Climate Change Conspiracy??

I feel a little like we should all be singing "'tis the season to be leaking incriminating documents..."

Fa La La La La

Yesterday, an internal email from Fox News was released.  In the email, the corporations Washington Bureau Chief instructed staff that any mention of climate change should be IMMEDIATELY followed by statements of skepticism about its scientific existence. (Read the original news article here.)

Those of you who know me personally, know that I tend to be "left-of-center" on most issues.  Oh, and also?  I'm an environmental scientist.  You can imagine my reaction.  (Suffice it to say, it wasn't all that different from the reaction of virtually every environmental group in the country.)

As the serendipity of the Internets would have it, another blogger published a great comic on climate change earlier this week.  It gets a little finger-pointy in the middle, but is, overall, very well done.

Go read it.

Fa La La La La.


Sustainable Seafood

Now, I've said before, I'm not out to make this a "food" blog.  But we all eat.  And how and what we eat can make a pretty big impact on our world.  So it's important.
Now, I've never been a huge fan of eating things that swim -or generally live in water at all- though I've often wished that I were.  For those of you who do eat seafood, are you aware of all the Ethical Eating issues associated with it?

Via: Roots Restaurant

Many of our favorite species of fish are being harvested at unsustainable rates, and some fish communities are in serious danger of collapse.  Today, a full 75% of major fisheries are overfished.  The top predators in the food-chain are often the most popular eats, so they're the first to go.  When fishing these species becomes too difficult, fishers move down the food chain, eliminating essential prey for those large predators.  It's a vicious cycle.  Farmed fish generally tend to be a better choice than wild-caught, in terms of overfishing.

How some of these fish are being harvested often ends up also harvesting "innocent by-swimmers".  This bycatch is typical of large net and longline styles of fishing.  Hook and line fishing is the least likely to produce bycatch, as unwanted species can be quickly released, unharmed.  Shrimp, one of our favorite eats, is one of the largest producers of bycatch. (The best types of shrimp to buy/eat, can be found here.)

Then there's the matter of what else is lurking in that tasty fish your eating.  Mercury.  Many of our waterways and fisheries are contaminated with this heavy metal.  Mercury is released into the air through industrial pollution.  It eventually "falls" into the water, where it becomes methyl mercury.  This substance is easily absorbed by the fish, as they feed, and by humans, as we feed on fish.  Nearly ALL fish have some level of mercury.  Children and pregnant women are cited by the EPA and FDA as the most vulnerable populations, but there is a faction of the medical (western and alternative) community that believes that mercury and other heavy metals in our bodies can lead to everything from fibromyalgia to autism.  Generally speaking, the higher you go up the fishy foodchain, the higher the mercury levels of that fish.

Via: TN State Dept of Health
Species generally considered to be low in mercury (by the FDA and EPA) are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

So what's a seafood lover to do?

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a host of resources to educate yourself, including a pocket guide to sustainable seafood species, as well as an iphone app!

Consider joining The Daily Green in their boycott of Bluefin Tuna.  This popular sushi species is consistently listed as one of the eco-worst!

Most importantly, don't dispair.  As with most of our choices, a healthy dollop of informed consumerism can lead to a greener, more sustainable lifestyle.


Saner Gift Giving (Part 3) - Useful and Green Gifts

For those of us who like to give tangible, un-wrapable gifts, "Saner" gifting is a particular challenge.  But you can present your petty pretty package (stay tuned for more on that!), and still feel good about what's inside.  To me, the most wasteful and least "sane" gifts are the baubles and tchotchkes that have no particular use or purpose.
So this year, I challenge you - whether for a family member, friend, "secret santa", or host/ess - give a useful and/or green gift.  Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started:

If you don't know your giftee very well - in a secret santa or host/ess - situation, I like giving food gifts - a plate of homemade cookies, a jar of yummy trailmix, a bottle of wine, a box of organic, free trade chocolate, even a fruit basket!  (Outpost, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's are my favorite places to find good, and out-of-the-ordinary food gifts.  There's also Alterra and Anodyne for locally roasted coffee, and Rishi for amazing teas.) Even if you end up giving them something that they don't personally enjoy, chances are that they'll have some sort of event during the holidays where they can put it out to share.  And wine is one of the most re-giftable items out there!  (Just make sure you dust off the bottle before you slap on that bow and take it to your next cocktail party.)

For Milwaukeeans who love to dine out, City Tins could be a great option! For a mere $25, you get a set of 20+ $10 gift cards to great local restaurants.  (Maybe your giftee will even take you out to dinner!)

Ideas and resources for green gifts are all over the web.  Check out:
- etsy.com - for anything and everything vintage and handmade
- Viva Terra - for design-y, gorgeous, and ethically sourced finds
- Branch Home - for more beautiful, unusual and green items for the home
- Reuseit.com - for thermoses, water bottles, and reusable lunch kits