The COVID Covenant: Going big is the price of admission

September 21, 2020 by  
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The COVID Covenant: Going big is the price of admission Gil Friend Mon, 09/21/2020 – 01:00 The world (well, most of it) attacked COVID-19 as if it were a true global emergency: with extraordinary speed, scale and scope. With real collaboration and a healthy dose of courage, some gutsy decisions were made both in government and business. Getting billions of people to don masks, allocating trillions of dollars and putting massive human safety nets in place around the globe in record time is no task for the faint of heart. Yet we haven’t responded to other planetary catastrophes with the same speed, scale, scope and coordination. This year’s Climate Week commitments notwithstanding, we haven’t shown the same guts and drive on climate as on COVID. But what if we did? That is the challenge posed by the COVID Covenant. Take climate change — in the grand scheme, a far greater and decidedly more existential emergency than the current pandemic. While some targets have been set, some progress made and some portion of the public enrolled, the world has not become galvanized to meet it. This is a threat we know will affect billions of people and displace hundreds of millions more through sea-level rise, desertification and other disastrous impacts by the time our children are grown. The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. We could talk about why we haven’t acted, but the real question is about what we will do going forward: How will we provoke the world into attacking carbon as it has the virus? And climate is not the only major threat we face. The social infrastructure that has left many millions without access to healthcare in the middle of a major pandemic certainly threatens global stability. Inequality and injustice are worldwide disasters as well. These are all global issues that underpin all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and they are all soluble. Yet our planetary response to them has been tepid at best. Going big The COVID Covenant was created to kick the world into overdrive, to accept no less than the huge, unprecedented commitments required to deal with these issues, to make what seemed impossible, possible. In short: to go big. Developed by a cadre of sustainable business veterans, the COVID Covenant represents an all-in community of influential business leaders, municipal leaders and individuals who — after a long, deep breath — have committed to doing far more, far faster than they ever believed they could, and to turn on the sirens and the flashing lights for others while they’re doing it. Each has committed to the COVID Covenant. They have declared they are going big. That’s the price of admission. The COVID Covenant I solemnly commit to do what is necessary, at the speed, scale and scope that is necessary, to ensure we don’t go back to a broken system — an overheating, divided, unequal world — and build a resilient, equitable, healthy world in its place. Before the ink is dry on this Covenant, I will begin creating economic, social and governmental change at speed, scale and scope. I will practice, and advocate for, unprecedented levels of collaboration and I will mobile mobilize my organization(s), city, company and others in my circle of influence to do the same. We know what a real emergency response looks like now, what it feels like — the immediacy and urgency of it. And still, when this pandemic eventually ends, will most organizations return to their pre-coronavirus goals, such as to reduce emissions by 20 percent in five years, say, or to be carbon neutral by 2050? Will they continue with health care and wages as usual? Or will they go big, to get it done now?Demand and lobby hard to ensure everyone has health care, and for a far more equitable wage structure? Will they catalyze others to do the same? If, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, we have a maximum of eight years of carbon left in our 1.5 degree Celsius carbon budget, then a goal of neutrality 30 or 40 years from now no longer looks like leadership. Like heroism. Like going big. Instead, it looks like thinking small. If — or more likely, when — the next pandemic hits, or Florida is underwater, or California is burning, or whatever the next disruption is — can we afford to have millions of people in food lines within a few days of a shutdown, or for millions to lose their jobs or not be able to access health care? The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. If the COVID Covenant can get those who are crawling toward progress to walk instead, if it can get the walkers to start jogging and the joggers to sprint, then we have a chance. (Those already sprinting? Time to turn on the jets — let’s see commitments that make Microsoft’s aim to remove all the carbon it has ever generated look like last year’s news.) The world has progressed — a bit — on climate. A few short years ago, climate targets were not science-based, and carbon-neutral commitments were rare. Most corporations were not reporting to GRI or SASB or thinking about TCFD. Now, thousands of companies are reporting, hundreds have set science-based targets and many corporations and communities already have committed to neutrality — though, as we’ve noted, their goals are too modest and too slow. The goalposts have moved, but nowhere near fast or far enough. Further, faster The message of the COVID Covenant is, “It’s great you say you’ll do this cool thing in 20 or 30 years, but that’s not soon enough. What if you treated it like the emergency it is and committed to getting the job done fast? What would it take for you to do it in 10 years? Five years? Three?” The COVID Covenant is seeding a community of collaborating competitors, of peers, experts and cheerleaders, sharing best practices, modeling what going big looks like and how to get there, offering feedback and advice, and trumpeting its work to the world. What this community does and becomes is up to those who commit to it — we’re confident that a group of people and companies whose uniting purpose is to go big will do more than just commit. The community might generate new business relationships among its members, new research or new public-private partnerships. However the collaboration evolves, it will be a vehicle for greater change and impact — picking up the gauntlet thrown down by the coronavirus, climate change and widening social inequity.  Those who’ve committed to the COVID Covenant include Andrew Winston, Hunter Lovins, John Izzo, Gil Friend, Daniel Aronson, Catherine Greener, Daniel Kreeger, Amy Larkin, P.J. Simmons and Phil Clawson.  Read more and make your own commitment here . Pull Quote The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. Contributors Daniel Aronson Topics Climate Change Leadership COVID-19 COVID-19 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Mount Rushmore fireworks display sparks concerns

