Month: May 2021

Climate Change and the Explosive Book: Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 28, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise; Special Guest author Fred Siegel Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Today’s atmospheric carbon level is 419.53 ppm, up two points from just a week ago. Additionally, scientists announced today that within the next five years we are 90 percent likely to break yet another record for the hottest year in recorded history, which despite 197 countries joining the Paris Agreement, and working so hard to reduce global warming, shows that we’re tracking in the wrong direction. 

How is this possible?

The United States is at the very bottom of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), tier 6, “Critically Insufficient.” The CAT monitors how countries are progressing toward “the globally agreed aim” of 1.5ºC. / 2.7ºF. A major factor in the rise in temperature, despite all the effort, has a lot to do with our insufficient progress in carbon drawdown as a result of soil degradation and deforestation. This most difficult challenge has been further complicated by the rising temperature fueling massive wildfires on three continents which resulted in the scorching of billions of trees in 2020 alone, as well as the continued degradation of soil through the long dry months of drought, which has undermined our aggressive effort to drawdown excess carbon and store it in the soil.

It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

All of our eyes should be on the soil. The life-changing documentary Kiss the Ground was released in October 2020 and gave many of us hope that we could still win this war against global warming, despite the huge obstacles. Once soil health became the core objective, we quickly learned that agricultural chemicals have resulted in much of the world’s soil degradation. The word “chemicals” naturally results in some of us casting our gaze on a few other types of chemicals, hazardous waste chemicals, the types that seep into the soil in our communities and undermine soil health everywhere, as well as personal health, preventing the much needed carbon drawdown. The total impact is 22 million acres affected.  

In short, there are:

  • 1,344 federal superfund sites 
  • 1,571 nonfederal National Priorities List (NPL) sites
  • 450,000 brownfield sites

These staggering numbers don’t include the lesser known hazards such as golf courses and dry cleaners that are hidden in plain sight in many of our towns. If we lump all this land together, it’s much easier to see why carbon drawdown has been so slow, and what we need to be more aware of in the age of the climate crisis.

Become an INSIDER by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Ours will soon be filled with passionate nature enthusiasts, climate conscious consumers, journalists, authors and a collection of experts who love answering member questions. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

Heart of the matter. Against this dire backdrop comes the alarming warning from Hazardous Waste expert Fred Siegel, who outlined in his recently published book, Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?, the likely risk we face with the 49 top toxic hazards, outlined in his essential reference guide, impacting our well-being, several of which are in the majority of U.S. communities. 

Absorbing the magnitude of these threats, and factoring in the influence of weather events such as rain bombs, hurricanes and chronic flooding, and the increase these will have on our likely exposure to the toxins, I feel compelled to shine a spotlight on Fred’s work. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens and spread far and wide during storms as we saw back in February 2021, when an Indonesian dye factory flooded and red dye was soon swirling for miles along the newly formed rivers that filled city streets. According to the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 60 percent of the NPL sites may be impacted by flooding. 

Fred Siegel and Tony Quagletta have been conducting environmental site assessments for over 30 years (toxictom.com). Fred’s passion and motivation were initially ignited by learning that he and his wife Vicki had purchased their first home atop a toxic landfill in Woodbridge, New Jersey and never knowing it until after they relocated. The flames of activism have been burning strong ever since. In fact, Fred’s eager to explain why he has twice been arrested. 

Environmental Activist Fred Siegel being arrested for protesting environmental hazards.

Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed? is rich with concise summations of compelling facts, data and first hand insights, that quickly turn readers into “woke” believers. An example that highlights how shocking these facts are, is the beautiful golf course that dots thousands of communities across the country. A study conducted in New York, entitled Toxic Fairways, found that the golf fairways are maintained with extremely high volumes of pesticides, 7 to 8 times higher than the volume used on farms if compared pounds per acre. Many golf courses use pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos which in 2015 the EPA deemed so toxic that there is no safe exposure to it. The soil beneath these fairways is not healthy soil with high water infiltration rates, so during heavy downpours, most of the toxins wash away into our streets and down our public drains. Golf course toxins are just the tip of the iceberg. 

I asked Fred to comment on hazardous chemicals, fire and heat. He remarked, “Depending on the temperature of the fire the materials at the waste site would burn and send chemicals into the air. It would be similar to a chemical factory fire only worse. Wide areas would need to be evacuated and the residue from the fire could potentially create a superfund site 10 times the size or worse.” This is particularly worrisome considering that the higher temperatures associated with global warming have the potential to impact hazardous waste and cause combustion that results in an explosion.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Fred Siegel’s book Environment Hazards, Are You Exposed? is an absolute necessity for every household in America. It’s the ideal reference guide as we all face the climate crisis together. Many of the health threats related to toxic chemicals are preventable if we know what to look out for and what to avoid.  As well-intended as our elected representatives might be, we’ve all seen that there are many barriers to keeping us safe from all the potential threats. 

When I asked Fred what his focus was in writing such a complete guide to hazardous waste in America, he said, “I hope people realize the government will not protect them. They need to protect themselves with knowledge.” 

Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report will help facilitate Fred’s plan by passing along a small bit of Fred Siegel’s knowledge and insights each week. Our goal is to feature an environmental hazard piece every Friday, touching on each one of Fred’s 49 chapters.

Next Steps

  • Fred’s book is available in paperback or ebook and is free if you have Kindle Unlimited
  • Refer to the chart at the back of the book that provides an important Distance from Hazard Chart
  • Check out Fred’s website toxictom.com 
  • Join Gallant Gold Media’s newly opened online Act Now for the Earth Cafe community that Fred often frequents and posts insightful comments
  • Follow Fred on Twitter and stay updated on his insights on current events
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Vegan Junk Food Without Palm Oil?! | Vegan Scene

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 27, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

According to Lacey Bourassa, of Plant Proteins.co, there has been a 500% increase in consumers identifying as being vegan within the last six years. Whether people are switching up their eating habits for ethical, health, feminist, or ecological reasons- or a combination- it is clear that eliminating animal products from our plates is on the rise.  

Suppose you are switching up your diet as a part of an eco-friendly initiative. In that case, you probably already know that foods like broccoli, lentils, and tofu produce extremely low carbon emissions relative to producing meat. An assessment of global emissions performed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FOA, deemed that 15% of the human-induced greenhouse gas emissions stem from livestock production. That doesn’t even take into account the ecological impact of the grain and antibiotics used to sustain animals prior to their slaughter.

It’s time to face the music. We only have 7 years to restore our habitat in order to drawdown the tremendous amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere that’s caused globe warming. Climate action people around the globe are calling it a return to the Garden of Eden. We have an awesome song for that. Take a listen.

Still, if you are struggling to upkeep your transition into a plant-based lifestyle, you should know that veganism doesn’t have to be all kale smoothies and chia seed salads. There are plenty of vegan options for desserts, snacks, and munchies, that will help you stay strong in your commitment to keeping it cruelty-free.

Twitter – @TarotByJaqqi

Top Ten Vegan Munchies:

  • Doritos – Spicy Sweet Chili 
  • Enjoy Life – Cocoa Loco Chocolate Bars
  • Garden Veggie Straws – Sea Salt
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Kettle Brand – Salt & Vinegar Chips 
  • Twizzlers
  • Betty Crocker – Fruit Snacks
  • Vegan Rob’s – Cheddar Puff (all flavors)
  • Miyoko’s cheese Wheels 
  • Ben & Jerry’s Dairy-Free Ice Cream 
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

The best part about this list is that every ‘junk food’ item is 100% palm oil-free!  This is a big deal for Mother Nature as this common ingredient is well known to be extremely detrimental to the environment. Palm oil plantations contribute to deforestation and the destruction of animal habitats. According to the World Wildlife Fund, WWF, Palm oil is associated with the further endangerment of species like the Orangutan, pygmy elephant, and Sumatran rhino.  

Twitter – @monkey_burns

Grabbing a couple of these snacks on your next trip to the grocery store is a convenient and tasty way to go vegan and protect the environment! 


Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

Leave No Trace — A Parents Guide

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 26, 2020 by Sarah J. Kings

You are trying your best to head an eco-friendly family.  You are recycling and upcycling like a champ, you’re careful not to waste water or gas, and maybe you’ve even incorporated Meatless Mondays into your routine. With all the planet conscious talk around your house, your kids are probably starting to show a little love for Mother Nature too.

Twitter- @NatureKidsBC

Inviting your children to the conservation will inevitably lead to more time spent outdoors.  When you and your loved ones ‘get out’ and try to make the most out of summer, it is essential to remember: Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics initiative that has helped people preserve and protect the environment for over 25 years.

The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

  • Plan ahead & prepare
  • Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors
It’s time to face the music. Nearly 1 billion people around the globe are food insecure because of climate change. And more than double that number are moderately food insecure. The imbalance between those who are currently suffering the consequences of climate change and those who still have very high carbon footprints, requires that we all make sacrifices. Sacrifices are much easier when there’s an awesome song to go with it. CLICK the link and check it out.

As a parent, it is important to take these principals with you when venturing into parks or woods with your kids.  Even if you are only going for the day and won’t be camping- you can still make sure to Leave No Trace.  

Before your outing, be sure to bring water and snacks in reusable containers.  It is also a good idea to bring a small satchel with you to collect any waste. You may find that other people have left behind water bottles or wrappers— help out by getting it out of the woods. Instead of bringing home trinkets like rocks, flowers, or bugs, bring a camera. Encourage your children to photograph what they see, so as not to disrupt the natural ecosystem. Make sure that you and your family members stay on the trails so that growing plants and small wildlife are not disturbed. Also, be sure that no one in your group breaks branches or carves initials into tree trunks.

Instagram- @texaskidsadventures

There are so many ways you can teach your children to respect Mother Nature while giving her a visit. The most important thing you can do is talk about it. Tell your children about Leave No Trace. Doing so will open up an avenue for their own personal interest in conservation to thrive. 


Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Which Vegan Milk is Best For the Planet? | Vegan Scene

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 25, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), approximately 270 million dairy cows live on farms and factory farms across the globe. The dairy industry produces greenhouse gas emissions that negatively impact the environment and contribute to climate change. Additionally, “poor handling of manure and fertilizers can degrade local water resources. And unsustainable dairy farming and feed production can” also “lead to the loss of ecologically important areas, such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.”

