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Posts Tagged ‘climate’

Photos: Suzanne and John’s Mom.
The movement to promote native species as protectors of the environment is gaining steam. Native species love your discarded leaves.

I haven’t had any luck yet persuading my own family and friends about the advantages of unraked yards, but after all, it took a few years for my friend Jean, the native-plant evangelist, to get through to me.

In recent years, a range of stories on the topic have appeared as the national media has caught on. I will list a few articles at the end. But perhaps the best explanation of the thinking behind unraked yards — and the best how-to — can be found at the Wild Seed Project.

Anna Fialkoff talks about rethinking garden clean-up. “While planting native plants is an essential step toward creating habitat, how we manage our plantings will determine whether we can sustain and support the life-cycles and successful reproduction of many other organisms including birds, butterflies, moths, bees, salamanders, and frogs.

“Autumn is when many of us think to put our gardens to bed by removing leaves and cutting back perennials. Yet to truly support living creatures year round, it’s much better to leave fallen leaves, branches, stems, and seed heads where they are rather than raking, blowing, shredding, or cutting them away. Leaves and other organic matter insulate plant roots through the cold winter months and then decompose to build up living soil critical to healthy vegetation.

This organic matter also stores large amounts of carbon, which is crucial to supporting a climate-resilient planet. …

“Many species of butterflies and moths, including our beloved luna moth, pupate and overwinter in leaves before emerging as stunning winged adults the following spring. Raking away the leaves is very disruptive to that life in the leaf litter. Leaf blowers are even more damaging, and also create noise pollution and use large amounts of fossil fuels – please discontinue this practice.

“Undisturbed leaf litter is also essential to the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly, which requires two seasons to complete its life cycle. After a first season of foraging on its host plant (white turtlehead) the caterpillars crawl down and overwinter in the leaf litter. This once common butterfly is in decline due to loss of habitat and poor gardening practices. [See pictures here.]

“Other small creatures like the eastern newt, as well as many species of salamanders and frogs, spend the frigid winter months hibernating under the protection of leaves, rocks, and logs.

“For many, leaf management can feel like a never-ending burden in the fall. Even if we want to leave the leaves, we can’t let them accumulate everywhere or they will smother the grass, clog sewer heads, and leave a slippery layer to get mushed into the ground by cars, snowblowers and pedestrians.

The problem is not that deciduous trees shed ‘too many’ leaves, but that we have developed our landscapes and removed natural areas. Too much space is now taken up by driveways, streets, sidewalks, and lawn.

“Leaves are an exceptionally valuable resource! They contain nutrients and organic matter that we should keep on site, instead of raking or blowing them from off our lawns and driveways and into the woods, or stuffing them into leaf collection bags to be taken off site. We can find more places for the leaves to go by shrinking our lawns, creating more planting space, and consolidating the excess leaves that fall outside our planting beds.

“Using leaves as mulch for a planting bed is a free alternative to buying bark mulch or other expensive and harmful inputs such as fertilizers and dyed mulches. The space under a tree is an especially critical place to keep leaves since many butterfly and moth caterpillars drop down from trees into the leaf litter to pupate and overwinter. …

“Still too many leaves? Rake the leaves that fall outside the planting beds into a pile. Yes, in this case raking is okay (and leaf piles are necessary for jumping in!). Our goal is to not remove them from within our planting beds, which benefit from the organic matter and insulation for the cold winter months, limiting disturbance to the leaf litter and any overwintering creatures.

“Move your leaf pile somewhere it can compost in place over the next growing season. You will be surprised by how quickly it shrinks down. Or, make a leaf fence! Coil up chicken wire into columns and arrange them side by side. Fill them with leaves. You’ll find that you can’t use the leaves up fast enough since they break down so quickly. Before you know it you’ll be stealing the curbside leaf collection bags from your neighbors to keep your leaf fence full. Suddenly one person’s yard waste is another’s treasure. …

“Inevitably, leaves will blow around and pile up in various corners of the yard. Rather than repeatedly removing leaves from the same spots, pause and pay attention to where they tend to accumulate or blow away, and plant accordingly.

