Dec 29, 2012

Aldo Leopold Education

The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire highlights Leopold's extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.

Aldo leopold Green Fire Film Showing Panel Discussion from Ursinus College on Vimeo.

The Aldo Leopold Foundation is working with US Forest Service filmmakers Steve Dunsky, Ann Dunsky and Dave Steinke to produce the hour-long Green Fire: The Life and Legacy of Aldo Leopold. Leopold biographer and conservation biologist Dr. Curt Meine will serve as the film's on-screen guide. Green Fire describes the formation of Leopold's idea, exploring how it changed one man and later permeated through all arenas of conservation. The film draws on Leopold's life and experiences to provide context and validity, then explores the deep impact of his thinking on conservation projects around the world today. The high-definition film will utilize photographs, correspondence, manuscripts and other archival documents from the voluminous Aldo Leopold Archives as well as historical film and contemporary full-color footage on location, including landscapes that influenced Leopold and that he in turn influenced.


A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation

Published in 1949, shortly after the author's death, A Sand County Almanac is a classic of nature writing, widely cited as one of the most influential nature books ever published. Writing from the vantage of his summer shack along the banks of the Wisconsin River, Leopold mixes essay, polemic, and memoir in his book's pages. In one famous episode, he writes of killing a female wolf early in his career as a forest ranger, coming upon his victim just as she was dying, "in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.... I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view." Leopold's road-to-Damascus change of view would find its fruit some years later in his so-called land ethic, in which he held that nothing that disturbs the balance of nature is right. Much of Almanac elaborates on this basic premise, as well as on Leopold's view that it is something of a human duty to preserve as much wild land as possible, as a kind of bank for the biological future of all species. Beautifully written, quiet, and elegant, Leopold's book deserves continued study and discussion today. --Gregory McNamee

Reading Aldo Leopold and about Aldo Leopold is an experience that everyone should take advantage of... Looking forward to reading books and viewing Green Fire DVD! Monte and Eileen
Green Fire wins an EMMY® Award!

Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time has been honored with an Emmy award for Best Historical Documentary at the 54th annual Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in a ceremony that took place Sunday, November 18, 2012. Read more!

The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.

Dec 28, 2012

Townes Van Zandt The Movie

Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt
Pro­gramme: Re­al to Reel
Di­rec­tor: Mar­garet Brown
Coun­try: USA
Year: 2004
Lan­guage: En­glish
Time: 99 min­utes
Film Types: Colour/HD­CAM Pro­duc­tion Com­pa­ny: Rake Films
Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­duc­er: Chris Matts­son, Paul Stek­ler, Louis Black
Pro­duc­er: Mar­garet Brown, Sam Brum­baugh
Cin­e­matog­ra­phy: Lee Daniel
Ed­i­tor: Michael Tay­lor, Karen Skloss, Don Howard
Sound: Bob Kel­lough, Tom Ham­mond
Mu­sic: Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nel­son, Mer­le Hag­gard, Lyle Lovett
Prin­ci­pal Cast: Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nel­son, Kris Kristof­fer­son, Em­my­lou Har­ris, Steve Ear­le, Guy Clarke, and Steve Shel­ley from Son­ic Youth -​ www.townes­the­ -​
-​-​ As a mu­si­cian, Townes Van Zandt was leg­endary – per­haps one of the great­est who ev­er lived, in­spir­ing artists from Bob Dy­lan to No­rah Jones to Steve Ear­le. As a man, a hus­band, and a fa­ther his life was as trag­ic and as beau­ti­ful as the songs he wrote. Townes was an enig­ma to his fam­i­ly, pinned be­tween a deep long­ing for home and the no­madic lifestyle that was nec­es­sary for his liveli­hood. Di­rec­tor Mar­garet Brown’s Be Here To Love Me is an art­ful, ex­pert­ly di­rect­ed por­trait of both of these sides of Van Zandt and ul­ti­mate­ly serves as an in­sight­ful look at the sac­ri­fices, chal­lenges, and con­se­quences faced in pur­suit of a dream. Haunt­ing and lyri­cal, Be Here To Love Me com­bines emo­tion­al in­ter­views with friends and fam­i­ly with nev­er seen footage of Townes Van Zandt.

Related Links:
Townes Van Zandt Central
Townes Van Zandt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Heartworn Highways - Complete Movie

Heartworn Highways is documentary film by James Szalapski whose vision captured some of the founders of the Outlaw Country movement in Texas and Tennessee in the last weeks of 1975 and the first weeks of 1976. The film was not released theatrically until 1981.

The documentary covers singer-songwriters whose songs are more traditional to early folk and country music instead of following in the tradition of the previous generation. Some of film's featured performers are Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, David Allan Coe, Rodney Crowell, Gamble Rogers, Steve Young, and The Charlie Daniels Band. The movie features the first known recordings of Grammy award winners Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell who were quite young at the time and appear to be students of mentor Guy Clark. Steve Earle was also a big fan of Van Zandt at the time.