Just one glass of cow’s milk produces .63 kg of carbon emissions. Additionally, that same glass requires 1.79 square meters of land and 125.6 liters of water to make. Because of the negative effects of producing dairy, many lobbyists and organizations encourage people to swap out cows milk for vegan alternatives. One Green Planet– among other companies- is currently asking people to “ditch dairy.” 

It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

With the increase in popularity of vegan options like almond, cashew, rice, and soy milk, you may be wondering which one to choose. Luckily Science Focus has come out with an easy way to measure the impact of the various vegan alternatives to dairy milk. The milk with the lowest carbon emissions per glass is almond milk-which produces .14 kgs- followed by oat, which produces .18 kgs. The milk with the lowest land usage per glass is rice at .07 square meters. Lastly, the vegan milk responsible for the least amount of water needed in production is soy- which uses 5.6 liters- followed closely by oat, which uses 9.6 liters.

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Twitter: @oatly

If you are looking to make a significant impact in the fight against climate change, the proof is in the vegan pudding! Ditching dairy and swapping it out for a vegan alternative will lower carbon emissions and reduce land and water usage. As for which alternative to dairy milk is the best for the environment, there are two winners. Choosing almond milk or oat milk for your morning coffee or bowl of cereal is a vegan and eco-friendly way to start the day.

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

Tl;dr

  • 270 million dairy cows are living on farms and factory farms across the globe
  • One glass of cow’s milk produces .63 kg of carbon emissions
  • One glass of cow’s milk requires 1.79 square meters of land and 125.6 liters of water to make
  • Almond milk has the lowest carbon emissions per glass
  • Rice milk uses the least land to make
  • Soy milk uses the least water to make
  • The most eco-friendly milk options are Almond and Oat
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act Now! CLICK here.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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What’s the Wet-Bulb Temperature | Survivability Threshold

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 18, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

According to a recent report published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the official wet-bulb temperature of 35˚C (95˚F)  is the maximum temperature the human body can successfully cool itself on its own to keep from overheating. Once we cross the survivability threshold into the danger zone, the combination of heat and humidity results in the skin’s inability to sweat fast enough to cool the body, and we can succumb to heatstroke within a few hours of being outside, which is potentially fatal.

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 5.17.46 PM.png

Bloomberg Green reports that there are several cities along the Gulf Coast that have already experienced this type of extreme condition, maximum heat combined with maximum humidity, and have repeatedly crossed into the danger zone. New Orleans is one such city. The concept of there being a survivability threshold that has already been reached in some parts of America, is almost unfathomable. Large populations live in these areas. If the conditions are unsurvivable, they’ll be forced to move. The injustice is maddening.

It always seems to be the same routine. A certain percent of the population disregards the warnings and recommended guidelines, and selfishly pursues material gain at the exclusion of everything else. This causes a negative ripple effect that impacts those of lesser means, with limited resources, resulting in a downward spiral for large segments of the population that involves further financial strain. The rich get richer, everyone else becomes more financially challenged, and climate change extremes increase, impacting an increasing number of vulnerable communities and  cities.

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

If we can’t immediately recognize that this is one of the most significant wake-up calls yet, there’s no hope. Everyone has to be all in on climate to save planet earth. If individuals aren’t self-motivated to make the necessary changes, then local, state and federal governments will have to force them. 🌎

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 5.16.23 PM.png

Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Composting | A Major Climate Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 19, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

Perspective is everything. Composting can seem like a daunting task or a simple way to make our soil healthy. The benefits of composting for the climate and the environment may persuade you to get on board, to learn something new, and to contribute to a growing movement to give back.

The heart of the matter. The wisdom of composting goes back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome, and soil cultivation has been in practice ever since. The Founding Fathers realized the importance of renewing the soil of their farms and gardens. Washington, Jefferson, and Adams (among others) treasured the land for its abundance and permanence; fields were not something to be used and abandoned. Because tobacco had depleted the soil of many estates by the late 1700s, Washington began planting crops that could anchor the American agricultural economy. To replenish the soil for wheat fields and orchards, he experimented with manure, Potomac mud, and fish remains. In the end, Washington operated five farms in Virginia and was one of the most successful farmers of his time. 

How does this impact you personally? Composting is a practical way to improve the health of the soil and reduce our carbon footprint. Over the centuries, the basic principles of composting have remained consistent and have yielded the same predictable outcomes for sustaining our planet. The knowledge and tools are at our fingertips. Using the wisdom garnered over the ages, we have the chance, without too much difficulty, to create a thriving environment and help planet Earth.

