Category Archives: environment

Climate Changed: Overview in Graphic Format

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the ScienceClimate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I refuse to call the genre “graphic novel” because most of the graphic books I read are nonfiction.

It was the title, the past tense, of the book that drew my attention to it in the display. I checked it out, and only then saw that it was in graphic format. So I read it asking what the graphic structure provided that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Early on I noted a lot of talking-head frames. My first reaction was negative, but then I noticed that the faces were distinguishable. In fact there is a listing of sources by face as well as name and credential at the end of the book. Saves a lot of he said, she said and allows for an improved flow of information.

It also allows for some dramatic juxtapositions. In the biofuels section, a frame with a person filling a car, the hose comes from a malnourished woman and child instead of a pump. After a discussion of living on the amount of carbon that the earth can sustain per person and comparing it to poverty, the frame shows a homeless man against a wall with a Nike advertisement and the words, “Just do it.” When he talks about climate-change deniers, one frame’s illustration is of an old advertisement: The cigarette most doctors choose. And yes, a few frames later, it turns out that the scientists for each issue were the same.

The book is a survey of the science, the philosophy, and the politics of the climate issue, told as “a personal journey.” What does that decision gain? It keeps the science, etc, from existing as theory only. It invokes personal reaction. It admits ambiguity and conflict as one observes contradictions and limits.

Squarzoni covers natural and human made climate change and illustrates with graphs–graphs that are more integrated in the graphic format than they would be in text with inserted figures. He describes and critiques solutions, showing both their potential and limitations.He addresses personal and structural issues. Climate has already changed, he concludes; we cannot stop it, but can still mitigate its effects if we start soon enough. A paradigm shift is needed from individualism to the common good (of people and the environment). He is not overly optimistic, but neither is he entirely pessimistic.

There are several points where Squarzoni ponders how to begin, then later how to end. Each time the meaning is a bit different.

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U.N. Reports on Climate Change Mitigation

Have you heard of Green Energy Victory Bonds? Listen up!


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Barbara Kingsolver’s newest book

Flight BehaviorFlight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kingsolver adroitly addresses climate change via a fictitious change in the migration pattern of monarch butterflies. For the most part the information comes in a way appropriate to characters and their interest; occasionally when it was something familiar to me, it got tedious, but usually it remained interesting.

Delarobia, the narrator, became increasingly interesting as a character as the novel progressed. Characters unlikeable at the beginning gradually became likeable. Changes were adequately motivated. The ending was believable.

There was some wonderful humor in the mixing of cultures through characters’ interaction: scientific with non-scientific, Appalachian with outsider.

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Coal Exports to Asia Would Obstruct Pacific NW Treaty Rights, Tribes Say

First there is the overall environmental impact of mountain top removal of coal and burning it in Asia where it will damage the environment as much as if burned here. Then there is the health issue of coal dust along its travel route. Then the damage it would do to fish. And now it would break treaty rights agreements.

Mother Earth Journal, August 15, 2012
By Terri Hansen

Treaty fishing rights are meaningless if there are no healthy fish populations left to harvest, say Pacific Northwest tribes, fishers, and tribal environmental organizations.

Tribal fishers like Billy Frank, Jr. fought hard battles to uphold the tribes’ treaty right to fish. When the 1974 Boldt federal court decision established tribal co-management of Washington State fisheries and affirmed the affected tribes’ treaty rights to half the harvestable salmon, finally, their harvest increased.

But habitat degradation has since led to a decline of the salmon and diminished the treaty harvest to levels not seen before the Boldt decision.

Now, the coal industry is seeking to export millions of tons of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal to lucrative Asian markets through six proposed shipping terminals on Oregon and Washington waterways.

If the coal companies prevail, it will degrade salmon and cultural foods habitat, and…

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GMO labeling

I just read a post from GreenAmerica that I want to share.  I had realized that GMO grains were fed to animals that become meat; I had not realized all the other processed food GMO corn and soy are part of.  We deserve to have our food labeled.

