How to be a responsible steward of Democracy, Human Rights Capitalism and Planet Earth.

How to be a responsible steward of Planet Earth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nine things successful people do differently

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? 

If you aren't sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. 

The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. 

In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that:
successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently:

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible.

"Lose 5 pounds" is a better goal than "lose some weight," because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like.

Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. 

Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. 

Just promising you'll "eat less" or "sleep more" is too vague — be clear and precise. "I'll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights" leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you've actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it's not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them

Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. 

Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., "If it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I'll work out for 30 minutes before work.") Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. 

If you don't know how well you are doing, you can't adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly.  

Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it.  Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. 

But whatever you do, 

don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. 

Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. 

Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. 

Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.
Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. 

Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. 

People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point.  In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it.

People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking .... well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. 

As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. 

Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn't get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you'd honestly rather not do. 

Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. 

When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don't. 

Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur ("If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.") It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that's the whole point. 

As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don't tempt fate.
No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. 

Don't try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time).

And don't put yourself in harm's way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound.

Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do. 

Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? 

Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. 

Research on thought suppression (e.g., "Don't think about white bears!") has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? 

For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like "If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down." By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.


Remember, you don't need to become a different person to become a more successful one. 

It's never what you are, but what you do.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is a motivational psychologist, and author of the new book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, 2011). 

She is also an expert blogger on motivation and leadership for Fast Company and Psychology Today.

Her personal blog, The Science of Success, can be found at

Follow her on Twitter @hghalvorson

More blog posts by Heidi Grant Halvorson

More on: Career planning, Managing yourself

Learn more about the science of success with Heidi Grant Halvorson's HBR Single, based on this blog post.

by Heidi Grant Halvorson
Nine Things Successful People Do Differently - Heidi Grant Halvorson - Harvard Business Review

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Australian spiders keep cane toad numbers in check - Australia

 Rarely does Nature re-establish order in this way......

Spiders keep cane toad numbers in check

Toxic cane toads may have met their match in native Australian spiders like the wolf spider and Australian tarantula. 

FROM CROCODILES TO SNAKES and quolls, many Australian species have died trying to eat the indestructible cane toad. But it seems that some native spiders have found a way to consume large numbers of the large toxic pest.

Spider expert Dr Robert Raven, from the Queensland museum, says three families of spider - Australian tarantulas, wolf spiders and racing stripe spiders - may be helping to keep northern Queensland cane toad numbers in check.

"That spiders eat cane toads is not uncommon or unknown," says Robert. "The interesting thing is size of the toads they are able to take. In one instance, the toad was bigger than the opening of the spider's burrow."

Natives fight back: spiders vs. cane toads

Although the Australian tarantula (Theraphosidae sp.) is able to kill and eat larger toads, says Robert, the more common wolf spider (Lycosidae sp.) may be a better candidate for reducing the number of cane toads.

"Tarantulas and wolf spiders both kill dogs and cats quickly, in around thirty minutes to an hour with one bite," says Robert. "However, tarantulas are quite low in number, and they're becoming rarer because of humans."

Introduced into northern Queensland in 1935, the cane toad releases a fatal toxin to vertebrates, causing rapid heartbeat, excessive salivation, convulsions and paralysis.

Robert believes that although the dangers to vertebrates are known, research needs to be done on the effects of the toxin on invertebrates, which at this time are unknown.

"With cane toads, the toxins have to be ingested for them to be effective," says Robert.

"However, the spider, in order to eat, vomits a proteolytic enzyme into the animal, which may cause the toad venom to [become inactive]."

Native animals picky cane toad eaters

Although cane toads are devastating for a small number of large predator species - including goannas, blue tongue skinks and quolls - their impact doesn't appear to be permanent, says toad expert Professor Rick Shine, from the University of Sydney.

"Even these species eventually seem to recover a few decades after the toad's first arrival, so the long-term impact of cane toads probably isn't as great as that of animals like rabbits or cats," says Rick.

Other native Australian invertebrates are able to eat cane toads, including meat ants and water beetles, which consume millions of toads every year, according to Rick.

Other natives that prey on cane toads include the Australian crow (Corvus orru), which has adapted by eating them from the underbelly to avoid the venom, and the saw-shelled turtle (Wollumbinia latisternum), adds Robert.  

Ants keep toad tadpoles in check

Studies both in the lab and around breeding ponds in the field have revealed that ants, in particular, can significantly reduce the number of young cane toads.

"What we don't yet know is how a reduction in the numbers of small toads ends up influencing the number of adult toads in an area," says Rick. "But, we are hoping to conduct research on that question also."

When it comes to conservation, Rick believes that increases in predator numbers may help explain why toad numbers drop after they have been in one area for a long time. "Basically, the native predators recognise that there is a new free food source and start to exploit it."

However, despite being hopeful that a combination of methods will see a drastic reduction in cane toad numbers, Rick warns that "eradicating toads from Australia simply isn't possible."

Source:  By:Jenna Hanson

Australian spiders keep cane toad numbers in check - Australian Geographic


How The BioLite HomeStove Was Invented

Developing useful technology and sharing it with the developing  world...

This is part of a 30-part series called "Game Changers." This special series investigates the most remarkable advancements in science, energy and health — and how they will impact the way we live. This series is brought to you by Samsung's Galaxy S3.

The Home Stove in action.

