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RCC is today launching Momentary Meditations, brief video reflections on nature and life, by the noted activist/writer/theologian Stephen Shick, author of Be the Change and Consider the Lilies (Skinner Books). These weekly observations draw upon Rachel Carson's "sense of wonder" and Albert Schweitzer's "reverence for life." They offer glimpses into our connectedness to nature and all living things in today's increasingly urban, hectic, and often harrowing times. Momentary Meditations are published every Monday. We hope that viewing Momentary Meditations will touch that part of you that seeks peace within yourself, with your fellow beings, and with the wondrous world of which we are but a part
Bees and Flowers Have A Special Relationship, and Climate Change is Screwing it Up
As if neonics and other pesticides weren't enough to deal with, a recent study demonstrated that global warming has fueled drastic bee habitat loss, leading to a 200-mile reduction in their natural environments. A new video (see link below), produced by High Country News, explores a curious new coupling between climate change and bee ecosystems. Because bees depend on flowers for food and flowers depend on bees for pollination, the two groups of organisms tend to synch up ...Full article
In Appalachia, the coal industry is in collapse,
but the mountains aren't coming back
In Appalachia, explosions have leveled the mountaintops, where barren expanses of dirt stretch for miles. This is a process known as "mountaintop removal", in which coal companies use explosives to blast away hundreds of feet of rock in order to unearth seams of coal, leaving a permanently damaged landscape. In the first half of this year, at least 6 coal domestic coal companies have filed for bankruptcy but their legacy of damage will remain ...Full article
Fracking Fight Heats Up in Ohio
Enivronmentalists sue Ohio's secretary of state after he strips communities of the right to vote on fracking intrastructure projects
With the oil and gas industry already reveling in a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision stripping local control on fracking and other extraction activities away from communities, the Secretary of State has now handed the industry another victory, opening the door for fracking infrastructure projects to spread even faster across Ohio ...Full article
12 Universities Leading the Charge in
Serving Locally-Source Food
Oberlin College supplies its dining halls with produce from its own 70-acre George Jones Memorial Farm about a mile from campus. Photo credit: George Jones Memorial Farm
Many cafeterias around the U.S. are working to provide students with healthy, sustainable meal options. to do this, colleges and universities are changing the way they purchase and prepare food in their cafeterias and many of them are beginning to source food locally.
Universities can play a big role in their local and state economies: they provide jobs and attract new businesses to the community. Now, many of these institutions are taking their role a step further and investing in local agriculture by serving locally sourced foods in their cafeterias ...Full article
Fusushima Today: A First-person Account From the Field and the Conference Table
Contaminated soil is being dug up from approximately 1,000 sites
It has been more than four years since the east coast of Japan was hit wtih a Magnitude 9 earthquake, followed by a massive tsunami and then the meltdown of 3 nuclear reactors. Design mistakes, a poor safety culture, and human error exacerbated the situation. It all happened within the span of one hour, searing the name "Fukushima" into the world's collective memory ...Full article
More Evidence of Roundup's
Link to Kidney, Liver Damage
Scientists report worrisome changes to live and kidney genes in rats, adding to evidence that a popular herbicide may be toxic.
Long-term exposure to tiny amounts of Roundup™—thousands of time lower than what is permitted in U.S. drinking water—may lead to serious prolems in the liver and kidneys, according to a new study.
The study looked at the function of genes in these organs and bolsters a controverisal 2012 study that found rats exposed to small aconts of the herbicide Roundup™ in their drinking water had liver and kidney damage. It is the first to examine the impacts of chronic, low exposure of Roundup™ on genes in livers and kidneys and suggest another potential health impact for people and animals from the widely used weed killer ...Full article
Baltimore Wins Grants to Remove Health Hazards from Homes
It's a hidden danger that's affected the health of thousands of Baltimore City children — hazardous lead in paint and other items in homes. Now there's a multi-million dollar effort to eliminate lead paint dangers
U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro announced a nearly $4 million grant to the city for lead abatement and the cleanup of other hazards that harm city kids' health and keep them from achieving.
"Every family deserves to live in a safe and healthy home where they can see their children thrive and excel,"
U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro
City officials and advocates say such funding has helped reduce the number of lead-paint poisoning cases by more than 90% since the mid-1990s. However, since it takes so little lead to cause learning and behavorial problems in a child, new cases continue to emerge as residents move into older housing. Lead paint was banned for sale in Baltimore in 1950 and elsewhere in 1978, yet many homes still contain it ...Full article
Banned Pesticides Pose A Greater Risk to Bees Than Thought, EU Experts Warn
New Study by the European Food and Safety Authority (Efsa) finds 'high risk' to bees from neonicotinoid pesticide sprays prompting calls for extending ban
Already proscribed for seed treatments and soil applications, the Efsa analysis states that clothianidin, imidacloprid and thismethoxam also pose a 'high risk' to bees when sprayed on leaves. Use of the prohibited substances has been linked to dramatic declines in bee populations ...Full article
RCC Special Report: What's in Your Food?
