Jul 27, 2013

Market to Market (July 26, 2013)

Published on Jul 26, 2013

Secretary Vilsack explains why an extension of current farm policy is a giant step backwards. Timely rains bring moisture to portions of the Corn Belt, but the outlook is anything but certain. Aging farmers ponder the transition to the next generation, but some growers are in no hurry to quit. Market analysis with Elaine Kub.

Market to Market (July 26, 2013) - YouTube

The Highland Woodworker - Summer Special 2013 - YouTube

Published on Jun 18, 2013

Beat the heat by grabbing a cold beverage and spend a moment with four woodworking masters. Can you believe Roy Underhill, Brian Boggs, the Moulthrop's and Craig Nutt are all in one episode? Plus a new "Popular Woodworking Tips, Tricks & Techniques" with Megan Fitzpatrick. So kick back and enjoy this special summer edition of "The Highland Woodworker!"

The Highland Woodworker - Summer Special 2013 - YouTube

A Forest Grows In Iowa | American Forests

In a place where forests and woodlands are rare, one family-run farm is restoring Iowa’s original landscape.

Story by Jamie Hansen
Photos by Emily Grimes

After years of work, Iowa’s woodlands have retaken the Grimes farm, making it a great example of restoration.

When most people think of Iowa farmland they envision seas of corn and soybeans. But in 1964, when Leonard and Mildred Grimes traded in their city home for the cheapest swath of farmland they could find, they saw trees.

Over the years, the couple has transformed nearly 700 acres of depleted soil into a model of forest and prairie restoration, as well as sustainable farming. According to many state conservationists, they led the way with techniques that have become increasingly popular as other farmers see value in regenerating Iowa’s long-forgotten woodlands.

“They’ve been one of the pioneers in Iowa for tree planting and forestry,” said Iowa District Forester Joe Herring.

Though Leonard, a lawyer by trade, and Mildred, a music and library science teacher, have always shared a love of trees, their main goal back in 1964 was to get their children out of the city.

“Our children were always one place or another, and it seemed like if they were out on a farm, as we had been, we could direct them better in ways that suited us,” said Leonard, with humor. “It worked.”

“It was horrible farmland,” said one of the Grimeses’ four children, Carrie Grimes Barr. “[Our grandparents], who were farmers, told them, ‘don’t do it.’”

So the whole family got to work – repairing and disassembling 20 odd outbuildings, removing refrigerators and old cars, and restoring land depleted by years of traditional agriculture.

“We were trying to recreate Iowa the way it used to be,” said Leonard. “When we got started, old cemeteries were one of the few places you still saw it.”

In addition to its dramatic loss of native prairie, Iowa has lost about a third of its original forests; woodlands once composed as much as 20 percent of the state before farming and logging took precedence.

Leonard and Mildred Grimes used their land to restore many types of ecosystems, including woodlands and native prairie.

Collaborating with agencies like the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Grimeses forested great chunks of the depleted land. “Most farmers will retire a few ‘odd acres’ and forest them,” said retired District Forester Bob Hibbs. “Leonard’s ‘odd’ was 20 and 30 acres at a time.”

The Grimeses have also experimented with various tree-growing techniques. In 1992, they direct-seeded about 50 acres. This close approximation of nature’s chosen propagation method, as well as the early settlers’, involves dispersing seed rather than planting seedlings. The seeds take root where they land, and the grower thins them over time. Leonard’s direct seeded trees have grown so quickly that he refers to them as his “instant forest.”

“When anything new came out, Leonard was willing to try it,” said Hibbs, who worked closely with the Grimeses for 30 years as they sought the best planting methods.

By now, some trees stand over 100 feet tall. Bur oak, white pine, red oak, sugar maple, cherry, and others populate the uplands. Cottonwoods, silver maple, and green ash grow in riparian buffers along streams, as did many of Iowa’s original trees.

In all, the Grimeses have planted about 200,000 trees over 240 acres. Meanwhile, they‘ve cultivated other sections of their property as traditional cropland, and converted yet others to wetland and native prairie.

From the beginning, the family also made it their mission to share their love of trees and interest in conservation with others. Since 1964 they’ve invited all Marshall County fifth-graders to the farm to fish, look at different soil qualities, and walk the forests. In 1991 they began donating 160 acres to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), for the Marshall County Conservation Board to use.

“The Grimeses had a whole vision for their property,” said INHF Vice President and Director of Development Anita O’Gara. “They wanted to protect and preserve the natural aspects of the land, and public access was important so they could have people experience and enjoy the land.”

Iowa’s native ecosystems include woodlands like these, as well as prairie

Today a nature trail lures unsuspecting Marshalltown residents away from paved streets. They find themselves wandering through prairies aglitter with butterflies, restored wetland, and shaded hardwood forest, ending at the nature center, not far from the house where Leonard still lives. The Marshall County Conservation Board bases all its operations from that center, which draws visitors from as far as Russia and Japan.

Over the years, the Grimeses have received numerous honors for their conservation work, but you won’t learn it from them. The fact that Leonard’s a Harvard-educated lawyer and former mayor of Marshalltown, and that Mildred sat on about every conservation-related board in the state never comes up in conversation. Instead, you pick it up from their friends.

They’ve been named Iowa Woodland Owner of the Year, Iowa Tree Farmer of the Year, and in 2003 the Lions Club gave them the Marshalltown Lifetime Achievement Award for “[touching the community] as educators, horticulturalists, civic leaders, environmentalists, and conservationists.”

According to O’Gara, their farm is unique in that it showcases a working landscape in harmony with conservation. She says that harmony can be best seen from a new observation tower constructed this year in honor of Mildred, who died in 2006 and had long dreamed of such a vantage point.

Mildred’s Tower lets visitors see the farm’s ‘big picture’ - how agriculture can be interwoven with native ecosystems.

“From there you get the full perspective of what they’ve done,” O’Gara said. “Rolling hills, textured land, crops, and woods are all intermingled. Visitors can see how crops and woodland can be compatible.”

Not far from that viewpoint, Leonard continues working with the trees he began growing more than 40 years ago. He envisions his children and grandchildren harvesting some of them one day, and hopefully growing future forests too. Already, the children and grandchildren find themselves bound to the farm by a tree planted in their honor when they’re born, and another when they die.

“I really love to watch how the trees grow,” said Leonard when asked what the most rewarding aspect of his work has been. “I keep thinking almost daily about how big they are, and remembering what little seeds they were when they were planted.“

- Jamie Hansen has written on ecology and conservation for Sierra Magazine, the High Country News, and Birder’s World.

This article was published in the Autumn 2010 issue of American Forests magazine.

A Forest Grows In Iowa | American Forests

Jul 26, 2013

Halliburton admits it destroyed Deepwater Horizon evidence | Grist

U.S. Coast Guard

By John Upton

As emergency workers scrambled to control oil that was spreading from the Deepwater Horizon site in 2010, Halliburton had other damage-control priorities on its mind: The company was busily destroying the results of computer simulations that suggested it shared some blame for the disaster.

Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that the oil-industry giant had agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 blowout, explosion, and oil spill. It agreed to pay a $200,000 fine — the maximum allowed under law. It also agreed to donate $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Congress in 1984 to hand out conservation grants.

