Saturday, April 30, 2011

World Wide Awakening Creates a Universal World

The Age of Aquarius (album)Image via WikipediaBy Barbara Colby

We are in an evolutionary period, much like the Renaissance of old. Like the Renaissance, in fifteenth century Europe, we're seeing a humanistic revival. It is distinguished by vigorous activity of action that supports a transitional movement. The Millennium, or "New Age," speaks to individuality in thought, action and behavior. Events in the Middle Ages set in motion a series of social, political, and intellectual transformations, and were the driver behind the Renaissance.

Then, as now, there is creative action taking place. You don't have to be a forecaster to know this is true. Your eyes and ears tell you it's true. Just listen to the TV or read a daily newspaper that reports on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan and China.

Even in our own country, in the state of Wisconsin, public voices want to be heard on their individualistic ideals. Systems of yesterday no longer work; therefore, people are beginning to seek out better value systems and new truths to make their new value systems work. These new truths are creating an epoch of inner values, which in turn brings about an inward journey for an individual. Because of the risk and stress, this type of struggle is bound to set in motion the wheels that create a health breakdown.

It's a complex time of involution (a shift). Those things that will be affected in our society today are the natural environment, ideas, social movement, ethics, education, and healthcare. The root of these changes will come from a higher consciousness, and a desire to create a new and better type of reality. Our civilization stands on the brink of making some of its most important changes. We need to feel better, look better, live longer, and heal our body through more natural methods. We're a part of a worldwide awakening.

It is a delicious thing to watch history in the making and the reshaping of ideas, ideals, ethics, and values. In the future, our changing attitude toward good health and the feeling of well being will be the impetus that creates a new path away from conventional medicine. The future is no accident; it comes from condensing what you see, hear, and read. Trends come from the foundation of changing attitudes, needs, demands, the economy, global barriers being lowered, influences of cultural offerings in the marketplace, and lifestyle changes.

This is the dawn of the Aquarian Age. It represents an oneness, an equality, and humanity to mankind. New Age simply means the beginning of a meaningful cycle. The Age of Aquarius is represented with originality, independence and universalism. It will herald new philosophies that will save the world from destruction. The world will become one universal world.

Barbara Diane Colby is author of the new book, Journey of Hope: Gateway to Light and Holistic Wellness. It documents her research over 10 years to heal herself of chronic pain through the therapeutic power of light. Barbara has led successful careers in design, sales and as an educator, color consultant and futurist forecasting design trends. She lives in Indio, Calif., near Palm Springs where she creates award-winning glass art sculpture and gemstone jewelry and advocates bridging alternative and traditional healthcare. Learn more by visiting Contact Barbara at

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Environmental Management Degree Programs: A Growing Trend in Colleges

Ecological poster of Ernst Haeckel                              Image via WikipediaBy Sophia Peters

Environmental studies degrees are concerned with many types of programs for making the planet a better place to live. It has to do with recycling and increasing the efficiency of business. It also has to do with conducting business in ways that are not harmful to the environment and ecosystem. Taking care of the planet is not a passing fad, anymore. It is a serious issue that requires serious people.

Educational requirements can vary for a degree in environmental science. You could be required to initially take courses like social sciences and humanities. You also may need to take courses in the natural sciences. These basic courses may also include math and biology.

The goal of the degree is to create ecological understanding. This helps to create understanding of the many issues which face the planet today, and some of the methods for problem solving. After completion of basic courses, the student may work with counselors to develop their own curriculum from more than one department.

When working with ecological issues, you might be taken into many different fields of work. Almost every kind of business needs people to coordinate and direct ecological issues within the company. There are also positions like Geo-scientists and Hydrologists, which may require a background in issues with the environment.

You could start out with an internship with various parks or nature reserves. Perhaps you will develop programs for educating the public on ecological concerns. You also may work with children education and field trips that concern a particular area. The possibilities in this field are unlimited.

The enormous variety of positions allows for a huge variance in incomes. People that work as Geo-scientists and Oceanographers can expect to make as much as $80,000 per year or more. This is according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, employment in the field can be much lower when working for government agencies. Wages for other positions will vary according to the job and the area.

Job opportunities are so vast in this field, that they are too many to mention. The great amount of opportunities also makes it very difficult to put numbers or statistics on the jobs that are available. As ecological concerns become greater, the demand for people trained in issues with the environment will continue to grow. Every industry is in need of people that can solve their ecological issues and educate their employees on important matters like recycling and waste disposal.

If you are passionate about many of the ecological issues that everyone faces, you may wish to check into environmental studies degrees. At first, you may need to take a lot of required courses like social and natural sciences. After completing these, you may work with educational counselors to select the courses that are best for your chosen field. Job opportunities are extremely varied, and you may work with ecological concerns in almost any industry that you wish. Pay will vary a great deal also. These jobs should have an excellent future, as environmental issues continue to grow in importance.

To learn more about Environmental Engineering Degrees and Sustainable MBA Degree Programs visit Sophia Peter's website on college and university resources.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The New Solar Reality - Boeing Assembly Goes Solar

20080921_62 Solar power stationImage by Bush Philosopher - Dave Clarke via FlickrBy Hugh C Collins

For those who remember when solar energy was a sort of hobby for enthusiasts rather than a major energy initiative, vindication is coming, daily. Boeing has just announced that it's building a major solar energy plant for its South Carolina Boeing 787 assembly plant. This is a big departure for an industry formerly glued to fossil fuel power. Elsewhere, industry majors like Mitsubishi and Ayala are working together on solar power.

Solar has come a long, long way in recent years, and the new efficiencies are driving rethinks of energy strategies at the top levels of industries around the world.

This may seem like a suspiciously sudden turnaround by sectors which were previously remarkably unreceptive to solar ideas, but it's actually a result of much better business management and a new generation of businesses which are looking for better options to meet energy needs.

The facts are pretty simple:
  • Solar technology is now able to prove it can deliver on the scales required to provide massive amounts of energy at economic prices.
  • The cost of fossil fuels is becoming ludicrously high for industry. These costs are overheads that the industries simply don't want or need.
  • The cost benefits of solar are now fully measurable, and those benefits are huge. This is a real bottom line equation, and it's the main driver behind the reversal of energy policies by industry and commerce.
  • Solar is a comparatively much simpler type of technology, with a much shorter and far less complex supply chain. Fossil fuels prices vary widely because of supply chain issues (ironically, the cost of oil can inflate the cost of shipping oil and coal, a self defeating situation if there ever was one).
  • Fossil fuels are commodities, and their prices can be very negatively influenced by the futures market and the live buying market to absurd degrees. The pricing of fossil fuels is so convoluted and the potential for massive price rises so common, that businesses and industries have simply had enough.
The real turning point for solar power came when solar was plugged directly into the grids. This was irrefutable proof of large scale production capacity, and it didn't take long for the penny to drop with industry decision makers.

Interestingly, it was economic sustainability which finally turned the key for solar power's entry into heavy industry. Businesses and industries assessed the situation on economic grounds, meaning on their own terms. This might have been expected by the environmental movement. Corporate managers usually aren't ecologists or environmentalists. They're not trained to assess environmental values. They are, however, quite capable of assessing the economics of their own businesses, and drawing the right conclusions.