June 30, 2020 by  
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Despite a decade-long ban on fireworks at Mount Rushmore on environmental and public health grounds, President Trump is planning a fireworks show at the famous site on July 3. Critics are worried about the threat of wildfire and the spread of coronavirus . The National Park Service halted fireworks displays at Mount Rushmore in 2010 to avoid wildfires accelerated by drought conditions. The monument is famous for its four presidential faces — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln — but also includes 1,200 acres of forest and is close to Black Hills National Forest’s Black Elk Wilderness. Related: Crowds fill national park for Yellowstone reopening With a high temperature of 80 degrees predicted for the Fourth of July weekend paired with moderate drought conditions, not everybody is cheering for fireworks. “It’s a bad idea based on the wildland fire risk, the impact to the water quality of the memorial, the fact that it is going to occur during a pandemic without social distancing guidelines and the emergency evacuation issues,” Cheryl Schreier, who was superintendent at Mount Rushmore National Park from 2010-2019, told The Washington Post . Trump has yearned to see fireworks over Mount Rushmore for years and has downplayed the wildfire risk. “What can burn? It’s stone,” he said in January, according to Popular Mechanics . The 7,500 people who won tickets to the event in an online lottery will be urged to wear face coverings if they’re unable to social distance. South Dakota has so far escaped the worst of coronavirus. According to CDC statistics , at the time of writing this article, the state had 6,626 confirmed cases and 91 deaths. A fireworks display over Mount Rushmore is especially symbolic at a time when protesters seeking an end to racial discrimination are tearing down monuments. Statues of Jefferson and Washington have elsewhere been removed by people decrying the former presidents as slave owners. Mount Rushmore has an especially troubled history. The Lakota Sioux hold the Black Hills sacred. Having the faces of their European conquerors immortalized on stolen stone is viewed as the ultimate desecration. Via PBS , Ecowatch and Weather Channel Image via Pixabay

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Can manufacturing green sand beaches save our planet?

