Who wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls? – Professor Guy Steibel

Archeologist and professor Guy Steibel from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem gives a short history of the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by the highly educated, but outcast Essenes approximately 2,000 years ago and hidden in desert caves in Qumran.  The scrolls, all but the latest, recently re-discovered ones have been uploaded and can be viewed for free here.

 

‘Solar City’ Freiburg, Germany

‘Solar City’ in Freiburg, Germany has houses that provide five times the energy they need.  The houses built in Freiburg are power plants. “It’s not about exhausting nature, but taking advantage of it completely,” says architect Rolf Disch.

Sports stadium, public swimming pool and even parking meters are powered by solar in Freiburg’s solar city.

 

Wendell Berry advocates local farming and restoration of perennials

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, writer, teacher and sustainable agriculturist Wendell Berry advocates returning perennial plants and a ‘culture of husbandry’ to local communities.  He has proposed a ’50 year farm bill with Wes Jackson of the Land Institute to address ‘real’ concerns plaguing farmers.   He writes:

Unlike the typical U.S. farm bill, the 50-Year Farm Bill attempts to address the real and ongoing problems of agriculture: erosion, toxicity, loss of genetic and species diversity, and the destruction of rural communities, or the destruction, where it still survives, of the culture of husbandry. It begins with the fact that at present, 80 percent of the land is planted annually in annual crops such as corn and beans, and 20 percent in perennials. It proposes a 50-year program for the gradual inversion of that ratio to 80 percent perennial cover and 20 percent annuals. It’s pretty clear that annual plants are nature’s emergency service. They’re the plants that come in after, say, a landslide, after the land has been exposed, and they give it a temporary cover while the perennials are getting started. So our predominantly annual agriculture keeps the land in a state of emergency.

It’s hard to make a permanent agriculture on the basis of an emergency strategy. By now the planted acreages have grown so large that most soybean and corn fields, for instance, are not seeded to cover crops, and so they lie exposed to the weather all winter. You can drive through Iowa in April before the new crops have been planted and started to grow, and you don’t see anything green mile after mile. It’s more deserted than a desert. And the soil erosion rates in Iowa are scandalous.

Berry has been an outspoken opponent of the devastating practice of mountain top removal coal extraction to ecosystems, animals and people.  He describes it thus:

Mountaintop removal is as near total destruction as you can imagine, because it does away with the forest, it does away with the topsoil that sustained the forest, it does away with the very topography — even people’s family graveyards go. And it’s done in complete disregard not only of the land but of the people who live downhill, whose lives are threatened, whose water supplies are destroyed, whose homes are damaged. The people downhill, downstream, and ahead of us in time are totally disregarded.

Berry expresses that although he has hope, he is no optimist when it comes to the future of farming in the face of unsustainable, industrial agriculture.  Yale 360 interviewer asks him whether in relation to his home state of Kentucky, “Sustainable agriculture is gaining ground in a significant way that could slow the growth of industrial agriculture, or is it more of a boutique type of thing?”

Berry replies:

Well, we are a young country. By the time settlement reached Kentucky it was 1775, and the industrial revolution was already underway. So we’ve been 238 years in Kentucky, we Old World people. And what we have done there in that time has not been sustainable. In fact, it has been the opposite. There’s less now of everything in the way of natural gifts, less of everything than what was there when we came. Sometimes we have radically reduced the original gift. And so for Americans to talk about sustainability is a bit of a joke, because we haven’t sustained anything very long — and a lot of things we haven’t sustained at all.

The acreage that is now under the influence of the local food effort or the sustainable agriculture effort is at present tiny, and industrial agriculture is blasting ahead at a great rate. For instance, in the last two years, the high price of corn and soybeans has driven that kind of agriculture into the highly vulnerable uplands of my home country. I can show you farms that in my lifetime have been mostly in grass that are now suddenly covered, line fence to line fence, with monocultures of corn or beans….

So we have these two things, a promising start on what we call, loosely, sustainable land use, and we have a still far larger industrial extractive agriculture operating, really, against the land.

Read more.

