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Responses & Resilience - Mar 11


World’s Pall of Black Carbon Can Be Eased With New Stoves

Jon R. Luoma, Yale Environment 360
With a single, concerted initiative, says Lakshman Guruswami, the world could save millions of people in poor nations from respiratory ailments and early death, while dealing a big blow to global warming — and all at a surprisingly small cost.

“If we could supply cheap, clean-burning cook stoves to the large portion of the world that burns biomass,” says Guruswami, a Sri Lankan-born professor of international law at the University of Colorado, “we could address a significant international public health problem, and at the same stroke cut a major source of warming.”

Sooty, indoor air pollution from open wood or other biomass fires has long been linked to health problems and deaths. More recently, scientists have been surprised to learn that black carbon — not only from biomass fires but from dirty diesel engines and other sources — is a far larger contributor to global warming than previously suspected: The dark particles absorb and retain heat close to the Earth’s surface that might otherwise be reflected.

Primitive stoves and open fires pose serious health risks, particularly among women and children.
Some two billion people around the world, Guruswami notes, do most or all of their cooking and heating with fires from simple biomass — dried dung, wood, brush, or crop residues. In India alone, the ratio is much higher — about three-fourths...
(8 March 2010)


Treasure Trove in World's E-Waste

Axel Bojanowski, Spiegel
This week the United Nations released a report on the problems surrounding the recycling of electronic scrap, known as e-waste. Millions of tons of old computers and phones on the scrap heaps of the world contain more gold and silver than the average mine. What is needed is better and safer recycling.

Mankind goes to an immense effort to extract metal from out of the ground. We dig holes thousands of meters deep into the earth, blow up mountains and dig laboriously in sand dunes.

But in fact, there are much easier ways to find precious metals. There is a treasure trove of gold and silver stored in household and industrial trash -- in discarded electrical devices, to be more exact. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) around 40 million tons worth of electronics end up in the trash annually. The report was released on Monday at a meeting of environmental officials from 140 countries on Indonesia's resort island of Bali.

Recycling these materials properly would assist in preserving the earth's stocks of raw materials, says Rüdiger Kühr of the United Nations University (UNU) who is also the executive secretary of the Solving the E-Waste Problem Initiative (StEP), a consortium of non-governmental organizations, industry, and governments. And the yield would be many times larger than that of traditional mines.

Kühr talks about a form of "urban mining." To mine one gram of gold, most companies will move a tone of ore. But it would be far simpler to get the gold through recycling -- you can find the same amount of gold in 41 mobile phones.
(24 February 2010)


City sets out healthy ambitions for local food

the editor, Bristol 24/7
Bristol City Council has launched its first ever Food Charter, setting out its ambitions for healthier and more locally produced food.
The charter aims to promote Fairtrade and locally produced food, encourage people to get their ‘five a day’, and deal with the impact of Peak Oil and the challenges it presents our food supply.

With almost half of Bristolians admitting they are obese or overweight and do not eat the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables, the pressure is on to improve the health of people in the city.

But council leader Barbara Janke said the city was working hard to encourage healthier habits – and awarded local cafe owner Sid Sharma with Bristol’s first award to celebrate it as a champion of healthy and sustainable food.
(11 March 2010)
The Bristol City Council Food Charter, along with other relevant documents from its recent Feeding Bristol in the Future Conference, are here




Galleria mall is giant greenhouse, raising organic crops in Cleveland

Sarah Crump, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Millions have passed through the Galleria at Erieview, sun glinting on its barrel-shaped glass roof. But it took a nurseryman's granddaughter to look up and think:

This place looks like a giant greenhouse.

Now Vicky Poole, the Galleria's marketing and events director, who worked on her grandpa's farm as a child, expects that by late spring or early summer, there will be fresh tomatoes for sale among the shops and galleries at the downtown Cleveland mall.

Poole got the idea last year when she spotted a photo of dozens of plants growing on a two-story window grid in a New York cafe.

"I said, 'That's our food court.' "

She was reminded of the picturesque glass rotunda in the Galleria's food court that she often curtains off for wedding receptions. Renting out party space is one of the ways Poole has found to make up for the Galleria's losing many of its retail businesses.

"It's not really a shopping mall anymore," she said about the complex that opened in 1987...
(27 February 2010)

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