June 30, 2020 by  
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It sounds too good to be true — spread some rocks on a beach and the ocean will do the work to remove carbon dioxide from the air, reversing global warming. But that’s a very simplified explanation of what Project Vesta hopes to accomplish. The idea is to accelerate a natural process. When rain falls on volcanic rocks, it weathers them down, then flows into the ocean. There, oceans further break down the rocks. Carbon dioxide removed from the air becomes bicarbonate, which helps grow the shells of marine organisms and is stored in limestone on the ocean floor. Project Vesta wants to speed up this process by grinding up olivine — a common, gray-green silicate that weathers quickly — and spreading it on beaches and in shallow shelf seas around the world. It has worked in a lab, but will it work in the real world? We’re about to find out, as Project Vesta is now preparing a pilot beach in the Caribbean. Related: Demand for sand — the largest mining industry no one talks about Origins of Project Vesta Project Vesta has rounded up an international crew of scientists, environmentalists, futurists and financial experts since its founding on Earth Day 2019. The not-for-profit organization sprang from a think tank called Climitigation , Project Vesta executive director Tom Green told Inhabitat. “It’s very clear at this point that in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming, reducing emissions will not be enough,” Green said. “Maybe 20 years ago that would have been a viable path. But at this point, even though we should reduce emissions , that on its own will not be enough to avoid the worst scenario.” Climitigation examined different ways to reverse global warming , prioritizing them according to their viability. The idea of coastal weathering came to the top, Green said, “as being potentially very, very cheap, very scalable, a permanent carbon catcher, with relatively little attention that had been paid to it so far. So Project Vesta was founded out of that think tank, and we exist to further the science of enhanced weathering ultimately to galvanize global deployment that will help reverse climate change.” The idea of coastal weathering has 30 years of academic research in the fields of biology and geochemistry behind it. But it had stalled out, unable to cross the financial chasm from academic to mainstream, said Green, who trained as a biologist before spending 20 years in business at various tech companies. “Nobody had come along and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to push this forward.’ That’s what we’re here to do.” The pilot beach Scientists at Project Vesta had a set of criteria for finding the right pilot beach. “We scoured the world for an ideal site,” Green said. “This initial site that we found is great for our pilot beach site. It’s a fairly enclosed cove, which means the water has a pretty low refresh rate. Which means that as the chemical reaction happens, there’s enough time for the biogeochemical indicators to change before the water gets washed away into ocean.” In a few months, after thoroughly measuring the test cove, Project Vesta will cover the pilot beach with ground olivine. Then comes the monitoring phase. Scientists will sample water and sand, measuring indicators like DIC, or dissolved inorganic carbon , which directly measures the amount of carbon in the water. “These indicators are designed to measure the speed of the reaction that’s happening and actually look at the carbon as it is being removed from the atmosphere,” Green explained. “On the biological side, we’ll also be measuring the prevalence of various species that are there, both macroscopic and microscopic species, and looking at any changes in that as the experiment proceeds.” A nearly identical cove less than a quarter mile away will serve as a control cove. One concern is whether olivine could release nickel or other heavy metals into the water. Green told Fast Company that this nickel won’t be bioavailable, so it won’t harm marine species. But the pilot study will monitor metal concentrations to assess the real life impact to sand , water and local marine organisms. In addition to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, Project Vesta hopes that more green beaches will reverse the ocean’s rising acidity. “The reaction that happens when olivine dissolves actually makes the ocean less acidic,” Green said. “ Ocean acidification is a major problem and is causing problems for a lot of species. It’s very clear that doing this will reduce acidity at the site where it’s done. And then there’s a hypothesis that that will actually be beneficial for local marine ecosystems. But we don’t know that yet for sure. We need to test it out.” Green beaches could also be a tourism draw. Papakolea on Hawaii’s Big Island is the world’s most famous green sand beach. It does more than alright for itself, tourist-wise. Future green beaches The Project Vesta folks hope that they’ll see a positive impact on their pilot beach within a year. If it’s successful, they’ll work with interested governments to expand the project. Green anticipates that members of the V20 — countries especially susceptible to climate change — may be especially receptive to green sand beaches. Island nations with lots of shoreline will be top candidates. If all went perfectly, how long would it take for green sand beaches to reverse climate change? Project Vesta scientists estimate they’ll need to dump ground olivine in 2% of the world’s shelf seas — the shallow coastal waters surrounding every continent — for the plan to work. “The scale of the problem is so big that any solution will also be largescale,” Green said. Project Vesta plans to find local or nearby sources of olivine to save financial and carbon costs of transporting the green rock. Even when factoring in the mining and transportation, the project claims it can capture 20 times the carbon it takes to make a green sand beach. Moving all these rocks will cost money. The credit card processing company Stripe is one of the project’s backers, in keeping with its pledge to spend $1 million a year on carbon removal technologies . Individuals can make donations of any size on Project Vesta’s website or support the project by buying a Grain of Hope necklace for $25. Fittingly, the jewelry sports a single grain of olivine suspended in a sand timer vial, symbolizing that time is running out on reversing climate change. + Project Vesta Images via Project Vesta

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The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