This is the real stamp of approval for solar power development on the scales required to deal with the environmental situation. Boeing needs gigantic amounts of energy for production, and it knows down to the last watt how much power it needs. This is a tailor made solar project for a specific purpose, and it's likely to be the first of thousands.

Solar power in its future sense has arrived, and that future's looking pretty bright.

By the way, do you want to learn more about Home Improvement? If so, I suggest you check Solar Pane.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Human Alienation and Addictive Behavior - How They Lead to Ecological Destruction

Stillness by Eckhart Tolle, on a Park bench pl...Image via WikipediaBy George Shears

I have long argued that, in the broadest sense of the concept of addiction, ALL humans are addicted in multiple ways. Further, I have hypothesized that all of these addictions are mediated by common brain processes involving neurotransmitter substances such as dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, etc, as well as by endorphins and enkephalins. This hypothesis has now been quite strongly confirmed for a wide range of addictions and compulsions.

During my career as a psychologist and psychotherapist, I constructed a loose working model for understanding the common psychological basis of all of these addictions and how they develop in terms of what I call "terminating reactions." I define a terminating reaction as any behavior that effectively reduces or terminates psychological discomfort for at least a short period of time. Each time that this occurs, the behavior acquires, through the process of "negative reinforcement," an increment of "habit strength" and thereby an increased probability of recurrence. Through this simple and well-established principle of learning theory, virtually ANY behavior can develop into a strong terminating reaction or "addiction."

The single most common category of such terminating reactions consists in what have been called "movement addictions." These highly repetitive, garden variety behavioral patterns can be observed in nearly everyone. They typically occur completely without awareness and most of them are generally benign. Examples include, foot jiggling, beard stroking, eye blinking, grimacing, toe tapping, hair twisting, idiosyncratic speech mannerisms, etc. Not uncommonly, they seem to express suppressed or repressed feelings.

For example, I have repeatedly observed a particularly recurrent movement addiction in a number of TV comedians. It consists in rubbing or scratching the cheek under one of the eyes or beside the nose, as if unconsciously wiping away a tear. I have often wondered whether these particular repetitive gestures may be understood as the unconscious surfacing of sadness or emotional pain that is being covered with humor.

In summary, then, terminating reactions are incredibly prevalent and highly varied. They include not only every conceivable form of behavior that is associated with increasing pleasure, through substances such as drugs and food, through exciting experiences such as sex, gambling, shopping, etc, but also-quite counter-intuitively-a wide range of behaviors that entail discomfort or pain-such as cutting or burning oneself, self-starvation, vomiting and the like.

There is now strong evidence that this sub-class of addictions is mediated in the brain by endorphins or "endogenous morphine" that is released whenever they occur. This happens automatically, for example, whenever someone engages in self-injurious behavior such as cutting, burning, head-banging, etc. The bottom-line result from such behavior, then, is temporary relief from psychological pain or discomfort, which has tragically become highly intense and nearly universal. So we humans have, indeed, ingeniously found endless ways to "spell relief."

One general class of addictions contributes directly and markedly to the destruction of our biosphere-namely, those entailing excessive consumption and consumerism. Not only are these addictions exceedingly common, but they are also actively engendered and strengthened by endless advertising and by our currently prevailing version of capitalism-a version, incidentally, that departs markedly from what Adam Smith originally proposed.

I hypothesize, further, that the epidemic of addictions that now afflicts us collectively grows lawfully out of the intense, chronic emotional distress that is inherent in our highly-alienated modern lifestyles. More specifically, I see this distress as an inevitable result of the pervasive sense of separateness that modern humans experience in relation to other beings, the biosphere, Mother Earth, and to the universe in general. I believe that, in large part, it comprises the collective human "pain body" that Eckhart Tolle often refers to as the basis of our common "human madness."

This enormous pain results basically from living in delusion; that is, we humans--just as is true of every other life form on this planet-are, in reality, seamlessly interconnected and inherently one with the entire biosphere and, in fact, with the whole universe. To believe deeply, as we do however, that we are intrinsically separate - and to behave accordingly - is effectively, then, a form of psychosis. Just as is true of all other forms of psychosis, this basic break with reality entails enormous suffering.

Referring to this delusion of separateness, Ken Wilber, who has been called "the Einstein of consciousness, says: "People typically feel trapped by life, trapped by the universe, because they imagine that they are actually in the universe, and therefore the universe can squish them like a bug." He goes on to point out that if/when we become fully awakened to the vast emptiness of our Real Self, we realize that, as this Self, we actually contain the entire universe instead of being in it.

Acting out of this delusional sense of separateness, we humans relate to our extended body (the biosphere), in a manner that is remarkably similar to how cancer develops in our local bodies; that is, a key identifying characteristic of all cancer cells is that they stop communicating with the rest of the body and, thus, progressively grow out of control until they destroy the very body that they need to sustain them.

Viewed through this lens, then, it becomes abundantly clear that humanity is caught in a vicious circle whereby, as a direct result of our prevailing delusion of separateness, we are progressively destroying our extended biospheric body to the point where we are now in imminent danger of also being destroyed in the process. More specifically, this self-destructive process is occurring largely through our collective addictions, which arise in large part from the enormous chronic pain of our delusional separateness.

On the basis of this assessment, I have concluded that the only complete solution, or antidote, for the impending ecological catastrophe that we now urgently face is for at least a very large segment of humanity to awaken from its tragic delusion of separateness. My reasoning here is quite simple: If this were to happen, we would see very clearly that the biosphere is in fact none other than our extended body. With this clear recognition, we would then tend to relate to it protectively just as we normally do in relating to our local bodies (this assumes, of course, that we would also transcend the many addictive disorders that cause us to destroy our local bodies as well).

For the past year or so, I have dedicated myself, as have a great many other spiritually-oriented folks, to promoting this kind of awakening as fully as possible. Since I intentionally try to balance my idealism with realism, however, I recognize fully that this is - at the very least - an enormous undertaking and may, in fact, be almost as out of touch with reality as the primary delusion that it aims to overcome.

On a theoretical level, Ken Wilber argues very persuasively that the universe evolves lawfully, holistically, and multi-dimensionally through a nested series of wholes of increasing complexity, each of which includes and transcends its predecessor. The spiritual aspect of this has long been recognized in various wisdom traditions as the "Great Chain of Being". At the gross physical level, for example, sub-atomic particles become organized as atoms; atoms become organized as molecules; molecules become organized as life forms; and life forms increasingly become organized at ever-increasing levels of complexity.

Along with many other human development theorists, Wilber posits that humans are also subject to this very same kind of lawful process in their evolution. In this regard, he shows how, in a very general sense, human consciousness gradually develops from ego-centric to socio-centric to world-centric; that is, at the lowest level of consciousness, we are primarily focused on "I, me and mine"; at the next higher level, our consciousness includes others in our immediate family; then in our tribe; then in our nation state; then globally; and, ultimately, it includes all other beings and the entire universe.