“Plant strong stemmed plants like ferns, baneberries and bugbanes, coneflowers, or milkweeds in the areas where leaves accumulate. Leaves often form a deeper layer in low, concave spaces of the landscape, like at the bottom of a slope or a valley.

“There are a few ground covers like sedges, creeping and rock phlox, pussytoes, bearberry, and groundsels, that can get smothered by leaves. Plant them in spots where the wind strips leaves away. Leaves don’t tend to stay put on elevated, convex landforms, so don’t fight it and work with what you have.

“Wait until spring, just as you begin to notice sprouting and emergence, to remove leaves that get stuck in the crevices between rocks, against fences, and within shrubs.

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The native trout lily has no problem pushing through 2″ to 6″ of leaf litter.

“A common worry of gardeners is that plants cannot push through whole leaves or thick layers of leaves. Many woodland natives, even ephemerals like trout lily and squirrel corn, that are adapted to soils rich in organic matter created by decomposing leaves, have no trouble emerging through a good 2-6” of leaves.”

Fialkoff even gets into leaving the sticks and making outdoor art if you are so inclined, but I will stop now and let you read the rest at the Wild Seed Project, here. More at the Nature Conservancy, here, Audubon, here, and USA Today, here. No firewalls.

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Photo: Emli Bendixen/Arts Fund/PA.
The venue in London’s Forest Hill, says the
Guardian,”is the capital’s only museum where environment, ecology and human cultures can be seen side by side.”

What special features are people looking for in museums these days? The traditional recorders of art and history keep changing. A look at a museum award in the UK may provide an insight into what is currently valued.

Nadia Khomami writes at the Guardian, “The Horniman museum in London has been crowned the Art Fund museum of the year 2022 for its work to inspire the next generation. …

“Its director, Nick Merriman, was presented with the £100,000 [about $117,000] prize – the world’s largest museum prize – by the DJ and broadcaster Huw Stephens at a ceremony at the Design Museum. … The Horniman was commended for completely reconfiguring its program in 2021 after the pandemic, Black Lives Matter and the increasing urgency of the climate crisis.

“It set up its ‘Reset Agenda,’ which focused on reorienting activity to reach diverse audiences more representative of London. This included embedding a Climate and Ecology Manifesto – from an online club of Environment Champions to the creation of a microforest to combat local air pollution.

“ ‘From a takeover of the galleries by children to its youth panel of 14-19-year-olds, work experience opportunities and Kickstart apprenticeships, the museum is inspiring the next generation,’ Art Fund, the UK’s national art charity, said.

“A further focus of the Reset Agenda was the 696 Program, an interrogation of the power and responsibility that public organizations have in supporting local music.

“The museum was said to showcase Black British creativity through a sold-out festival that reached 8,000 visitors, while nearly 20,000 experienced the related exhibition.

“Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director and chair of the judges, said: ‘The Horniman museum and gardens has now blossomed into a truly holistic museum bringing together art, nature and its myriad collections.’ …

“Dame Diane Lees, director-general of the Imperial War Museums and fellow judge, said the museum was championing the natural environment and commissioning artists and music festivals ‘to bring the eclectic collections of Frederick Horniman new relevance with diverse communities.’ …

“The 2022 edition of the annual award championed organizations whose achievements told the story of museums’ creativity and resilience, and particularly focused on those engaging the next generation of audiences in innovative ways.

“The other four shortlisted museums – the Story Museum in Oxford, the People’s History Museum in Manchester, Ty Pawb in Wrexham [Wales], and the Museum of Making in Derby – each received a £15,000 [about $18,000] prize in recognition of their achievements.”

I’m looking at an example form the Horniman website. An upcoming show, “We Breathe, Together: A Day of Community Air Action and Exploration” invites all who “dream of a clean air future – and want the tools to take action.

“From building (and racing!) your own hydrogen car, learning the skills to create a 2D stop motion clean air animation, to co-designing immersive climate adventures and ink breath painting. Meet incredible local campaigners in our Clean Air Village and listen to expert talks.