Composting:

  • adds microbes to dirt and soil, enabling it to store loads of carbon that thwarts climate change.
  • reduces methane-producing waste in landfills
  • creates vibrant soil that supports the ecosystem
  • retains water in the soil, reducing the need to irrigate
  • promotes disease-free plant growth
Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

What can you do about this? Whether you live in a noisy urban neighborhood or on a quiet rural road, composting is possible. To keep it simple, deliver your food scraps to your community compost collection site. (See the list of Virginia composting facilities at the end of this article.) Or, find a compost company that picks up your food scraps. Check to see how the company uses the compost, and find out if they return compost to you. Make your own compost by following simple daily guidelines. (Click here to see a short how-to video.) You can make a difference for your family, your community, and the planet. Remember the Founding Fathers: The success of the new nation hinged on its fruitful harvests. Did they ever imagine how critical their organic practices would be for the health of the planet?

Next steps:

  • Begin saving food scraps in a compost bag in your refrigerator, a cool garage or in a clamped container.
  • Gather both green materials (fruits, vegetables, tea, egg shells, coffee grounds) and brown (newspapers, egg cartons, twigs, and dried grass). 
  • Avoid oils, dairy, meat, and bread.
  • Decide if you will create the compost yourself or donate your scraps to your community, or
  • Find the most eco-friendly company to pick up your scraps and use them to benefit soil health.

Virginia Composting Facilities by Area

References:

“Benefits of Compost.” U.S. Composting Council, http://www.compostingcouncil.org/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Simon, Julia. “How to Start Composting.” NPR, 2021, http://www.npr.org/2020/04/07/828918397/how-to-compost-at-home.

Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

Russian Roulette | Great Pacific Garbage Patch 2X Size of Texas Keeps Expanding

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 17, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floats, swirls, and grows in the North Pacific between Hawaii and the coast of North America. It is 1.6 million kilometers around (about 1 million miles), which is three times the size of France and two times the size of Texas. It weighs roughly 80,000 tons, and the only way to view the massive expanse is through photos from space. Discarded fishing lines, nets, and other fishing equipment comprise about half of the mass of the GPGP. Used plastics coming from land make up the vast bulk of the rest of the GPGP. According to the acclaimed documentary, Midway: Message from the Gyre, 136,000 seals, sea lions, and whales are killed each year from the GPGP. Beaches of islands in the vicinity of the GPGP are littered with dead bird carcasses, which are filled with plastics from the patch. If you think you are not affected by this, you are wrong because eventually these plastics will end up on your plate through a process known as bioaccumulation where the plastics pass to organisms and then to humans. And 84% of the plastics contain at least one toxic, cancer causing agent, which makes eating seafood like a game of Russain roulette.

Act Now for the Earth Cafe wants you to join our ecosystem and have fun learning valuable tips about nature, carbon drawdown & sustainability. We’re all about community. Be a part of our vibrant ecosystem by CLICKing here today and checking out Earth Cafe!

Heart of the matter. The GPGP is a giant succubus due to its two gyres that constantly move and suck plastic into it, most of which comes from land (Note: when this article was written 6 years ago, it was believed 80% of plastics came from land. That number is probably somewhere in the 55% range because the amount of nets, fishing line, and other debris dumped by fishermen was, perhaps, underestimated.). And it has formed since the 1970s. Think of it as a blackhole on Earth that sucks in millions of tons of plastic and then spits it out killing animals, destroying the ecosystem, and killing humans.

By 2050, production of plastics is expected to quadruple. By the way, it takes plastic 100,000 years to decompose. In other words, this thing is a long term monster, which is why since 2013 an effort known as The Ocean Cleanup has been underway.

How this impacts you personally. You are already ingesting this stuff if you eat seafood, or at least you will be, so it is affecting you. And this is based solely on what you eat. This does not even begin to examine the problem of the toxins in these plastics, damage to the oceans, and greenhouse gasses released. This beast hits from all directions. 

Sadly, it is only one part of a problem that keeps compounding and joining with other environmental disasters such as nuclear spills, toxic water, forest fires, and any other myriad problems we hear about and likely dismiss daily. A great discussion of all these problems can be found in the book Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed? by Fred Siegel.

What you can do. The easiest thing people can do is reduce the amount of plastics they use. This includes plastic bottles, straws, bags, toothbrushes, and other inorganic materials. It is about consumption, the less people consume the better off everything will be. It is that simple and that difficult.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

The easiest thing people can do is reduce the amount of plastics they use. This includes plastic bottles, straws, bags, toothbrushes, and other inorganic materials. It is about consumption, the less people consume the better off everything will be. It is that simple and that difficult.

Next Steps

  • Stop using plastic bottles, straw, bags, and toothbrushes;
  • Start your own local environmental group; 
  • Research the GPGP and consider donating to the cleanup. You can follow the Ocean Cleanup on Twitter; and
  • Contact your local, state, and federal officials and let them know you care about this topic. 

All of these stories are bleak, but that does not mean people should fail to act. The problems persist because people do not modify their behavior. A few small, deliberate acts can make all the difference and begin the process of lessening the environmental blight human beings inflict upon the Earth.

Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Fairfax Student Reveals Native Shrub Carbon Storage Champions

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 14, 2021 by author & climate journalist Noreen Wise

The planet will keep revolving around the sun, no matter how destructive and irresponsible humans are. But we humans won’t. Humans are mammals. Mammals rely on our habitat to survive. And mammals eventually become extinct when our habitat disappears. Eighty mammals have gone extinct in the past five centuries.