In 2006, Alexander Drummond and Jonathan Cedar met in New York City and quickly realized they shared a love for sustainable energy and design. 

Frustrated that every camping stove required batteries or petroleum, Drummond and Cedar founded the BioLite company and set out to create a wood-burning stove that runs on clean energy without a lot of smoke. 

This stove would have a ton of practical use in the developing world.

An estimated three billion people in third world countries use wooden cooking stoves. These smoky stoves cause 1.5 million deaths from smoke inhalation every year, killing more people than malaria.

Drummond and Cedar went to the Aprovecho Research Center in Oregon to create the original prototype for a thermoelectric chip which uses wasted heat to create electricity. 

The energy from that chip powers a fan to reduce the smoke, which increases the efficiency of the fire and reduces the toxins in the air that are created with traditional wood burning fires.

"We set out to test how one would make the thermoelectric chargers," says Aprovecho's executive director Dean Still.

Still leads a team that helps 10 to 30 different manufacturers a year to make better stoves and said the BioLite stove was "very clean." 

After years of trial and error with prototypes, the BioLite CampStove was born, which later gave way to the HomeStove when the company realized the global impact and sent it out to the third world.

BioLite conducted tests in India and Africa and will further test the HomeStove in the developing world on a larger scale over the coming months, according to BioLite spokeswoman Erica Rosen.

The stove reduces smoke in the air by 94 percent, carbon dioxide by 91 percent and fuel consumption by half, according to BioLite. Families no longer have to look for as much fuel to power their stoves, saving hours of work a week.

If that wasn't enough, the extra electricity the chip collects isn't wasted. A USB port on the stove can charge electronics such as phones and other devices, crucial for the 1.3 billion people who lack electricity, according to BioLite data.

Boston company Rose Park Advisors was among the companies that invested in BioLite, they did so a year ago, and they've been "thrilled" with their progress, according to lead advisor Matthew Christensen. "It's really a pleasure to work with them."

Christensen called the HomeStove "an energy solution for the developing world." It gives energy to those who don't have enough, or any, of it, he said. And he mentioned that not only are there the health benefits from the decreased smoke and carbon dioxide inhalation, but also an incredible savings on charging electric products.

"Some people spend $1 a week to just charge their phones," Christensen said.

For those without electricity and for those who want a clean and more efficient way to cook, Drummond and Cedar's innovative invention can become an invaluable tool.

How The BioLite HomeStove Was Invented - Business Insider

Eat in environmentally friendly ways to make a difference for our bodies and our earth.

 David Malan / Getty Images
 David Malan / Getty Images


The sustainable food movement is sweeping the country. Farmer’s markets, organic produce, genetically modified foods, cage-free eggs — they’ve all become part of the cultural lingo.

While a lot of this conversation focuses around whether organic foods are better for people’s health, let’s not forget that these trends are also good for the planet.

Read on to learn about the environmentally friendly eating habits that are making a difference for our bodies and our earth.

At the store:

1. Reuse it.

Bring a reusable bag on your next shopping trip, and you’ve already helped out the planet. The U.S. alone uses about 100 billion new plastic bags each year, and (brace yourself) this massive production costs 12 million barrels of oil. Worldwide, only about 1% of plastic bags are recycled — which means that the rest end up in landfills, oceans or elsewhere in the environment. Why does it matter? Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, but light exposure can degrade them enough to release toxic polymer particles — most of which end up in the ocean. Approximately 1 million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting after ingesting discarded plastics and other trash debris, which block their digestive tracts. And public agencies spend millions of dollars on litter clean-up each year. (In case you’re wondering, paper bags aren’t much better. Each year, 14 million trees are cut down to make paper shopping bags via a process that requires even more energy than the making of plastic bags.)

2. Strip down.

 Look for products with minimal packaging, like unwrapped produce or meat straight from the deli counter or butcher. Excess packaging is often made out of unsustainable materials and contributes to waste that ends up in landfills. Perhaps the worst culprit is polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam), which is a suspected carcinogen and is manufactured through an energy-intensive process that creates hazardous waste and greenhouse gases.

3. Don’t buy the bottle.

Millions of tons of plastic are used to produce billions of plastic water bottles each year. Save money and lessen waste by drinking tap water from a reusable water bottle. Worried about your health? Try a water filter, or take courage from the fact that a lot of bottled water is likely no better than what’s on tap.

4. Shop different.

Choose to give your money to stores that demonstrate care for the planet, both in their company practices and in the food selections they provide. Look for a selection of local and organic foods as well as store practices that limit waste (think doors on the refrigerated sections so that energy isn’t wasted, minimal and/or recyclable packaging and a store-wide recycling program).


5. Go local.

Eating locally grown foods is possibly the best way to lower your carbon footprint when it comes to what you eat. Bonus: Eating locally means that food will be fresher — and therefore taste better and perhaps retain more nutrients — than food shipped across the globe.

6. Eat more of it.

Eat more produce than any other food category, and you’ve already made an impact for the planet (not to mention your body!).

7. Go organic.

The definition of organic can be a little confusing, but food labels can help. Certified organic foods are grown and processed using farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity, without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes or petroleum- or sewage-sludge-based fertilizers. (Weird. Who wouldn’t want their food grown in sewage sludge?) Though their benefits to the environment have a long-term payoff, organic foods can be pricier — if you’re on a budget, find out which foods are most worth buying organic, and limit your organic purchases to the ones that make the biggest impact.