The beginning of the movie shows Larry Jon Wilson in a recording studio shortly after he had been woken up for the movie after having been partying all night after a gig into the morning. The film maker goes to Austin and visits Townes Van Zandt at his trailer (At what is now 14th and Charlotte in the Clarksville neighborhood of downtown Austin) and his girlfriend Cindy, his dog Geraldine, Rex "Wrecks" Bell, and Uncle Seymour Washington (born 1896; died 1977) at his place, who is also called "The Walking Blacksmith", and who gives his great worldly advice to the viewers and represents a very important aspect of the atmosphere that these songwriters living in the South are surrounded by and involved in.

The movie shows Charlie Daniels completely fill a big high school gymnasium. Then the camera man, sound recorder and director join David Allan Coe and film him playing a gig at the Tennessee State Prison where he admits to being a former inmate and tells a story of being there and seems to bring out friends of his onto the stage who still are inmates there and they perform a gospel number "Thank You Jesus" that they used to sing in the yard. The end of the movie shows a drinking party that starts Christmas Eve and ends sometime Christmas Day at Guy Clark's house in Nashville with Guy, Susanna Clark, Steve Young, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Jim McGuire (playing the dobro), along with several other guests. Steve Young leads the group in a rendition of Hank Williams' song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and Rodney Crowell leads everyone in "Silent Night".

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

Musician Steve Earle Looks Back on His Career -

Musician Steve Earle Looks Back on His Songwriting Career from The Graduate Center, CUNY on

Video Link: Musician Steve Earle Looks Back on His Career -

Illustrated History of Rock Island Arsenal and Arsenal Island

PD File --> Illustrated History of Rock Island Arsenal and Arsenal Island

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Larger Image 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus - Charles C. Mann

In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.

Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.

Great Book!  Just finished reading...Loved the history about our area... Mound builders extent... Large populations (millions) of agriculture Indians... Also loved the discussion in Charles C. Mann, MARCH 2002 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE article:

"Amazonian Indians literally created the ground beneath their feet. According to William I. Woods, a soil geographer at Southern Illinois University, ecologists' claims about terrible Amazonian land were based on very little data. In the late 1990s Woods and others began careful measurements in the lower Amazon. They indeed found lots of inhospitable terrain. But they also discovered swaths of terra preta—rich, fertile "black earth" that anthropologists increasingly believe was created by human beings.

Terra preta, Woods guesses, covers at least 10 percent of Amazonia, an area the size of France. It has amazing properties, he says. Tropical rain doesn't leach nutrients from terra preta fields; instead the soil, so to speak, fights back. Not far from Painted Rock Cave is a 300-acre area with a two-foot layer of terra preta quarried by locals for potting soil. The bottom third of the layer is never removed, workers there explain, because over time it will re-create the original soil layer in its initial thickness. The reason, scientists suspect, is that terra preta is generated by a special suite of microorganisms that resists depletion. "Apparently," Woods and the Wisconsin geographer Joseph M. McCann argued in a presentation last summer, "at some threshold level ... dark earth attains the capacity to perpetuate—even regenerate itself—thus behaving more like a living 'super'-organism than an inert material."

In as yet unpublished research the archaeologists Eduardo Neves, of the University of São Paulo; Michael Heckenberger, of the University of Florida; and their colleagues examined terra preta in the upper Xingu, a huge southern tributary of the Amazon. Not all Xingu cultures left behind this living earth, they discovered. But the ones that did generated it rapidly—suggesting to Woods thatterra preta was created deliberately. In a process reminiscent of dropping microorganism-rich starter into plain dough to create sourdough bread, Amazonian peoples, he believes, inoculated bad soil with a transforming bacterial charge. Not every group of Indians there did this, but quite a few did, and over an extended period of time.

When Woods told me this, I was so amazed that I almost dropped the phone. I ceased to be articulate for a moment and said things like "wow" and "gosh." Woods chuckled at my reaction, probably because he understood what was passing through my mind. Faced with an ecological problem, I was thinking, the Indians fixed it. They were in the process of terraforming the Amazon when Columbus showed up and ruined everything.

Scientists should study the microorganisms in terra preta, Woods told me, to find out how they work. If that could be learned, maybe some version of Amazonian dark earth could be used to improve the vast expanses of bad soil that cripple agriculture in Africa—a final gift from the people who brought us tomatoes, corn, and the immense grasslands of the Great Plains."


Over-Plowing Contributes to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s

Each year, the process of farming begins with preparing the soil to be seeded. But for years, farmers had plowed the soil too fine, and they contributed to the creation of the Dust Bowl.