Humans have escalated the destruction of our habitat for several centuries now. Leveling billions of trees. Replacing nature with concrete. We began waking up at the turn of the millennium. Al Gore traveled the globe with his megaphone, beating the drum, challenging us with his Inconvenient Truth. But did we rush into action, planting billions of trees and shrubs to restore our habitat?

No, sadly, we did not.

Join our free Mighty Network today and be kept informed about how you can boost carbon biosequestration in your own yard and local community ASAP, which will hasten the drawdown of carbon in our atmosphere. 

And now we have to face the fallout. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. A jarring reminder that haunts us as we finally begin racing to save our habitat by infusing as much nature into our local communities as possible, implementing an agenda to quickly catch up to a level we would already be at if we’d begun the campaign back at the turn of the millennium as Al Gore suggested.

The interesting phenomenon that nature graciously reminds us of, is that it can’t be rushed. We can’t force a tree to grow dramatically faster than it is predisposed to grow. With this reality staring us in the face, it’s imperative that we turn to shrubs to help with carbon storage, providing oxygen, filtering pollutants, stabilizing soil, increasing property values, and providing shade all while the young trees continue their upward climb.

At the end of October 2020, Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report ran a story about a W. T. Woodson High School ninth grader in Fairfax, Virginia, Julia Victor, and her science experiment for the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair . Julia was determined to find out if shrubs can hold as much carbon as trees. Today we are very eager to share Julia’s findings.

Julia’s original hypothesis: I am hypothesizing that the holly tree will grow to be the largest and will absorb the most carbon. I also think that shrubs might not be far behind. I am hoping to be able to come to the conclusion that shrubs and smaller plants are just as important to reversing climate change as large trees. 

The steps that Julia initially planned to implement to test her hypothesis:

  1. Remove the soil and weigh each plant. Record each plant’s bare root weight (without soil).
  2. If plants are not the same weight, trim each plant until they are approximately equal.
  3. Plant each plant in its new container with 1 gallon of soil each. Label each container with the plant species.
  4. Water each plant with 1 cup of water each. 
  5. Set up each plant’s light to a 12-hour timer to simulate the sun.
  6. Water each plant regularly with its recommended amount of water.
  7. After 25 days, remove all the soil from the bare roots from each plant and weigh.

The NoVa native species that Julia used in her experiment:

  • American Holly 
  • Strawberry bush
  • Spicebush
  • Arrowwood Viburnum
  • Black Chokeberry

I sent Julia a list of follow up questions, but its best to let her explain her findings in her own words.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

First question: Julia, were you able to follow her exact procedure? She replied:

I followed my original procedure except for step two. Some of the plants had very different starting weights so I would have to trim the plants quite a bit. If I had trimmed them all to be the same weight, some plants would have very little leaf coverage which would affect their ability to absorb carbon. That step was originally included to make conclusions easier for me, but I didn’t want to alter my results even though it would make it easier. 

What was the most challenging part of the experiment?

The most challenging part of the process was weighing the plants at the beginning and end of the experiment. I took three measurements for each plant, which led to 150 measurements. The process of unplanting, bare-rooting, weighing, and replanting took all day, but I was excited to start my experiment and to see my results. 

What were your findings?

The species all reacted differently to the same conditions. Some plants showed a surprising amount of change over only 24 days, but others lost leaves and lost weight. Even within species, each plant had variance. I started the experiment expecting that each plant would be different and be able to process carbon differently. Using a t-test, I determined that on average, plants that started out larger (30+ grams) grew substantially more than the smaller plants. This is consistent with research I did before starting my experiment. The larger plants were in a different stage of life and can sequester more carbon. 

Which species stored the most carbon?

On average the American Holly sequestered the most carbon, but the individual plant that gained the most weight was a Black Chokeberry. Not all plants gained weight due to leaves falling and certain plants entering their winter stage, but on average every species gained weight. Some species gained less weight because they had more intense winter stages or because the species processes carbon slower. By looking at the data, I can say that the shrubs are important to carbon sequestration. The trees (American Hollies) did absorb more carbon than the shrubs, but Black Chokeberry was very close behind. 

Will you be planting any nature this spring?

This spring, I will be planting all 25 shrubs that were in my experiment at my school. I originally planned to plant them in my yard, but many of them will grow to be fairly large and my yard does not have enough space. My science teacher was happy to plant them at Woodson.

Julia’s work and her findings are significant. I’m cheering this exciting outcome and personally look forward to planting black chokeberry seedlings in the near future. I can’t wait to promote planting Northern Virginia native trees and shrubs as well.

Thank you, Julia Victor! Northern Virginia, and I’m sure the entire state of Virginia, appreciates your hard work for our betterment.

Our atmospheric carbon level leaped 5 full points this spring 2021, from 415 PPM to 420 PPM, sending shock waves through the world of science. We only have 7 years to restore our habitat and boost soil health enough to lower global warming by drawing drawdown enough carbon. All our attention is now focusing on shrubs, particularly woody shrubs, which have become an absolutely critical part in the rush to restore our habitat so we can maximize carbon drawdown and safely store, and lock in, the carbon in our soil. Julia has made it clear that not all shrubs are the same. So, let’s choose wisely.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.


