Cool Energy Inc. Awarded $1 Million Grant from Department of Energy

20kW Stirling Engine Converts Wasted Heat into Electricity for $800 Million Market

Cool_Energy_LogoBOULDER, CO, July 2013 (WORLD-WIRE) : Cool Energy, Inc., a clean energy power generation company with headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, announced today that it has been awarded a $1 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The grant will support a program to demonstrate electricity generation from untapped heat from distributed geothermal sources. The grant will allow Cool Energy to build and test their first 20kW prototype Stirling engine, the “GeoHeart® Engine,” to generate electricity from co-produced liquids at oil and gas wells. The recoverable heat in these liquids is currently wasted, as is the potentially valuable heat from pumps and compressors, as well as geothermal heat from non-producing wells.

“If widely deployed in appropriate heat recovery sectors, our power generation technology could replace up to 300 fossil fuel power plants,” said Sam Weaver, CEO of Cool Energy.

The GeoHeart® Engine system will convert heat from liquids extracted from the ground to make zero-emissions energy. The Cool Energy technology will capture energy from liquids that are in the temperature range 100°C - 200° degrees Celsius. This temperature is ideally suited for the company’s low temperature waste heat recovery (WHR) system.

The heat can be safely and efficiently converted into electricity that can be used onsite to offset the power needed for the operation of the wells, or sold to the local utility and added directly into the power grid. This approach to oilfield power production will prevent some of the carbon emissions generated from these activities.

“Given recent advances in our designs, there is an opportunity for electricity cost savings and emissions reductions in oil and gas fields, which have significant thermal energy sources all around them,” said Weaver. “This is the most important increase in output capacity that Cool Energy has undertaken since beginning to develop Stirling engines for waste heat recovery six years ago.”

Cool Energy will also study another application of the GeoHeart Engine, using spent wells that are no longer producing petroleum to heat fluids to make emissions-free electricity.

Well data in 32 U.S. states by the National Renewable Energy Lab shows about 2.5 million well bores in the U.S., with about half a million active. According to a 2012 World Oil Magazine report, the annual well count in the U.S. was increasing at 3.2% per year.

Most of the wells with usable temperatures for the Cool Energy technology are in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wyoming and California. The total market for power generation from co-produced fluids using a GeoHeart Engine system is $500M to $800M in the U.S.

Cool Energy is a privately-held power conversion equipment corporation based in Boulder, Colorado. The company was founded in 2006 to develop a thermal-to-electrical power generation system for converting waste heat from engines and industrial processes into clean electricity. The company has received grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office, and has 10 patents awarded or pending.
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Aquaponics Revolutionizes Local Food Growing by Recycling 90% Water

2013 Aquaponics Conference Highlights Technology in Tucson, AZ from September 20-22

Aquaponics_confTUCSON, AZ, July 2013 (WORLD-WIRE) With U.S. society challenged by the increasing needs for locally-grown healthy food, water conservation in drought-like conditions across the Southern and Western U.S., and the global need to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, aquaponics becomes increasingly important.

Aquaponics is the productive practice of combined fish and plant growing which uses a percentage of the water and energy that is consumed in conventional soil-based agriculture.

To educate the general public about best practices for setting up home-based systems or larger commercial-scale aquaponic farms, the national Aquaponics Association will host three days of presentations and tours of small and large-scale operations at the 2013 Aquaponics Association Conference at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona from September 20-22, 2013.

“Aquaponics has broad appeal because it meets basic needs such as food security and food safety, self reliance, sustainability and water conservation, while creating a pleasing indoor environment to grow your own fresh and healthy food year-round,” said Gina Cavaliero, Chair of the 2013 Aquaponic Association Conference and owner of Green Acre Aquaponics, a commercial aquaponics farm in Brooksville, Florida.

Using a nutrient enriched water supply, aquaponics integrates two symbiotic growing methods: aquaculture or fish farming, and hydroponics, growing plants without the need of soil.

In aquaponics, water is re-circulated in a constructed system that mimics a dynamic pond-like eco-system. The result is a balanced and self-sustaining environment that utilizes natural bacterial cycles to convert fish waste to plant nutrients.

The technique produces higher yields of plants per square foot with 10 percent of the water used by conventional soil-based growing methods by recycling 90 percent of the water which continually circulates through the plant growing bed and back to the fish.

“Aquaponics is popular because growing systems are scalable to meet the needs of both the home grower wanting to feed her family with organic produce and fresh fish without concerns about mercury and pesticides, to a commercial-scale aquaponics farmer producing food sustainably for retailers and helping to eliminate food deserts,” said Cavaliero.

This year’s third annual conference will lead of with keynote speakers Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia, the author of eight books including The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer, and Max Meyers of Nor Cal Aquaponics in California, Executive Director of the Mendocino Ecological Learning Center.

Tucson Mayor Johnathan Rothschild has proclaimed Friday, Sept. 20 as Aquaponics Day. Mayor Rothschild will hold an opening ceremony at the Conference on Sept. 20th at 6 pm.

For more information about Conference workshops and tours and to register online, visit the Conference website at:

In aquaponics, fish and plants are grown together in a dynamic sustainable environment. The fish waste feeds the plants using organic hydroponic techniques. The plants, in turn, clean and filter the water that returns to the fish environment. The practice of aquaponics has ancient roots and has been used in some form in China, Egypt, India, Thailand and by the Aztec people who cultivated agricultural islands known as “Chinampas." The modern technique of growing fish and plants synergistically become popular in the past several years in response to pressing issues such as food security and food independence, healthy and organic produce, local and sustainable food growing, food safety, and water conservation.

Established in 2011, the Aquaponics Association was founded to serve as an educational resource for home-based aquaponic enthusiasts, organic gardeners and commercial-scale aquaponics farmers across the nation. The Association promotes the benefits of aquaponic growing through education and outreach.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

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Shifting patterns of temperature volatility in the climate system

In recent decades there has been increased variability in yearly temperature records for large parts of Europe and North America, according to a study published online on 24 July 2013 in Nature.

Climate PatternThe study was carried out by scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the University of East Anglia and the University of Exeter.

Lead author Dr Chris Huntingford from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “Fluctuations in annual average temperatures have shown very substantial geographical alteration in recent decades. However, to our surprise, when considered across the globe, total variability has been relatively stable.”

Co-author Professor Phil Jones, from the University of East Anglia said, “We used globally-complete surface temperature data that has been constructed by merging observations and weather forecasts, and verified our findings against station temperature records”.

The study concluded that regions of high variability have moved markedly over the last five decades, including to areas of high population in Europe and North America. Dr Huntingford added, “The movement of raised temperature variability to regions of high population may have contributed to the general perception that climate is becoming more volatile.”

The study also examined future projections by 17 climate model simulations. Almost all predict that overall temperature fluctuations will actually decrease towards the end of this century, as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.

Co-author Professor Peter Cox, from the University of Exeter said, “We provide evidence that decreasing global temperature variability will be a consequence of major sea-ice loss in a warmer world.”

Dr Huntingford added, “Our findings contradict the sometimes stated view that a warming world will automatically be one of more overall climatic variation.”

