Protecting the Environment and Preserving Trees by Scaling back on Liberal Arts University Programs

For the first time in 185 years, there will be no fall semester at Green Mountain College in western Vermont. The school fell victim to trends in higher education that could soon impact hundreds of other schools. One expert predicts that 25% of colleges will fail in the next 20 years. In an effort to protect the environment colleges will be cutting back on Liberal Arts University Programs and all other curriculums that are not work based skiils, AKA: programs that dont lead to work, will be reducing their volume.

Brook Silva-Braga reports. Watch “CBS This Morning” HERE: Download the CBS News app on  “CBS This Morning” co-hosts Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil deliver two hours of original reporting, The broadcast has earned a prestigious Peabody Award, a Polk Award, four News & Documentary Emmys, three Daytime Emmys and the 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast. The broadcast was also honored with an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award as part of CBS News division-wide coverage of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  —————————————————————————————————————————>>   Related:

Transaction costs matter — Ecology

Will Harris, a free-range chicken farmer in Georgia, recently learned first hand the importance of transaction costs. In the last few years, bald eagles have been treating his farm as an all-you-can-eat buffet. He was “excited” to see the first pair show up, because he viewed them as an environmental amenity. But now 77 eagles […]

via Transaction costs matter — FREEcology

Environmentally Friendly Choices Contribute to Global Sustainability

Making more environmentally friendly choices are simple to make and will help you start moving in a more environmentally friendly direction:

  1. Dental Floss – Honestly, I didn’t even think about the waste dental floss causes until I can across Dental Lace on the Package Free Shop’s website. The entire package is designed with the planet in mind AND you can get refills so you don’t need to get new containers every time you need more floss.
  2. Wet It Swedish Dish Cloths – I’ve shared these before, but they are still a huge favorite of mine. These can take the place of paper towels and sponges, both of which end up in the trash ultimately. These are 100% biodegradable too!
  3. Home Cleaning Supplies – When I was in college, my mom got me the Shaklee Clean Starter Kit, which comes with supplies to make your own home cleaning supplies. Guys, I STILL have this same set with plenty of supplies left and I got it approximately eight years ago. Now, you may be wondering if I ever clean my home. As my husband can confirm, ALL THE TIME. How much do you spend on cleaning sprays/supplies in a year? You could make your own and not create additional bottles waste for a fraction of the cost. Seriously, check it out.
  4. Cloth Diapers and Wipes – This one is specific to parents of young children obviously, but I would highly recommend looking into cloth diapering if you are able to. The amount of waste produced by disposable diapers is insane. (Look it up sometime.) We ended up using Charlie Banana diapers and wipes. I’ll be sharing more about our thoughts after a year of using them in a separate post, but even though it hasn’t always been easy, it has been so worth it. (If you are wanting to learn more about cloth diapering, I highly recommend Fluff Love University.
  5. Loose Leaf Tea – Did you know there is plastic in tea bags? Sure, it is only trace amounts, but it has been found there! In an effort to limit my exposure to plastic and create less waste, I transitioned to loose leaf tea. There are various shops that offer this kind of tea, so I’d recommend checking out what local vendors you have! You’ll need to get a tea pot with an infuser (this one looks super cute), but that’s all you need. Better yet, the loose leaf tea can easily go into a compost pile or worm bin.

Applying Human-Centered Circular Principles to Tax shifts and currencies to better design our societies.

Building equitable circular societies:

“The best way to design a circular world is to consider that waste should not have existed in the first place.”

This article is published in The Beam #6 — 

We have a dream: Our world appears more chaotic than ever, yet from chaos come the best innovations. Three such innovative concepts were born out of our crisis: the Circular Economy, the Blockchain and the Ex’Tax Project.

The Circular Economy is a regenerative system in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible; with maximum value continuously recirculated. Products and materials are offered as a service so that they can be recovered and regenerated at the end of each service life, i.e. no more cradle to grave, just cradle to cradle.

The Blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is inherently immune to modification of the data.

The Ex’Tax Project is the proposal by Eckart Wintzen to bring tax on resources up and tax on labour down, creating a proper incentive to use abundant materials instead of scarce ones. Lower taxes on labour would make it more affordable to benefit from the abundance of the capacities of people, boosting labour force, craftsmanship and creativity.

Now, let us imagine that these three innovations, put to good use, could set up the foundations of a new era for any societies across the planet. One could be designing them in such a way to generate well-being on earth, for all of us. Not possible? Let’s see.