” ‘We Breathe, Together’ extends the conversation around ‘Breathe:2022‘ by artist Dryden Goodwin, the ambitious multi-site artwork exploring air pollution produced by Invisible Dust. ‘Breathe:2022’ combines over 1,000 new drawings, appearing as large-scale still and moving images on sites close to the heavily polluted South Circular Road and beyond, from May to December 2022.

“As part of the day, you can also immerse yourself in ‘Airborne,’ artist Sarah Stirk’s audio-visual installation that seeks to make the invisible threat of pollution visible.”

More at the Guardian, here. I know I have friends in the UK. If you go, will you share your reactions?

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Princess Mononoke.

In July, Princess Mononoke, the animated film for grown-ups of all ages, turned 25. I have thought about it often since Asakiyume first pointed me toward the work of the brilliant Hayao Miyazaki. So many things in life remind me of the movie’s wisdom.

The BBC highlighted the Princess Mononoke birthday with a deep think.

Stephen Kelly reports, “In 1997, the British fantasy author Neil Gaiman received a call out of the blue from then-head of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein. ‘This animated film, Princess Mononoke,’ Gaiman recalls him saying, ‘it’s the biggest thing in Japan right now. So I thought I’ve got to get the best to do it. I called Quentin Tarantino and said, “Quentin, will you do the English language script?” And he said, “You don’t want me, you want Gaiman.” So, I’m calling you.’ Miramax, a then-subsidiary of Disney, had acquired the rights to distribute Princess Mononoke, the newest film from Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, in the United States, and Weinstein wanted to fly Gaiman to Los Angeles to watch a cut of the movie.

” ‘I had zero plans to do it,’ Gaiman tells BBC Culture. ‘But the moment that changed everything for me was the scene where you’re looking at this large pebble. And then a raindrop hits it. And then another raindrop hits it. And then another raindrop hits it. And now it’s raining and the surface is slippery and wet. And I’m like, “I have never seen anything like this.” ‘ …

“When Princess Mononoke was first released … it represented something of a departure for master animator and director Hayao Miyazaki. During the late 80s, Miyazaki had built his reputation (along with the success of Studio Ghibli, which he founded with fellow director Isao Takahata) on films like Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro; formally ambitious, thematically rich works, but generally affirming in tone and family-friendly in nature.

“But something changed during the 90s. Firstly, he began to bristle at the popular idea that Studio Ghibli only makes gentle movies about how great nature is. … Even more significant was his growing despair at a world which he had increasingly come to believe was cursed.

” ‘He used to be what he called leftist in sympathy, a believer in people power,’ explains Shiro Yoshioka, lecturer in Japanese Studies at Newcastle University. ‘But for obvious reasons [the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the escalation in ethnic conflicts across Europe], his political beliefs were totally shaken in the early 1990s.’

“Japan itself was also going through something of an existential crisis. The country’s bubble period, an economic boom during the late 80s, burst in 1992, stranding Japan in a seemingly endless recession. Three years later, in 1995, the country was hit by the Kobe earthquake, the worst earthquake to hit Japan since 1922. It killed 6,000 people, and destroyed the homes of tens of thousands more. Only two months after that, a terrorist cult by the name of Aum Shinrikyo launched a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo Metro, killing 13 and injuring thousands. Miyazaki, who was sickened by the materialism of the bubble period, was now living in a country traumatized and confused – both by its relationship with nature, and a creeping sense of spiritual emptiness.

” ‘He began to think,’ says Yoshioka, ‘maybe I should not make this entertaining, light-hearted stuff for children. Maybe I should make something substantial.’

“Set during the 14th Century, the Muromachi period of Japan, Princess Mononoke tells the story of Ashitaka, a young prince cursed by the hatred of a dying boar god, who has been corrupted by an iron ball lodged in his body. … To seek a cure for his curse, Ashitaka travels across the land, hoping to find the Shishigami, a deer-like forest spirit with the power to bring life and death.

