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  • Sobre la teoría de la relatividad especial y general - Albert Einstein August 18, 2017
    Entre el Electromagnetismo y la Mecánica newtoniana existe una fórmula de bisagra: la teoría de la relatividad especial y general. La importancia del nuevo marco planteado por Albert Einstein se entiende por lo siguiente: la percepción del tiempo y el espacio es relativa al observador. ¿Qué significa esto? Si usted viaja a una velocidad mayor que la de la lu […]
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  • La teoría del todo - Stephen W. Hawking August 18, 2017
    Una manera clara y amena de acercarse a los misterios del universo. En esta esclarecedora obra, el gran físico británico Stephen Hawking nos ofrece una historia del universo, del big bang a los agujeros negros. En siete pasos, Hawking logra explicar la historia del universo, desde las primeras teorías del mundo griego y de la época medieval hasta las más com […]
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  • Física General Esencial - Agustín Vázquez Sánchez August 18, 2017
    La nueva edición del ebook contiene ahora ocho temas completos de física y una sección de prácticas para realizar en casa. Se han corregido errores y agregado más ejemplos y ejercicios además de recursos multimedia en todos los capítulos.  Los ejemplos resueltos se presentan paso a paso a través de una solución algebraica con lo cual se evitan errores n […]
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  • Tricks Any Dog Can Do! - Susan Day August 18, 2017
    This great book comes with advice and guidance as to the best way to teach these tricks. It offers more than one method which the reader can choose depending upon their own situation. There is also advice to using treats and shows you how to not end up with a treat junkie! This books is from the desk of Susan Day, a canine behaviourist. Susan teaches obedien […]
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  • La física del futuro - Michio Kaku August 18, 2017
    Un recorrido asombroso a través de los próximos cien años de revolución científica. El futuro ya se está inventando en los laboratorios de los científicos más punteros de todo el mundo. Con toda probabilidad, en 2100 controlaremos los ordenadores a través de diminutos sensores cerebrales y podremos mover objetos con el poder de nuestras mentes, la inteligenc […]
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  • Ágilmente - Estanislao Bachrach August 18, 2017
    Bachrach es Doctor en biología molecular y explica el funcionamiento del cerebro. A través de ello, da consejos y herramientas para ser más creativos y felices en el trabajo y en la vida. La neurociencia es clara: el cerebro aprende hasta el último día de vida. La creatividad puede expandirse. Tu mente, mediante la aplicación de las técnicas correctas, puede […]
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  • El gran diseño - Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow August 18, 2017
    Aun antes de aparecer, este libro ha venido precedido, en todos los medios de comunicación, de una extraordinaria polémica sobre  sus conclusiones: que tanto nuestro universo como los otros muchos universos posibles surgieron de la nada, porque su creación no requiere de la intervención de ningún Dios o ser sobrenatural, sino que todos los universos pro […]
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  • Breve historia de mi vida - Stephen Hawking August 18, 2017
    La mente maravillosa de Stephen Hawking ha deslumbrado al mundo entero revelando los misterios del universo. Ahora, por primera vez, el cosmólogo más brillante de nuestra era explora, con una mirada reveladora, su propia vida y evolución intelectual. Breve historia de mi vida cuenta el sorprendente viaje de Stephen Hawking desde su niñez […]
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  • Una mochila para el universo - Elsa Punset August 18, 2017
    ¿Cuánto debe durar un abrazo? ¿De qué sirve llorar? ¿Qué podemos hacer para cambiar nuestra suerte? ¿Tiene algún propósito el enamoramiento? ¿Y por qué es tan inevitable el desamor? ¿Cómo aprendemosa tener miedo? ¿A partir de qué edad empezamos a mentir? ¿Por qué sentimos envidia? ¿Cuántos amigos necesitamos para ser felices? ¿Podemos evitar estresarnos sin […]
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  • ¿Cómo pensar como Sherlock Holmes? - Maria Konnikova August 18, 2017
    Ningún personaje de ficción es más conocido por sus poderes de intuición y observación que Sherlock Holmes. Pero, ¿es su inteligencia extraordinaria una invención de la ficción o podemos aprender a desarrollar estas habilidades, para mejorar nuestras vidas en el trabajo y en casa? A través de ¿ Cómo pensar como Sherlock Holmes? , la periodista y psicóloga Ma […]
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Resisting Our Way To The Future

