News posts from Shay's Archive


Be an EcoDaredevil

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

This special Earth Day op-ed comes to us courtesy of our own EcoDaredevil herself, Diane Wilson. Nichols gave an incredible presentation at Bioneers last year (the one held in California), and is a self-professed “turtle geek.”

Jump the Chasm: Are you an EcoDaredevil?

By Wallace J. Nichols

In the 1970’s, I idolized Evel Knievel. He was rock star, sports hero, and folk legend in one. His death-defying jumps inspired me to launch my bicycle over puddles and many a hapless friend.

Now, I find new inspiration in my childhood hero. In 1961, before he became “Evel,” Robert Craig Knievel hitchhiked with the rack of a bull elk from Montana to our nation’s capital to protest the culling of elk in Yellowstone. The Kennedy administration responded and countless elk were saved.

Today, we face more serious crises—loss of biodiversity, a warming planet, collapsing fisheries, looming food and water shortages, and

pollution in every corner of the globe. Scientists forecast a “2050 Scenario” in which Earth is hotter, dirtier, and overcrowded with nine

billion people who are left to wage wars for what little remains.

Jumping this chasm will be the greatest challenge we have ever faced. It will require revolutionary changes in society and technology. To

succeed, we must be brave, creative, and outspoken. We must undertake the audacious, the impossible, and the dangerous. We must risk our financial, social, and physical comfort.

In other words, we must become EcoDaredevils.

Everywhere I go, I meet EcoDaredevils. They are debating, creating, evolving—yes, sometimes crashing—but always, always coming back for more. Two Texas women cleaning a beach and inspiring Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup that is now half-a-million

strong. Sir Richard Branson greening aviation. Feliciano dos Santos campaigning with music for clean water in Africa. Architect Renzo Piano turning a massive roof into a meadow with solar panels. WaterKeeper Julio Solis drag racing in Mexico to raise awareness of our ocean crisis.

Changing light bulbs, inflating tires, and toting reusable bags are each important gestures. But it’s going to take action far more

thrilling to make it over this canyon. But, we must do something for the planet—something that invites personal risk.

They say that Evel Knievel broke every bone in his body at one time or another. But, he kept on jumping. His steely will enthralled me as an eight-year old. It still does today.

So, it’s Earth Day 2008. Look deep inside. Grab hold of your inner EcoDaredevil. Strap on a helmet, some red-white-and-blue leathers, and let’s go for a ride.

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is a Senior Scientist at Ocean Conservancy and a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences.

small Change, big Change

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

This update in from Chelsea Green author Dan Chiras (The New Ecological Home), and his ongoing efforts to help rebuild the small town of Greensburg, Kansas.

On May 4, 2007, one of the most powerful tornados ever witnessed in the United States leveled the town of Greensburg, a small community of 1,000 people. The nearly two-mile wide tornado killed 10 residents and destroyed 95 percent of the town’s buildings. Homes, businesses, schools, and churches were leveled by the fierce intruder.

Soon after the tragedy, the town’s citizens rallied behind a new idea: to rebuild the town green, creating the nation’s first model green community. Their vision of the new Greensburg calls for a town powered by abundant renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy. They envision super energy-efficient green-built homes, offices, churches and schools made from healthy, environmentally friendly materials.

To help raise funds for support this work, groups are asking individuals to contribute their spare change to help rebuild Greensburg. You contributions can be earmarked for:

• The Green Club – a student program to exchange ordinary light bulbs for compact fluorescents;
• Greensburg GreenTown, Chiras Team – to support construction of two model homes that will serve as eco-lodging for visitors who come to watch miracles happen and learn about green build; and,
• Greensburg GreenTown, General Fund to support work of this nonprofit group that has taken a lead in rebuilding Greensburg.

Take your spare change to the bank each month and cash it in. Then, send a check to: Daniel Wallach, Director, Greensburg GreenTown, 900 Kansas Ave, Greensburg, Kansas 67054; (620) 549-3752 or (620) 723-2790; [email protected]

Keeping the green in Vermont

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

If you’re in Vermont and you want to help divert money away from the same old corporate and government robber barons, consider keeping your money here in Vermont.

A new effort, supported in part by Chelsea Green, is called “Keep it in Vermont” and is urging Vermonters to consider re-investing their $600-1200 federal rebate checks back into the Vermont economy during the next three months.

“Most Vermonters we know have bills to pay and are working hard to make ends meet, and this is an astonishing opportunity for Vermont neighbors to jump-start our own local economies in time for spring,” explains small business owner Robin McDermott, a Localvore Vermont leader and co-founder of the “Keep It In Vermont” campaign. “Why run out and buy a new plasma TV, when we have remarkable Vermont farms, businesses, and nonprofits offering high-quality goods and services?”

