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Letter from the Editors
Conspiracy theorists and regular farmers are still trying to deduce a non-extraterrestrial explanation for crop circles. Well, the phenomenon of underwater “crop circles” have been a mystery for marine biologists for decades. A Japanese photographer solved the mystery by recording giant circular patterns created by puffer fish. Males will spend days drawing the ridges of a large circle with their fins, even using shells to sharpen the design. Why? It’s a mating ritual. The female lays her eggs in the circle and the ridges protect them from currents.
International poaching market is worth an estimated $5 billion worldwide. Endangered and near-extinct species like the elephant, tiger and rhino are hunted and butchered to be sold on the black market as food, jewelry, and trinkets. Besides the lucrative prices attached to items like ivory, poachers and traffickers pursue it with little fear of repercussions since it is only a minor crime in many nations. The UN finally recognized wildlife trafficking as an issue of the same scope as the drug trade, organized crime, and government corruption, not to mention a threat to the rule of law. Regardless of why it took so long to make this proclamation, let’s hope it means increased international support, government cooperation, armed protection for reserves and habitats, and more severe punishments for traffickers.
Bees just can’t catch a break. Bees continue to die off around the globe due to a mysterious illness called colony collapse disorder: adult bees in hives eventually die, leaving the colony without means to reproduce. Theories behind colony collapse disorder range from pesticides in the air and on crops, to viral or fungal infections, to lack of nutrient sources resulting from land, agricultural, and climate changes. Humans care about the plight of the bee not just for honey, but because bees pollinate our crops and flowers. Another issue to worry about is parasitic flies that cause bees to die a slow death. These flies kill them from the inside, meaning they’re the equivalent of flying corpses. That is why those infected are dubbed Zombie Bees.
Denmark has already reached its 2020 goal of 200 MW solar power generation capacity. This was largely attributed to net metering, which is a more economical and simple way to utilize solar energy than an off-grid setup that relies on expensive batteries that need replacement. “The demand for solar cells has increased dramatically since net metering was implemented in 2010. Net metering gives private households and public institutions the possibility of ‘storing’ surplus production in the public grid, which makes solar panels considerably more attractive.” Read more here.
The world’s bestselling weedkiller, and a genetically modified maize resistant to it, can cause tumours, multiple organ damage and lead to premature death, new research published today reveals. In the first ever study to examine the long-term effects of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, or the NK603 Roundup-resistant GM maize also developed by Monsanto, scientists found that rats exposed to even the smallest amounts, developed mammary tumours and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females, compared with 23 and 14 months respectively for a control group.
“This research shows an extraordinary number of tumours developing earlier and more aggressively – particularly in female animals. I am shocked by the extreme negative health impacts,” said Dr Michael Antoniou, molecular biologist at King’s College London, and a member of CRIIGEN, the independent scientific council which supported the research. Read more here.
BRUSSELS, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Microscopic particles, among the most harmful forms of air pollution, are still found at dangerous levels in Europe, although law has cut some toxins from exhaust fumes and chimneys, a European Environmental Agency (EEA) report said. On average, air pollution is cutting human lives by roughly eight months and by about two years in the worst affected regions, such as industrial parts of eastern Europe, because it causes diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular problems.
“European Union policy has reduced emissions of many pollutants over the last decade, but we can go further,” EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said in a statement on Monday, highlighting the risks ahead of an upcoming review of relevant EU legislation. “In many countries, air pollutant concentrations are still above the legal and recommended limits that are set to protect the health of European citizens.” Read more here.
Two large crude oil spills from Shell pipelines in the Niger delta four years ago have still not been cleaned up by the company despite an outcry by the UN, Amnesty International and the Nigerian government about pollution in the area.
Shell accepted responsiblity and pledged to fully restore the damage done by spills from its rusting pipelines near the Ogoni village of Bodo in 2008. But an assessment has found only small pilot schemes were started and the most contaminated areas around Bodo and the Gokana district of Ogoniland remain untouched. The impoverished Ogoni fishing and farming communities say they still cannot return to work and have received no compensation. They have accused Shell of applying different standards to clean-ups in Nigeria compared with the rest of the world. Read more here.
Poaching and the illicit trafficking of wildlife products were raised on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly for the first time this Monday, during discussions on strengthening national and international governance. World leaders gathering in New York for the global body’s 67th annual meeting highlighted wildlife trafficking along with other severe threats to the rule of law such as corruption and drug running.
In a written statement, permanent Security Council member United States highlighted “the harm caused by wildlife poaching and trafficking to conservation efforts, rule of law, governance and economic development.” The rapidly-growing illicit international trade in endangered species products, such as rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger parts, is now estimated to be worth $5 billion per year globally. Read more here.
Instead of throwing out (or with any luck, composting) the thousands of tons of old coffee grounds and stale bakery goods generated by coffeehouses every day of the week, what if those same substances became the raw feedstock for producing renewable biofuels or plastics? That’s what a research project is setting out to explore, thanks to a collaboration between researchers at City University of Hong Kong and their neighboring Starbucks stores.
According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), the idea for applying the researcher’s biorefinery technology to the wastes of a food business such as Starbucks came during a meeting between a university research team led by Carol S. K. Lin and a non-profit organization, The Climate Group. Lin was asked about using the biorefinery concept to treat the food waste products from the Hong Kong Starbucks, which generate well over 4000 tons of waste every year. Read more here.
Underwater photographer Yoji Ookata has spent 50 years exploring the ocean depths, but the sight of massive underwater patterns resembling the crop circles celebrated by UFO enthusiasts still surprised him. The “mystery circle” as he called it was more than six feet in diameter and contained intricate patterns of ridges and radiating out from the center. What on earth could have created these amazing structures located 80 feet below the surface of the ocean? Ookata returned to the depths with a TV crew to find out.