May 18, 2020 by  
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Farmers are burying onions, destroying tomatoes and grinding up heads of lettuce to return to the soil. Dairy workers are dumping milk. These images of food destruction have horrified Americans during the pandemic . Farmers shouldn’t have to destroy the crops they’ve poured their money, energy, time and strength into. Hungry people shouldn’t witness the destruction of food that they could cook for their families. But farmers and organizations are working to save this food and bring it to those in need. COVID-19 has hurt people in many ways, but the food supply chain has been hit especially hard. Since restaurants, hotels, schools and cruise ships have shut down, farmers have lost about 40% of their customer base on average. Some farms have lost their main outlets. For example, RC Hatton Farms in Florida has had to disk — that is, grind up and recycle into the soil — hundreds of acres of cabbage since the crop has lost its future as KFC slaw. Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 Meanwhile, with the U.S. unemployment rate stretching toward 15% , more Americans could make use of those crops. The question is, how can the food supply chains be rerouted before all of the vegetables and milk spoil? Worldwide food insecurity may double this year because of COVID-19. In relatively affluent America, people are waiting in line for hours to get to food pantries. Fortunately, the world is full of clever and helpful people. From individuals to large organizations, people are devising ways to redistribute food to those who need it. From farms to food banks Food banks are nonprofit organizations that store food donated from retailers, restaurants, grocery stores and individuals. This food is then distributed to food pantries, where people can take home food to eat. Food pantries provide millions of free meals per year. With their restaurant and institutional clients closed by COVID-19, more farmers are trying to donate crops straight to food banks. But donation doesn’t come free. While most farmers would vastly prefer to donate their vegetables than to let them rot in fields, those crops don’t harvest themselves. Nor do they pack themselves for shipping or drive to the nearest food bank. Some states are working hard to facilitate getting crops to the people. At the end of April, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $3.64 million expansion to the state’s Farm to Family program. By the end of the year, he expects this campaign to reach $15 million. The Farm to Family program is a partnership between the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Association of Food Banks. The USDA has approved redirecting $2 million in unused Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to the California Association of Food Banks. This will help cover costs of picking, packing and transporting the produce to food banks. “Putting food on the table during this pandemic is hard for families on the brink,” Newsom said in a press release. “It’s in that spirit that we’re expanding our Farm to Family program while also working to connect low-income families with vital resources and financial support. We thank our farmers for stepping up to donate fresh produce to our food banks . And we want families struggling to access food to know we have your backs.” In New Mexico, the state chapter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) launched its own Farm to Foodbank program. The group will fund farmers to continue producing organic produce, which will be routed to food pantries. AFSC is also helping farmers buy supplies, such as seeds, masks, gloves and irrigation systems. In return, the farmers sign contracts promising produce to community members suffering from food insecurity. For example, farmers at Acoma Pueblo requested seeds and promised to donate a part of their crops to the senior center. Help from private companies Some companies are also assisting in moving surplus crops to food banks. Florida-based Publix Super Markets has long been donating food to Feeding America’s member food banks and other nonprofits. In the last 10 years, Publix has donated about $2 billion worth of food, or 480 million pounds. Now, the supermarket chain is stepping up its efforts and buying unsold fresh milk and produce from Florida and regional producers and donating these goods to Feeding America food banks. “As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Todd Jones, chief executive officer of Publix, told NPR . Other supermarket chains have announced large monetary donations to food banks during the pandemic, including $50 million from Albertsons. Kroger Co. set up a $10 million Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund. To celebrate Earth Day , Natural Grocers donated $50,000 in gift cards to food banks. Individual giving Some farmers have taken direct action to get their crops to families. Idaho potato farmer Ryan Cranney invited the public to help themselves to his millions of unsold potatoes. “At first I thought we’d have maybe 20 people,” Cranney said in an interview . He was amazed when thousands of people drove to his town, with a population of 700, and hauled away potatoes. “We saw people from as far away as Las Vegas, which is an 8-hour drive from here,” he said. Of course, most of us don’t have millions of potatoes to spare. But we can still help food banks. In better times, food banks appreciate shelf-stable foods like peanut butter and tomato paste. But right now, the best thing you can do as an individual is to give money. Feeding America, the biggest hunger relief organization in the U.S, has about 200 member food banks. If you’re able to spare a few dollars, you can donate to its COVID-19 Response Fund . Via CBS 8 , Santa Fe New Mexican and Politico Images via Philippe Collard , Hai Nguyen , U.S. Department of Agriculture and Dennis Sparks

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The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