8. Eat it raw.

Chomp down on a raw carrot instead of boiling or sautéing it, and save energy that would otherwise have been used to power cooking appliances.

9. Eat in season.

Seasonal nomming allows you to eat locally — and we’ve already covered how important local purchasing is for the environment. Check out what’s growing nearby right now.

10. Preserve it.

Want to eat more locally, but love to eat strawberries year-round? Learn how to preserve fruits and vegetables so you can eat locally grown produce all year long (it’s bound to impress Grandma, too).

11. Grow it.

You don’t need to live in the wild to grow your own fruits and veggies. Join a community garden, or, if you’re cramped for space, create a vertical garden right inside your window.

12. Get some community support.

Not into the idea of growing your own? Consider joining a CSA (short for community supported agriculture), which allows you to reap the benefits of locally grown produce without getting your hands dirty.


13. Eat less of it.

Industrially farmed meat has the greatest impact of any food product on the environment. In addition to the tips outlined below, consider making meat less of a staple in your diet. Can’t give up the stuff? Try going meat-free for just one day per week (or one meal per week if you’re really attached).

14. You guessed it: buy local.

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again: buying local is a great way to cut down on the environmental impact of your food. Just imagine how much energy it would take to haul a side of beef from, say, New Zealand, in comparison to transporting it from the local butcher shop.

15. Go organic.

When it comes to meat, the definition of “organic” changes a little.
 Obviously, chickens aren’t grown in the soil, nor are they (we hope!) conventionally grown with pesticides. Rather, organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and cannot be supplemented with antibiotics or growth hormones.

16. Be anti-antibiotics.

It’s common practice these days to feed growth-producing antibiotics to animals raised for meat, but this results in health risks for the animals — and, by extension, the people who eat them.

17. Go out to pasture.

Pasture-raised livestock make less of a negative environmental impact. They’re also treated more humanely than their industrially raised counterparts.


18. Look for the label.

Figuring out how to buy sustainable seafood is tough: turns out “wild caught” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s environmentally friendly, after all, while some farmed fish are. The easiest way to sort through all the confusion is to look for the label of the Marine Stewardship Council, which guarantees that a product has successfully met requirements for sustainability.

19. Know your fish.

Check out these guides to figure out which fish are least endangered and most likely to be farmed sustainably, and use them to guide your buying decisions.

20. Be a patriot.

Buy U.S. caught or farmed fish. It’s as close as you can get to buying “local” when you live in a land-locked state, and it also means that the product has had the chance to be reviewed by the Marine Stewardship Council, so you have a better sense of the conditions under which the fish were caught.

21. Try something new.

Instead of eating the ever-popular Alaskan salmon along with everybody else at the restaurant, expand your diet and distribute your impact by trying different varieties of fish. Check out these alternatives to some of our fishy favorites — you might even find a variety that you like more than tuna. In the process, you’ll reduce the risk of endangering key species.


22. Be hormone-free.

(Wouldn’t that have made adolescence easier…) Just as livestock raised for consumption are often pumped full of antibiotics, dairy cows are often fed artificial hormones to up their milk production. This has big health impacts for the cows, the people who consume their milk and other dairy products, and the environment (manure lagoons sure don’t sound like a good thing to us). Industrial dairy production is also linked to massive greenhouse gas emissions. Luckily, hormone-free dairy products are readily available.

23. Surprise! Go local.

As always when buying local, you’ll be reducing the distance that food must travel — and the energy it takes to do so — on its way to your plate.

24. Go organic.

 It’s better for the environment and for your body.

25. Cut back.

The production of one pound of cheese might produce upwards of 11 lbs. of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities and a big driver of climate change. As with meat, you can quickly lessen your environmental impact simply by eating less dairy. Bonus: eliminating common staples from your diet one or two days a week is a chance to experiment with fun new recipes.

At a restaurant:

26. Order from the tap.

Cut down on packaging; ask for tap water instead of bottled. Likewise, save the beer bottle and order on tap.

27. Eat local.

Just because you’re not at the farmer’s market doesn’t mean the market’s bounty isn’t available to you. More and more restaurants are incorporating locally sourced items into their menus.

28. Don’t be afraid to ask.

There’s no shame in asking your server or a manager how your food was grown or processed (though it’s probably best not to take it to this extreme).

Eating at home:

29. Reduce waste.

Use cloth napkins and real plates, bowls and utensils.

30. Turn waste into a resource.

If you’ve got the inclination and a little bit of free time, give composting a try and turn food scraps into a resource that keeps on giving.

31. Revamp leftovers.

Instead of dumping leftovers in the trash, turn them into new meals. It’ll reduce waste and also save on the energy it would have taken to cook a different meal the next day.

32. Double your recipes.

Leftovers will last twice as long, and you’ll use less energy than you would if you cooked multiple meals.

33. Cook one local meal per week. 

 Challenge yourself to cook one meal a week (or month) that is composed completely of local ingredients. Get some friends in on the action and revel in doing something good for your health and the health of the planet.

Do you practice any of these habits on a regular basis? 

Have we missed any? 

Share your strategies for eating well for the planet in comments!

