Archive for July, 2006


On biofuels, Brattleboro wants more-o

Monday, July 24th, 2006

Brattleboro switches vehicle fleet to biodiesel

July 17, 2006

By DANIEL BARLOW Southern Vermont Bureau

BRATTLEBORO – Starting this fall, about three dozen of Brattleboro’s municipal vehicles will be running on biodiesel.

The Brattleboro Select Board voted 5-0 last week to begin using the fuel, which comes from vegetable oil and burns cleaner than traditional fuel. The switchover was brokered by Brattleboro Climate Protection, a nonprofit group working with the town on energy issues.

Town officials said vehicles that already have diesel engines will be making the switch, including maintenance vehicles from the Brattleboro Public Works Department, the BeeLine bus system, fire trucks, as well as emergency vehicles operated by the ambulance service Rescue Inc.

“Switching to biodiesel is becoming a mainstream idea for municipalities,” said Paul Cameron, the executive director of Brattleboro Climate Protection. “Four years ago, there were only three large fleets using biodiesel. Now there are over 300 in the United States.”

Click here for the full story.

On biofuels, Lester Brown has a frown

Monday, July 24th, 2006

Supermarkets and Service Stations Now Competing for Grain

By Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute

July 17, 2006
Cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that world grain use will grow by 20 million tons in 2006. Of this, 14 million tons will be used to produce fuel for cars in the United States, leaving only 6 million tons to satisfy the world’s growing food needs.

In agricultural terms, the world appetite for automotive fuel is insatiable. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year. The grain to fill the tank every two weeks over a year will feed 26 people.

[cont'd]

Check out the rest of the story. There’s a lot of reader comments at the bottom as well, a surprising number of which are not utterly foolish.

Coolness

Monday, July 24th, 2006

The book’s not out yet, so this is kind of unfair of me to blog about already, but anyway, in Sippewissett, Tim mentions the microbial mats in the marsh. I just came across some pictures of the little critters and critterettes that make up the mats. Pretty snazzy.

All the grease that’s fit to print

Monday, July 24th, 2006

I hadn’t heard about the EPA’s recent rule to fine veggie cars. Mentioned in this NYTimes article by a happy convert. Doesn’t the EPA know that when running your car on grease is outlawed, only outlaws will run their cars on grease?

Chelsea Green Launches Sciencewriters Imprint

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 20, 2006

Contact: Jessica Saturley, (802) 295-6300, ext. 106

CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING COMPANY is pleased to announce the launch of Sciencewriters Books, a new imprint to develop outstanding works of science for the general public. Sciencewriters Books will be codirected by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, founders of Sciencewriters, an educational partnership devoted to advancing science through enchantment in the form of the finest possible books, videos, and other media (www.sciencewriters.org).

“We’re thrilled with this new alliance,” Margo Baldwin, publisher of the independent press announced today, “and we have no doubt this series will find an enthusiastic readership.”

CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING COMPANY’s mission is in line with the notion that we are citizens, not only of nations, but also of the biosphere and the universe, and our relationship with these “higher powers” will impact our survival as a species. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan have authored thought-provoking and intellectually riveting science books for over a quarter century on topics that range from global ecology to the evolution of sex. Blending exciting writing with depth of knowledge and dedication to scientific integrity, Sciencewriters Books will publish new and established authors on cutting-edge topics that are key to our survival.

Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, received the 1999 National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton. She has been a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences since 1983 and of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences since 1997. In 1998 the Library of Congress announced that it will permanently archive Margulis’s papers. Author, editor, or coauthor of chapters in more than forty books, she has published or been profiled in many journals, magazines, and books, among them Natural History, Science, Nature, New England Watershed, Scientific American, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science Firsts, and The Scientific 100. She has made numerous contributions to the primary scientific literature of microbial evolution and cell biology.

Margulis comes from the south side of Chicago where she received an education on the streets. She graduated from The College of the University of Chicago at age nineteen. She received a joint master’s degree in genetics and zoology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. And conducted research on chloroplast DNA at the University of California, Berkeley.