As revealed last week in a Japanese television special entitled “The Discovery of the Century: Deep Sea Mystery Circle,” the patterns were not caused by aliens or underwater currents but by a tiny puffer fish. Read more here.
Saving forests and the critically endangered Asian tiger or more coal for electrical power and industry growth? Both developing and developed market economies, governments and societies have faced such choices since the dawn of the modern industrial era. They’ve become much more critical, and sensitive, in recent times, however, as societies search for better, more sustainable ways to develop economically without using up the natural resources and severely degrading the natural habitat and ecosystems on which all life depends.
Growing rapidly both in terms of population and economy, India suffers from a severe shortage of electricity generation capacity. Moreover, its current electricity grid and distribution infrastructure are in dire need of investment and upgrades, as this year’s massive blackout, in which some 700 million were left without power, demonstrated. India and other large, populous industrializing nations are going to account for most of the forecast growth in energy consumption in coming decades. Continued reliance on fossil fuels for the bulk of new generation capacity will just about assure that international and domestic efforts to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the increasing externalized and socialized costs of climate change and global warming will fall woefully short. Read more here.
A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness. Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.
To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government’s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area’s top stationary diesel polluters. Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, according to estimates industry experts compiled for The Times. Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third of that load, the estimates show. Read more here.
The zombees are spreading. Or rather, “zombie bees” – honey bees that have been inhabited by tiny flies that cause them to abandon their hive at night and lurch about erratically before dying.
“They basically eat the insides out of the bee,” said San Francisco State University biologist John Hafernik. Hafernik first discovered zombie bees in 2008 in California and now uses a website to recruit citizen scientists to track the infection across the country. The zombee condition recently crept into Washington state. Novice beekeeper Mark Hohn spotted bees jerking about outside his suburban Seattle home. Read more here.
The US poultry industry has a disturbing habit of feeding arsenic to chickens. Arsenic, it turns out, helps control a common bug that infects chicken meat, and also gives chicken flesh a pink hue, which the industry thinks consumers want. Is all that arsenic making it into our food supply? It appears to be doing so-both in chicken meat and in, of all things, rice. In a just released report, Consumer Reports says it found significant levels of arsenic in a variety of US rice products-including in brown rice and organic rice, and in rice-based kids’ products like cereal and even baby formula. Driving the point home, CR’s analysis of a major population study found that people who consume a serving of rice get a 44 percent spike in the arsenic level in their urine. Read more here.
On a cold, overcast afternoon in January 2003, two tanker trucks backed up to an injection well site in a pasture outside Rosharon, Texas. There, under a steel shed, they began to unload thousands of gallons of wastewater for burial deep beneath the earth. The waste – the byproduct of oil and gas drilling – was described in regulatory documents as a benign mixture of salt and water. But as the liquid rushed from the trucks, it released a billowing vapor of far more volatile materials, including benzene and other flammable hydrocarbons.
The truck engines, left to idle by their drivers, sucked the fumes from the air, revving into a high-pitched whine. Before anyone could react, one of the trucks backfired, releasing a spark that ignited the invisible cloud. Fifteen-foot-high flames enveloped the steel shed and tankers. Two workers died, and four were rushed to the hospital with burns over much of their bodies. A third worker died six weeks later. What happened that day at Rosharon was the result of a significant breakdown in the nation’s efforts to regulate the handling of toxic waste, a ProPublica investigation shows. Read more here.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., have been studying the DNA in tumors called glioblastomas – hoping, ultimately, to help find a cure for the disease. They haven’t found that yet, but they may have come across something else scientists are seeking: an enzyme that could help companies make nylon without depending on fossil fuels.
Duke researcher Zachary Reitman and colleagues report that inserting glioblastoma genes into yeast allowed them to make an enzyme called 2-hydroxyadipate dehydrogenase – a molecule chemists need to make adipic acid, a key ingredient in nylon, from sugar. Today, adipic acid, which is produced in vast quantities, is made using petroleum products. Read more here.
LITTLEROCK, Wash. (AP) – Taylor Davis has dedicated himself to saving endangered Oregon spotted frogs. He spends hours each day tending to eggs or doting on tadpoles, feeding, nurturing and meticulously recording their development. He’s in no hurry. “We have nothing but time here,” said the 28-year-old Davis. He added, “It’s perfect for a prison setting.”
Washington state inmates such as Davis have been working as ecological research assistants, partnered in recent years with scientists doing conservation projects. Their efforts include breeding threatened butterflies and growing native flowers and prairie grasses. Prison officials say it’s a logical pairing. They consider inmates ideal candidates for conservation projects since they can work in a controlled environment and have a lot of time to dedicate. The research also allows inmates to contribute a broader social good, officials say. Read more here.
Electric drive vehicles have the potential to wean the United States off foreign oil and drive it toward an era of zero-emissions transportation, but that potential is being pushed into the more distant future by the ominous fact that most consumers aren’t buying them.
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), which include both battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. car market. Add in hybrids, which are selling at a much faster rate, and electrified vehicle sales are still only around 3 percent. One of automakers’ greatest concerns in meeting the Obama administration’s ambitious new fuel economy standards is that consumers will continue to steer clear of alternative automobile technologies, which come at a steep price premium. Read more here.
Cities and towns facing tight budgets have often neglected their cemeteries, an oversight that has left many of them in disrepair with broken fencing, crumbling gravestones, overgrown grass and persistent weeds. But this summer, the Vermont town of Charlotte implemented a new strategy to both save money and keep grass in the town’s graveyards under control, and it’s a decidedly traditional way of doing it: Let goats and sheep do the work.