Correction: The original version of this story stated that approximately 1 million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting plastic bags, which block their digestive tracts. However, any product that is littered — not just plastic bags — can pose a threat to wildlife. The story has been updated to reflect that fact.

33 Ways to Eat Environmentally Friendly | Healthland |

Silent Spring turns 50: Biographer William Souder clears up myths about Rachel Carson.

Rachel Carson Didn’t Kill Millions of Africans
How the 50-year-old campaign against Silent Spring still distorts environmental debates.

By William Souder

Rachel Carson, right, with wildlife artist Bob Hines in the Florida Keys around 1955.Photo courtesy Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office.

Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s landmark warning about the indiscriminate use of pesticides, turns 50 this month. By extension, that puts the environmental movement also at the half-century mark—along with the bitter, divisive argument we continue to have over both the book and the movement it spawned. The terms of that argument, which emerged in the brutal reaction to Silent Spring from those who saw it not as a warning but as a threat, haven’t changed much. And they leave us with a vexing question: Why do we fight? How is it that the environment we all share is the subject of partisan debate? After all, the right and the left inhabit the same planet, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

Carson’s book was controversial before it even was a book. In June 1962, three long excerpts were published by The New Yorker magazine. They alarmed the public, which deluged the Department of Agriculture and other agencies with demands for action, and outraged the chemical industry and its allies in government. In late August 1962, after he was asked about pesticides at a press conference, President Kennedy ordered his science adviser to form a commission to investigate the problems brought to light, the president said, by “Miss Carson’s book.” A month later, when Silent Spring was published, the outlines of the fight over pesticides had hardened. Armed with a substantial war chest—Carson’s publisher heard it was $250,000—pesticide makers launched an attack aimed at discrediting Silent Spring and destroying its author.

The offensive included a widely distributed parody of Carson’s famous opening chapter about a town where no birds sang, and countless fact-sheets extolling the benefits of pesticides to human health and food production. Silent Spring was described as one-sided and unbalanced to any media that would listen. Some did. Time magazine called the book “hysterical” and “patently unsound.”

Carson’s critics pushed her to the left end of the political spectrum, to a remote corner of the freaky fringe that at the time included organic farmers, food faddists, and anti-fluoridationists. One pesticide maker, which threatened to sue if Silent Spring was published, was more explicit: Carson, the company claimed, was in league with “sinister parties” whose goal was to undermine American agriculture and free enterprise in order to further the interests of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. The word Communist—in 1962 the most potent of insults—wasn’t used, but it was understood. Silent Spring, said its more ardent detractors, was un-American.

And there the two sides sit 50 years later. On one side of the environmental debate are the perceived soft-hearted scientists and those who would preserve the natural order; on the other are the hard pragmatists of industry and their friends in high places, the massed might of the establishment. Substitute climate change for pesticides, and the argument plays out the same now as it did a half-century ago. President Kennedy’s scientific commission would ultimately affirm Carson’s claims about pesticides, but then as now, nobody ever really gives an inch.

Carson was also accused of having written a book that, though it claimed to be concerned with human health, would instead contribute directly to death and disease on a massive scale by stopping the use of the insecticide DDT in the fight against malaria. One irate letter to The New Yorker complained that Carson’s “mischief” would make it impossible to raise the funds needed to continue the effort to eradicate malaria, and its author wondered if the magazine’s legendary standards for accuracy and fairness had fallen. Apparently unaware of the distinction between science authors and nudists, the letter writer referred to Carson as a “naturist.”

The claim that Rachel Carson is responsible for the devastations of malaria, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, has gained renewed traction in recent years. The American Enterprise Institute and other free-market conservatives have defended the safety and efficacy of DDT—and the claim of Carson’s “guilt” in the deaths of millions of Africans is routinely parroted by people who are clueless about the content of Silent Spring or the sources of the attacks now made against it. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a limited-government, free-enterprise think tank, maintains the website, which details Carson’s complicity in the continuing plague of malaria. In 2004, the late writer Michael Crichton offered a bite-sized and easy-to-remember indictment of Carson’s crime: “Banning DDT,” Crichton wrote, “killed more people than Hitler.” This was dialogue in a novel, but in interviews Crichton made it clear this was what he believed.

Rachel Carson, who stoically weathered misinformation campaigns against her before her death from breast cancer in 1964, would find the current situation all-too predictable. As she said once in a speech after the release of Silent Spring, many people who have not read the book nonetheless “disapprove of it heartily.”

Rachel Carson never called for the banning of pesticides. She made this clear in every public pronouncement, repeated it in an hourlong television documentary about Silent Spring, and even testified to that effect before the U.S. Senate. Carson never denied that there were beneficial uses of pesticides, notably in combatting human diseases transmitted by insects, where she said they had not only been proven effective but were morally “necessary.”

“It is not my contention,” Carson wrote in Silent Spring, “that chemical insecticides must never be used. I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons largely or wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm. We have subjected enormous numbers of people to contact with these poisons, without their consent and often without their knowledge.”

Many agreed. Editorializing shortly after The New Yorker articles appeared, the New York Times wrote that Carson had struck the right balance: “Miss Carson does not argue that chemical pesticides must never be used,” the Times said, “but she warns of the dangers of misuse and overuse by a public that has become mesmerized by the notion that chemists are the possessors of divine wisdom and that nothing but benefits can emerge from their test tubes.”