“Along the way, Ashitaka discovers a world out of balance. The ironworks community of Tatara, run by the enigmatic Lady Eboshi, is ravaging the nearby forest for resources, provoking the wrath of ferocious wolf god Moro and her feral human daughter San (the titular Mononoke, which roughly translates to spectre or wraith). Caught in the middle is Ashitaka, who must figure out how to navigate this difficult world with ‘eyes unclouded.’ …

” ‘I believe that violence and aggression are essential parts of us as human beings,’ Miyazaki once told journalist Roger Ebert. ‘The issue that we confront as human beings is how to control that impulse.’ …

“Hayao Miyazaki is a self-confessed bundle of contradictions. Read his writings, listen to his interviews, watch him speak, and he paints a portrait of an artist caught between idealism and nihilism, optimism and despair. …

“This idea of a man at war with himself is obvious to see in the characters and world of Princess Mononoke: a film that, as Miyazaki told a press conference at the Berlin Film Festival in 1998, ‘was not made to judge good and evil.’ Take Lady Eboshi, whose mining colony is manufacturing an arsenal of guns to use against the forest gods. In most animated movies, she would be cast as the greedy, villainous scourge of nature. But Eboshi is also a generous leader, someone who has liberated women (implied to be former sex workers) from feudalistic oppression, who has provided a safe haven for leprosy sufferers and outcasts, and whose industrialization work is raising the standards of human life.

” ‘It would have been so easy to have a “technology is bad versus the good beasts of the forest” story,’ says Susan Napier, professor of the Japanese Program at Tufts University, Massachusetts, and author of Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art. ‘But the foundry helps these marginalized people live. It gives them jobs, a source of community, pride.’ Speaking in 1997 to Cine Furontosha magazine, Miyazaki himself once rationalized Lady Eboshi with ‘often, those who are destroying nature are in reality people of good character. People who are not evil diligently take actions thinking they are for the best, but the results can lead to terrible problems.’ “

It’s a long and thoughtful article. Read more at the BBC, here. No firewall.

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Photo: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian.
Camryn Stewart, 14, and Naomi Bell (right) open the salmon season on Scotland’s River Dee with the first casts.

So many good people trying to make the world better! Each one has their own area of action. It may be health, sports for kids, peace, housing, justice, the environment, art, teaching school. You name it. Today’s story is on people doing something about the effects of global warming where they live — along Scotland’s rivers.

Severin Carrell reports at the Guardian that “millions of trees are being planted beside Scotland’s remotest rivers and streams to protect wild salmon from the worst effects of climate heating.

“Fisheries scientists have found rivers and burns in the Highlands and uplands are already too warm in summer for wild Atlantic salmon as they head upstream to spawn, increasing the threat to the species’ survival.

“Fisheries on the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, one of the country’s most famous salmon fishing rivers, have planted 250,000 saplings along key tributaries. They plan to plant a million in the Dee’s catchment by 2035. …

“In 2018, the year Scotland recorded the lowest rod catch for salmon since records began, climatic changes meant water temperatures in 70% of salmon rivers were too warm for at least one day that summer. They exceeded 23C [73.4 Fahrenheit], a temperature that induces stress and behavioural change. …

“Marine Scotland scientists found that only 35% of Scotland’s rivers, which stretch for 64,000 miles (103,000km), have adequate tree cover.

“Lorraine Hawkins, the river director for the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board, a statutory body, said: ‘These rivers and burns are the nursery grounds for young fish and it’s the young fish which will be affected by summer temperatures – their feeding and growth rates are affected. If it gets hotter, we will see fish dying.’

“Fishery boards across Scotland have similar tree-planting programs, to provide essential shade to lower water temperatures. Many will be fenced off to prevent the saplings from being eaten by deer. Hawkins said these projects improved the overall health and biodiversity of rivers across the uplands, increasing insect life, leaf fall, managing essential nutrients and flood control.

“Alan Wells, the director of Fisheries Management Scotland, an industry body, said climate forecasts were clear that water temperatures would continue to climb, even if governments succeed in limiting climate heating. …

“He said, ‘This will get worse. We need to grow trees now to create that cooling shade.’

