Friday, January 29, 2010

Food, Biofuel, Biochar -- Earth Beat Radio's On the Air -- KYRS Spokane LP

Biofuels Watch: African Land-Grab Deals Questioned

by Stacy Feldman - May 21st, 2009

Despite widespread research indicating that growing biofuels on Africa's 'idle' lands could help to starve the continent, the practice remains rampant, according to a new study.

The report is the work of the Washington, D.C.-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a research center funded by 64 governments, private foundations and global organizations.

Researchers revealed that foreign companies are buying or leasing vast chunks of land in Africa and elsewhere for their own use. In fact, up to 50 million acres have been sold off or soon will be. That's equivalent to about 25 percent of all the farmland in Europe.

Then, we share with you biochar and other issues, tied to Biofuel Watch/UK
Earth Beat Radio's Mike Tidwell will be on KYRS, Spokane, Thin Air Community Radio,

Feb. 3 at 3 PST,, 92.3 FM, and then rebroadcast Feb. 5, 6 a.m.

President Obama sharply reverses the Bush administration’s policies on transportation emissions – and appoints an international climate negotiator. Meanwhile, scientists say that even if all carbon dioxide emissions stop today – global warming will continue for a thousand years.

Joining host Daphne Wysham discusses Obama’s new policies on climate change is David Bookbinder, Senior Attorney with the Sierra Club, Tony Massaro, Vice President of Legal Affairs for the League of Conservation Voters and with the California perspective, Danielle Fugere, West Coast Regional Program Director for the Friends of the Earth.

Then we discuss two possible techno-fixes for global warming – seeding the ocean with iron filings and biochar. Discussing ocean seeding is Jim Thomas a researcher with the ETC Group in Montreal, Canada.

ETC is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights. Joining him is Paul Epstein, the associate director for the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.

Discussing biochar is Rachel Smolker with the Global Forest Coalition and, the leading scientific voice on the possibilities of biochar, Johannes Lehmann, Professor of soil fertility management at Cornell University.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WSF -- Social Forum to Tackle Global Issues?

So, this meeting of the minds will have to look at neo-liberal policies, Haiti, climate change, food security, and development and social justice. The gap between global south and global north is insane.

Here are some looks at the WSF and USSF coming up.

Complete story here:

George Soros said the crisis was triggered by a "super-bubble" - a culmination of smaller bubbles that had built up over 25 years resulting from easy credit and high leverage and which had never been tackled.

He said President Barack Obama's plan to break up big US banks and impose special taxes on them was premature.

"I am very supportive of it but I don't think it goes far enough," said the 79-year-old. "This development came too soon because the banks are not out of the woods.

"The banking community that is opposing it is tone deaf and is making a big mistake in opposing it. I think this is a very unfortunate reaction," he said.

Mr Soros said the US administration should have taken more time. "It is more important to get the legislation right than to do it in a hurry. It is important to depoliticise it."

The Obama plan to stop commercial banks speculating for their own accounts would lead big banks to spin off their investment arms, he said. "These investment banks will be very substantial and they will be too big to fail."

Mr Soros said a new global regulation of the international financial system is needed. "The old system has broken down."

More here:

Atlanta, Georgia - With civil society gearing up for the 2010 World Social Forum, and later this summer, the 2010 U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, Michigan, activists here say new alliances created at the first USSF in 2007 are going strong.

Two of the most notable were the Right to the City (RTTC) and the National Domestic Worker Alliance (NDWA), a grouping of 11 local and regional domestic worker organisations.

"There's been a tremendous amount of progress [since the USSF]. The alliance has expanded to include 10 cities and over 20 groups of domestic workers around the country," Ai-jen Poo, a participant in the founding meeting of the NDWA, told IPS.
"We have started working on an international campaign together with domestic worker organisations around the world to impact the first International Labor Organisation Convention on Domestic Work. That's going to be discussed at the ILO in Geneva in June of this year and next year as well.
It would be the first ever," Poo said.

"We've also started working with the U.S. Department of Labour to look at potential administrative and regulatory reforms at the DOL that can include enforcement of existing laws for domestic workers at the federal level," Poo said.

She said that the New York chapter has been fighting for statewide legislation to establish labour rights for domestic workers there, while domestic worker groups in California are launching a statewide domestic worker bill of rights campaign.

More at:

NICOLA BULLARD, member of the World Social Forum’s international council (bangkok)Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Inter Press Service

Ten years after its founding, the World Social Forum (WSF) has come to represent a rallying point for activists and grassroots groups committed to shaping an alternative world view.

'It is very important that we have this space for all of us to come together and shape a vision that reflects our concerns,' says Nicola Bullard, a senior associate of Focus on the Global South, a Bangkok-based think tank championing issues that matter to people in the developing world. 'We have been able to build our own discourse, our own thinking, our own legitimacy.'

'It is certainly an alternative to the elite, who build their own spaces all the time,' adds the Australian national, who has been a member of the WSF’s international council since its inception. 'The WSF is still relevant today.'

Yet the social movement — as opposed to a political party — has evolved, taking on newer issues that have emerged, including concerns over climate change, which dominates economic justice debates.

As it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the WSF will hold a series of events that will kick off on Jan. 22 in Greater Porto Alegre in southern Brazil. A programme of activities dubbed the 'Greater Porto Alegre 10 years Social Forum,' to be held on January 25-29 in Brazil, will be one of the highlights of the celebration.

'Another world is necessary' to deal with the current ecological crisis, observes Bullard, a Melbourne University graduate who has worked on global trade, human rights and women’s issues in Australia, Thailand and Cambodia.

IPS met Bullard at her book-lined office in the Thai capital for an interview ahead of the next gathering of the WSF in Brazil.
More on the WSF from LAST YEAR:

World Social Forum and Davos at the Crossroads

As the ninth World Social Forum (WSF) came to a close last week in the Amazon basin, the simultaneous meeting of select business leaders and policymakers at the exclusive ski-resort of Davos, Switzerland, provided a sharp contrast between a spirit of vibrant public engagement and the mood of depression at the World Economic Forum.
Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis and economic recession, news agency Bloomberg described the meeting as the "grimmest Davos ever ", which was characterised by widespread finger-pointing and high-level walk outs. While the international government and business elite attempted to "Shape the Post-Crisis World," progressive commentators criticised leaders at Davos for their failure to articulate proposals to counter dominant economic thinking based on consumer spending, debt and trade liberalisation, the very factors widely purported to be key contributing factors of the crisis.