Redesigning our economic model

The best way to design a circular world is to consider that waste should not have existed in the first place. This is now recognised as a fact: waste is the result of a poorly designed economic model based on the ownership of a product, as well as its legal responsibility, both transitioning from manufacturers to end-consumers, thereafter ending in landfills. Our ‘throw-out’ economic model ensures that the more we buy products — often for single use — the more often we need to buy them to satiate our dependency. At the end of this chain, we end up with gigantesque amounts of waste that we try harder to repurpose. Today, we have to design waste out of our systems at the front end of the design stage, making durable products, preferably offered as services. They would be used for our needs and then, once fulfilled, would be designed to pass on to the next user, after repair, maintenance or refurbishment.

Here waste is considered the root cause of our environmental challenges. But does that suffice to address our systemic challenges?

“The best way to design a circular world is to consider that waste should not have existed in the first place.”

From Circular Economy to circular societies

Rethinking relations between the economic and the environmental is a great approach to hopefully fixing the way we live by sharing access to resources. The Circular Economy is often considered as being our next economic model given that it provides a response to businesses’ economic resilience. But how about adding a social dimension as well as a holistic value-based method to the current model, ensuring we stay within boundaries while aiming for the genuine well-being of all? Why not, whilst wearing these “circular lenses”, also rethink the origins of our societal negative externalities? If waste is the root cause of our environmental patterns, poverty is the one to consider for our social systems. If we can design waste out, why not apply circular thinking to design poverty out too? This way the model´becomes fully inclusive, ensuring all will benefit.

Neither waste nor poverty are produced in nature. Both are inventions of our economic systems. They need to be eradicated at the same time so as to shift the paradigm once and for all. This advanced approach of eradicating both waste and poverty out of our system is what we call ‘Circular Economy 2.0’. And this could be made possible with the help of new technologies and tax regimes.

Blockchain or the Internet Of Value

Touted as being the “biggest innovation of the past 250 years” (Tapscott, 2016) the blockchain’s inherent architecture means we have the capacity to be even more effective with how we transact and exchange values. Up until now, price has determined our values in the market place, often at the cost of society and planetary boundaries. Imagine a system where the value of the transaction is determined by the level of impact a good or a service has on the planet and its people. Imagine being able to transact intangible values, such as love, wellbeing, harmony. Imagine being able to digitise the impact of our transactions, recording transparently and immutably, those transactions which align with the key principles of a Circular Economy and those that don’t.

Now imagine what an incentive such a mechanism might have on influencing consumer and producer choices. With Blockchain technology: supply chains, products, services, communities can all be cryptographically stored on an immutable ledger; all capable of being coded to demonstrate the extent of their — positive or negative — impact on natural and social capital.

In effect, the Blockchain will allow us to redefine how we currently see value. Our ‘current see’ or currency has historically been very limited. With Blockchain, (our emerging ‘current see’) we can transact meaningful, regenerative values alongside financial values. Thanks to Blockchain, the Internet of Value (IOV) has arrived. We can start engaging with consumer choices that value the earth and its people as if they mattered more than centralised profit shares. Blockchain has the capacity to eradicate the linear extractive and destructive aspects to stocks and shares. It will allow us to truly take stock and share our collective bounty and creativity.

A truly decentralised and distributed economy

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, finite resources have become increasingly controlled by centralised corporate structures. To date, around 1,318 transnational corporations currently control the majority of the planet’s informational, material, energy, financial, food and water stocks and flows (Glattfelder, 2011). There are obvious benefits to centralised systems but as the core concepts of a Circular Economy identify, centralised control (when viewed from a living systems perspective) leads to imbalance, brittleness and low resilience thresholds. The 2008 global financial crisis is testament to the consequences of depending on too brittle a centralised financial system. Global inequality is also such a consequence of centralised control systems with eight individuals alive today owning a combined wealth equal to the collective wealth (or poverty) of four billion fellow human beings.

With Blockchain, decentralised local economic systems can thrive, where the decision making process is designed through community consensus, with specific protocols determining how value is created, measured, transacted, and evenly distributed. This approach is far more analogous to a living system, where decentralised coordination of local resources ensues, resulting in zero waste and zero poverty. Blockchain is fundamentally the same as a complex adaptive system, upon which decentralised apps (DApps) can be built to ensure more regenerative distributive, diverse, socially inclusive economic activity can take place. A system where the flow of resources can be designed to key environmentally safe principles but also socially just circular principles, all listed here:

  • Safe Principle #1 “Preserve and enhance Natural Capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows”;
  • Safe Principle #2 “Optimize resource yields by circulating products, components and material at the highest utility at all times in both technical and biological cycles”;
  • Safe Principle #3 “Foster system effectiveness by revealing and designing out negative externalities”;
  • Just Principle #4 “Equity makes business sense as services could be design to address the needs of all”;
  • Just Principle #5 “Developing people’s ability promoting any means of exchange is a priority as one should be accessing more with less in a service-based economy”;
  • Just Principle #6 “Using labour is innovative as in a systemic regenerative model all abundantly available renewable energies should be considered”;