“The dramatic decline in wild salmon numbers is blamed on numerous factors: climate change affecting food availability; weirs and other obstructions in rivers; predation by soaring seal populations; sea lice attracted by fish farms; bycatch by trawlers at sea and poor river quality. Wells said that while Scottish ministers were proposing new conservation strategies, he remained frustrated with the slow pace of change.

“The Dee marked the start of its angling season [in February] by inviting two female anglers who won a fundraising competition last year to make the first cast, an annual ceremony at Banchory. …

“Camryn Stewart, 14, one of the first cast fishers, said she had been brought up fishing by her parents, Deirdre and Jim. The sport is targeting women and children as it strives to expand its participation and appeal. …

“ ‘I have been surrounded by people who fish, and I’ve wanted to fish all my life,’ she said. ‘We need more people fishing. … We gain so much from it. Just being outside and being in the wild. Even if you don’t catch anything, you come back from the day fulfilled.’ ”

More at the Guardian, here. No firewall.

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We do not have a plant-based diet in our house, although I’ve been taking baby steps in that direction as far back as the early 1970s when my little sister (now departed) gave me the Frances Moore Lappé book Diet for a Small Planet. This was when my sister was still in college and studying to be a poet. Long before she went to medical school and became a doctor.

I used to make an eggplant, mozzarella, and brown rice dish from that book. It was yummy but took too long to make. I’m a lazy cook.

Still, I keep being reminded that the effort is important — for example, when Robyn Vinter wrote for the Guardian in October about the environment summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Vinter reported, “Plant-based dishes will dominate the menu at the Cop26 [Conference of the Parties no. 26] climate conference. … The low-carbon menu includes 95% British food, especially locally sourced Scottish produce, and each menu item has an estimate of its carbon footprint, ‘helping attendees make climate-friendly choices.’

“Delegates will be served dishes such as potato, leek and rosemary chowder, smoked salmon and ‘a spiced mushroom and onion burger served with a vegan tomato mayo, slaw and shoots.’

“Caterers are using sustainable suppliers including Edinburgh’s Mara Seaweed, which is abundant, entirely sustainable and does not require fertilizer, fresh water or soil to grow, and carrots and potatoes from Benzies, which uses wind turbines to power their cool storage, biomass to provide heating and recycles the water used. Hot drinks will be served in reusable cups that can be washed 1,000 times, which organizers say will save 250,000 single-use cups.”

How does the list at the Guardian sound to you?

” Winter squash lasagne (0.7kg CO2 equivalent emissions) – celeriac, glazed root vegetables and winter squash, with a vegan cheddar.
” Organic kale and seasonal vegetable pasta (0.3kg CO2 ee) – spelt fusilli, field mushrooms, kale and seasonal vegetables.
” Braised turkey meatballs (0.9kg CO2 ee) – with organic spelt penne pasta in a tomato ragu.
” Organic spelt wholegrain penne pasta (0.2kg CO2 ee) – with a tomato ragu, kale, pesto and oatmeal crumble.”

Mmmm. Maybe it’s worth the effort.

Meanwhile, at the Harvard Health newsletter, you can read why a plant-based diet is also better for your health. Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN, says, “Plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.

“What is the evidence that plant-based eating patterns are healthy? Much nutrition research has examined plant-based eating patterns such as the Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet. The Mediterranean diet has a foundation of plant-based foods; it also includes fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt a few times a week, with meats and sweets less often.

“The Mediterranean diet has been shown in both large population studies and randomized clinical trials to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast, and prostate cancer), depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function. Vegetarian diets have also been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity. …

“Here are some tips to help you get started on a plant-based diet.