In contrast to Davos, the participants at the WSF in Brazil articulated a number of proposals to promote economic and social justice and increase democratic participation in the world economy.
Among them were plans to reform the United Nations along democratic lines, to levy a tax on international financial transactions, to end speculation on commodity markets and to shift international monetary reserves away from the US dollar. Other participants suggested that energy and food sovereignty for the poor, the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sovereignty of indigenous people must become a priority for governments in order to build a fairer system of global governance.

A number of Latin American leaders also preferred to attend the World Social Forum instead of Davos. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Ecuador's Rafael Correa, and Paraguay's Fernando Lugo all attended the event on January 29th, and together criticised the economic orthodoxy of free-market policies, deregulation, and market-led growth. Rafael Correa suggested that activists could take inspiration from Latin America as an example of alternative economic systems in practice. In his key-note speech, Correa called for an "economy for the development of the majority of people."

Although widely acknowledging that the Forum has acted as a ‘broad church' for the differing views of progressive civil society groups, many analysts state that the WSF remains limited as a true agent of political change, characterised by disorganisation and a lack of coherence.
Other commentators criticise the Forum for its failure to offer new proposals as well as for a perceived bias towards social democratic and progressive Christian views. Some suggested that the organisers of WSFshould harness and steer the global justice movement into the political arena. Between the competing ideologies of "Davos vs Belem", however, few denied that the WSF can successfully facilitate a significant dialogue between the Global South and civil society - a dialogue largely free from blind adherence to outmoded economic ideology.

Monday, January 25, 2010

NF3, Solar Panels, Unintended Consequences

As with lots of issues tied to climate change, global ecosystems, energy, climate disruption, this story has been reported several times, but here's the Scripps' version. Of course, elements used in solar panels are going to reach global peak in 30 to 50 years, by some estimates. And what about phosphorus ? Read below this article. More on peak copper, lithium, gallium, iridium, water.

Potent Greenhouse Gas More Prevalent in Atmosphere than Previously Assumed

Compound used in manufacture of flat panel televisions, computer displays, microcircuits, solar panels is 17,000 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide

Scripps Institution of Oceanography / University of California, San DiegoA powerful greenhouse gas is at least four times more prevalent in the atmosphere than previously estimated, according to a team of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Using new analytical techniques, a team led by Scripps geochemistry professor Ray Weiss made the first atmospheric measurements of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is thousands of times more effective at warming the atmosphere than an equal mass of carbon dioxide.The amount of the gas in the atmosphere, which could not be detected using previous techniques, had been estimated at less than 1,200 metric tons in 2006. The new research shows the actual amount was 4,200 metric tons. In 2008, about 5,400 metric tons of the gas was in the atmosphere, a quantity that is increasing at about 11 percent per year.

Different generations of collection cylinders used to collect air samples from locations around the world over the past 30 years. Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego geochemistry researchers Ray Weiss and Jens Muehle led a study that found that the greenhouse gas nitrogen trifluoride, used in the manufacture of flat-panel monitors, escapes to the atmosphere at levels much higher than previously assumed."Accurately measuring small amounts of NF3 in air has proven to be a very difficult experimental problem, and we are very pleased to have succeeded in this effort," Weiss said. The research will be published Oct. 31 in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Emissions of NF3 were thought to be so low that the gas was not considered to be a significant potential contributor to global warming. It was not covered by the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions signed by 182 countries. The gas is 17,000 times more potent as a global warming agent than a similar mass of carbon dioxide. It survives in the atmosphere about five times longer than carbon dioxide. Current NF3 emissions, however, contribute only about 0.04 percent of the total global warming effect contributed by current human-produced carbon dioxide emissions.

Nitrogen trifluoride is one of several gases used during the manufacture of liquid crystal flat-panel displays, thin-film photovoltaic cells and microcircuits. Many industries have used the gas in recent years as an alternative to perfluorocarbons, which are also potent greenhouse gases, because it was believed that no more than 2 percent of the NF3 used in these processes escaped into the atmosphere.The Scripps team analyzed air samples gathered over the past 30 years, working under the auspices of the NASA-funded Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) network of ground-based stations. The network was created in the 1970s in response to international concerns about chemicals depleting the ozone layer.

It is supported by NASA as part of its congressional mandate to monitor ozone-depleting trace gases, many of which are also greenhouse gases. Air samples are collected at several stations around the world. The Scripps team analyzed samples from coastal clean-air stations in California and Tasmania for this research.The researchers found concentrations of the gas rose from about 0.02 parts per trillion in 1978 to 0.454 parts per trillion in 2008.

The samples also showed significantly higher concentrations of NF3 in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere, which the researchers said is consistent with its use predominantly in Northern Hemisphere countries. The current observed rate of increase of NF3 in the atmosphere corresponds to emissions of about 16 percent of the amount of the gas produced globally.

Scripps geoscientists Ray Weiss (green shirt) and Jens Muehle amid collection cylinders used to collect air samples from a variety of locations around the world. Weiss and Muehle led a study that found that the greenhouse gas nitrogen trifluoride, used in the manufacture of flat-panel monitors, escapes to the atmosphere at levels much higher than previously assumed.In response to the growing use of the gas and concerns that its emissions are not well known, scientists have recently recommended adding it to the list of greenhouse gases regulated by Kyoto. "

As is often the case in studying atmospheric emissions, this study shows a significant disagreement between 'bottom-up' emissions estimates and the actual emissions as determined by measuring their accumulation in the atmosphere," Weiss said. "From a climate perspective, there is a need to add NF3 to the suite of greenhouse gases whose production is inventoried and whose emissions are regulated under the Kyoto Protocol, thus providing meaningful incentives for its wise use."

"This result reinforces the critical importance of basic research in determining the overall impact of the information technology industry on global climate change, which has already been estimated to be equal to that of the aviation industry," added Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications at UCSD, who was not involved in the Scripps study.Michael Prather is a UC Irvine atmospheric chemist who predicted earlier this year that based on the rapidly increasing use of NF3, larger amounts of the gas would be found in the atmosphere. Prather said the new Scripps study provides the confirmation needed to establish reporting requirements for production and use of the gas."I'd say case closed. It is now shown to be an important greenhouse gas," said Prather, who was not involved with the Scripps study.

"Now we need to get hard numbers on how much is flowing through the system, from production to disposal."Co-authors of the paper are Scripps researchers Jens Mühle, Peter Salameh and Christina Harth.

