Everything Is Connected:
Nature isn't just out there in some park or zoo. The environment of planet Earth is our life support system, often referred to as Spaceship Earth. The living organisms of planet Earth provide our air, food, and water just like a spaceship does. Ecologists have discovered that life on earth is organized into a WEB. Each species relies on all of the others, including us. Even the ones that we don't like, such as mosquitos and vultures, have their place. When we pollute the water, cause extinctions, etc., we damage or destroy sections of the web, and that will eventually cause our life support system --planet Earth's ecosystem--to fall apart. You could also compare it to a game of pick-up-sticks. The first few sticks you remove may only cause a little damage. Then you remove one too many, and it all comes tumbling down. You just never know which stick will do it. We all need to learn about Ecology and become environmentalists. Saving endangered animals is a good deed, but this is also about saving ourselves.
(See Environmental Philosophy, Environmental Health, and the science of Ecology for more information.)
Sierra Club (www.sierraclub.org) They are the largest and oldest environmental group in the United States. Check and you will probably find a local group near you where you can get involved.
***The Sierra Club also hosts the Environmental Studies Section at the Powells website. You can find a recent editorial about environmental news and all of their books.***
World Watch Institute (www.worldwatch.org) This site contains many articles about environmentalism and sustainability. They are also involved in the peace movement.
Union of Concerned Scientists (www.ucscusa.org) An independent, nonprofit group for citizens and scientists. The site is very large and includes information about everything from environmental threats,antibiotic resistance, and global warming to renewable energy.
Collective Heritage Institute (www.bioneers.org) Think tank about environmentalism and alternative medicine.
Positive Futures Network (www.futurenet.org) They describe
themselves as "a nonprofit organization devoted to supporting people's active engagement in creating a just, sustainable, and compassionate world." Their largest project is a periodical called Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures, but they also engage in a variety of other activities. For example, they publish books, have outreach programs for young people, online teachers' guides, internship programs, and a yearly retreat.
Everything Is Connected: Environmentalism: Green Living.
What You Can Do
The environmental movement has done a very good job of drawing attention to environmental problems, but we need to focus more on the solutions if we really want to change things. Warnings about the serious environmental dangers to planet Earth scare you, but often don't include information about what you can do about it. Yet, there are many ways you can make a difference. You can, and should, join at least some of the environmental groups listed above, and you can make your voice heard at the ballot box. (See the politics section.) Both of these are very important, but there are other ways--just as important--that you can make your voice heard every day, and that is what the Green Living section is about.
Every decision is like a vote, and every day you make decisions. You can vote with your feet--by taking actions that help the environment. You can also vote with your wallet at the cash register. What you buy/do is as important as what you don't.
Unfortunately, people often hesitate to make good environmental choices because they think it will take too much time, cost too much money, or mean giving up things they like--one television ad even compares it to giving up chocolate! These are myths. Or, in other words, you can still have your chocolate if you buy the organic kind. And take my word for it--it tastes much better!
A more environmentally friendly life is actually a better, happier life. (For more information, see the essay on this website's main page.) It can even be cheaper if you make informed choices. (Also see the Money page.) Remember the 80/20 rule. You get 80% of the benefit from the first 20% of effort.
The links and books below will help you find environmentally friendly products, get the best value from them, and pick your priorities. Together, we the people of planet earth have enormous power. We just need to learn how to use it.
Also see the Organic Gardening and Farming, Local Food, Recycling, Alternative Energy, Simple Living, and Consumer Information sections.
Greener Choices (www.greenerchoices.org)
Be green AND save money with Consumer Reports' new FREE website. Advice about environmentally friendly products and issues from a famous consumers' rights group. (More about Consumer Reports.) Shows you how to choose the best deals and find the best quality in environmental products to fit your needs without being tricked by hype.
National Green Pages (www.coopamerica.org/pubs/greenpages) A free, searchable directory of approved green businesses screened by Co-op America, a famous nonprofit organization devoted to supporting social justice and environmentalism through consumer action. Products listed include everything from clothing, art, and cleaning supplies to construction materials, and insurance.
Everything Is Connected:Environmentalism: Green Living: Review: The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices
The Consumer's Guide to
Effective Environmental Choices
Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists
by Michael Brower, Ph.D.and Warren Leon, Ph.D.
Are you trying to cope with a busy life and do something positive about the environment at the same time?
Do you feel confused and overwhelmed trying to decide what's best to do? Here is some advice from...read more.
