Archive for September, 2008
Monday, September 29th, 2008
I love the pleasure¬†Terry Tempest Williams feels and the wonder she sees in the simple act of peeling and eating an orange!¬† The following is an excerpt from her book¬†REFUGE:
¬†¬†¬†¬† “Peeling an orange is a good thing to do in the mountains.¬† It slows you down.¬† You bite into the tart rind, pull it back with your teeth and then let your fingers undress the citrus.¬† Nothing else exists beyond or before this task.¬† The naked fruit is in your hands waiting for sections to be separated.¬† Halves.¬† Quarters.¬† And then the delicacy of breaking the orange down to its smallest smile.
¬†¬†¬†¬† “I lay out these ten sections on the flat granite rock I am sitting on.¬† The sun threatens to dry them.¬† But I wait for the birds.¬† Within minutes, Clark’s nutcrackers and gray jays join me.¬† I suck on oranges as the mountains begin to work on me.
¬†¬†¬†¬† “This is why I always return.¬† This is why I can always go home.”
Saturday, September 27th, 2008
¬†¬†¬†¬† I included this poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay in my seventh grade poetry notebook.¬† In rereading the poem, I can feel the young person’s spontaneous exuberance that made me like the poem in the first place.¬† And still, decades later, the earth’s beauty can fill me so full that, like Millay, I can hardly bear it.–April Moore
O World, I cannot hold thee close enough!
¬†¬†¬†¬† Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
¬†¬†¬†¬† Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!¬† That gaunt crag
To crush!¬† To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
¬†¬†¬†¬† But never knew I this:
¬†¬†¬†¬† Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,–Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,–let fall
No burning leaf;¬† prithee, let no bird call.
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
¬†¬†¬†¬† Who doesn’t have an old cell phone sitting in a drawer somewhere?¬† With new phone features, services, and accessories becoming available every year, it doesn’t take long for a cell phone to become too old and¬†too easily replaceable.
¬†¬†¬†¬† But what happens to the old cell phone?¬† Since it contains lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and other toxic substances,¬†you can’t just throw it in the trash.¬† So what DO you do with it?
¬†¬†¬†¬† You can recycle your¬†no longer needed¬†cell phone by sending it to an organization called Collective Good.¬† Collective Good’s purpose is to keep toxic waste out of the landfill.¬†¬† The organization is concerned that with millions of cell phones entering the waste stream every year, these toxic substances are leaking into our water supply.¬† Even worse, cities that incinerate trash are sending these toxins into the air, only to return to us later in the form of rain.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Collective Good refurbishes many of the phones¬†it receives and donates them to charities that want them.¬† With¬†phones that cannot be¬†refurbished, the recyclable components are recycled,¬†while the toxic materials are¬†disposed of safely.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† I encourage you to visit Collective Good’s website, www.CollectiveGood.com/.¬†¬†Collective Good also recycles cell phone batteries, chargers, and accessories, as well as pagers and PDAs.
Monday, September 22nd, 2008
¬†¬†¬†¬† I applaud the growing¬†interest in lowering our¬†carbon footprint by eating locally grown food.¬† It’s a good thing to avoid the greenhouse gas emissions caused by transporting food long distances.¬†¬†In fact, the interest in eating locally is so widespread that¬†a¬†new word–’locavore’–has entered the lexicon, joining¬† ‘carnivore,’ herbivore,’ and ‘omnivore’ in describing how we eat.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† While¬†becoming a locavore is a good thing, reducing the¬†environmental impact of one’s eating is more complicated.¬†¬†¬†According to a recent study,¬†described in Science News (5/24/08), one can do much more to cut greenhouse gas emissions by eating less red meat and dairy¬†than¬†by¬†eating locally-grown food.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that¬†the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food delivery¬†account for just 4% of food-associated greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 83% from food production.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Researchers Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews learned that greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production of red meat and dairy products, in particular,¬†are far greater than the emissions caused by the delivery of foods to the consumer.¬†¬†Further,¬†their study showed that¬†getting one-seventh of¬†a week’s calories from chicken, fish or vegetables, instead of from red meat or dairy,¬†reduces greenhouse gas emissions more¬†than buying all local all the time.¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† The point is not that eating locally doesn’t matter.¬† The point, I believe, is that¬†making an effort to reduce one’s consumption of meat and dairy products will do more to stop global warming than will making an effort to eat locally-grown food.¬†¬†And doing both is¬†better still.¬†¬†Even if the greenhouse gas savings from eating locally¬†are less than those associated with a low-meat, low-dairy diet, every earth-friendly shift helps.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Besides, when it comes to taste, what can beat a just-picked tomato or¬†apple?¬† And foods eaten soon after harvesting retain more of their nutritional value than foods that have taken a long road trip!¬† Bon appetit!–April Moore
Friday, September 19th, 2008
A SIOUX PRAYER
Grandfather Great Spirit
All over the world the faces of living ones
¬†¬†¬†¬† are alike.