“Depending on the time of year, sheep and goats can chew a higher percentage or a lower percentage of what needs to be chewed down in direct proportion to how fast the grass is growing,” says StephenBrooks, chairman of the town’s Cemetary Commission. He figures these wandering animals – two goats and two sheep rented from a local farmer – have reduced the need to mow and fertilize, saving the town at least $2,000 in fuel costs this year. Read more here.
How much is it worth to us today to avoid climate disruption later this century? To understand how that question has typically been answered, you need to understand what economists call “discount rates,” key parameters in the economic models used to assess climate policy costs. Such models inform policymaking and shape conventional wisdom, but their use of discount rates has led them to lowball the threat and recommend insufficient action to meet it. You see my problem here: You’re already bored as sh*t. And the literature on this is as voluminous as it is technical. You could be much more bored. Trust me.
But don’t give up! It really does matter. Understanding discount rates will help you understand the climate-policy landscape – not only the technical details, but the struggle over values that lurks underneath them. So stick with me. To help counter the soporific effects of the subject, I shall endeavor to explain it in a lively, accessible fashion. Failing that, I’ll use otters. Read more here.
Reports trying to create doubts about organic agriculture are suddenly flooding the media. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, people are fed up of the corporate assault of toxics and GMOs. Secondly, people are turning to organic agriculture and organic food as a way to end the toxic war against the earth and our bodies. At a time when industry has set its eyes on the super profits to be harvested from seed monopolies through patented seeds and seeds engineered with toxic genes and genes for making crops resistant to herbicides, people are seeking food freedom through organic, non-industrial food.
The food revolution is the biggest revolution of our times, and the industry is panicking. So it spins propaganda, hoping that in the footsteps of Goebbels, a lie told a hundred times will become the truth. But food is different. We are what we eat. We are our own barometers. Our farms and our bodies are our labs, and every farmer and every citizen is a scientist who knows best how bad farming and bad food hurts the land and our health, and how good farming and good food heals the planet and people. The dominant myth of industrial agriculture is that it produces more food and is land-saving. However, the more industrial agriculture spreads, the more hungry people we have. And the more industrial agriculture spreads, the more land is grabbed. Read more here
Courting private companies with taxpayer money has been a widespread practice for decades. To lure new industry or development, state and local governments offer tax breaks, subsidies, and other enticements to the tune of $70 billion every year In exchange for subsidies and tax breaks, companies often promise jobs, training, and other benefits. But frequently, they never materialize. When that happens, it’s a major loss: not just of those benefits, but for the schools and other public resources that got shortchanged to create the subsidy. And the company usually doesn’t face any repercussions for not living up to its promises.
The good news is that advocacy groups and governments are taking a closer look at such subsidies to make sure they’re really worth their cost-and finding ways to make sure that governments can get their money back if they’re not. So how do you hold a company accountable for its promises? One method is to require “clawback” provisions in contracts when companies accept subsidies. Under a clawback, if a company doesn’t create the agreed-upon number of jobs, fails to pay a certain wage, or relocates, taxpayers are entitled to their money back. Read more here.
The political ad invasion is upon us. It’s a toxic mix of half-truths and negativity that’s beaming into homes across the county – especially homes in battleground states like Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Media analysts project that campaigns, Super PACs and “social welfare” groups will spend a record-breaking $3.3 billion on political ads by Election Day. For the local stations that air these ads, it’s a political goldmine. But what’s a cash windfall for stations is a nuisance for tens of millions of viewers.
And let’s consider these stations – are they offering any local news coverage to debunk the lies in these ads? Are they exposing the deep-pocketed interests behind the groups buying ad time? To find out, Free Press took a deeper look at local news coverage in five of the cities – Charlotte, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Milwaukee and Tampa – where ad spending has been highest. Read more here.
With all the climate-related disasters that unfolded this year-wildfires and floods and extreme heat, not mention the Arctic sea ice that melted to a record low level-you would think that Congress might get the message that action on climate change is a necessity. Did they? Definitely not. Since January 2011, one out of every five votes in the U.S. House of Representatives was to undermine environmental protections-315 votes out of a total of 1535.
This makes the current U.S. House of Representatives the most anti-environment Congress in history. The votes weren’t cosmetic either-they were efforts to weaken environmental oversight legislation like the Clean Air Act, a 40-year-old law that regulates air pollution, which the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated will prevent 230,000 pollution-related early deaths by 2020, and provide more than $2 trillion in economic benefits. Read more here.
When it comes to reporting on what scientists say about climate change, the Union of Concerned Scientists told Raw Story that their research shows Fox News can be counted upon to mislead its viewers.
In a study the group takes Fox News and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page to task for consistently misleading their audience on climate change. Data collected over six months showed that Fox News was the worst offender on climate issues between the two, allowing misleading statements to permeate “93 percent” of its broadcasts on the subject from February to July 2012. The Journal’s editorial page did not fare much better, however: the Union said “81 percent” of their climate coverage from August 2011 to July 2012 was “misleading.” “[Fox News and The Wall Street Journal] both were staggering in the levels of misleading information about climate science,” Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Raw Story. “We found that both Fox News and [The Wall Street Journal] opinion page have staggeringly high levels of misinformation.” Read more here.
The solar energy market is booming in Massachusetts, as commercial building owners, municipalities, and name-brand retailers like REI and Kohl’s take advantage of state incentives that have made it more affordable to fund solar power projects. Even as activity has slowed in several other key states, the number of installations here has grown so steadily that the Solar Energy Industries Association, a national trade group, expects Massachusetts to rank in the top 10 among states that will add the most solar power this year.
A recent report by the association and Boston market analysis firm GTM Research showed that in the first half of the year alone 27.1 megawatts of solar energy-generating capacity were installed in the state’s nonresidential sector, the fastest-growing major market segment. Read more here.