Carson did not seek to end the use of pesticides—only their heedless overuse at a time when it was all but impossible to escape exposure to them. Aerial insecticide spraying campaigns over forests, cities, and suburbs; the routine application of insecticides to crops by farmers at concentrations far above what was considered “safe;” and the residential use of insecticides in everything from shelf paper to aerosol “bombs” had contaminated the landscape in exactly the same manner as the fallout from the then-pervasive testing of nuclear weapons—a connection Carson made explicit in Silent Spring.

“In this now universal contamination of the environment,” Carson wrote, “chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world—the very nature of its life.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute—to its credit—acknowledges that Carson did not call for the banning of pesticides in Silent Spring. But they claim Carson’s caveat about their value in fighting disease was so overwhelmed by her general disapproval of their use that “negative publicity” around Silent Spring halted the use of DDT against malaria, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 90 percent of the world’s malaria cases occur.

It’s true that Carson found little good to say about DDT or any of its toxic cousins—the chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbon insecticides developed in the years after World War II and after the Swiss chemist Paul Muller had won a Nobel Prize for discovering DDT. But it’s a stretch to see how the mood surrounding Silent Spring was the prime cause of DDT’s exit from the fight against malaria. And, as the New York Times and other publications proved, it was understood by anyone who took time to read Silent Spring that Carson was not an absolutist seeking to stop all pesticide use.

DDT had been effective against malaria in Europe, in Northern Africa, in parts of India and southern Asia, and even in the southern United States, where the disease was already being routed by other means. But these were mostly developed areas. Using DDT in places like sub-Saharan Africa, with its remote and hard-to-reach villages, had long been considered problematic. It was an old story and one still repeated: Africa was everybody’s lowest priority.

And in any case, the World Health Organization had begun to question its malaria-eradication program even before Silent Spring was published. One object lesson was that the heavy use of DDT in many parts of the world was producing new strains of mosquitoes resistant to the insecticide. Much as it can happen with antibiotics, the use of an environmental poison clears susceptible organisms from the ecosystem and allows those with immunity to take over. The WHO also faced declining interest in the disease among scientists and sharp reductions in funding from the international community.

When the recently created Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT for most domestic uses in 1972, this ruling had no force in other parts of the world and the insecticide remained part of the international anti-malaria arsenal. The United States continued to manufacture and export DDT until the mid-1980s, and it has always been available from pesticide makers in other countries.

One result is that DDT is still with us—globally adrift in the atmosphere from spraying operations in various parts of the world, and also from its continuing volatilization from soils in which it has lain dormant for decades. The threat of DDT to wildlife—as a deadly neurotoxin in many species and a destroyer of reproductive capabilities in others—has never been in doubt. Carson’s claims in Silent Spring about DDT’s connection to human cancer and other disorders have not been completely resolved. The National Toxicology Program lists DDT as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” The same holds for two of its common break-down products, DDD and DDE, which are also suspected of causing developmental problems in humans.

These are cloudy but worrisome presumptions. DDT is stored in fat tissues—including ours—and that storage amplifies with repeated exposures over time, as well as through food chains, with unpredictable consequences. We walk around with our personal body-burden of DDT, a poison we still consume both from its decades-old residuals and its ongoing uses. If Rachel Carson hoped to end the use of DDT and our exposure to it, she did a lousy job.

In 2006, the World Health Organization announced a renewed commitment to fighting malaria with DDT, mainly in Africa—where the WHO had never lifted its approval for this purpose. The move was backed by environmental groups, as it surely would have been by Rachel Carson had she been with us still.

William Souder:  On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson


Silent Spring turns 50: Biographer William Souder clears up myths about Rachel Carson. - Slate Magazine


Back to nature on Taos' Magpie Farms

Living close to the land on one acre 

A blue-green egg sits in the chicken coop of Magpie Farms.

The magpies sat in the apple tree that sheltered the corn. They were large and thick and daring. The birds considered us with their ridiculously intelligent eyes.

"They were watching like that in the spring when I planted the corn," said Lee Bentley. "The minute I turned my back they dropped to the ground, picked up the seed and were gone. They are a real problem."

"That's right. You just have to sit and observe long enough," he concluded. "My ideology, if I had one, is look closely."
 Along with the magpie-troubled corn, Bentley is growing tomatoes, chard, onions, squash and chiles.
 His real passion is becoming as close to one with the land of Northern New Mexico as is possible and then sharing that knowledge with the young.
   Taos was like a circus with painted buses, chickens under people's arms in the Plaza, people selling jewelry everywhere. I'd never seen anything like it.

He wasn't looking back.


The house, last owned in the 1930s, was in ruins and had been written off the tax rolls as uninhabitable.

Bentley was taught how to make adobe to rebuild the house and he was given a crash course in rural New Mexico survival living by  neighbors.

With the aid  of his new neighbors, he set to work on the house and built everything using old Northern New Mexico techniques.

"Thoreau was my guiding north star through it all."
"Thoreau was very into building your own house, growing a garden, looking at nature and finding out who you are in the process." 

He wanted to get away from the modern world, mix with the old and find a new way. Go where just being free is an act of rebellion.
 "The beauty of my life is I don't have to do anything. It will come to me. Life opens like a flower and presents itself."
 At that moment, a cat slinked by with a mouse in its jaws and disappeared into knee-high grass....