Halfway through the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s chaotic, scandal-plagued, reality-challenged presidency, the organic fertilizer is really hitting the fan. He has issued executive orders to undermine the Clean Water Actand roll back fuel-economy standards. Expected any day now are orders to expand federal coal leasing and dismantle the Clean Power Plan.Meanwhile, his proposed federal budget would gut the EPA. As for bad legislation currently in Congress that Trump could sign?—?which ranges from stripping environmental protections to making it legal to shoot wolves and bears from helicopters in Alaskan wildlife refuges?—?there is simply too much to list. And that’s only the environment. Even as Trump’s job approval rating hits new lows, just keeping up with the craziness can be exhausting. Even so, the question I get asked the most is “what more can we do to stop this?” The obvious answer is that we can keep on doing what we already are?—?resisting. Specifically, that means challenging regressive federal policies and legislation in the courts, holding legislators accountable, and participating in organized protests like the upcoming Peoples Climate March. We can donate to and volunteer with groups we support (like your local Sierra Club chapter or other local group), and vote with our dollars?—?by choosing to buy our food, bank our money, and otherwise do business with companies whose values we share. Perhaps most important of all, we have to join with our allies on building a movement that can turn the kind of outrage we saw at congressional town hall meetings all over America this winter into electoral power […]

Surprise! Livestock Helps Farmers Become Resilient to Climate Change

Sunday, October 16 is World Food Day, and this year’s theme is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.” The relationship between agriculture and the environment is the crux of much of Heifer International’s work in the field. Climate change is accelerating, causing longer and deeper droughts, flooding and other disastrous events. Smallholder farmers and their families suffer the effects of climate change more than anyone else. They are the canaries in the coal mine. What are we doing to help them grow the food that will be necessary to feed over 9 billion people in the next 15 to 20 years? Failing to help them now could result not only in future food shortages, but also economic stagnation for the countries most heavily dependent on agricultural productivity. Livestock plays a key role–one that is perhaps misunderstood and counterintuitive. […]