All of these principles can be architecturally configured within decentralised autonomous organisations (DAO’s), where consensually agreed upon protocols determine how value is measured, tracked and exchanged. Blockchain technology (BCT) is ripe for circular economic interaction. BCT offers a shift from centralised vertical scaling to distributed lateral scaling. BCT ‘smart contracts’ enable decentralised and secure resource sharing, anywhere between peers who are hyper connected via the same smart contract platform. With the application of BCT, organisations and communities can design and build smart contract platforms which will rapidly upscale equitable circular economic activities through digitally integrated value chains — built for resilience — used within the multiple realms of not for profit community initiatives, private businesses and even local governance (for instance, human-centred Circular city structures).

There are many examples of blockchain based initiatives emerging exponentially. The most powerful promise of BCT however, is the opportunity for humanity to redefine how it values itself within an economic context. To date it has been our utilitarian capacity, our level of productivity that primarily deems us as economically valuable. With Blockchain and the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), we have an opportunity to reimagine and redefine what makes us unique. Perhaps we can be here to demonstrate our infinite creativity on a finite planet and recognise that we are able to be valued not for what we can extract from each other (our utilitarian capacity), but for what we can learn from each other (our creativity, diversity and uniqueness).

A tax system put to good use

A tax shift from labour to pollution redirects the creative force of entrepreneurs from focusing on reducing headcount to smart resource use. In this approach tax is not a penalty on innovation; innovation can run freely, as long as it’s safe and, hopefully, just. This approach makes it more likely for people to find new roles if and when their chores are taken over by machines, and within the context of our environmental boundaries.

The greatest opportunities exist when technology supports, complements and amplifies the talents of people, as explained above. If we want humans to flourish in balance with our natural systems, it is time we update our tax systems to match 21st century challenges.

Optimizing the Circular Value

Only humans can perceive value. Introducing the notion of circular value creation could ensure our priorities would remain on addressing people’s needs thanks to material circularity. With this ultimate goal in mind, well-balanced societies could rely on a human-centred Circular Economy — with a Humansphere(5) at its core -, be powered by a safe and just tax program and fueled by a carefully designed Blockchain strategy (among other diversified means of exchanges).

Designing waste and poverty out of our systems is a vision we can work towards with collective passion, audacity and hard work. We may be successful, we may not, but at least we are trying harder. The vision is set. Tools are available for its implementation. This is now a matter of leadership and collective willingness to succeed.

Building genuinely designed equitable circular societies is no longer a dream. It could be our reality.

(1) Environmentally Safe Circular Principles are the three core principles of the Circular Economy, as proposed by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation;

(2) Socially Just Circular Principles are three added circular principles proposed by the concept called the ‘Circular Economy 2.0’, adding the two missing dimensions to the Circular Economy: the social dimension, and an approach to the optimization of value, Circular Value, ensuring our circular design truly leads to a genuine paradigm shift;

(3) New humans roles could be reinvented based on two new business models: humans-as-a-service and humans-as-a-resource, but not limited to.

(4) Optimization of Circular Value (#OCV) is an approach of a new concept of value creation based on our ability to regenerate natural, economic and social cycles.

(5) As proposed in the concept of ‘Circular Economy 2.0’ (eradicating both waste and poverty out of our systems), a Circular Humansphere is inserted in the circular economy ‘butterfly diagram’ to enhance the decision-making process when designing a project or a service. It is based on our three stocks of available resources (Natural Capital, Human Capital, Remanufactured Capital) as well as our abundant or endless flows of energies available (renewable energies available from the Natural Capital as well as from the Human Capital).

Authors: Alexandre Lemille and Tom Harper

– Glatfelder, J. (2011) The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the global economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow. The size of the dot represents revenue source:
– Tapscott, D. (2016) How The Blockchain is changing money and business:

These are the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history – 3 are from 2017 — CW33 NewsFix

The year 2017 was the costliest ever for weather and climate disasters in the United States, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday, totaling $306 billion. The previous record year, 2005, saw $215 billion in disasters.

Three storms, Harvey, Irma and Maria all landed in the top five on NOAA’s updated list of the costliest U.S. tropical cyclones, released last week.

Highlighted by a string of hurricanes that pounded the southeastern U.S. coast in August and September, as well as devastating wildfires that torched large swaths of Northern and Southern California, 2017 saw 16 weather events that each topped a billion dollars in damage.