According to the Environmental Working Group's 2015 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce nearly two-thirds of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticide residues.
Find out what the top 5 most widely used pesticides in America are as well as 12 common foods that are contaminated with high numbers of pesticides including tomatoes, apples, spinach, grapes and more ...Full report
U.S. Navy Invests in World's Largest Solar Farm
The U.S. Navy is building what will be the largest solar farm in the world in order to provide power for 14 of its bases.
The Mesquite solar farm in Arizona, where two earlier phases of the project are already up and running, enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year. The solar farm is one of a growing number being installed across what is know as the American Sun Belt—the southern states of America, which have expanding populations, plenty of sunshine but also large areas of arid and unproductive land. This new generation of huge solar farms produces as much power as a large coal-fire plant ...Full article
A Hawaiian Clean Energy Plant Makes Electricity from Seawater and Ammonia
A 40-foot tall tower on the Big Island of Hawaii will harvest the oceans' energy using a method that has renewable energy advocates drooling. This new research facility and demo power plant uses seawater of different temperatures to power a generator via turbine with no carbon output.
70% of the Earth-bound sunlight strikes the ocean — and that makes for a lot of unharnessed heat. The plant uses a concept called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEV) which extracts the thermal energy from the warmed ocean water ...Full article
Feeling the Heat:
Earth in July Was Hottest Month on Record
This past July was nearly 1.5º above average July temperature in the 20th century
"It just reaffirms what we already know: that the Earth is warming," said NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch. "The warming is accelerating and we're really seeing it this year."
NOAA records go back to 1880. The first 7 months of 2015 were the hottest January-to-July span on record, according to NOAA. The 7-month average temperature of 58.43º is 1.53º warmer that the 20th-century average and a sixth of a degree warmer than the old record set in 2010 ...Full article
Rachel Carson's Cottage at the Edge of the Sea
Rachel Carson's summer cottage in Southport, Maine sits amidst pruce and pine atop a rocky bluff overlooking tidal pools and gulls and lobster boats. Like Carson, the cottage seems reserved, a bit old-fashioned, occasionally lonely. But to enter this pine-paneled stretch of rooms with its picture windows to the sea and sunsets is to discover Rachel Carson's sense of wonder ...more
Monsanto, glyphosate, and the war on invasive species
A thousand people gathered for the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose, settling down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosed topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California's ecology and history. The address did not go well. In the eyes of those gathered the eucalyptus qualified as "invasive," "exoctic," "alien" — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with hones native species ...Full article
What Does it Mean for the Food Industry
to Scrap Anitbiotics, Cages, GMOs,
and Artificial Ingredients?
This has been a big year in the restaurant and food-retail world, with many brands and chains annoucing significant overhauls of their supply chains and ingredients with an eye toward animal welfare and public health-or so it might seem.
While changes announced by Costco, Hershey, and McDonald's in recent months represent some sort of progress, it's important to understand what terms such as "cage-free", for example, mean. If you think that cage-free hens are wandering freely around some idyllic barnyard, pecking at bugs and grass and eating GMO-free corn, the reality of that designation looks far different ...Full article
Health Groups Praise Obama Plan on Coal, Saying it Will Save Lives
Health organizations have praised President Obama's plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. The new Clean Power Plan — certain to be challenged in the courts and in the Republican Congress — will require power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels between now and 2030.
According to the White House, the coal plan will reduce premature deaths related to power plant emissions by nearly 90% in 2030, preventing 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children and 300,000 fewer missed school and work days ...Full article
Pollinator Power: Benefits of an Ecosystem Service
The dramatic losses of cultivated honey bees due to colony collapse disorder as well as declines of native pollinator species across the globe has scientists calculating the extent to which food crops depend on animal pollinators.
On study has assigned an economic value to the "ecosystem service" provided by pollinators at approximately $167 billion. "It's really well known that pollination changes the yields of crops and the economics of farming." says Taylor Ricketts, director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. It's becomming better know, he says, that pollination also affects the nutritional value of foods ...Full article
To Save Bees, Some States
Take Aim at Pesticides
The orange groves in Fort Myers, Florida, have turned to poison for David Mendes' honeybees. The one time winter havens for bees have been treated with a popular pesticides that he says kills his livelihood.
