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EarthTalk®

by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss


If a small child stumbled

Fell and cut her knee,

Would you not bend over and try to help?

Helping the fallen

Is part of the basic requirement

Of being a human being.

Then why do you run away

From all the broken ones

Who call out for our help?

Are we not broken ourselves?

-SB

Part of a Family

Growing up, being the eldest of 3 brothers had its pluses and minuses. One of the things you learn early on is that you are indeed your brother’s keeper. Having responsibility to take care and help younger ones as they fall and protect by force when a bully tries to take advantage.

One of my favorite memories, with my 2 brothers, was going to Saturday afternoon movie matinees at the Empress Theatre on 181 St. Together we walked back and forth; crossing the upper Manhattan streets, avoiding oncoming traffic and con-men alike.

Each Saturday morning my mother packed us a lunch; give us 75 cents for admission (3 x 25) and $1.00 to spend at the movies. In those days, you could see 10 cartoons and 3 full-length monster/action movies for 25 cents. The extra $1.00 was for goodies like drinks, popcorn, hot-dogs and candy. Try to find a bargain like that today!

Some 7 hours later, by the time we got out of the theatre, we were blurry eyed and hoarse from screaming. What a blast! On the way home, we were careful not to be grabbed-up by a monster waiting for us behind a parked car or around an apartment building corner. To this day, I still check large stairways to make sure a giant crab isn’t waiting on the landing above to get me.

During this Saturday adventure, my job as eldest was to make sure money was evenly spent, lunch was fairly shared; and no one picked on my 2 younger brothers. Also, I had to report back to my parents if we fought and punched each other too much or got in trouble in the movie theatre with the matron (usher).

Throughout the years, this early training served me well and helped me to be concerned about others, and to take notice when someone was trying to take advantage of their weaker brother. It’s just a natural part of being a member of a family, and whenever I can, I try to offer some corrective. Even if it just calling it out or writing about it.

Era of Exploitation

The era we live in is filled with example after example of the stronger exploiting the weak. In our country, most people are acutely aware that something has gone wrong and others are stealing their hard earned money- leaving nothing for them. Just about everyone I speak with, realizes the government with its 2 party system is no longer viable or interested in being their brother’s keeper. It seems like elected officials want it all for themselves and their big business friends.

While this awareness has trickled down to the average person and has made them angry; few have a plan and for the time being seem complacent about this mess. It will not stay like this for much longer. We have reached ‘the tipping point,’ and all it will take is a few more failures like the mortgage bailout, a 10 year war in Afghanistan, and a hurricane like Katrina to awaken the sleeping giant. Many of our young people are having their futures stolen from them under the guise of capitalistic enterprise and governmental interest and concern.

These young rebels are the champions of tomorrow; who will fight and take back by force what has been stolen. Then perhaps, we will again have a government of the people and for the people . . .

For many older folks like me, trying to survive has replaced the American dream of freedom to become and do.

Be strong.

You have within your grasp

A sword to vanquish desire.

Use it.

It has been given to you

For a Purpose.

Exert your will for God

And control the demons

Which beset you!

-SB *

Revolution or Evolution

So when is the next great American Revolution? When will the champions arise to take back what has been stolen by the politicians and capitalistic plunderers?

O you think this will never happen? Take heed and be assured the revolution is going on all about you; daily the seeds are being planted and as each traveler awakens to the possibility that life can be more than a life time sentence of credit card and mortgage payments, out of control gasoline and energy costs, and calling out as an enemy, anyone who disagrees with the current political system. These are not radical thoughts- they are reality; which many try to hide from us with a smoke screen of scapegoats, slanted news coverage, and mindless entertainments.

All is ready for the Great Change; all it will take is a spark and the Phoenix will go into her death dance. This is part of the Great Wheel of Life so we might again enter the next golden age. Remember, we chose to be here and have contributed to this Awakening.

Again, after the ashes, the man/woman of the soul shall arise. Again, we will reenter our own renaissance. Try to be of good cheer; this evolutionary hour is why we chose to be here.

Now you must know, when the man/woman of the soul begins to rise, the masters say it is another man/woman. By which you must not understand it is another soul: it is another being of the soul: the old mode is done, it is dead. The soul assuming her real mode stands in her virgin innocence. The man of the soul, transcending his angelic mode and guided by the intellect, pierces to the source whence flowed the soul. Intellect itself is left outside with all named things. So the soul is merged into pure unity.

