Archive for May, 2010

Preschools in forests take root in US


AP – Orion Knowler, 4, runs ahead of teacher Karen Olsen and other children attending Cedarsong Nature School's

AP:VASHON ISLAND, Wash. – When they’re outside, the children in Erin Kenny’s class don’t head for cover if it rains or snows. They stay right where they are — in a private five-acre forest. It’s their classroom. They spend three hours a day, four days a week here, a free-flowing romp through cedar and Douglas fir on Vashon Island in Puget Sound. The unique “forest kindergarten” at Cedarsong Nature School is among several that have opened in recent years in the U.S. Read More

Cell Phones Take a Toll


Are these frying your head?

Buried deep within a long anticipated study about cell phones is evidence indicating a strong link between mobile phone use and brain cancer. Living on Earth host Steve Curwood talks with Dr. Elizabeth Cardis, director of the Interphone study, about the findings.

A scientific controversy that affects just about all of us has come to the fore.  The question: how safe are cell phones?

A major study that was supposed to answer that question is open to question itself. The so-called Interphone Study, started a decade ago, when scientists in 13 nations set out to learn if there was a link between cell phone use and brain cancer. At last, the findings of this eagerly anticipated study have been released, and researchers found that…well…here are some of the headlines reporting the results:

“Mobile Phone Study Finds No Solid Link to Brain Tumors”- The Guardian, UK.
“Heavy Use of Cell Phones may increase Tumor Risk.” Globe and Mail, Canada.
“Mobile Phones are Safe” Die Welt, Germany.
So if you’re confused, you’re not alone. Consider these contradictory findings: High cell phone usage was linked to a doubling of the risk of deadly brain cancers called gliomas. Read more.. or to listen to MP3 of this interview.

Editor’s Note: I childhood friend of mine is now in hospice care, with a brain tumor. For many years, he has only had a cell phone, and no land line. The doctors said off the record, they were sure it was from his cell phone use, as were many others they have seen doing brain surgery.

Mindfulness, Power of Possibilities


A Harvard Psychologist Gets The Hollywood Treatment

Does mind make the body age?

Robin Young, on her radio show, Here and Now, recently interviewed Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer and author of Counter Clockwise, Mindful Health and the Power of Possibilities about about what she calls mindfulness and mindlessness — and about the power of psychology on physical health.

Drawing on her own body of colorful experiments—including the first detailed discussion of her landmark 1979 “counterclockwise” study in which elderly men lived for a week as though it was 1959 and seemed to grow younger—and important works by other researchers, Langer discussed how studies prove that the magic lies in being aware of the ways we mindlessly react to cultural cues.

Her book shows how we can actively challenge these ingrained behaviors by making subtle changes in our everyday lives. The author describes ways to reorient our attitudes and language in order to achieve better health; she shows us the ways in which our belief in physical limits constrains us; and she demonstrates how our desire for certainty in medical diagnosis and treatment often prevents us from fully exploiting the power of uncertainty.

Jennifer Aniston is slated to play Harvard psychologist Langer, whose work helped trigger the positive psychology movement.

Our Water Supply: Genes affected?


New Book: Living DownStream – Shows evidence showing links between environmental toxins and cancer rates.

Our water: Filter it!

From Living on Earth
National Public Radio
Steve Curwood of LOE, interviews author Sandra Steingraber.
For the audio MP3 click here.

CURWOOD: Recently the journal Pediatrics reported a link between exposure to pesticides and the condition ADHD, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It seems that almost every week we learn some unsettling bit of news about the effects of chemicals in our food, or water, or air, or the products we use.

Environmental chemicals have long been a concern for author and biologist Sandra Steingraber—particularly those linked to cancer. In a new film based on her groundbreaking book of more than a decade ago, Ms. Steingraber explains why her own cancer diagnosis as a young woman left lingering questions about the disease.

CLIP: I’m one of those people who really does come from a family with a lot of cancer in it. I wasn’t the first in my family to be diagnosed. My aunt went on to die of the same kind of bladder cancer that I had. I have uncles with prostate cancer, colon cancer, but the punch line of my story is that I’m adopted.

CURWOOD: Sandra Steingraber’s book, “Living Downstream”, laid out evidence showing links between environmental toxins and cancer rates in her hometown. Now a new edition of the book and the film of the same name expands the evidence of the relationship between our health and our environment. Sandra Steingraber, welcome to Living on Earth.

STEINGRABER: Thanks Steve.

CURWOOD: Where did you grow up and tell me why you relate the cancer you developed as a young adult to the environment in which you were raised? Read the rest this interview

Send Chevron a Message


Chevron's Logo?

Please sign this petition to Chevron’s CEO, Mr. Watson asking that Chevron finally do the right thing in Ecuador. (En español aquí)

Dear Mr. Watson:

As the new CEO of Chevron, climate change and the environmental and human rights impacts of Chevron’s operations are the two issues that will define your tenure at the helm of one of the world’s largest oil companies. Chevron has fallen behind other businesses and many political leaders already taking a leadership position on climate change. Furthermore, your company is drawing increasing criticism for failing to rectify its massive human rights and environmental disaster in Ecuador. Taking the following steps will demonstrate a true commitment to environmental responsibility and respect for human rights – which will only strengthen your company’s future.

We the undersigned call on Chevron CEO John Watson to:

* Clean up Chevron’s toxic legacy in Ecuador, compensate affected communities for health and environmental impacts, and provide affected people real access to health care and potable water.
* Develop a global environment and human rights policy that will prevent similar tragedies in the future.
* Adopt aggressive strategies to provide clean energy to a carbon-constrained world.