Technical note – The analysis looked at year-to-year variability in temperature at different geographical locations. This variability is occurring around general global warming trends. These trends were subtracted from the actual temperature measurements, and the remaining “anomalies” analyzed for changes over time and space.

This research was supported by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences programme “Mathematical and Statistical Approaches to Climate Modelling and Prediction”, USDoE (Grant DE-SC0005689) and NERC (Grant NE/F005474/1).

Reference: Chris Huntingford, Philip D Jones, Valerie Livina, Timothy M Lentonand Peter M Cox 'No increase in global temperature variability despitechanging regional patterns' will be published in Nature on 24 July 2013. The DOI for this paper will be 10.1038/nature12310

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) is the UK's Centre of Excellence for integrated research in the land and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere. CEH is part of the Natural Environment Research Council, employs more than 450 people at four major sites in England, Scotland and Wales, hosts over 150 PhD students, and has an overall budget of about £35m. CEH tackles complex environmental challenges to deliver practicable solutions so that future generations can benefit from a rich and healthy environment.

Press release issued by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK

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Sun shines on Sainsbury’s as it cuts CO2 and energy bills

100000-solar-panels-paul-crewe-and-greg-barkerSainsbury’s recently reached a significant milestone in its investment in renewable energy as it strives to cut CO2 emissions and reduce energy bills. The retailer has installed 100,000 photovoltaic solar panels (22 mWp) across 210 stores - enough to cover 35 football pitches.

These will help reduce Sainsbury’s total CO2 emissions by an estimated 9,785 tonnes per year as it retains its status as the largest multi-roof solar panel operator in Europe.

Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, welcomed the news during a visit to Sainsbury’s store at London Colney in St. Albans today where he officially launched the retailer’s 12th Ground Source Heat Pump – another innovative technology that taps renewable energy from deep underground to provide energy efficient heating, hot water and cooling for the store.

Greg Barker said: “I’m delighted to be here at Sainsbury’s London Colney store to officially launch its new ground source heat pump and to hear more about how the company is using energy more wisely, cutting emissions and powering its stores with clean green energy.

"Not only is Sainsbury’s increasing the amount of stores heated by renewable sources, it’s using solar panels on its roofs to generate energy too, with over 100,000 panels now up and running on over 200 stores.

"The Coalition is committed to helping businesses across the UK cut energy waste and become more energy efficient."

Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s Head of Engineering, Sustainability, Energy and Environment said: "We’ve achieved a 9.1% absolute reduction in electricity use over the past four years in our supermarkets, despite a 25% increase in space, and we’re really seeing the benefits from using our underutilised space for solar panels, and from the other renewable technologies we’ve installed.

"We believe they are fundamental to the sustainability of our business and there is a strong commercial case for using each technology. They are helping us cut carbon emissions and energy bills and achieve the environmental targets we set ourselves in our stretching 20x20 Plan. It’s good news for the environment and is supporting job creation in the UK’s renewable energy sector."

The roll out of Ground Source Heat Pumps at 12 stores follows Sainsbury’s successful world-first use of the geo-thermal technology at its Crayford store, enabling it to supply 30 per cent of its energy from on-site renewable sources. It has also installed 74 biomass boilers since 2008, which use wood pellets - a renewable resource - to heat stores rather than using fossil fuel-based gas.

Sainsbury’s investment in onsite renewable energy technologies is part of its ambitious sustainability target to reduce its operational carbon emissions by 30% absolute (and 65% relative) by 2020 compared with 2005. This is part of a broader target of an absolute carbon reduction of 50% by 2030.

Sainsbury’s 20x20 Sustainability Plan acts as the cornerstone to Sainsbury's business strategy and sets out 20 sustainability targets to be achieved by 2020. This plan aims to ensure the company remains at the forefront of sustainability to 2020 and beyond.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

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Where do your recyclables (really) go?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Have you ever asked yourself as to where your recyclables that you put out for collection or that you take to the recycling bank actually end up. The answers would surprise you in may, if not indeed all, cases.


“Oh, they make it back into bottles and such” is what most people believe and say and maybe even you. But that is, in most cases, plain wrong.

A major percentage of all glass collected is crushed and made – wait for it – building sand. Yes, sand, the very thing that glass is made of in the first place; silicate. Only a tiny percentage of bottles and jars from recycling banks and kerbside recycling goes back to become new bottles and jars or any other glass products for that matter.


The recycling of plastic is also very much an issue. The problem is that much of your recyclables in the form of plastic bottles and other plastic containers are while they are collected “at home”, and this is also the case with many other recyclables, they are not recycled “at home” but are shipped to places such as China and India, etc. where the recycling “industry” is not subject to the same stringent regulations as would be the case “at home”.

Many of the recyclables that you, and others, so diligently put out for kerbside recycling never actually make it to any recycling plants, whether “at home” or “abroad”. If there is no market for them – that is to say if there is an 'oversupply' – they simply get landfilled the way it used to be and the same goes for anything that may be “contaminated”.

This is why waste reduction and especially reduction of packaging, and reuse and upcycling in DIY fashion is so very important.

The majority of people, conditioned nowadays by the powers-that-be to recycle, obediently toss their cans, plastic, glass, paper, etc. into the appropriate receptacles believing they do a good thing and the Planet a good turn. Reusing like our grandparents did rarely ever enters their minds.

Are we being lied to by our governments as to what happens to most of the recyclables collected? One could say “yes” to this question to a very large degree.

It makes for an educated consumer to change the behavior of industry to reduce packaging and not just in weight as some have done with glass bottles the glass of which has become a great deal thinner. This is only done to benefit the corporations and their bottom line as it reduces weight and they can put more onto a truck. And this is the same reason why some companies have replaced tin cans for, say, chopped tomatoes with Tetrapak like cardboard packs lines with foil. The latter, unlike the tin cans used before, cannot be reused and also not be recycled in most places.

As long as the consumer, however, is left in the belief that the packaging is recyclable and recycled such change is not about to happen soon.

We must understand how things actually work and function in recycling and waste management field to understand as to how the proverbial cookie crumbles.

Paper recycling and that of cardboard is another issue also that is far from as cut and dry as it is more often than not being presented.

A great amount of paper and card collected goes straight to landfill and that more often than not not only because of market saturation but also and especially because of what is referred to as contamination.

Contamination, as far as paper and card is concerned are the wrong kind of printed matter, such as glossies, for instance, or ink jet printed pages. This ink of the latter which is, more often than not, not waterproof but actually water soluble, and certain colors of this can make the entire batch unusable and in cardboard items such as Pizza boxes and other card with grease or “paper” cups which are lined with either a plastic or a wax liner. Here often people are fault rather than the municipalities, etc., and that through ignorance.

But, again, when the market is saturated with recyclable paper waste the rest gets landfilled and often even at other times.

All of this makes a mockery of kerbside recycling (and other methods) that we are presented with. The only way to go is that of waste reduction and as most of this waste is packaging it is reduction of this, of packaging. Furthermore we have to think REUSE rather than recycling and reuse and upcycle as much as we possibly can. Our ancestors did and we must do so (again) as well.

