Sunday, February 15, 2015

On Being Cold Heartedly Selfish

It's not someone else's problem

Before you do something, take some action, commit to some deed, no matter how small or apparently inconsequential do you ever ask yourself, "what impact will my action have on someone I know; family, friend, or lover?"   Can you extend that and ask yourself that same question about people you don't know.

People Around Long After You Are Dead

For instance what about people who will be around in 80 years.  Ever wonder how your carbon footprint, or the pollution you leave behind will impact them? If you are just having kids now, this will be your kids when they are old.  If you have kids that are halfway grown or just having kids, these people will be your grandchildren.  If you kids are having kids this will be your grandchildren's children.  Are they too far removed from you for you to care?  What's statute of limitations on caring: one generation, two generations,  three generations?

Are you drinking out of a Styrofoam cup right now?  Or have you used a Styrofoam container to bring home food since the last time the trash was taken out.  Please take a moment to look at it and know that  it's legacy will be around long after you have been forgotten, long after your grandchildren will be gone.

People Who Live Someplace Else

Let's say you live in Chicago. When you flush the toilet, do you think of Lemont, Lockport or Morris?  They are all all downstream from Chicago's over-taxed water reclamation system, not to mention all the crap that ends up in the rivers that should end up in trash cans.  And when you think of Morris, quaint little poster town for American Gothic, do you think of cancer when you turn on a light switch? Yes! Cancer!  

You Too Can Be Carcinogenic!

Morris is situated right next to the Dresden Nuclear Power plant and almost right on top of the Morris Operation.  Never heard of the Morris Operation?  Well it's the only high level radioactive waste storage facility in the United States.  That's right all of the most highly volatile nuclear waste is shipped to cute little Morris, some of it coming though Chicago.  Dresden power plant generates nearly half of the electric power used in the Chicago Metropolitan area and it's not like the power distribution is parsed out so that some goes here and some goes there.  Next time you frivolously leave a light on think of Morris and Leukemia.
Cute Little Morris, IL

If you don't live in Chicago, these kind of Nuclear waste disposal storage facilities are all over the country.  Click here to see if any are near you. It is a list of power plants cause that is where the largest amount of waste is stored until one of the permanent plants is opened.  If you leave near one of these, consider your cancer risk raised.

What To Do: A New Paradigm For Starters

Start thinking differently. I would contend that being mindful of everyone else in every action is a good place to start and from there work your way into the specifics of solving each problem. Stop thinking that the solution is someone else's business and your responsibility ends with awareness and a public gripe for someone else to take care of the problem.

 It's true that these problems are often created for profit, but that profit is gained only by leveraging our need and addiction to convenience.  There are two tools in your toolbox for creating change: the fact that you are a consumer and money.  Yes money!  It's how the big profiteers exact control and since there are so many of us, we only have to give smaller amounts to our favorite warriors of political change (special interest) the same as the big guys. (See below).  As consumers, we can become educated (Google makes that incredibly easy) about the impact of what we purchase and not purchase that which works against the best interest of us...us being all of us!

Show Them The Money

Below is a list of groups that not only fight against issues, but fight for positive change. Pick your favorite issue and cut a check:

Pro Sustainable Energy Lobbies

Solar Energy Industries Association
American Wind Energy Association

Nuclear Waste Reduction:

Greenpeace
Sierra Club


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lethal Litter (Think Humans)

It couldn't happen to you...could it?

Making a new friend now has me thinking about an environmental issue that I haven't thought much about since I wrote my book in 1990.  However, this issue is not one of those that is going to effect our grandchildren in the Twenty-Second Century.  It's something that effects people now.  It could be effecting you...right now...as you read this.

Radiation Poisoning

Symptoms of radiation poisoning1 can range from the list below to cancer from long term exposure to low doses: Symptoms of high dosage exposure:
  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, and rectum
  • Bloody stool
  • Bruising
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation of exposed areas (redness, tenderness, swelling, bleeding)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Open sores on the skin
  • Skin burns (redness, blistering)
  • Sloughing of skin
  • Ulcers in the esophagus, stomach or intestines
  • Vomiting blood
  • Weakness

How can you contract Radiation Sickness?