Everything Is Connected: Environmentalism: Recycling
Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (www.rbrc.org) Batteries are very dangerous in landfills, because they contain toxic metals that leach out and get into ground water, and eventually into your drinking water. Here is a listing of collection locations for rechargeable batteries in the U.S. and Canada. You don't have to throw them away when they're played out. You can also call 1-800-8-BATTERY. Check for the site nearest you.
IBM PC Recycling Service (www-132.ibm.com/webapp) Toxic metals are also a problem in computers. If possible, try to donate your equipment to a charity. However, if your computer is too old to donate, here is another way. IBM will recycle computer equipment from any manufacturer. However, you will have to pay a $31.99 fee plus the cost of shipping. If you don't want to give your credit card number over the internet, you can call 1-888-shop-ibm ext. 7000, but you will have to charge it and give them your telephone number. Then they will mail you a sticker to paste on the package. At least, you will have the peace of mind knowing that your old equipment isn't sitting in a landfill somewhere poisoning your water.
Everything Is Connected: Environmentalism: Recycling
Scorecard: The Pollution Information Site (www.scorecard.org) Keeps records and statistics about a variety of pollution problems in the U.S., and the health problems caused. Includes issues such as cancer risks, lead poisoning, and respiratory diseases. You can enter your zip code, and find out about pollution dangers near you. Connected with the Environmental Defense Fund.
EnviroHealth Action (www.envirohealthaction.org) Nonprofit organization that also provides information about how pollution endangers human health. Discusses a wide variety of topics from heavey metals, and drinking water safety to chronic diseases. Each section has links to more information and recent news articles. Very detailed links, but actual information on the website could be more comprehensive.
Everything Is Connected: Environmentalism: Alternative Energy
The End of Cheap Oil (www.gulland.ca/depletion/endofcheapoil.htm) One day we may look back at today's gas prices and dream of the good old days. The present crises are a sign that we are reaching, or have already reached, the top of what is called Hubbert's Peak, and have used up half of world oil reserves. After we pass that point, oil supplies will have nowhere to go but down, and prices nowhere but up. Learn more about Hubbert's Peak and what it means by reading a copy of this prophetic article from Scientific American, published in 1998. See if its predictions aren't starting to come true.
Methane Hydrate: Savior or Destroyer? It is a possible source of alternative energy, and the Earth has twice the reserves for this substance as for gas, coal, and oil combined. However, it also causes global warming. Most of it presently exists as ice under the ocean bottom. We could worsen global warming by burning it, or if present global warming continues, it could be released naturally and cause a sudden, catastrophic increase in world temperature. There is evidence that it has already done so in the past.
To find out more, read:
Atmospheric Methate: Ocean Burp Warmed Earth from HealthandEnergy.com
Methane Hydrate: A Surprising Compound from Science & Technology Review
Alternative Energy Institute (www.altenergy.org) This is a nonprofit organization devoted to public education about alternatives to fossil fuels, including wind energy, solar energy, and fuel cells.
Infinite Energy: The Magazine of New Energy, Science, and Technology (www.infinite-energy.com) This is an extremely controversial publication that focuses on topics like cold fusion. If cold fusion is really possible, it would mean that extremely large (maybe not infinite?) amounts of energy could be easily generated without large, polluting power plants or radiation danger. "Hot" fusion of atoms is known to give off energy, but it is not a practical alternative with present technology, and there still might be danger from radiation, although it was originally thought that it would be clean. Conventional scientists are very skeptical, but this possibility does have its supporters, including Arthur C. Clarke, the famous scientist and science fiction author. The website contains a number of easily read descriptions of the mechanics and implications, as well as recent news, but the journal articles themselves are quite technical. It's an exciting possibility, and it would be nice if it became a reality, but that's questionable.
Blacklight Power, Inc. (www.blacklightpower.com) This company claims to have developed a new process that releases chemical energy from hydrogen. They are developing batteries and other devices. This is also an exciting possibility, but none of their products are yet in production.
Everything Is Connected: Environmentalism: Organic Farming and Gardening
Organic Farming and Gardening
Conventional farming techniques are a major problem. They destroy topsoil, and the pesticides used are dangerous to humans, as well as other animals. Meanwhile, pesticides won't work for long on the pests they are supposed to kill. This is because there are always a few who are resistant and survive spraying. Pest species are pests because they reproduce quickly--quicker than the predator species that keep them in check--so the survivors go on to spawn new generations that are increasingly more resistant, and even eventually immune to the poisons, and can do even more damage because there are fewer predators around to eliminate them as well. Pesticide manufacturers respond by making newer, stronger pesticides, but the bugs become immune again, getting stronger and stronger each time. Before long humans won't be able to farm this way anymore, anyway. (Did you know that all farming was organic before World War II? There were no synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.) That's why the changeover to organic food, produced sustainably without pesticides, is very important.