© 2013

Neighborhood policing not sustainable with imposed budget cuts

Local police patrols in danger of being 'eroded' by budget cuts, despite drop in crime

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While overall crime in England and Wales down 9 per cent on last year, reported rapes are up 2 per cent. Budget cuts, however, could seriously undermine the safety and protection of the public, regardless of the complacency of government.

pcso1The police services across the UK face fundamental changes to the way they operate after a report that come out on July 18, 2013 revealing that five forces will struggle with further budget cuts after the anticipated loss of nearly 32,000 jobs across England and Wales by 2015.

A report by the police inspectorate said that forces had generally coped well with 20 per cent cuts over five years but warned that local patrolling was in danger of being “eroded” and could have an impact on crime prevention programs. The report also raised concerns that the response times to 999 calls were rising in some areas.

The study was released after the Office for National Statistics reported a 9% fall in recorded crime for the last year, despite a rise in rape offenses and a 27% increase in fraud. The Government said the figures were vindication of radical reforms that had seen budget cuts and the introduction of elected police and crime commissioners.

Recorded crime, though, is a very questionable figure for some crimes are not, in fact, being recorded. All too often controllers refuse to log something as a crime, such as vandalism or break-ins into empty properties, for example.

Despite the fall in some recorded crimes five of the 43 police forces in England and Wales will struggle to find further cuts after March 2015, according to the report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. They include two of the smallest forces, Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire, which have fewer options to trim budgets and raises the prospect of police mergers in a radical change to the policing landscape. West and South Yorkshire and Northamptonshire also faces future problems.

The Government has opposed such changes and the election of 41 police and crime commissioners appeared to steer the debate away from senior police demands for fewer forces. But in a speech earlier this month, the policing minister Damian Green said he had nothing against mergers in principle where they are supported by PCCs and the local community.

The HMIC report said that the failure of forces to collaborate represented a major lost opportunity in cutting costs, but chief inspector Tom Winsor warned that mergers involved a “serious degree of disruption and expense”.

He highlighted some forces where there had been “mergers by osmosis” such as Kent and Essex which has a joint serious crime command. “Working smarter – doing things in different ways – will be necessary,” he said. “That will include greater measures of collaboration between forces and with the private sector and other parts of the public sector.”

And with private sector we can assume that the aim is to, more or less, privatize policing, and outsource it, including, despite that we are told otherwise, the patrolling of the streets, to companies such as G4S and security services that are operated by former military personnel, as are used for protection duties of many public officials on public events, including firearms carriers.

The report also raises concerns that in some areas, police community support officers and other community support officers (community wardens) – neither of who have the powers of arrest – have taken over the role of local patrolling. There is also evidence that volunteer specials are plugging gaps following the expected loss of 15,400 police officers by 2015.

In some areas, it would appear from the report, the neighborhood policing is all but done by PCSOs and community wardens already because of those cuts. It would appear that the British public are being conditioned to see fewer sworn officers on the streets and to accept policing by private companies. While, at the same time, being conditioned that they, the people, are not permitted to protect and defend themselves against crimes.

The Con-Dem coalition, led by the Conservatives, are hellbent on selling all of the family silver, so to speak, by privatizing all of the public services of the country wherever possible and even if it is not possible it is going to be done.

How did it go again on the ill-fated Apollo mission? Houston we have a problem. We indeed have a problem and it is the government.

© 2013

History is a lie and Religion a control system

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The FarfarersHistory is a lie; it is written by the victors, it was once said, but in fact it is also been written by the powers-that-be to oppress the people.

Religion is a control system; especially here organized religion and, as Marx so rightly said, it is the opium of the people. Organized religion, especially the three Abrahamaic ones, have been used from day one as a means to control the people and to make them subservient to authority. Religion destroys spirituality.

Money is one big fraud and gold and silver too. The only true measure is labor. Nothing else is of any value. Alternative currencies that work in hours of labor are the real true alternative to money that is issued by the world's banks.

Debt is a fiction. It is based on usury and the funny thing here, if it would not be so tragic, is that the system of interest on loans, thus usury, has been created by a group whose religion expressly forbids usury. One of the reason that Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers at the Temple.

Media are manipulation and are destroying information and truth. Most of the world's media are owned by a little over a handful of large corporations who, predominately, peddle the lies given them too disseminate by the powers-that-be. The governments are doing their utmost to discredit alternative media outlets and the reason for the attempts of blocking Internet sites has very little to do with protecting the children from Internet porn but everything to do with stopping people from getting their news from other sources, real news and truth.

This is not new, admittedly, and was thus already during the Cold War when the way to go was to listen to both sides and then find the middle path and discern the truth.

Today, with the Internet, the dissemination of information is so much faster and the truth, as they say, will out. So, what are governments to do? They have but the choice of restricting people's access to the Internet and other sources bar their own propaganda.

Governments are corporations. Democracy is but an illusion, a conjuring trick, created by the powers-that-be, to lull the people to sleep, believing that they, the people, can chose who lords it over them. True democracy is not possible in any group larger than 150 people and definitely not in a nation state.

Doctors are destroying health. In fact, the entire so-called health care system is not about promoting health but about treating sickness, the symptoms of it and not the underlying causes. Treating the causes, the g-ds forbid, could actually make people well and thus reduce the profits for doctors, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry.

Police do not protect the people. The ruling by the US Supreme Court of some years ago clearly states, and it would appear that the same attitude now prevails also in the EU, that the task of the police is not to protect (and serve) the people but to enforce the law(s).

In other words most of our countries have become a police state where the thin blue line has become the arm of oppression of the people by the government, in the same way as it was in Hitler's Germany of the first part of the twentieth century.

Lawyers (and judges) destroy the law. Instead of upholding the law lawyers and judges try to make the laws, as was seen not so long ago in Britain when judges demanded that the press needed to be totally regulated – including bloggers. And that is and was just one of those instances.

Judges and lawyers are not lawmakers and need to come to understand this. They are there to see to it that the justice is being done.

Schools and universities destroy knowledge. Schools have but one purpose in most countries and that appears to be to create, as the Prussian school system, for which it was invented with compulsory school attendance, to create slaves to the state, instead of instilling in children the wish to learn and to acquire real knowledge and universities, which ones were places where you went to read – please note the word – this or that subject are today used to brainwash people even further and to destroy real knowledge.

The system of the state school has but one aim and that is to destroy individuality and a questioning mind and to create robots who do as they are told when they are told without questioning.

Governments destroy freedom. Personal freedoms, even those granted by constitutions, are being trodden under foot by governments, with the sheeple standing idle by because they are told that they have to give up those freedoms if they want to have security and protection from terrorist attacks.

Government spy agencies, even those tasked with external intelligence gathering, are riding roughshod over the freedoms of the people at home and monitor their emails, their telephone calls, who they meet and when, etc. and all this in the name of security. Security for whom?

Science is deception. Just because a scientist is said to have discovered this or that does not mean that this is so. Science is not hard facts – mostly – but just theories of how things could be or might have been, the latter when it comes to history, for instance. Saying, for instance, that another European people “discovered” North America well before the arrival of the Vikings is regarded as tantamount to heresy and scientists who have claimed that have been stripped of their titles. The same goes for origin and make up of the Romani, the Gypsy, People.

