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Europe - July 23

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Rebuilding a Dutch tradition, one windmill at a time

John Tagliabue, New York Times
ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — The Dutch are building windmills again. Up and down the coast, out from port cities like this one, you can see them: white and tall and slender as pencils, their three slim blades turning lazily in the North Sea breeze.

These generate electricity, of course, rather than grind grain. The government has already built one enormous farm of mills far off the coast, where they’re inoffensive to tourists, and there are plans for a second farm. Yet it is also building, and rebuilding, mills like the squat, homely ones that have seemingly always dotted the Dutch countryside, and reflect as much the nature of the country as do tulips or Gouda cheese.

“Revival might be a bit strong,” said Leo Endedijk, director of the Dutch Mills, a group that supports mill restoration. Yet last year the government, concerned that one of the foremost symbols of the Netherlands was about to disappear out of neglect, approved an $80 million program to build or restore 120 mills, of roughly 1,040 still standing. That has created a backlog of work for previously strapped mill restorers...
(22 July 2008)

Knobbly cucumbers could make a comeback

Zoë Casey,
France, Spain and Italy are resisting the return of forked carrots and other ‘poor-quality' produce, the European Commission says it is determined to cut through ‘red tape'.

From artichokes to water melons, the EU has a whole raft of legislation governing how fruits and vegetables should appear from the outside. Never mind if they are more tasty, vegetables that are too long or too knobbly, slightly misshapen or blemished are, under current rules, consigned to the EU’s food dustbin.

But the European Commission, conscious of the food shortages around the world and of rising prices in Europe, has now decided to edit the rulebook on fruit and vegetable and cut back on waste.

“In this era of high food prices and growing demand, it makes no sense to throw away these products or to destroy them,” a Commission statement said on 22 July.

The Commission is proposing to relax rules on 26 different types of fruit and vegetable, including Brussels sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, garlic, mushrooms, plums, spinach and walnuts, allowing under-sized or misshapen products onto supermarket shelves. They would, though, need to be labelled as “products intended for processing”...
(23 July 2008)
Perhaps a glimmer of hope that some of the craziness which has become the 'norm' is at least being questioned?-SO

Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe's electricity, says EU

Alok Jha, The Guardian
A tiny rectangle superimposed on the vast expanse of the Sahara captures the seductive appeal of the audacious plan to cut Europe's carbon emissions by harnessing the fierce power of the desert sun.

Dwarfed by any of the north African nations, it represents an area slightly smaller than Wales but scientists claimed yesterday it could one day generate enough solar energy to supply all of Europe with clean electricity.

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona, Arnulf Jaeger-Walden of the European commission's Institute for Energy, said it would require the capture of just 0.3% of the light falling on the Sahara and Middle East deserts to meet all of Europe's energy needs....
(22 July 2008)

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