There are nine sunken nuclear submarines2 in the Atlantic and the Arctic seas with both nuclear reactor engines and unreclaimed nuclear missiles3. One is just off the coast of Newfoundland.  Do you have a strong enough knowledge of ocean currents to know if you are effected or not?


Lost or damaged nuclear missiles (Broken Arrows) and other nuclear "accidents" has left nuclear litter scattered all over the Northern Hemisphere as detailed in this map (click here).  Much of this litter is above ground and in the US. Do you have a sufficient understanding of wind currents to know if you are at risk?
Spent nuclear fuel (e.g nuclear waste)4 constitutes the highest risk to you.  Since permanent storage at Yucca Mountain has been delayed this waste, (71,780 metric tonnes) is stored all over the United States.  The map shows tonnes by state (Click here for larger version). Do you know how close you live to a temporary storage facility and groundwater movement to determine what risk you may be in?  Keep in mind that 71,780 metric tonnes is equal to  78,021 tons or over 156 million pounds. That's 11 times the weight of the US Capital building. The Nuclear Energy Institutes4> lists sites built for the purpose of temporary storage of spent reactor fuel, but much of the spent fuel is stored onsite at the nuclear power plant

With this much radioactive litter lying around the risks of cancer from long time ionized radiation exposure to spent fuel increases dramatically.  When you look at the list of cancers long term exposure can cause, you can see that often it is cancer attributed to other causes (Maybe, maybe not):

  • Cancers of the bile ducts, bone, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, liver (primary site, but not if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated), lung (including bronchiolo-alveolar cancer), pancreas, pharynx, ovary, salivary gland, small intestine, stomach, thyroid, urinary tract (kidney/renal, pelvis, urinary bladder, and urethra)
  • Leukemia (except chronic lymphocytic leukemia) 
  • Lymphomas (except Hodgkin’s disease) 
  • Multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells)
The NDT (Non Destructive Testing)5 Center which sets exposure safely limits for people working around low level radioactive material such as x-rays, medical materials used in hospitals, etc...) at .5 rem/year doesn't calculate a safety level for someone living for years near a source of ionized nuclear radiation, such as a spent fuel depository. However they do say this:
Current guidelines are based on the conservative assumption that there is no safe level of exposure. In other words, even the smallest exposure has some probability of causing a stochastic effect, such as cancer.
In its website Nuclear Regulatory Commission6 describes the construction of  storage vessels but is remiss in documenting what radiation leakage radiates from pools and casks

What Can You Do?

A good reverse osmosis filter will reduce radioactive levels in your water.  Lining your house and making your own clothes out of aluminum foil isn't practical and I'm sure there are some health issues from too much contact with aluminum. Moving if you find that you are near a site is not a particularly feasible option, and runs the risk of moving closer to another spent fuel repository.

If you feel you are at risk you can contact the EPA's Radiation Protection Division; although if it is discovered that you are at risk, the time it might take to resolve the problem is might make moving and option  

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air
Radiation Protection Division
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
(MC 6608J)
Washington, DC 20460-0001

The Best Solution...

...is a long term solution and it will take a few years to implement, so the sooner alternative sources of energy are implemented the quicker nuclear plants can be decommission.   Contact the White House, your Congressmen, and your Senators and tell them you want wind energy!  Don't waste time on petitions.  Go direct.  Takes no more time than signing an online petition If Denmark7 and Scotland8 can produce 100% of their energy needs from wind, so can we.  

Even the birds will be safe...

...with the new wind turbine technology with six times the output reducing costs below that of other wind generators and way below the costs of nuclear power plants, especially maintenance costs:


Notes:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Yes. The Planet Does NOT Need Saving

The Human Race Does.