This ties 2011 for the most billion-dollar weather events to occur in a single year, but their extreme nature and the breadth of disaster types really set last year apart.

“In 2017, we have seen the rare combination of high disaster frequency, disaster cost and diversity of weather and climate extreme events,” said Adam Smith, lead researcher at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

“The U.S. has endured billion-dollar impacts from six of the seven disaster categories we track,” he said: drought, flood, freeze, severe storm, tropical cyclone, wildfire and winter storm. There hasn’t been a year when all seven disaster categories have seen a billion-dollar disaster.

2017 lacked only a billion-dollar winter storm — though we almost certainly had one in the first week of 2018 with the major nor’easter termed a “bomb cyclone.”

A hurricane season for the record books

Hurricanes are the costliest weather events, responsible for about half of the total losses among all U.S. billion-dollar disasters despite accounting for less than 20% of the total events since 1980.

This certainly proved true in 2017, when the U.S. and the Caribbean islands endured back-to-back-to-back devastating hurricanes — all of them now ranking among the top five costliest disasters — which were the main drivers behind the year becoming the costliest on record.

Here are the top ten costliest U.S. hurricanes (adjusted for inflation):

This aerial view shows a church damaged by hurricane Rita in Beaumont, Texas, 25 September 2005. Hurricane Rita pounded the US Gulf Coast, leaving widespread damage and more than one million people without power, but failed to deliver the feared repeat of hurricane Katrina’s devastation four weeks ago. (HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)

10. Rita (2005)

  • $23,680,000,000
  • Southwest Louisiana, North Texas

Judy Caseley retrieves photographs from a friend’s trailer that were damaged when Hurricane Wilma hit earlier in the morning October 24, 2005 in Chokoloskee, Florida. Wilma slammed into the South Florida coastline as a strong Category 3 hurricane. Caseley’s neighbor left in a hurry, leaving behind a lifetime of memories that Caseley felt she had to salvage. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

9. Wilma (2005)

  • $24,320,000,000
  • South Florida

U.S. President George W. Bush walks with Orange Beach, Alabama, Mayor Steve Russo, past a destroyed condos on the Alabama beachfront as he visits the area, consoling victims, 19 September 2004, from Hurricane Ivan, the third hurricane to hit the larger area in the past month. Ivan’s devastating 12-day rampage that left at least 108 dead in the United States and the Caribbean. (PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

8. Ivan (2004)

  • $27,060,000,000
  • Alabama, Northwest Florida

In this handout provided by the U.S. Air Force, an Air Force Reserve pararescueman from the 920th Rescue Wing scans the landscape of Nederland, Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, 13 September 2008. Deployed with aircrews and aircraft from Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., the pararescuemen rescued 17 people Sept. 13 from the small Texas town. (Photo by Paul Flipse/US Air Force via Getty Images)

7. Ike (2008)

  • $34,800,000,000
  • Texas, Louisiana

A group of people sift 28 August 1992 through the rubble of a house that was directly in the path of a 26 August tornado spawned by Hurricane Andrew. Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards has estimated property damage from the hurricane from 70 to 100 million US dollars, and at least 200 million US dollars in damage to the sugar crop. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

6. Andrew (1992)

  • $47,790,000,000
  • Southeast Florida, Louisiana

Destroyed trailers wait to be cleaned up at the Sunshine Key RV Resort where residents are still not allowed on September 16, 2017 in Marathon, Florida. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reported that 25 percent of all homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed and 65 percent sustained major damage when they took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. (Photo by Angel Valentin/Getty Images)

5. Irma (2017)

  • $50,000,000,000
  • Florida

Cars piled on top of each other at the entrance to a garage on South Willliam Street in Lower Manhattan October 31, 2012 in New York as the city begins to clean up after Hurricane Sandy. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

4. Sandy (2012)

  • $70,200,000,000
  • Mid-Atlantic & Northeast

Members of the U.S. Army 1st Special Forces Command deliver boxes of M.R.E’s and water up a makeshift ladder to people that were cut off after the bridge collapsed when Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. The neighborhood was cut off from help for about 2 weeks after the category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

3. Maria (2017)

  • $90,000,000,000
  • Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Residents evacuate by boat on September 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the city. Harvey was the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in the US since Hurricane Charley in 2004, unleashing record rainfall that quickly flooded the city. (Getty)

2. Harvey (2017)

  • $125,000,000,000
  • Texas, Louisiana

Flood waters from Hurricane Katrina cover a cemetery 30 August, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (POOL/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Katrina (2005)

  • $160,000,000,000
  • Southeast Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi

For the complete list, see the NOAA report.