State Community Colleges Receiving Grants for Workforce Skills Training
FALL RIVER – Gov. Deval Patrick announced $4 million in grants to state community colleges, including Bristol Community College, to support increased skills training and workforce alignment and improve student learning. BCC’s award of $300,000 is to address college readiness, improve developmental education and increase student retention. Read more here.
DARTMOUTH – Dr. Juli Parker married young, at 19, to a man who “ended up being abusive.” Around that time, she was also a theater major at the University of Maine and “had a pretty negative experience in terms of not getting cast.” So, at age 21 – when other young women her age might be drinking beers in frat houses or planning spring break in Cancun – Parker picked herself up by her bootstraps and found a deep resolve within herself. She left her husband and she switched her major from one that brought her down to one that raised her up: Women’s Studies.
“I took a Women’s Studies class my junior year, and it was just mind-blowing. It was life-changing,” said Parker, who is now happily remarried and, since 1995, has directed the UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality since 1995. She oversees the Mentors in Violence Prevention program and LGBT Programs. Read more here.
When the state tax credit for residential and small renewable projects disappeared in 2010, so did many of the residential and small business customers for wind and solar contractors. Rhode Island’s new distributed generation program was supposed to help the renewable sector by providing fixed electricity pricing contracts. Predictable pricing, of course, means predictable revenue. It’s also considered effective for bringing renewable energy prices closer to fossil fuel-based electricity prices, which in theory will eventually reduce the reliance on incentives to promote renewable energy projects.
But some small developers complain that the state’s distributed generation program favors larger wind and solar projects. Spreading incentives across numerous smaller renewable energy projects reduces the risk of high-profile failures and better creates jobs. Read more here.
Creating a viable business that involves domestic manufacturing in a post-made-in-the-USA era – a business that is both local and environmentally friendly – involved a lot of research and Web surfing on Sandy Wilder’s part. Wilder, with a background in furniture sales and design, founded Conversational Arts in December 2011. He said he wanted to start a local business that used all American-made, Earth-friendly products. If it had a pet theme, even better.
If one of Sandy Wilder’s pillows could talk, it would tell you that its artwork was created by Ken Bailey of Washington. The material was made in California. The art was printed in South Carolina, and the stuffing was made in North Carolina. All of the pieces, made of organic cotton and recycled bottles, were stitched together in Fall River. “People really want to buy domestically made products,” Wilder said. Read more here.
DARTMOUTH – Six months after contractors erected it, UMass Dartmouth’s new 600-kilowatt wind turbine has yet to become fully operational and engineers are still trying to figure out why. “The issues are attributed to hydraulic leaks in the factory hydraulic connections. There are also issues with sensors that measure wind speed, wind direction,” Alex Zaroulis of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance wrote. She added that DCAM expects to have the turbine operational in “the next few weeks.”
UMass Dartmouth paid the nearly $1 million siting and installation cost but did not pay for the turbine, said Jamie Jacquart, the assistant director of the Office of Campus and Community Sustainability. The university expects to save $125,000 per year in energy bills once the turbine is operational and the unit has a lifespan of 20 years, he added. Read more here.
The surveying work being done by Cape Wind has been described by its backers as the first visible nod to the future construction of the 130 wind turbines proposed for Nantucket Sound. But unless you venture very close to Horseshoe Shoal, the area where the turbines would be installed, it’s still very difficult to see any difference on the vast Nantucket Sound horizon.
Cape Wind organized a boat trip for the media to visit the two large barges collecting geophysical data for the project, giving the first glimpse of what Cape Wind’s initial efforts look like close-up. At sea, miles from shore, the footprint of the project makes way for an industrial-looking operation that includes two hardscrabble barges, complete with cranking machinery and workers in hard hats. Cape Wind is halfway through a four-step surveying project of Horseshoe Shoal, the shallow area – around 25 to 30 feet deep during Saturday’s trip – where the turbines would be installed. The project began in July. Read more here.
Mercury, chemical waste, heavy metals, and used solvents leaked, or were intentionally dumped and buried, on a 35-acre property in Ashland that became one of the nation’s first Superfund pollution-cleanup sites. Though the Nyanza Color and Chemical Co. closed in 1978, the company and its predecessors left a legacy of contamination that extended along the Sudbury River watershed. But now, out of that tragedy comes a chance at rebirth.
Eleven projects totaling roughly $3.7 million aim to improve and protect the area’s habitat and wildlife, restore waterways for fish, control invasive plants, and establish new trails and refuges. Funded by a 1998 settlement between state and federal entities and Nyanza representatives, the projects extend beyond Ashland to communities that include Framingham, Southborough, Wayland, Westborough, and Sudbury. Read more here.
A number of UMass Dartmouth students are livid over an aggressive, new – and some say overzealous – ticketing policy that has left them feeling like they are under siege by university officials every time they park. So far this academic year, close to 2,800 $10 tickets have been issued. “They have more personnel now, including special yellow-jacketed meter maid gestapo,” wrote computer science major Barry Gaffey in an email, referring to the private contractors UMass Dartmouth enlisted to help issue tickets. “Even students that have purchased decals have been getting slapped in the face,” he wrote, adding that he witnessed one resident student who had a decal still getting a ticket.
University officials counter that three straight years of declining compliance with school parking rules forced them to become more aggressive. Read more here.
Roberta Carvalho, science director for the Westport River Watershed Alliance, pulled a rusted lawn mower blade from a clump of weeds. “A lawnmower blade,” she wondered aloud. “I’ve never seen one of those before.” Carvalho works the WRWA cleanup every year along with a band of doughty volunteers.
Carvalho said Westport, like many towns, can’t afford to buy or maintain trash cans at spots like the Hix Bridge Landing. “And if they did put them out, they’d be vandalized or people would just overlook them,” she said. Read more here.