The simulations that Halliburton workers destroyed contradicted the company’s own claims that blame for the mechanical failures that led to the accident should be directed at BP — not at itself. From The Washington Post:

Halliburton’s simulations examined one of the key decisions in the run-up to the disaster: Whether BP made a serious error by using six centralizers instead of 21; centralizers are metal collars on the outside of the steel pipe that helped stabilize the drill pipe in the center of the hole.

Before the blowout, Halliburton had recommended that BP use 21 of the centralizers. Later, during inquiries about the spill, Halliburton officials repeatedly pointed at a BP executive who gave the go-ahead to use only six centralizers in part because it would have taken additional time to find more.

Now the plea agreement says that on two occasions Halliburton’s simulations revealed that it made little difference whether BP used six or 21. That would have intensified scrutiny about whether flaws in Halliburton’s cement job were more significant.

On or about May 3, 2010, Halliburton established an internal working group to examine the Macondo disaster, including whether the number of centralizers used could have contributed to the blowout. According to the plea agreement, Halliburton’s cementing technology director instructed a senior program manager to run two computer simulations of the Macondo well’s final cementing job. When the simulations “indicated that there was little difference between using six and 21 centralizers,” the program manager “was directed to, and did, destroy these results,” the plea agreement said.

Halliburton, BP, and rig owner Transocean (which has also obstructed the federal investigation into the disaster) are all on trial in a civil case in New Orleans, where they’re trying to shift blame from themselves onto the others. The New York Times explains how Halliburton’s plea deal could affect that case:

Legal scholars said the guilty plea would probably work against Halliburton in the civil trial in New Orleans to determine the share of damages owed to the Gulf states and businesses affected by the spill.

“This could impact how the civil litigation is resolved, potentially imposing more liability on Halliburton than we originally thought,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

It may also work in favor of BP, which has argued that while it made serious mistakes it shares responsibility for the accident with Halliburton and Transocean.

So which evil oil company are you rooting for?

Halliburton admits it destroyed Deepwater Horizon evidence | Grist

Agricultural Dones

Drones Special - Part 1
… is often times more efficient and effective. As the next chapter unfolds for aircraft and agriculture. The integration of drones holds great promise for our industry. When we return we'll explore the use these unmanned aerial systems and agriculture …

Drones Special - Part 2
Join Advanced Technology editor, Laurie Bedord as she investigates the latest in unmanned aerial system

Drones Special - Part 3
Join Advanced Technology editor, Laurie Bedord as she investigates the latest in unmanned aerial systems, and how farmers can add them to their precision solutions.

Drones Special - Part 4
… the controversial technology. May turn to have its greatest impact in a more peaceful mission. Army. For the full story on drones in agriculture. Visit agriculture dot com. Please join us next week. For another episode of the machinery show.

Eldora Speedway: Dirt Track Racing's Field of Dreams

Published on Jul 26, 2013

The phenomena that is Eldora Speedway, as presented during the broadcast of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mudsummer Classic on SPEED, and with the help of the NASCAR Media Group.

Jul 25, 2013

Chris Hedges Answers Questions from Viewers - YouTube

Published on Jul 24, 2013

On the final episode of Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, Chris Hedges answers questions like: "Do you believe the US or Israel will attack Iran?" and "Is there any hope for Bradley Manning?"

See more videos at: http://therealnews.com

Chris Hedges Answers Questions from Viewers - YouTube

Iowa will have to import corn | The Des Moines Register | desmoinesregister.com

Jul. 23, 2013
Perry Beeman

Iowa, the nation’s king of corn production, will have to import some of the prized kernels because this season’s dicey crop won’t meet demand, an analyst said Tuesday.

A couple obig reasons: ethanol plants are returning to full production and livestock operations are growing and need more feed.

Ross Korves, economic policy analyst for Michigan-based ProExporter Network, said it’s a rare situation that comes because flooding delayed spring planting, and a year earlier, drought shriveled the state’s usual shining yields.

Korves addressed the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s Economic Summit at Iowa State University.

This year’s Iowa corn forecasts are running at a reduced 149 bushels an acre, better than last year’s 137 but far lower than the goals that easily run into the 180s, Korves said. As it stands, Iowa is expected to come in below the projected national average of 152 bushels per acre.

“A whole lot of people are worried about what is going on in Iowa,” Korves said.

A drop in corn prices brought ethanol plants back toward full production, and livestock operations, with the exception of cattle, are expanding at least modestly.

That increases demand for corn, used for animal feed and converted to ethanol. Korves said Iowa will end up buying 221 million bushels of corn, most likely from other states, not from other countries. Iowa is expected to grow about 2 billion bushels of corn.

No bordering state is in Iowa’s predicament. All will end up with net exports of corn, from 584 million bushels leaving Illinois to the 63 million shipped from Wisconsin.

With Iowa using so much of its own corn, the nation now looks to North Dakota to help build reserves. But that state left 4.4 million acres unplanted this spring — double the initial federal estimate and far more than Iowa’s 200,000 to 400,000 unplanted acres — due to weather difficulties, Korves said. “That’s an astronomical number,” he added.

The 4.4 million is equivalent to one-fifth of North Dakota’s 22 million crop acres.

Iowa’s poultry and pork projection is expected to jump up a percentage point or two, but cattle production continues to drop, said economist John Anderson of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

That means continued high beef prices, and consumers are noticing, Anderson said. Some are choosing cheaper meats.

“We still have consumers who are exceedingly cost-conscious,” Anderson said. “Demand has been good but not phenomenal.”

Anderson expects beef production to drop more over the next year or two before rebounding.

Jeff MacKenzie of Orascom, which is building a large fertilizer plant near Wever, predicted the central U.S. will begin to dominate the market. Fertilizer prices should settle in at $400 a ton, down from $700, he added.

“The U.S. went from having the most expensive natural gas in the world to having the cheapest,” MacKenzie said. Natural gas is used to make anhydrous ammonia, a common corn fertilizer.

Partly because of that, he expects corn to hover around $4.37 a bushel most of the time, but it will be higher now and then.

Iowa will have to import corn | The Des Moines Register | desmoinesregister.com

"Veggie Mobile" Could Come Rolling Into The Quad Cities


Updated: Jul 24, 2013
By Bailey Deitz

The wheels are in motion for a new way for Quad Citians to get fresh, local foods. The Quad Cities Food Hub is in the running for a grant to help pay for a new "veggie mobile" that would bring produce right to area streets.

"The veggie mobile is actually one of our initial goals when the steering committee convened three years ago," said Carla Jaquet, President of the Quad Cities Food Hub. The Food Hub was one of nearly 100 initial applicants seeking grant money from The Wellmark Foundation geared toward healthier communities. The veggie mobile made the cut down to 17 contenders.

"We can get fresh, healthy food to individuals who wouldn't typically have the opportunity. Food deserts, the elderly," said Jaquet.

Some residents say they see a need for it throughout this area.

"I think it's a good idea, especially for elderly, people who can't get out or move around or don't have a vehicle," said Shelly Markin a local parent.

Food Hub members reached out to similar programs in Michigan and Vermont which report overwhelming success. Similar food vans go into places where nearby grocery stores are sparse or to low income neighborhoods giving easy access to healthy options. For the local program people would able to use Iowa EBT or Illinois Link cards to buy fruits, vegetables, local dairy and more. Also, education on preparing the foods will be a big part of the program.