Notes for Journalists

As of the date of this press release, this study by Weiss and his colleagues is still "in press" (i.e. not yet published). Journalists and public information officers of educational and scientific institutions who have registered with AGU can download a PDF copy of a manuscript of this paper by clicking on this link:

Beginning Oct. 31, registered news media and PIOs may directly download the final, copy-edited and formatted PDF of the paper by clicking on the following link:

Or, you may order a copy of the paper by emailing your request to Peter Weiss at, Maria-José Viñas at, Robert Monroe or Mario Aguilera at, or to Steve Cole at

Please provide your name, the name of your publication, and your phone number.
Just in time for "peak everything"...
04/09/08 08:57
EAT THE LIGHT: The Fourth Age of Solar
by Geoff Olson

Peak phosphorus

by Patrick Déry and Bart Anderson

Peak oil has made us aware that many of the resources on which civilization depends are limited.
M. King Hubbert, a geophysicist for Shell Oil, found that oil production over time followed a curve that was roughly bell-shaped. He correctly predicted that oil production in the lower 48 states would peak in 1970. Other analysts following Hubbert's methods are predicting a peak in oil production early this century.

The depletion analysis pioneered by Hubbert can be applied to other non-renewable resources. Analysts have looked at peak production for resouces such as natural gas, coal and uranium.
In this paper, Patrick Déry applies Hubbert's methods to a very special non-renewable resource - phosphorus - a nutrient essential for agriculture.

In the literature, estimates before we "run out" of phosphorus range from 50 to 130 years. This date is conveniently far enough in the future so that immediate action does not seem necessary. However, as we know from peak oil analysis, trouble begins not when we "run out" of a resource, but when production peaks. From that point onward, the resource becomes more difficult to extract and more expensive.

Physicist Déry applied the technique of Hubbert Linearization to data available from the United States Geological Survey (USGS)[1] to phosphorus production in the following:

The small Pacific island nation of Nauru, a former phosphate exporter.
The United States, a major phosphate producer.
The world.

He tested Hubbert Linearization first on data from Nauru to see whether he could have predicted the year of its peak phosphate production in 1973. Satisfied with the results, he applied the method to United States and the world. He estimates that U.S. peak phosphorus occurred in 1988 and for the world in 1989.

Phosphorus - its role and nature

Phosphorus (chemical symbol P) is an element necessary for life. Because phosphorus is highly reactive, it does not naturally occur as a free element, but is instead bound up in phosphates. Phosphates typically occur in inorganic rocks.

As farmers and gardeners know, phosphorus is one of the three major nutrients required for plant growth: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Fertilizers are labelled for the amount of N-P-K they contain (for example 10-10-10).

Most phosphorus is obtained from mining phosphate rock. Crude phosphate is now used in organic farming, whereas chemically treated forms such as superphosphate, triple superphosphate, or ammonium phosphates are used in non-organic farming.
Philip H. Abelson writes in Science:

The current major use of phosphate is in fertilizers. Growing crops remove it and other nutrients from the soil... Most of the world's farms do not have or do not receive adequate amounts of phosphate. Feeding the world's increasing population will accelerate the rate of depletion of phosphate reserves.


...resources are limited, and phosphate is being dissipated. Future generations ultimately will face problems in obtaining enough to exist.

It is sobering to note that phosphorus is often a limiting nutrient in natural ecosystems. That is, the supply of available phosphorus limits the size of the population possible in those ecosystems.
More information:

Understanding Phosphorus and its Use in Agriculture from the European Fertilizer Manufacturers Association.

Phosphate Primer by Florida Institute of Phosphate Research.

Prospect of a Phosphorus Peak

In his frightening book Eating Fossil Fuels [3], Dale Allen Pfeiffer shows that conventional agriculture is as oil-addicted as the rest of society. A decline in oil production raises questions about how we will feed ourselves.

In the same way, agriculture is addicted to mined phosphates and would be threatened by a peak in phosphate production. As the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wrote in summary on phosphates (PDF):

There are no substitutes for phosphorus in agriculture.
Fortunately, phosphorus - unlike oil - can be recycled. Responses to a phosphorus peak include re-creating a cycle of nutrients, for example, returning animal (including human) manure to cultivated soil as Asian people have done in the not-so-distant past [4].

Hubbert Linearization

Tools that have been used for analyzing peak oil can be applied to phosphate production. As we will see, phosphorus production follows a more-or-less bell-shaped (parabolic) curve, just as oil production does.

Hubbert's parabolic curve is based on a differential equation explained by Stuart Staniford:
The idea behind the equation is that early on, the oil industry grows exponentially - the annual increase in production is proportional to the total amount of knowledge of resources, oil field equipment, and skilled personnel, all of which are proportional to the size of the industry. ...
Later, however, the system begins to run into the finiteness of the resource - it gets harder and harder to get the last oil from the bottom of the depressurized fields, two miles down in the ocean, etc, etc.

To estimate future production and total production, some analysists have turned to the technique of Hubbert Linearization (H-L).

Hubbert Linearization was first developed by geologist Kenneth Deffeyes, an associate of M. King Hubbert. The technique has been discussed by analysts such as Stuart Staniford, Jeffrey J. Brown and Robert Rapier at The Oil Drum. The term Hubbert Linearization was coined by Stuart Staniford.

In Hubert Linearization, the production data from the bell-shaped Hubbert curve is plotted as a line. On the graph:

the y-axis (vertical) is P/Q whereP = annual production andQ = total production to date
the x-axis (horizontal) is Q (total production to date).

By extending the line in the graph, one can estimate Ultimate Recoverable Reserves (URR) for the region (Qt).

This paper purposely minimizes the math so as to reach a wide audience; however, much more detail on H-L is available online. For example:

Applying Hubbert Linearization to Phosphates

For the purposes of this paper, Déry looked at data for commercial phosphate (26-34% of P2O5). Other reserves of rock phosphate with lower concentrations of P2O5 do exist, but, just as with tar sand for oil production, they are more costly to exploit - economically, energetically and environmentally.

Using data from United States Geological Survey (rock phosphate production historical data series), Déry did a Hubbert Linearization for United States and for world rock phosphate production.

Results were stunning. The theoretical logistic curve fits almost perfectly with the real data curve. Déry found that we have already passed the phosphate peak for the United States (1988) and for the world (1989).


However those results seemed too perfect, so Déry tested the method on an almost depleted region of rock phosphate production, a case similar to that of United Stated for oil. A small island in the South Pacific called Nauru appeared to be an ideal case. The Nauru Island is 21 km² with only one economic resource (besides being a fiscal paradise!): rock phosphate. This resource has been almost entirely depleted since 2005.