Many times scientists – those that have kept their titles and risen in the ranks – have manipulated evidence so as to make the facts fit their theories and those of others rather than to come clean and say that things are different and that there are errors in the science. Time and again science is being presented to the people as had facts when it is not.

The system is a lie. The world has been turned upside down where truth is lies and lies are truth.

It is time for the sleeping sheep to wake up and put the wolf in its place.

© 2013

BlackBerry 9900 Bold battery problems

BlackBerry 9900 Bold battery problems hack

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

blackberry_bold_9900_whiteQuite a few users of this version of the BlackBerry are reporting problems with battery life and I experienced that, every now and then, the battery life falls from a about a day and a half to five hours, and that without actually making calls and such like.

While it is true that the battery drains anyway simply because the device is on and even more so if it has to look for a signal when you move from cell to cell there seems to be serious problem with the BlackBerry 9900 Bold in general when the default settings are in use and when certain apps are on.

If your battery is draining fast on this type of BlackBerry – and many experience that problem, as said – there are a few hacks that may extend the battery life.

  1. Shut down all unnecessary apps running

  2. Set to G3 (and manual)

  3. Remove automatic compression for media card

  4. Take out battery and clean the contacts (this, in conjunction with point 3 above, could be the most important thing to do).

  5. Turn your device off at night when you don't have need of it.

Those few things have, as far as my BlackBerry 9900 is concerned, solved the problem in that now, instead of running down in less than five to six hours, holds a charge for more than a day, given no lengthy calls are made.

I have to add that I only use my BlackBerry for telephone calls and the sending of text messages, plus the camera. Those using data operations, such as email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. may have less battery life as I experience.

A good advice is also to top up the battery whenever possible by sticking the device on charge. The battery does not mind being topped up and does not every now and then have to be drained all the way as used to be the case with the old style cell phone batteries, so you cannot do it any harm.

© 2013

War on Nature

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In a few centuries since the industrial revolution, modern humans have waged war on nature, destroying ecosystems and collapsing our one shared biosphere.

War on NatureIn a false belief, brought about also as a result of a deliberate misinterpretation of the Bible man has decided that he is the master of the universe and that G-d gave him the right to do battle with Nature.

More often than not reference is being made to “overcoming Nature”, to “fight Nature”, and such like. The issue is, however, that if man ever wins that war, he, and that is all of us, is doomed.

While the Bible says that “G-d gave man dominion over the Earth” it also says that He placed man as a husbandman onto the Earth, that means as a caretaker and a caretaker does not fight his charge. Man is a shepherd of Creation and it is his task to look after it, care for it, and help it. Not make war on it.

Now more than ever modern man has the notion that he is the master, that he can alter Nature to do his bidding and with the knowledge of the sequence of DNA he has decided that he can create and this goes as far as to creating designer babies.

Frankenstein was not intended as a manual. It was, much like 1984, a warning. Not something to be emulated but something to be avoided. However, modern man in his megalomaniac state has decided that he can control science and Nature and has to battle Nature every step of the way.

In farming we see the same applied and rather than working with Nature and in harmony with Her everything is geared to destroying everything bar the crop grown or animals raised.

This can be seen equally with the Bovine TB issue where the badger is going to be hunted and culled in the UK rather than looking at the issue of animal husbandry and the failings of it.

The way it is understood by the Badger Trust and others is that the badger gets infested by cows that carry TB and the badger than becomes a carrier spreading the disease to other herds and amongst the badger population as a whole.

In our attempt to create ever higher yielding dairy and beef cattle we have bred disease resistance out of the animals and pump them full of antibiotics and other medicines in order keep them functioning, until they keel over from overproduction, in the case of dairy cattle.

When it comes to arable farming the same attitude prevails, that is to say to get more and more yield from the same piece of land without giving it a moment to rest. So, instead of old-fashioned ways of rotation cropping and leaving the land fallow science has stepped in claiming that chemical fertilizers are the be all and end all and the majority of farmers bought into this lock, stock and barrel.

The fact is, however, that the continuous application of chemical plant food does deplete the soil rather than feed the soil and green manure (part of leaving a field fallow) and application of other manure has gone out of the window and the dust-bowl effect ensues.

Only when we learn that we cannot win the war on Nature and that it will destroy ourselves will balance come back into the system and we need to work on that as well. It will not happen on its own.

Farming practices, gardening practices, and many more practices have to change and they have to change now if we want to survive and give our children and their children an chance to also live on this Planet.

Let's get back to basics and live with Nature and let's learn to respect Her once again.

© 2013

Air fresheners do not freshen the air...

...and the “infusing” of essential oils is also not, necessarily, a good and healthy idea, despite what some may believe and say.

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

toxic_air_freshenerAir “fresheners” mask odors, either with synthetic fragrances or by interfering with the body's ability to smell by coating the nasal passages with an oil film or by releasing a nerve-deadening agent.

The chemicals in so-called air fresheners include camphor, phenol, ethanol, formaldehyde, and artificial fragrances and many of the components are, in fact, toxic in large amounts.

They can cause headaches, dizziness, migraines, asthma attacks, coughing, rashes, mental confusion and much more. Some of the substances are also linked to cancers and hormone disruption.

If you want fresh air forgo the so-called air fresheners and open the windows instead. That is also a good air-conditioning system and saves mucho dinero.

Let's get back to some natural ways...

© 2013

Warming seas alter fish neurology: Biodiversity to disappear over the next century

Climate change will see biodiversity in our seas decline massively over the next 100 years, according to scientists due to present their work to the IUPS 2013 Congress in July.

oily_fish_boxIt is expected that global warming will see sea temperatures rise by 2-4 degrees. This, along with rising levels of carbon dioxide, is already causing dramatic changes to the central nervous system of fish in our seas with consequences for their future survival.

Professor Goran Nilsson from the University of Oslo says: “Some fish species will do well and some will do very poorly, so we will have much less biodiversity. A few species will take over at the cost of a lot of species that will disappear.

“At just a few degrees increase in temperature you see a big increase in the resting metabolic rate. Some species are using all their capacities just to pick up oxygen and have no energy left to feed, grow or reproduce. They are at an evolutionary dead end.

“In addition, we have seen that increases in carbon dioxide levels have big impact on fish behaviour, affecting their ability to avoid predators. Instead of shying away from the smell of a predator, the fish are attracted to it. They are also attracted to new plant smells, unusual environments, and they lose their lateralization which means it takes longer to make decisions when escaping a predator.”

Nilsson’s team identified the neurological mechanism underlying these changes in behaviour and survival. Elevated CO2 levels in sea water disrupt the function of a key brain molecule, called the GABA-A receptor.

Nilsson says: “We can cure the fish by blocking this receptor with a moderate dose of a drug called Gabazine. This can reverse the behavioral changes and the fish behave normally again. While we cannot fill the seas with Gabazine, this finding does give us some predictive power. We can now identify the animals most at risk of being affected, guiding us where to do future experiments.”