CNN contributed to this article.

The year 2017 was the costliest ever for weather and climate disasters in the United States, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday, totaling $306 billion. The previous record year, 2005, saw $215 billion in disasters. Three storms, Harvey, Irma and Maria all landed in the top five on NOAA’s updated list of the costliest U.S. tropical cyclones, released last week. Highlighted by a string of hurricanes that pounded the southeastern U.S. coast in August and September, as well […]

via These are the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history – 3 are from 2017 — CW33 NewsFix

America’s Drinking Water Crisis. Profit v. Poison

Source: America’s Drinking Water Crisisflint-water_-lead

After the shocking news of extremely high levels of lead found in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, The Guardian reports: “Water authorities across the US are systematically distorting water tests to downplay the amount of lead in samples, risking a dangerous spread of the toxic water crisis that has gripped Flint.”

The controversial approach to water testing is so widespread that it occurs in “every major US city east of the Mississippi” according to an anonymous source with extensive knowledge of the lead and copper regulations. “By word of mouth, this has become the thing to do in the water industry. The logical conclusion is that millions of people’s drinking water is potentially unsafe,” he said.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that water boards in cities including Detroit and Philadelphia, as well as the state of Rhode Island, have distorted tests by using methods deemed misleading by the Environment Protection Agency.

Dr Yanna Lambrinidou, a Virginia Tech academic, warned that the issue of misleading test results was widespread. “There is no way that Flint is a one-off,” she said.“There are many ways to game the system. In Flint, they went to test neighbourhoods where they knew didn’t have a problem. You can also flush the water to get rid of the lead. If you flush it before sampling, the problem will go away.

“The EPA has completely turned its gaze away from this. The system is absolutely failing.”

Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore has called for the arrest of Michigan’s governor over the scandal in Flint. “Thanks to you, sir, and the premeditated actions of your administrators, you have effectively poisoned, not just some, but apparently ALL of the children in my hometown of Flint, Michigan. And for that, you have to go to jail.

“To poison all the children in an historic American city is no small feat. Even international terrorist organizations haven’t figured out yet how to do something on a magnitude like this.”


Tiny B&B in Chester celebrating after being voted the world’s best boutique hotel

*Books mini-break*. edgar-house-2

Anyone fancy a trip to Chester?

We hear the B&Bs are pretty decent. And they’re not a bad price either.

Edgar House, a tiny seven-bed B&B overlooking the River Dee in Chester is probably treating itself to a little Bucks Fizz over breakfast today after being voted the world’s best small hotel in TripAdvisor‘s Travellers’ Choice awards.

The modest B&B beat off competition from boutique hotels in New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica and Capri to take the title.

The award winners were determined based on the millions of reviews collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travellers worldwide.

Edgar house
(Picture: Edgar House)
Co-owner Mike Stephen said he was ‘thrilled and humbled’ with the win.

And when you check out what the little hotel has to offer, it’s perhaps not so surprising it’s proved so popular.

The views are amazing.
As is the food.
Each of their seven bedrooms is individually designed and the beds come with snuggly goose feather and down pillows, and egyptian cotton sheets, as standard.

Edgar house 2
(Picture: Edgar House)
The bathrooms have rain showers, freestanding baths, French porcelain tiles and underfloor heating.
There’s also an honesty bar hidden in a phone box.
And a mini cinema serving ice cream.

Oh, and you can get bed and breakfast for £99.50 per person.

When do we go?


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Source: Tiny B&B in Chester celebrating after being voted the world’s best boutique hotel

Should you Drop out of School?

Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful” by Michael Ellsberg


“The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful” by Michael Ellsberg


Julien Blanc’s Social Media:

F A C E B O O K:…
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S N A P C H A T: JulienHimself
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Related: 70’s interview with Margaret Thatcher:  

Tsunami Aftermath: The Urato Islands Rebuild

THE URATO ISLANDS, near the coast of Japan, rebuilds after the Tsunami disaster:1443642236

Yoshimasa Koizumi looks at his fishing equipment on Katsurashima Island. He has never used it, having moved to the island one day before last year's deadly tsunami.
The Urato Islands. (pop: 300). Courtesy of: CNN

Actions were organized by sustainability researchers in the Satoyama Initiative to discuss rebuilding and revitalization of the Urato Islands after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the 11th of March 2011.  These sessions were key turning points for the rebuilding process of the Urato Islands.  Two dialogues were held, the first in 2012 and the second in 2014.

Strong collaboration between local communities and external stakeholders was the key for an effective community dialogue session. commitment as was organised follow up from several key Universities, and civil society organisations.