” Eat lots of vegetables. Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Make sure you include plenty of colors in choosing your vegetables. Enjoy vegetables as a snack with hummus, salsa, or guacamole.
” Change the way you think about meat. Have smaller amounts. Use it as a garnish instead of a centerpiece.
” Choose good fats. Fats in olive oil, olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and avocados are particularly healthy choices.
” Cook a vegetarian meal at least one night a week. Build these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
” Include whole grains for breakfast. Start with oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, or barley. Then add some nuts or seeds along with fresh fruit.
” Go for greens. Try a variety of green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens each day. Steam, grill, braise, or stir-fry to preserve their flavor and nutrients.
” Build a meal around a salad. Fill a bowl with salad greens such as romaine, spinach, Bibb, or red leafy greens. Add an assortment of other vegetables along with fresh herbs, beans, peas, or tofu.
” Eat fruit for dessert. A ripe, juicy peach, a refreshing slice of watermelon, or a crisp apple will satisfy your craving for a sweet bite after a meal.”

To read McManus’s meal suggestions and her answers to readers with specific diet problems, click on the Harvard Health newsletter, here. More at the Guardian, here. And don’t forget to investigate Diet for a Small Planet, here.

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Photo: Volcano Discovery

I love stories about volcanoes that change the flow of history. The really big ones, you know, darken the skies for months — even years — and disrupt the sea like a tsunami.

As Katherine Kornei reports at the New York Times, there are other effects that researchers are just beginning to discover.

“Chaos and conflict roiled the Mediterranean in the first century B.C.,” she reports. “Against a backdrop of famine, disease and the assassinations of Julius Caesar and other political leaders, the Roman Republic collapsed, and the Roman Empire rose in its place. Tumultuous social unrest no doubt contributed to that transition — politics can unhinge a society. But so can something arguably more powerful.

Scientists [in June] announced evidence that a volcanic eruption in the remote Aleutian Islands, 6,000 miles away from the Italian peninsula, contributed to the demise of the Roman Republic.

“That eruption — and others before it and since — played a role in changing the course of history.

“In recent years, geoscientists, historians and archaeologists have joined forces to investigate the societal impacts of large volcanic eruptions. They rely on an amalgam of records — including ice cores, historical chronicles and climate modeling — to pinpoint how volcanism affected civilizations ranging from the Roman Republic to Ptolemaic Egypt to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

“There’s nuance to this kind of work, said Joseph Manning, a historian at Yale University who has studied the falls of Egyptian dynasties. ‘It’s not “a volcano erupts and a society goes to hell.” ‘ But the challenge is worth it, he said. ‘We hope in the end that we get better history out of it, but also a better understanding of what’s happening to the Earth right now.’ …

“Joseph McConnell, a climate scientist at the [Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev.], and his collaborators are in the business of looking for debris [from long ago eruptions]. …

“Volcanic ash, more generally known as tephra, sometimes hides in ice. It’s a special find because it can be geochemically tied to a specific volcano. … The ice also carries a time stamp. Dr. McConnell and his colleagues look for variations in elements like sodium, which is found in sea spray that’s seasonally blown inland. By simply counting annual variations in these elements, it’s possible to trace the passage of time, Dr. McConnell said. ‘It’s like a tree-ring record.’

“Dr. McConnell and his collaborators recently analyzed six ice cores drilled in the Arctic. In layers of ice corresponding to the early months of 43 B.C., they spotted large upticks in sulfur and, crucially, bits of material that were probably tephra. The timing caught the scientists’ attention. Researchers have previously hypothesized that an environmental trigger may have helped set in motion the crop failures, famines and social unrest that plagued the Mediterranean region at that time. …

“Gill Plunkett, a paleoecologist at Queen’s University Belfast, set out sleuthing. After extracting 35 pieces of tephra from the ice, she pored over the rock chemistry of likely volcanic suspects. Nicaragua’s Apoyeque. Italy’s Mount Etna. Russia’s Shiveluch.

“But it was Okmok, a volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, that turned out to be the best match, at least on paper. Sealing the deal would require testing two tephra samples — one from the ice and one from Okmok — on the same instrument.