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Trees for Love | Planting Seedlings to Remember Those We Lost to Covid

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 14, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Back on October 24, 2020, when covid was ramping up for another major assault, both physical and economic, Gallant Gold Media hosted a free distribution of native redbud and button bush seedlings, at Parking Lot P at George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia. The campaign was called Trees for Love and the seedlings were being planted to remember those we lost to covid in our communities. Fairfax ReLeaf supplied the seedlings. The Fairfax Tree Commission was the essential liaison that made this all possible, enabling the free seedling distribution to come to fruition by connecting these various organizations. 

Gallant Gold Media’s Trees for Love Campaign. Planting trees to remember those we lost to covid.
Funded byFairfax City Reconnect Reimbursement Grant.

It takes a village.

This memorable campaign ended up being the largest community tree planting success in the state of Virginia in 2020. The Burke Centre Conservancy was the largest group of planters, distributing 146 Fairfax ReLeaf free seedlings to their Clusters and residences. The rest of the redbud and button bush seedlings were claimed by Northern Virginia residents, many of whom were moved by friends and family who’d been lost to covid and were searching to find a meaningful way to honor their memory. We’re running this story again, as the little seedlings are waking up to their first spring in their new homes. More than 107 million Americans are fully vaccinated. The country is opening back up. Millions of Americans have been given the green light and will no longer have to wear masks outdoors, or even indoors.

As exciting as this may be, the pandemic will never be over for those connected to the 584,000 Americans who lost their lives to covid. Many family and friends are struggling with the heavy loss. Others are coping in whatever way they deem works best for them, for some, this is through nature, and planting trees to remember their loved ones.

Burke Centre Conservancy are big tree planters, here’s a photo from 2019

One such Fairfax County resident is Dawn Zimmerman. Dawn, a Virginia State licensed professional counselor, operating her solo practice Imago Dei Counseling in Fairfax City, attributes her love of nature and gardening and the outdoors to her grandfather, a midwest farmer, as well as spending her childhood in Thailand. Although born in metro Washington DC, Dawn’s father was a State Department Foreign Service Officer. From a young age Dawn seems to have become well-acquainted with the understanding of how important it is to connect with others in our community and let them know we care, especially during a crisis.

Whether it’s Dawn’s close connection to the State Department, her career as a counselor, or her passion for nature, Dawn felt compelled to enrich Northern Virginia with multiple Virginia Native redbuds and button bushes to honor the five family and friends she’s lost to Covid. Dawn wanted us to know more than just their names though, she was eager to share their stories.

Ron Ontko: Dawn’s honorary uncle, passed away from Covid related complications on April 2, 2020 in Hendersonville, NC. He was 89 years old. Ron and his wife Carol, met in Wisconsin, and after college, while in a young couples group at Grace Lutheran Church in Washington, DC,  became good friends with Dawn’s parents. The two couples went on to become lifelong friends. Ron was an avid photographer and devoted ‘Skins fan, but his career was spent in public service. After graduating high school, Ron served in the United States Air Force, before he returned to school. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Russian Studies from the University of Wisconsin and then his master’s degree in international law from George Washington University. From there, Ron worked for the NSA, the United States Senate, and the US State Department, which is quite a remarkable resume. Ron Ontko was a Freemason and a Shiner, participating in fundraising for numerous children’s charities. He is survived by his wife Carol of 62 years, as well as his son, Andrew, and daughter, Julie.

Ron Ontko and his wife Carol

Jack “Zeke” Zimmerman: Zeke is Dawn’s uncle, who was lost to Covid related pneumonia on October 21, 2020 at aged 86 in Frederick, MD. Survived by wife Lynn, sons Steve (Andrea) and grandsons Eric and Mark of Memphis, TN; Paul of Wilmington, DE and was predeceased by son John, Silver Spring, MD.  Also survived by Mary Lee Zimmerman, his first wife and the mother of their three sons; Daughter-in-Law Christie (widow of John) and grandchildren John Paul “JP” and Maria. 

Uncle Zeke

The following is a loving tribute written by Zeke’s grandson, Mark Zimmerman:
Zeke Zimmerman was known to many as the “Godfather of DC Metropolitan Area Sandlot Basketball.”  GrandJack lived his life around basketball. He grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and fielded basketball teams. He formed teams from players that he would recruit from across the country. Around 1950, having teams with multiple races was unprecedented. My grandfather did not judge a player based on his skin color, but on his basketball ability. Jack was known as Zeke Zimmerman in the D.C. area. He formed a team called “Zeke’s All-Stars.” This was the first team that had both black and white players in the D.C. area. Because my grandfather did not judge a player based on his race, many black basketball players were able to go to college for basketball or even the NBA. A couple of years ago, he gave me a jersey from the 1950 Zeke’s All-Stars team. This jersey is a symbol of my family’s value of inclusion. It did not matter which race wore this specific jersey. The only thing that mattered was that my grandfather saw talent in that young man, and he wanted to help. My family still holds the values of inclusion and equality in our everyday lives, as we do not judge people based on their skin tone, but on their personality.