Margulis’s theory of species evolution by symbiogenesis, put forth in Acquiring Genomes (2002), describes how speciation does not occur by random mutation alone but rather by symbiotic detente. Behavioral, chemical, and other interactions often lead to integration among organisms, members of different taxa. In well-documented cases some mergers create new species. Margulis demonstrates that intimacy – physical contact of strangers – is part of the engine of evolution and accelerates the process of change. Margulis works in the laboratory and field with many other scientists and students to show how specific ancient partnerships, in a given order over a billion years, generated the cells of the species we see with our unaided eyes. The fossil record, in fact, does not show Darwin’s predicted gradual changes between closely related species but rather the “punctuated equilibrium” pattern described by Eldredge and Gould: a jump from one to a different species. She has worked on the “revolution in evolution” since she was a graduate student.

Over the past decade and a half, Margulis has cowritten several books with Dorion Sagan, among them What is Sex? (1997), What is Life? (1995), Mystery Dance: On the Evolution of Human Sexuality (1991), Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors (1986), and Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination (1986). Her work with K. V. Schwartz provides a consistent formal classification of all life on Earth and has lead to the third edition of Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth (1998). Their classification scheme was generated from scientific results of myriad colleagues and its logical-genealogical basis is summarized in her single-authored book Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Microbial Communities in the Achean and Proterozoic Eons (second edition, 1993). The bacterial origins of both chloroplasts and mitochondria are now well established. Currently with colleagues and students she explores the possible origin of cilia from spirochetes.

Since the mid-1970s, Margulis has aided James E. Lovelock, FRS, in documenting his Gaia Theory, which posits that the Earth’s surface interactions among living beings, rocks and soil, air and water have created a vast, self-regulating system. From the vantage point of outer space the Earth looks like an amazing being; from the vantage point of biochemistry it behaves in many ways like a giant organism.

Dorion Sagan is the author of numerous articles and sixteen books translated into eleven languages, including Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life (with Eric D. Schneider, 2005) and Up from Dragons: Evolution of Human Intelligence (with John Skoyles, 2002). His What is Life? (with Lynn Margulis) was chosen (with works by Billie Holiday, Shakespeare, and others) as one of fifty “mind-altering masterpieces” by the Utne Reader. Sagan’s essays are included in collections edited by Richard Dawkins and E. O. Wilson. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst with a degree in history and has interests in philosophy and literature. Reviewing Sagan’s Microcosmos in the New York Times Book Review, Melvin Konner wrote: “This admiring reader of Carl Sagan, Lewis Thomas, and Stephen Jay Gould has seldom, if ever, seen such a luminous prose style in a work of this kind.” Sagan has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Wired, The Skeptical Inquirer, Pabular, The Smithsonian, The Ecologist, Omni, Natural History, and many others.Sciencewriters Books will begin to appear in the fall of 2006. Titles under the imprint include:

  • Animate Earth: Science, Intuition, and Gaia by Stephan Harding
  • Luminous Fish: Tales of Science and Love by Lynn Margulis
  • The Happiness Trip (translation of the current #1 best seller in Spain, El Viaje a la Felicidad, Planeta, 2005) by Eduardo Punset
  • Mind, Life, and Universe: Conversations with Great Scientists, edited by Lynn Margulis and Eduardo Punset
  • Dazzle Gradually: Essays on Ecology and Evolution, edited by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan
  • Notes from the Holocene: A Brief History of the Future, by Dorion Sagan
  • The Purpose of Life by Dorion Sagan and Eric D. Schneider
  • Chimera and Consciousness: Evolution of the Sensory Self, edited by Lynn Margulis and Celeste Asikainen

Chelsea Green Publishing Company was founded in 1984 by Ian and Margo Baldwin and is headquartered in White River Junction, Vermont. With a backlist of more than 350 titles, Chelsea Green is considered the preeminent publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living. In 2004 the company published its first New York Times best seller, George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, which has sold more than 275,000 copies to date.