“Dr. Plunkett arranged for a tephra handoff at a conference in Dublin. A colleague from the Alaska Volcano Observatory, Kristi Wallace, packed four bags of Okmok tephra in her carry-on luggage. The match was spot on, Dr. Plunkett said. …

“This eruption was one of the largest of the last few millenniums, Dr. McConnell and his collaborators concluded, and the sulfate aerosols it created remained in the stratosphere for several years. These tiny particles are particularly good at reflecting sunlight, which means they can temporarily alter Earth’s climate. …

“There’s good evidence that the Northern Hemisphere was colder than normal around 43 B.C. Trees across Europe grew more slowly that year, and a pine forest in North America experienced an unusually early autumn freeze. Using climate models to simulate the impact of an Okmok eruption, Dr. McConnell and his collaborators estimated that parts of the Mediterranean, roughly 6,000 miles away, would have cooled by as much as 13.3 degrees Fahrenheit. … Rain patterns changed as well — some regions would have been drenched by 400 percent more precipitation than normal, the modeling revealed.

“That climate shock came at precisely the wrong time, Dr. [Jessica Clark, a historian of the Roman Republic at Florida State University] said. ‘This was a period of Mediterranean-wide political, social and economic upheaval.’

“These cold, wet conditions would have almost certainly decimated crops, Dr. McConnell and his colleagues said. Historical records compiled by Roman writers and philosophers note food shortages and famines. … For a society already reeling from the assassination of Julius Caesar the year before, such trying conditions might have exacerbated social unrest, the researchers concluded. They might even have kick-started transfers of political power that led to the rise of the Roman Empire.

“ ‘It’s an incredible coincidence that it happened exactly in the waning years of the Roman Republic when things were falling apart,’ said Dr. McConnell, who published the team’s results in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

This was a long, fascinating article. For additional details, including details about the effects of distant volcanic eruptions on the Nile River in Egypt, click here.

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Teenage indigenous rights activist Tokata Iron Eyes stands beside Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in the high school gym in Fort Yates, N.D., on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. (Fun to see Greta’s father came, too!)

The teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is getting a lot of flack these days from vested interests terrified of her influence, but she shoulders on as new and old climate activists give her encouragement. In this story, indigenous people recognize a girl after their own hearts.

Natasha Rausch Forum News Service reports, “Nearly 500 Indigenous students stood in a circle surrounding two 16-year-old climate activists and their fathers Tuesday morning, Oct. 8, in the Standing Rock High School gym.

“A medicine man blessed the girls — Tokata Iron Eyes and Greta Thunberg — in what’s known as a smudging ceremony. Then, a circle of men played the drum as everyone in the gym slowly turned to face the four sacred directions.

“One of the drummers, Hans Young Bird Bradley, of the Standing Rock Environmental Protection Agency, said the tribe has ‘no choice but to support them, hold them up’ on their mission to spread awareness about climate change.

“ ‘We shouldn’t leave it on the back of two little girls to do this,’ he said. ‘It’s too much weight to carry for them. It should be all of us doing our part.’

“Thunberg … told the crowd of Indigenous students she was honored to be speaking at ‘this symbolic place of resistance’ where just three years earlier thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Though the line was eventually installed, the tribe has continued to fight it in court as others from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation have built on momentum from the protest to create a more sustainable future.

“Thunberg met Tokata Iron Eyes — one of the Standing Rock citizens who helped garner support for the Dakota Access oil pipeline protests in 2016 through the Rezpect Our Water campaign — at a September event at George Washington University. …

To see two teenagers take the stage in the Standing Rock High School gym, ‘it’s inspirational,’ said 13-year-old Chante Baker, who sat in the bleachers with her classmates. …

” ‘It took two youth to get us all together,’ said Cody Two Bears, the head of nonprofit Indigenized Energy which opened a solar farm last month near the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. … We all need clean water and clean air and a safe place to call home. As Indigenous people, our culture and way of life is inherently tied to the environment.’

“Tyrel Iron Eyes, a 23-year-old from Standing Rock, said he’s proud of his cousin Tokata, and of Thunberg for getting people to listen to them.

” ‘They inspire,’ he said. ‘And at the end of the day that’s what we need is people to be inspired to make changes in their lives.’