With tenderness they have come up out
¬†¬†¬†¬† of the ground.
Look upon your children that they may
face the winds and walk the good road to
¬†¬†¬†¬† the Day¬†of Quiet.
Grandfather Great Spirit
Fill us with the Light.
Give us the strength¬†to understand,
and the eyes to see.
Teach us to walk the soft Earth as relatives
¬†¬†¬†¬† to all that live.
Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
¬†¬†¬† In an impressive example of what I hope will become¬†commonplace in conservation efforts, the United States, Canada, and Mexico are working together to protect an important North American symbol–the monarch butterfly.
¬†¬†¬†¬† In recent years this beautiful orange and black butterfly has been threatened.¬†¬†Deforestation in Mexico where hundreds of millions of monarchs typically overwinter on just 12 mountaintops has reduced their winter habitat.¬† Their migratory habitat in the U.S. and southern Canada has also been degraded and diminished by pesticide use and land clearing for human purposes.
¬†¬†¬†¬† But, thankfully, the¬†three countries essential to monarchs’ survival are working together to ensure¬†the butterfly’s future.¬† The North American Monarch Conservation Plan, developed by the three countries, with the help of scientists and many others,¬†is a long-term, cooperative agenda committing the three countries to specific actions to meet the following goals:
- to eliminate deforestation in the monarch’s overwintering habitat in south-central Mexico and coastal California;
- to address threats of habitat loss and degradation along the monarch’s migratory routes;
- to address threats of loss, fragmentation, and modification of breeding habitats;
- to develop innovative ways to promote sustainable livelihoods for people in and around key monarch habitats;¬† and
- to monitor monarch populations across North America.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The monarch is a fragile but tenacious and impressive little¬†animal.¬† Consider the¬†following:
- Monarch butterflies live wherever in the U.S. and Canada that milkweed grows. They are most prevalent in the midwest, the¬†region with the most milkweed.
- Milkweed is the only food of monarch larvae, while adult monarchs sip the nectar of many different flowering plants.
- While most butterfly species can tolerate low temperatures for some portion of the year, monarchs cannot, and so they migrate each year.¬† Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to a mountainous area of south-central Mexico, while monarchs west of the Rockies migrate to coastal California for the winter months.
- The monarchs that fly south in the fall are the great grandchildren of the monarchs who began the northern migration just a few months before.¬† When the first generation of the spring flies north after overwintering in Mexico’s high altitude forests, they breed and die after a few weeks.¬† The next generation, then, continues the northern journey begun by its parents.¬† The third generation does the same, advancing¬†still farther north.¬† Only the fourth and final generation of the year, mature by autumn, makes the southward trip to Mexico, to a place it has never been!
Monday, September 15th, 2008
¬†¬†¬†¬† Seven years ago this month I had the good fortune to¬†experience¬†a tree I will remember always.¬† My family and I were traveling in Hawaii.¬† In the town of Lahaina, on Maui, is the most incredible tree any of us had ever seen.¬† The tree is a banyan tree, and it pretty much fills the town square.¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† What is so amazing about this tree is that it has not one but 12 trunks!¬†¬†The tree¬†grows by dropping roots from its branches.¬† These roots grow downward until they reach the ground and take hold.¬† Once¬†rooted, these long vines thicken, and over time they become trunks.¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Walking among the¬†12 trunks of the banyan tree was akin to walking around in a little forest.¬† Only the forest¬†consisted of a single tree!¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† The Lahaina tree covers 2/3 of an acre, and I am glad to report that it is¬†well-appreciated.¬† People gather among its trunks and branches to talk, play music, and just enjoy the shady environment this amazing tree has created.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Just click below to see some photos of this amazing tree.–April Moore¬†
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Friday, September 12th, 2008
¬†¬†¬†¬† Perhaps you’ve seen articles and books about how to make your own green household cleaners.¬† Well, if you’re like me, it’s hard to remember all the ingredients and proportions.¬† So I end up¬†cleaning the old-fashioned way–with¬†commercial cleaners, and feeling guilty about it.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Well, here’s an easy way to get started with greener cleaning.¬† You only have to buy one product–white vinegar.¬† It’s easily available in any grocery store.¬† And buy the biggest container you see because you can use it for a great variety of cleaning jobs.¬† But make sure you don’t pick up wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or any other type but white.¬† Other types of vinegar are likely to stain.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† And white vinegar is cheap.¬† I just bought a gallon today for $2.28.¬† That’s about the same price I paid for a 22 ounce bottle of¬†all-purpose cleaner like Fantastik or 409.¬† The bargain is even greater, when you stop to think that for most household cleaning uses, vinegar is diluted with water.