Wilber estimates that about 70% of humanity is currently at the ethnocentric level of development-that is, strongly identified with other humans in their particular ethnic group; he estimates that only about 2% of the population is at the highest current level of development, which he calls world-centric or "integral". Not surprisingly, then, with regard to reversing our current ecological and global predicament. he concludes at the end of a very enlightening series of recent audios entitled, Kosmic Consciousness, that our current situation is "very scary" and states that recurrent wars, with brief periods of peace, will likely continue to be the prevailing norm.

It seems quite clear, then that the development of world-centric consciousness is the minimally prescriptive antidote that we urgently need in order to survive. Although finding effective ways to promote development of this level of consciousness to humanity at large presents is overwhelmingly challenging, I intend to keep working at it in whatever way I can. Most importantly, this includes encouraging large numbers of other like-minded people to join in this monumental consciousness raising effort.

Ken Wilber reports that the single most effective way to accelerate the development of human consciousness to higher levels is through intense meditation or contemplative prayer. This is the particular means that I have personally applied and that I strongly recommend to others.

George Shears is a retired psychologist and a spiritual teacher/mentor. He has personally practiced mindfulness meditation for over 35 years and pioneered the first Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program in Minnesota, starting in 1995. He can be contacted at:
651-204-0523 (where you can get a complete free set of MBSR audios and instructions for a self-guided course)

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Can the Renewable Energy Bill Boost California's Economy?

GLENDORA, CA - APRIL 22:  California Gov. Arno...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeBy Judith Ceja

California continues to struggle in these difficult economic times. The unemployment rate in the state is 12%, however, some northern California counties are reporting unemployment rates greater than 20%. The housing market in the state is also struggling to recover as many analysts believe we have yet to hit rock bottom. What can California do to provide some relief to its residents? Senator Joe Simitian thinks he is on the right track to stimulate the state's economy.

The Democratic Senator introduced a bill that would require California utilities to obtain 33% of the power they sell from renewable power sources by the end of 2020. These renewable sources include, but are not limited to, hydro, wind, geothermal, and solar. Both the House and the Senate have passed the bill and it is on its way to Governor Brown's desk for his signature. Brown is expected to sign the bill. After all, during his campaign he declared that he wanted to raise the renewable portfolio standard to 33%.

However, this is not the first time Senator Simitian has attempted to pass a higher renewable power portfolio standard. His previous bill was vetoed by then Governor Schwarzenegger who stated it was too limiting for the utilities. Nonetheless, Schwarzenegger did sign an executive order in 2009 to set 33% as the goal utilities should try to obtain when comprising their renewable power portfolio.

The current requirement in California was for utilities to obtain 20% of their power from renewable sources by the end of last year. Since none of California's utilities met this standard, the new requirement may prove daunting to achieve. Only about 17% of California's power comes from renewable sources. It should be noted that both Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) came close to meeting the standard, achieving a portfolio comprised of 17.7% and 19.4% respectively.

The new portfolio requirement is expected to boost California's struggling economy. Senator Simitian feels his bill sends a clear message to the renewable energy industry that California wants their business. It is important to keep investment dollars from going to other states. As a result of the bill, the number of renewable energy projects is expected to increase. New projects would create jobs and provide tax revenues.

What do you think? Will the Renewable Energy bill boost California's economy? If history repeats itself, it will. When the standard was raised to 20%, the state saw an explosion in wind farm and solar power facility construction, creating jobs and revenue for the state.

Judith Ceja writes articles for TheJemReport. To read more about the solar communities or other articles on green technology go to

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Friday, April 22, 2011

What Ever Happened To An Energy Plan?

James Earl "Jimmy" CarterImage via WikipediaBy Richard Brody

In the latter part of the 1970's, with gas lines at the stations, and rationing involved, then President James Earl Carter went before the American public and pleaded his case for a plan for America's energy independence. His plan was multi-fold, and perhaps if future administrations had viligantly pursued energy independence, we might not be experiencing the situation we currently are.

1. One part of Carter's plan involved using alternative energies, and weaning ourselves off our near total dependence on oil, particularly imported oil. There were discussions about "clean coal," nuclear, solar, wind, etc., most of which went nowhere for decades. Finally, because we once again have a crisis, we are again focusing on these concepts, but imagine if our national leaders actually planned, rather than bow to popular and political pressure.

2. Carter introduced the Strategic Energy Reserve, so that the United States could not be held hostage by another country. The nation still has this reserve, which unfortunately at times has become a sort of "political football," with politicians trying to employ token gestures by discussing releasing some of the reserve to lower pricing. That strategy, while good political "spin" goes counter to a sound energy strategy.

3. Mr. Carter recognized that an energy strategy required a commitment to energy conservation measures. During his Presidency, Carter imposed strict guidelines on heating and cooling public buildings, and introduced tax subsidies and credits to encourage people to replace their old inefficient windows in the homes were better, more energy efficient ones. In the last year, President Obama proposed and Congress passed tax credits to encourage solar systems, and other alternative and/or energy savings measures, but with caps limiting the total monies committed for that purpose. There are also capped provisions in place for tax credits for people buying Hybrid and/or electric cars.

4. During the Carter administration, the federal government imposed mileage limits and a timetable with progressively stricter limits, encouraging manufacturers to improve their overall fleet mileage standards. Carter's successors revised these standards, and if the originally standards had been kept in place, the United State's would be using considerably less gasoline today. While from time to time Congress has revised and reintroduced mileage standards, the rate of imposition has been delayed, and thus more gasoline used. Obviously, this is another factor in the overall puzzle. With gasoline approaching record levels, this detrimental impact on the overall economy might have been significantly reduced, if not avoided overall.

5. Many experts consider the concentration of oil in the Middle East as a major factor in the funding of economic and terrorist wars, as well as being a factor contributing to the overall political unrest and volatility in the region. Obviously, as presently structured, even the threat of an interruption in the oil supply has a major impact on the worldwide economy.

More than thirty years later, why have we not gone further in our important quest for at least some degree of energy independence and weaned ourselves away from our unhealthy dependence on foreign oil? Obviously, many factors are involved, but perhaps the two biggest ones are political expediency/ popularity, and political procrastination (waiting to act until its a crisis, and then being reactive instead of proactive).

Richard Brody has over 30 years consultative sales, marketing, training, managerial, and operations experience. He has trained sales and marketing people in numerous industries, given hundreds of seminars, appeared as a company spokesperson on over 200 radio and television programs, and regularly blogs on real estate, politics, economics, management, leadership, negotiations, conferences and conventions, etc. Richard has negotiated, arranged and/ or organized hundreds of conferences and conventions. Richard is a Senior Consultant with RGB Consultation Services, an Ecobroker, a Licensed Buyers Agent (LBA) and Licensed Salesperson in NYS, in real estate.

Richard Brody has owned businesses, been a Chief Operating Officer, a Chief Executive Officer, and a Director of Development, as well as a consultant. Richard has a Consulting Website (; a blog (; and can be followed on Twitter.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monsanto - An Angel In The Fight Against World Hunger, Or An Evil Empire?

Crop Design - The fine art of gene discoveryImage by BASF - The Chemical Company via FlickrBy Mark Brohl

Farmers have for many years planted seeds in the spring, harvested in the fall, and after harvest reclaimed seeds for replanting in the next season. This practice is not only sensible, but economical as well. That has all changed with the huge growth of the Monsanto company.