Eat Well and Don’t Wreck the Planet: Choose Organic

Organic farmer Joel Salatin gives a tour of Polyface Farm, in Virginia. He stands inside electric netting surrounding a flock of laying hens and their portable coop, dubbed an Eggmobile. Credit: nick v from washington dc/ https://www.flickr.com/people/54418876@N00/ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joel_Salatin_in_front_of_hens.jpg Recent polling indicates that Americans are more worried about chemicals in food than they are about added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. Accordingly, food companies are removing some of the chemicals that consumers find objectionable, on health or environmental grounds. In another recent example of policy change in response to public sentiment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voided its approval of the herbicide Enlist Duo, in response to a lawsuit by environmental organizations over concerns for endangered species. Food is the basic way we fit into the web of life. We make choices about what to eat several times each day, day after day, over our lifetime. The impacts of those choices add up massively. By choosing organically grown food, we can take good care of ourselves and our environment. But when we opt for “conventionally,” or industrially, grown food, we can harm ourselves and our environment. Industrial agriculture uses pesticides, inorganic fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and other manufactured inputs. Organic producers instead apply compost, cover crops such as winter rye, and other organic materials to keep soil–and the plants and animals that grow from the soil–healthy. They also use management techniques such as crop rotation and companion planting. Bird-friendly shade-grown coffee in Guatemala Credit: John Blake/https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shade_grown_coffee_in_Guatemala.jpg Unfortunately, organic growing methods minimize but do not completely eliminate pesticides, antibiotics, administered hormones, GMOs, and other problematic inputs from food. Amendments allowed on organic fields include manure from industrially raised animals and wood ash that contains radioactive cesium-137 released from nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors and taken up by trees. In addition, pesticides and GMO seeds and pollen from industrial fields may drift to organic fields. Still, eating organic goes a long way toward reducing contaminants in our food. Organic Farming Is Conventional Farming Our ancestors practiced organic agriculture for 12,000 years before the advent of chemically intensive industrial agriculture of large monoculture crops, which developed in the decades following World War II. Negative effects of industrial agriculture have become increasingly apparent–among them, soil degradation, “superweeds” and “superbugs” that adapt to whatever pesticides we throw at them, and elevated greenhouse gas emissions. Truly, it is organic farming, not industrial farming, that should be considered conventional. Industrial agriculture deliberately uses synthetic poisons on our food and genetically engineers our food by mixing genes of different species together, practices that should seem pretty crazy to consumers. By these measures, industrial farming should even be considered reckless. Pesticides for our salad Credit: Jeff Vanuga/Photo Courtesy of USDA Natural Resources/ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NRCSAZ02083_-_Arizona_(449)(NRCS_Photo_Gallery).jpg How Eating Organic Benefits Us Compared with industrial food, organic food is more nutritious and better tasting. Organic food reduces our exposure to synthetic pesticides, which have been implicated in chronic diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, birth defects, reproductive disorders, respiratory diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematous and rheumatoid arthritis. Humans are genetically similar to other living things. Considering that we share half of our genes with fruit flies, it should be no surprise that pesticides harm people as well as pests. U.S industrial agricultural workers are especially at risk, suffering 10,000 to 20,000 physician-diagnosed pesticide poisonings each year. It helps address the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms and preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for curing infections. Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of these infections. Industrial agriculture not only routinely doses animals with antibiotics but also uses antibiotics on some vegetable and fruit crops. It protects consumers from a host of other potentially dangerous unknowns that are not allowed in organic agriculture. These include GMOs, which are typically grown with heavy pesticide applications; administered hormones, which have been linked to cancer; and synthetic food additives such as “natural flavorings,” which may be harmful or untested. The sewage sludge spread to fertilize some industrial farm fields can contain harmful heavy metals and synthetic chemicals that find their way into foods. Organic growing is the only way to feed the world sustainably, according to a United Nations report. Buying organic food increases demand for it, which brings prices down so others who are less affluent can afford to eat cleaner food. Would you give a child industrial-raised cow’s milk to drink if you knew it could contain as many as 20 drugs and hormones, including antibiotics, painkillers, steroid and sex hormones, and anti-inflammatory and antifungal drugs? Credit: Cindy Kalamajka/http://www.freeimages.com/photo/fast-food-kid-1531111 How Eating Organic Benefits Our Environment Organic growing reduces plants’ and animals’ exposure to synthetic pesticides, which harm soil organisms, beneficial insects, plants, birds, frogs, and a host of other animals. This includes pollinators such as butterflies and bees, upon which we utterly depend for our food supply. It also reduces plants’ and animals’ exposure to GMOs, antibiotics, and hormones. It helps stabilize the climate. Organic farming generates only half the greenhouse gas emissions of industrial agriculture per unit of land area. Organic growing doesn’t use inorganic fertilizers and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which can require a lot of energy to manufacture. Organic growing methods also retain and store more carbon in the soil. In fact, organic farming can be done in such a way that it stores even more carbon in soil than it emits. Furthermore, organic farming can yield as much food per acre as industrial farming, a conclusion supported by a University of California at Berkeley meta-analysis of 115 studies. It maintains soil health. Industrial agriculture often results in reduced agricultural productivity due to nutrient depletion, organic matter losses, erosion, and compaction. Because organic farm fields are amended with more organic matter, the soil holds moisture better, requires less irrigation water, and is more drought resistant. It keeps groundwater and surface water freer of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and other synthetic chemicals. A major problem with industrial fertilizers is that they create dead zones in the oceans at mouths of rivers where oxygen is depleted and higher life forms, such as seafood species, can’t survive. The dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River is the size of New Jersey. Farm animals experience a markedly better life. Unlike in industrial operations, antibiotics can’t be administered to organically raised animals to compensate for overcrowded and filthy living conditions. Organic growing practices are better for wildlife species too, not only protecting them from synthetic chemicals but also preserving more natural habitats such as wetlands and fencerows. It preserves genetic varieties. The U.S. has lost 93 percent of its agricultural genetic diversity over the last 80 years, as a handful of industrial agricultural corporations have taken increasing control of our seed supply. Organic producers strive to maintain food species diversity by planting different varieties, making our food system more resilient in the face of stresses such as climate change. Why Not Eat Organic Food? Organic food costs more in the short-term. However, organic food may cost less in the long-term by reducing lifetime health care costs. Coping with any of the illnesses linked to pesticides–such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease–costs money for medical services and time lost from work, not to mention potentially reduced quality and quantity of life. Many people don’t eat organic food simply because they don’t have access to it, particularly in “food deserts,” which are urban neighborhoods or rural towns without ready access to fresh food. To be the best we can be, we should eat the best food we can–starting with cleaner ingredients that don’t wreck the planet on which our food is grown–or the people growing it. Ellen Moyer, Ph.D., P.E., is an independent consultant dedicated to remediating environmental problems and promoting sustainable practices to prevent new problems. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Facebook or find more information or sign up for updates on her website. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