It's also about making more connections between consumers and local produce growers and expanding on the farmers market so growers have more opportunities to sell their produce. Food Hub officials say if this grant doesn't come through the wheels will stay in motion to make this happen down the road.

We'll know mid-August if the veggie mobile concept wins the $42,000 it applied for. It's a matching grant so the Q.C. Food Hub would then need to find local partners to achieve the goal.

"Veggie Mobile" Could Come Rolling Into The Quad Cities

Jul 24, 2013

Mark Twain Documentary - YouTube

Published on Oct 5, 2012

A popular humorist, philosopher and social satirist, Mark Twain was the well-known nom-de-plume of writer Samuel Clemens, the nation's first literary celebrity. One of the most quoted men of his time, he was born in 1835, the year Haley's Comet passed over, and vowed that he would not die until he saw the famous comet. He died in 1910 -- the day after the comet's return. Tracing Twain's rise from his humble birth in Missouri to his prosperous life in Connecticut as the nation's best-selling author, Mark Twain reveals a compelling portrait of the father of American literature.

Nearly three years in the making and drawing from 63 hours of material, thousands of archival photographs and nearly 20 interviews with top writers and Twain scholars, Mark Twain is the story of an extraordinary life­-one full of rollicking adventure, stupendous success and crushing defeat, hilarious comedy and unbearable tragedy. Told primarily through the words of Twain himself and narrated by Keith David (the voice of Jazz), viewers of all ages will be personally introduced to this compelling yet contradictory genius, who said with some justification, "I am not an American, I am the American." (2001)

Mark Twain Documentary - YouTube

Corn Ethanol Harms Consumers, Climate and Renewable Energy Development – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

Environmental Working Group

EWG Senior Vice President for Governental Affairs Scott Faber testified before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

The federal requirement to blend corn ethanol into gasoline is polluting America’s air and water, contributing to climate change, hurting consumers and hindering the development of cleaner biofuels, Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs, told a Congressional panel today.

Faber’s remarks came during testimony before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. The two-day hearing focused on the Renewable Fuel Standard, also known as RFS.

“It’s time to face the facts: the RFS is producing too many ‘bad biofuels’ that increase greenhouse gas emissions, increase food and gasoline prices and pollute our air and water—and not enough ‘good biofuels,’” Faber said.

“Once heralded as a way to combat climate change, the RFS has actually increased greenhouse emissions by encouraging farmers to plow up more than 23 million acres of land—an area the size of Indiana—releasing more carbon and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.”

Faber highlighted a lifecycle analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that found that the rapid expansion of corn ethanol production raised carbon emissions in 2012 and will continue to do so for years to come.

Corn ethanol is produced overwhelmingly in plants powered by natural gas or coal, which increases lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent and 66 percent respectively compared to gasoline. Most of this production is exempt from greenhouse gas reduction requirements under a provision of 2007 legislation that expanded federal biofuels mandates.

Faber also noted that growing corn for ethanol requires huge amounts of fertilizers and other farm chemicals that ultimately wash off fields and pollute nearby waterways. This pollution contributes to the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, a vast area of low oxygen that cannot sustain marine life.

“Advanced biofuels made from non-food sources are promising alternatives, but in a market dominated by corn ethanol, progress is too slow,” Faber testified. “To allow second-generation fuels to gain a foothold in the marketplace, Congress must phase out the corn ethanol mandate. There is no simply reason to think RFS, as currently designed, is providing a sufficiently powerful incentive to develop these fuels.”

Corn Ethanol Harms Consumers, Climate and Renewable Energy Development – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

Are eggs good for you? 30 Reasons to Eat Eggs - Health Extremist

May 13, 2013 By Lori, Health Extremist

Are eggs good for you? 30 Reasons to Eat Eggs

Eggs have gotten a bad rap in the past and unfortunately, many today still believe the wide spread misinformation.

Are eggs good for you? Do they cause heart disease? Do they raise cholesterol? Should I avoid them?

Depending on who you ask, you may get very different answers to these questions. Many traditional doctors still would answer that eggs increase cholesterol and should be avoided. Some are adamant that only the egg white should be used because of the cholesterol in the yolk. Even when trying to research this topic, some articles still push the idea that eggs are harmful and in order to prevent health problems, one should avoid them.

I have to admit that I once believed the propaganda spread in the media and by drug pushing corporations. It wasn’t until I first began seeing a naturopath that I heard that eggs are good for you and the doctors are the ones who have it wrong. Sure, the first time my naturopath said that, I thought he must be crazy, how could doctors be wrong? Sadly, they are and not just about eggs.

Eggs are actually a super-food, they are packed with nutrients vitamins and health benefits!
But don’t eggs raise your cholesterol?

One of the main reasons eggs are avoided is due to fear of them increasing cholesterol. However, several studies have shown that not only do eggs not raise LDL cholesterol, but lower it. According to a recent study, those consuming 3 eggs per day over 12 weeks were found to have lower LDL cholesterol and raised HDL. Another study showed that those who consumed 4 or more eggs per week had lower cholesterol than those who only ate one egg per week.

Eggs are good for you! Here’s why:

1. Eggs are Full of Vitamins and Minerals- Including vitamins B, C, D, E, K, and more.

2. Lower High Blood Pressure- The peptides present in eggs were shown to help reduce high blood pressure.

3. Great Source of Protein- Eggs are a great source of protein, one egg contains 6 grams of protein.

4. Omega 3’s- Eggs contain a high level of essential omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient and good for your heart.

5. Nine Essential Amino Acids- Eggs are known as the perfect food as they are the only one that contains all 9 of the essential amino acids.

6. Can Lower Your Cholesterol- Eggs do contain cholesterol, however as mentioned above, studies have shown that those who consume eggs regularly had a reduced LDL and an increase in HDL (the good cholesterol).

7. Boost Brain and Nerve Health-One egg contains 20% of the daily recommended intake of choline. Approximately 90% of Americans are choline deficient. Choline is essential for phospholipids used in all cell membranes. Adequate levels of choline are essential for brain and nerve health.

8. Contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin- These carotenoids are an essential component for eye health and defend against the damaging effects of free radicals.

9. Contain Tryptophan and Tyrosine- Two amino acids which have great antioxidant properties. Tryptophan is also important as it is converted to serotonin, a mood enhancer and converted into melatonin in the pineal gland, which benefits sleep.

10. Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration- Eggs protect your eyes from developing age-related macular degeneration due to the lutein and zeaxanthin present.

11. Good Source of Vitamin B12- Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin for the process of converting homocysteine into safe molecules, such as glutathione, an important antioxidant.

12. Eggs Contain Calcium- One egg contains 50mg (5%) calcium. Although not a large source of calcium, an increased intake can reduce the risk of colon polyups and breast cancer.

13. Eggs Do NOT Cause Heart Disease- The choline in eggs is a crucial nutrient to help reduce the inflammation that leads to heart disease.

14. Reduce Birth Defects- Eggs contain folate, a nutrient which studies have shown to help prevent birth defects when consumed prenatally, one egg contains 44μg (11%) of folate.

15. Good Source of Vitamin A- One egg contains 19% vitamin A which plays an important role in improving the immune system.