Monsanto has developed a genetically engineered seed that is able to resist the company's own weed killer, Roundup. With the patenting of this genetically engineered seed an evil genie was let out of the bottle and it will probably be impossible to ever undo the consequences. Of course the consequences range from grave health concerns to an environmental nightmare, but this article is focusing on another issue that must not be forgotten.

Farming Will Never Be The Same

Due to the patent of these genetically engineered seeds, the farmers who buy them must sign an agreement that they will never reuse the seed or sell it to another farmer. This means that new seed must be purchased every year.

Monsanto has cashed in big on this monopoly. Seed sales and Roundup sales are booming and Monsanto has become an evil empire that will change the face of our environment. Monsanto has plenty of thugs on their payroll to demand strict compliance to the rules in the United States and around the world. Even if you are a farmer that does not use Monsanto's genetically altered seeds and have no intention of ever using them, you might very easily find yourself under the mighty arm of Monsanto when the wind, or birds, or water carries the unwanted seeds into your fields. Monsanto only needs to pull a sample from your field and if it is shown to contain his seeds, you will find yourself in a legal battle that you do not have the resources to win. Monsanto will by all means protect it's patent and certainly has the money and power to do so every time.

In Pursuit Of A Monopoly On The World's Food Supply

The Monsanto company presents itself as an agricultural company who is engaged in the fight against world hunger. Do not be fooled by this PR campaign. This company has no desire whatsoever to end world hunger, but rather is interested in profits and profits alone. Monsanto does not even so much as donate any of it's genetically modified seeds to help in the battle against world hunger. Actually they do the opposite. Monsanto has been busy buying up seed companies all around the world and strong-arming farmers everywhere to protect it's patents. The Monsanto company knows that if it owns the seed market then it controls the world's food supply. The ramifications of the growth of this evil empire are ghastly to contemplate.

Terminator Seeds

Monsanto's purchase of the Delta and Pine Land company has birthed the proliferation of terminator seeds. Delta and Pine Land as long been working with our very own USDA on genetically modified seeds and much of their work has centered around the development of these terminator seeds. This will save Monsanto a ton of money since he will no longer need to police all the farms around the world to make sure they are not selling his patented monopoly.

These seeds have been developed to literally commit suicide after the harvesting season and therefore there is no danger that farmers will save and reuse the seed the next growing season. They will have to go back to Monsanto and pay the piper year after year after year after year. All Monsanto really has to to now is to kick back and wait for it's seeds to contaminate every field on the globe and then sue each farm found to contain it's genetically modified abominations. It is really quite a simple plan but greed is the very essence of it.

No Help From The U.S. Government

Monsanto has already placed the United States Government in their hip-pocket through direct donations to both the Democratic party and the Republican party as well as huge dollars spent on lobbying. The government is now a pawn of this evil empire and this should make sane people tremble. It has been a long time since the government in America has feared the people which would mean liberty, instead we have learned to fear the government which adds up to tyranny. A tyrannical government controlled by an evil empire cannot be a good thing for America or the world. If the track record of Monsanto and our Federal Government were studied, thinking people would naturally fear this union.

According to polls over 80% of Americans would not buy genetically modified foods if they were labeled as such. Nevertheless these same Americans are actually unknowingly ingesting these dangerous GMOs in over 60% of the food they buy at the grocery store. The health hazards of ingesting these genetically alterated foods are not fully known as of yet but all evidence points to these GE seeds being very very bad for humans and animals alike.

Environmentally, the genetic pollution caused by the spread of these seeds is impossible to reverse and probably has already gone too far. It will literally change the face of our environment and the ramifications although not fully known at this writing are nevertheless quite frightening.

The seed terminator technology has effectively created a growing monopoly and one single point of control for food, namely, Monsanto. The reverberations of this alone should cause great concern among thinking people everywhere.

Say No To GMO's

We must stand up and use what is left of our freedom in this country to make a strong unified statement against unlabeled GM foods in our grocery stores. Every bit of genetically altered food sold in America should naturally be labeled since over 80% of Americans would not purchase these foods if they knew what they were made from. We must demand truthful labeling of these foods and then refuse to buy them if they have been genetically altered. It is that simple and yet it would be detrimental to the further success of the evil Monsanto Empire.

Please become informed about GMOs and then make your voice heard. Nothing less than a united stand against this evil will suffice. Will you stand up and do your part to stop this poisoning of the environment, humans, and animals, and this company's desire to control the world's food supply?

My name is Mark Brohl and I am passionate about health issues, and the state of the health of our wonderful America. I believe the American diet is literally killing us and that a steady flow of money and perks from the meat, egg, and dairy industries to the U.S. government is the reason we have had a long sustained brainwashing campaign that has precipitated the shift from a predominantly plant-based diet to an animal-based diet. The result has been an unprecedented increase in heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancers of all varieties. I believe Americans are suffering from a lack of truthful information concerning our diets. I enjoy writing motivational articles that will help to correct the problem regarding this lack of information and also examine the prevailing misinformation in the light of truth.

Healthy Vegetarian Choices For Life

Dedicated to the advancement of informed choices that will benefit our health, our environment, and our animal friends. Please visit my website at and look around awhile. I would very much appreciate comments concerning your reaction to what I have written as well as any input that might aid me in the task of making my site more helpful. I thank you in advance for your consideration.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tips for Making Your Business More Eco-Friendly

Eco friendlyImage by chrisinplymouth via FlickrBy Peter A Philips

Society is now more than ever conscious about the effect we are having on the environment. It is therefore up to businesses to embrace best eco-friendly practices and look to the future. Here, we've listed some easy eco-friendly processes to implement to make your business more environmentally friendly. From embracing reusable enviro shopping bags to reducing the wastage caused by staff, you won't want to miss our tips:
  • Do what you can online - rather than subscribing to an industry magazine that gets delivered every month, organise your subscriptions to be online and make sure that all subscriptions organised by employees are also delivered to their inbox rather than your businesses mail box.
  • Switch everything off at the end of the day - many people simply put their computer into sleep mode, but this doesn't mean that it's off. By turning off everything completely, switching it off at the power points you are making sure that you are minimising the total amount of power used.
  • Re-use where possible - encourage staff and lead by example by reusing the opposite side of old printing paper.
  • Buy green products - this means everything from recycled toilet paper to recycled envelopes. Make sure all of your cleaning products are also not harmful to the environment and that wherever possible, you use environmentally friendly products. Encourage staff to do the same when purchasing items for the office.
  • Get your staff involved - it's a great idea if you really want to position your company as environmentally friendly to get your staff to participate in a tree planting day or fund raise for a charity.
  • Have someone in charge of organising car pools to work - if you are located somewhere where people are driving to and from work each day it's a good idea to organise car pools to cut down on emissions as well as the costs of fuel for your staff members.
  • Giving employees a chance to work from home - if their job permits working remotely, it is a good idea to give staff the chance once a week or fortnight to work from home. This will not only save on fuel emissions, but also boost staff morale, giving them added flexibility.
  • Give employees the chance to contribute - going green should involve every staff member. Give employees the chance to submit ideas on how to make the office more eco-friendly and give out prizes for the most eco-friendly ideas.
  • Choose the right materials for your promotional items - make sure that all of your promotional items are made from environmentally friendly materials. For example, if you currently have your logo printed on paper bags, make sure they are made from recycled paper.
Making your business more eco-friendly is easy. By following a few steps you'll not only be making your contribution to saving our environment but you'll also be helping to empower your employees and reduce costs all at the same time.