In a time of increasing awareness of the perils of global warming and peak oil, the addition of a science imprint is the logical next step in developing titles consistent with the company’s progressive mission. In particular, the attacks by right-wing politicians and religious fundamentalists on the credibility of scientists defending evolutionary theory and identifying climate change need to be countered by citizens aware of America’s history of free thinking and ingenuity as well humanity’s irreducible debt to the biosphere that—so far—supports us. Science does not stop at some politically-determined limit of inquiry; in the words of quantum physicist David Bohm, science is about the search for truth – “whether we like it or not.” As it turns out, properly presented, there is much to like. We invite open-minded critical thinkers everywhere to embark with us as Chelsea Green Publishing Company and Sciencewriters Books collaborate on what promises to be an exciting and informative voyage.

The World-changing Gardener

Friday, July 21st, 2006

For Immediate Release
July 21, 2006

Food Not Lawns
How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden
and Your Neighborhood into a Community

by Heather C. Flores
Foreword by Toby Hemenway

Contact: Jessica Saturley, 802-295-6300, ext. 106

Author Heather C. Flores proves that activism begins at home in her debut book Food Not Lawns. Growing food where you live is the ultimate way to join the localvore movement and become a food activist. Planting home and community gardens is also an economical way to put fabulous vegetables and fruit on the kitchen table.

Creativity, fulfillment, connection, revolution—it all begins when we dig our hands in the dirt. Heather C. Flores’s Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community shows how the simple act of planting vegetables can transform not only your yard but your entire neighborhood. Much more than a gardening how-to book, Food Not Lawns is an inspiring tool for community organizers.

This joyful manual will inspire readers to apply the principles of the “paradise garden”—simplicity, resourcefulness, creativity, mindfulness, and community—to all aspects of life. Flores offers small, easy steps we can all take: ride your bike; replace your toilet with an ecologically friendly composting model; collect rainwater for irrigation; and, most important, slow down and take time to talk to your neighbors.

Flores, an urban gardener and activist, believes that the first step toward a healthier, more self-reliant, and more ecologically sane life is growing your own food. Gardening is a radical act, she says. Those who control our food, control our lives. Gardening empowers us, offering freedom from the industrial food market where profit, not heath and the environment, rule the day. Flores envisions life-sustaining paradise gardens everywhere, from your own front yard, to an inner-city abandoned lot, or even the strip of grass between the sidewalk and street. Her step-by-step guide leads you through the practical steps of site selection and design, building nutrient-rich soil, and choosing appropriate plants.

But Flores doesn’t stop there. This lifestyle manual inspires readers to apply the principles of the paradise garden—simplicity, resourcefulness, creativity, mindfulness, and community—to all aspects of life. Food Not Lawns is a handbook for getting the entire community involved in creating healthy, vibrant living spaces.

Heather C. Flores, a certified permaculture designer, holds a BA degree in ecology, education, and the arts from Goddard College. She offers environmental landscape design and consultation services. Flores’ next project is to use low-tech performance arts to bridge cultural and economic gaps in environmental education. She lives in Oregon.

Toby Hemenway is the author of the first major North American book on permaculture, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. An adjunct assistant professor at Portland State University, He is working to develop urban sustainability resources in Portland, Oregon.

Available October 2006 | Paperback | 1-933392-07-X | $30.00 | 8 x 10 | 344 pages | 110 Illustrations, Resources, Index

For more information visit www.chelseagreen.com/2006/items/foodnotlawns

It’s Official: Biodiesel is a Word!!

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Its official: Biodiesel is a word. Biodiesel, along with ringtone, soul patch, and supersize have made it into Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. Soon you won’t have to deal with the red spell-check underline that annoyingly appear when you type biodiesel. And, the word can now earn you some hefty points if you manage to work it into your scrabble game.

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri– Defining a new level of success, the word “biodiesel” appears in the 2006 update of the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition . This marks the first time that it has appeared in the dictionary, and signifies that biodiesel is becoming a household word.