New England wildlife rescuers this weekend were cheering one of the first successful attempts at treatment and release of a leatherback turtle in the world. Leatherback turtles don’t survive in aquariums because of their enormous size, their exclusive diet of jellyfish, and a propensity to swim into aquarium tanks, according to Tony La-Casse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium.
“These endangered giants rarely strand alive and have usually survived for just a couple of days in an aquarium setting,” LaCasse said in a press release announcing the release. But that didn’t stop a team of rescuers from the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the New England Aquarium and the International Fund for Animal Welfare from trying when they got a report of a 7-foot-long, 655-pound leatherback stranded in Truro. Read more here.
Urban agriculture is not restoration so much as it is reclamation. The vacant lot, which itself has a history of use and disuse, doesn’t beg to be put back into some old purpose. It lies indefinitely fallow, and only the weeds that sprout from its soil betray fertility and potential. The work of restoring carries with it the implication that there is reconstruction of a past structure or circumstance; in building a garden on a vacant lot, an urban farmer subverts the traditional use of city land.
Urban farmers are not rebuilding houses. They are building soil. The foundations they lay are not made of concrete. The excavations they perform – removing lead soil and asphalt, for example – revert lots zoned for commercial or residential uses to agricultural space. Restoration is a part of the work – restore fences, and remediate soil contaminated with heavy metals – but city farmers repurpose space more than they restore it. What they build is not a new house, or a new shop, but a new modality for the use of city land. Read more here.
Marion – The preschool students at Seaside School in Marion are no slouches when it comes to science. For the past few weeks the kids have been studying insects, in particular the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. And what better way to understand the metamorphosis of the bright orange and black butterfly than to watch it first hand in the classroom?
A parent of one of the students recently brought in some milkweed, a plant where monarchs lay their eggs. Read more here.
Vast Majority of Seafood U.S. Residents Eat is Imported
In this land of the (disappearing) cod, new federal statistics underscore just how great a seafood transformation the U.S. has undergone in the last three decades: A whopping 91 percent of the seafood U.S. consumers eat is now imported.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration statistics, up five percent from a year ago, probably do not have a lot to do with the plummeting number of cod and flounder off New England’s coast – populations so low the federal government declared a disaster for fishermen on Sept. 13. But it does highlight the continued lack of federal and state oversight to ensure the seafood consumers are eating is the species they think it is and from the country they think it was processed in. Read more here.
East Wareham resident Bill Tatlow is legally blind. He uses a magnifying lens attached to a large monitor to read postcards and important documents. He gave up his driver’s license in the early 2000s, when his eyesight first began to suffer from macular degeneration. But when Tatlow sees something that needs to be done, nothing can stop him from doing it. Tatlow spent a few days last month repainting all 51 benches in front of the Onset Band Shell in Onset Village.
“They were looking kind of sick. Something needed to be done because the kids go down there and skateboard all over them,” chimed in Bill’s wife, Betsy Tatlow. Bill Tatlow took on the project because he feels a certain ownership of those 51 benches. And he should. He is the one who built them Read more here.
Experts to council: City’s drainage system overmatched by downpour
Fall River – The mandated and nearly completed $185 million Combined Sewer Overflow project to clean up Mount Hope Bay allows significantly more stormwater into the system – more than double, from 50 million gallons a day to 110 million gallons. But Administrator of Community Utilities Terrance Sullivan told the City Council on Tuesday night that the three “massive” flash floods between Aug. 10 and Sept. 5 had water flows on hard-hit Cove Street “22 times greater than the flow required to be managed under the CSO program.” “We’d need a New Orleans-type facility to manage these types of events,” Sullivan said during a presentation and discussion with concerned councilors that lasted two hours.
Sullivan said the city cleans just over one-fourth of its 6,000 catch basins a year, and said that although all sorts of debris from the flash floods got into the basins, he believes it was the volume of water and not slightly clogged basins that caused the massive flooding in basements and garages. Read more here.
This Week in Sustainability
Women’s Full Moon Canoe Trip
Friday, September 28, 2012 from 5:00PM – 7:30PM, Lloyd Center Headquarters, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth
Girls’ night out! Enjoy canoeing the historic Slocum River. Transportation to launching site and all equipment provided. Bring footwear that can get wet, as well as a snack and beverage (non-alcoholic). Price: Members: $20 Non-members: $25
Pre-registration required by noon on Thursday, September 27 Limit: 12 Pre-register online, or call 508-990-0505 x10. If you have specific questions regarding the program, please call Liz at 508-990-0505 x15, or email her here.
Friday, September 28, 2012 and Saturday, September 29, 2012 Downtown New Bedford, the Corner of Kempton/Chancery St. and Emerson St.
Sponsored by New Bedford P.O.W.E.R., People Organizing for Wealth and Ecological Restoration. The annual block party is aimed at inciting connection, creation, and celebration. There will be healthy, real food provided, as well as live performances, children’s activities, good people and good times. This will also be a zero waste event.
The event is divided into two days: FRIDAY evening – Pre-block party, 3pm – 6pm Official ribbon cutting by Mayor Mitchell and Enviro-Action Awards; and SATURDAY September 29, 2012, 1pm – 6pm, The BLOCK PARTY. Rain date: September 30, 2012 1 – 6pm.
New Bedford POWER are local residents of New Bedford who are dedicated to helping our fellow community members restore the Equity, Economy and Ecology of our area and our Nation. POWER is a project of the Green Jobs Green Economy Initiative, a program of the Marion Institute created in partnership with The ESHU2 (Education Should Help Us X Ecology Spirituality Health and Unity) Collective.
For more information, contact Khepe-Ra Maat-Het-Heru, Co-Director at 508-990-1425. You can also learn more at their website.