Here is the URL; sorry I don’t seem to be able to make a hot link.

Update: was just shown how to make a hotlink!

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Green Tuesday

I have observed the boycott of Black Friday ever since I first heard of it.  (Since my association of “black” related to “Black Thursday” the beginning of the Great Depression, I was puzzled by the naming until I learned it meant –mostly for big box stores–moving from the red to the black financially.) Alas, I shop so little that the big box stores probably never noticed my boycott on their bottom line, but I still feel part of the movement. Small things add up.

Then along came Shop Local Saturday. Much more to my liking because shopping local  and supporting the small specialty stores in my neighborhood is important.  I may not always make it on the named Saturday, but it is my first place to start shopping when indeed I must shop–for yarn, for fabric, for food.

So today I was delighted to read of Green Tuesday.  Again, I may never observe it on the “appropriate” Tuesday. But I am sure that doesn’t matter if I observe it all year.  I invite you to check out the various green solutions suggested and find some to try.

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November 22, 2011 · 2:20 pm

Heirloom day

I have gotten onto the bandwagon about heirloom fruits and vegetables. I love the idea of getting back to the variety that was once common.  I feel loss when I think of varieties bred to adapt to various climate and pest hazards that have been lost with the move to make fruits and veggies that transport better.

However, I am not far enough into it to remember the names of the specific varieties.  The specialty today was melons.  Every week a different farm gets featured in the newsletter for the St Johns Farmers’ Market that I always go to.  This week it was Morgan’s Landing, where I often shop. The featured item was melons since melon season has just begun.  He had three varieties of watermelon and about eight of canteloup.

The only thing that kept me from buying one of each of the canteloups was knowing he and I would both be back on another Saturday. (Watermelon doesn’t tempt me, even heirloom.) The split one was called by a cheese name because it supposedly tastes like a cheese.  It is the only one I have tasted so far. Cheese wasn’t the first thing that came to mind, but it sure tasted and smelled sweet and good.  Seeds for the yellow-orange one came from France and for the bright orange from Kazakhstan.

The onion is “sweeter than ordinary onions” so I tried one. The tomato is also heirloom with “purple” in its name.  The delicata squash didn’t even get a mention; I guess they have been revived long enough to now be considered ordinary. And the cucumber is just a cucumber thrown in to make the money come out even and avoid change. The eggs are from chickens who enjoy pasture life.

Okay, so the bread isn’t heirloom, but it sure is artisan.  There are two loaves, though the photo doesn’t make that clear. The loaf for sandwiches is Walla Walla onion bread.  The flat bread is nectarine-rosemary-bleu-cheese bread and tastes just wonderful!  I had one loaf on my list, but couldn’t resist after tasting the sample.

It was a very good day at the Farmers’ Market!

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Vacation Travel

It has been a long time since I have posted. I have either been traveling from Indiana to Oregon and back, preparing for travel or recovering from travel.  One goal was to see Glacier National Park while there still are glaciers.

Numbers were impressive, but the visual image moreso.

In 1850s 150; now about 26

1932 contrasted with 1988

We did see Jackson Glacier.  The drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road was beautiful; the contrast of snow and wildflowers wonderful. And we learned the definition of ‘glacier’: Vertically the ice is 100 feet, horizontally an acre, and it is moving. Construction and one way traffic gave us an unofficial viewpoint.

Of the various waterfalls, this one was quite impressive.  I think I remember 492 feet–and it isn’t all in the photo.

So the scenery remains, even as the glaciers dwindle.  Projections are that they will be gone by 2030.  We were speculating on new names for the park then and chose The Park Formerly Known as Glacier National Park.

We stayed in East Glacier at Brownies.  I was quite pleased to see a quilt on the bed in our room. I hope it was made by a local quilter.

