News-in-Transition

11 October 2017

AlterNet

 - Palm oil is now a ubiquitous international commodity. It’s a key ingredient in a wide range of consumer products—foods, cosmetics, soaps, pharmaceuticals and biofuel. The demand for palm oil is strong. The World Bank has estimated that an additional 28 million metric tons of vegetable oils will have to be produced annually by 2020. Oil palm will be a major contributor to this tonnage. By 2050 palm oil demand is forecast to be 240 million metric tons per annum, nearly twice the tonnage in 2009.

Most global consumption of crude palm oil is from large-scale monoculture plantations that clear large areas of land and plant a single species as a crop. To meet the steep growth in global and domestic demand, the area of land in producer countries now dedicated to large-scale palm oil production has increased dramatically. This expansion has come by clearing extensive areas of native forest, displacing communities, contributing significant levels of green gas emissions, endangering many species and devastating levels of biodiversity.

When properly developed and managed, oil palm plantations can play an important role in improving livelihoods and eradicating poverty in rural areas. Yet, assumptions are often made, by consumers and regulators, that large-scale, monoculture, oil palm should be the focus.

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9 October 2017

 - Nations that agreed in Paris in 2015 to take steps to limit global warming in fact do so, then by 2100 humans will have added 300 billion tons of carbon to the seas. And a U.S. scientist has calculated that the critical threshold for mass extinction stands at 310 billion tons.

So in either case, the world will be condemned to, or at imminent risk of, a "great dying" of the kind that characterized the end of the geological period called the Permian, in which 95 percent of marine species vanished, or the Cretaceous era that witnessed the last of the dinosaurs.

Daniel Rothman, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported in the journal Science Advances that he worked through hundreds of scientific studies to identify 31 occasions of significant change in 542 million years in the planet's carbon cycle—in which plants draw down carbon from the atmosphere and cycle it through the animal community and back into the atmosphere.

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5 October 2017

 - As part of a revitalization effort in the early 90s, the village of Inakadate, Japan, decided on a novel way to boost tourism in their town: large-scale rice paddy art. Now, using seven different kinds of rice as their color palette, over a thousand local volunteers come together each year to help with the planting process. Over time, the designs have evolved in complexity and now draw in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

Every April, a conference is held to decide on the design for the next year. When the theme is set, the village officials make a basic digital mockups, which is then refined by local art teachers into intricate concept drawings. Markers are then placed, mapping out each drawing before the planting begins. This process can take up to three months.

Each 15,000-square-meter mural often celebrates local heritage and folklore, such as this year’s designs, which depict the legend of Yamata no Orochi (the eight-forked serpent) facing off against the Shinto god of sea and storms, Susanno.

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5 October 2017

 - We need to value nature's biodiversity, clean water, and seeds. For this, nature herself is the best teacher.

My ecological journey started in the forests of the Himalaya. My father was a forest conservator, and my mother became a farmer after fleeing the tragic partition of India and Pakistan. It is from the Himalayan forests and ecosystems that I learned most of what I know about ecology. The songs and poems our mother composed for us were about trees, forests, and India’s forest civilizations.

My involvement in the contemporary ecology movement began with “Chipko,” a nonviolent response to the large-scale deforestation that was taking place in the Himalayan region.

In the 1970s, peasant women from my region in the Garhwal Himalaya had come out in defense of the forests.

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27 September 2017

 - It’s hard to overstate how much good nature does for our well-being: Study after study documents the psychological and physical benefits of connecting with nature. People who are more connected with nature are happier, feel more vital, and have more meaning in their lives.

Even in small doses, nature is a potent elixir: When their hospital room had flowers and foliage, post-surgery patients needed less painkillers and reported less fatigue. And merely looking at pictures of nature does speed up mental restoration and improves cognitive functioning.

These studies, along with hundreds of others, all point to the same conclusion: We stand to benefit tremendously from nurturing a strong connection with nature. Yet our connection to nature seems more tenuous than ever today—a time when our children can name more Pokémon characters than wildlife species.

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17 September 2017

Awaken - The octopus is a creature magnificently dissimilar to us — it can change shape and color, tastes with its skin, has its mouth in its armpit, and is capable of squeezing its entire body through a hole the size of an apple. And since we humans experience reality in profoundly different ways from one another, based on our individual consciousnesses, then the octopus must be inhabiting an altogether different version of what we call reality.

The constellation of complexities comprising this difference, Montgomery reveals over the course of this miraculously insightful and enchanting book, expands our understanding of consciousness and sheds light on the very notion of what we call a “soul.”

She writes: More than half a billion years ago, the lineage that would lead to octopuses and the one leading to humans separated. Was it possible, I wondered, to reach another mind on the other side of that divide? Octopuses represent the great mystery of the Other.

Among the pitfalls of the human condition is our tendency to see otherness as a source of dread rather than an invitation to friendly curiosity.

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Calendar of Events

Our next three group distant healing events:

21 December 2017 - Solstice

20 March 2018 - Equinox

21 June - Solstice

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