Saturday, September 29, 10am, Tihonet Village, A.D. Makepeace Company 146 Tihonet Road, Wareham, MA
Visit the world’s largest cranberry grower during peak harvest season! The A.D. Makepeace Company is offering five public tours for individuals during the picturesque harvest season. Join us and learn all about cranberry farming and see New England at its best! Very little walking is required. Be prepared for wet or muddy conditions. Tours are held rain or shine but severe weather may postone or cancel a tour. Guests will be transported by bus to the cranberry bog areas. Advance registration is recommended. $12 per person Under 7 Free (must still register). Emailkhoudlette@admakepeace.com.
September 29, 2012, 10-12pm Westport Town Farm, 88 Drift Road
Grab your canvas and choice of media and be prepared to explore the natural landscape. An art instructor will be there to guide your creativity with tips and tricks. Enjoy the company of other artists so you can share and showoff your artwork. Read more here.
Saturday and Sunday September 29 and 30, 11am to 5pm, Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 3 – Steamship Pier, New Bedford
Celebrate Commercial Fishing, America’s Oldest Industry! Join us in New Bedford, America’s largest commercial fishing port, to learn about the men and women who harvest the North Atlantic. Walk the decks of a scalloper, dine on fresh seafood, mend a fishing net and watch a Coast Guard rescue demonstration. Experience the workings of the industry which brings seafood from the ocean to your plate. For details, visit http://www.workingwaterfrontfestival.org/.
Natural Resources Trust 39th Annual Harvest Fair
Sunday September 30, 10am to 4pm, 307 Main St., North Easton, MA
Bring the whole family for a day filled with local crafts, food, entertainment, and more! For details, contact the Natural Resources Trust of Eaton at (508) 238-6049 or email email@example.com.
Twilight Grower Education Series: Cover Crops, Season Extension
Monday October 1, 5:30pm to 7pm, White Barn Farm, 458 South Street, Wrentham, MA
Winter cover crops are the main topic for this session as a staple organic growing practice. Farmers Christy and Chris will discuss their farm’s process and purpose for using such methods. We will also sneak a peek at season extension techniques used on the farm. COST: $15/class (NOFA/SEMAP members); $20/class (non-members). For more information, contact SEMAP’s Sarah Cogswell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-542-0434.
Time Bank Seminar with Stephanie Rearick
Tuesday, October 2, 4PM – 6PM Ocean Explorium in New Bedford, 174 Union St.
Wednesday, October 3, 9:30AM – 11:00AM Woodland Commons, UMass Dartmouth
Noted specialist in Time Banks and Director of the largest Time Bank in the U.S., Stephanie Rearick, will visit the SouthCoast to discuss the creation and success of her community’s Time Bank, and how communities in the SouthCoast can start them up. Time Banking is an alternative monetary system centered on the principle that time one spends performing social and civil services can be turned into currency. One hour of labor served equals one credit of time received, which can be used or saved for accumulation towards a service.
Stephanie Rearick is Director of the Dane County Time Bank in Wisconsin, a network of over 2000 individuals and organizations, making it the largest, most organized Time Bank in the United States. Admission is free. Time Banks aren’t just an alternative monetary system; they also forge stronger community relations, build greater social capital, and encourage self-sufficiency. Under/un-employed workers and students looking to improve their economic and social situations can do that by utilizing the skills, time, and energy they already have.
For more information on the presentations or Time Banks, contact Bob Bailey from the Office of Campus and Community Sustainability at email@example.com or Christoph Demers at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call the Sustainability Office at 508-910-6484. You can also learn more at http://www.danecountytimebank.org/ or http://www.timebanks.org. Read more here.
Monarch Tagging Workshop
Tuesday, October 2, 2012, 4-6pm Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary
Be a part of this amazing citizen science project where YOU are the investigator; identifying, collecting and tagging migrating Monarchs as they make their way to sunny Mexico for the winter! Registration is required. Register online or call 508-636-2437 to register by phone. Register by mail: program registration form. For your own security, DO NOT send credit card information via email. Audience: All (suitable for children 0 – 18 years). Read more here.
Movie Screening: “An Ecology of Mind: A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson”
Thursday, October 4, 2012, 6pmUMass Dartmouth, Science & Engineering Lecture Hall 228 (Close to Library 2nd Floor exit to SENG)
Sponsored by the College for Sociology, Anthropology, & Crime and Justice Studies, UMass Dartmouth’s Sustainability Initiative & The Center for Indic Studies Watch the 3-minute trailer here. FREE and OPEN TO PUBLIC – light refreshments (served at 5:45PM) For further information visit The Center for Indic Studies or contact professor Jerry Solfvin here.
Preserving Food Workshop
Thursday, October 4th at 7:00 pm Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum – 396 County Street New Bedford, MA 02740
Learn how to preserve food using the time-honored technique of sott’olio (preserving food under olive oil). Rosemary Melli, proprietor of Olio di Melli LLC importers (fine Italian olive oils) will offer a workshop at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum. Rosemary will share techniques to successfully capture the very essence and flavor of foods, focusing on vegetables for this demonstration, so that you can preserve and enjoy them year round. You will leave the workshop with a new understanding of this “slow food movement” technique as well as new recipes and a jar of preserved vegetables! Please register by calling the Museum at 508-997-1401 or click here to register securely online. This class has a minimum of 6 participants, so registration is strongly advised. Read more here.
Fall Farmers’ Market at UMass Dartmouth
ONGOING: Wednesdays in September and October, 10:00AM – 3:00PM,Center of Campus, Outside Campus Center Facing Academic Buildings
Vendors selling at the market will be supplying produce, eggs, natural bottled foods, homemade cookies, coffee cakes, oils and vinegars, home made soaps, acrylic paintings and much more. Please come and join the fun. Parking available in Lot 7a at UMass Dartmouth. Follow the walkway to the stairs leading towards the center of the campus.