IUPS 2013 is the 37th Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences and took place at the ICC, Birmingham from 21 – 26 July. The congress will bring together over 4,000 physiologists from all corners of the globe to attend over 100 symposia and 30 keynote lectures. The congress has been running since 1889 and was started in an effort to promote physiology, encourage the interchange of ideas, and afford physiologists the opportunity to know one another

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service, company or organization mentioned.


Anthropogenic particulate matter in the air contributes to the death of nearly 29,000 people every year, and harms the environment. In its latest report, CIWEM says it is time to overcome the political barriers and commit to a healthier future.

clean-air-actEach year, around 29,000 deaths are attributable to anthropogenic particulate matter in the UK, at a cost to the economy of up to £15 billion a year.Other air pollutants cause illness, premature mortality and harm the natural environment; and the UK’s National Air Quality Strategy, which should provide a clear framework for improving air quality, is years out of date, according to the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

In a new report, Clearing the Air, published on July 22. 2013 during the 2013 EU ‘Year of Air,’ CIWEMprovides the latest information on the air pollution challenges facing the UK and gives an independent assessment on the level of policy importance for each pollutant. The report asserts that whilst some scientific challenges remain in understanding the impacts of air pollution, there is still considerable progress that can be made by addressing political barriers.

Road transport is the main cause of poor air quality in the UK, and very significant reductions in traffic emissions are required to meet current standards. CIWEM says that the Highways Agency, which controls many of the busiest roads, should be given stronger direction and responsibility to ensure air quality objectives are achieved alongside both existing roads and new infrastructure.

A full revision of the National Air Quality Strategy is required to reflect the current evidence of the harm being done to human health and ecological systems, and the policies and priorities of the Government over the medium term, to 2030.

Chair of CIWEM’s Air Quality panel, Dr. Claire Holman, says, “Now, during the European Year of Air, is a critical time for air quality as EU air policy is under review. Government should use the National Air Quality Strategy to lay the policy framework for achieving healthy air.”

“Part of the battle will be achieving greater public awareness of the true health implications of air quality, and in turn, acceptance of the measures required, such as reduced car use. The updated strategy must take full account of the harm done to human health and the environment, and take true strides towards a cleaner, healthier future.”

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, CIWEM, is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable

Clearing the Airis exclusively available online

CIWEM is a partner in the Healthy Air Campaign. Find out more at

More on CIWEM’s Air Panel can be found online at:

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.


As the country prepares to wind down for its summer break Ethical Consumer today calls on holidaymakers to demonstrate their opposition to tax avoidance by not buying their holiday books from tax avoiding bookshops.

Many of the UK's leading bookshops both on the High Street and online have been identified by Ethical Consumer as being implicated in tax avoidance most notably Amazon.

Other tax avoiding companies include Alibris, Google Play and Kobo.

Ethical Consumer researcher Tim Hunt said: “This summer we're asking holidaymakers not to support tax avoiding booksellers. Instead sun-lovers can buy their favourite summer reading from the many companies who are supporting the British economy by paying their fair share of tax.”

Ethical Consumer recommends the following book-selling alternatives to tax avoiders:


Better World Books:

Green Metroplis:

Oxfam Books:

On the High Street

Any independent bookshop. For details visit:

Foyles & John Smiths

Second-hand bookshops such as Oxfam

Alternatives to tax avoiders for people who already have an e-reader:

Use free sites such Project Gutenberg: and Feedbooks:
Or buy from or

E-readers also come under the ethical spotlight with Ethical Consumer unable to find any ethical or environmental argument in their favour.

Ethical Consumer researcher Tim Hunt said: “E-readers such as Amazon's Kindle may be a top-selling piece of cutting-edge technology but they've yet to prove their environmental credentials.”

“You might think that one piece of hardware which contains a hundred books is an environmentally low impact option but this is yet to be proven. For us the greenest option is a book, preferably one that's reused.”

The product guide to bookshops and e-readers is available here:

Ethical Consumer is currently running a boycott of Amazon.

For details visit:

Launched in 1989 Ethical Consumer is the UK's leading ethical and environmental magazine. In each issue Ethical Consumer examines the ethical and environmental record of the companies behind everyday products and services from bread to banks. For more information visit the Ethical Consumer website:

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Driving ban for combine harvesters in Germany

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

no_combine_on_road1In a number of German states and counties a driving ban is being considered or already put in force banning combine harvesters from the roads between 1500 hours on Friday and 0900 hours on Monday to allow holiday traffic free flow.

It would appear that the powers-that-be do not have the faintest idea of farming and that it is not a Monday to Friday 9-5 occupation and that crops have to be harvested when and whenever the weather is right and that might be on a Saturday or even a Sunday, holiday traffic or no holiday traffic.

Those making up such rules seem to be of the same mentality that one encounters every now and then with people who state firmly that we don't need farmers as we can get all our food at the supermarket.

One can but wonder as to which parallel universe those people have escaped from or if some people are indeed correct in the belief that we all are governed by lizards.

© 2013

The many benefits of crop rotation

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

crop-rotationCrop rotation is a common farming practice where different series of crops are planted in the same area each sequential season. Planting different crops on the same piece of land has been used since Roman times and has been proven to improve plant nutrition, benefit soil health, and control the spread of disease.

A new study, and yes they indeed needed a study again to tell farmers what our ancestors have known all along, to be published in Nature's 'The ISME Journal' reveals just how profound crop rotation's effect is on enriching soil with bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

"Changing the crop species massively changes the content of microbes in the soil, which in turn helps the plant to acquire nutrients, regulate growth and protect itself against pests and diseases, boosting yield," said Professor Philip Poole from the John Innes Centre.

Researchers collected soil from a field planted with wheat, oats and peas. After growing wheat, it remained largely unchanged and the microbes in it were mostly bacteria. However, growing oat and pea in the same sample caused a huge shift towards protozoa and nematode worms. Soil grown with peas was highly enriched for fungi.

"The soil around the roots was similar before and after growing wheat, but peas and oats re-set of the diversity of microbes," said Professor Poole.

After only four weeks of growth, the soil surrounding wheat contained about 3% eukaryotes. This went up to 12-15% for oat and pea.

Every gram of soil contains over 50,000 species of bacteria so the task is enormous when analyzing DNA samples, so researchers sequenced RNA so a full snapshot can be taken of the active bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other microbes in the soil.

"By sequencing RNA, we can look at the big picture of active microbes in the soil," said PhD student Tom Turner from the John Innes Centre. "This also allows us to work out what they are doing there, including how they might be helping the plants out."

"Our work helps explain the experience of farmers in the field," said Professor Poole.

The findings of the study could be used to develop plant varieties that encourage beneficial microbes in the soil. John Innes Centre scientists are already investigating the possibility of engineering cereal crops able to associate with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria normally associated with peas.

Professor Poole comments, "Scientists, breeders and farmers can make the most of these effects not only with what they grow but how they grow it."

The fact that crop rotation works has been known for millenniums probably and it was for that reason that there always was a rotation cycle in vegetable gardens and on fields before the agro-chemical industry tried to make us believe that we could just throw chemicals at the plants and that would be all that would be needed. It is not.