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Turning the collar

Ok, so I didn’t take up composting.  The stuff just grew too big for the area where I felt I could dig in the apartment yard.  I’m still thinking about worms, but must check what temperatures they can live at. In the winter I set the thermostat at 60 when I am out of the house.

Instead I took up extending the life of clothing.  Remember the mantra: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without?  I try to apply it.  I try to have things repaired instead of buying new. And I will be able to so long as the older repair people are around.

I have a denim jacket. Can’t recall for how long, but long enough that the collar is getting very shabby.  Last year it was threadbare, but I wore it anyway. This year there are actual holes. Yet the rest is in pretty good shape, so I can’t say I have worn it out yet.

My first thought was to try some of the crafty things that people make out of the good parts of worn jeans.  But then I would still need a jacket. And I don’t need any of those crafty things, cute though they may be.

My second thought was that maybe I could take the collar off and wear a scarf with the jacket. But “collar” led to the third thought: turning the collar. The concept is part of my experience, if not the action.  I remember my mother talking about it–not sure if she ever turned one, or if she was telling stories from the past as she had heard them.  And of course I had read some of those older novels for girls, the ones with poor girl heroines who are friends with rich girls whose families have come on hard times. And the poor girl teaches the rich girl all the money saving tricks.  It has been so long i don’t remember the titles, but I remember the scenes. And turning collars was one of the tricks.

I used to make some of the  clothing for family members. That lasted for a while, and some things turned out very well. But some just didn’t look like the picture in the head when they got finished.  And the gap between idea, buying fabric, and having a finished garment was too long sometimes. So I shifted to shopping at yard sales and thrift stores. I mention this to say that I do have some clothing construction know-how, even though I haven’t made many tailored collars.

So I set out to rip out the collar seams.  As   a quilter, I had plenty of seam rippers. It took longer than I expected because of the double stitching front and back and also the top stitching that caught the edge of the seam, and the edge had to be released in order to sew the collar back on.  Luckily when I pinned it, it fit.  I remember having had some difficulties at that point in previous sewing attempts. I guess these two pieces had lived together for so long that they had conformed to each others’ shapes.

I was surprised that the sewing went faster than the ripping!  And here it is, reattached. The old underside is now up and visible and the old threadbare side (I spared you the photo) is hiding under the collar when the collar is  folded down.

The dark at the left collar seam where I didn’t quite get the collar in the same place it once was shows an early color, not the original for me.  It was one of those “distressed’ items made to look like it had already been worn.  I bought it before I was conscious of the harm from that process to the environment. The jacket was only a few shades darker than the photo when i got it.

Time will tell if that handling of the worn collar will let me wear the jacket till it is all worn out.

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Am I ready to compost? for worms?

I live in a town that has mixed recycling curbside.  I must confess to increasing my recycling activity immensely once that started.  Though there is a list of suggested items, they say, “If in doubt put it in.” The stuff is sorted later in the process. That too helped me add to the recycling bin.

Just as I was patting myself on the back for this increased activity, I started to hear about composting and worm gardens. reports from EPA that 24 % of municipal solid waste is food residue or lawn trimmings. That sounded like a lot to me.

I began to consider apartment composting.  Before that I thought one needed a yard and garden. So I am studying the composting cheat sheet:

one day's potential

(for some reason the insert link is disabled, you’ll have to copy and paste in a browser)

While thinking about it, I saved my scraps. They add up quickly.

The article also mentioned worms.  One provides  a container, a space, bedding, and feeds the critters vegetable remains, then harvests a rich soil additive every six months. The soil additive can be used outside or in house plant pots.   This is a harder idea to get used to than a pit for my compostible garbage. Still,I haven’t abandoned it.

One encouraging thing. Both the worm bed and compost should be odor free. If they stink, something is wrong. And a check list is provided for troubleshooting.

I think I am at the aware-of-a-need-but-not-ready-to-act phase.  So I’ll go read some more. The plate will soon be full, though, so I’ll have to either decide to go ahead with composting, if not worms, or give up the idea and trash it.

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