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The latest news, food for thought, recipes you’ll love, great advice on everything from raising kids to nurturing bees, plus videos designed to entertain, educate and enlighten. If you’d like to find out what’s on our mind – or let us know what’s on yours -- this is place to be.

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Deep Dive

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My good friend Joe Laur from SoL sent me this quote today. Given the comment from Nigel on the Bitter Coal'd post below, thought it was appropriate tone to what we all could do to move from here to there...to create the needed frameworks to design the present state into a world where the well-being of all is considered...

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Bitter Coal'd

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Author: the Inkslinger

Introducing guest blogger Megan Reid. Megan is a student at Berea College and says she’s recently been awakened to the source of the coal that most of the Southeastern United States uses for energy. She writes, “I believe that if everyone knew a little more about it, the majority would have the heart to stand up for what is right and stop sacrificing the mountains and most of all the health of these people that live closest to these sites.” Here’s what else she has to say:

I recently took a field trip to eastern Kentucky, the lower section of the heart of Appalachia where mountain top removal is most popular extraction method of coal. In awe of all the beauty of this natural mountainous section of the world, there were patches of mountains that were just missing and valleys were replaced by low nutritional quality grass on a soil made of shale. Seeing these “reclamation” sites first hand matured my understanding and opinion of mountain top removal.


A “reclaimed” valley covered in this type of razor sharp seeded grass. There used to be a natural stream here.

Learning about the geological history of the Appalachian mountain chain and how coal is naturally manufactured makes it seem all the more ridiculous that we extract it, burn it, fight wars for it, and sacrifice our own people for it. It is a legal rape that effects all the people downstream, at the bottom of the valley, living within range of the vibrations of the explosions used to blow the tops off the mountains. The water is poisoned. The wildlife is poisoned. The people are poisoned.

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Unnerved at the Editorial Desk

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Author: the Inkslinger

I caught this this morning during my aforementioned day-launching semi-comatose perusal of the New York Times. It’s a great editorial that says much of what I said the other day about global heating and Unnerved Experts and befuddled polar bears and a world that’s melting faster than a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Super Serious Climate Crunch on a Hummer dashboard in August except, you know… better.

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We Can Do This

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Author: the Inkslinger

We can, you know. It’s really not as hard as it looks.

I know, I know… You pick up the paper, read the headlines, and run screaming from the room in a blind war-fevered eco-panic so overwhelming the only way out you can see is to barricade the door, cut the cables, kill the lights, and hole up in the basement surrounded by soft pillows and a nice fluffy comforter with a case or two or ten of good merlot and that Sex in the City DVD set you got for Christmas but haven’t been able to watch because who’s got time for Carrie and the girls when dinner’s burning, the kids are screaming, the phone’s ringing and the nattering nabob on the evening news just said we have about ten minutes until humanity’s warranty on the whole operation expires?

But wait. Because there’s proof all around that we can do this. Kill the war and cool the world and not be so bush-wacked over it all. If you know what I mean… In fact, there are steps being taken in the right and better direction all the time. And some of them are pretty big. You just have to know where to look. I’d suggest right here…

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Unnerved

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here are some words you really don’t ever want to see put together in a single sentence:

“Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts”

They go particularly unlooked for as a newspaper headline, which is how they unfortunately presented themselves to me during yesterday’s ritual morning rummage through the New York Times, that laughably absurd exercise in ambulatory unconsciousness in which my desperately sleep-impaired visual cortex sees all the pretty pictures and fun little words swimming around on the page but can make zero sense of them until I fill the 5-gallon sap bucket that passes for my coffee mug full of high-test fair-trade shade-grown organic java and slam its contents into my bloodstream like a howling freight train from Stimulant Hell that makes my nerve endings scream for mercy like the chemically electrified victims of hyper-caffeination they’ve quite thankfully suddenly become.

But you know, you see a headline like that and suddenly you don’t need your body-weight in Costa Rican Reserve to get within a striking distance of competent mental functioning. No sir. Words like that all put together in a neat little row are like a defibrillator for your head. Clear! Gzzzzzt! Good morning, overheated world…

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Change It 2007 VIDEO!

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Author: Lara Petersen

I know it's only just October, but it seems like ages since I was in DC this summer with Greenpeace and 200 inspired students who were fighting for their beliefs and for this precious earth that we all share.