Master Eckhart

__________

Read my new book: Beyond The River’s Gate. Book is available on Amazon.com in paperback, Kindle format or local bookstore.

To Order Your Copy Visit Amazon: http://bit.ly/bitkoffriver

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that fuel cell cars aren’t really any greener than conventional gas-powered internal combustion cars? -- Michelle Adamo, Portland, OR

A decade ago cars powered by fuel cells seemed like the future of green automotive travel, but many analysts now think otherwise.

These futuristic cars run on hydrogen fuel and emit only heat and water vapor. Their engines mix hydrogen, stored on-board in fuel tanks much like gas tanks, with oxygen in the air to produce electricity that powers the drive train. Environmentalists love the idea of fuel cell cars given their lack of greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on a renewable fuel that can be produced domestically.

Despite these benefits, fuel cell cars have not caught on and skeptics wonder if they ever will. One big hurdle is that creating hydrogen fuel turns out to be highly inefficient compared to other readily available fuels. According to Richard Gilbert, co-author of Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil, the creation of hydrogen gas uses about half the energy it creates. Half of this resulting energy then goes to the conversion of hydrogen back into electricity within fuel cells. The result is that “only a quarter of the initially available energy reaches the electric motor.” In fact, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles’ efficiency varies between 18 and 20 percent, while battery electric vehicles have 77-80 percent efficiency.

Not only are fuel cells less efficient than internal combustion engines, their implementation on a wide scale would create enormous infrastructure costs. New infrastructure would be required from “wells to wheels.” Also, fuel cell motors wear out five times faster than internal combustion engines, thereby resulting in a shorter car life and more maintenance. Hydrogen’s small size and extreme reactivity results in brittle metal and engines prone to leaking, which reduces both environmental and practical benefits.

But many still consider fuel cell cars a viable option. “Hydrogen is the key to sustainable transportation because it can be produced in virtually unlimited quantities from renewable resources and because its use is nearly pollution-free,” says the non-profit INFORM. A significant financial commitment to hydrogen research, says the group, could result in a variety of vehicles fueled by hydrogen that perform as well or better than gasoline vehicles, with a fraction of the environmental impact.

INFORM adds that transitioning to hydrogen could be achieved without new federal dollars if we reallocate funds within the national energy program from nuclear and fossil fuels. “The opportunities for innovation and economic growth in hydrogen energy are largely untapped, and many nations are working to establish an early position in this fledgling field.” According to INFORM, Germany and Japan are far ahead of the U.S. in hydrogen development. The group would like to see U.S. policymakers encourage more development of fuel cells so we have options open in a fast-transitioning energy future.

Meanwhile, sales of battery electric and hybrid vehicles continue to soar—rising 228 percent in 2013 alone. There are currently no new fuel cell vehicles for sale at American auto dealers, although Honda has hinted that it could have its FCX fuel cell engine ready for the mass market by 2018.

CONTACTS: INFORM, www.informinc.org/; Honda FCX, http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: To what extent is Antarctica really melting and what impact might it have on coastlines around the world? -- Andrea Hutchinson, Cary, NC

The Antarctic continent, roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined, is composed of rock covered by glaciers some 16,000 feet thick. The glaciers form from fallen snow compacting into successive layers of ice, and they eventually move downhill toward the coasts and “calve” into the ocean as icebergs and eventually melt out into the sea. Antarctica and Greenland combined hold about 99 percent of the globe’s freshwater ice.

According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, the result of the entire Antarctic continent melting out completely would be sea level rise of about 200 feet around the world, which could in turn lead to untold devastation. While no one can be sure how hot things will get as a result of global warming, most climate models don’t forecast conditions hot enough to cause the wholesale melt-out of Antarctica.

In fact, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) reports that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which constitutes about two-thirds of the world’s southernmost and iciest continent, is remaining relatively stable, with some slight melting that is balanced out by new winter snows. Because East Antarctica rests on rock that is higher than sea level, it is unlikely to collapse. In fact, East Antarctica’s ice cover may thicken moving forward due to predicted increases in snowfall amounts over the coming decades.