Read more @ Source:
by Jim O' Donnell
Taos' Magpie Farms: Living close to the land on one acre - The Taos News: Lifestyle



Custom Landscape Bio-Remediation Using Living and Sustainable Systems

Goats have been used as a valuable land-clearing tool for centuries.  

Recently the popularity of such environmentally safe methods has introduced a quickly growing industry wherewith seriously harmful chemicals can be eliminated in favor of soil-building and balancing sustainable systems. 

Over-abundant vegetation can be reduced in fire prone areas and those less desirable weeds considered invasive can be balanced and managed by use of strategically applied goats. 

Using Management Intensive Browse (MiB)...

Go Goats! Increase Tilth*, Decrease Fire Danger, Eliminate need for Herbicide Use.


*Tilth can refer to two things:

1. Tillage and  

2. a measure of the health of soil.

Good tilth is a term referring to soil that has the proper structure and nutrients to grow healthy crops. 

Soil in good tilth is loamy, nutrient-rich soil that can also be said to be friable because optimal soil has a mixture of sand, clay and organic matter that prevents severe compaction. 

Farmers will sometimes make sure that their crop rotation is that of which will allow good seed bedding along with a strong root system for proper nutrient disbursement throughout various soil depths.

Why Goat Scape?

1. Hoof Prints As hoof prints are left by the browsing ruminants the hardened crust is softened in areas where rain runs off without soaking in due to lack of animal impact. The "dimples" left behind are perfect divets for seed to be caught in. Water is also caught in these holes and since they are goat-hoof shaped the moisture is able to penetrate the soil from beneath the top crust which keeps it from evaporating. Water is retained by manure and stalks mixed in.

2. Tilth The Underground kingdom is built up based on the microbial life (fungi) which feeds the plants. This is the most important element in the soil- the organisms which process manure and dried plant matter into nutrients for plants.

3. Succession Ragweed (kochia)/annuals feed perennials: shade the ground

4. Revitalize Old Brush Brush needs periodic pruning or the growth atropies and the plant becomes tired, unable to push out new growth. Plant then becomes stagnant and withers away Examples being: Ephedra, Currant, Salt Bush,

5. Clear Rip Rap on dams With the availability of a balanced diet goats can clear areas with rough terrain given high stocking density. Pressure can be applied without stress on the animal.

6. Clearing Brush Exposes Rodents Holes are less desirable due to skylights created by goat hooves and are more exposed to predators such as coyotes, bobcat and raptors.

7. Fire Remediation Old brush and crowded stands are potential fire hazards. Quick growth of rainfed annuals can burn quickly and flare out of control.

8. Creates Access Property/trails are made accessable with goat clearing and becomes open and inviting.

9. Revitalize Cleared Land Land that has been disturbed by machinery loses vitality. Goats go through and break up the soil, fertilize, and energize the land aiding revegetaion. They provide the nutrients for the mychorriza to flourish and aid plant habitation.

10. Parkification Goats clear areas creating space where children can explore and play. They create shade trees, which have a neater appearance and can be enjoyed (especially in the summertime heat). More fertilizer spread evenly over the area allowing for denser perennial growth which prevent annual weeds from invading.

11. Pollen, Allergies, Poison Ivy Goats Remove vast stands of irritating pollen thus providing people with occupiable outdoor air quality and an improved quality of life. Air blowing through these Goatscaped lands do not pick up the allergens which affect all living working and enjoying down wind. Goats eat Poison Ivy and over time, with pressure, can erradicate some tough stuff.

12. Community Goatscaping creates space where people can come together. Goatscaping is also a wonderful way to meet your neighbors. It makes people smile, it brings busy people together in unity to see a natural approach to landcare.

13. Economy Goats clear land quicker and over more radical terrain than people can, giving you more benefit for the price. They are a positive improvement which balance the land as they work making repeated applications shorter in duration as change is effected.


Horned Locust Goatscaping Remediation Service

This blog has no affiliation with with the company:

Amanita Thorp

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's a Mean Old World

“If Americans ever allow banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless.”

- Thomas Jefferson

"One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute."
- William Feather


Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income
-  HOPE YEN, Associated Press

Australia has a deeply troubled ecology; Australian bush fires 'catastrophic'

Firefighters in the Australian state of New South Wales are battling some of the worst fires they have ever faced.

More than 130 fires are burning, and the risk in some areas is at its highest level because of the combination of high winds, extremely dry vegetation and temperatures above 40.

Four areas in New South Wales have been given a "catastrophic" fire danger rating - the highest level - meaning that if fires break out they will be uncontrollable and fast-moving, so residents should leave.

Nick Bryant reports.

Australia races to control fires as new heat wave looms

Fire crews in south-east Australia are racing to bring hundreds of bushfires under control before temperatures rise and winds pick up again.
More than 120 blazes are still burning in New South Wales, razing at least 300,000 hectares of land and killing thousands of livestock.
Cooler weather has brought some reprieve but forecasters predict another hot spell at the weekend.
The fires have destroyed buildings in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
On Wednesday, the heat wave moved up the east coast to Queensland, where a bushfire started on Bribie Island, north of the city of Brisbane.
Temperatures will stay above 30C across the state and are expected to reach the high 40s in some parts on Thursday, forecasters say.
'Tornadoes of fire' The Rural Fire Service (RFS) in New South Wales said crews have worked around the clock to take advantage of cooler conditions brought on by a southerly wind.
Across the Sydney area the mercury fell to below 30C on Wednesday, after passing 40C on Tuesday.