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Pure Know How

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Author: the Inkslinger

Non-Toxic Times reader Patti Murphy wrote in about our recent article on parabens and we wanted to share what she had to say with y'all

We wholeheartedly endorse your concerns about parabens in everyday products. My own experience with breast cancer last year opened my eyes to the impact of this endocrine disrupter chemicals in the products I used everyday. This awareness started a process that has resulted in a new venture, Pure Know How. We publish a weekly on-line bulletin on the toxins in everyday cosmetic, personal care and household products. We also have an extensive Web site with resources, product reviews, a blog and archives. Our “fresh and friendly approach” to this important issue has been resonating with our subscribers - as indicated by the number of people who have signed up to receive the weekly e-bulletin and the feedback we’ve received. Check us out.

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All I Wanted Was Some “Fresh” Air

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A new study by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported in last week’s issue of Time Magazine found that 12 out of 14 air freshners purchased at a local Walgreens contained chemicals called phthalates. Time reports:

“Studies involving rat and human subjects have suggested that high exposures to certain kinds of phthalates can cause cancer, developmental and sex-hormone abnormalities (including decreased testosterone and sperm levels and malformed sex organs) in infants, and can affect fertility. In 2004, the European Union banned two types of phthalates in cosmetics and also bans the chemical in children's toys, as do 14 other countries. The first state bill to ban phthalates in children's toys in the U.S. is currently sitting on California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk, and he is expected to sign it this week.”

The fall out for the study so far: Managers at 111 Walgreens stores in Minnesota and thousands more nationwide removed three different varieties of air fresheners from their shelves over the weekend.

Study details here.

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Charting Tomorrow

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Author: the Inkslinger

This interesting chart floated my way the other day from an equally intriguing website called Permatopia.

Here’s what its creators have to say about it:

Permatopia Patterns is a new way of thinking about permaculture. Historically, most permaculture guides and analyses have been focused on individual properties, often rural homesteads. Zones and sectors are key concepts in permaculture analysis, examining how to locate components of a permaculture system based on distance from the house and ecological factors. These are incredibly powerful tools for the personal level, but are far too limited in their scale for a society wide transformation to cope with Peak Oil and climate change.

This page shows how the concept of zones can be extended to the goal of "permaculture for nine billion people." Learning skills at the more local levels can help with efforts to extend to bigger levels, since effective solutions at the biggest levels depend on understanding how the solutions work at smaller levels.

The sectors concept reflects how there are many paths needed to move away from overshoot and collapse. Different people have different skills and interest, no individual or group could possibly address all of the various facets that are needed. The concept of interdependence between these issues (and levels) is one not normally promoted in our hyper-individualized society, but it is the type of path most likely to accomplish common goals.

Whether you are expanding a local community garden, installing utility scale wind power, teaching environmental education to second graders, starting up a community currency barter system, operating a bicycle shop, creating manufacturing cooperatives, campaigning for accountable elections, or any of thousands of other positive things is irrelevant - the key point is that you are doing something that is a piece of the puzzle.

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Feeling the Heat

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Author: the Inkslinger

White Rhino forwarded me the latest CSR Newswire in which there is much crowing about all the climate crisis action that’s happening this week from the U.N. to Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative to WalMart to New York State. (The only black mark on the week comes, as always (* heavy sigh*), from our country’s own point man, who just can’t seem to learn how to play well with others.)

This week’s news is all well and fine and good and wonderful and warms me like a happily bubbling fireside fondue pot full of dark chocolate body paint on a snowblown night in February when the kids are with Grandma and my wife is breaking out the good stuff. People are talking. Discussing. Communicating. Cooperating. Let me hear you say Hallelulah, people. Salut! We’re getting past that awkward early stage in the relationship where those of us who who’ve been blinded by science have to incessantly argue the clear and present danger to those keeping one blood-rimmed eye on denial and the other on the Dow. The weather forecast has come in. Cloudy and hot with a chance of the apocalypse. And suddenly, it seems, everybody is sitting up, taking notice, and feeling heat. “Oh holy crap! We’re about to turn the planet in a smoking cinder. That can’t be good.”

Uh… no. It can’t. Which is kinda sorta pretty much exactly what anyone who’s been paying attention has been screaming for a whole bunch of years now.

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