According to the CIA World Factbook:

...intensive phosphate mining during the past 90 years - mainly by a UK, Australia, and NZ consortium - has left the central 90% of Nauru a wasteland and threatens limited remaining land resources

Plotting the rise and fall of rock phosphate production on Nauru yields this graph (see above):

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti and the design community: To the Planning and Drafting Tables?

Millions are in danger in Haiti. What do planners and designers and architects have to say about the rebuilding of Haiti? $10 billion to do that. Listen to the discussion. These are times when the design, software, engineering and planning communities need to reach out to agencies who are working 24/7 to help Haitians survive, help those hundreds of thousands injured, and how to reclaim some vision for the more than 200,000 who have probably been killed after the first shock waves of the earth quake.

Haiti's catastrophe has killed thousands and destroyed Port-au-Prince, once a jewel in the Caribbean. We look at the architecture past, present and -- possibly -- future in Haiti's heart. Is there a design solution to the desperate need for low-cost housing in overpopulated cities? Can good design trump political mayhem? We hear from experts here and from Haiti: historian Patrick Sylvain, Architecture for Humanity's founder Cameron Sinclair, Global Green's Ted Bardacke, Alejandra Lillo, co-creator of Make It Right, and others.

Louisiana and Sea Levels and another Katrina Event?

By Paul K. Haeder

So, some powerbrokers in Louisiana, the Mardi Gras state, and others in other states in the Senate, want to put their heads in the sand on global warming, sea expansion, sea level rise? It's one state that will suffer big-time from human-caused global warming, yet the political so-called leaders want to stop efforts to avoid its inundation by rising sea water from hurricanes, or just from a heated up sea and ice melts.

see “Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100“.

Governor Jindal (and presidential hopeful -- not another!!) and Senators Vitter, Landrieu and Murkowski just don't get it (see “Jindal Tries to Block Climate Change Regulation“). And go to -- GOP Sen. Vitter tried to block climate change response centers. Or how about: Landrieu wants to jettison cap-and-trade.

Preventing Clean Air Act regulation of global warming pollution is a wrong move.

No Smoking Guns with Hacked Emails -- 83 CEOs Ask for Clean Energy Transition

By Paul K. Haeder

It's difficult to stay focused on climate change, global warming and sustainability with the disaster in Haiti. That natural disaster is of course not just a natural disaster, and that's what I write about on other blogs, discuss on my radio show, and deal with in other forms.

But, for now, updates -- and some contextualization -- of those infamous hacked emails from scientists right before the UN's 15th Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. No smoking gun, no contradictions, nothing to show there has been a conspiracy of silencing the "real" (not) science of global cooling, of no relationship to global rising temperatures to human activity.

So, there's Real Climate below with some discussion of the emails. Climate Progress is also a great source. But, first, 83 CEOs write the Obama Administration about becoming aggressive about transition to clean energy. Transition to green jobs.

Read the statement at your leisure:
Over 80 U.S. Companies Call on President Obama & Congress to Enact Comprehensive Climate and Energy Legislation

January 21, 2009 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than 80 leading CEOs from U.S. businesses, including Exelon, Virgin America, NRG Energy, eBay and PG&E, sent a letter to President Obama and members of Congress today calling on them to move quickly to enact comprehensive climate and energy legislation that will create jobs and enhance U.S. competitiveness.

Real Climate, Posted Nov. 2009, about so-called smoking gun hacked into emails:

As many of you will be aware, a large number of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia webmail server were hacked recently (Despite some confusion generated by Anthony Watts, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Hadley Centre which is a completely separate institution). As people are also no doubt aware the breaking into of computers and releasing private information is illegal, and regardless of how they were obtained, posting private correspondence without permission is unethical. We therefore aren’t going to post any of the emails here. We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day.

Nonetheless, these emails (a presumably careful selection of (possibly edited?) correspondence dating back to 1996 and as recently as Nov 12) are being widely circulated, and therefore require some comment. Some of them involve people here (and the archive includes the first RealClimate email we ever sent out to colleagues) and include discussions we’ve had with the CRU folk on topics related to the surface temperature record and some paleo-related issues, mainly to ensure that posting were accurate.

Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement. For instance, we are sure it comes as no shock to know that many scientists do not hold Steve McIntyre in high regard. Nor that a large group of them thought that the Soon and Baliunas (2003), Douglass et al (2008) or McClean et al (2009) papers were not very good (to say the least) and should not have been published. These sentiments have been made abundantly clear in the literature (though possibly less bluntly).

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.

It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times. Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around him. Science works because different groups go about trying to find the best approximations of the truth, and are generally very competitive about that. That the same scientists can still all agree on the wording of an IPCC chapter for instance is thus even more remarkable.

No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all.

As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682).

Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

The timing of this particular episode is probably not coincidental. But if cherry-picked out-of-context phrases from stolen personal emails is the only response to the weight of the scientific evidence for the human influence on climate change, then there probably isn’t much to it.

There are of course lessons to be learned. Clearly no-one would have gone to this trouble if the academic object of study was the mating habits of European butterflies. That community’s internal discussions are probably safe from the public eye. But it is important to remember that emails do seem to exist forever, and that there is always a chance that they will be inadvertently released. Most people do not act as if this is true, but they probably should.

It is tempting to point fingers and declare that people should not have been so open with their thoughts, but who amongst us would really be happy to have all of their email made public?
Let he who is without PIN cast the the first stone.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Earth Seeds and Teaching the Young to See We are Controlling this Spaceship

Posted by Paul K. Haeder
Mark Joyous calls himself an original “Crew member of Spaceship Earth.” In addition to founding the Global View Foundation and its many “Earthseeds” projects, he calls himself a "self-made entrepreneur" : Joyous Real Estate and founder of and - specializing in "assisting people to team up their energy to fulfill their dreams."

He's on my radio show, Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge, via phone. today, Wed. Jan 20, 3-4 PST, Rebroadcast Jan, 23, Fridays, 6 a.m. PST.

This Buckminster Fuller idea of space ship earth, or Lovelock's Gaia, or the Whole Earth deep ecology of so many deep thinkers, that's part of Joyous' look at how we need to see humanity, us, as "crew members" on earth. The simple act of putting a global of the Earth in the classroom, one made up of 2000 or more photos shot from space in NASA's various programs is self-affirming, life-affirming and globe affirming.