Fairhaven Farmers’ Market: Beyond the Bicentennial Series
ONGOING: Every Sunday, Septembers running to October 21, 1:00PM – 4:00PM, Fairhaven High School, 12 Huttleston Ave.(Rt. 6), Fairhaven, MA
Get your greens while “Being Green.” The town of Fairhaven is hosting a special Fall series of Farmers Markets dubbed “Beyond the Bicentennial.” Each Market will carry themes significant to the town: water quality; clean energy; recycling; local food and gardening; transportation, etc. In addition to local/regional food and craft vendors, there will be workshops, recreational activities, informational booths, and organizational participation corresponding to every Sunday theme. Enjoy the local market with family and friends every Sunday afternoon through October 21. Access the parking lot off Main Street to the rear of the Academy Building. Handicap parking. Free admission. Coordinated by the Fairhaven Sustainability Committee. Information on vendors here. Follow us on Facebook.
Seeds of Sustainability at BCC Fall Workshop Series
ONGOING: Every Wednesday, 2:00PM-3:00PM, September 26 – November 28 Bristol Community College, Fall River, MA
The student organization Seeds of Sustainability is sponsoring a series of workshops this fall to encourage people to become more self-sufficient and sustainable. Topics/activities for classes include edibles walk, canning and preservation, composting, seed saving, permaculture, the art of brewing tea, and making your own household cleaners. Please note that all are FREE and will be held in room E-101 on the Fall River campus of BCC. Questions? Contact Dr. Jim Corven at (508) 268-2811, ext. 3047 or email email@example.com or Mark Zajac, Director of Seeds of Sustainability, here.
Save The Date
LLOYD CENTER REGATTA – SLOCUM CHALLENGE
Saturday, October 6th, Begins 9:30 a.m., Lloyd Center Headquarters, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth for whaleboats & pilot gigs; Demarest Lloyd State Park for all other competitors
For guaranteed acceptance, Entry Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2nd. On the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend, Dartmouth’s Slocum River will once again come alive with activity as rowers and paddlers from all over New England converge for the 7th running of the popular Slocum Challenge, known locally as the “southeastern New England’s Fall rowing & paddling festival.” Races will start promptly at 9:30 a.m. and finish near the Lloyd Center’s waterfront facility, at the mouth of the Slocum River, traversing a two-mile closed-loop course on the tidal waters of one of New England’s most beautiful estuaries. The regatta is open to racing shells, open-water shells, kayaks, canoes, surf-skis, traditional rowing boats, whaleboats, pilot gigs, and stand-up paddleboards, with separate age-categories for competitors under 20, over 50, and over 65, all in Men’s, Women’s and “Mixed” (co-ed) divisions. As always, the emphasis of the regatta will be on good fun and enjoyment of the scenic Slocum River. A light post-race lunch will be provided at the Awards Ceremony, immediately following the races at the Lloyd Center’s headquarters (430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth). Please see Entry Form for detailed information. For more information click here.
URI Fall Gardening School: Cooking with Melissa
Saturday, October 6, 2012, 10am – 11am Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, 1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence, RI 02906
URI Master Gardeners are good at growing, but did you know some are also amazing chefs?! With her cooking equipment at her side Melissa will demonstrate how to create quick and tasty salad dressings, pesto and even gluten-free cuisine. Tips on cooking with fresh & dried ingredients, what foods pair best and a discussion on pickling will also be a part of the mix. Recipes will also be exchanged so be sure to bring extra copies to share with the group! Saturday, October 6, 10am-11am $15.00. Read more here.
Saturday, October 6, 1pm to 4pm, Buttonwood Park Zoo, New Bedford, MA
Celebrate fall at the farm in the Zoo! Get a farmer’s eye view from the seat of a tractor and look for a needle in a haystack. Join us for harvest-related activities for the whole family. Cost is free with zoo admission. For more information, visit the zoo website at bpzoo.org.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
The fall’s best outdoor event is the Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride. Cyclists choose between a 75-mile or 35-mile ride across the watershed to raise funds for the Bay, as well as create awareness and encourage stewardship of the beautiful watershed we all share. The 75-mile-long route begins at Horseneck Beach in Westport, winding along the coast through farmland, coastal villages, New Bedford’s waterfront, cranberry bogs and the back roads of Cape Cod before ending at scenic Quissett Harbor in Woods Hole. You can ride, cheer or volunteer in support of a healthy watershed and Bay.
In addition to a $30 registration fee, each rider must raise a minimum of $300. Once you register, you will receive additional materials to help you with your fundraising. This information will also have plenty of detail about how the funds help support the work of the Bay Coalition. The fundraising staff at the Bay Coalition is also available to help you with any question you might have. Learn more and register here. If you have questions about the Watershed Ride, please contact Donna Cobert, Director of Membership and Events, at 508.999.6363 x209. or email.
Saturday, October 20, 2012, 12-4pm Westport Town Farm, 88 Drift Road
Bring your family to celebrate the third annual harvest at the Westport Town Farm’s Community Gardens. Enjoy a festive day of local food, music and activities for all ages. Read more here.
Bioneers By The Bay: Connecting For Change
October 26 – October 28, 2012 Downtown New Bedford, MA
The 8th Annual Connecting for Change Conference is a three-day SOLUTIONS-BASED gathering that brings together a diverse audience from all over the globe to create deep and positive change in their communities. Presented by the Marion Institute, Bioneers is an unforgettable weekend filled with: live keynote speakers – including Sandor Katz, Judy Wicks and Bill McKibben, afternoon workshops, FAMILY programming, Youth Initiative program, exhibition hall featuring sustainable businesses and organizations, farmers’ market, films and live music, an open mic night; seasonal, local and organic food; art installations and more. Join the Movement. Visit www.connectingforchange.org or call (508)748-0816, to register, apply for a scholarship or to volunteer. Read more here.