16. Promote Healthy Hair and Nails- The sulfur contained in eggs and the additional vitamins and minerals help promote hair and nail growth.

17. Reduce Oxidative Stress- Selenium, an essential macronutrient contained in eggs helps reduce oxidative stress.

18. Reduce Risk of Tumors- Eggs are an excellent source of selenium which has been associated with preventing cancer and in particular reducing tumors affecting the prostate.

19. Eggs Protect Your Eyesight- Not only do they prevent macular degeneration, but the antioxidants in eggs also have been reported to protect eyes from damage related to UV exposure.

20. Reduces Risk of Cataracts- The antioxidants have also been linked to reducing the risk of developing cataracts in old age.

21. Improve Immune System Functioning- The iron contained in eggs helps support a healthy immune system and normal red blood cell production.

22. Lose Weight- In a study from Louisiana State University, participants who ate eggs for breakfast instead of bagels, lost more weight and reported having more energy.

23. Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer- A recent study found that women who consumed high amounts of choline, an abundant nutrient in eggs, were 24% less likely to get breast cancer.

24. Source of Vitamin D- The majority of the population is deficient in vitamin D which is essential for boosting the immune system and preventing cancer. One egg contains 41 IU of the 600 IU recommend daily amount of vitamin D.

25. Reduces Inflammation- The choline in eggs aids in reducing inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to increasing the risk of osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, cognitive decline, and type 2 diabetes.

26. Beneficial for Fetal Development- The choline present in eggs is essential for pregnant women as it is crucial for proper fetal brain development and preventing neural tube defects.

27. Reduce Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke- Several studies have shown that the nutrients in eggs help prevent blood clots which reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

28. Improved Memory Function- The high amount of vitamins and nutrients in eggs, in particular choline, improves memory function and cognition.

29. Eggs Can Be Inexpensive- Many are able to get eggs for a great price when bought from local farmers. Another option is to raise your own chickens! Not only does this help save money and provide you with more nutritional value, but you could sell eggs to those in the area to cover the cost of caring for them.

30. Egg Variety- There are many ways to prepare eggs, whether you eat them raw, scramble them up in coconut oil, or boil them. You can also add great variety by adding in nutritious vegetables and herbs, such as to an omelet.

Are eggs good for you? 30 Reasons to Eat Eggs - Health Extremist

Listen to Your Weeds!

What do you do when you see a weed in the garden? Jump in and frantically hack away with a hoe? Throw up your hands in despair? Learn something?

Yes, learn something! Those weeds are excellent indicators of soil conditions. In fact, experts known as geochemical botanists often look for specific weeds to help them locate minerals in the soil and to pinpoint geological features. You can apply this science in your own backyard in two ways: to plant garden crops that will thrive in the same conditions as those weeds or to amend your soil so that the conditions are less inviting to the weeds you find there.

Here are the most reliable weedy indicators and what they reveal about your soil.

Photo: (cc) Howard Dickins/Flickr
Weeds That Say Your Soil Is Soggy

If you see dock, foxtails, horsetail, and willows, you can expect your site to suffer swampy conditions some time during the year. Other weeds that thrive in wet soil include goldenrod, Joe-Pye weed, oxeye daisy, poison hemlock, rushes, and sedges.

What could you possibly grow in such conditions? How about a fabulous garden filled with plants that like wet feet? Ornamental willows, including pussy willow and curly willow, will flourish here and provide plenty of material for flower arrangements. You can also grow dogwoods, Japanese iris, Siberian iris, yellow flag, ligularia, cardinal flower, and turtlehead. Don't grow invasive wet-loving plants like purple loosestrife or meadowsweet, however. They can overwhelm the area and destroy the natural balance of the wetlands.

Also, don't try to change these conditions. Wetlands are priceless natural habitats that are rapidly being lost to development. Besides, trying to "correct" such a site usually is a lost cause—in Nature, water almost always wins.

Photo: (cc) Eugene Zelenko/Flickr
Weeds That Cry Out "Compaction and Crust"

Chicory and bindweed are telltale signs of compacted soil. That's why you often see the blue flowers of chicory along highways. Chicory also is common in gardens where beds have been left empty or, worse still, where soil has been worked when it's wet.

If your weeds indicate compacted soil, plant a cover crop of white lupines and sweet clover. They have roots as strong as those of pesky chicory, and they help to break up the soil. At the same time, these cover crops replenish the nitrogen levels in the soil.

Although a hard crust on your soil's surface can prevent many vegetables and flowers from breaking through, it doesn't deter quackgrass or mustard family weeds at all.

If weedy mustard is flourishing in your garden, pull it up and plant closely related brassica crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and choy instead. They can push through crusty soil with ease. Replace quackgrass with a fast-growing grassy cover crop (such as rye) in fall, then till it under the following spring. The cover crop will loosen the soil and choke out the weeds.

To aerate and lighten crusty and compacted soil, add compost. Prevent future problems by working your soil only when it's dry.

Photo: (cc) Joost J. Bakker/Flickr
Weeds That Signal Your Soil Is Sour

Dandelions, mullein, sorrel, stinging nettle, and wild pansy all thrive in "sour" acidic soil (pH below 7.0).

If you find these pests in your garden, grow plants that also like their soil on the tart side: hydrangeas (whose flowers achieve their most beautiful shades of blue in acidic soil), blueberries, rhododendrons, and azaleas. In the vegetable garden, endive, rhubarb, shallots, potatoes, and watermelon all tolerate soil with a pH as low as 5.0.

Or, if you'd rather grow plants that thrive in neutral soils, you could raise your soil's pH by applying dolomitic limestone. To determine how much lime to use, send a soil sample to a lab for testing, then follow the lab's recommendations. Wood ashes also will raise soil pH, but don't use any more than 25 pounds per 1,000 square feet, and avoid applying them more often than every 2 or 3 years. Compost is a better buffer: Just add enough to raise your soil's pH to 6.5 or 6.8.

Photo: (cc) Bob Jenkins/Flickr
Weeds That Say Your Soil Is Sweet

Campion, field peppergrass, nodding thistle, salad burnet, scarlet pimpernel, and stinkweed all indicate a "sweet" alkaline soil (pH higher than 7.0).

Ornamentals that do well in alkaline soil include lilacs, Persian candytuft, dianthus, baby's breath, helianthemum, dame's rocket, lavender, and mountain pinks. Some edibles also tolerate soil that's a little on the sweet side, including asparagus, broccoli, beets, muskmelons, lettuce, onions, and spinach.

If you want to lower the pH of your alkaline soil, add peat moss or elemental sulfur at a rate suggested by soil test results. Or, again, simply add compost regularly to bring the pH closer to neutral.

Photo: (cc) Anemone Projectors/Flickr
Weeds That Warn of Worn-Out Soil

Biennial wormwood, common mullein, daisies, mugwort, wild carrot, wild parsnip, and wild radish are sure signs that your soil has poor fertility.

Luckily, many perennials actually flower better when the amount of food in the soil is on the lean side. This list includes achillea, antennaria, artemisia, asclepias, centranthus, cerastium, coreopsis, echinops, eryngium, gaillardia, salvia, santolina, solidago, and stachys. In the edible department, beans (and other legumes), beets, carrots, parsnips, peas, radishes, sage, and thyme tolerate soil that's low in fertility.

