Archive for October, 2006


Welcome to the future

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Yeah, we publish books, but that don’t mean we’re afraid of this newfangled video stuff. Bring it on!

So many dead in Iraq

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Brad DeLong has a good bit on the so-called debate over the estimate of the number of Iraqis killed as a result of the current war. One thing that he forgets to mention–and which I haven’t heard anyone referring to–is the fact that the rate of deaths before the US invasion was already unnaturally high, due to the sanctions imposed on Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War. Regardless, if you have been wondering about some of the back and forth on the recent estimate of 650,000 war-related deaths, check it out.

The Slushes of Kilimanjaro

Friday, October 13th, 2006

My favorite Kilimanjaro story, one of my favorite all-time stories, is of the the British-held Italian prisoners of war (WW2) who secretly made climbing equipment, escaped from the POW camp in Kenya, climbed Kilimanjaro using the label from a bottle of Mt. Kilimanjaro beer as their only route map, then broke back into the POW camp to finish out the war. Their story is told in No Picnic On Mount Kenya by Felice Benuzzi. That, my friends, is some true human spirit. Absurd, glorious, etc. Their climb would have been much easier if only they had waited for all the glaciers to melt away, something our children’s war prisoners will have to look forward to:

Green Group: African Mountains Set to Lose Snow Caps

Friday , October 13, 2006

NAIROBI, Kenya — Africa’s two highest mountains — Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya — will lose their ice cover within 25 to 50 years if deforestation and industrial pollution are not stopped, environmentalists warned Thursday.

Kilimanjaro has already lost 82 percent of its ice cover over 80 years, said Fredrick Njau of the Kenyan Green Belt Movement.

Mount Kenya, one of the few places near the equator with permanent glaciers, has lost 92 percent over the past 100 years.

[cont'd]

The “Green Revolution” needs a green revolution

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Stem Farmers’ Suicides with Organic Farming

Amid a rising epidemic of farmers’ suicides in India, an organic farmer appeals to the father of the Green Revolution to embrace organic agriculture. Sam Burcher

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members’ website. Details here

UN slams India for farmer suicides

India has enough food to feed her population of one billion, yet hunger and food insecurity at household level increased at the end of the 20th century. A new UN report casts doubt on the government’s claim that poverty declined from 36 to 26 percent between 1993-2000 [1]. It criticizes the shift to cash crops that reduced the cultivation of grains, pulses and millets for household consumption. The report slams the rise of farmer suicides in India and links them to the unremitting growth of a market economy that does not benefit all Indians equally.

Impassioned plea to India’s government

Bhaskar Save is an 84-year-old farmer from Gujarat who has petitioned the Indian Government to save India’s farmers from exploitation and worse. In an open letter to Prof M.S. Swaminathan (chairperson of the National Commission on Farmers in the Ministry of Agriculture) he puts the blame squarely on his shoulders as the ‘father’ of the ‘Green Revolution’ that has destroyed India’s natural abundance, farming communities, and soil [2]. He writes: “Where there is a lack of knowledge, ignorance masquerades as science! Such is the ‘science’ you have espoused, leading our farmers astray – down the pits of misery.”

[cont'd]

Out of order, here’s part 3 of Lynn’s interview

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Bacteria Don’t Have Species
Summary (Oct 09, 2006): Do bacteria have species? Not according to Lynn Margulis, co-author of Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution. In this interview with Astrobiology Magazine, she explains why.

More Lynn Margulis interview

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Over at Astrobiology, the interview continues (part 4)…

Summary (Oct 12, 2006): Bacteria may not have brains, but they are intelligent. So says Lynn Margulis, co-author of Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution. To mark the 20th anniversary of the book’s publication, Astrobiology Magazine spoke with Margulis, who laid out the evidence for bacterial intelligence. She also explained why she thinks that, most likely, Mars is a dead world.

Even BusinessWeek knows that organic food is in trouble

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

I don’t mean to knock BW, but I don’t normally think of it as a journal of the Green Frontier. Still, credit where credit is due — this is their cover story on the death of a good idea. You got your letter of the law, you got your spirit of the law, and then you’ve got your global-corporate-market-capitalist wink-and-nod of the law.

OCTOBER 16, 2006

COVER STORY

The Organic Myth
Pastoral ideals are getting trampled as organic food goes mass market

By Diane Brady

Next time you’re in the supermarket, stop and take a look at Stonyfield Farm yogurt. With its contented cow and green fields, the yellow container evokes a bucolic existence, telegraphing what we’ve come to expect from organic food: pure, pesticide-free, locally produced ingredients grown on a small family farm.

So it may come as a surprise that Stonyfield’s organic farm is long gone. Its main facility is a state-of-the-art industrial plant just off the airport strip in Londonderry, N.H., where it handles milk from other farms. And consider this: Sometime soon a portion of the milk used to make that organic yogurt may be taken from a chemical-free cow in New Zealand, powdered, and then shipped to the U.S. True, Stonyfield still cleaves to its organic heritage. For Chairman and CEO Gary Hirshberg, though, shipping milk powder 9,000 miles across the planet is the price you pay to conquer the supermarket dairy aisle. “It would be great to get all of our food within a 10-mile radius of our house,” he says. “But once you’re in organic, you have to source globally.”

Hirshberg’s dilemma is that of the entire organic food business. Just as mainstream consumers are growing hungry for untainted food that also nourishes their social conscience, it is getting harder and harder to find organic ingredients. There simply aren’t enough organic cows in the U.S., never mind the organic grain to feed them, to go around. Nor are there sufficient organic strawberries, sugar, or apple pulp — some of the other ingredients that go into the world’s best-selling organic yogurt.

[cont'd]

Sleeth. Grist. Good.

Friday, October 6th, 2006

I keep plugging Sleeth cuz I like him and think his book is worth spreading word round. Here, he’s interviewed on Grist.

From living roof to living room, the word is getting out on sustainability

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Cool article in the NYTimes.

Making a Profit and a Difference

By GLENN RIFKIN
Published: October 5, 2006

When the architect and urban redeveloper Guy L. Bazzani moved from Northern California to Grand Rapids, Mich., more than a decade ago, he didn’t expect his ideas about socially responsible, environmentally healthy business to be embraced right away. Local companies had suffered enough economic hardship without the added burden of such ideologies.

Still, after Mr. Bazzani set up shop as Bazzani Associates in 1994, he gradually persuaded the community of the economic soundness of his green business practices. The firm, which specializes in restoring old buildings, uses techniques and tools including green roofs that are covered with plants, storm water management systems and environmentally friendly building materials.

“We found that we can build green buildings that utilize 40 percent to 50 percent less energy at the same price as traditional buildings,” Mr. Bazzani, a Michigan native, said. “When I came back here I thought I’d stay a couple of years and return to California. But my green business took off. When people come to me, I’m their first choice, a locally owned business that can produce at value.”

If this Rust Belt city of 280,000 is any barometer, small, local businesses are inclined to embrace social responsibility and will promote environmental health. In three years since Mr. Bazzani, 51, founded an organization called Local First, more than 250 independent businesses in Grand Rapids have come on board.

[cont'd]

From soil to stars, the sequel

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

We Are All Microbes

Interview with Lynn Margulis, Part II

Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution, co-authored by Lynn Margulis and her son Dorion Sagan, was first published twenty years ago. Astrobiology Magazine recently interviewed Margulis, to find out how her and Sagan’s ideas have stood the test of time. In this, the second part of a four-part interview, she talks about four specific microbial organisms that, through fusion, yielded modern plant and animal cells.


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