Photo of the Walker siblings as they prepare to enter the water to seek shelter under a jetty (4 January 2013)
A couple in Tasmania and their five grand-children, pictured here, sought shelter in the water under a jetty as flames closed in on the town of Dunalley



A rabbit flees a bushfire near the town of Rylstone, northwest of Sydney, on November 22, 2009. Photograph: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

Australia's deeply troubled ecology demands fresh thinking

The challenge is to stabilise ecosystems, control feral animal populations, curb massive fires, and break the 'grass-fire cycle'

Australia has a deeply troubled ecology and current land management approaches are failing. The challenge is to stabilise ecosystems sent out of whack by a perfect storm of factors, starting with Aboriginal colonisation around 40,000 years ago that was coincident with the mass extinction of a diversity of large animals. What followed was a sustained tradition of Aboriginal landscape burning that ecosystems adjusted to but which European settlers have unwittingly disrupted.

Europeans found a continent primed for large grazing and introduced a variety of useful large herbivores (horses, donkeys, pigs, cattle, goats, sheep, camels,) which become feral or that were intentionally set wild (rabbit, foxes, deer). 

There were few land predators to control these animals, and the two largest were a threat to livestock (Tasmanian tiger and Australian wolf or dingo). The Tasmanian tiger was driven extinct by the 1930s and dingos have been subjected to a sustained campaign of culling by shooting and poisoning.

A number of flammable grasses have been introduced to Australian rangelands, in some cases in the mistaken belief that they would benefit livestock. 

This has initiated a vicious circle of uncontrolled fires in some outback landscapes. For example, the giant grass introduced from west Africa (gamba grass) dramatically increases the destructive power of fires killing eucalypt plants, renowned for their fire tolerance in the northern savannas. 

It is claimed by some scientists that this grass could cover 5% of the continent if left uncontrolled. Already we are seeing massive savanna fires – last year after the soaking rains, at least 5% of the continent was burnt in massive fires, one the size of Tasmania.

All these facts demand we apply some fresh thinking to managing Australian landscapes, which must include control of feral animal populations, curbing massive fires, and breaking the "grass-fire cycle". Current approaches aren't working well clearly.

But options that could work are challenging, more often that not because of cultural and social factors as much as biological reasons. Australians have some double standards when it comes to feral animals: lethal control of horses in a hugely sensitive issue but we are more sanguine about the current mass cull of camels in the outback.

Australia needs effective top predators to control the ferals that periodically degrade ecosystems. The options are all problematic. We could allow dingo populations to form packs, but this has obvious downside for livestock and possibly humans.

We could introduce komodo dragons to replace the extinct giant lizards, as suggested by Tim Flannery. I think a better option is to employ Aborigines to hunt animals.

It is a bitter irony that the vast Aboriginal lands of the outback that were handed back to Aboriginal groups are a shadow of their former selves because of the ecological disruptions described above. Aborigines have been activity encouraged to settle in townships and give up their nomad lifestyles, entering into a poverty trap of which there are few escape routes - one is land management. Epidemiological studies have shown Aboriginal engagement with land management is a powerful health intervention that can contribute to reversing the appalling health statistics of our indigenous people.

But to tackle some issues, like gamba grass, we may need to consider introducing more large herbivores - such as elephants. I do not advocacate releasing a barge load of African animals, rather I can imagine using these creatures as powerful ecological tools that are possibly less harmful that the conventional approaches of herbicides and mechanical disturbance. They could be radio-collared and sterilised to make sure they never become feral.

Obviously we need to proceed carefully in managing the Australian landscape, but a do-nothing attitude is no longer an option.

Australians are in fact already embarking on some very large-scale management interventions. For example, Aborigines are being employed to undertake fire management in western Arnhem Land to curb greenhouse gas emissions from fires.

Alternatives to current approaches are all fraught and only honest debate and evidence-based analysis will lead to sustainable management – I suspect there are solutions out there but they may be difficult to accept.

• David Bowman is professor of environmental change biology at the University of Tasmania


David Bowman, Wednesday 1 February 2012 18.00 GMT 
Australia's deeply troubled ecology demands fresh thinking | David Bowman | Environment |

Invisible Indian: Federal Court grants rights to Métis, non-status Indians

“ The growing and dying of the moon reminds us of our ignorance which comes and goes—but when the moon is full it is as if the Great Spirit were upon the whole world. ” 

—Black Elk, Oglala Sioux

Federal Court grants rights to Métis, non-status Indians

Off-reserve aboriginal people are 'Indians' and entitled to same constitutional rights

The federal government has lost the latest battle in a 13-year legal fight over its responsibilities to Métis and non-status Indians.

On Tuesday, the Federal Court ruled that 200,000 Métis and 400,000 non-status Indians in Canada are indeed "Indians" under the Constitution Act, and fall under federal jurisdiction.
The decision helps to more clearly outline Ottawa's responsibilities toward the two aboriginal groups.

"The recognition of Métis and non-status Indian as Indians under section 91(24) should accord a further level of respect and reconciliation by removing the constitutional uncertainty surrounding these groups," Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan writes.