(When something is SUSTAINABLE, it means you can keep doing it for long periods of time without causing permanent damage. For example, if you deplete the soil, you will eventually not be able to grow enough food to feed yourself.)
Here you will find information about sustainable, organic farming, finding local organic food, and growing your own garden.
Everything Is Connected: Environmentalism: Organic Farming and Gardening: Local Food
The food you buy in the grocery store has to travel long distances to get to you. That uses up fossil fuel and causes pollution. Buy locally grown food whenever you can. It's fresher and has more vitamins, too. (The older produce is, the more vitamins it loses.)
Local Harvest (localharvest.org) Here is a directory of farms, coops, and restaurants meant to help you buy locally produced food.
Eat Wild (www.eatwild.com) Explains why allowing animals outside to graze on pasture instead of feeding them grain/soy/corn indoors is not only kinder and better for them, but also for both human health and the environment. In addition, it's safer for farm workers and more profitable for small farmers, especially if they sell directly to consumers. Eat Wild features a directory of over 500 local suppliers of pastured meats, eggs, and dairy products. The website includes a buying guide, articles, links and publishes a book called Why Grassfed Is Best!(unavailable until new edition comes out)
Slow Food (www.slowfood.com) In an era of fast food that is mostly bad for human health and the environment, traditional(slow)foods, and the skills needed for their preparation, are being lost. Such food is not only healthier and better tasting, but also more likely to have been grown sustainably. The site includes a number of articles about traditional foods and regional/local sources. Unfortunately, you must register--by creating a username and password--to access some sections.
Community Supported Agriculture(CSA): U.S. Government Directory (www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa) CSA's are a way to buy food directly from a farmer near you, often organic food. You and other city dwellers buy a share of a farmer's harvest. All the shares are delivered to a pick-up spot near where you live. This mostly includes fruits and vegetables, and occasionally eggs or pastured(grass fed) meats. Sometimes membership in a CSA includes a few hours of volunteer work and sometimes not. The farmer gets a group of reliable, regular customers to sell to at a price where he/she can afford to keep the family farm running. You get beautiful, fresh food, often at a lower price than the supermarket charges. The disadvantages are that you usually have to pay for a year's produce in advance, and that some harvest years are better than others. This government website includes a national database of U.S. CSA's, so that you can find the one nearest you.
(See the Nutrition section also.)
Everything Is Connected: Environmentalism: OrganicFarming: Gardening.
Home vegetable gardening is the best. You can eat fruits and vegetables immediately after picking them. Your food doesn't have to travel at all. Gardening also keeps you and your family in touch with the earth. It saves money, and it's a lot of fun, too. What more can you ask?
Organic Gardening Magazine (www.organicgardening.com)
This is an excellent magazine. They have a number of articles available for you to read online. They also have a section to help beginning organic gardeners get started plus a troubleshooting search engine. You can use it to identify and solve problems with insects or other garden pests without pesticides.
Seed Savers (www.seedsavers.org)
Most of the seeds you buy in the store are hybrids. That means that you can't save the seeds and plant them next year, because if you do, you won't get anything like what you bought. They are also mostly designed for large-scale, conventional farming. In this case, that means that instead of being selected for flavor and nutrition, they are bred to last a long time without spoiling after they're picked, and to stay hard, so they won't be damaged on the truck ride to the supermarket. Meanwhile, there are a wealth of seeds from the past that your ancestors saved from generation to generation that are being lost. (Losing this genetic library would be a disaster because plants that are too alike genetically are all susceptible to the same diseases. The potato famine during the 1800s in Ireland is a classic example.) There are myriad fascinating varieties from all over the world full of new (to us) tastes and colors. Have you ever seen a yellow cucumber or a green striped tomato? There are blue potatoes and Sicilian purple cauliflower, too. Seed Savers is part of a community of gardeners who are working to save our collective heritage.
Everything Is Connected: Environmentalism: Organic Farming and Gardening: Farming
American Farmland Trust (www.farmland.org) Every day we lose more and more farmland to development. This organization works to preserve and protect small farmers and their land.
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (www.albc-usa.org) Many people don't know that factory farming only uses a couple of breeds of animals. Traditional farm animals are becoming endangered. We are losing a wealth of genetic information that we may need in the future.
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