Pesticides are killing off America’s birds | Grist

Pesticides are killing off America’s birds

By John Upton

Flickr: Len Blumin

This adorable burrowing owl could be killed by agricultural pesticides.

Q: How are burrowing owls like honeybees?

A: Both are being inadvertently slaughtered by massive applications of pesticides.

OK, so that wasn’t a funny joke, although it might have been nuanced enough to land me a job at The Onion. And truth be told, it wasn’t actually a joke.

A study published in the online journal PLOS ONE finds that the use of pesticides is the leading cause of a decline in grassland bird species in North America. From the Twin Cities Pioneer Press outdoors blog:

The loss of habitat is real in the corn belt, as are its potential effects on a host of grassland bird species, some hunted, some not.

via Pesticides are killing off America’s birds | Grist.

Julia Gillard and the women in cabinet Critical Mass | Anna Goldsworthy | The Monthly

It is the first sitting week in parliament. Somewhere up north, a man draws lewd cartoons of the prime minister. It is compulsive, self-pleasuring behaviour. He simply cannot stop himself. Closer to home, a deposed leader accepts a role on breakfast television. No, he says with a tight smile, he is not planning another challenge to the leadership. Everyone should take a very long cold shower. The new prime-ministerial glasses open their own Twitter account. Countless column inches are dedicated to the fact that too many column inches have been dedicated to the new prime-ministerial glasses. The press brays from the gallery. It is chaos in there – chaos! – and they have the anonymous sources to prove it.

In an anteroom by the prime minister’s office, a group of seven women sits around a table. They appear to be enjoying each other’s company.

via Julia Gillard and the women in cabinet Critical Mass | Anna Goldsworthy | The Monthly.

I just love this group of strong, brave women. To think that Australians want to vote them out and cote the silly team of Abbott in! Just crazy!!

It’s no yolk: grocery giants commit to animal welfare initiatives

Australia’s two largest grocery retailers, Coles and Woolworths, have vowed to dramatically decrease the availability of pork and egg products sourced from intensive farming systems.

The decision was made to cater for the growing number of consumers who are concerned about the animal welfare impacts of sow stalls and battery cages. The changes may not be comprehensive, or all that’s required, but they will certainly improve the welfare of Australian farm animals.

via It’s no yolk: grocery giants commit to animal welfare initiatives.

Global Public Square

This article was originally posted last month. It is being reposted today, World Water Day. For more What in the World, watch GPSon Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

By Global Public Square staff

Imagine a large body of water – about the size of the Dead Sea – simply disappearing. It sounds like a science fiction movie. But it’s not. It’s happening in real life – and we’ve only just found out.

A pioneering study from NASA and the University of California Irvine shows how the Middle East is losing its fresh water reserves. As you can see from the satellite imagery in the video, we’re going from blues and greens, to yellows and reds: that’s 144 cubic kilometers of lost water between 2003 and 2009. What do we mean by “lost water”? Most of it comes from below the Earth’s surface, from water trapped…

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Bhutan to Be First Country to Go 100% Organic | NationofChange

If there was ever a nation that could see the purpose behind organic, sustainable farming, it would be a nation that is composed mostly of farmers. Such a place does exist, and it soon may be the first nation to go 100% organic, paving the way for others to do the same on a global scale.

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is known for a high level of citizen happiness, but it is doing something even more noteworthy in the near future. With Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley making a major announcement regarding the organic farming project at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development which took place last month, the move has made national headlines.

via Bhutan to Be First Country to Go 100% Organic | NationofChange.

Legalised pot takes on state of the union

I was part-way through an interview with a defence lawyer and an AIDS activist when a warm sensation stole over me.I had been in the activist’s illegal grow-house, inspecting a little stainless steel mixing bowl full of capsules of intensely concentrated cannabis oil he had extracted the night before from two garbage bags full of buds. Their skin was greasy and they glowed a dull green when I held them up to the light.Half an hour later we were discussing medical uses of pot when their voices seemed to fade and I found myself gazing happily at a door.”Can those things make you stoned just by touching them?” I asked the activist.Advertisement”Ah, shit,” he said. ”Sorry.” He added unhelpfully: ”Jesus. Look at your eyes.”

via Legalised pot takes on state of the union.

Meals in a Jar: From Pancakes to Baby Back Ribs, Just Add Water | Food & Think

In 1994, Julie Languille lived at the epicenter of the Northridge earthquake, which struck the Los Angeles neighborhood with a magnitude of 6.7. She and her family were without power for two weeks, and the long lines at nearby grocery stores soon began to shrink as food ran out.

“It just became really important to me as part of my feeling of security and good planning for my family to have meals on hand,” Languille says.

The Puget Sound resident, who also runs a dinner planning website, has been canning meals since, and her recipes, ranging from oatmeal and macaroni and cheese to braised chicken and pulled pork, are featured in a cookbook published next month. Two years ago, Languille installed a full-scale food storage unit in her home, filling it with almost 100 jars of basic ingredients like meats and veggies to complex ready-made recipes for baby back ribs and chicken noodle soup. Besides canning and sealing tools, an assortment of jars and enough room in the kitchen, the only other ingredients necessary are water and some heat.

via Meals in a Jar: From Pancakes to Baby Back Ribs, Just Add Water | Food & Think.


The latest New York Times Magazine features a lengthy report on the horrifying ways in which processed food purveyors are sneaking tasty but disease-causing extras into our snacks.

Image (3) store-food-desert-junk-food-beth-hoffman-616.jpg for post 42495

The piece, adapted from Michael Moss’ forthcoming book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, is well worth devouring. In it, Moss tracks the development of consumer-friendly products such as Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper and Lunchables from research and development in the late ’80s to the obesity epidemic of our modern times. Moss writes:

So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles…

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Carbon farming and the soil sequestering conundrum – Background Briefing – ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The first carbon credits have been sold under federal Labor’s climate change strategy. An Adelaide-based landfill company earned nearly 350,000 credits by capturing greenhouse gases from its rubbish tips. Each credit represents a tonne of emissions, and a recent sale fetched just under the carbon price of $23.

The credits are reported to have been sold to a Queensland energy company which now has to pay for carbon pollution under the emissions trading scheme.

Leading climate change lawyer Martijn Wilder has been watching the trades closely. ‘We’ve seen a number of companies such as landfill companies—one called LMS in Adelaide and some other groups—do projects that produce carbon credits, and then selling those to the polluters under the federal government’s emissions trading scheme,’ he said.

via Carbon farming and the soil sequestering conundrum – Background Briefing – ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

How Paul Krugman broke a Wikipedia page on economics –

There’s a lockdown on the Wikipedia page for Austrian economics and wouldn’t you know it, one or way or another, it all seems to be Paul Krugman’s fault.

Broadly speaking, Austrian economics, for those who have not yet had the pleasure of being introduced, are characterized by an extreme distrust of state intervention in markets, a distaste for statistical modeling and a general confidence that markets, left to their own devices, will avoid booms and busts and nasty things like inflation. From a political perspective, Austrian economics tends to lurk to the right of even such conservative icons as Milton Friedman.

For more detail, you can go, of course, to the Wikipedia page for Austrian economics. But until at least Feb. 28, if you do so, you will find that the page “is currently protected from editing.” An “edit war” has been raging behind the scenes. Two factions were repeatedly deleting and replacing a section of text that had to do with a description of a critique of Austrian economics made by economist Paul Krugman.

via How Paul Krugman broke a Wikipedia page on economics –