“[Thunberg said,] ‘We need local solutions to this global problem, and of course global solutions as well.’ …

“In a closing ceremony, former Standing Rock Chairman Jay Taken Alive gifted Thunberg with a Lakota name: Maphiyata echiyatan hin win, meaning ‘woman who came from the heavens.’

“ ‘Only somebody like that can wake up the world,’ he said. “We stand with you. We appreciate you. We love you as a relative.’ ” More at the Billings Gazette, here.

And while we’re on the subject of sustainability influencers, you can see they’re having an effect in Europe, where this past summer increasing numbers of people decided to take the train instead of flying. Read about that at the Guardian, here.

By the way, does anyone know how Greta is getting home? She can’t very well take an wind-powered yacht across the Atlantic in winter.

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Photo: KerryCan/Etsy
Online markets like Etsy and Amazon currently rely on fossil fuels for deliveries, which is why Etsy is leading the way in addressing climate effects.

I’m happy to see that more individuals and organizations are taking action against the climate crisis. In this story it’s Etsy, the site where many people sell handcrafts. (I hope you have checked out blogger KerryCan’s gorgeous vintage linens there.)

As Emily Dreyfuss wrote in February at Wired magazine, the online market favored by “indie makers” is working toward a carbon neutral future.

“Tomorrow, all the carbon emissions spewed into the atmosphere from US ecommerce deliveries — some 55,000 metric tons of CO2, by one estimate, from trucks and planes shipping packages across the country — will be neutralized.

“It’s all thanks to Etsy, the global online market for indie makers, which is picking up the tab on high-quality carbon offsets for itself as well as its competitors on Thursday. Etsy’s largesse ends after tomorrow, but it will continue to offset its own carbon footprint going forward, becoming the first ecommerce company to completely offset all its emissions generated from shipping.

“Etsy estimates that doing so will cost less than a penny per package — less than $1 million for the year. The company made more than $200 million in just the last quarter of 2018. The price of covering the industry’s emissions for one day won’t even reach six figures.

“ ‘It’s a pretty trivial cost,’ says Etsy CEO Josh Silverman, who joined the company in 2017 and has been credited with turning around its fortunes. Before he joined, the company’s sales seemed poised to be gobbled up by Amazon. Though Amazon has only continued to dominate — accounting for almost 50 percent of total online sales last year, by one estimate — Etsy has regained its foothold on the craft market. …

“Silverman sees tackling sustainability as core to his stewardship of the brand. Ecommerce has come under scrutiny for its environmental consequences, but Silverman believes Etsy sellers and customers are eager to minimize their harm to the planet. …

“If every ecommerce company offset its emissions, it would make a difference. Transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency — more than electricity or industry. …

“If Amazon wanted to offset its shipping emissions now, some back-of-the-envelope math using available numbers suggests how much it might cost. The company says it shipped over 5 billion items using Amazon Prime in 2017. Amazon Prime, with its free two-day delivery, has been accused of having a larger environmental impact, since the expedited time frame can make bundling items in the same package or delivery vehicle less practical. If each of those items was shipped separately, and if I borrow from Etsy’s calculation that it costs less than a penny per package to offset emissions, then it would cost Amazon less than $50 million to offset the emissions of Amazon Prime shipments in a year … less than 5 percent of Amazon’s reported $11.2 billion profit from 2018. …

“While experts agree that carbon offsets are the best option for an organization wanting to take immediate action, they caution that it’s a stopgap measure and not a solution to climate change. ‘Offsets are sort of second best because, essentially, what it does is allow you to continue emitting, and what we have to actually do is stop emitting,’ says Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, the leading climate change think tank in the US. …

“Etsy knows this. According to Mozen and Silverman, the company’s goal is to eventually cut down on actual emissions. … Today it becomes the first ecommerce company to offer its customers the promise that packages delivered from Etsy are not hurting Earth. It’s a pretty good start.”

Until Amazon gets serious about its impact on the climate, maybe you’d rather find what you’re looking for at Etsy. Read more at Wired, here.

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