By the way, do you want to learn more about Shopping and Product Reviews? If so, I suggest you check Paper Bags and Shopping Bags.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stop Destroying Our Only Home

Tropical rainforest, Fatu Hiva Island, Marques...Image via WikipediaBy Shawn Barker

Every minute around one hundred acres of natural rainforest are lost forever to logging. However the sad fact of the matter is that we do need this lumber to go about our everyday lives. Paper, housing, and furniture are just a few things that depend on a continuous supply of lumber. But what if there was a solution?

The days of cutting down thousands upon thousands of trees that are older than we could even phantom, fade into the past. We could then turn our focus our attention towards bamboo. Bamboo is a very fast growing grass. Some types of bamboo can grow up to eighteen inches per twenty-four hours. Some types can reach their maturity in as little as one to three years. Compared to your average tree, that's pretty amazing. It is so very versatile that it could be used on abundance of products, items including but not limited to flooring, house framing, furniture, and even clothing. There is no reason we should not already be using this amazing resource, but here are a few more reasons we should.

According to National Geographic the world's rainforests could completely disappear within the next one hundred years. So this means all of the carbon dioxide we have pumped into the air will have nowhere to go. So it will have no choice but to just sit in our atmosphere and trap unsaid amounts of heat here on earth.

The rainforests are not the only type of forests being harvested, regular forests here America is also being destroyed on average of 1% per year. There is much dispute over how much of the rainforest of the Amazon is being cut down. Some estimate as much as 372,822 square miles yearly and some claim around 173,983 square miles yearly.

These forests are not only a bunch of trees grouped together doing nothing but soaking up carbon dioxide. They are also home to millions species, most of which are not even discovered or documented yet. This does not only include animal species, this includes plant and insects to. Many people do not know of the healing powers that the forests hold. Many medicines in use today originated from the rainforests, and as many as there are we have only tested less than 1% of the plants and trees of the rainforest for medical purposes.

There is so much potential out there in the forests, and we're carelessly destroying it. One example is the periwinkle plant, it's been used to help fight cancer since the 1960s. This plant and others just like are being wiped away forever, taking with them hope for a cure to cancer, AIDS, and other devastating diseases.

A more than simple "quick fix" to all of this is to start planted mass amounts of bamboo forests and harvesting bamboo. Not only is it very versatile it also stores four times more carbon than a tree of the same height and produces thirty percent more oxygen. This mighty grass has so much potential, if it were fully put to use many problems plaguing the world could be solved, if not fully at least mostly. Structures built with bamboo are resistant to hurricanes, earthquakes, termites, and have comparable strength to mild steel and concrete.

Bamboo is an extremely fast growing grass; some types of bamboo can grow four feet a day, that's two inches an hour. Bamboo may have a long way to go before it starts getting used for housing and other live in structures, but before that time comes it can sure do a lot of good. Bamboo can replace trees in the paper making process.

Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; that's about 680 pounds per person. Just the paper we throw away each year amounts to one billion trees that could be saved. Once a forest is cut down its said they are supposed to replace the trees with little baby trees, that's fine but in order for those trees to be of any use we'll have to wait fifty to one hundred years. If we start replacing the already cut trees with bamboo forest we could cut that time down to three years. Every year bamboo reproduces on its own. There's no need for replanting, and when it is harvested correctly it does not kill the plant it will continue to grow.

Clothing is another nice feature of bamboo, it can be mixed with organic cotton and make for a very soft shirt and leave no footprint. Imagine a factory run off renewable energy producing organic cotton/ bamboo shirts; this can be a total reality if we step up to the plate. Baskets, bicycle frames, bird cages, blinds, boats, bridges, brushes, buckets, canoes, carts, charcoal, chopsticks, cooking utensils, diapers, fans, fences, firewood, fishing rods, food steamer, garden tools, handicrafts, hats, incense, musical instruments, particle board, pens, pipes, ply,roofing, scaffold, tableware, toilets, toothpicks, toys, umbrellas, walking sticks are just a few of the everyday items that have been made from bamboo.

Bringing this world into a bamboo based future is not necessarily a difficult task, but it is a lengthy one. This will take some major convincing of the big name companies in order for them to switch the production methods. The pay-off however will be well worth it, once things take off companies will have a lower bottom line.

Since bamboo farms can be started and grown in most any soil, a company can cut out its transportation cost just by planting the farm on its property. They will no longer have to bid for land to harvest because once they own the plot of land the bamboo is on it will continue to produce for them, it's kind of like one upfront cost. This will take the voice of people, we will have to stand together and demand our world not be destroyed. Little by little we're gaining ground but the fight is far from over, but we will come out on top and we will see a brighter, cleaner tomorrow.


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Monday, April 18, 2011

The Answer To Unsustainable Food Practices: Further The Backyard/Neighborhood Gardening Evolution

Backyard Vegetable GardenImage by Laura K Gibb via FlickrBy Chet Sisk

The reasons why so many people have taken to backyard and neighborhood gardening are legion. Some just want to get off the grid and live by the labor of their own hands. Some do it because it's a great hobby. Some reject the current food industry and see this as a partial answer. Some seek a more simple life and see backyard gardening as a therapeutic way to de-stress. Some fear food challenges in our near future and are looking at gardening as a survival approach. Some just like the authentic taste of food that hasn't been genetically modified or chemically treated.

The reasons are not as important as the fact that backyard and neighborhood gardens are quickly becoming a foundational pillar to a sustainable future. I'd like to formalize, for the Sustainable Society Leader, another step in the evolution of the backyard and neighborhood garden: Social Media Free Enterprise.

Social Media Free Enterprise creates the opportunity for backyard/neighborhood farmers to sell, trade, barter or give their extra produce to someone who really wants or needs it. Facebook, Twitter and various other social mediums have just made it incredibly easier to do.

Throughout my travels in Africa and Asia, streets are crowded with individual vendors selling their home grown wares to the passersby. Even here in the United States, Farmer's Markets are a Saturday morning ritual for many families, as farmers and "backyarders" offer deals that can challenge the local organic grocery store.

When I present papers at the Sustainability Conference in Kampala, Uganda later this year, I will propose a more updated version of the street vendor, using tools like Facebook 4biz or even their standard social Facebook account to create simple trade to individuals for their product. This simple and accessible approach can help the backyarder to sell their products not only at the local farmer's market, but in other neighborhoods, other cities, and eventually, between farmers and consumers in different countries.

Even more, this can give backyarders an opportunity to give their product to places where drought and famine may be happening, cutting out the middle person and sending it directly to a person, family or country in need. The international aspect of this requires a host of other regulatory hurdles to be worked on, but I will be presenting these possibilities in detail at the conference.