Redbud and button bush seedlings planted to remember Zeke Zimerman and Ron Ontko

Below is a State Department obituary with a few extra details provided by Dawn:
Patrick “David” Husar, 67, died May 9, in Arlington, VA. David was born in Lorain, Ohio located on Lake Erie and 30 miles West of Cleveland. At University of Kentucky, where David majored in history, one of his professors encouraged him to consider a career with the Foreign Service. Joining in 1976, Husar served as a consular officer at posts in Pakistan, India, and the Philippines before transitioning to Civil Service. He retired in 2016 and enjoyed long walks around the Washington area, was an avid reader, and was dedicated to his faith. He is survived by his wife, Jonahlyn; a brother Michael; and extended family in the Philippines.

David and Jonalyn Husar

Daniel Lee: Spending a few minutes on Google images to view the architectural designs that Daniel Lee graced upon all of us here in the United States, is sure to inspire. And inspiration is certainly the impulse Mr. Lee appears to have been striving for when he graduated from the Mississippi School of Architecture in 1981 and began his career in classical architecture as an intern with Allen Greenberg. Mr. Greenberg is one of the premier classical architects of the twenty-first century. The son of Protestant missionaries, Mr. Lee’s love of classical architecture sprung from his childhood in Paris, France, surrounded by neoclassical landmarks erected during the reign of Louis XIV and that continued all the way through Louis XVI. Many of us here in Virginia are endowed with an inherent appreciation for classical architecture, which dates back to the founding of our most historic cities. So it’s with great sadness that we lost Mr. Lee to Covid on August 17, 2020, at age 64. Mr. Lee is survived by his wife of 40 years, Leonor Lee, his two sons, Stephen and Christopher, and two daughters, Susanne and Katherine.

Daniel Lee

Redbud seedling planted to remember Daniel Lee

There’s an additional friend of the family. In Dawn’s own words:
Pat Purcell died from Covid related complications on May 11th, 2020 in Fairfax, VA. Pat resided in the same Senior living community as my mom and was the elderly mother of Ann Lawrence, a friend of my parents from their local Lutheran Church. Mom and Pat became friends but lived on different floors and in different areas of the building. Interestingly, Pat was actually a member of a local Baptist Church but was adopted by the Lutheran pastor, Rev Sandy Kessinger who made regular visits to their Continuing Care Community. 

Redbud seedlings planted to remember Pat Purcell

Dawn spent 10 years working at the State Department before starting her counseling firm. After buying her townhouse, she became involved with her HOA replanting project, which she finds life affirming. During the first five years, Dawn planted five trees, as well as a slew of shrubs and perennials. Dawn was sidelined from her gardening last year following two minor car accidents which required physical therapy. But thankfully, she returned with all her passion and began removing hundreds of “small, weedy Rose of Sharon saplings and bush honeysuckle” that were rapidly spreading in the HOA areas. She’d learned about the importance of growing Virginia Natives and was determined to correct the situation.

Dawn’s Virginia Native Trees for Love redbud and buttonbush seedlings are planted in three HOA areas in Dawn’s Northern Virginia townhouse community. Dawn received a note from one family member who expressed, “That’s perfect; thank you. Not just words but heartfelt, tears flowing, gratitude.”

When I asked Dawn for one final thought on the importance of planting trees, she responded with a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:
“When we plant a tree, we are doing what we can to make our planet a more wholesome and happier dwelling-place for those who come after us if not for ourselves.”

Thanks so much, Dawn! You are a great inspiration to so many.

When Dawn and I had tea on Wednesday, she explained that she planted more seedlings this spring, to remember the additional friends who lost their lives to covid after her October seedling planting. She spoke about how therapeutic nature is, and the wonderful peaceful feeling we can all receive when we stick our hands in the soil and carefully place the bare roots in the awaiting space where the sapling will soon take root and begin its slow and steady climb toward the sky.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.


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Bruce, My Pet Worm | Build Back Better

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 9, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.; source expert contributions from Pamela Scaiff

Some people fall easily into the “dog people” category, some into the “cat people” one. If you are not either of those, you may be a “worm person.” Even if you love dogs and cats, you might be surprised to discover the advantages of worms for your lifestyle and your garden. Though not cuddly, worms make great pets. They don’t smell, they are clean, and they don’t have to be fed every day (or even every week). Worms don’t disturb the neighbours. They have a symbiotic relationship with insects. Worms don’t need pet sitters when you go away for a month. Even if you don’t need a new pet, the advantages of worms are worth investigating.

Friend or Slimy Bug? 

According to Pamela Scaiff, a Canadian sustainability aficionado, worms are both the perfect pets and partners in growing an eco-friendly garden. Pamela, who’s been living a sustainable life since 2010, recognizes the value and fun of raising worms. (She calls her worms Bruce, after the “Monty Python” philosophers sketch where all the professors are called Bruce.) Worms are a natural way to fertilize plants and aerate the soil without harming the ecosystem. Because living sustainably, in harmony with nature, is our goal, worms are the way to go. 

Act Now for the Earth Cafe wants you to join our ecosystem and have fun learning valuable tips about nature, carbon drawdown & sustainability. We’re all about community. Be a part of our vibrant ecosystem by CLICKing here today and checking out Earth Cafe!