Of course, you could and should improve the fertility of at least some of that soil. First, have your soil tested. If the test reveals major deficiencies, correct them with organic fertilizers such as fish meal (for nitrogen), bonemeal (for phosphorus), and greensand (for potassium). From then on, use compost and cover crops to maintain your soil's fertility.

Photo: Image Source
Weeds That Reveal Your Soil Is Rich

Fertile soil will often make its richness known by supporting happy and vigorous colonies of chickweed, henbit, and lamb's-quarter. In addition, a flush of redroot pigweed indicates an abundance of nitrogen in the soil, while knapweed and red clover reveal an excess of potassium. Spot lots of purslane and mustard? They could be telling you that your soil is rich in phosphorus.

To take full advantage of your soil's fertility, plant heavy feeders, such as corn, broccoli, lettuce, melons, squash, tomatoes, and peppers.

Keep Reading: 8 Weeds You Can Eat.

Photo: (cc) Steve Ryan/Flickr
Source URL: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/listen-to-your-weeds

Listen to Your Weeds!

Breaking: Unlimited Arsenic and Other Poisons Dumped Daily Into U.S. Waters – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

By Donna Lisenby

Today a coalition of environmental organizations and clean water groups released an eye popping new report highlighting the public health threats of toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants. Environmental experts from Waterkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Environmental Integrity Project,Earthjustice and Clean Water Action reviewed technical data from 386 coal-fired power plants across the country and found that the Clean Water Act has been almost universally ignored by power companies and permitting agencies.

For each plant, the groups reviewed permit and monitoring requirements for some of the most toxic poisons routinely discharged into rivers, lakes and bays on a daily basis including arsenic, boron, cadmium, lead, mercury and selenium. The report, Closing the Floodgates: How the Coal Industry Is Poisoning Our Water and How We Can Stop It found that:
In the absence of any effective pollution limit, coal plants have become by far the largest source of toxic water pollution in the country
Of the 274 coal plants that discharge coal ash and scrubber wastewater into waterways, nearly 70 percent (188) have no limits on the toxics most commonly found in these discharges (arsenic, boron, cadmium, lead, mercury and selenium) that are dumped directly into rivers, lakes, streams and bays.
Of these 274 coal plants, more than one-third (102) have no requirements to monitor or report discharges of these toxic metals to government agencies or the public.
A total of 71 coal plants surveyed discharge toxic water pollution into rivers, lakes, streams and bays that have already been declared impaired due to poor water quality. Of these plants that are dumping toxic metals into impaired waterways, more than three out of four coal plants (59) have no permit that limits the amount of toxic metals it can dump.
Nearly half of the coal plants surveyed (187) are operating with an expired Clean Water Act permit. Fifty-three of these power plants are operating with permits that expired five or more years ago

The troubling results of the groups’ investigation are due in large part to the lack of any binding federal standards limiting toxic pollution from coal plants. Existing standards that apply to coal plant wastewater were established in 1982 and do not cover most of the worst pollutants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has repeatedly acknowledged that existing guidelines have not kept pace with developments in the industry. However, for more than three decades the U.S. EPA has failed to set standards to curb the billions of pounds of pollution power plants dump into our rivers, streams and lakes each year from coal ash and scrubber sludge wastewaters. Fortunately, in April 2013, as a result of federal court litigation filed by several conservation groups, the EPA proposed the first ever national standards to limit toxics dumped into waterways from coal plants.

The groups also reviewed a red-line copy of the EPA’s proposed coal plant water pollution standards that were sent to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before the standards were released. The red-line copy shows that OMB caved to industry pressure and took the highly unusual and improper step of writing new, weaker options into the draft rule prepared by the EPA’s expert staff.

Of the various options outlined in the EPA’s proposed standards, the best is “Option 5,” which would eliminate almost all toxic waste dumped into our rivers, streams, lakes and bays. Option 5 would reduce pollution by more than 5 billion pounds a year. It should be the option EPA selects for the final rule because the human health impacts from this pollution are serious. The EPA estimates that nearly 140,000 people per year experience increased cancer risk due to arsenic in fish from coal plants, nearly 13,000 children under the age of seven each year have reduced IQs because of lead in fish they eat and almost 2,000 children are born with lower IQs because of mercury in fish their mothers have eaten.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance spoke passionately about the need to protect public health and our waterways today in a press conference on the banks of Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte, NC when he released the report alongside other environmental leaders.

“Allowing coal polluters to fill our rivers and lakes with this witches brew of toxic chemicals threatens public health and diminishes quality of life for Americans,” said Kennedy. “The Clean Water Act is one of our nation’s greatest achievements, but forty years after this critical legislation was passed, the coal industry is still polluting with impunity, thanks to a loophole no other industry has enjoyed.”

“We look out for lead paint when we buy a home and we clear our kids from the room when a mercury thermometer breaks on the ground—so why would we let the coal industry dump millions of pounds of these poisons into our water?” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Doctors and scientists know that exposure to these dangerous metals can lead to birth defects, cancer and even death. That means the EPA’s new coal plant water pollution standards will not only clean up our water, but it will also save lives.”

“This is a problem with a solution. Affordable wastewater treatment technologies exist to eliminate toxic discharges and are already in use at some plants,” said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of Environmental Integrity Project. “It is time to hold the coal industry accountable for cleaning up this pollution. Americans deserve—and the law demands—commonsense safeguards that protect downstream communities and our watersheds from dangerous heavy metals.”

“EPA sent over a strong, common-sense rule to OMB that proposed affordable treatment solutions for a serious water pollution problem. But after closed-door meetings with industry, OMB decided to overrule the experts at EPA and propose so-called ‘preferred’ options that will give coal plants a free pass to continue dumping toxics into our waterways,” said Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice’s Climate and Energy vice president. “It’s outrageous that OMB is caving to coal interests instead of getting arsenic and other poisons out of our drinking water.”

“It’s time for power plants to stop using rivers, lakes, streams and bays as open sewers to dump their toxic waste. It’s especially a travesty that we are allowing more than 70 coal plants to dump dangerous heavy metals directly into waterways that are already impaired with those very same toxics,” said Robert Wendelgass, Clean Water Action’s president and CEO. “Worse still, three quarters of these plants are operating without a permit to limit the amount of toxic metals they can dump in the water. The EPA must end the power plant industries’ free pass to pollute into already damaged waterways and other vital waters that are sources of drinking water for millions of Americans.”

To help highlight the report’s findings and raise awareness about the EPA’s critical new coal plant water pollution standards, many local events will be held across the country. From a “toxic lemonade stand” in Pennsylvania to a “Miss and Mr. Toxic Water Swimsuit Competition” in Missouri, and from a kayaking trip outside a coal plant in Oklahoma to a fish-less fish fry in Illinois, activists from coast to coast will be calling for the EPA to finalize the strongest possible standards to protect American families from dangerous toxic water pollution.

If you think it is past time for the U.S. to stop the unlimited discharge of arsenic and other poisons in our waterways, tell the EPA to choose option 5 during the public comment period on the proposed new rules.