The Social Media Free Enterprise trading opportunity not only develops relationships across borders, expands markets and creates opportunities, but it will keep the spirit of Free Enterprise alive. I am one to believe that Free Enterprise is a necessary element in the new phase of sustainability, where small and emerging vendors and growing businesses have an opportunity to buy and sell as opposed to leaving that privilege soley in the hands of large corporations. This kind of trade may not have the efficiencies of large corporate structures, and may not have the same safe guards in place for trading produce yet, but it does provide a sustainable alternative for those who seek another way forward.

The way I see it, the biggest challenge to sustainability is when you are completely dependent upon large corporate structures for all of your basic needs. I would imagine many in the backyard and neighborhood garden movement people feel the same way. I believe we'll always have corporate structures that provide us with goods and services, but I also believe the smart move is to have locally grown and controlled alternatives to food opportunities. What I'm suggesting here is that we can take that development a bit further so that it can be a profitable and practical endeavor for the backyarder.

The social media structure to find a broader audience for backyard product is there. In most countries, efficient delivery systems are there. People with product are there. The job of the Sustainable Society Leader is to help develop this possibility so that our entire food system is not dependent upon a few companies that may be "too big to fail". Having more players spreads the risk and maintains a sustainability factor. Give this some thought as you till your backyard or neighborhood garden this weekend.

Ubuntu. We are all connected. Let's act like it.


Chet W. Sisk is an author, educator and one of the world's leading authorities on Sustainable Society Leadership. Take his FREE online Sustainable Society Leadership course online at

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day in Your Own Way

"Saving the earth.... one turtle at a tim...Image by turtlemom4bacon via FlickrBy Kathy Perkins

Earth Day, a holiday dedicated to honoring and protecting the environment, is coming up on April 22. Founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, Earth Day was created to inspire awareness and appreciation for our planet's environment.

The first Earth Day was held as an environmental teach-in with a focus on the United States. However, Earth Day has since grown into a holiday that is celebrated worldwide by one billion people in more than 175 countries each year. It is coordinated around the world by the Earth Day Network and been formed into a movement that addresses a full spectrum of environmental issues, including sustainability, cleaner water and air, and recycling. The success of Earth Day has been so influential that the month of April is observed as Earth Month by many organizations in the United States and around the world.

It is easy to get involved in the Earth Day festivities. Here are a few ideas for celebrating the holiday this year:
  • Unplug Something. Even when you aren't using your electric can opener or your coffee maker, energy is still being consumed as long as the device is plugged in. Simply unplugging electronics and appliances after you are done using them for the day will save energy.
  • Reuse Your Everyday Materials. How many plastic or paper bags do you think you have gone through at the grocery store this year? Or how many cups of water at work? Instead of constantly using and throwing away everyday materials, buy reusable items. Reusable bags, cups or containers increase sustainability.
  • Join an Environmentally Responsible Organization. There are countless global, national and local environmental organizations or groups you can join. You don't need experience, just a love for our environment and the willingness to donate or volunteer once in a while.
  • Make Recycling a Habit. It's never been simpler to make recycling a regular part of your daily life. It is as easy taking out the trash, but with greater benefits for the environment. Find a local recycling center where you can drop items off, or arrange pickups at your home.
  • Plant Greenery. Who doesn't love extra greenery? Planting trees, flowers, bushes and shrubs are all great ways to celebrate Earth Day. Not only is this a good way to commemorate the holiday and help the environment, but you will also be making your yard, business, or park more beautiful.
Whether you are a Nature Novice or a Green Guru, Earth Day is a fun holiday and a great opportunity to get involved and make a positive impact on our environment. By turning your celebration into eco-friendly habits, you can honor the holiday and our environment year round.

Kathy Perkins is the owner of Shred-Green, an Atlanta shredding company offering secure document destruction and storage. Shred-Green is committed to environmental responsibility, recycling all shreds and using state-of-the art, energy-efficient Atlanta document shredding equipment.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

How To Purchase Eco-Friendly Wood and Why It's Important

FSC ecolabel.Image via WikipediaBy Vanessa Po

Instead of completely avoiding the purchase of new wood products, consumers interested in the well being of the environment should instead seek to purchase wood products from environmentally conscience wood providers that are practicing sustainable and renewable forestry.

What is sustainable and renewable forestry?

Sustainability, when referring to a forest's ecosystem, is the ability for that ecosystem to remain healthy and productive over an extensive period of time. Although, the ability for an ecosystem (such as a forest or rainforest) to remain healthy is extraordinarily important for the well-being of the Earth, other factors such as profit and over-population, threaten many of the world's oldest forests and have led to global deforestation. More than 80 percent of the Earth's natural forests already have been destroyed according to the World Resources Institute and, according to the World Wildlife Fund, "half the world's original forest cover has been lost over the past 50 years."

Why is the purchase of eco-friendly wood products important?

We all have a vested interest in the fate of the world's forests. Healthy forest ecosystems regulate everything from the water cycle to the cleanliness of the air in our lungs. As a global economy, wood products from forests all over the world permeate so many aspects of our everyday. Although the purchase of wood products is unavoidable we can take steps to ensure that our purchases don't contribute to deforestation.

Moving towards sustainability starts with ethical consumerism and it begins with purchasing wood products from businesses committed to the well-being of the ecosystems from which their wood products are sourced. Ensuring that you're purchasing from a sustainable wood provider begins by being a conscious consumer, taking the time to ask questions, and doing your homework.

Look for the FSC seal of approval

The Forestry Stewardship Council, also known as the FSC, is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world's forests. The FSC sets in place a set of principals, practices and standards that a merchant must adhere to in order for their wood products to be FSC certified and in order for their products to carry the FSC seal-of-approval.

Purchasing FSC certified wood products help to promote environmentally favorable, socially beneficial, and economically responsible management of the world's forests. According to the FSC, "certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value."

Learn about the area from which your wood comes

Teak, for instance, is a high demand wood product and can be found throughout the world. Originally sourced from the Burmese rainforests, teak can now be purchased from sustainable teak wood plantations throughout South and Central America. The cause for the shift away from Burmese teak was due to the exploitation, deforestation, and destruction of entire ecosystems in Burma and because of the illegal felling of teak trees in the surrounding countries.

Also, most of the teak from Burma is rare old-growth teak and purchasing wood from this area is leading to the disappearance of this rare teak. In contrast, teak responsibly grown on sustainable teak wood plantations limits the ecological footprint. Knowing where your wood comes from can either mean the extinction of a rare type of tree or the purchase of wood from trees that can easily grown again, in the same place and without detriment to the environment.

Almost everything we do has an impact on the planet and it is up to us as individuals and consumers to choose whether or not that impact will be a positive one. Lets face it, being socially responsible and purchasing eco-friendly wood products is about more than mere wood, it's about improving our own quality of life and improving the lives of inhabitants across this great and into the future.

Vanessa Po supports sustainable forestry by purchasing only FSC certified wood products.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is Your Green or Eco-Community Eco-Minded?

Eco-community, MalmoImage by La Citta Vita via FlickrBy Rosemary Mac Gregor

Many eco-minded communities are being created throughout the world. Some are more eco than others. Water systems, energy systems, impact studies, dirt treatment, waste removal, recycling, transportation, food, EMF, microwaves, air-quality, sourcing items, air-conditioning, toys like television, paper use, building materials, types of lighting are some of the major issues needing to be taken into consideration. Maybe these communities should be graded or ranked according to the number of these issues incorporated into their setting.