What are the benefits of worms?

The principle advantage of worms is the natural fertilizer created by worm castings. Pamela calls this “the uppity word for worm poop.” This “black gold” yields nutrients that create strong and healthy plants and provides a viable alternative to harmful chemicals. At the same time, worms aerate the soil, allowing the roots of your plants to easily absorb the nutrients necessary for healthy growth. A secondary advantage, according to Pamela, is that worms are fascinating. From starting the bin, to adding the worms, to harvesting the casings, the journey is engaging and fruitful. 

Check out worms’ other benefits:

  • Increased soil nutrition from worm castings rich in nitrogen and adding four times the phosphorous that’s normally found in soil
  • Improved drainage and water storage, helping  alleviate drought and extreme heat conditions
  • Water infiltrates the soil more easily
  • Plant roots often descend lower and reach more water and nutrients
  • Improved soil structure
  • Improved productivity

How to get started. Following simple guidelines will help you create and maintain healthy worm bins. Pamela began with a very small collection of Red Wiggler worms and worm cocoons and has had great success. She created an expert list of steps to get you started:

Location. First, decide where you are going to keep the bin – indoors or out. If you live in a cold environment, indoors is best. (Be selective about what you add to it, though, to avoid odors.)

The Container. Get a ratty old Rubbermaid tote — not the big kind, but the smaller one. Red Wigglers are surface dwellers, which means they are happiest just below the surface, not down deep. Drill air and drainage holes all over the tote, including the lid. (Pamela’s worms don’t escape because they don’t like light and also her bin is not toxic – so far). 

The Habitat Ingredients. Pamela recommends the following generally agreed upon ingredients for your bin:  

Browns: To keep your bin balanced, absorb liquid, and cool, you need bedding (carbon). Pamela uses shredded newspaper, egg cartons, coconut coir, manure, and more.

Greens: Add food scraps (they don’t have to be green). But be mindful about what you use. Brassicas like broccoli and kale cause odors. Acidic food such as onions and citrus upset the worms. 

Grit: Grit helps worms digest. Some (but not all) possibilities include sand, used coffee grounds (no longer acidic), and ground eggshells (they can’t use the shells otherwise.)

Water: Pamela advises, “Goldilocks style: too much and the bin goes anaerobic, starts to smell, and all kinds of bugs flourish. Not enough and your worm castings dry out and become useless.”

Compost: Add a handful of compost to inject helpful bacteria into your bin and get it working.

Worms: Many different varieties of worms will work. Pamela prefers red wigglers. Earthworms are an option, but they are not as productive as the red wigglers. They also escape more often.

Feeding your Worms

Pamela feeds her worms 2 – 4 times a month, and only when there is no food or almost no food left. You may need to adjust the time period as your worms grow. Be careful not to overfeed them, or it will be too much to process before it gets smelly or hot.

Here is Pamela’s formula, in her own words: 

Bedding: I rip up newspaper and egg cartons.

Greens:  Apparently, the worms love avocados and bananas. So, I chop up banana peels, gleefully much the brown bits of avocados… and freeze them. The freezing helps speed up the decomposition by breaking membranes. Only at this stage will the worms be able to eat them. I have added science experiments from the fridge.. mouldy berries, for example, but nothing cooked and no meat. 

Grit:  I mix into the food a handful of used coffee grounds and ground egg shells. I got an old coffee grinder off my local buy nothing group, so I grind shells as I collect them. 

Water:  This took me some time to figure out – how to feel the right amount of water. But the next day, I lift the lid.  If I suddenly see lots of white bugs or worms climbing the sides, I keep the lid off and let it air out. I often have a large piece of paper over the castings. 

More Worm Wisdom 

To fluff or not to fluff – there is some debate. Pamela fluffs her bin about once a month. Not only because it is fun, but also because it allows her to see if the bin is too wet or too dry and to check for uneaten food and changes in the population. 

Don’t worry about the worms overpopulating. According to Pamela, worms self-regulate. They stop reproducing if there are too many of them, if it’s too dry or too wet, or if there is not enough food. If the conditions are right, they can double their population in 60 days. 

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

You might notice other bugs in your bin. Don’t overthink this! A healthy bin is an entire ecosystem. Pamela explains, “The worms need other bugs that are also decomposers to start the process. Basically, the other bugs and bacteria are food processors for worms.” Pamela was vigilant in identifying the bugs, so as to avoid a bug problem in the house, but, in the end, they were all so happy that they got to stay!

You may wonder how to harvest the castings without losing the worms. Pamela has two suggestions: Feed only one side of the bin for a month; the worms will all migrate to that side. Alternatively, put a basket in the middle and only place the food there; the worms will hang out with the food while you gather the castings. Be careful! Castings and cocoons look remarkably alike.

Next Steps

  • Have fun setting up your bin.
  • Buy, find, or trade for worms.
  • Dump the worms on top of the habitat and watch them immediately start burrowing.  
  • Watch your worms grow.
  • Harvest the “black gold” add to your plants – indoors or outside.
  • Share extra worms with like minded gardeners.
  • Read up on how to shrink your carbon footprint
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