The Urato Islands are four islands that are inhabited by several hundred people located near the small city of Shiogama, in Miyagi prefecture, on the north-eastern coast of Japan.   The population of these islands lived from small-scale agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture (oysters and seaweed) that were intertwined and supported the rich and unique ecosystems of the islands.dsc_2248

The 2011 tsunami swept over much of the islands, destroying fishing boats, houses and oyster beds, disrupting people, their tools and the produce land and seascape that people had spent centuries creating.  The people in Urato are making heroic efforts to rebuild their livelihoods, but the tsunami revealed underlying problems that they share with much of rural Japan:depopulation, ageing populations and a lack of people to take over business.  The combination of the Tsunami with these slow changes has made many people worried about whether they can can rebuild their communities in a sustainable way.

Clearing and rebuilding efforts continue on Katsurashima Island off the coast of Miyagi prefecture.
The Urato Islands (pop. 300) Courtesy of CNN

The community dialogue sessions with local and external stakeholders in the Urato Island helped to bring new energy to the islanders, over come the damages they got, and embrace new ways of rebuilding their community that used both their own resources and their connections with the outside world.  These dialogues focussed on how to use ecosystem services to enhance post-disaster rebuilding and restoration of the Islands, and how to enable communities to enhance their cultural and management practices to sustain both people and ecosystems.   The dialogue helped align the efforts long-time residents and newer arrivals as well as locally focussed restoration efforts and externally oriented efforts to create new types of markets and support among the consumers of Urato’s fish and shellfish.  The dialogue help unite these local actors, such as fishermen, schools and local organisations, and connect with external stakeholders such as customers, ministry of the environment, NGOs, and universities, to create a shared vision.

This approach of organising community dialogue sessions together with local and external stakeholders can be applicable to any other part of rural areas in Japan struggling with rebuilding and revitalisation of the communities not only for the communities affected by natural disaster, but also for communities who would like to revitalise the area respecting socio-ecological system.  A weakness of this type of approach is the limited number of people that can be involved in a dialogue process.  Similar approaches to community dialogues could be applied in other areas, and the processes initiated by such dialogues may be able to reorient people and societies world-view in new directions.   · in Social-Ecological Seeds, Food system,Integrated social-environmental, community. · 地図

Happy Sloth Day via Tico Times

Buttercup @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica
Jo Jo @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica
Becky Cliffe @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica

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Happy International Sloth Day!!!! A wonderful day to celebrate my favorite animal!!!! So proud of all the hard work Becky Naomi Cliffe @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica has done to research how to reintroduce orphaned, hand raised sloths.

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Related: My battle with Leishmaniasis: a flesh-eating parasite By: Becky Radcliffe

In my second year at the University of Manchester I studied parasitology, and the terrifying images of dramatic lesions and extreme elephantiasis are burnt vividly into my memory. Of course, I never considered that one day I would become one of those horror stories. In July I was diagnosed with a tropical flesh-eating parasite called Leishmaniasis, and for the past 10 weeks I have been battling to regain my health. We never fully appreciate how lucky we are to be healthy, and unfortunately I learnt this lesson the hard way.

What is Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania. There are actually 21 different species of leishmania, and they are found throughout Asia, Africa, South/Central America and Southern Europe. The parasite can be found in many different mammals, but the only way for it to be transmitted to a human is through the bite of an infected sandfly. When an infected sandfly bites a human, the parasite is transmitted into the body and replicates within the human macrophage cells. I was diagnosed with a type of infection called cutaneous leishmaniasis, which basically means that the disease appears as a lesion on the skin at the site of the original sandfly bite. This wound then continues to grow, and can spread to other areas of the body. Often, it will infect the mucosal lining of the mouth, nose and ears causing serious disfigurement. In minor cases, the infection heals itself within a year, however in most cases (including mine) treatment is needed.

The Leishmania parasite life cycle

Leishmaniasis and sloths 

Unfortunately, sloths are often thought of as being dirty, lazy animals that transmit diseases and parasites. One of the many diseases that people blame sloths for is leishmaniasis. Many local people are terrified of sloths for this reason, and sadly they pass this fear down through generations. I have lost count of the number of people that have asked me if a sloth can give them leishmaniasis. The simple answer is no. This misconception stems from a few scientific studies that have found sloths to test positive for the leishmania parasite. They are, in scientific terms, a ‘reservoir’ for leishmania, but so are many mammals – including dogs! There is no way a sloth can transmit leishmaniasis to a human – this only happens through the bite of an infected sandfly. It is just one of the many negative myths that the sloths are burdened with!