May 18, 2020 by  
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Farmers are burying onions, destroying tomatoes and grinding up heads of lettuce to return to the soil. Dairy workers are dumping milk. These images of food destruction have horrified Americans during the pandemic . Farmers shouldn’t have to destroy the crops they’ve poured their money, energy, time and strength into. Hungry people shouldn’t witness the destruction of food that they could cook for their families. But farmers and organizations are working to save this food and bring it to those in need. COVID-19 has hurt people in many ways, but the food supply chain has been hit especially hard. Since restaurants, hotels, schools and cruise ships have shut down, farmers have lost about 40% of their customer base on average. Some farms have lost their main outlets. For example, RC Hatton Farms in Florida has had to disk — that is, grind up and recycle into the soil — hundreds of acres of cabbage since the crop has lost its future as KFC slaw. Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 Meanwhile, with the U.S. unemployment rate stretching toward 15% , more Americans could make use of those crops. The question is, how can the food supply chains be rerouted before all of the vegetables and milk spoil? Worldwide food insecurity may double this year because of COVID-19. In relatively affluent America, people are waiting in line for hours to get to food pantries. Fortunately, the world is full of clever and helpful people. From individuals to large organizations, people are devising ways to redistribute food to those who need it. From farms to food banks Food banks are nonprofit organizations that store food donated from retailers, restaurants, grocery stores and individuals. This food is then distributed to food pantries, where people can take home food to eat. Food pantries provide millions of free meals per year. With their restaurant and institutional clients closed by COVID-19, more farmers are trying to donate crops straight to food banks. But donation doesn’t come free. While most farmers would vastly prefer to donate their vegetables than to let them rot in fields, those crops don’t harvest themselves. Nor do they pack themselves for shipping or drive to the nearest food bank. Some states are working hard to facilitate getting crops to the people. At the end of April, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $3.64 million expansion to the state’s Farm to Family program. By the end of the year, he expects this campaign to reach $15 million. The Farm to Family program is a partnership between the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Association of Food Banks. The USDA has approved redirecting $2 million in unused Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to the California Association of Food Banks. This will help cover costs of picking, packing and transporting the produce to food banks. “Putting food on the table during this pandemic is hard for families on the brink,” Newsom said in a press release. “It’s in that spirit that we’re expanding our Farm to Family program while also working to connect low-income families with vital resources and financial support. We thank our farmers for stepping up to donate fresh produce to our food banks . And we want families struggling to access food to know we have your backs.” In New Mexico, the state chapter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) launched its own Farm to Foodbank program. The group will fund farmers to continue producing organic produce, which will be routed to food pantries. AFSC is also helping farmers buy supplies, such as seeds, masks, gloves and irrigation systems. In return, the farmers sign contracts promising produce to community members suffering from food insecurity. For example, farmers at Acoma Pueblo requested seeds and promised to donate a part of their crops to the senior center. Help from private companies Some companies are also assisting in moving surplus crops to food banks. Florida-based Publix Super Markets has long been donating food to Feeding America’s member food banks and other nonprofits. In the last 10 years, Publix has donated about $2 billion worth of food, or 480 million pounds. Now, the supermarket chain is stepping up its efforts and buying unsold fresh milk and produce from Florida and regional producers and donating these goods to Feeding America food banks. “As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Todd Jones, chief executive officer of Publix, told NPR . Other supermarket chains have announced large monetary donations to food banks during the pandemic, including $50 million from Albertsons. Kroger Co. set up a $10 million Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund. To celebrate Earth Day , Natural Grocers donated $50,000 in gift cards to food banks. Individual giving Some farmers have taken direct action to get their crops to families. Idaho potato farmer Ryan Cranney invited the public to help themselves to his millions of unsold potatoes. “At first I thought we’d have maybe 20 people,” Cranney said in an interview . He was amazed when thousands of people drove to his town, with a population of 700, and hauled away potatoes. “We saw people from as far away as Las Vegas, which is an 8-hour drive from here,” he said. Of course, most of us don’t have millions of potatoes to spare. But we can still help food banks. In better times, food banks appreciate shelf-stable foods like peanut butter and tomato paste. But right now, the best thing you can do as an individual is to give money. Feeding America, the biggest hunger relief organization in the U.S, has about 200 member food banks. If you’re able to spare a few dollars, you can donate to its COVID-19 Response Fund . Via CBS 8 , Santa Fe New Mexican and Politico Images via Philippe Collard , Hai Nguyen , U.S. Department of Agriculture and Dennis Sparks

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The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

Earth911’s 5 Things Today: Minneapolis Climate Emergency and More Chinese Import Bans Ahead