States and the federal government are searching for ways to protect managed bees like Mendes' and their wild counterparts. The White House issued a strategy in May to promote the health of honeybees and at least 24 states have enacted laws to protect bees and other pollinators such as bats, birds and butterflies ...Full article and interactive bee loss map
Rachel Carson Discovered in West Virginia?
Where would you look for Rachel Carson's typewriter, the oversized magnifying glass with which she poured over the tiny print of Federal publications to be edited, or her earliest memos warning about DDT in 1945?
Her homes in Maine, Maryland, or near Pittsburgh? The Yale Beinecke Rare Book Library? Likely suspects, but such Rachel Carson archival treasures are found at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia ...more
"Cactus Dome" - Global Warming Causing Radioactive Material to Leak into Pacific Ocean from Marshall Islands
5 years after the Fukishima disaster, yet another radioactive threat is raising its ugly head in the Pacific. It is the result of a dozen years of nucelar tests following WWII, now intersecting with rising sea levels due to global climate change.
You may never have heard of "Cactus Dome," but chances are you know the name "Bikini." The Bikini Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands, was the site of the first nuclear tests after the Second World War. The program came to an end in 1958, but by then there was enough radioactive waste to cover a hole the width of three-and-half football fields to a depth of 30 feet ...Full article
What Are We Doing to Ourselves? 84,000 Chemicals and Only 1% Have Been Tested
Woman are particularly at rish because they use more personal care products than men.
There are around 84,000 chemicals on the market, and we come into contact with many of them every single day. And if that isn't enough to cause concern, the shocking fact is that only 1% of them have been studied for safety.
In 2010, at a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, Lisa Jackson, then the administrator of the EPS, put our current hyper-toxic era into sharp perspective: "A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than and other generation in our history." ...Full article
Big Food and Chemical Corporations Spend Millions to Attack Organic
Report exposes growth in front groups and PR spin to win over skeptical consumers
In response to skyrocketing growth in organic and non-GMO food sales, food and agrochemical companies have spent millions of dollars over the past several years on stealth communication campaigns designed to defend industrial agriculture, sway opinion leaders and win over skeptical consumers, according to a report released by Friends of the Earth.
The report, "Spinning Food: How Food Industry Front Groups and Covert Communications are Shaping the Story of Food," documents unprecedented levels of spending from front groups, trade associations, anti-GMO labeling campaigns, federal check-off programs and vast corporate marketing budgets aimed at defusing public concern about the risks of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture ...Full article
Catawba College Completes Phase I
of Premier Solar Project
Phase I of Catawba College's solar installation is complete. It will ultimately provide nearly one megwatt of solar electricity for the campus. The 8 new solar electric systems will produce more solar electricity than that produced by all the other colleges and universities in North Carolina combine ...Full article
Fracking Linked to Low Birth Weight Babies
Expectant mothers who live near natural gas fracking site may be at increased risk of having babies with lower birth weight, according to a new study of birth rates in Pennslyvania.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Publc Health analyzed nmore than 15,000 birth records of babies born between 2007 and 2010 in three of the state's southwestern counties. The study included more than 500 gas wells drilled during the same period.
The scientists found that women who lived close to a high number of fracking sites were 34% more likely to have babies who were "small for gestational age" than mothers who did not live near a large number of well ...Full article
Study Says Outdoor
Green Spaces Make Kids Smarter
As Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better."
The study assessed whether exposure to green space improved cognitive development in children. Researchers tested the cognitive development of 2,593 school children, ages 7 to 10. the result was theat the greener the area surrounding a child's home, commuting route and school, the more likely the child was to have improved memory. Greeness also decreased inattentiveness ...Full article
Startling Link Between Pregnant Mother's Exposure to DDT and Daughter's Risk of Breast Cancer
Banned by the US in 1972, the insecticide DDT is best know as the impetus for the modern environmental movement. Since Rachel Carson's bestseller Silent Spring sounded the alarm about the poisonous effects of the chemical on wildlife, the environment and human health, numerous studies have linked it to birth defects, miscarriage and reduced fertility.
The EPA classifies DDT as a "probable" carcinogen. A new study pubished in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinoloogy and Metabolism found a startling link between preganat women exposed to DDT and the breast cancer risk to their daughters ...Full article
Looking Ahead... News and Events
- 05/21/15: Rachel Carson Council President Events
RCC President Upcoming Events
RCC President Dr. Robert K. Musil will be lecturing and book signing in the following locations:
- US Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, WV
- St. Vincent College, Latrobe, PA
- Baltimore Bird Club, Baltimore, MD