Soil leaches its nutrients when plant food, aka fertilizer, more often then not nowadays in the form of some petroleum derivative, is thrown at the plants. The structure of the soil gets destroyed by planting the same crop each and every season on the same plot of land and then bombarding the area with chemicals and the nutrients are getting more and more depleated.

It is for this very reason that yields, per acre, are larger on Amish farms than they are on the big "commercial" farms, those that are worked with heavy machines and where the plants get bombarded with chemical fertilizers.

Where manure is being used, such as on organic farms, and those of the Amish people, the soil is what is enriched and in that way the plants are. Another well-known fact required a million dollar study to discover the truth already known.

Sometimes one can all but wonder where all the ancient knowledge has gone. It would appear that there are far too many people about who have been educated well beyond their capacity. The gods help us!

© 2013

Living below your means

Living not just within your means but below it

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

moneyFar too many people are living (well) above their means and cannot make ends meet. They live from paycheck to paycheck and often rely on so-called “pay-day lenders” to tide them over to the next payday. This is no way to carry on.

Many people are struggling financially and many without much fault of their own. But some financial hardships are self-inflicted in trying to keep us with the Joneses, so to speak.

Ordering take-outs most days of the week is not a good idea but many who live just around the breadline do just that, and not just only that, to cause themselves and their families problems in the financial sector.

We must, also for the sake of the Planet, all learn to live (well) beneath out means.

“But how do I do that”, I now hear many as, “with the cost of everything?”

First of all reduce needs and, especially, wants, for many perceived needs are all but wants. Then learn to reuse, repurpose and make as much as possible yourself.

Also change what you eat and here especially reducing meat in your and your family's diet. (Believe me I would not have believed it myself some while back that I'd ever say that).

Then reduce food waste by cooking from scratch and by learning how to use leftovers.

When it comes to food reduce your costs by cutting out meat at least once a week or, better still, go almost vegetarian by restricting yourself to meat only on Sundays and special occasions, as used to be the case for most people not so long ago even.

While it is true that many people in dire straights are not entirely – and I do stress the word entirely – responsible for the financial difficulties there are a huge number who are, or who are doing little to nothing to help themselves, and this even and especially among those who live from paycheck to paycheck. And the main problem is the desire to keep up with the neighbors as to possessions.

This is not a way to go about things when one already does not have the mean to do so and when one is just about able to make ends meet.

What does it matter whether the neighbors have a new car, a new large screen LCD TV, or whatever? They may not actually be able to afford it themselves either and have run up debt to pretend that they can. No need to keep up with them. It is not a race, it is not a competition.

There is not need to partake in such “games” of one-upmanship for, if your car is OK, your TV fine (though I would even go as far as suggest ditching your TV altogether), etc., then those wishes for new are not needs at all. Often, as said already, the needs that we perceive are nothing but wants.

There is no need for a new cellphone, a new computer, or whatever simply because there are new models out or a neighbor or friend has or gets a new one. But too many people fall into this trap. It is not good for our finance and it is also bad for the Planet.

Our needs – on al levels – are far removed, often, from our wants. But the latter are all too frequently confused for and with the former. Needs are one thing and wants a different one altogether and we must learn to differentiate between the two.

It is wants, all too often, perceived as needs and mistaken for them, that many times lead people into financial difficulties as they then try to, instead of saving up for something that they want, have immediately and look for instant gratification and forego real needs in order to fulfil their wants and desires, sometimes by means of loans with exorbitant interest rates (in the form of credit cards).

Living below your means is a skill for sure and especially a mindset and it requires first of all discipline.

It means to make do with fewer wants and to live frugally, making do with what you already have got and also to make things you need (and want) yourself, including from what others regard as waste, as trash, even.

Being frugal used to be the way in most households at least until the late 1970s after which the keeping up with the neighbors by whatever means became the name of the game. So far even that families who prided themselves on their frugal ways were and are still considered odd and eccentric.

In fact being frugal is being considered, in this time of economic downturn and austerity, as an act, and I kid you not, by the authorities, akin to terrorism. How far have we come from how things should be and used to be and how far have we become removed from reality.

Regardless of how and what the powers-that-be do and think frugality is what we should and must strive for, especially for the sake of the Planet, but also for our wallet.

We cannot continue on the consumption bandwagon the way many have done and do, even when they actually do not have the means to do so, just because the government says that we need to buy our way out of the crisis. It just will lead from one crisis to another.

There are many ways to live below your means but to understand what your needs and wants are is where to begin and then reducing the stuff you buy. You wallet and the Planet will be happier for it and so will you in the end.

© 2013

“Water the birds, NOT the lawn!” – Bill Oddie

Water the birds, NOT the lawn!

viking birds 046-1With the current hot temperatures in the UK Bill Oddie’s asking us to spare a thought for wildlife and put out fresh water for birds to drink and bathe. “Water the birds!” says Bill.

“I’m not for a minute suggesting that you sprint around the garden hosing down Blackbirds and Robins. That’s NOT the kind of watering I’m encouraging! No. It is as basic as this: provide fresh drinking and bathing water for birds, daily if you can, and you’ll make life so much easier for them, and you’ll enjoy the spectacle of watching them splash around. It’s great fun, and it costs pennies. Get the kids involved this summer.

“If you haven’t already got a bird bath, go out and get one. Please! If not, then use a shallow dish/plate and make sure you make filling it part of your daily regime. Clean it regularly, too, and you’ll soon be awash with happy birds,” forecasts Bill.

The two main reasons birds need clean water is of course for drinking and bathing. Fresh drinking water is more important for some species as the weather affects the supply of their preferred foods; for example, Blackbirds would ideally feed earthworms to their young, but dry weather is likely to mean they may be more reliant on bird foods you put out, such as Bill Oddie’s Mealworm Crumble. This type of food is absolutely fine for both adult and fledgling, in fact it’s very close to their natural diet, but it doesn't of course provide the level of moisture found in natural foods such as earthworms. (You can of course always feed live food).

Birds bathe to keep clean and also to keep their feathers in good condition. A few species – Starling and House Sparrow for example – like to bathe in groups and it’s a great spectacle to see eight or more birds trying to take a bath at the same time! It’s a great idea to get your camera out, and Bill’s encouraging people to share their photos on twitter, via the hash tag #waterthebirds.

“Of course we know it will only be a matter of days before the weather changes and we’ll have a deluge of rain; however, providing fresh water, daily, is a great habit to succumb to as birds need watering all year round – even in winter!”
• It is best to use tap water rather than from a water-butt (unless the water from a butt is ‘new and fresh’ – e.g. after a storm), and the water topped up or replaced whenever necessary (which will probably be at least once a day if the birds take to it).

• It’s likely that a small build-up of algae will occur and attach itself to the bird bath, but this can be easily cleaned of with a stiff brush (an old washing up brush is ideal).

• It’s best not to use any sort of household detergent or cleaning aid to clean the bird bath (just clean water), but, if you do (perhaps because it really does need a very good clean), then it’s important to ensure it’s rinsed out with plenty of clean water so none of the detergent remains. Special wildlife-friendly cleaning products are available on line from

• Bill Oddie’s Bird Food Recipes are available direct from ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Wilkinson, see: for details.