What is the water source? Is bottled water allowed? Spring fed mountain water is some of the best. Is water recycled for garden usage and toilets?. How is the water sourced and pumped? Is there a water re-catchment system for rain-water retrieval? Are there septic systems?

What is the source of electricity? Is the water being used to generate electricity or are wind combines creating electricity? Are their solar panels and what kinds. Some of the newer ones are far better than the older versions.

Throughout the world, with the proliferation of cell phones and their towers and other devices emitting electromagnetic radiation (EMR), we are seeing dramatic increases in a number of illnesses (chronic fatigue syndrome, autism, ADD, mental illnesses, suicides, bizarre crimes, cancers, brain tumors, leukemias, epilepsy - not to mention electro sensitivity [ES]).

EMF-free communities are being built in Sweden, France, Italy, the USA, and Japan. Is this something your eco-community has considered? Since the internet is seemingly here to stay, has this community plan perhaps created a shielded center for those who insist on their internet. Some homes in the U.S.A. have a wi-fi in every bedroom, and the home office. Microsoft campuses as they are called have up to 4 internet stations in a house.

Life on this planet is being threatened by this and other technologies. There is ample evidence to suggest that this EMR is a major factor in environmental problems including the disappearance of birds, amphibians, and insects.

Narrated by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Dirt! offers insight into the environmental, economic, social, and political impact that SOIL has around the world. Packed with countless billions of microscopic organisms, soil ultimately provides life and fertility to plants, animals, and humans. It also purifies and heals the very systems that sustain us, without which nothing could survive.

Many modern interventions, including industrialized and pesticide-based farming, have all but depleted the richness of the world's soil. Within the past century one third of the world's topsoil has been depleted. Topsoil, contains the highest concentration of organic matter, including the microorganisms that convert waste to dirt and replenish it with vital nutrients. Without it, life will not be sustained. How is the soil in your community being cared for?

How is the food grown in your eco community? Are organic principles in place? What methods are being used to control pests? There are numerous natural techniques such as garlic sprays, hedges of Rosemary and Sage. Are their permaculture practices in place, that is sustainable land use design?

Does the facility have microwaves? The Germans developed the microwave technologies to support mobile operations into the vast expanses of the Soviet Union, and it is now the Russians who have outlawed their use and issued an international warning about the biological and environmental damage that can result from their use.

There are numerous pieces of research showing the cancer-causing, nutritional and biological destructive effects to humans and other organisms when exposed to microwave emissions. The list is rather mind-boggling.

What about air-conditioning? Does this eco-minded community offer this? AC is destructive to the environment, harmful to health and wasteful of resources.. Not only are we contributing to global warming by pumping out harmful gases, we are using up power, fossil fuel, and depleting reserves. We are increasing our own chances of infection by lowering our resistance by artificially changing our ambient temperature. AC causes us to re-breathe recycled air.

Does the community support televisions in each house? Studies have shown direct links between television and violent feelings and behavior, anger, and addiction. Besides that, the community roofs will be sprinkled with little satellite dishes.

Does the central store sell recycled toilet paper and paper towels? What other ecologically minded items are present? Maybe the store only sells organic or fresh items and no packaged additive loaded items.

What kinds of lighting are used? The information came out and was available in the 1970's on the harmful effects of white lights. Full-spectrum lighting was recommended. Since then we have been flooded with fluorescents that seem to cause untoward effects in many people, long life bulbs, LEDs, etc.

Learn as much as you can about each of these issues before buying into a green community. This may involve a great deal of research and awareness. Hopefully, the community has taken on the task of doing this research beforehand and is excited about educating all interested buyers.

Rosemary mange one of the most luxury Costa Rica vacation rental houseRosemary mange one of the most luxury Costa Rica vacation rental house, called The Mango Tree Spa. She knows what exactly you need when you want visit Costa Rica or when you are looking for Costa Rica Vacation Rentals.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Practical Permaculture: The Tao of the Turtle

Permacultural aspect: helping animals in a veg...                                 Image via WikipediaBy Alana Bliss

Turtle symbolizes independence and being at home anywhere. The turtle can travel all around with its home on its back, thus the turtle can journey far and experience many opportunities. Turtle values the earth, the water, and the heavens, symbolizing the grounding quality of the earth, the emotions of the water, and the magic of the mystical. Turtle energy can be helpful in achieving balance, and freedom. This totem is a symbol of a connection with the center, navigation skills, patience, developing new ideas, self-reliance, tenacity, and non-violent self defense.

Deep in the jungles of Costa Rica, unbound my nation nor farm, she has been cultivating gardens, digging swales, and implementing creative permaculture designs. Tropical torrential downpours force her to design systems that withstand the waters, and protect her plants, so she may spread their seeds. A permaculture pilgrim equipped with her turtle pack, a bag of seeds and cuttings, a wisdom of permaculture implementation, a deep understanding of plants, a collection of books, and her PDC and teacher's training, she sets out to bless each farm with her work.

For over a decade Desiree Wells has been traveling throughout Costa Rica landing on farm upon farm, implementing designs, planting, and maintaining. In search of new learning opportunities and driven by the perpetual 3 month border hops, she traveled. Learning the way of survival in simplicity and beauty. Today, this permaculture pilgrim has found a place to call her own.

Over the last year Desiree has been setting up a "classroom" where she can share the things she has learned in her adventures. This classroom is set in a beautiful garden oasis where sheet mulching, composting, and swale building meet in perfect harmony. Where cob comes in many forms, and recycling is a work of art. Workshop participants come from the community to experience hands on learning about watershed maintenance, cultivating seeds and cuttings, composting, natural building, introductions to permaculture, and more.

Because this classroom is only in its first year, so much of the learning that takes place in Abundant Eden (the business that Desiree has begun), is grass roots and focuses on implementation. Desiree calls what she does Practical Permaculture and focuses on techniques and designs that establish sustainable survival. Slow and sure, like the turtle, she believes that with careful observation and well thought out designs, many problems that may arise in Permaculture's feedback loop can be avoided. Desiree single handedly provides food for the community she belongs to, Finca Fruicion, and her gardens are like magical fairy lands, where plants come together in 3 dimensional art.

I met Desiree about 2 years ago, when my family and I first came to Costa Rica, with the intention to live our dream. She was such a bright light and I remember walking among her gardens at one of the many farms she serves in awe of the beauty that it held. Some time later, she and her horse came to our farm and decided to make a home here. I can not express the joy that I felt, when she shared that she wanted to be a part of our community.

Having gone through a Permaculture Design Certification course and a teacher's training, I still didn't feel that I was ready to really share what I had learned with others. I was seeking a mentor, someone who could show me the course in this foreign climate, and like an angel she came into our lives. Since then I have learned more than I can express here and deeply appreciate her wisdom. When I look at the swales around my house and then walk down the community garden that Desiree tends, I am humbled. Although, my desire to work side by side with Desiree is strong, fate has blessed us with a baby and slowed that course for the moment. Even still, I have learned so much. Some of which I will share in this article.