December 5, 2019 by  
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Every day brings new climate information and news about scientific … The post Earth911’s 5 Things Today: Minneapolis Climate Emergency and More Chinese Import Bans Ahead appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911’s 5 Things Today: Minneapolis Climate Emergency and More Chinese Import Bans Ahead

In a world first, the UK declares a climate emergency

May 7, 2019 by  
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In a victory for peaceful protest and the planet, the United Kingdom parliament is now the world’s first national legislative body to proclaim a climate change emergency. The decision comes on the heels of major protests by Extinction Rebellion that snarled London traffic for a week last month. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn proposed the emergency declaration. “Today, we have the opportunity to say, ‘We hear you,’” Corbyn told parliament . “By becoming the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency, we could, and I hope we do, set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments all around the world.” Related: Extinction Rebellion LA protests climate change by supergluing themselves to Universal globe The declaration was one of several demands made by Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion’s other demands call on Britain to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2025 and for citizens’ assemblies to be responsible for working out these initiatives, rather than the powers-that-be. Michael Gove, environment secretary under conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, acknowledged the danger of climate change. “Not only do I welcome the opportunity that this debate provides, I also want to make it clear that on this side of the house, we recognize that the situation we face is an emergency,” Gove said . “It is a crisis, it is a threat, that all of us have to unite to meet.” Gove and Corbyn both vowed to confront Donald Trump on his environmental stance when the U.S. president visits the U.K. in June. Many municipalities and regions of the U.K. have also declared climate emergencies, including Scotland, Wales, Manchester and London, noting that the clock is winding down for Earth’s inhabitability by humans. As one sign hoisted by a Scottish school child during last month’s protests said, “Dinosaurs thought they had time, too.” Via Reuters , The Guardian Image via David Holt

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In a world first, the UK declares a climate emergency

Are you accidentally eating the toxic parts of fruits and veggies?

April 10, 2019 by  
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Nearly every reference to healthy eating will list fresh fruits and vegetables at the top of the must-eat list. That’s no surprise, considering that together, they can provide nearly every vitamin and mineral a body needs. While some produce options can be gobbled up from the outer skin to the inner seed, there are parts of certain fruits and vegetables that contain dangerous substances. While most of these substances are not toxic in small doses, they can definitely make you sick, especially if you have any sort of compromised system, allergies or food sensitivities. Even the healthiest eater should be aware of the dangers that lurk in their food. Here’s a reference to the parts you should avoid in your favorite fruits and veggies. Non-organic skins Before we get into specific types of fruits and vegetables, it’s important to mention the role organic growing practices have on food. That’s because conventional growing methods douse produce with pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. If you consume the edible skin on conventionally raised pears, apricots, grapes and carrots, you are allowing those chemicals directly into your system. It makes the case for buying certified organic products raised sans the toxins. At the very least, be sure to thoroughly wash your produce before eating. Related: 15 fresh ideas for leftover fruit that will reduce your food waste Apples Full of all kinds of nutrients , an apple a day can indeed help keep the doctor away. But stop short of eating the entire apple, because the seeds contain the amygdalin molecule, which produces cyanide once ingested. In small doses, it will not cause serious illness. But take heed in the warning surrounding the word cyanide, or you may suffer a serious ache in the pit of your stomach. Pits Speaking of pits, toss the center of cherries, apricots, peaches, plums and apricots. They contain the same organic cyanide components as apple seeds. Even though they aren’t likely to send you to the emergency room, it’s best to avoid aggravating your system. Raw almonds and cashews This one might surprise you, because nuts aren’t typically listed under the category of fruits or vegetables. That’s because almonds and cashews are not actually nuts, but rather seeds. While seeds offer lots of yummy benefits, these two varieties also contain cyanide — but only in their raw form. Now don’t be too alarmed, because it is illegal to sell truly raw almonds in the U.S. Even those packaged and clearly labeled as raw have been steamed or cooked another way. They’ve all been through the pasteurization process, too, after a salmonella outbreak a few years ago was trailed back to the fruit. Lemon and lime seeds All parts of lemons and limes can be consumed, and they offer many health benefits. However, if you have a condition that recommends against ingesting seeds, you will want to avoid these citrus seeds. They can be hard to digest. Rhubarb leaves Hear the word rhubarb and you likely think of the sweet pie served across the country. But see rhubarb on the plant , and you might be surprised to see a fleshy pink to lime green, celery-shaped stalk. The taste of raw rhubarb is extremely tart and favored by few. As unappealing as the stalks might be, the leaves are actually quite poisonous. The leafy green portion contains dangerously high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause serious kidney damage and even death. While it does take high quantities to cause this severity of illness, even a small amount can make you feel sick. Related: 8 of the best fruits and vegetables you can eat in their entirety Cantaloupe skin While you can power right through the skin of many fruits , the outer rind of cantaloupe should be avoided. That’s because it is extremely susceptible to mold, which can make you quite ill. Lychee and ackee Lychee can be a spectacularly sweet treat. But if eaten while unripe, it can cause fever, convulsions and seizures, especially in individuals who are malnourished or have eaten it on a completely empty stomach. The unripe fruit appears to lower blood sugar, which can cause hypoglycemia. Ackee contains the same poison as lychee and is always cooked before consumption. Starfruit Although mostly safe for healthy individuals, starfruit can be fatal if you have any sort of kidney condition. Without proper kidney function, the toxins in starfruit can affect the brain and cause neurological issues. Early signs of a reaction to starfruit include hiccups, confusion and seizures. Asparagus Asparagus is a healthy vegetable known for its firm, green stalk. The plant also produces enticing red berries that are toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhea, even in small doses. Potatoes Potatoes have the potential to develop a green color just under the surface of the skin when exposed to light. This green color is an indication that it has produced too much solanine, a natural glycoalkaloid, that can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue and intestinal issues. Store your potatoes in a cool, dark place, and avoid consuming green areas that develop. Cassava Cassava is ubiquitous in many parts of the world. Those who consume it regularly are acutely aware that it must first be dried, soaked and cooked properly, as consuming the raw form can result in serious health conditions. With these exceptions in mind, remember that fruits and vegetables are the best foods you can source for your body. Be informed about potential risks, and then enjoy the bounty provided by nature. Images via Shutterstock