I know this is feeding into quibbling between proponents of the anthropogenic aspect of climate change and deniers.  Also, I am aware that  I am once again, preaching to the choir.  Those who believe that the whole plethora of potential and sometimes currently realized danger to the human race grouped under the umbrella of Global Warming will nod their heads in agreement, while Climate Change Deniers will sputter at this in mock.  Nobody's opinion will be changed.

What brings me here to post after a long hiatus from posting1 (Tired of trying to teach pigs to sing) was several discussions in which I participated where people rather flippantly indicated that "the planet" has been taking care of itself for more than 4.5 billion years without needing saving by humans.  One person in such a discussion quoted comedian George Carlin2 as a source, missing the double entendre of his joke.  If you have read any of my previous posts, you would realize that by this point in a post, I would have already quoted statistics like scripture, but have since learned that facts are ineffectual to  changing opinions.  I need to find a muscle-bound man and bikini clad woman in yoga poses to convey my message,  So, here's my rant3...er appeal to sensibilities:

Does this really need explaining?

Evidently, people don't get that "saving the planet" used in the vernacular is a colloquialism for keeping Earth habitable for humans; "saving the planet" means saving the human race.  Even when I titled my book "The Council to Save The Planet"  it had a bit of a tongue-in-cheek double meaning.  The tagline for the book read: "Take care of the Earth before the Earth takes care of you"

The Fatalistic Solipsism of Deniers.

The flippancy of the logic that Earth is on it's own agenda is the first indication of the solipsistic avoidance of personal inconvenience required to reduce carbon footprints, waste that won't decompose, conservational use of water and other resources, etc...  The harsh reality of selfishness of epidemic proportions practiced by climate change deniers come from the projections from the International Panel on Climate Control4 (IPCC) which show that real problems with the current carbon acceleration5 won't become cataclysmic until 2100.  It's not our problem, it won't happen until we are gone.

I don't know about you, I find this lack of compassion for future generations to be appalling selfish to the point of being pathological.  I would have used the term sociopathic, but I'm sure someone would argue that we can't be in society with future generations.  However, we can be compassionate and empathetical to those who will pay the price for our actions. Worse is the fact that those who will be the first to be harmed the most are poor from Third World countries. Now the term sociopath can be invoked to individuals who defer care about those less fortunate than privileged U.S. citizens6.

It's Not Someone Else's Problem

If you think about things blamed for green house emissions (cars, power plants, and manufacturing) there is no way to point the finger at someone else.  These are things that us ordinary individuals (AKA "consumers") leverage for our convenient lifestyles.    We are in control.  We can reduce our use of cars, reducing gas consumption. We can reduce our power consumption8.  We can reduce how much and what we purchase, reducing more power consumption and our output of non-degradable pollution,  We can conserve water9.  Sounds small scale, but multiply what you can do by 300 million and you have massive impact.  Most know how to do this, Global Warming ethicists and activists have pounded this at you for decades.  If not Google each, or look below where I have done it for you.

Rather than demanding that manufacturers give us more sustainable products and technology and that the government regulate those manufacturers to ensure sustainable products, we can change our habits to drive these changes. That is the one beautiful thing about Capitalism. It's really driven from the bottom up. It just means getting past The Cult of Convenience.

A New Zeitgeist

I have discovered that railing about specific practices needed to ensure a sustainable planet for our descendants is not productive.  We all know what we can do.  What's really required is a whole new way of thinking; one that is more mindful of others, alive or yet to be born.  This is tough for most U.S. citizens indoctrinated in the paradigm of rugged individualism (selfishness) .  The Cult of Convenience is rife with entitlement and status by gain, but lacking in empathy

Try this:  As often as you can, before you do something, buy something, throw something away, ask yourself how will this impact others, now or in the future?  A good time might be while you are in yoga class trying to ignore the pain of the Upside Down Flying Dog position.  Trust me, an overall new paradigm of concern for others will do a world of good