¬†¬†¬†¬† White vinegar is truly¬†the wonder product of environmental cleaning.¬† I have been using it for years to clean windows and mirrors.¬† It actually does a better job than glass cleaner, I find, because it doesn’t leave a residue.¬† In a spray bottle I combine one-quarter cup of white vinegar and a cup of water.¬† The solution lasts quite awhile, so I don’t need to mix up a new batch every time I want (well, need, anyway) to clean.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Vinegar is versatile.¬† Try putting it to use in these other ways too:¬†¬†
- Use undiluted vinegar to remove toilet rings.
- Keep a¬†spray bottle of half-vinegar and half-water on hand for¬†cleaning counter tops, cleaning¬†the inside of the refrigerator,¬†and¬†for getting rid of mildew.¬†
- Get rid of baked-on food and odors in your microwave.¬† Just pour a cup of white vinegar and a cup of water into a bowl.¬† Put the bowl inside the microwave, and¬†bring the¬†liquid to a boil for a minute or two.¬† Let the bowl sit, and then wipe out the microwave oven.
- Clean chrome sink fixtures regularly with your 1:4, vinegar-water¬†solution.
- Remove lime build-up on fixtures with a paste made from 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt.
- Clean copper, brass, and pewter with a paste of equal parts white vinegar and salt.
- Make cloudy glasses clear again by wrapping them in a vinegar-soaked paper towel or cloth.¬† Put another towel inside each glass.¬† Let the glasses sit for a few minutes and then rinse.
- Make an oven window clear again.¬† Open the oven door.¬† Pour undiluted white vinegar onto the glass and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.¬† Then wipe with a sponge.
- Freshen the dishwasher by pouring a cup of white vinegar into the empty machine.¬† Run for a full cycle.
- Clean stained coffee and tea cups with a paste made from equal parts white vinegar and baking soda.
Have fun cleaning in an easy and earth-friendly way!¬† And you’ll save money at the same time!–April Moore
Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
¬†I thank my friend Jan for bringing the following pledge to my attention:¬†
I pledge allegiance to the earth
and all the life which it supports.
One planet, in our care,
with sustenance and respect for all.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2008
¬†¬†¬†¬† I am excited about the creation of what may well be one of the greatest scientific achievements of the 21st century!¬† And it could also be an important contribution to meeting the challenge of our time–the¬† halting of¬†global warming.
¬†¬†¬†¬† I am talking about the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), the¬†dream of biologist and conservationist Edmund O. Wilson.¬† EOL is an electronic encyclopedia covering all organisms known to man–all 1.8 million of them.¬† EOL’s mission is to advance and preserve knowledge about the world’s species and to make that knowledge readily available¬†to¬†people around the world.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Creators of EOL are¬†working to build one infinitely expandable page for every known¬†animal, plant,¬†and¬†microorganism.¬†¬†Users of the site¬†can customize their experience¬†by choosing content at one of three levels:¬† beginner, any audience, or specialized.¬† Thus, the site will be as useful for schoolchildren as it is for scientists.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Further, EOL operates like Wikipedia.¬† Users, even laypeople, will be able to contribute their own text, video, and images¬†to the Encyclopedia.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† The Encyclopedia of Life went online¬†in February, with its first 40,000 species.¬† And the Encyclopedia is growing, in terms of the number of species covered, the amount of information offered for each,¬†and in terms of¬†technological possibilities.¬† For instance, users will soon be able to view selected natural specimens housed in museums, research facilities, and other scientific collections in more detail than ever before, thanks to¬†the¬†Microsoft program¬†Photosynth.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Why is this first-ever Encyclopedia of Life good news for the earth?¬†¬†If we are to save the planet, Wilson explains, we first need to understand what’s here.¬† And the EOL is the most ambitious attempt ever to do that.¬† The 1.8 million species we now know make up only about 10% of the planet’s species, scientists believe.¬† And developing a database for those 1.8 million species is essential for discovering the other 90% of the earth’s species, according to Wilson.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† The¬†EOL has¬†come about¬†none too soon.¬† Global warming and the destruction of natural habitats threaten to render half the species on earth extinct by the end of this century, scientists say.¬† Without a central source of indepth information about life on the planet, any unified effort to halt global warming is made more difficult.¬†¬†And that central information source will be the EOL.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† The EOL has come to¬†fruition this year thanks to a talk Wilson gave last year.¬† In it, he said he dreamed that funders would come forward to support this ambitious, important project.¬† And they did.¬† With major funding then offered by the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, the project got off the ground.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Curious to know more about a particular animal or plant?¬† Want to see some great photos?¬† I encourage you to join the millions around the world who have already visited the Encyclopedia of Life.¬† Just click on www.eol.org.¬† –April Moore¬†¬†¬†