Hereby Resolved: This Year I Will Compost

Now that it’s time to start making up those perennial lists of resolutions for the New Year, may I urge you to add this throwback one to your list? I remember as a kid, my Dad would heap all the gathered leaves and grass clippings and various yard stuff, even the ashes from the barbecue, in a back corner of the yard (or rather make us do it, after we raked the yard to earn our allowance — remember those days?). And then we’d move it around with a pitchfork from time to time, a task that was fascinating to me as a child. But the best part was when I got to dig through the lower levels of the pile to find worms for our fishing expeditions to the local creek. But that sort of practice went out of style, and convenient bags of prepared commercial mulch and soil amendment became the norm. Everything old is new again, right? Nowadays, I’m happy to report, people are becoming concerned about their imprint on the planet and aware of the need for changes in their habits, and there has been a return to the organic (in every sense of the word) practices of the past, with clever updates to make the process easier. And composting is one of those practices. This is primarily for those of you fortunate enough to have yards and gardens to enjoy, but even you apartment dwellers can participate with the right equipment and a couple of houseplants. We’re talking about simple backyard composting here, nothing too elaborate or time-consuming, that will allow you to reduce household waste and provide you with free organic fertilizer. Whether you create your own constructs or use readily available containers, all it takes is a little time and effort and planning. There are three basic components of compost: browns (dead leaves, shredded newspaper, used coffee filters, wood chips); greens (grass clippings and kitchen waste such as vegetable & fruit scraps, egg shells, and coffee grounds); and water. The interactions of these components with various beneficial bacteria and fungi will result in a rich and nourishing substance that will lead your garden to glory, and minimize your contributions to the local landfill. The best thing to do for practical specifics is to consult a few on-line sites, such as the EPA or planetnatural.com; they’ll offer guidelines for proper selection and proportions of “ingredients”, tips on procedures, and suggestions about suitable containers for your compost “pile,” both homemade and purchased. Some cities even offer containers for free (mine does), so be sure to check with your local recycling center. For your kitchen scraps, a small covered pail with a built-in filter can be housed under the sink or right on the counter, and provides a convenient way to constantly funnel your kitchen detritus where it belongs. Options ranging from metal to ceramic to bamboo are readily available for a reasonable cost. You’ll probably want to avoid such things as meat & fish scraps and dairy items, as they may cause odor problems and attract pests; though there are advanced systems that are completely closed and allow for these items as well. For you apartment dwellers, a low-cost option is to position a small container on your balcony or patio; high-tech options include computer-controlled self-contained units that fit in a kitchen cabinet and make the process super-simple. The results are speedy, and a godsend for your potted plants! And though you probably won’t need it to furnish bait for your next trip to the local fishing hole, you’ll find that your compost creation will definitely provide splendid encouragement to your garden for years to come. To get you started, and provide instant rewards for your efforts, practice with these recipes! Be sure to deposit the egg shells, the stems from the parsley & tarragon & mushrooms, the asparagus stalks, and the peel from the ginger into your covered kitchen pail. Oh, and don’t forget to rinse and recycle the containers from the raspberries, the cream cheese, and the yoghurt. Wild Mushroom & Asparagus Frittata Served with a little fresh fruit for brunch or with a big green salad for dinner, or as a side dish for roast salmon, this one can’t be beat… 8 organic pastured eggs 2 heaping tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 large shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed & sliced into strips 6 stalks asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces 2 tablespoons shredded Manchego cheese Preheat oven to broil. Whisk eggs with parsley & tarragon until frothy, set aside. In an 8-inch oven-proof pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add asparagus and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook for about 2 minutes more. Add egg mixture to pan all at once, and cook undisturbed until edges are set but center is still wet, about 5 minutes. Transfer pan to broiler, at least 4-5 inches away from flame. Cook until set but still a little wiggly in the center, about 3-4 minutes. Keep checking so it doesn’t burn. Remove from broiler, sprinkle cheese over the top, and let it rest for a few minutes. Work a spatula around the edges and slide it out onto a platter. Cut into four wedges and serve. Serves four as a main, eight as a side. Raspberry Double-Ginger Fool This creamy delight seems a lot more decadent than it really is… 1 cup fresh organic raspberries & blackberries 4 ounces whipped low-fat cream cheese (Philadelphia, of course!), softened 8 ounces plain non-fat Greek yoghurt 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger (use your microplane) 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, yoghurt, both gingers, and vanilla until smooth. Gently fold in berries. Divide among four small dishes (cut crystal goblets make a stunning presentation), and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves four. [ Note: A version of this post appears in my “Kitchen Matters” column in Better Nutrition Magazine. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