Footnotes
(Not only required to make this post look official, but informational also)
  1. Actually I opted for action, by giving money to the strongest pro-ecology lobby in the US The Nature Conservancy
  2. Carlin's opinion as a comedian of course outweighs the opinion of the 800 scientists of the International Panel on Climate Change and NASA
  3. Rant's play better nowadays.
  4. For those of you who are capable of reading more that short paragraphs Click here for the IPCC projections
  5. "Carbon acceleration" refers to the fact that the rate of emissions gases released into the atmosphere is greater than the rate the Earth can turn it back into Oxygen and that rate is accelerating
  6. The US has 3% of the planet's population, yet contributes to 25% of the green house emissions. Only China is higher, but that is only because they have so many more people.  On a person by person basis the Carbon Footprint7 of each Chinese person is 1/4th of each U.S. citizen contributes
  7. Carbon footprint describes all green house emissions released by a particular entity (person, vehicle, factory, power plant) being assessed.  
  8. Reducing your power / electric consumption <--Click
  9. Conserving water <--- Click
You are responsible for the future.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Are Humans the "Most Important" Species

Humans may be at the top of the food chain, but are we the most important species; the species that will endure through whatever happens on this planet?  Today is Earth Day and as a  transmogrified conversationalist into quasi-eco-terrorist environmental activist (I write acerbic rhetoric); it is incumbent of me to write something.  But why?  After 60 years of ecologists preaching that one cannot shit in the same kitchen where they cook and eat without dying of sepsis, no one is listening, not even many of the "activists"  who hang with (and get digits from) other activists and pule about how "someone" should "do something".   However, that "someone" is never them.

So?  What's the point?


Normally, I would start preaching statistics to prove my point, but then I end up preaching to the choir of those who already know the lyrics of statistics -- and everyone else's eyes glaze over and they go to Yahoo News to see how Lindsay Lohan is doing in rehab.

Just because we can consume more other species, doesn't make us the most important, only the most invasive.  For those of you who may have heard of The Gaia Hypothesis, which contends that "the earth is a single self-regulating system" realizes that this may mean that the planet may react to human invasiveness the same way as our bodies react to an invasive infection.

End of the human race?


 Though a bit hard to ignore the drastic climate changes in just the last few years, many people will and even deny that things have changed much.    Now I am not predicting decimation of the whole human race, as Mayan Doomsayers would.  (Though I do think there is a certain irony to the fact that it might end this year.)  However, give the increase in deadly disasters over the last few years and the loss of land mass due to rising oceans, I do believe that starting soon large numbers of the population will no longer exist and the planet's over all population will quickly dwindle to being much smaller.   I believe James Lovelock when he predicted that "in less than 100 years, what exists of the human race will have to live north of the Arctic Circle"   That clock started ticking over 60 years ago and Lovelock did specify that it might not take the full 100 years to reach the point of human consolidation above the 66th Parallel.   
Life in the Arctic in the near future.

The Arctic seems to be preparing a way for humans.   You can no longer "stand" at the North Pole.   You can float about it in a boat, but where ice existed less than 15 years ago is now a new ocean; the Northwest Passage; that very passage that explorers sought over 300 years ago.  

Earth Day: What's in Your Trash?

The irony of Earth Day observance is that many people will go off and "clean up" a beach or a meadow or a forest, taking with them boxes of plastic trash bags which are one of the worse contributors to the carbon footprint.   This process is a chain of emissions, from getting the materials to the factory, the actual manufacturing and then further emissions while transporting said bags to the "ecologically minded" folks who are really simply assuaging their guilt for the lifestyle they live which contributes to global warming and the overall over use of the planet's resources beyond its capability to replenish those resources.  What was required would have been drastic changes in lifestyle and a choice to care for the planet at the cost of some conveniences 

Wait?  Did I say was, past tense?   Yep.   Fundamentally, it's too late.  Tons of ice are melting off of the Polar Tundra, exposing moss and releasing carbon emissions at an unstoppable rate without the help of human emissions.  So, it's already a done deal, only a matter of time.  Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has quit publishing reports on human contribution to global warming and is now publishing reports on "disaster mitigation."