But on the west side of Antarctica, ice across an area roughly the size of Texas called the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE) is already thinning rapidly in large part as a result of surrounding waters warming up due to changing ocean circulation patterns. Many scientists believe that these ocean changes are happening as a result of human-induced global warming as well as thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer.

“This is an area that has always caused glaciologists concern, because here the bedrock beneath the ice is a long way below sea-level and the ice is only kept in place because it is thick enough to rest on the bed,” reports BAS. “Thinning of the ice around the coast could lead to glacier acceleration and further thinning of the ice sheet. Essentially, the ice sheet may be unstable, and the recent pattern of thinning could be a precursor to wholesale loss of the ASE ice sheet.”

Meanwhile, researchers from NASA and UC Irvine studying the ASE ice sheet report a “continuous and rapid retreat” of glaciers there and think that there is “no [major] obstacle that would prevent the glaciers from further retreat.” They worry that within a millennium and perhaps as soon as two centuries, the ASE could melt out entirely—leading to between four and 10 feet of sea level rise around the world—if moderate warming models prove to be correct.

Of course, we can all play a role in preventing such scenarios by reducing our carbon footprints. Take fewer airplane trips. Buy organic food. Walk, bike or take public transit to work. If you must drive, get a hybrid or electric car. Wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat. And urge legislators to push new laws that limit greenhouse gas emissions by industry, utilities and other big polluters. It may be now or never.

CONTACTS: National Snow & Ice Data Center, nsidc.org; British Antarctic Survey, www.antarctica.ac.uk.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that much of our food—including cereals and snacks eaten by children—is actually over-fortified with excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals that can be dangerous to our health? -- Diane Summerton, Waukesha, WI

Added nutrients in the processed foods we eat could indeed be too much of a good thing, especially for kids. According to a report from non-profit health research and advocacy group Environmental Working Group (EWG), nearly half of American kids aged eight and under “consume potentially harmful amounts of vitamin A, zinc and niacin because of excessive food fortification, outdated nutritional labeling rules and misleading marketing tactics used by food manufacturers.” EWG’s analysis for the “How Much Is Too Much?” report focused on two frequently fortified food categories: breakfast cereals and snack bars.

Of the 1,550 common cereals studied by EWG, 114 (including Total Raisin Bran, Wheaties Fuel, Cocoa Krispies, Krave and others) were fortified with 30 percent or more of the adult Daily Value for vitamin A, zinc and/or niacin. And 27 of 1,000 brands of snack bars studied (including Balance, Kind and Marathon bars) were fortified with 50 percent or more of the adult Daily Value for at least one of these nutrients. EWG researchers based their analysis on Nutrition Facts labels on the various food items’ packaging.

“Heavily fortified foods may sound like a good thing, but it when it comes to children and pregnant women, excessive exposure to high nutrient levels could actually cause short or long-term health problems,” says EWG research director Renee Sharp, who co-authored the report. “Manufacturers use vitamin and mineral fortification to sell their products, adding amounts in excess of what people need and more than might be prudent for young children to consume.”

Sharp adds that excessive levels of vitamin A can lead to skeletal abnormalities, liver damage and hair loss, while high doses of zinc can impede copper absorption, compromise red and white blood cells and impair immune function. Also, too much vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to fetal developmental issues. And older adults who get too much vitamin A are at more risk for osteoporosis and hip fractures.

EWG suggests it’s time to overhaul our food labeling system to better account for how ingredients may affect children as well as adults. “In other words, when a parent picks up a box of cereal and sees that one serving provides 50 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A, he or she may think that it provides 50 percent of a child’s recommended intake,” says EWG researcher and report co-author Olga Naidenko. “But he or she would most likely be wrong, since the Daily Values are based on an adult’s dietary needs.”

EWG is working on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update its guidelines for Nutrition Facts to better reflect how foods affect children as well as adults. In the meantime, parents might want to consider scaling back on fortified foods for their kids in favor of so-called whole foods (unprocessed, unrefined fruits, vegetables and whole grains) that deliver the right amounts of nutrients naturally.

“Research consistently shows that the nutrient amounts and types found in whole foods provide optimal nutrition as well as least risk,” says Ashley Koff, a registered dietitian and a former ad executive for kid’s cereals and snack bars. “We owe it to parents and kids to make it easiest to choose better quality foods.”

CONTACT: EWG’s “How Much Is Too Much?” report, www.ewg.org/research/how-much-is-too-much.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.


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