Invisible Indian

Federal Court grants rights to Métis, non-status Indians - Politics - CBC News

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Stay Positive!

“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not
forget to sing in the lifeboats.”


John Muir - Biography


John Muir:  Biography

 John Muir - farmer, inventor, sheepherder, naturalist, explorer, writer, and conservationist - was born on April 21, 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland. Until the age of eleven he attended the local schools of that small coastal town.

In 1849, the Muir family emigrated to the United States, settling first at Fountain Lake and then moving to Hickory Hill Farm near Portage, Wisconsin.

Muir's father was a harsh disciplinarian and worked his family from dawn to dusk.

Whenever they were allowed a short period away from the plow and hoe, Muir and his younger brother would roam the fields and woods of the rich Wisconsin countryside.

John became more and more the loving observer of the natural world. He also became an inventor, a carver of curious but practical mechanisms in wood. He made clocks that kept accurate time and created a wondrous device that tipped him out of bed before dawn.

In 1860, Muir took his inventions to the state fair at Madison, Wisconsin where he won admiration and prizes. Also that year he entered the University of Wisconsin.

He made fine grades, but after three years left Madison to travel the northern United States and Canada, odd-jobbing his way through the yet unspoiled land.

In 1867, while working at a carriage parts shop in Indianapolis, Muir suffered a blinding eye injury that would change his life.

When he regained his sight one month later, Muir resolved to turn his eyes to the fields and woods. There began his years of wanderlust. 

He walked a thousand miles from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico. He sailed to Cuba , and later to Panama, where he crossed the Isthmus and sailed up the West Coast, landing in San Francisco in March, 1868. From that moment on, though he would travel around the world, California became his home.

It was California's Sierra Nevada and Yosemite that truly claimed him. In 1868, he walked across the San Joaquin Valley through waist-high wildflowers and into the high country for the first time.

Later he would write: "Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called not the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light...the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen." 

He herded sheep through that first summer and made his home in Yosemite.

By 1871 he had found living glaciers in he Sierra and had conceived his controversial theory of the glaciation of Yosemite Valley. He began to be known throughout the country.

Famous men of the time - Joseph LeConte, Asa Gray and Ralph Waldo Emerson - made their way to the door of his pine cabin.

Beginning in 1874, a series of articles by Muir entitled "Studies in the Sierra" launched his successful career as a writer. 

He left the mountains and lived for awhile in Oakland, California. From there he took many trips, including his first to Alaska in 1879, where he discovered Glacier Bay. 

In 1880, he married Louie Wanda Strentzel and moved to Martinez, California , where they raised their two daughters, Wanda and Helen. Settling down to some measure of domestic life, Muir went into partnership with his father-in-law and managed the family fruit ranch with great success.

But ten years of active ranching did not quell Muir's wanderlust. His travels took him to Alaska many more times, to Australia, South America, Africa, Europe, China, Japan, and of course, again and again to his beloved Sierra Nevada.

In later years he turned more seriously to writing, publishing 300 articles and 10 major books that recounted his travels, expounded his naturalist philosophy, and beckoned everyone to "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings." 

Muir's love of the high country gave his writings a spiritual quality. His readers, whether they be presidents, congressmen, or plain folks, were inspired and often moved to action by the enthusiasm of Muir's own unbounded love of nature.

Through a series of articles appearing in Century magazine, Muir drew attention to the devastation of mountain meadows and forests by sheep and cattle. 

With the help of Century's associate editor, Robert Underwood Johnson, Muir worked to remedy this destruction. In 1890, due in large part to the efforts of Muir and Johnson, an act of Congress created Yosemite National Park

Muir was also personally involved in the creation of Sequoia , Mount Rainier , Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon national parks. 

Muir deservedly is often called the "Father of Our National Park System ".

Johnson and others suggested to Muir that an association be formed to protect the newly created Yosemite National Park from the assaults of stockmen and others who would diminish its boundaries. 

In 1892, Muir and a number of his supporters founded the Sierra Club to, in Muir's words, "do something for wildness and make the mountains glad." 

Muir served as the Club's president until his death in 1914.

In 1901, Muir published Our National Parks , the book that brought him to the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt. 

In 1903, Roosevelt visited Muir in Yosemite. There, together, beneath the trees, they laid the foundation of Roosevelt's innovative and notable conservation programs.

Muir and the Sierra Club fought many battles to protect Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, the most dramatic being the campaign to prevent the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley within Yosemite National Park.

In 1913, after years of effort, the battle was lost and the valley that Muir likened to Yosemite itself was doomed to become a reservoir to supply the water needs of a growing San Francisco. 

The following year, after a short illness, Muir died in a Los Angeles hospital after visiting his daughter Wanda.

John Muir was perhaps this country's most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist.

He taught the people of his time and ours the importance of experiencing and protecting our natural heritage. His words have heightened our perception of nature. 

His personal and determined involvement in the great conservation questions of the day was and remains an inspiration for environmental activists everywhere. 

Source: Sierra Club Public Affairs
Date: March 1993

John Muir - A Brief Biography

 see The Story of My Boyhood and Youth

Camping With Henry

John Muir - Biography

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! - YouTube

Published on Nov 26, 2012

When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you're trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.

Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! - YouTube

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Solar Energy picked by Edison

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy.  What a source of power!  I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal  run out before we tackle that one."
-- Thomas Edison