Mitigate What?


The loss of human life, that's what.  Since prevention of global warming is out of human hands the IPCC is studying the ramifications of the Earth's continued core warming.   Without going into details, the ramification is deadly disasters from atmospheric (tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons,...) to geological (Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions).   They are studying ways to mitigate the impact on human beings, which is to say, decreasing the deadliness, destructiveness, potential for creating an unbalance which will allow terrorism and war to proliferate as resources become harder to obtain.

You can read the IPCC's report: "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events And Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation"  (rolls right off the tongue)   Note the word adaptation which is a way of saying the shit is going to hit the fan, prepare for it.  Gaia is about to shrug and humans may not fare as well as their arrogance would assume.

Now what?


Of course it's not like there isn't something that can be done.  It's just that the shift has to be from an ecological paradigm, to a humanist paradigm.   Fundamentally, we have to ask ourselves: "what can I do to help my fellow humans when catastophy befalls them?'

There is a lot and since there is a program designed to explain and train people in how to help their fellow humans in dire need, I will refer to NIMS, a free training program designed to teach lay persons how to help in a disaster.  Or, you can become part of a CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team).  Or you can figure all this is too inconvenient to consider.  You'd be in...not good, but mass company to think that way.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Yer Part of the Fracking Problem


If you're not part of the solution

Unlike most political or politicized issues such where people feel like they as J. Regular Voter don't have much chance of influencing elected officials to fix what is wrong, fracking is one of those issues where the average person can be influential. For most issues (e.g. job creation, health care coverage, women's rights...) most voters think their only recourse it to vote for the right guy, and bitch on Facebook that "someone ought to [fix, stop someone else from doing it, make it right]" in the name of public awareness. Then they are disappointed when the guy voted for doesn't pull off the job they hoped, or not enough people got behind the awareness. Eventually, all throw their hands in the air and sigh, that we have lost our government to special interest and so we have.

Who reading this thought drilling in the Arctic was a bad idea? Raise your hands? Who bitched on Facebook or via e-blast to make people aware? What happened? Shell Oil got permission to start drilling last August (2011). How many people have Occupied Wall Street or blogged about it or posted on the relevancy of it's message on Facebook? What came of it?

Thing is we, J. Regular Voter, can do something about this and it's not commiserating about it publicly or semi-publicly, using the most vitriolic, emphatic language possible that someone should do something to make it illegal. Nothing will happen. The juggernaut of Big Special Oil Interest, will flick away the vitriolic barbs like flies on an elephant. If all the J. Regular Voters were to band together with the same persistent like-mindedness that has driven the conservative (AKA Republican) special interest agenda we could stop fracking.

"But", you say, "we are like minded. Look at our public message. We all hate fracking and think someone should do something about it." Well that's where the conservative like-mindedness differs from the liberal, tree-hugging, earth loving liberal. The conservative like-mindedness went beyond a shared zeitgeist to becoming an agenda, a very simple agenda that allowed them to get away with so much that we now bemoan. What is that agenda?

Deregulation!

Huh? "But", you say, that's exactly what we are saying when we post on Facebook or e-blast our friends. We need regulation to prevent this." However, it's a no win agenda, cause it takes the power of action out of our hands and puts it in the hands of a few who are woefully under resourced compared to the big special interests who profit from fracking. We need a different agenda. We need an agenda to....

Reduce Demand!

Thats it! That simple! Reduce the demand for natural gas and you reduce the need for fracking. Actually, if we reduce the need for natural gas enough, then fracking becomes a cost that doesn't pay for itself. Let the oil special interest have their arguments about the number of jobs fracking creates or the bad science of the EPA. Don't waste time fighting it. Some, and only some, of what they say is true; just enough to make it hard to argue. Reducing the demand for natural gas will make all that moot. Simple? Yes! Easy? Yes and no!