Google Earth is now part of the tool chest for helping citizens fight pollution, logging, illegal bulldozing, and air pollution, and much more. Appalachian Voices uses the Google tool to monitor and fight mountaintop removal.
More on these topics soon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Education -- The Key to Autodesk, PacifiCAD, 21st Century's Youth

As part of my mission as a teacher, writer, blogger, community activist, climate change commentator, radio show guy, and Earth Day 2010 Spokane coordinator, I believe we need to work on education NOW.

Here's the latest commentary:

College, the Last Refuge

Just when more people want to attend college, state governments are slicing higher-education budgets

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed — that’s what we community college teachers expect after all the tra-la-la and merrymaking of the holiday and New Year’s break.

Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re seeing. Our students are a microcosm of American culture — and we just don’t know how to resist, or fight back anymore, according to clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine in his book, Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic. He suggests that students accept enslaving debt and bureaucratic domination because they see college and university education as a badge “of compliance for corporate employers.”

....continue reading it at:

Haiti Needs Help Now

These are the headlines for THursday, Jan. 14, on Haiti --

Not too good, the outlook, the pain, the suffering, the earthquake's after-shock. Good perspectives today on Democracy Now:

  • The death toll rises as Haiti is crushed by a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Bodies lie in the streets as people continue to cry out from underneath the rubble. Little aid has come in as the situation becomes increasingly desperate. The number of dead is almost certainly in the tens of thousands but could be 100,000 or more.

  • Much of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince has been leveled by Tuesday’s earthquake, leaving as many as 100,000 people dead and tens of thousands of people homeless. As of Thursday morning, little aid has arrived in Haiti. Planeloads of rescuers and relief supplies are said to be on the way from the US, EU, Canada, Russia and Latin American nations.

  • We discuss the situation in Haiti following Tuesday’s massive earthquake, as well as the history of Haiti, with two guests who have spent a lot of time there: Bill Quigley, the legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Brian Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.

Another USA Climate Official Gets it Wrong

US Climate Envoy Blames ALBA for Copenhagen Failure, Backs Sidelining UN

A top US climate negotiator has said he hopes to see the United Nations sidelined at future talks on global warming. On Wednesday, US Deputy Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing said the scale of the climate talks called for a rethinking of the UN’s role. Pershing cited the objections of the ALBA bloc, which he said had blocked an agreement in Copenhagen.

Jonathan Pershing:

“Who were they? Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba. These are countries that are part of the ALBA group, a group that sees this process not so much as a solution to climate change, but in fact as a mechanism to redistribute global wealth. And they don’t like the fact that this did not do that. It didn’t do that, and they objected to that fact. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise, the rest of the world doesn’t want to do it that way. But they couldn’t get an agreement, because this group, this narrow group, was blocking it.”

Pershing says future talks should center around the world’s largest polluters instead of trying to go through the UN process.

He said, “It is…impossible to imagine a negotiation of enormous complexity where you have a table of 192 countries involved in all the detail.”

Katherine Goldstein for Huffington Post interviewed Naomi Klein and Klein's assessment of the U.S. involvement is grim:

The US negotiators have squandered a tremendous amount of goodwill. Tremendous ... the Democrats have squandered so many opportunities. We've seen these huge outpourings of support of the US -- we saw it after 9/11 and we saw it when Obama was elected. So many were so happy about the US re-engaging in the climate process. But I think it has done way more harm than good. It's given countries the opportunities to weaken the targets they are putting on the table, like Japan. The US has lowered the bar and set goals so low, it's been destructive. I think it would be better if the US had continued to stay out of it. I don't see any point in US politicians coming here.

When chief negotiator Jonathan Pershing offers for the US to pay $1.5 billion to help with climate change and says, "the US only has so much largesse," Americans have no idea [how insulting this is to the rest of the world.] US emits so much and has caused this problem. This is NOT about charity. This is about moral responsibility.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Corn, Inputs, Pollution -- Filmmakers do Good by Big River and King Corn

Curt Ellis is in Spokane, Jan. 19, 2010 at SCC and Community Builiding -- he's on, 92.3 FM, 2-3 Tuesday, Jan. 13, and then rebroadcast Friday, 1 to 2. That's Paul Haeder's Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge. His film, King Corn, with Ian Cheney as co-editor and co-producer, has won a Peabody Award.

There is another movie that follows the downstream affects of industrial corn, called, Big River. That's at SCC, next week, Jan. 19. Curt's in town too.

Here's something about King Corn -- which is about Ian and Curt going to Iowa and buying an acre and seeing all the ins and outs of the American 70 million acre corn industry.

Inputs for Ian and Curt’s One-Acre Farm:

· 5.4 tons of eroded topsoil (Iowa average per latest NRCS Natural Resources Inventory)
· 130 pounds Anhydrous Ammonia (injected as fertilizer)
· 1.5 pints Guardsman Max herbicide (dimethenamid-P and atrazine for weed control)
· 3 gallons 18-46-0 liquid starter fertilizer (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium for germination)
· 2 ounces Regent insecticide (fipronil for planting-time pest control)
· 3 gallons liquid So-il Cal calcium supplement (for stabilizing nitrogen and nutrient uptake)
· 1 pound Atrazine herbicide (for weed control)
· 1.25 pints Landoil additive (for emulsification and stabilization of chemicals)
· 20 ounces Liberty herbicide (glufosinate for application to GMO LibertyLink corn)

Pesticide and Herbicide Facts:

· The incidence of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has more than doubled since the 1970s (Mayo)
· More than 70 million lbs of Atrazine are applied annually; 75% of corn crop is treated (EPA)
· 33 million Americans have been exposed to Atrazine in drinking water (NY Times)
· Atrazine is associated with cancers including non-Hodgkyn lymphoma, ovarian, and colon.

Soil Erosion Facts:

· Soil planted in prairie can absorb 5-7 inches of rainfall per hour without major erosion
· Soils planted in row crops can only absorb only .5-1.5 inches before erosion begins
· In the 1950s, many Midwestern soils were nearly 20% carbon; now many are 1-2% (Rodale)
· If carbon-building organic agriculture was practiced on the earth’s 3.5 billion tillable acres, it could sequester nearly 40% of current CO2 emissions (Rodale Institute)

Fertilizer Facts:

· The Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic “Dead Zone” averages 6,000 square miles in size (NY Times).
· Agriculture contributes 70% of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Dead Zone (EWG).
· 400 Dead Zones now exist around the world, including off all coasts of the US (Science)

What Can We Do?