What’s more, word has it that Merriam-Webster put biodiesel on the short list of examples of new words added to the dictionary. That means “biodiesel” joins the ranks of “ringtone,” “soul patch” and “supersize” in drumming up interest in modern lexicography.

The new dictionary defines biodiesel as: “a fuel that is similar to diesel fuel and is derived from usually vegetable sources (as soybean oil).”

“Appearing as a word in the dictionary gives biodiesel the credibility that it deserves,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “It shows we are making an impact on getting biodiesel into the mainstream, and that is very gratifying.”

Biodiesel significantly cuts harmful environmental emissions, promotes greater energy independence and boosts our economy. It has become America’s fastest growing alternative fuel according to the Department of Energy. Production tripled in 2005, reaching 75 million gallons. The industry is on track to double production this year, to 150 million gallons.

More information on biodiesel can be found at www.biodiesel.org. To see other new words, visit Merriam-Webster. Sponsored by the USDA Biodiesel Education Program.

Really depressing

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Mother of Suicide Vet Flies Old Glory Upside Down
By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive
Posted on July 18, 2006, Printed on July 20, 2006

http://www.alternet.org/story/39159/

Terri Jones lost her son Jason Cooper just over a year ago.

He was an Army Reservist in the Iraq War.

On July 14, 2005, four months after returning home to Iowa, he hanged himself.

He was 23.

Since then, Jones has been flying her American flag upside down, though someone came on her property once and turned it right side up, and another person stole it.

“We had a flag out the whole time Jason was in Iraq,” she says. “Once he died, my boyfriend Vince turned it upside down to protest everything that’s happening with our government, especially our soldiers being failed when they come home.”
(more…)

Ignorance is delicious

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Oh to live on the USDA’s big rock candy mountain.

We Might Be In Kansas After All

Friday, July 21st, 2006

And if you are at the beginning of October, then you might be interested in attending the…

30th Anniversary of The Land Institute-

Prairie Festival October 6-8, 2006

Not every non-profit organization that started with a $10,000 budget in 1976
is still going. This one started with a couple of dropped-out
professor-teachers who came “back to the land.” They became The Land
Institute with the help of two neighbors-those families are still
represented on our board-and “The Land” has been growing ever since.

So, please help us celebrate our 30th year. Our sights are on a $1.7 million budget and growing, and on increasing our 25 employees to carry on this big job. We’ll celebrate an innovative agenda, well on its way, of making possible a new agriculture by developing the perennial crop plants that will be grown in mixtures to provide food and numerous environmental improvements over current farm options. The benefits will run to the farmers and the landscape and everyone who eats.

Please mark October 6-8 on your calendar.

Program and presenter bios are on our Web site-see the Calendar section for “Prairie Festival” at www.landinstitute.org

On the prairie, we’ll gather artists, scholars, critics, farmers, poets, historians, environmentalists, photographers, professors, writers, businessmen, musicians, scientists-and you-to contemplate, share, learn and discuss.

Friday evening features a barn dance.

Saturday presentations, music, exhibits, photography and food.

Saturday evening in downtown Salina at Masonic Center-catered dinner and video-like show of conservation and formation of new national parks in Chile and Argentina.

Sunday back at the barn for more thinking, visiting and discussions–adjourning at noon.

Presenters:

Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface, Inc., an environmentally conscious floor-covering company.

Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Wendell Berry, farmer, essayist, conservationist, novelist, teacher, poet.

Laura Jackson, Professor of Biology, University of Northern Iowa, teaching ecology, conservation biology and environmental studies.

Wes Jackson, founder and president of The Land Institute.

David Orr, author of Ecological Literacy, directs Oberlin College’s Environmental Studies.

Jim Richardson, photographer, well-known for his work for National Geographic Magazine.

Doug Tompkins, businessman, athlete, designer, environmental activist, conservationist.

Jakob von Uexkull, founder of The Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, from Sweden, and past member of the European Parliament.

Ann Zimmerman, Salina native, sings folksongs with her piano and guitar.


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