When I first came here, I was in a hurry to design and implement. I wanted chickens, goats, gardens, and more. We focused mostly on infrastructure for our family of 5, but soon my rabbit like speed manifested a chicken coop, swale gardens, and a goat house. We had lots of chickens, plants and a few goats. But alas, my speed caught up on me and I was in for a great lesson.

Desiree kept telling me to slow down and focus on my zone 1, but I was an ambitious youth and I didn't listen. Our dog ended up killing most of the chickens and my ignorance the rest. The gardens near the house were put in without the infrastructure to water them and many of the plants did not survive the dry season. Although, the goats are thriving, I have morned the loss of our chickens and plants and have taken in the lesson. Slow and sure, the turtle wins the race.

One of Desiree's greatest strengths, aside from her ability to know what plants need, is her swale building. She has created a system that her plants thrive in. She begins by creating contour lines with animal manure and plant matter, which depends on what pioneer species are nearby. Then she digs a trench, one shovel deep and one shovel wide, just above the line of organic matter, and puts the soil on top of the line.

This is pretty text book, however there is more, the plant matter/manure line creates a "worm hotel," especially when she adds cardboard, another layer of organic matter, food scraps, and essentially creates a compost pile, which she affectionately calls "yum yum sandwiches." After that she digs the trench out deeper and adds that soil to the top. This is not the best soil, nor do the plants thrive in it alone, so what she does is add some rich soil from another place on the farm, and creates a little nest for the seedlings. By the time the roots are deep enough to reach the composting below, it is broken down enough for the plant to use. Of course, here in the tropics things break down fast. This is only one of the many techniques she has put into action here on the farm.

Desiree is an extremely creative, artistic, and competent permaculture designer, she has traveled to and worked on some of the most well known permaculture farms in the US, Thailand, Costa Rica and Panama, developing her tricks of the trade. I am so honored to be able to work with her and call her a sister and friend. I highly encourage other people to come and check out our little piece of heaven here to learn in the classroom of Abundant Eden, as I have. Desiree is now accepting interns and apprentices at Finca Fruicion in Costa Rica. For more information, feel free to check out our Finca Fruicion website or email us.

Sincerely, Alana Bliss

Alana Bliss is a mother of 3 boys, all of whom were born at her house. She lives on an organic/permaculture farm in Costa Rica with her husband. Alana and Jason work from home and love to assist other people in realizing their highest potential. To learn more about how Alana generates an income from home visit or check out their farm at

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Our Reckless Use of Plastic Is Suffocating Our Oceans and Biting Us Back

Marine debris on a Hawaii beach.Image via WikipediaBy J. Max Cromwell

Plastic debris is pouring into our oceans from every corner of the planet. The world's rivers carry an ever- increasing amount of empty bottles, wrappings, and a myriad of other discarded household items to the sea 24 hours a day. Sewers and storm drains exhale plastic bags, cigarette lighters, bottle caps, and other plastic litter from our streets and highways like an inexorable monster - a monster that is slowly killing our oceans and polluting the food we eat.

Plastic has filled our seas with terrifying speed. In just a few decades, our addiction to this revolutionary product has transformed our once pristine oceans into dumping grounds for plastic waste in every shape and form. You can go to almost any place in the world and see plastic littering the landscape - waiting for rains and winds to take it to the oceans, all the way to the delicate marine ecosystems. Plastic is everywhere and its presence in nature is growing fast.

When we throw plastic waste into nature, we may think that it just disappears somewhere and never bothers us again. We maybe believe that the story of plastic ends when we get rid of it. But the fact is that this is just the first chapter in its long and disturbing biography. Discarded plastic piles up on our beaches and pollutes the shores of even the remotest of natural paradises. It travels in the ocean currents and forms huge areas of plastic accumulations in the sea. It breaks down to smaller polymers and transforms itself into plastic soup, releasing high amounts of toxic chemicals into the ocean.

The story continues and gets even darker when small marine organisms ingest these toxins and pass them on to fish - the fish that end up on our dinner plates. When we consume the fish, the last missing link in the destructive circle of plastic has found its place; the plastic bag we threw into nature has made its way back to bite us.

Plastic also kills marine life directly. Turtles, whales, seabirds, and numerous other animals mistake plastic for food and die a slow death with their stomachs full of indigestible litter. Hundreds of thousands - maybe even millions - of seabirds and marine mammals die each year from eating plastic. These animals are the defenseless and forgotten victims of our careless and inefficient treatment of plastic waste. They suffer and die is silence, far away from our eyes.

The plastic problem is getting worse by the hour. There are billions of new people coming into this world in the next few decades. Most of them will use plastic every day and many of them will throw it into nature once they are done with it. This plastic doesn't just disappear when the millions of bottles of water are consumed and the lighters and containers are empty. It outlives the people who discard it many times over. If you do the math, you will see that the equation is completely crazy. It is unsustainable at best, a terrifying and merciless Grim Reaper at worst.

Plastic is no doubt a great invention. It keeps our food fresh and lets us carry our drinks in shatter-resistant bottles. It is cheap, durable, and its imperiousness to water makes it useful in a wide range of products. It is a good and useful material and we shouldn't blame it solely for all the problems it creates. Plastic is not the main demon here. The real problem is our senseless and careless way of treating it when we don't need it anymore.

We throw plastic bags and bottles into nature without thinking about the long-term negative effects our actions have on the planet. We don't recycle enough plastic, even if there is a growing demand for recycled materials in the world. We simply don't care enough to fix the problem. Maybe we are getting used to seeing plastic waste everywhere. Maybe we are getting numb to all the trash around us.

Whatever the reason is for our inaction, we cannot continue like this. We have to change our attitudes and harmful ways if we want to keep our planet healthy and beautiful for our children and grandchildren. If we don't, we may soon discover that plastic waste has taken over the beauty and biodiversity of nature. We may find out that the once plentiful bounty of the sea has vanished and all that is left is a slowly dying ocean with ever-widening plastic deserts and growing toxic concentration.

The good news is that we can stop the destructive cycle of plastic and save our oceans if we want to. The problem is completely solvable. We can start by recycling more and simply stop throwing plastic into nature. We can pick up the plastic bag flying toward the ocean when we enjoy a nice day on the beach with our families. We can demand real action from our leaders and refuse to settle for an acknowledgment of the plastic problem with a vague promise to improve things.

We can start educating more people about the harmful qualities of plastic and strongly condemn and penalize careless treatment of plastic waste. We can widen our vision and try to see beyond our immediate surroundings and favorite holiday spots. There are numerous ways to be better, but the clock is ticking fast. The time to do something is already long due. The pain and suffering of our oceans and its creatures is very real and it's happening right now - even if we can't always witness it first hand.

The increasing flow of plastic from land-based sources is a colossal problem for our oceans and for all of us. It is suffocating our seas and polluting our food. We can pick up and remove plastic from our beaches and oceans all we want, but if we don't stop the flow of plastic from our cities and rivers, we are fighting against windmills that just keep blowing more and more plastic on our way - windmills that are gaining more power every time a new person is born into this world. The war against plastic is won or lost upstream.

Hi, I'm J. Max Cromwell, the author of 22 Inches of Rain. It's a book about life and its little mysteries.


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