Fake Accounting, Greed and Oil


By John Perkins
Sent by email, also published in the Huffington Post

John Perkins

While countries around the world continue to watch their economies collapse, and Goldman-Sachs leaders testify to Congress about how they manipulated both their shareholders and the American public, we are also faced with a tragic oil spill on our most fragile coastlines.
The sad truth is that oil, greed and fake accounting work hand in hand to empower those who have — and significantly disempower those who do not.
In my book, Hoodwinked I talk about the 30,000 Ecuadorians who filed a lawsuit against Texaco (since purchased by Chevron). The company destroyed vast sections of rain forest and the toxic wastes from its operations allegedly killed many people and made many more chronically sick. (more…)

BP’s CEO – Does he grasp severity of accident?

On May 10, 2010, British Petroleum’s Chief Executive Officer, Tony Hayward, was interviewed by Michele Norris on NPR’s All Things Considered concerning the failed attempt to cap the broken oil rig on May 8th and 9th. (listen to the interview)
The part that most disturbed me about this interview was Dr. Hayward’s comparison of this accident to the Apollo 13 mission, and the Air France Flight AF447 which crashed in the ocean last June. Here is a transcript from part of the interview:
NORRIS: Mr. Hayward, this is the deepest well blowout on record. And the people are most knowledgeable in dealing with deep water wells are at the outer edge of their expertise, even when things are going well. The Coast Guard and oil industry analysts say that drilling here is almost like visiting outer space. It’s like a great unknown. So why are you drilling there if there’s so much that is not known about this territory?Dr. HAYWARD: Well, we’re drilling because it’s a very important source of energy for the United States and the world. That is the reality. Almost 30 percent of the United States oil production today comes from the deep waters. That is where there is the opportunity to provide domestic energy security. That is where there is an opportunity to provide energy security for the world. And, of course, oil isnt all of the solution but it’s a part of the solution.

NORRIS: That opportunity obviously comes, though, with great peril. Is deepwater drilling riskier than BP believed?

Dr. HAYWARD: I think you have to go back to, you know, the track record of the industry and BP’s over the last 20 years. The industry has drilled over 5,000 wells. BP has drilled around 1,500 of those 5,000 wells, and this is the first time that we’ve had a major incident. And I think it is legitimate to draw analogies with, for example, the space program.

The space program was not canceled because of the issues around Apollo 13. It’s also legitimate to draw comparisons with the airline industry. When the Air France plane fell out of the sky coming out of Brazil, we didnt ground the airline industry. So we need to learn the lessons here. They will be learned and they will shape, I’m certain, the industry as it moves forward.

Drawing analogies between this accident and the  Apollo 13 mission makes no sense at all and he uses it to distract from the severity of this incident. There were, first off, no deaths associated with the Apollo 13 mission, and second, Dr. Hayward is completely disregarding the damage the leaking oil and gas is causing to the environment and the coastline communities.
The same is true of the Air France flight. Yes, 228 people died in the accident, but Dr Hayward is saying we should not stop deep oil drilling because we did not ground the airline industry after the plane went down. This analogy illustrates how disconnected Dr. Hayward is from the severity of the oil spill.  He is only seeing the deaths, and the money lost. He is not considering the vast unaccountable ecological damage the oil is causing. Moreover, the Apollo 13 mission and Flight AF447 did not lead to an economic disaster causing hundreds of people to lose their livelihood as is happening on the Gulf coast right now. Flight AF447 did not continue to reek havoc on the surrounding environments for months after the crash.
This sort of thinking is how we got into the environmental situation we are in now. People in power in these large corporations are not willing to say, “You know, this technology is not necessary, it is just too harmful.”  Their focus is always on shareholder profits, never on wider ecological impacts. Our disconnection from the natural systems that keep our communities and economies alive is leading us to our own destruction.
Think about this: people talk of nuclear power as a “clean, alternative” energy source. However, what will a CEO say when a plant starts leaking radioactive material into the environment, killing everything? Will he or she say, “We didn’t stop the oil companies from drilling when they had accidents, why should we be shut down?”
Where would we be if a hundred years ago people noticed how dirty and destructive fossil fuels were and decided to try alternatives instead?

MSI Adds Flickr


MSI Images on Flickr

Mountain Spirit’s Images on Flickr
You’ll be seeing  images posted not only on Facebook, but on our Flickr site as well. We’ll have images from the Alps, Peru, New Zealand, the USA, and from subjects covered on our blog at WordPress.

Our images will cover not only programs and events but world issues such as sustainability and holistic living.

Adapting to Post Industrialism


Book Describes How to Transition

Adapt or Die

“If your town is not yet a Transition Town, here is guidance for making it one. We have little time, and much to accomplish.”
Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute, Santa Rosa, California, author of ‘Power Down’ and ‘Peak Everything’

We live in an oil-dependent world, and have got to this level of dependency in a very short space of time, using vast reserves of oil in the process – without planning for when the supply is not so plentiful. Most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive), but The Transition Handbook shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome. These changes can lead to the rebirth of local communities, which will grow more of their own food, generate their own power, and build their own houses using local materials. They can also encourage the development of local currencies, to keep money in the local area.

The book has three sections, Read more

Happiness & Science


By Ryan Foley, AP

Laughter: Good Spiritual Work

MADISON, Wis. – After hearing about his cutting-edge research on the brain and emotions through mutual friends, the Dalai Lama invited Richard Davidson to his home in India in 1992 to pose a question.

Scientists often study depression, anxiety and fear, but why not devote your work to the causes of positive human qualities like happiness and compassion? the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader asked. Read the rest of this story