My journey

I remember the sandfly that bit me. I was walking my new puppy on the beach at dusk and was annoyed by the itchy bump that later appeared on my arm. I forgot about it and only really noticed something unusual when the bite was still there two weeks later. Nobody seemed particularly concerned by the little scab on my arm, and I probably left it far longer than I should before seeking a diagnosis. We watched the little hole in my arm slowly grow for 4 weeks before deciding to have it tested. Within 24 hours, the doctor had called and told me that I had tested positive for leishmaniasis and should begin treatment immediately. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

As it turned out, there are no nice treatment options. The Costa Rican method involves up to 60 injections of glucantime – a toxic chemical that kills the parasite but also comes with a high risk of liver and heart damage. That didn’t sound like much fun, so I decided to seek treatment in the UK since I had been due to return during August anyway. When I finally arrived at my doctors office and presented him with a flesh-eating parasite, he looked at me like I had two heads. I was advised to go to the emergency room at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to find more specialised help. I don’t think that many people turn up at the hospital claiming to have leishmaniasis, since doctors of all shapes and sizes turned up to see the girl with the flesh-eating parasite. It’s safe to say that many people looked at me like I had two heads that day.

I was finally introduced to the wonderful Dr Tim O’Dempsey. He took a biopsy of my arm (much to my horror) and told me the bad news: the UK treatment options aren’t much better than the toxic Costa Rican injections. Furthermore, I had to wait 5 days for the biopsy results before I could do anything at all – we had to just sit and watch the hole continue to grow in my arm. It was an overwhelmingly creepy feeling knowing that something was munching through the flesh on my arm and I couldn’t do anything to stop it! Depending on the species of leishmania I was infected with, I now had two treatment choices:

1) I could be admitted to hospital for three weeks of intravenous medication (chemotherapy), which basically involves the same toxic chemicals as the Costa Rican injections (think heart problems and liver failure). Famously, TV presenter Ben Fogle endured this treatment after contracting leishmaniasis in Peru, and he ended up bed-bound with pneumonia – no thank you!

2) OR I could trial a new oral medication from Germany called Miltefosine. This horrifically expensive drug comes with a bunch of awful side effects, including sickness so severe that many people simply can not finish the treatment. This option wasn’t guaranteed to work either, and had never before been used to treat leishmaniasis from Costa Rica. Furthermore, this medication is only effective against one subspecies of the parasite – the most dangerous subspecies.

As it turned out, fate made the decision for me. I was diagnosed as having the dangerous subspecies (one that is prone to infecting the mouth and nose causing disfigurement) and so I was prescribed 4 weeks worth of Miltefosine pills. I began treatment immediately and initially, things looked promising. The hole in my arm stopped growing, and the pills weren’t making me too nauseous. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise it at the time but this medication takes a huge toll on the immune system. My arm was healing but I was becoming weaker every day. Within three weeks, strange painless lumps had started to appear all over my arm and my lymph nodes were inflamed. By this point I had returned to Costa Rica and was looking forward to getting back to normal – but normal was a long way off.

The lumps grew, and one in particular became very sore. It turns out that these were abscesses growing under my skin as a result of a staphylococcus infection. Within a few days I was feverish, my heart rate was up and my blood pressure dropped – all very bad signs of a systemic infection. I was rushed to a local doctor who prescribed antibiotic injections and bed rest. The rest was a roller-coaster. The injections (that were unfortunately in my bum cheek) left me with a second infection, which quickly developed into a large abscess leaving me unable to walk or sit down. I was forced to waddle everywhere. After one of the most uncomfortable weeks of my life, the doctor surgically drained 10 ml of pus from the abscess, and prescribed stronger antibiotics. I then developed further infections in my eye and mouth, all requiring treatment. And then to top everything off, a final infection in my left arm that also had to be surgically drained and my arm stitched up.

My arm after surgery

So today I am writing this, finally feeling like my roller-coaster ride is coming to an end. The leishmaniasis on my arm is healing, and the infections are finally going away. I still have stitches in my left arm and I have a few days of antibiotics left – but I have gone almost a week now without any new symptoms developing, and I am finally beginning to regain my energy (and most importantly, I don’t need to waddle anymore)! It has been a horrific journey, but I will never again be taking my good health for granted.

Now, I am finally ready to put my snake boots on and get back out in the jungle! It’s been a while since I have been able to follow up on the  Sloth Backpack Project, so it’s time for me to get productive.

More Information: World Health Organization Disease Management info: Lleishmaniasis


This solar powered floating farm can produce 20 tons of vegetables every day

From design practice, Forward Thinking Architecture, come a set of modular floating farms that harvest sunlight and rainwater, as well as desalinate saltwater and grow thousands of tons of vegetables ever year.