Breaking: Unlimited Arsenic and Other Poisons Dumped Daily Into U.S. Waters – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

Permaculture: Geoff Lawton at TEDxAjman - YouTube

Published on Jul 3, 2012

About The Speaker:

Geoff Lawton is an internationally - renowned permaculture educator, consultant and practitioner. He emigrated from England to Australia and later studied permaculture with Bill Mollison in Tasmania. He established the Permaculture Research Institute at Tagari Farm in New South Wales, Australia, a 147 acre farmstead previously developed by Mollison. PRI was eventually moved to Zaytuna Farm, in The Channon, where it continues today.

Since 1985, Geoff has designed and implemented permaculture projects in 30 countries for private individuals and groups, communities, governments, aid organizations, & multinational corporations. He has taught the Permaculture Design Certificate course and designed permaculture projects in 30 countries. The Permaculture Research Institute supports the establishments of Permaculture Master Plan sites worldwide as demonstration sites and education centers that network their research information through. www.permacultureglobal.com.

This event was held in Ajman, UAE.
31st of March, 2012

Permaculture: Geoff Lawton at TEDxAjman - YouTube

Jul 23, 2013

Some scientists think that biochar is the key to extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - Could Photosynthesis Be Our Best Defense Against Climate Change? | Mother Jones

By Mark Hertsgaard
Fri Jul. 19, 2013
Engineering for Change/Flickr

This story first appeared in Slate and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

A gigantic, steaming-hot mound of compost is not the first place most people would search for a solution to climate change, but the hour is getting very late. "The world experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes during the 2001-2010 decade," declares a new report from the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization, which added that the decade was "the warmest since the start of modern measurements in 1850." Among those extreme events: the European heat wave of 2003, which in a mere six weeks caused 71,449 excess deaths, according to a study sponsored by the European Union. In the United States alone, 2012 brought the hottest summer on record, the worst drought in 50 years and Hurricane Sandy. Besides the loss of life, climate-related disasters cost the United States some $140 billion in 2012, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council concluded.

We can expect to see more climate-related catastrophes soon. In May scientists announced that carbon dioxide had reached 400 parts per million in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, humanity is raising the level by about 2 parts per million a year by burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, and other activities.

At the moment, climate policy focuses overwhelmingly on the 2 ppm part of the problem while ignoring the 400 ppm part. Thus in his landmark climate speech on June 25, President Obamatouted his administration's doubling of fuel efficiency standards for vehicles as a major advance in the fight to preserve a livable planet for our children. In Europe, Germany and Denmark are leaving coal behind in favor of generating electricity with wind and solar. But such mitigation measures aim only to limit new emissions of greenhouse gases.

That is no longer sufficient. The 2 ppm of annual emissions being targeted by conventional mitigation efforts are not what are causing the "unprecedented" number of extreme climate events. The bigger culprit by far are the 400 ppm of carbon dioxide that are already in the atmosphere. As long as those 400 ppm remain in place, the planet will keep warming and unleashing more extreme climate events. Even if we slashed annual emissions to zero overnight, the physical inertia of the climate system would keep global temperatures rising for 30 more years.

We need a new paradigm: If humanity is to avoid a future in which the deadly heat waves, floods, and droughts of recent years become normal, we must lower the existing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. To be sure, reducing additional annual emissions and adapting to climate change must remain vital priorities, but the extraction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has now become an urgent necessity.

Under this new paradigm, one of the most promising means of extracting atmospheric carbon dioxide is also one of the most common processes on Earth: photosynthesis.

Which is how I came to find myself plunged forearm-deep into the aforementioned mound of compost. It was a truly massive heap, nearly the length of a football field, 5 feet tall and 10 feet wide, and a second equally large pile lay nearby. It all belonged to Cornell University, one of the powerhouses of agricultural research in the United States. Michael P. Hoffmann, the associate dean of Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, told me it was comprised mainly of food scraps from Cornell's dining halls and detritus from its groundskeeping operations.

"You don't want to leave your hand in there too long," Hoffmann cautioned as I felt around inside the steaming mass of brown. Sure enough, although it was a cool, cloudy day, my forearm soon felt almost uncomfortably warm. "The microbes in there generate a fair amount of heat as they break down the organic materials," he explained.

Compost is but one of the materials that can be used to produce biochar, a substance that a small but growing number of scientists and private companies believe could enable extraction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a meaningful scale. Biochar, which is basically a fancy scientific name for charcoal, is produced when plant matter—tree leaves, branches and roots, cornstalks, rice husks, peanut shells—or other organic material is heated in a low-oxygen environment (so it doesn't catch fire). Like compost, all of these materials contain carbon: The plants inhaled it, as carbon dioxide, in the process of photosynthesis. Inserting biochar in soil therefore has the effect of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it underground, where it will not contribute to global warming for hundreds of years.

Johannes Lehmann, a professor of agricultural science at Cornell, is one of the world's foremost experts on biochar. He has calculated that if biochar were added to 10 percent of global cropland, it would store 29 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent—an amount roughly equal to humanity's annual greenhouse gas emissions. This approach would take advantage of a physical reality often overlooked in climate policy discussions: the capacity of the Earth's plants and soils to serve as a climate "sink," absorbing carbon that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere and accelerate global warming. Oceans have been the most important sink to date, but their absorption of CO2 is acidifying the sea—threatening the marine food chain—and raising water temperatures, which is causing sea levels to rise (because warm water expands). Meanwhile, the Earth's plants and soils already hold three times as much carbon as the atmosphere does, and scientists believe that they could hold a great deal more without upsetting the balance of natural systems.

Using photosynthesis and agriculture to extract carbon should not be confused with other methods that sound similar, such as "carbon capture and sequestration." CCS, as experts call it, is a technology that would capture carbon dioxide released when a power plant burned coal (or, in theory, other fossil fuels) to generate electricity. A filter would collect the CO2 before it exited the smokestack; the CO2 would then be transformed into a solid and stored underground. CCS assumes that coal burning would continue; the CCS technology would simply cancel out most of the CO2 emissions this coal burning would produce—and that's assuming the technology will actually work. So far, no nation on Earth has managed to operate a commercially viable CCS plant, despite an estimated $25 billion in subsidies.

Johannes Lehmann, a professor of agricultural science at Cornell, is one of the world's foremost experts on biochar. He has calculated that if biochar were added to 10 percent of global cropland, it would store 29 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent—an amount roughly equal to humanity's annual greenhouse gas emissions. This approach would take advantage of a physical reality often overlooked in climate policy discussions: the capacity of the Earth's plants and soils to serve as a climate "sink," absorbing carbon that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere and accelerate global warming. Oceans have been the most important sink to date, but their absorption of CO2 is acidifying the sea—threatening the marine food chain—and raising water temperatures, which is causing sea levels to rise (because warm water expands). Meanwhile, the Earth's plants and soils already hold three times as much carbon as the atmosphere does, and scientists believe that they could hold a great deal more without upsetting the balance of natural systems.

Using photosynthesis and agriculture to extract carbon should not be confused with other methods that sound similar, such as "carbon capture and sequestration." CCS, as experts call it, is a technology that would capture carbon dioxide released when a power plant burned coal (or, in theory, other fossil fuels) to generate electricity. A filter would collect the CO2 before it exited the smokestack; the CO2 would then be transformed into a solid and stored underground. CCS assumes that coal burning would continue; the CCS technology would simply cancel out most of the CO2 emissions this coal burning would produce—and that's assuming the technology will actually work. So far, no nation on Earth has managed to operate a commercially viable CCS plant, despite an estimated $25 billion in subsidies.