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Are you accidentally eating the toxic parts of fruits and veggies?

Locally crafted childrens learning center doubles as an emergency shelter in the Philippines

February 11, 2019 by  
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Scandinavian design studio Native Narrative is raising the bar for after-school facilities in the rural Philippines with their recent completion of the Children’s Learning Center in the Island of Leyte’s Village Mas-in. The facility primarily serves as a child-friendly after-school space during weekdays and weekends, however, it has also been engineered to double as an emergency shelter in the event of a natural disaster. Created in close collaboration with local NGOs and the local government, the prototype project was constructed from locally available materials and local, relatively unskilled labor. The Children’s Learning Center and emergency shelter was created in response to the newly approved Children’s Emergency Relief Protection Act in the Philippines , a law that calls for local and national agencies to establish child-friendly spaces for the improved protection and development of children. Created to serve ages 4 to 17, the 63-square-meter Village Mas-in facility offers a space to play, study and gather with the community. The building includes a library unit, study spaces, a reading area, two bathrooms and a performance area. The facility is one of four Native Narrative-designed after-school facilities built in 2018; five more site-specific buildings will be constructed in 2019. “It has been important for us to create something that made sense in the local context both practically and in terms of character,” explains Jakob Gate, architect at Native Narrative, of the firm’s choice to use locally sourced materials and local labor. “The building is a collection of borrowed components from the predominant architectural language in the locality, although does not resemble any one particular building. The minimal colour pallet is reducing the environment to a backdrop where children, books and toys are standing out.” Local carpenters made all the furniture of plywood, while local weavers wove the seat covers from Pandan grass. Related: The Philippines envisions a green smart city to combat pollution in Manila Due to the Philippines’ location on the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire,’ the country is highly susceptible to natural disasters including typhoons, earthquakes and floods. To fortify the emergency shelter against these events, the architects designed a reinforced-concrete structure with a symmetrical column layout, hollow block walls and a lightweight metal roof. The building is also raised to protect against flooding. + Native Narrative Images by Jakob Gate

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Locally crafted childrens learning center doubles as an emergency shelter in the Philippines

Recycling Mystery: Emergency Flares

December 5, 2018 by  
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Ah the emergency flare, a product you probably don’t think … The post Recycling Mystery: Emergency Flares appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Recycling Mystery: Emergency Flares

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