"In general, the seed bed should be roomy, thoroughly pulverized and compact," according to John Deere's 1935 book, The Operation, Care and Repair of Farm Machinery. The goal, according to the book, was to "break up clods and crusted top soil, leaving a fine surface mulch for planting or for plant growth."

The main tool for this job was the plow, an ancient implement that had evolved by the 1930s into several different varieties designed for different soil types. Each design lifted the soil up, broke it up and turned it over. The process pulverized hard dirt into small clods.

In the early 30s, many farmers would come back into a plowed field with a set of disc harrows that would break the clods into fine soil particles. A harrow mounted a series of concave sharpened steel discs close together. These discs were pulled through the field at a slight angle so the soil was cut and then turned over by each disc. This produced what was thought to be the "ideal seed bed... Large air spaces, bunches of field trash and hard lump or clods are undesirable."

Now, many farmers are learning how to raise crops without tilling their fields at all. No-till equipment plant right through the left over trash from last season in order to cut down on wind erosion and preserve soil moisture.

The problem with this method is that it leaves fields vulnerable to wind erosion and dust storms. In the 1920s and early 30s, most farmers on the plains plowed their fields right after the previous harvest, leaving the soil open for months until it was time to plant again. And economic pressures in the late 1920s pushed farmers on the Great Plains to plow under more and more native grassland. Farmers had to have more acres of corn and wheat to make ends meet.

During wet years, this didn't cause problems. But when the drought hit, fields that had been covered for centuries by grass had been plowed and disced into fine particles. The soil dried out and began to blow. Dry and light grains of soil were picked up by the incessant winds on the plains. Those particles would hit others, bouncing
them into the air, until the entire field was blowing away. The result was the Dust Bowl.

Farmers like Cliff Peterson understood all too well how wind blew unprotected fields. "Usually [dust storms] came after harvest and the tillage was done in Kansas," Cliff says. "They'd plow for the next year, and the wind would blow it away."

The New Deal and Congress recognized the effects of over plowing marginal lands. In 1936, the agency that became the Farm Security Administration (FSA) hired filmmaker Pare Lorenz to produce one of the first documentary films on the problem. It was called "The Plow that Broke the Plains" and drew widespread critical acclaim and audiences in movie theatres across the country.

Around the same time, Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act that called for changes in plowing techniques, strip cropping and shelter belts to cut down on wind erosion.

March of the Machines
"Tractored Out"
Technological Advances
Plow that Broke the Plains
Harvesting Wheat
Harvesting Corn

The Plow That Broke the Plains, ca. 1937 The film presents the social and economic history of the Great Plains -- from the time of the settlement of the prairies, through the World War I boom, to the years of depression and drought. The first part of the film shows cattle as they grazed on grasslands, and homesteaders who hurried onto the plains and grew large wheat crops. The second part depicts the postwar decline of the wheat market, which resulted in overproduction. Footage shows farm equipment used, then abandoned. The third part shows a dust storm as it rendered a farm useless. Subsequent scenes show farmers as they left their homes and headed west. Department of Agriculture. Farm Security Administration. Information Division. (ca. 1937 - ca. 1942). Note that this is the version without the epilogue.

Dec 24, 2012

Atlas of the North American Indian, Carl Waldman

Compact, yet wide-ranging account of Native American history and life illustrated with 122 maps. Waldman competently summarizes Indian prehistory, cultural patterns, contacts with Europeans, military events, and contemporary life; Braun's two-color maps successfully place all these data in geographical context. Useful appendixes include a historical chronology and lists of Native American place-names and of all tribes on the continent.
Paperback: 450 pages
Publisher: 3rd edition (February 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0816068593

Great book!  Monte

"Fracking" / "Better Get the Science Right / If we pollute our aquifers we have sealed our fate" Monte Hines

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Fracking: Too Much of a Good Thing, Says Planet Money Guy
By Peter Hart
December 18, 2012

Photo: Flickr/joshlopezphoto

Planet Money host Adam Davidson took a look at fracking in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine (12/16/12)–and he loved what he saw.

The piece is about the supposed economic boom times that are right around the corner, thanks to drilling for natural gas. As Davidson points out near the beginning, "The American steel industry recently received the economic equivalent of a gift from the heavens: natural gas extracted by means of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking." And fracking will, as Davidson sees it, be of particular benefit to domestic industries: Ed Morse, an influential energy analyst at Citigroup, argues that the natural-gas industry will bring around 3 million new jobs to the United States by the end of this decade. He also expects that fracking will add up to 3 percent to our GDP and trillions in additional tax revenue. Along the way, it will turn around perennial stragglers, like steel and manufacturing. For millions of workers, there could not be any better news.

What's not to love, then? "Fracking, of course, is not universally embraced," Davidson admits. There are questions about the chemicals used to extract the gas, he writes–but then quickly pivots to a discussion of how regulators have stepped up to take a harder look at the practice. Davidson admits: "Regulations are determined, in large part, by politics. And the politics of fracking are changing and are very likely to change drastically in coming years." By that he means the "resource curse," which involves regulations shaped more by the needs of a particular industry than, say, the public.