By contrast, biochar and other photosynthesis-based methods of carbon extraction take advantage of natural processes that already help to regulate planetary health. "What we're really doing is bio-mimicry of fire," says Dr. David Shearer, CEO of Full Circle Biochar, the company that designed and built the kiln Lehmann uses at Cornell. According to Shearer:

"Historically it was fire that helped drive the carbon cycle on Earth, burning plants and trees and returning their embedded carbon to the soil in the form of charcoal. Contemporary societies have greatly restricted the use of fire. Producing biochar is a way to begin restoring the proper balance by catalyzing soil regeneration through the addition of biochar to soils."

Unlike CCS, biochar does not assume continued burning of fossil fuel. Rather, its feed stocks are waste materials that normal agricultural and forestry production methods leave behind in great quantities: tree trimmings, crop stalks, manure and the like—all of which need to be disposed of in any case and which now often end up in landfills, where their decay releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

As biochar attracts more scientific and commercial attention, it has also acquired proponents and detractors. George Monbiot, a columnist for the Guardian, blasted the entire idea by seizing on one advocate's proposal to obtain biochar from vast tree plantations. Monbiot was correct that relying on plantations to produce biochar could cause poor farmers to be kicked off their land and food prices to rise as land was diverted to biochar. But Monbiot unfairly tarred all biochar supporters with the same brush, as he later admitted. In fact, Lehmann has always clearly stated that he did not favor the plantation approach. Joining Lehmann in this position is James Hansen, the NASA scientist who put climate change on the public agenda with his 1988 testimony to the US Senate that human activities were raising global temperatures. Hansen has endorsed biochar, along with expanded growing of trees, as vital tools for drawing down atmospheric CO2 levels to 350 ppm, the amount he believes is needed to stabilize Earth's climate.

Others remain skeptical that soil carbon sequestration could remove enough CO2 from the atmosphere to make a difference, and they point to a paucity of peer-reviewed studies validating the linkage. Lehmann, however, has tested biochar's carbon storage potential and other characteristics in field research in Kenya, Colombia, and the Amazon, as well as at the agricultural research station Cornell operates in New York state. At Cornell, he is producing biochar in a kiln whose shiny metal pipes and funnels make it look more like part of an electric power station than a cutting-edge agricultural device.

Notwithstanding my brave personal foray into compost testing at Cornell, Lehmann told me he does not plan to rely on the university's compost supplies to produce biochar. There are more ecologically efficient uses for that compost heap, he explains. Rather, Lehmann will use post-harvest cornstalks from other Cornell agricultural research plots. He adds that the kiln will also "generate liquid fuel from the gases that are produced while making biochar."

Such simultaneous fuel production is but one of the co-benefits of producing biochar. Studies by Lehmann and others have documented that adding biochar to soil also increases soil's fertility and ability to retain water, which in turn encourages greater crop yields. Adding biochar to soil therefore is also a form of climate change adaptation: Increasing a given piece of land's ability to absorb and retain water will make the land more resilient in the face of flooding as well as drought, both of which are projected to become more frequent and severe as climate change accelerates in the years ahead.

There is no one-size-fits-all technology for extracting carbon and sequestering it in soil, mainly because local circumstances, both social and physical, differ around the world. And despite his enthusiasm for biochar, Lehmann is the first to emphasize that it is neither a silver bullet nor the only feasible way of extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. "There are and have to be several if not many approaches to sequestering [i.e., storing] carbon," he told me.

Other proven methods, he said, include growing trees—both in forests and mixed among field crops—and changing to less invasive tillage systems. Instead of industrial agriculture's practice of removing crop residues and plowing soil before planting, which releases large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, "no-till" cropping leaves residues in place and inserts seeds into the ground with a small drill, leaving the earth basically undisturbed. A calculation by the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit agricultural operation in Pennsylvania, found that if no-till were used on all 3.5 billion acres of the Earth's tillable land, it would sequester more than half of humanity's annual greenhouse gas emissions. "If ideas such as biochar emerged recently," Lehmann asks, "what other ideas might still be out there?"

Climate change policy traditionally has focused on the energy sector, but under the new paradigm advocated here, the agriculture sector would gain prominence as well. Earlier in this monthlong Slate series on climate change and agriculture, Michael Pollan and I discussed how taking advantage of photosynthesis could turn eating meat from a climate sin into a blessing by relying on the same ecological principles that make biochar possible. The key is not meat versus no meat. The key is to reform agricultural systems away from the current industrial approach that uses vast amounts of petroleum to produce food in favor of systems that rely on natural processes such as photosynthesis. Pollan calls it the "oil food" versus "sun food" choice.

Critics are right that much practical work remains to be done to demonstrate whether a "sun food" system can actually succeed in both feeding humanity and fighting climate change. But there is good reason to think that humans can indeed harness photosynthesis to draw down the rising level of CO2 in the atmosphere. If we can then safely store that extracted carbon in places where it will not contribute to global warming, we could significantly reduce the 400 ppm of CO2 that are currently overheating our planet (assuming that we limit the 2 ppm of annual emissions as well). In short, we might begin to turn back the clock on global warming. And not a moment too soon.

This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, theNew America Foundation, and Slate. On July 25, Future Tense will be hosting an event on agriculture’s role in climate change at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America Foundation website.

Jul 22, 2013

Former Head of CIA, David Petraeus, to Teach Fracking Industry-Funded Syllabus in New York – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

By Steve Horn

Records obtained by DeSmogBlog pertaining to City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College’s hiring of former head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) David Petraeus to teach a seminar this coming fall reveal that his syllabus features two of the most well-known “frackademia” studies.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Frackademia” is shorthand for oil and gas industry-funded research costumed as independent economics or science covering the topic of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the controversial horizontal drilling process via which oil and gas is obtained deep within shale rock basins.

According to the syllabus, Petraeus will devote two weeks to energy alone, naming those weeks “The Energy Revolution I” and “The Energy Revolution II.” The two “frackademia” studies Petraeus will have his students read for his course titled “The Coming North American Decade(s)? are both seminal industry-funded works.

One of them is a study written by industry-funded National Economic Research Associates(NERA) concluding liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are beneficial to the U.S. economy, despite the fact that exporting fracked gas will raise domestic home-heating and manufacturing prices. NERA was founded by “father of deregulation” Alfred E. Kahn. The study Petraeus will have his students read was contracted out by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to NERA.

The other, a study written by then-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research professor Ernest Moniz—now the head of the DOE—is titled “The Future of Natural Gas” and also covers LNG exports. DOE oversees the permitting process for LNG exports. That study was funded by the Clean Skies Foundation, a front group for Chesapeake Energy and covered in-depth in the Public Accountability Initiative‘s report titled, Industry Partner or Industry Puppet?

Noticeably absent from the reading list: studies tackling the climate impacts, air quality impacts, over-arching ecological impacts such as water contamination, wastewater impacts and diminishingsupply issues.