Inspired by Chinese floating fish farms, these rectangular units measure 200×350 meters and can connect with other modules via walkways.  The usage of waterways is a great compliment to the farming industry because it makes farming available in so many more locations.  It reduces the need to import food by localizing growth and incorporates rivers and lakes as viable “farmland.”

Each unit is comprised of three levels.  The bottom floor focuses on aquaculture and water desalination, the first floor on hydroponic crop cultivation, and the roof is adorned with solar panels, skylights and rainwater collectors.

Each module is anticipated to make 8,152 tons of vegetables every year and bring in 1,703 tons of fish.  The modules, then, connect into a grid and can scale up into huge farms, producing local food for entire cities.

This blog is free & open source, however embeds may not be.


A Dog Escapes the deadly clutches of a Wild Python

A dog has miraculously avoided becoming a huge pythons meal – after his owner whacked it with a leafy branch.

The distressed dog can be seen in the deadly clutches of the python as it begins to constrict its prey to death.

But the heroic owner – who has not been named – quickly grabs a nearby branch and begins hitting the lengthy python with it in Karnataka, India.

And the act works, as the stunned python begins uncoiling and slowly slithers away.

We bring you the weirdest, wackiest and most bizarre stories from around the world. Stay tuned for daily uploads that you simply have to see to believe.  Check here for more information:  Twitter:   Facebook: Website:

Educating Children with Climate Information via CBS Miami

US President Barack Obama walks off Air Force One at Miami International Airport in Miami on May 27, 2015 as he arrives to attend fundraisers and receive the yearly hurricane preparedness briefing. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama arrives to attend fundraisers and receive the yearly hurricane preparedness briefing:

US President Barack Obama walks off Air Force One at Miami International Airport in Miami on May 27, 2015 as he arrives to attend fundraisers and receive the yearly hurricane preparedness briefing.

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) —  In his second day in South Florida, President Barack Obama will be using his annual hurricane briefing to warn about climate changes and its effect on hurricanes.

Obama is getting the briefing on the hurricane season during a visit Thursday to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Government weather forecasters on Wednesday predicted six to 11 storms this season, with three to six of them developing into hurricanes. The season starts next week.

Obama will talk about what the federal government and local communities are doing to prepare for climate change.



CLICK HERE FOR CBSMIAMI’s HURRICANE NEWS  He was speaking at the Hay Festival alongside ‘cli-fi’ authors George Marshall and Saci Lloyd.’  May 28, 2015 by bjjangles


A few reasons not to hate the tourists in your city, even though you want to

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There’s now one more reason to avoid Victoria’s tourist-swarmed downtown core this summer.

Volunteers in 1940s-style British “bobby” uniforms — complete with egg-shaped hats — will be walking the beat “armed only with a smile, interesting historical facts and crime prevention information,” according to police. It’s an effort to make out-of-towners feel even more like they’ve escaped to a west-coast Pleasantville.      And it’s another reason to hate on tourists:

You know, the camera-toting (don’t you have a smartphone?!), meanderers clad in comfortable shoes, clogging the seawall in Vancouver and the streets of Kensington Market in Toronto. Also known, to one friend, as “THE WORST SIDEWALK WALKERS!”Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 15.21.59

 They don’t know where they’re going, or how to get there. They turn our cities into marketing fluff and our streets into parking lots for tour buses.

But in our annoyance, we forget: We are tourists, too.

Canadians are the seventh-largest spenders on travel in the world, to the tune of $37 billion in 2014.

The golden rule of a good trip is good people. That could be a travel buddy or a hostel crew, but it’s also often the locals. In Lisbon, Portugal, my sister and I made friends out of people who showed us the hidden bars and late-night hangouts, the beaches a short drive out of town, the best places to catch the sunset.Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 15.23.30

That’s the hipster way to travel these days — getting the “local” experience. But we forget it relies on locals treating us, the tourists, like the potentially interesting humans we are.

I try to be kind to tourists, sometimes. I’ll offer directions or tips on what to see and eat. But I’ve never looked at a tourist as a potential friend. And I’ve never been the source of someone’s amazing story of travel to Canada.

There is another reason to stop hating tourists: They brought in $17.3 billion in 2014. You’ve heard this before, but many people’s livelihoods depend on them.

Yes, it is irritating to see my hometown become even more of a caricature of imagined Englishness. I didn’t think Victoria could grovel any harder at the feet of its British roots. It can.

But whatever I think of the volunteer bobby idea, it’s time to shed the haughty gaze at the wayward tourist. There’s no point having a superiority complex if you don’t help make your city a nice place to be.

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Related:  TNT Powertrain travel & tourism info