Common chemical ‘threat to male fertility’ – NYT blogs

PVC pipes containing phthalates. Source: NYT blogs

Report by Deborah Blum in NYT blogs relays research findings that show disturbing effects from exposure to chemicals on male fertility. Blum writes:

To study the impact of everyday chemicals on fertility, federal researchers recently spent four years tracking 501 couples as they tried to have children. One of the findings stood out: while both men and women were exposed to known toxic chemicals, men seemed much more likely to suffer fertility problems as a result.
The gender gap was particularly wide when it came to phthalates, those ubiquitous compounds used to make plastics more flexible and cosmetic lotions slide on more smoothly. Women who wore cosmetics often had higher levels of phthalates in their bodies, as measured by urinalysis. But only in their male partners were phthalate levels correlated with infertility.

Included in the report are suggestions for limiting exposure to phthalates, because, “Unlike heavy metals like cadmium and lead that tend to accumulate in the body,” phthalates tend to pass through quickly.

Report continues with a quote from Dr. Tracey Woodruff, “Director of the program on reproductive health and the environment at the University of California, San Francisco.”

“The W.H.O. called them ‘pseudopersistent’ in one report,” Dr. Woodruff said, because continued exposure keeps phthalates in the body. But here’s the silver lining: the transient nature of these compounds also means that consumers can take fairly simple measures to reduce their phthalate levels.
One is to read the labels on cosmetics and other personal care products and to choose those without phthalates. Another is to be cautious with plastic food containers, and to avoid using them to heat food and drink, as the phthalates in them may get transferred to what you consume.
“These compounds leach from plastics,” Dr. Buck Louis said. “You can switch to glass for drinking. You can cook your frozen dinners on paper plates.”
Studies have shown that these kinds of actions do make a difference; experiments have found measurably lower levels within several days in people who make these changes.

Read more, click here.

Restoration of Mt. Tamalpais, “The Invisible Peak”

Gary Yost gives this description:

Mt. Tamalpais, sentinel peak of the San Francisco Bay Area, is considered sacred by many… native and non-native alike. In 1950, the military bulldozed the highest peak of the mountain to build an Air Force Station tasked with directing jet interceptors and short range Nike nuclear missiles against the potential threat of Russian nuclear bombers. By 1980 the base was obsolete and summarily closed. The military literally walked away from dozens of structures, leaving behind a huge toxic mess on the mountain. Through the use of historical footage, 3D reconstruction, interviews and breathtaking timelapse cinematography, this 20-minute film, narrated and co-written by Peter Coyote, explores the history of Tam’s West Peak and how local citizens have been fighting to restore their mountain to a natural state. invisiblepeak.com © 2014 Gary Yost

NOAA and Climate Prediction Center ‘above normal’ temperatures forecast failed

Forecast vs. observed Winter temperatures Source: Business week

Business Weak journalist reports that according to, “The official forecast,” the, “U.S. Government never saw this winter coming.

The report begins:

Surprised by how tough this winter has been? You’re in good company: Last fall the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that temperatures would be above normal from November through January across much of the Lower 48 states.

There have been several reasons given for the lack of warmth this winter by official forecasters.  But, it would seem that the actual reasons for the undeniable cold are not quite understood.  Business Week report continues:

“Not one of our better forecasts,” admits Mike Halpert, the Climate Prediction Center’s acting director. The center grades itself on what it calls the Heidke skill score, which ranges from 100 (perfection) to -50 (monkeys throwing darts would have done better). October’s forecast for the three-month period of November through January came in at -22. Truth be told, the September prediction for October-December was slightly worse, at -23. The main cause in both cases was the same: Underestimating the mammoth December cold wave, which brought snow to Dallas and chilled partiers in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Maybe NOAA and the Climate Prediction Center should consult with the Farmers Almanac for future weather predictions.  In August, CBS News published an article on the ‘bitterly cold‘ Winter, predicted for 2013-14 by Farmers Almanac forecast:

The 197-year-old publication that hits newsstands Monday predicts a winter storm will hit the Northeast around the time the Super Bowl is played at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey. It also predicts a colder-than-normal winter for two-thirds of the country and heavy snowfall in the Midwest, Great Lakes and New England.

 “We’re using a very strong four-letter word to describe this winter, which is C-O-L-D. It’s going to be very cold,” said Sandi Duncan, managing editor.