Together, the two crucial studies on the syllabus reading list—and the lack of critical readings on the topic of fracking—offers a glimpse into the stamp of legitimacy industry-funded studies get when they have the logo of elite research universities on them. It’s also another portrayal of the ascendancy of the corporate university.

From “Petraeusgate” to “Frackademia”-gate

In the case of Petraeus, the original “Petraeusgate” scandal centered around the $200,000 fee the Honors College planned on paying him for his role as an adjunct professor set to teach one course. A normal CUNY Honors College adjunct receives $3,000 per course.

Recently, Petraeus—who the late Rolling Stone investigative journalist Michael Hastings pejoratively referred to as “King David” in reference to the role he played in implementing counterinsurgency doctrine in U.S.-occupied Iraq—took a pay cut down to $1 to teach the course. That doesn’t include the money he’ll still get from an unidentified private donor referred to in other documents.

That scandal sat on top of the scandal that led to his resignation from the CIA in the first place: anextramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, who at the time of the affair was writing a biography about him titled, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.

Petraeus Teaches Frackers Counterinsurgency, Psychological Warfare

Petraeus has also taught the shale gas industry some important things, as well.

Namely, Petraeus was one of the co-authors of the Counterinsurgency (COIN) Field Manual that Anadarko Petroleum PR hand Matt Carmichael said he has employees read at the “Media & Stakeholder Relations: Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011” conference in Houston, TX, in 2011.

“Download the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual because we are dealing with an insurgency,” said Carmichael at the conference. “There’s a lot of good lessons in there, and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable.”

One of the key COIN tactics covered in the Field Manual is psychological operations (PSYOPs), also discussed at the Houston conference by Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella.

“We have several former PSYOPs folks that work for us at Range because they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments,” Pitzarella said to the audience in Houston.

“Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of PSYOPs in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”

As Hastings covered in another Rolling Stone investigation, the U.S. military employed PSYOPs tactics on members of Congress. That’s illegal within U.S. borders under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, though it seems rather unlikely the co-author of the COIN Manual—”King David” himself—will cover these details in his course.

Petraeus’ Wall Street Job Description Mirrors His Course Description

Petraus also has a teaching gig at University of Southern California (USC) and a day job working at theWall Street firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).

“He is expected to advise on economic trends, issues with foreign governments and other matters that could affect transactions,” The Wall Street Journal explained of his hiring at KKR. ”He will advise firms owned by KKR in an effort to improve management and leadership and help them confront economic and geopolitical forces that affect them.”

Petraeus’ job description mirrors the course description he will teach, lending insight into what type of jobs the students taking his course may obtain in the future if Petraeus’ class is a pedagogical success.

“Petraeus and others at the firm [will have] discussions over macroeconomic and geopolitical forces that could influence KKR’s investment decisions. These issues include the heightened role of central banks following the financial crisis, and what KKR views as ‘revolutions’ in energy, manufacturing and technology, among other areas,” The Wall Street Journal further spelled out.

The course description, as seen below, sings a similar tune:

Students taking Petraeus’ course will go above and beyond passive stoic discussion of the burning public policy issues of the day. Indeed, they will dive into the sphere of role-playing the positions of high-ranking U.S. officialdom, all in the context of the readings—such as the “frackademia” ones—they must complete and discuss in seminar on a weekly basis that will inform the role-play.

An example below:

Re-Conceptualizing the “Revolving Door”

The government-industry revolving door commonly refers to governmental officials leaving taxpayer-funded government gigs for jobs as corporate lobbyists, public relations spin-doctors and other related iterations. The evolution and corporatization of research unversities – in many ways research factories on behalf of multinational corporations – has seen the revolving door extend into higher education.

Petraeus is one example and Moniz is another, but so too is former CIA-head Robert Gates. After leaving the CIA, Gates became the Chancellor of University of Texas A&M and then became Secretary of Defense.

Another example is Janet Napolitano, former head of the Department of Homeland Security who recently secured a job to head the University of California System. And yet another example is John Deutch, former head of the CIA who is now on the Board of Directors of Cheniere, served onPresident Obama’s DOE Fracking Subcommittee and is a professor at MIT, where he co-wrote the “The Future of Natural Gas” with Moniz that Petraeus will have his students read.

“Petraeusgate,” then, is just the tip of the iceberg of a problem with much deeper roots.

Former Head of CIA to Teach Fracking Industry-Funded Syllabus in New York – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

GASLAND 2 - Full Movie - YouTube

Published on Jul 17, 2013


GASLAND 2 - YouTube

Jul 21, 2013

1960: "Harvest of Shame" - YouTube

Watch the entire original broadcast of one of the most celebrated documentaries of all time, 1960's "Harvest of Shame," in which Edward R. Murrow exposed the plight of America's farm workers.

1960: "Harvest of Shame" - YouTube

The 40-Year-Old Photo That Gives Us A Reason To Smile : Code Switch : NPR

July 17, 2013

Larger Image

This 1973 photo of five children playing in a Detroit suburb has gone viral on the Internet. The children were Rhonda Shelly, 3 (from left), Kathy Macool, 7, Lisa Shelly, 5, Chris Macool, 9, and Robert Shelly, 6.Joe Crachiola/Courtesy of The Macomb Daily

In late July 1973, Joseph Crachiola was wandering the streets of Mount Clemens, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, with his camera. As a staff photographer for the Macomb Daily, he was expected to keep an eye out for good feature images — "those little slices of life that can stand on their own."

The slice of life he caught that day was a picture of five young friends in a rain-washed alley in downtown Mount Clemens. And what distinguishes it are its subjects: three black children, two white ones, giggling in each others' arms.

"It was just one of those evenings," Crachiola remembers. "I saw these kids — they were just playing around. And I started shooting some pictures of them. At some point, they saw me and they all turned and looked at me and struck that pose that you see in the picture. It was totally spontaneous. I had nothing to do with the way they arranged themselves."

This week, Crachiola, who now lives in New Orleans, posted the vintage photo on his Facebook page.

"For me, it still stands as one of my most meaningful pictures," he wrote in his post. "It makes me wonder... At what point do we begin to mistrust one another? When do we begin to judge one another based on gender or race? I have always wondered what happened to these children. I wonder if they are still friends."

After several days when the world seemed to be reduced to one big argument about race, the elegantly simple photo hit a nerve — in a good way.

After his Sunday post, Crachiola's Facebook page blew up — as many as 100,000 page views. Six thousand "likes" and thousands of shares. The Macomb Daily reprinted the photo on its Web page and sent someone to the archives to help identify the children, who are now middle-aged.

It's hard not to smile while looking at this picture. Crachiola liked it so much himself that he printed a large copy and has it hanging in his dining room. Former Michigan Rep. Don Riegle reportedly also liked it so much, he got a framed copy and hung it in his office.

Crachiola says that learning of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial reminded him of the photo and made him think to post it.

He's been gratified by the response. Between Facebook and the newspaper, he has solid leads on where the children are today. "Someone emailed me saying he works with one of the guys who was in the picture," Crachiola says. "He actually works for the Macomb County Road Commission." And just before we spoke, Crachiola saw someone had posted an even more intriguing note: "This," wrote Darnesha Taylor Shelly, "is my husband and sister in laws."

Looks like a reunion might be imminent.

The 40-Year-Old Photo That Gives Us A Reason To Smile : Code Switch : NPR