What is required from each of us is easy. Getting enough of us behind this agenda is not so easy. But there are well over 200,000,000 of us using natural gas so if each of us reduces our usage (AKA demand) the impact could lower the need for gas and the need for fracking. Now, I know a lot of you reading this are thinking if I reduce my natural gas usage it won't make a difference and not enough other will do this. Well, toots, that just lazy and a cop out! Make your agenda to Reduce Demand. Get everyone you know on board with this new agenda Change your public message from, someone ought to do something to...

I know how to eliminate fracking and you can help too

So how do you reduce your natural gas use?
  • Obviously, you turn down the thermostat, especially when you are not home. When no one is home, 45 degrees will keep the pipes from freezing.
  • How about planning your stove usage so that you are baking more than one thing, firing up the oven less.
  • How about shorter showers to reduce heating water. Actually if you purchase those electric water heaters that goes with each tub and sink, you reduce the amount of time the water heater is reheating water to be ready for when you need it.
  • Pilotless gas appliances.
  • Shut off the lights when you leave the room (Yep, most utilities burn natural gas to provide you with electricity). Shut off decoration lights
  • In fact, shut off anything electrical that isn't being used.
  • Buy as little processed food as possible. Processing food requires heat and most of that heat is generated by natural gas
  • Reduce purchasing food that is packaged as much as possible. Manufacturing packaging requires a lot of heat, again supplied by natural gas.
That's a lot of inconvenience, but think of the people in Dimrock, Pennsylvania whose water has been so adulterated that it can be lit on fire. Demanding regulation isn't going any place, so if you aren't willing to make these sacrifices, or convince your friends to reduce their natural gas demand, you are part of the fracking problem.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Maybe It's Too Late?

Or maybe that's just an excuse.

It's hard not to think that Mother Nature/Gaia/The Earth has had enough of us when one looks at the devastation that occured over the weekend in Joplin, MO (a tornado bifurcated the town in a half mile wide path of devastation) while considering the recent Earthquake in Japan. Add to this the over 1,100 tornados just this year attributing to over 420 deaths in April and May alone. The largest outbreak of violent tornados ever occurred in three days between April 25th and 28th; now labled the 2011 Super Outbreak. CNN reported that 2011 could shape up to be the deadiest tornado season ever, and include a graph of increased tornado activity since 1950 that exactly matches the "hockey stick" graph of global warming. Video of the Joplin, MO tornado can show just how deadly they can be

As for Earth quakes, records show that there has beeen a 30% increase of magnitude six earth quakes between 2000 and 2010. Already in 2011 (not even half over) the number earthquakes is almost 2/3rds the number of earthquakes in 2010. At that rate there will be 30% more earthquakes this year than next year. Maybe it's too late to stop what has been set in motion.

Maybe Lovelock is right?

...when he said, "climate change will reduce the human population to a few breeding pairs surviving near the Arctic." The Norwegian seem to think so with the Svarlbad Seed Vault project, collecting seeds and storing them in the arctic should natural disasters ( or war) destroy agricultural resources. Lovelock is the climatologist who put forthe The Gaia Hypothesis that we and the earth are a "single, self-regulating orgnamism." Perhaps, the planet is self-regulating itself.

So does that mitigate our sense of convenience?

Allowing us to continue with our current carbon footprint contributions to the accelorating carbon cycle by, driving everywhere, as often as we want, purchasing and disposing of disposable products rather than reusing, How many disposable cups did you you this week? Bags? Paper towels? I know that washing dishes and carrying your cups and canvas to the coffee shop and grocery store is inconvenient and washing rags is way inconvenient compared to buying disposable paper products. But they are require carbon emissions to manufacture, transport to the store and again to the land fill or recycle center and b e recycled.

Somebody should fix this.