4th Annual New England MREC Technical Conference
Tuesday, October 30 – Wednesday, October 31, 2012 Crowne Plaza, Providence/Warwick, RI
Hosted by the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center, A Center within UMass Dartmouth. Two days of technical presentations on research relating to wave, tide, ocean and river current, offshore wind, environmental monitoring, policy and regulations, industry lessons learned, and more. Now in its 4th year, the Annual New England Marine Renewable Energy Center’s Technical Conference brings together engineers, scientists, policy makers and industry developers to share results of research that will advance the field of water energy.
Join US and international colleagues in a highly technical professionally reviewed and chaired format that is building the body of literature (albeit digitally) on the subject of renewable ocean and river energy generation. There will be ample time for networking with engineers, scientists and policy professionals from government, academia and industry. Technical papers, posters, and exhibits will be available. Graduate students are encouraged to submit abstracts. Attendees are expected from all over the world.
Rates include full access to all technical sessions, keynote addresses, exhibit and poster display area; daily continental breakfast, morning and afternoon coffee breaks, lunch and ticket to hosted reception on Tuesday October 30, 2012. See rates here. Register here.
Just Birds: Artwork by Joe Koger
At the Audubon Environmental Education Center of Rhode Island (1401 Hope Street, Bristol, RI), artist Joe Koger returns with his paintings and drawings of ‘Just Birds’. As a naturalist, Joe has been drawing, painting, and observing birds all of his life. His work reflects the variety of birds that he observes at many of the local refuges and birding areas in Rhode Island. In addition to painting and bird watching, Joe teaches high school science and has been a popular teacher/naturalist at Audubon summer camps for the past 25 years. Joe’s show will run though the end of October. Viewing times Wed-Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 12pm -5pm. Admission: Adult $6.00, Child (ages 4-12) $4.00, Child (under 4) free, Audubon Society of RI Members free. For information about all the Audubon Environmental Education Center has to offer, visit www.asri.org/environmental-education-center/environmental-education-center.html.
Sustainability Office Conducting Trivia Contest
The Sustainability Office will be conducting a trivia contest through its Facebook page. Every week for 8 weeks will be a multiple choice question related to sustainability issues page viewers can answer. Answer correctly for a chance to win a free Sustainability Initiatve Water Bottle. Bottles will be given out every week. The contest will start in the coming weeks. Like us on Facebook to learn more and participate. Click here.
25 people who are making Boston’s innovation economy better according to Boston’s Innovaton Economy Blog
Learn about who have been the most active 25 people in 2012 to make Boston’s innovation economy better. One blogger has curated that list with names and criteria for whether they were involved with starting something new, taking over an existing entity, or expanding something. Details Here.
Mass. Clean Energy Center Industry Report
The Mass. Clean Energy Center released its second annual study of the clean energy industry in the commonwealth, measuring jobs, companies, revenue, and helping to define the scope of the industry. It is important that the findings show growth in key areas, despite the many headlines and public sentiment that the clean energy is struggling. Massachusetts remains No. 2 in the US (No. 1 per capita) in private clean energy investment (ie., venture capital/private equity), for example.
Key findings in the attached report include:
- Year-over-year growth of clean energy companies, to 4,995 (up from 4,908 – 2% growth rate)
- Year-over-over growth of clean energy employees, to 71,523 (up from 64,310 – 11% growth rate, compared with 1.2% for all Mass. jobs)
- Small businesses – Nearly 2/3 of all clean energy companies employ 10 or fewer people.
- Educated workforce – The report states “Massachusetts employers value educational credentials, expecting higher levels of education than their counterparts in other regions of the country.”
For more information, visit www.masscec.com or download report.
UMass Dartmouth’s Living Classroom Program Profiled in Sustainability Journal
UMass Dartmouth’s Living Classroom program is profiled in the April 2012 issue of Sustainability: The Journal of Record. The Journal is published by Mary Ann Leibert, Inc., a leading company in authoritative international publications for the Scientific, Technical, and Medical knowledge and information industries. The profile, written by Pamela Marean from UMass Dartmouth’s Sustainability Office, discusses how The Living Classroom stimulates curiosity in students and local residents alike about how sustainability principles work in our lives by applying higher learning concepts to our immediate environmental resources–namely the University’s hundreds of acreage of forests and wetlands. This article represents a great accomplishment for UMass Dartmouth and is bound to bring greater attention to The Living Classroom, as well as all innovative programs under the umbrella of the Sustainability Initiative. Interested readers can view a copy of the article here.
UMass Dartmouth Included in Princeton Review’s Annual Guide to Green Colleges
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was selected for inclusion in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition.” This free, downloadable book is a one-of-a-kind resource and is published in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The comprehensive guide focuses solely on colleges that have demonstrated a notable commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. The Princeton Review chose the listed schools based on research it conducted in 2011 of over 700 colleges and universities across the U.S. and in Canada. It provides “Green Rating” scores of colleges for its school profiles in its college guidebooks and website. The institutions in the guide represent those with the highest “Green Ratings.”
Interested readers can download a free copy of the guide at Princeton Review’s site or at the website for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools.
Recycle Used Plastic Bags (Even Ziploc Sandwich Bags)
Who knew? Plastic sandwich and kitchen storage bags can be recycled along with plastic shopping bags in supermarket recycling bins. Learn more here.
Biopiracy Threatens The Future Of Food
87% of the world’s seed supply is controlled by just a handful of companies. Seed is at the beginning of all our food – both plant and animal based. This is why personal seed storage, exchanges and backyard vegetable gardens, based on heirloom and heritage varieties, are now more important than ever. It not only helps protect against losing species forever, but helping to deprive biopirates of the cash and control they crave. Learn more here.
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