung cancer. With all due respect to Al Gore, I must speculate as to why he ignored this essential connection. Ignorance could not have been the reason. Catastrophic damage to our environment from livestock, especially cattle, has been recognized for decades. Nor do I believe his exclusion of this topic was for political correctness. His documentary is filled with unrestrained challenges to almost every segment of business and society. Al Gore is a brave and honest man, but he has human frailties, too.
Al Gore identified one reason for his leaving out the livestock connection in his documentary when he said, You know more than a hundred years ago, Upton Sinclair wrote this: It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it. Al Gore has been involved in the business of raising Black Angus cattle for most of his life. Today quite a few Angus breeders from around the country are among his closest friends.
Young Al Gore with Black Angus from the family farm
In his must see documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore failed to tell people that cows, pigs, sheep, and poultry are a far greater polluters of the planet earth than are all the cars, trains, and airplanes.
To explain the second source of his blindness to livestocks role in global warming, I offer one of my personal quotes, People love to hear good news about their bad habits. With no intention to offend, I must point out that Al Gores physical appearance reflects overindulgence in the Western dietfilled with meat, chicken, seafood, milk, and cheese. To speak plainly, he cannot see over his own dinner plate.
Al Gore is a giant, defending the truth. I am confident he will not let his personal life stand in the way of his missionwhether or not he himself changes to a plant-food based diet.
*Contact Al Gore about his oversight on the global impact of livestock:
The Office of the Honorable Al Gore 2100 West End Avenue Suite 620 Nashville, TN 37203
Or call him at (615) 327-2227
No e-mail address for Al Gore
At http://www.algore.com/ you can send a note through Al Gore to your representatives in congress. Ask them to help Americans give up their meat to save the world.
Does Global Warming Matter Enough?
For forty years I have believed people would rise up and take action once they realized that the vast majority of human sickness and suffering in developed countries is due to eating animal foods. The masses have remained quiet. For the past decade I have witnessed the growing epidemic of childhood obesitya misery caused largely by the fast food giants. All this time I have waited for informed citizens to rise up in protest, or at the very least, to boycott the perpetrators of this child abuse. The sellers of easily procured beef burgers and milk shakes thrive uncontested by a single one of us.
Until now, inaction meant other people and their children became fat, sick and died prematurelysomehow, we have been able to live with those immoralities. The inconvenient truth is that most human beings find the destruction of fellow human beings, even little ones, acceptable. You can assume these same people will sit idly by and let the entire earth be destroyed. But we cannot let this happen, because this is our world, too. This time, failure to act means we and our children will be lost, along with those who do not seem to understand or care.
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. warned that our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Nothing matters more than solving global warming. Those of usmeaning you and I (experts or not)who have the ability to take action, have the responsibility to take action.
Please Help with the Solution
Over the next month, during every spare moment, think about this crisis. (I have been able to think of little else myself recently.) Watch Al Gores DVD, read the UN report, and Noam Mohrs article in this newsletter. If you have not done so already, stop (or reduce) eating meat, poultry, fish and dairyask your family and friends to do the same and tell them why. Mail your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next months (January 2007) newsletter will reflect our collective efforts for meaningful ways to move forward.
Everything we need to do to save it (earth) is something we should be doing for other reasons anyway. We have everything we need already to start saving it with the possible exception of the will to act. But in the United States of America that is a renewable resource.
Al Gores concluding remarks on the December 5, 2006 Oprah Winfrey show.
Wow, I thought this essay was wonderful. And it applies whether or not (or how) one celebrates the holiday of Thanksgiving, and it applies to every day of the year.. not just the one officially (and ostensibly) set aside for expressing gratitude...
Admittedly, not everyone will share my life-long love of old cemeteries, but I've always found them both intriguing and deeply peaceful. I'm also a fan of photography and the awesome music of Secret Garden. If you share any of these interests, I think you will enjoy this beautiful work as much as I did. It's the unofficial book trailer for a new project from Duirwaigh called "Guardian: Cemeteries and their Sentinals" by Angi Sullins and Silas Toball. I found it ethereal, beautiful, haunting, enchanting, poignant and serene. I hope you will too....
Do be sure to visit the rest of this wonderful web site, and also watch "A Knock on the Duir," a brilliant and inspiring video (for those of you who have watched it before, you might want to view it again because they've changed quite a bit of the art work!)
Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction is a documentary film that explores the mass extinction, its six main causes, the cultural myths and values that drive it, the psychology that underpins it, and the latest insights into natural systems that could help us turn back the tide. The mass extinction is the cumulative result of many causes, all of which are related to human activity. In interviews with eminent scientists and field biologists, we present the facts and evidence of the shocking decline as we consider the six primary drivers of extinction.
In interviews with leading psychologists, historians and anthropologists we examine the inextricable links between the extinction crisis and our social and economic problems, and explore the ways in which culture and psychology have conspired to determine our collective and individual response to this situation.
The film bridges disciplines to weave science, psychology, and cultural history into a clear and accessible story of our changing world. The audience is taken into the depths of the human psyche, through the toughest problems of our times and into the cutting edge of what nature has to teach us. The mass extinction is possibly the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced, and it is those of us alive today who have been given the responsibility - and great opportunity - of stopping it. CALL OF LIFE: FACING THE MASS EXTINCTION (film trailer)
The Mandala Project web site has interesting information about mandalas, plus a gallery of stunning, creative and unique mandalas created by people of all ages, from all over the world, using a variety of media:
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A good way for learning a
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While learning or
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