He writes: Many believe this already describes the oil economies of Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma and, increasingly, North Dakota, where the fracking industry is entrenched. Politically and economically, it’s hard to argue with an industry that has helped keep the state's unemployment rate at about 3 percent.

And once again: "There will be trillions of dollars of new wealth. Will environmental and health concerns have any chance against that juggernaut?"

That's a good question, broadly speaking. More narrowly: How much did such questions factor into his report on fracking? Very little, from what appears on the page. There is no serious discussion of environmental costs borne by the public, and there is not one word about climate change–a pretty shocking oversight when one considers the potential ramifications of a massive new investment in a fossil fuel industry.

While many environmentalists work to stop fracking, Davidson has a different idea–he writes that the "best thing that any U.S. environmentalist can do is to start thinking like an economist." He goes on to explain that Norway used its own oil/gas profits to create a pension fund, which then became a massive sovereign wealth fund. That's one way to think like an economist, I guess–the consequences of fracking might be awful for the planet, but we'll have quite a nest egg!

A different sort of economist might look at it differently–and might wonder, for instance, if fracking's supposed jobs "boom" is for real. Economist Helene Jorgensen looked at this issue for Food & Water Watch; as she wrote (Beat the Press, 1/8/12):

Supposedly fracking can bring the economy out of its current stagnation by creating uncountable new jobs, without running up government deficits, and even save us from global warming in the process.

So how come local residents and environmentalists oppose fracking? The short answer is that fracking does not create local jobs, it lowers property values, and pollutes the water we drink and the air we breathe.

Full Link:

Related Links:
Should Cities Ban Fracking?
Promised Land
Fracking - Gasland: A film by Josh Fox

Un•earthed: Setting the track record straight
A video exposing a flawed claim often abused in the sales pitch for promoting shale gas development across the world: "With a history of 60 years, after nearly a million wells drilled, there are no documented cases that hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') has lead to the contamination of groundwater."

Brought to you by the team behind the upcoming South African feature documentary, Un•earthed, that is investigating natural gas development and the controversial method of extraction known as "fracking" from a global perspective. Should South Africa and other countries drill down?

Unearthed: The Fracking Facade
For years now, the United States has tried to lower its dependence on foreign oil for its energy needs. With stability in the Middle East in question, drilling at home has never been more attractive, but it often comes at a cost. Natural gas extraction - fracking - is being touted as the answer. The way fracking is taking place, there are questions being asked about the process and its implications.

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16x9 : Untested Science: Fracking natural gas controversy
A new frontier of natural gas production is making controversial headlines. Hydraulic Fracturing or "fracking" is becoming more common in Canada. But experts say "fracking" can cause contaminated ground water, earthquakes and pollute our land with toxic chemicals.

Dec 23, 2012

Incredible Human Journey The Americas

Title: The Incredible Human Journey - Episode 05: The Americas
Producer: BBC, Paul Bradshaw, Alice Roberts(presenter)
Category: Science, Incredible Human Journey

DESCRIPTION: In the final episode, Roberts describes theories about how humans traversed from Asia to the Americas, asking how they achieved it during the Ice Age, when the route to North America was blocked by ice walls. She describes the traditional theory that the first Americans were the Clovis culture, who arrived through an ice-free corridor during the end of the Ice Age 13,000 years ago. However, she then visits archaeological sites in Texas, Brazil, the Californian Channel Islands and Monte Verde in southern Chile which show 14,000 year old human remains, proving that humans must have arrived earlier via a different route. She shows the skull of the Luzia Woman, found in Brazil, which displays Australasian features rather than the East Asian features of modern day Native Americans; an archaeologist explains that these first Americans may have been Asians who migrated before Asians developed their distinctive facial features. Roberts shows that the earliest Americans may have migrated down the relatively ice-free western coastlines of North and South America. She concludes by noting that when Europeans arrived in 1492, they did not recognize Native Americans as fully human, but modern genetics and archaeology proves that we all ultimately descend from Africans.

The Incredible Human Journey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

All Episodes:

Related: - Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey

A River of Waste: The Hazardous Truth About Factory Farms - YouTube

A RIVER OF WASTE exposes a huge health and environmental scandal in our modern industrial system of meat and poultry production. Some scientists have gone so far as to call the condemned current factory farm practices as "mini Chernobyls." In the U.S. and elsewhere, the meat and poultry industry is dominated by dangerous uses of arsenic, antibiotics, growth hormones and by the dumping of massive amounts of sewage in fragile waterways and environments. The film documents the vast catastrophic impact on the environment and public health as well as focuses on the individual lives damaged and destroyed.

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find you cannot eat money
-- Cree Indian prophecy