Twitter: @billsbirdfood
Website: or

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

Victory for a new food system!

Victory for Veg!

ManchesterVeg People are jubilant as their Crowdfunding campaign to 'Get the Manchester Food Revolution moving’ has exceeded it £16,000 target! This very modern form of fund-raising utilised a huge twitter campaign, and mobilised bloggers and celebrity chefs to help spread the word over six weeks. The result: over 300 people from across the UK made pledges from £5 up to a thousand pounds.

The overwhelming support and enthusiasm for the campaign has shown what an appetite there is for a fairer food system to thrive in Manchester a fact that is backed up by the recent poll, commissioned by the Prince's Countryside Fund that reveals public concern about mainstream food production. Funds raised will allow the cooperative to buy much needed equipment, helping them to grow the capacity of the co-op and realise their dream to bring affordable, healthy and sustainable food to everyone – whilst also paying local growers fair price for their produce.

Talking about the campaign Veg People co-ordinator Katie Brandon said ‘We’re ecstatic that the campaign has hit the target. It’s been a nail biting 6 weeks but the support and messages we’ve received have been amazing. This funding will make such a huge difference to us – more storage space and our own van means we'll be able to supply loads more pubs, restaurants, canteens and schools across Greater Manchester and in turn help more local farmers set up in production by paying them a living wage which is currently an issue in encouraging new people to the industry'.

During the course of the campaign a Greater Manchester local authority have agreed to a pilot supplying Manchester Veg People produce in a local primary school. Meaning MVP will be supplying local organic veg direct from local farmers our children and young people. Initiatives such as these are at the heart of what MVP and partner organisation The Kindling Trust are try to achieve; ensuring a better fairer food system for Greater Manchester.

Helen Woodcock from the Kindling Trust said 'It can feel like an impossible task to create a food system that is fair to everyone. Paying farmers a fair price for their produce and at the same time making this fresh sustainable and tasty produce available to everyone at times seem like two aims that are completely at odds with each other. But Manchester Veg People are proving that this is a model that can work – so much so that we’re having to support new farmers to set up so that we have enough produce to sell!'

'We’d like to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign in a variety of different ways' said Katie 'we really couldn't have done it without any of you!'

Look out for a shiny Manchester Veg People people van emblazoned with donors names delivering food to a school near you within the coming months!

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

Meat is becoming the food of the lower classes

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In Germany trust in the meat suppliers and meat supply has reached rock bottom among consumers. Those who earn well and have been to university are those who today eat less in the way of meat and meat products. One of the reasons for meat abstinence among the upper classes are the many scandals surrounding meat. But the producers also have an image problem for other reasons.

no_meatThere are upheavals in the process which largely go unnoticed by the majority of the population. The eating habits of the upper classes, for example, are undergoing radical changes: In the old times the higher their social status was the more meat the consumed. Now this trend is turning around.

According to a national study in Germany the consumption of meat reduces the higher the level of education and income. Those with a high disposable income and those who have degrees eat the lowest amount of meat while among the lower classes eat more cutlets and sausages.

This change in attitudes to eating meat among those at the higher social spectrum are not just the amount of scandals as regards to meant and its safety but also the lackadaisical way in which the authorities deal with such incidents.

This trend can also be observed in other countries where people, especially again those who are somewhat better – or very well – educated change their eating habits to almost vegetarian, vegetarian or even vegan. A leading and growing trend is that of the Meatless Monday, where one day a week is meet-free and that of the Weekday Vegetarian, where meat is only for the weekend, Sundays or special occasions.

Among the lower and working classes, however, as far and especially as the UK is concerned, the word is still: “I have to have my meat” and that best, as far as many here are concerned, several times a day.

Changes are on their way, however, as may are losing trust in the meat industry and even butchers no longer, in the UK especially, actually ever see what animal the meat that they sell comes from and thus cannot guarantee the consumer the source or the animal actually.

While we may not know how our vegetables are grown, unless we can afford organic and even then, if it looks like a carrot or a potato it, more than likely is going to be a carrot or a potato and not a radish or an onion.

© 2013

Give us Snowden or else

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Edward_Snowden-2The US, the world's big bully-boy, is threatening Russia. This is not a good move and could lead to real trouble for all of us.

The US has basically said to to Russia: “Turn over Snowden or risk long-term problems”. With this recent message from the White House the US left the Russians that American patience with Russia playing host to NSA leaker Edward Snowden is wearing thin.

“The Russian government has an opportunity here to work with us,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing. “This should not be something that causes long-term problems for U.S.-Russian relations.”

Washington and Moscow have been “engaging on a number of important issues, both economic and security related issues, and we want to continue that relationship unimpeded by this issue,” Carney added. By turning over Snowden, or at least expelling him, Russia could “resolve this situation that they have been dealing with now for three weeks.”

The US does not seem to understand, however, the ay things actually stand.. First and foremost Snowdenn is still in the transit area of the Sheremetyevo International Airport which, according to Russian law, is not Russian territory and thus the authorities have no way of actually expelling him. Secondly, he has committed no crime, as President Putin has stated more than once, in Russia or Russian jurisdiction and thus the Russian authorities cannot touch him and also have no intention of doing so.

“Our interest has always been in seeing him expelled from Russia and returned to the United States,” Carney told reporters. “He should not be allowed to engage in further international travel except as necessary to return to the United States,” Carney said of Snowden, who is regarded in some quarters as a whistle-blower for disclosing the incredibly broad sweep of NSA spying on American citizens.

“He is not a human rights activist, he is not a dissident,” Carney insisted. “He is accused of leaking classified information, he’s been charged with three felony counts related to the leaking of classified information. And for those reasons he should be returned to the United States.”

It is amazing that every time, in some other country, someone does the same as what Snowden has done, he or she is lauded by the USA as hero for freedom but when in the US someone leaks information on how the state spies on its citizen and the citizens of other countries then that person becomes an enemy of the state and a dissident.

As per usual the US, and allies, have a different set of rules for different circumstances and are almost prepared to go to war over such an issue with a well-armed state like Russia. Russia, Mr. President, is not Iraq or Afghanistan but a country with substantial arms and a well-trained military, one that is in many aspects better and more prepared to fight than the US military and the British one combined.

Also it is so hypocritical when the state says that people have nothing to fear is spied upon by the NSA, the CIA and the FBI if they have nothing to hide. Same applied to the state itself.

They know they have done and are still doing wrong to the American people and will try their utmost to silence anyone exposing their treachery.

Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are not traitors. The traitors are in the White House, Langley and other such locations. It is those that have broken the very Constitution that they swore to uphold and defend.

© 2013

Monsanto drops GM crop plan in EU

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

monsanto-skull-and-bonesBiotechnology giant Monsanto is scrapping plans to win approval to grow new types of genetically modified crops in the European Union. Please note that the operative word here is “grow” and not that it is abandoning plans to get GM crops into Europe. Far from it.

Monsanto says the move is due to the lack of prospects for cultivation in the EU.