Hereby Resolved: This Year I Will Compost

Now that it’s time to start making up those perennial lists of resolutions for the New Year, may I urge you to add this throwback one to your list? I remember as a kid, my Dad would heap all the gathered leaves and grass clippings and various yard stuff, even the ashes from the barbecue, in a back corner of the yard (or rather make us do it, after we raked the yard to earn our allowance — remember those days?). And then we’d move it around with a pitchfork from time to time, a task that was fascinating to me as a child. But the best part was when I got to dig through the lower levels of the pile to find worms for our fishing expeditions to the local creek. But that sort of practice went out of style, and convenient bags of prepared commercial mulch and soil amendment became the norm. Everything old is new again, right? Nowadays, I’m happy to report, people are becoming concerned about their imprint on the planet and aware of the need for changes in their habits, and there has been a return to the organic (in every sense of the word) practices of the past, with clever updates to make the process easier. And composting is one of those practices. This is primarily for those of you fortunate enough to have yards and gardens to enjoy, but even you apartment dwellers can participate with the right equipment and a couple of houseplants. We’re talking about simple backyard composting here, nothing too elaborate or time-consuming, that will allow you to reduce household waste and provide you with free organic fertilizer. Whether you create your own constructs or use readily available containers, all it takes is a little time and effort and planning. There are three basic components of compost: browns (dead leaves, shredded newspaper, used coffee filters, wood chips); greens (grass clippings and kitchen waste such as vegetable & fruit scraps, egg shells, and coffee grounds); and water. The interactions of these components with various beneficial bacteria and fungi will result in a rich and nourishing substance that will lead your garden to glory, and minimize your contributions to the local landfill. The best thing to do for practical specifics is to consult a few on-line sites, such as the EPA or planetnatural.com; they’ll offer guidelines for proper selection and proportions of “ingredients”, tips on procedures, and suggestions about suitable containers for your compost “pile,” both homemade and purchased. Some cities even offer containers for free (mine does), so be sure to check with your local recycling center. For your kitchen scraps, a small covered pail with a built-in filter can be housed under the sink or right on the counter, and provides a convenient way to constantly funnel your kitchen detritus where it belongs. Options ranging from metal to ceramic to bamboo are readily available for a reasonable cost. You’ll probably want to avoid such things as meat & fish scraps and dairy items, as they may cause odor problems and attract pests; though there are advanced systems that are completely closed and allow for these items as well. For you apartment dwellers, a low-cost option is to position a small container on your balcony or patio; high-tech options include computer-controlled self-contained units that fit in a kitchen cabinet and make the process super-simple. The results are speedy, and a godsend for your potted plants! And though you probably won’t need it to furnish bait for your next trip to the local fishing hole, you’ll find that your compost creation will definitely provide splendid encouragement to your garden for years to come. To get you started, and provide instant rewards for your efforts, practice with these recipes! Be sure to deposit the egg shells, the stems from the parsley & tarragon & mushrooms, the asparagus stalks, and the peel from the ginger into your covered kitchen pail. Oh, and don’t forget to rinse and recycle the containers from the raspberries, the cream cheese, and the yoghurt. Wild Mushroom & Asparagus Frittata Served with a little fresh fruit for brunch or with a big green salad for dinner, or as a side dish for roast salmon, this one can’t be beat… 8 organic pastured eggs 2 heaping tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 large shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed & sliced into strips 6 stalks asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces 2 tablespoons shredded Manchego cheese Preheat oven to broil. Whisk eggs with parsley & tarragon until frothy, set aside. In an 8-inch oven-proof pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add asparagus and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook for about 2 minutes more. Add egg mixture to pan all at once, and cook undisturbed until edges are set but center is still wet, about 5 minutes. Transfer pan to broiler, at least 4-5 inches away from flame. Cook until set but still a little wiggly in the center, about 3-4 minutes. Keep checking so it doesn’t burn. Remove from broiler, sprinkle cheese over the top, and let it rest for a few minutes. Work a spatula around the edges and slide it out onto a platter. Cut into four wedges and serve. Serves four as a main, eight as a side. Raspberry Double-Ginger Fool This creamy delight seems a lot more decadent than it really is… 1 cup fresh organic raspberries & blackberries 4 ounces whipped low-fat cream cheese (Philadelphia, of course!), softened 8 ounces plain non-fat Greek yoghurt 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger (use your microplane) 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, yoghurt, both gingers, and vanilla until smooth. Gently fold in berries. Divide among four small dishes (cut crystal goblets make a stunning presentation), and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves four. [ Note: A version of this post appears in my “Kitchen Matters” column in Better Nutrition Magazine. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

Soil loss: 1/3 of our most fertile land has vanished in the past 40 years

Erosion and pollution are destroying arable land faster than the Earth can replenish itself. […]

How About Helping Forest Communities Help Us Fight Climate Change?

