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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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Mowing the lawn...and more

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What’s you’re ‘lawn carbon footprint’? I started thinking about how much time was being spent mowing and how bad lawn mowers are for emissions. Some lawn mowers spew out as much CO2 as thirty cars. So I stopped mowing! The grass got really tall and I decided to make hay bales out of it.

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On to heating the home…

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When I first moved in, the propane dealer estimated that we would need a 500 gallon tank, and that we would fill it two or three times a year. I looked at the three delivery charges for the year and we were using over a 1000 gallons of propane! The next spring we put in a chimney and bought a wood stove.

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How to Make the Green Movement Less White

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Van Jones (the executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California) recently wrote in Alternet :

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What I’ve done to save energy at home.

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And by the way, I also reduced my carbon footprint!

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Eban And Jon - Global Warming crusaders

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Met up with Eban and Jon in June to get them on film talking about the release of their new books on the growing grassroots movement for clean energy solutions in the

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Just Say Bisphe-No…

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Author: the Inkslinger

I’m staying on the anti-bisphenol-A bandwagon for at least one more post here. There are a lot of people jumping on, and it’s nice to finally have some company. Tons of stuff coming over the wires about this chemical. Last Thursday, a group of several dozen scientists issued a statement saying bisphenol-A was causing serious health problems in people.

And this week, a federally annointed panel of experts is supposed to be releasing their own verdict on the chemical (given all the political manipulation of science in the White House these days, however, I’d take this report with a big grain of salt. Or aspirin…).

The flurry of activity is focusing a surprising amount of media attention on this fairly obscure but-maybe-hopefully-not-for-much-longer toxin. If I haven’t thrown up enough links here for you, our pals at Grist have been all over this one lately and have even more.

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Thy Neighbors Cash

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In the August 5, 2007 New York Times Book review of Robert H. Frank’s new book Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class, reviewer Daniel Gross notes:

Knowing that Steve Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group made almost $400 million last year, or that he spent $3 million last February on his 60th-birthday party, doesn’t simply make the typical American green with envy, and hence unhappy. Rather, Frank argues, the problem is that extreme consumption — at which Schwarzman excels — helps shape norms for the whole society, not just his fellow plutocrats.

This theme, which is also the focus of much of Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, is wrapped in a sobering view of just how concentrated wealth is becoming. What sounds fascinating about Gross’ book is how this effects our dreams and aspirations, and causes us to plummet ever faster toward an unsustainable future. Gross’s review continues:

In an economy where the wealthy set the norms for consumption and people at every rung strain to maintain the consumption of those just above them, that spells trouble. In today’s arms race, the top 1 percent are armed to the teeth and everybody else is scavenging for ammunition. Between 1980 and 2001, Frank notes, the median size of new homes in the United States rose from 1,600 to 2,100 square feet, “despite the fact that the median family’s real income had changed little in the intervening years.” The end result? Frank methodically presents data showing that the typical American now works more, saves less, commutes longer and borrows more to maintain what he or she views as an appropriate standard of living.

Because the gains have been so lopsided — the richest 1 percent have seen their share of national income rise from 8.2 percent in 1980 to 17.4 percent in 2005.

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Swimming With the Black Swan

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"My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves & the quality of their knowledge too seriously & those who don’t have the guts to sometimes say: I don’t know.... (You may not be able to change the world but can at least get some entertainment & make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race)." ?Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Every once in a while a book comes along that jolts you awake like a swift slap in the face over a strong cup of coffee,a book that makes you rethink your thinking and realize that if you want to think well, you will need be a little more (actually a lot more!) careful and intentional. The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is such a book.

I’m not done. I’m only on page 81, but so far this has been a pretty amazing read filled with insights.

”You know what is wrong with a lot more confidence than what is right.”

”How can we figure out the properties of the (infinite) unknown based on the (finite) known?”

This is a book that in many respects is impossible to describe with out reproducing large portions of it. The Guardian newspaper review notes:

“Why are we so bad at acknowledging life's unpredictability? Things happen, and surprise us. Afterwards, we act as if they were explicable all along. Then we use those explanations to pretend we can control the future: act boldly, and you'll become rich; keep an eye on loners, and you'll prevent massacres. "There's just much, much more luck than we think," Taleb says, rocking excitably on his chair in a London cafe.”

If you want to get lucky with your summer reading, read this one.

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Bisphenol-Freakin’ A

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Author: the Inkslinger

ScienceMan sent me a great article this morning on bisphenol-A. As he said in his e-mail, “It confirms our worst fears about the chemical, the chemical industry, and our regulatory system.”

Now right away I know what everyone’s thinking… “Bisphenol what? Oh good lord… Spare me. I can’t even pronounce it let alone summon the necessary gumption to read an entire article about all this crap. Please just shoot me first.”

I dig the sentiment. It’s quite legit. Diving into this stuff will harsh your mellow, kill your buzz, rain on your parade, and wilt your will to live like it was a plucked flower in a pizza oven.

But here’s the thing: Everybody’s gotta start keying into this whole chemical contamination thing. Because it’s really right up there with the climate crisis in terms of the things we gotta fix yesterday if not sooner. People have to understand that what you can’t see can hurt you and it’s everywhere these days. In our food. In our water. In our soil. In ourselves. And it’s literally killing us softly with its discordant song.

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