Adds one other leader in the effort:

“If every one of our 250,000 tax-paying households in Vermont re-invested their federal rebate checks back into our Vermont economies, we’d inject $150 million back into the pockets of our local neighbors during a national economic recession,” states Vermont Commons editor and Champlain College professor Dr. Rob Williams.

For more information, go to www.keepitinvermont.org

Fixing the climate without soaking the middle class

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Author Peter Barnes (Climate Solutions) has a new article circulating, and a new website promoting his inventive Cap and Dividend program as a way to ensure that everyone benefits dfrom either a carbon tax, or an auction of carbon emission permits.

As Barnes notes,

There’s also an attractive premise behind cap and dividend: the atmosphere is a commons that belongs to everyone. Those who pollute the commons should pay to do so. And the income should go to the commons’ owners, one person, one share.

If I were a Presidential candidate, I’d latch on to cap and dividend in a flash. After all, what’s not to like? With cap and dividend, we’d limit carbon emissions, spur private investment in clean energy, create jobs, and send money to everybody. Who wouldn’t vote for that?

Barnes also reminds us of this very important fact:

Fighting climate change is going to cost all of us money. That’s because the price of dumping carbon into the atmosphere must, necessarily, rise. Whether the price rise is prompted by a tax or a cap makes no difference — we will all pay more.

Impact of Emissions Reduction on Families

As you can see from this chart, current “solutions” would hit lower income families the hardest, which adds to the appeal of the cap and dividend proposal, as it’s progressive in its economic impact. Even though higher energy prices hit the poor the hardest, the poor actually gain when dividends are added in, Barnes adds.

To read more of Barnes’ argument, click here.

End of America: The Inconvenient Documentary!

Monday, April 21st, 2008

If the book wasn’t enough to get you up and actively working to save the country from sliding into a fascist morass—then perhaps putting it up on the big screen will.

Shooting will commence in early May on the adaptation of Naomi Wolf’s The End of America, a word-of-mouth phenomenon from publisher Chelsea Green. The book was on The New York Times Best Seller list for more than five months. A simultaneous theatrical and DVD release is scheduled for late summer.

When some enterprising students videotaped Naomi’s lecture tour in support of The End of America and posted it on YouTube, more than 460,000 people viewed and passed the video around, creating a truly grassroots movement—achieved solely by word of mouth with no outside promotion.

Clearly, something unique is afoot. This vital information is resonating with concerned citizens, and Naomi Wolf has proven herself to be the right messenger.

The End of America details the ten steps a country takes when it slides toward fascism. It’s not a “lefty” tome, rather a historical look at trends in once-functioning democracies from modern history that are being repeated in our country today. It gives any reader (or viewer of the lecture) a much-needed history lesson and constitutional refresher. Most importantly, it puts the recent gradual loss of civil liberties in the U.S. in a historical context. The average American might not be alarmed at AT&T selling our private information to the Bush administration, but when this action is seen as part of a larger series of erosions and events, a pattern emerges with unfortunate consequences that become disturbingly clear.

Naomi Wolf is a truly captivating speaker. She takes the idea of “civil liberties” out of the realm of something that applies (or fails to apply) only to scary terrorists and “enemy combatants” and compellingly empowers the reader/viewer to understand that rights like habeas corpus and due process of law are not only worth protecting in the abstract, but vital to the USA as we know it. Ironically, and although he said it in a different context, Constitutional abuser par excellence Dick Cheney’s words are true when it comes to our rights: the American way of life is non-negotiable. With The End of America, Wolf has established herself as America’s preeminent citizen-defender of the Constitution.

This documentary film will bring The End of America fully to life.

Academy Award–nominated documentarians Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (The Trials of Darryl Hunt, The Devil Came on Horseback) will film an Inconvenient Truth-style, multi-camera version of Naomi’s incredible lecture with an interactive audience. Interstitial break-away segments, featuring both talking-head and “fly on the wall” interviews with ex-presidents, political leaders, military generals, intelligence community top bass (who are willing to talk on camera about the uselessness of “intelligence” gained through torture), and innocent victims of our gradually eroded civil liberties, will anchor viewers emotionally to both the historical echoes and present-day consequences of the erosion of our Constitution.

There is an audience of concerned American citizens clearly hungering for this information. In this pivotal election year, The End of America documentary film seeks to accompany Naomi’s best-selling book as a clarion call for citizen awareness—and for the protection of the Constitution that defines and unites us as Americans.

Chelsea Green Authors win big!

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Chelsea Green’s authors have been winning big recently for their work as individuals and as writers, and even we’ve been honored for our environmental commitment as a publisher. Congrats to everyone!

Diane Wilson (An Unreasonable Woman, and the forthcoming Holy Roller) is being honored with the Open Doors Award by the Fort Worth chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist. The award “trumpets the record of an individual or organization in defending the people’s right to open government and open records.” Congrats Diane! Try not to get arrested before the ball!