Several studies over the past few years have indicated that if some of the remaining bits of the planet’s forests are to be protected successfully, that the people who live in them must be engaged. I won’t link them all here as an online search for “local+communities+conservation” will yield enough reports to support this statement. Saving exotic wild animals like the orangutans in South East Asia or the Cross River gorrilla in Africa aside, the louder calls now are to save another species which is us, humans. The Paris 2015 Climate Summit should be in full swing by the time this blog is published. One of the pre-summit statements on fighting climate change has come from the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) that states quite simply: Despite the huge financial resources available to mankind, without the participation of resource owners, whom are mainly Indigenous people and local communities, all efforts under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are bound to fail I do not doubt this statement as in it’s my humble opinion that conservation efforts in general fail because local communities were excluded in those efforts. Looking at Indonesia for example, there are large areas of “protected forests” like Gunung Palung National Park and Tanjung Puting National Park. These designated national parks enjoy the highest level of official protection under Indonesian laws yet any satellite image of these vast “protected” areas will show that they are badly degraded. Not the type of “national park” that we are accustomed to in north America where hundred year old trees and rich biodiversity exist. Communities that live near these protected forests are one reason for their degradation and must be worked into a solution to protect these forests. What’s that tree worth? We all know that the best technology to fight climate change is the tree. If we can stop deforestation in tropical regions like South America and South East Asia while we in the rich north figure out a way to reduce our own carbon emissions, we might have a chance at slowing down climate change. I visited several communities in Indonesia recently and wish I had more positive things to say like ” Oh ya, the forests are their supermarkets” and they all want to keep the forests standing as their livelihods depend on it. What I got instead was “Apa pohon itu? Setiap hari, kami mencari makan saja” Translated, it means “Whats that tree about? Every day, we only look for food.” Their opinion seemed to be that the tree, or forest, is of no value to them unless it bears a material they can work with or produce a sap or fruit they can sell. Otherwise the only value of that tree is as perhaps as planks for their houses. Fighting climate change to benefit all of us was not accepted until I suggested that they could get paid to protect forests and perhaps even engage in a bit of reforestation. The significance of community forests in Indonesia As part of its Medium Term National Development Plan of 2015-2019, the Indonesian government has targeted 12.7 million hectares of forest areas to be managed by communities that live in them. The communities are expected to use these forests to improve their livelihoods instead of relying totally on government assistance to do so.This is a considerable chunk of forest that could play an important role in conservation and fighting climate change. As an example, the villages of Katunjung and Katimpun in Central Kalimantan, have been approved to manage close to 10,000 ha of a secondary peat swamp forest. With support from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry( KLHK ) the communities have reforested over 1000 hectares of degraded forests. To the north is an on-going land claim by ten Dayak villages in North Barito for 52,000 hectares of forests. Rare species of plants and wildlife still exist in these forests that are besieged by timber, palm oil and coal mining companies. Community leaders that I met from these villages expressed great interest in preserving their forests but insisted that since we were discussing a global problem, that solutions should include global partners. There is hope in the growing awareness of local community leaders that these forests are also important to their own health and future. The chief of one small village, Begasing, was very interested in a reforesting the national park with local tree species that were once found in the area. In a different meeting, a farmers co-op of ten families from Benawai Agung village included ex-poachers and illegal loggers, one of which ran a fairly big business in illegal timber from the national park! All they asked was for a helping hand to introduce organic farming to the area. This would be an expensive departure from the traditional burning of farm lands to enrich the soils for next season’s plantings but the end results justify funding to pay for organic fertilizers for them. Saving Indonesia’s Community Forests to Save Us The importance of these community forests in Indonesia cannot be underestimated in our fight against climate change. A joint report from World Resources Institute and Rights & Resources Initiative estimated that community forests globally hold as estimate 37 billion tons of carbon. I personally have little faith in climate change programs like REDD to be able to connect with the villagers in North Barito or those in Katunjung village or the thirty four thousand plus villages in Indonesia that live within forested areas. I’m counting instead on private companies like members of the Consumer Goods Forum whose members have pledged to zero net deforestation products by 2020. Let’s hope that mega corporations like Unilever are serious about delivering zero net deforestation products to our shelves. These community forests in Indonesia need help to remain standing and are a great low cost way to not only achieve companies zero net deforestation aspirations but also to fight climate change and protect biodiversity. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]