Transition from commodity subsidies that reward all-out production to a “green payments” system that promotes conservation, carbon sequestration, and buffers along waterways.
Support local and organic producers and practice organic maintenance of lawns and gardens.

For Further Reading:

· The Pesticide Action Network offers a comprehensive database of agrochemicals and their risks, searchable by chemical component or brand name.
· The New York Times “Toxic Waters” series looks closely at Atrazine and farm runoff.
· The Iowa Daily Soil Erosion Project is an attempt to model any given day’s rainfall and soil loss on any chosen acre of Iowa land.
· The Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force is an intergovernmental project to assess and address the Dead Zone.

Footage for Big River was gathered between 2004 and 2009. The film employs previously unseen material shot during the making of King Corn, and footage captured after King Corn’s release. A handful of King Corn scenes are revisited in flashback, denoted by Super 8 film grain and letterbox.

Big River was shot on the DVCPRO50 Panasonic SDX-900 camera and edited in Final Cut Pro. Animations for the film were prepared using stop-motion photography, digital SLR and After Effects.

Editing took place in Austin, TX and Brooklyn, NY, in 2008 and 2009. The budget for creating and launching Big River came in the form of a $75,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation, with additional in-kind support from Mosaic Films, the WK Kellogg Foundation, and the IATP Food and Society Fellows Program.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Biodiversity Counts -- For Humanity, For Food

Less than 2 percent of the USA population grows our food. This is a bad ratio for eaters and growers. In 1900, more than 50 percent of jobs were directly or indirectly tied to growing food and producing it. We have to protect our soil, we have to protect our ecosystems, our sources of water, and the biodiversity of all commercial species -- potatoes, pigs, the types of eggs in stores, all of it. Growth Management groups and legislation work toward protecting farmland -- or even open space -- because they see that land use tool as necessary in these tipping points times when growing food closer to the consumption source is powerful as a way to fight the negative effects of Peak Oil and climate change. Over the past 80 years, entire lines of beans, livestock, fruits, vegetables have gone the way of near extinction or extinction. That's why there are seed savers and seed repositories --

Above is a rendition of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a "doomsday" seed bank that will store backup copies of as many as three million different crop varieties in case of a worldwide catastrophe. The high-tech vault, opened for storage in February 2008, is going to "put an end to extinction [of] agricultural crops," said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome, Italy, which is the leading force behind the project.

We have International groups tied to food security and food and farming. RAFT -- Renewing America's Food Traditions, Tierra Madre, Slow Food USA. Even in our own Spokane neck of the woods, we have the Main Market co-op and Quillisascut Sustainable Farm School. More on food and ag and what high tech and planning and science and rural sociologists are doing to work on this untold story of the past 10 years.
For now, though, recognizing the work of farmers is important, and they too are recognizing the value of diversity in thought, people, food, livestock, technique and what needs to be done in a time of 7 billion people, global climate destabilization and the like.
International Year of Biodiversity:

Farmers Say that Conserving Biodiversity is a Shared Responsibility

Today marks the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity under the theme Biodiversity is Life - Biodiversity is Our Life. It is a theme of critical interest to farmers since biodiversity and agriculture are interdependent; both are also key elements to address climate change and food security. Conserving biodiversity is a shared responsibility of stakeholders worldwide, and farmers are willing to do their part.

The International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) will be highlighting, throughout this year, the crucial role played by farmers to conserve ecosystems. IFAP will also be challenging national governments and the international community to put in place programs to help secure the planet's biodiversity, while at the same time, ensuring that farmers have the necessary tools to increase food production by 70 percent by 2050 to feed a growing world population.

''The main issue for farmers is gaining recognition for the multiple roles that agriculture is expected to fulfil and identifying appropriate mechanisms in order to achieve them. We need to help and encourage farmers to improve their current practices, while ensuring they can sustain their families and remain competitive in the markets. These efforts all need be undertaken simultaneously, otherwise you will have food security problems or a compromised ecosystem,'' said Ajay Vashee, IFAP President.

Farmers understand the need to protect and conserve biodiversity, and their role in doing so. At the same time, it is crucial that they maintain the economic viability of their agricultural activities. In 2010, IFAP will strive to find genuine and long-lasting approaches to better conserve and enhance biological diversity that can be implemented by farmers, and will advocate positive and constructive policy approaches to governments and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

"Through such practices as land set asides for wildlife and native species, conservation farming, organic farming, reforestation practices, pastoralism, rotational grazing and rehabilitation of degraded lands, farmers are contributing to the conservation and protection of biodiversity. However, this is a shared responsibility with the rest of society. All stakeholders need to participate. If these efforts are to be expanded on a global scale to reduce biodiversity degradation, appropriate funding, positive incentives for farmers such as payment for ecosystem services, training and policy implementation will be needed to achieve results,'' concluded Vashee.

To move forward on conserving biodiversity, the world farmers'
organization advocates the following actions:

* Government policies for secure land tenure systems and
adequate infrastructure that allows farmers to invest in long-term farming strategies related to biodiversity enhancement.

* Economic partnerships between developing and developed
countries aimed at transferring and adapting stewardship programs, such as credit systems and extension services.

* Recognition of farmers' indigenous knowledge of local resource
management and conservation.

* Increased funding for the scientific research that underpins
the development and sound understanding of how agricultural management interacts with biodiversity. Scientific knowledge and findings should be disseminated, scaled-down and be specific to the dynamics of a particular region.

* Strengthened farmers' participation in the formulation and the
implementation of research projects and rural development strategies to enhance biodiversity.

* Improved policy coordination and planning of environmental
legislation affecting agricultural production. Often different government departments deal with these issues in isolation. There is also a need to increase capacity to enforce legislation in a coordinated way.

* Mainstreaming of the Agricultural Biodiversity program of work
of the CBD (UN Convention on Biodiversity) with the programs of work of the other Multilateral Environment Agreements, such as the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and the UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), as well as with food security and rural development programs.

IFAP will be placing biodiversity as a policy priority in 2010.
"Sustainable solutions can be found and many are already available", said the IFAP President, "but responsibility must be shared among all stakeholders".


IFAP is the farmers' voice at the world level, representing 600 million family farmers grouped in 112 national organizations in 87 countries. It has been advocating farmers' interests at the international level since 1946. IFAP's mission is to develop farmers' capacities to influence decisions that affect them at both the domestic and international levels. <>

Monday, January 11, 2010

Global Climate Change Impacts -- Not Some TEA Party Topic, but . . . .