Hazel Henderson and Simran Sethi’s Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy garnered a bronze medal in the Axiom Business Book awards in the Business Ethics category. (Editor’s Note: The title of this book was incorrect in our recent newsletter, and we apologize for the error)

The American Horticulture Society (AHS) gave Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier its Book of the Year Award.

Frances Moore Lappé was honored recently by the James Beard Foundation with its Humanitarian Award for 2008.

And, finally Chelsea Green was given a “Longtime Leader” award during the recent second annual SustainPrint Leadership Awards, which recognize magazine and book publishers for their outstanding achievements in environmental sustainability. Scholastic Inc. won in the “Newcomer of the Year” category for book publishers and Chelsea Green won in the “Longtime Leader” category. Every Day With Rachael Ray and Nickelodeon Magazine both earned their awards in the “Newcomer of the Year” category for magazine publishers.  Read the full story.

Margulis: Bacteria do everything ‘cept the talking

Friday, April 11th, 2008

If ever there was a single article that captures the spirit and intellect of Lynn Margulis, this profile in the Daily Collegian may be it. It simply underscores all the reasons why we here at Chelsea Green love Lynn and why we are proud to work with her on the Sciencewriters Books imprint.

Just take these few choice lines:

“The answer to all my questions is always bacteria, except talking—they don’t do talking.”

Or,

“When I was in [elementary school], I was bad because I was bored. I’ve always had trouble doing what I’m supposed to do. I just laughed at goodie-goodies, and made trouble, and chased boys, and I was bad.”

Or, my personal favorite when talking about her days at the University of Chicago:

“I got my critical ability to detect bullshit. I’m really good at that.”

And, dear readers, let me concur that if ever you have bullshit that needs detecting, Lynn’s the one you want on your side.

Big League Enviros

Monday, March 31st, 2008

With the start of the baseball season underway, The Wall Street Journal’s enviro blog (“Environmental Capital”) takes a look at what teams are preaching green this season, and no we don’t mean signing bonuses or debating natural versus fake turf.

Rob Nuttig, the Mother Earth News publisher and owner of the Pittsburg Pirates, is one of the champions of a new, greener image. And, our own regional favorites—the World Champion Boston Red Sox—have even taken to public service announcements.

Baseball isn’t any different than the scores of other businesses that have suddenly discovered the virtues of environmental stewardship—with one huge difference. Lots of people actually watch, and care about, what happens in baseball.

“Our other businesses have the scale. The Pirates aren’t as big, but they have the visibility,” said Mr. Nutting.

Read more of Keith Johnson’s report here, and find out how and why big league owners are seeing green.

Toxins in toys … scared yet?

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Hey, when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll. You just can’t seem to click on your mouse without finding more evidence that parents are taking seriously the role of scrutinizing what’s in the products their kids play with. Shocking, I know. Remember the good old days? Lead paint on your metal toy? Hanging out the back of the station wagon? Good times, good times.

Around the country, parents and advocates are getting together to screen their toys for  toxins. A recent example occurred in Norwalk, Connecticut, a state where lawmakers are hoping to pass House Bill 5601, An Act Banning Children’s Products Containing Lead, Phthalates or Bisphenol-A.

And, who says Californians get to have all the fun banning these chemicals from toys.

Here’s a story on an event as reported in the Stamford Advocate.

NORWALK – The handheld device resembled a price scanner, but after it zapped his son’s Fisher Price roller vacuum toy, sticker shock wasn’t what upset state Sen. Bob Duff.

The device, an X-ray fluorescence analyzer, discovered 200 parts per million of lead, far more than the 40 parts per million that pediatricians consider acceptable on toys.

Worse than that, the toy’s paint contained 250 parts per million of mercury, said Damian Fox, who conducted the tests.

“There should be zero mercury,” said Fox, who owns Glastonbury-based Aremytoyssafe.com, a service that tests chemical levels in toys and other items.

“This is going into the garbage,” said Duff, D-Norwalk. “Actually, it’s going in on household hazardous waste day.”

When is “organic” milk not organic?

Monday, March 31st, 2008

A class action suit hopes to answer this question.

Our friends over at Organic Consumer Association have the scoop here.

Here’s a taste:

Attorneys representing 52 consumers in a lawsuit against Boulder, Colorado-based Aurora Organic Dairy and some of the nation’s largest retailers will face off in court today at the federal court in the Eastern District of Missouri, Judge Richard Webber, presiding. The consumers allege that the milk they purchased, although labeled as “organic”, did not meet federal organic standards. Their attorneys will argue claims including breach of contract and of implied warranty, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and also claims under the consumer protection and deceptive trade practices statutes of several states.


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