But it should be somebody else? Right? Somebody ought to create cars with no carbon footprint, (not that we can buy enough to replace what is on the road) and disposable packages so that we don't have to be inconvenienced.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yin & Yang of Green Awareness

This past weekend I went to La Vida Verde, sponsored by Greenheart a child of The Center for Cultural Exchange who really planned the the event. It kicked off with a plethora of volunteers (kudos to Greenheart for reaching so many people) "cleaning up Wicker Park (the actual park not the neighborhood). My initial reaction was, isn't raking up leaves and mulch sort of an antithesis to being green. After all, aren't leaves and twigs part of the environment and also, isn't the decomposition of leaves and twigs a part of the ecological system? Isn't this "cleaning up" part of the way humans try to order nature. Further, as I joined in, I wondered, aren't we taking work away from potential city workers in an economy where jobs are desperately needed? After seeing, the poundage of disposable bags and eatery packaging as well as bowls, I also wondered how green can this be, all this trash?

However....

...(and it's a big "however") The workshops were tremendous and because of CCI/Greenheart's approach, very well attended. The room was full to standing room for every workshop and all those in attendance went away being all the more greener for having attended.

The first was ostensibly how to make veggie chili in a very green way by Chef David Reyes, representing the Green Chicago Restaurant Coop, but the conversations and question turned toward issues of food purchase that is environmentally more sustainable and less intrusive as well as being healthier. Those in attendance went away discovering how much more invasive meat production is to the environment not only in the excessive amount of carbon emissions (generally around 3,000 grams per burger), but also the tremendous amount of water required to put meat on the table (1 pound requires 1800 gallons of water). From there the discussion went to the reduced carbon output of purchasing local vegetables (or growing one's own as many restaurants do) and saving the extra emissions required to transport food from places like California, the major supplier of food to the country. Included in the discussion was the health benefit of not eating genetically modified fruits and vegetables as can only be purchased in most grocery
outlets. From there the discussion turned toward cleaning products, since being clean is regulated by health code, that are green. Most people didn't realize that vinegar can suffice for a surface cleaning product and reduce the invasive chemical impact on the environment.

The next workshop conducted by GreenBox Chicago who showed everyone h
ow to grow shallow rooted vegetables (spinach, chard, lettuce, etc...) and even a deep rooted tomato in containers on roofs and and porches. The side benefit was the knowledge folks picked up on reducing carbon emissions by reducing transportation of vegetables, the help given to the carbon cycle (turning carbon into oxygen) by having more green around and the health benefit of reducing one's intake of genetically modified vegetables. Plus, the health benefit to one's pocketbook. People were shown how they can take wine boxes or in the case of tomatoes, old buckets like the kind that kitty litter is sold in and turn them into micro-gardens from seeds or starter plants. Simple: Get a container, ventilate the bottom with a few holes, line with newspaper, add organic soil and plant. From that point on it's the usual ritual of sun, water and love. Attendees learned that composting was not only valuable toward the growth of plants but an aid in reducing disposed garbage to a landfill. Fundamentally, it's putting food that will rot in a place where it can do that and become something of value rather than just tossed away.

Next on the workshop roster came, Ken Dunne of the Resource Center, who in the gentlest manner explained how to stop disposing of our planet, but reusing and recycling the things that most people assume can be disposed of. Beyond the obvious of reusing packaging containers, how many people thing that perishable food can be reused? At the commercial level, The Resource Center aids restaurants in getting food that would be disposed of to those at risk who need it. On the personal level, perishable can be used for composting.

After that it was to the Greenhouse shop for a bit of soiree including music. Here is where the yin and yang of being green become most evident. The store was fundamentally started based on fare trade products. This often means transporting products from other countries, which translates to a higher carbon output, but I was glad to see that many of the products in the store were made locally by women in need of doing something to create income. Being green and helping people who are economically oppressed are equally noble causes and in this complicated world there will inevitably be noble conflict.

So in the effort to help people become aware enough to practice sustainable and long term green practices, a certain amount of waste and carbon footprint had to be generated. I would like to think of this as collateral damage and would hope that what over 100 people came away with in return for this damage, was practices that overall will treat the planet with respect and nurture, less consumption and disregard.