 Based on planetary positions, sunspots and lunar cycles, the almanac’s secret formula is largely unchanged since founder David Young published the first almanac in 1818.

 Modern scientists don’t put much stock in sunspots or tidal action, but the almanac says its forecasts used by readers to plan weddings and plant gardens are correct about 80 percent of the time.

‘Foamy’ azodicarbonamide in bread, industrial chemical additive to be avoided

Source: Global Healing Center dot com

Dr. Edward F. Group III gives several good reasons to avoid bread that includes azodicarbonamide in a well referenced article published at Global Healing Center.  He also lists several fast food chains that use this ‘foamy’, industrial chemical additive in their baked goods, including Subway, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Arbys and Chick-fil-A and others.  Dr. Group writes about this additive, banned in Europe and Australia:

1. Azodicarbonamide is an Industrial Chemical

The primary function of azodicarbonamide is centered on the way it breaks down during processing — it creates tiny bubbles that make things “foamy.” Somewhere in the testing procedures, scientists discovered it whitened flour and acted as an oxidizing agent. Bakers, or rather “food scientists” soon concluded that it should be a standard inclusion in bread.

2. Azodicarbonamide Increases Gluten Content in Bread

Oxidizing agents like azodicarbonamide are used to increase gluten content. This is “desirable” because higher levels of gluten create stronger, more durable dough. The added convenience to processing isn’t without other risks though. Gluten has been linked to a host of gastro-intestinal, immunologic and neurologic diseases. [1] [2]

3. Azodicarbonamide Can Cause Respiratory Problems

Research has established a direct link between exposure to azodicarbonamide and the onset of asthma. [3] According to a World Health Organization (WHO) follow-up report, regular occupational exposure to azodicarbonamide can lead to asthma and allergies.  The WHO report notes many of those who developed asthma and other respiratory complications experienced symptoms within just three months of exposure. [4]

4. Azodicarbonamide is a Skin Irritant

The WHO report also noted physical exposure to azodicarbonamide caused recurring dermatitis. [4] Fortunately for those suffering, eliminating exposure caused the indications of the dermatitis to go away.  While this is good news, these results show how quickly industrial chemicals can initiate an autoimmune response.  Unfortunately, skin irritation seems to be the least of concerns…

5. Azodicarbonamide Disrupts the Immune System

In 2001, lab tests found that direct exposure to azodicarbonamide inhibited human immune cell formation and function. [5] Although “direct exposure” may be less of a common problem, the bigger problem happens when azodicarbonamide is heated up, as when it’s a bread ingredient…

6. Azodicarbonamide Creates Toxic By-Products When Heated

While azodicarbonamide is used to condition bread dough, when it’s baked, the heat causes it to break down. Two by-products can result: semicarbazide and ethyl carbamate.  Semicarbazide belongs to a family of chemicals known as hydrazines that are especially carcinogenic.  A 2003 study using animal models found that it caused free radical damage to DNA. [6] Other studies have found that semicarbazide damages human immune cells and the DNA of animals. [7]

The other half of the gruesome twosome is no better. The National Institute of Health’s Hazardous Substances Data Bank states that ethyl carbamate is a carcinogen to animals; in fact this is backed by over 200 studies. [8] [11] Research from 17 years ago confirmed that adding azodicarbonamide to bread increased ethyl carbamate levels. [12] The awful truth is that industry has known for nearly two decades that this is toxic trash and fed it to us anyway.

7. Harmful to Hormone Function

Exposure to semicarbazide can present another health risk. Animal studies have found it has a toxic impact on hormone function and the hormone-regulating organs, including the thyroid, thymus, spleen, testes, ovaries, and uterus. [9] [10] As is the case with all endocrine disrupting compounds, this stuff is poison!

8. Europe and Australia Have Banned It

While US Officials continue to claim the amount of azodicarbonamide found in most baked products poses no serious health threat, European and Australian officials have banned its use in bread.  Baby food jars were another source of exposure and officials were left without answers concerning the “safe levels” for infants. [13] Consequently, European officials disallowed its use in sealing glass jars.

Click here for the full report by Dr. Group, including references.