The company, the CEO of which, so it is claimed, is to have said that there will be no food crown, no crop, to which they (and others of their ilk) will not own the patent, produces GM crops and agro-chemicals which are in wide use in the US and in other parts of the world but has had problems getting permission from the legislators in the European Union to grow the plants – in trials and others – in EU countries.

In Europe there have been concerns about the use of GM food products, and approval for GM crop cultivation can take years to obtain as the cooperation between Monsanto and the legislators are not as close as they are in the USA. However, the recently introduced seed law in the European Union which, basically, makes it unlawful to grow any plant, whether from seed or from plant material, even in private gardens shows that the influence of the large seed and GM companies is growing also among EU legislators, and definitely in the UK.

The Monsanto decision related to pending requests to grow genetically modified maize, soybean and sugar beet and it comes just days after the EU began talks with the US on a wide-ranging trade deal, with agriculture likely to be one of the toughest issues.

The company said it would now concentrate on growing its conventional seeds business in Europe but it will also look to get EU approval to import its genetically modified crop varieties from the US and South America into Europe.

In 2012, Germany's BASF halted the development of genetically modified crops in Europe and moved its European research operations in this area to the US.

As said, far from giving up, Monsanto will now look to import genetically modified crop varieties into Europe and thus get GM crops into the EU by a backdoor.

While it may appear to some as a victory the facts would point to a rather devious ploy by Monsanto to, as said, get their GM crops into the European Union via a backdoor and to market, regardless as to whether or not the people in those countries want it.

Another prove of the pudding, so to speak, that we do not need a new government but a new system.

© 2013

The garden trowel: The gardener's utility tool

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Much like garden gloves, and possibly even weeding tools, the garden trowel is one of several gardening tools that the hobby or professional gardeners simply cannot live without.

garden trowelThe garden trowel is nothing more than a small shovel really, but it is a piece of gardening equipment that gets almost constant use.

In addition to the basic garden trowel most people are familiar with, some trowels have serrated edges on the shovel blade, and when it comes to handles, there are several options.

The original trowel was different however and some are still made in that way. It was, basically, a bricklayer's trowel and it was used in a backwards pulling motion to open a hole in which to put the plant. Sneerboer from the Netherlands still forges a similar style today and it is that kind of trowel that is the one used in the tulip fields of Holland.

If you are buying a trowel for the first time, it is probably a good idea to visit the local garden center and give the trowel a “test drive”, so to speak to get the right one for you.

It should feel comfortable and be well constructed with a sturdy handle and a forged carbon- or stainless steel blade. Do not skimp on quality and chose a cheap one just because it is cheap.

If you prefer a hardwood handle make sure it’s smooth to prevent splinters with a reinforced interface between the handle and blade. Other handle options are available and work just as well including those that allow for a soft grip like the OXO Good Grip versions with a gel filled handle or the Thingamedig from Dalsonware Pty Ltd, Australia.

Another option for finding garden trowels and other small garden tools is to visit flea markets or antique and collectible shops that specialize in antique garden and farm tools. These tools were built to last so in most cases you can’t go wrong. Avoid too much rust (you can always get rid of a little bit of rust), worn and splintered handles, or excessive wear.

But latter source, as far as antique tool markets and such are concerned can be a more expensive option to buying a quality trowel new. On flea markets, trunk sales (car boot sales) and in so-called Charity Shops (if the latter have any) good secondhand garden tools may be had for less than in the garden centers.

Also, I am sure, you will want for more than just one single garden trowel as they are a little like horse for courses and a small transplanting one also will come in very handy indeed.

© 2013

UN launches biofuels report

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

fao1Responding to a report launched on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on the impacts of biofuels on food security, Friends of the Earth's Biofuels Campaigner Kenneth Richter said: “This is a stark reminder that Europe's biofuel targets are driving up food prices and increasing hunger among the world's poorest people.

“The biofuels industry is lobbying hard against new proposals before the European Parliament to limit the use of food crops for biofuels.

"MEPs must not bow to industry pressure - they must end the use of food for fuel.”

The report, written by the UN's High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security, confirms that the production of biofuel from crops has a significant and direct impact on food prices and food availability:

  • "When crops are used for biofuels, the first direct impact is to reduce food and feed availability. This induces an increase in prices and a reduction of food demand by the poor."

  • "Everything else being equal, the introduction of a rigid biofuel demand does affect food commodity prices. This observation holds in each context, even in the context of prices going down for other reasons than biofuels."

  • "In the last few years (since 2004) of short-term commodity food price increase, biofuels did play an important role."

  • "All crops compete for the same land or water, labor, capital, inputs and investment and there are no current magic non-food crops that can ensure more harmonious biofuel production on marginal lands. Therefore, non-food/feedcrops should be assessed with the same rigor as food/feedcrops for their direct and indirect food security impacts."

Biofuels, of whatever kind, are not the answer. What is required is a rethinking of the way we do things and the way we travel. In addition to that studies have shown that bio-diesel, for instance, has a higher output of particulate matter than has diesel derived from fossil oil. Those minute particles released into the atmosphere are the causal agents of asthma and other respiratory problems.

The problem is, however, that the powers-that-be wish to maintain the status quo of motoring for all as event he mere suggestion of it in public would put the cat among the pigeons, proverbial speaking, and lose them votes.

There is a possibility of one option for bio-diesel, though it again would mean that most people would have to give up the use of their private motorcars, and that is the use of gasoline made from hemp, as was intended for the first cars made by Henry Ford. He also built an entire car body from hemp fiber plastic.

Hemp, though, while an almost miracle crop, could never sustain the current level of motoring around the world and the only way we can progress and keep the Planet safe and healthy is by returning to other modes of personal transportation, which does not include the car.

For governments to even suggest this at this present moment in time, however, would be political suicide as the people have gotten so used to personal motoring that they will vote for anyone – regardless – who will promise them the continuation of this. And with regardless I mean here also that they are quite prepared to let the Planet go to hell in a hand basket, so to speak, for their short-term motoring freedom.

It has already been established that the growing of crops for biofuels is causing hunger in many areas and food shortages in general, as well as shortages on other levels, such as water but the people in the developed world do not care enough. Their only interest is the continuation of the status quo as regards to motoring and other ways of life.

Vast stretches of tropical rainforests are being destroyed wholesale for the growing of oil palms for palm oil for the creation of biofuels and also palm oil for use in cosmetics and other products. And other areas are being destroyed too for the growing of other crops for biofuel production; areas that could, even though claimed to be “marginal” lands, for the growing of foods.

When it comes to growing of certain foods too we have a problem such as when in Kenya “French” beans are being grown for consumption in the UK and other parts of the EU. The growing of those, and other crops, which are not part of the diet of the local population, is water intensive and occupies land that those countries, where hunger is a daily problem for many, could much better use in order to grow food for their people.

I have no problem with taking surplus crops from far away places if they are indeed surplus but am dead against cash crop produce grown for the markets in the developed world which being foods that the local people do not eat.

It is high time that the world rethought its priorities and fuel and cash crops are not priorities.

When it comes to fuel for motor vehicles it is time that we rethought personal motoring and while it has given people the freedom to live far away from their jobs and commute this has done no one any real favors. On the contrary.

© 2013

The UN's report 'Biofuels and food security' can be found here.