How will global climate change affect us? This report look deeply at energy, water, Ag, health. Of course, the effects of climate-related changes are here -- temperatures and sea levels have been rising, The Midwest and northern Great Plains have experienced increases of more than 7 degrees F in average winter temps.

Water resources and the quality of the water are in decline. Floods and droughts, and the mountain snow packs are really in dire straits in the West and Alaska. Ogallala aquifer? Isn't recharging fast enough.

Ag is one of the sectors most able to adapt to climate change, Pests, water stress,hear, disease and all the weather extremes will challenge livestock and crop production.

Read on:

This web page will introduce and lead you through the content of the most comprehensive and authoritative report of its kind. The report summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. It focuses on climate change impacts in different regions of the U.S. and on various aspects of society and the economy such as energy, water, agriculture, and health. It’s also a report written in plain language, with the goal of better informing public and private decision making at all levels.

In addition to discussing the impacts of climate change in the U.S., the report also highlights the choices we face in response to human-induced climate change. It is clear that impacts in the United States are already occurring and are projected to increase in the future, particularly if the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to rise. So, choices about how we manage greenhouse gas emissions will have far-reaching consequences for climate change impacts. Similarly, there are choices to be made about adaptation strategies that can help to reduce or avoid some of the undesirable impacts of climate change. This report provides many of the scientific underpinnings for effective decisions to be made – at the national and at the regional level.

Use the menu navigation to access the various sections of the report. You can also download the corresponding PDFs or order hard copies of the report from Cambridge University Press.

The Power of a Cube

We need alternatives, now, quickly, and these Cubes, if designed to be insulated, energy neutral, and without a huge footprint of land, might be ideal as real living places, not just a second home or cabin in the woods. Still, though, all those showcase homes -- lake homes -- on CdA Lake really speak to a big split in our society between those who care and want to lower their footprints and allow a lake to be a lake, not a cul-d-sac AND those who have no intention of looking toward the future, toward a more realistic and reigned in lifestyle.

Find this story at --

Canadian design firm Twelve Cubed believe a twelve foot cube is all you need for a home. Priced at CDN$24,500, the building can be placed on your existing plot and be used as a guest house, a rental property, a studio, or whatever else you can fit into a 12x12 cube (The building is this size because most sheet wood is sized in multiples of 4 feet).

The cube contains a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen with dishwasher, microwave and oven, and plenty of natural light, which Twelve Cubed believe is "everything you need to make your life simple, modern and convenient. "

James Stuart, who created Twelve Cubed, has been living in his design for months and believes it is a good solution for the challenges modern lifestyles throw at us:

"I moved in almost two months ago now, having decided that I needed to prove to people that I could live comfortably in the Cube, even in Canadian winter weather. I rented my house, put most of my stuff in storage, and began to adapt to my “cubic” life. I have more storage than I need, so there is plenty for two people. When I go shopping I am buying groceries for a few days at a time, not a couple of weeks. I ripped my CD’s and DVD’s to a terabyte hard drive with lots of space left over.

Last month's power bill (propane and electricity) combined was $31.00. The average North American 1 bedroom apartment produces 5 tons of CO2 per year. A Cube will produce 0.8 tons a year. It shows you care."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Urban Forestry as an Important Component of Parks Department -- Spokane, WA

Below is from the Spokane City Parks director. But before that letter, I need to make it clear that we have some cool people in Spokane concerned that Park Departments like ours do not spend enough per capita per urban and park tree. In fact, the ex-city arborist, Jim Flott, was a dedicated city official; he now is a private consultant working out of Spokane. We have Carrie Anderson, the Tree Lady. You can find her at the Lands Council web site --

And specifically, at:

As computer software designers, architects, land use folk, urbanists, sustainability experts and just those communities of place and of purpose we associate with, we need to recognize the so-called free services trees give us. Storm water work, dampening of wind sheets, insulation in the winter, soil maintenance, shading in the summer, carbon sequestration, urban canopy of wildlife habitat, and dozens more. A home with good trees sells for more than one where there is just grass and empty space.

We need our trees big time. Go to Arbor Day -- -- to see the value of trees for people, animals, homes, cities' energy budgets, how they save streets, generate cooling effects to stave off some of the negatives of the urban heat island effect, and their huge spiritual and psychological additions to our species, and probably to our avian creatures' as well.

We need better planners, better people, better community engagement, and an end to the top down organizing and dictating from the limited technocrat's or business person's point of view. We hope to get citizens to be watchdogs and to tell the current planning director of parks to listen and be part of the neighborhood planning-organizing ethos. Here's what Leroy Eadie, director, writes to get us involved. But you have to attend these meetings and hold guys like Leroy accountable:

"The Spokane Parks and Recreation Department is currently conducting an ambitious, comprehensive organizational assessment process that varies from past planning efforts. One of the interests of the process is to insure sustainable parks and recreation services for Spokane residents.

This assessment process began in 2009 and continues to evolve. GP RED, the non-profit firm leading the project, will conduct another series of community workshops intended to engage citizen representatives in the next component of the process, Financial Resource Allocation.

Three community groups --

Community Assembly
current parks and recreation service users
and city leaders

are being asked to participate in two workshops each (90 minutes per workshop, three hour commitment total), the first of which will take place the week of January 18.

These workshops follow other public meetings and forums held in 2009 that solicited public opinion and feedback concerning community values, a vision for the Department, and community issues and challenges as they relate to parks and recreation services. This next step will focus on the development of a financial resource allocation philosophy intended to assist the department in preparing for its economic future. Your opinions are invaluable to this step in the process so we hope that you are able to attend and participate.

Service Users Workshop I will be scheduled for January 19 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Finch Arboretum Woodland Center. We would appreciate your RSVP by no later than January 13 to Mike Aho at or by calling 625-6546 to confirm attendance."

Here are the values the Spokane Parks Department is hoping to build upon in terms of the value we put on trees, essentially:
Organizational Values

…provides and promotes a parks and recreation system which advocates healthy lifestyles and the value of play.

…stimulates the local economy through the provision of venues, events and activities which draws visitors and keeps local citizens close to home; well-maintained and managed greenspaces that enhance property values; and the creation of employment opportunities.

…directs the acquisition and stewardship of properties for parks and recreation purposes while balancing active recreation and environmental interests.

…promotes community safety through the development, maintenance, and management of the parks and recreation system.

…insures reasonable access to opportunities within a diverse parks and recreation system.

…honors the history and legacy of the Spokane parks system through celebration, preservation and restoration efforts.

…innovatively develops and manages the responsible, efficient and equitable use of resources leading to the sustainability of a strong and viable parks and recreation system.

...demonstrates accountability and a collaborative culture through open communication, stakeholder participation, and transparent management practices.

...continues to encourage a sense of community and pride through the provision of a parks and recreation system that affords citizens social gathering places and spaces.
Here are the Arbor Day dates for states and the trees each state calls its state tree:
State Arbor Days (state trees in brackets)
Alabama Last full week in February (Longleaf Pine)
Alaska Third Monday in May (Sitka Spruce)
Arizona Last Friday in April (Paloverde)
Arkansas Third Monday in March ( Pine)
California March 7-14 (California Redwood)
Colorado Third Friday in April ( Blue Spruce)
Connecticut April 30 ( White Oak)
Delaware Last Friday in April ( American Holly)
District of Columbia Last Friday in April (Scarlet Oak)
Florida Third Friday in January ( Cabbage Palmetto)
Georgia Third Friday in February ( Live Oak)
Hawaii First Friday in November (Kukui)
Idaho Last Friday in April ( Western White Pine)
Illinois Last Friday in April ( White Oak)
Indiana Last Friday in April (Tuliptree)
Iowa Last Friday in April (Oak)
Kansas Last Friday in March (Cottonwood)
Kentucky First Friday in April (Tulip Poplar)
Louisiana Third Friday in January (Baldcypress)
Maine Third full week in May ( Eastern White Pine)
Maryland First Wednesday in April ( White Oak)
Massachusetts April 28-May 5 ( American Elm)
Michigan Last Friday in April ( Eastern White Pine)
Minnesota Last Friday in April (Red Pine)
Mississippi Second Friday in February ( Southern Magnolia)
Missouri First Friday in April ( Flowering Dogwood)
Montana Last Friday in April (Ponderosa Pine)
Nebraska Last Friday in April (Cottonwood)
Nevada Southern: February 28; Northern: April 23 (Singleleaf Pinyon)
New Hampshire Last Friday in April ( Paper Birch)
New Jersey Last Friday in April ( Northern Red Oak)
New Mexico Second Friday in March (Pinyon)
New York Last Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
North Carolina First Friday following March 15 ( Pine)
North Dakota First Friday in May ( American Elm)
Ohio Last Friday in April (Ohio Buckeye)
Oklahoma Last full week in March (Eastern Redbud)
Oregon First full week in April (Douglas Fir)
Pennsylvania Last Friday in April (Eastern Hemlock)
Rhode Island Last Friday in April ( Red Maple)
South Carolina First Friday in December ( Cabbage Palmetto)
South Dakota Last Friday in April ( White Spruce)
Tennessee First Friday in March (Yellow Poplar)
Texas Last Friday in April (Pecan)
Utah Last Friday in April ( Blue Spruce)
Vermont First Friday in May ( Sugar Maple)
Virginia Second Friday in April ( Flowering Dogwood)
Washington Second Wednesday in April (Western Hemlock)
West Virginia Second Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
Wisconsin Last Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
Wyoming Last Monday in April (Cottonwood)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Michael Pollan, food writer, journalist, activist, in Spokane-Pullman area

Michael Pollan, Wed. 13th, in Pullman, WA -- WSU Campus

His book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, was chosen as a common reading text for Washington State University. The president, Mr. Floyd, pulled the program, due to some booster's disregard of free speech and the research and message of Michael Pollan. Luckily, an alum and food safety attorney and former Board of Regent put up $60,000 for the books and for Pollan's visit.

"The Omnivore's Dilemma" author Michael Pollan will present a lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, in Beasley coliseum. He also will participate in a question-and-answer session with students only that day, 3-4 p.m. in the CUB auditorium.

"The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" is the Common Reading selection at WSU Pullman for 2009-10.

Pollan will lecture on the "Sun Food Agenda." About 10 questions will be taken as part of the presentation. Submit questions in advance to

In "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us - industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves - from the source to a final meal, and in the process develops a definitive account of the American way of eating.

The sun food agenda has to do with Pollan's advocacy of weaning the food industry from fossil-fuel-based support (fertilizers, pesticides, gasoline/diesel vehicles) and returning to a (technologically enhanced) reliance on the sun's energy.
Read the post below regarding the WSU decision to cut the common reading program and Pollan, BEFORE he got back onto WSU's agenda:

In a revealing irony, from which cowardly university officials everywhere may have something to learn, the decision by Washington State University (WSU) officials to cancel Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma as the common reading assignment for freshman orientation next year is raising the book to new heights of notoriety and importance in that university community.
Reports today in the Spokesman-Review and the Chronicle of Higher Education (pay site) make a plausible case that pressure from Washington agribusiness interests may have been behind the cancellation. One faculty colleague, who asked not to be named in connection with this controversy, told U.S. Food Policy that WSU has its own Pacific Northwest character that distinguishes it from traditional agricultural universities in other regions.

That said, WSU Regents include politically powerful farmers and ranchers such as former Regent Peter Goldmark who ran for U.S. Congress in 2006 and is currently Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands. With extreme budget pressures, I understand how this could happen, but I don't like it.I imagine this foolishness will triple the number of incoming students at WSU who read the book.In any case, it was never going to be possible to suppress engagement of these issues at Washington State.
A different faculty member, economist Trenton Smith, just this semester shared a provocative and ambitious essay (.pdf) about market power and information economics in industrial food production.
An excerpt:

[O]ver the course of the last century, the U.S. has witnessed a dramatic shift away from traditional diets and toward a diet comprised primarily of processed brand-name foods with deleterious long-term health effects. This, in turn, has generated increasingly urgent calls for policy interventions aimed at improving the quality of the American diet. In this paper, we ask whether the current state of affairs represents a market failure, and—if so—what might be done about it.
In a way, Trent's essay is an economist's reflection on the issues raised by the tradition of food industry criticism exemplified by Pollan.
A while ago, when I reviewed Omnivore's Dilemma for the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, I encouraged professional colleagues to read the book in exactly this spirit -- to wrestle with it, criticize it, and be inspired by it to work on novel economics questions that have been neglected by the mainstream literature.
Regarding today's controversy, Smith says, "I have discussed (and will continue to do so) Pollan's work in my undergraduate food / commodities marketing course, and it would have been great to expand the discussion to the rest of the student body." He adds, "I also find it ironic that this was all happening around the time I issued a working paper on the insidious influence big business has historically had on consumer access to information about food!"

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