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Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast World Water Day

Water is, to say the least, very important. More than 2/3 of the earth’s surface is covered by it yet, increasingly, less and less of it is safe for the life living in it or depending on it.  With petroleum and chemical spills, fracking, construction of pipelines and infrastructure and industrial use, precious little water is available to make safe for drinking.  This Water Day learn what you can do to ensure that the water in your community is safe and clean for generations to come.

Day 30

What you can do today

World Water Day is observed today. Learn about the global scarcity of safe water and sanitation and the effects of climate change on water at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/effects/water/. Learn, too, about the collective, hopeful efforts to find solutions that affect millions of vulnerable people like the one this video shows of a program coordinated by International Relief and Development (IRD). Learn how lay volunteers are stepping up to purify the waters of poor communities abroad. See these links from Living Waters for the World and its far-reaching training program that sends church mission teams to install water filtration units in other countries.  The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organizationhas a video entitled Water101 with quick facts about water.

World Water Day 2012

In honor of World Water Day, and in light of the latest "fracking" article and how it affects our watersheds and supply, we found this interesting infographic by Tree Hugger illustrating exactly how much of the world’s water actually makes it out of our taps at home.  It also displays how important it is for us to do everything we can to preserve the Earth’s water supply and to clean up existing toxicity as quickly as possible.

Safe Drinking Water Act, Water usage, world water day

Dick Cheney is Satan: Fracking, the Environment, and the Halliburton Loophole

Disclaimer: The following post is an editorial. It completely reflects the viewpoints of The Organic Blonde and everything for which it stands. The names and locations have not been changed to protect the identities of the “innocent”.  

Oh wait, no one is innocent in this post!  For those of you who may not be familiar with hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”  Investopedia defines it as a slang term for hydraulic fracturing. Fracking refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation and into the wellbore, from where it can be extracted.

That doesn’t sound so bad, right?  Well, the fluid part sounds innocuous enough until you realize that in addition to the 70 to 140 billion gallons of water used to fracture 35,000 wells in the US each year,  a toxic chemical compound that is used in which at least 71 toxic chemicals have 10 or more dangerous health effects is diluted into the water to “fracture” the shale beds and release the natural gas.

For complete Fracking 101 guide go to Earth Works Action.

Great NY Times Article on Fracking that came just in time!

All that water has to come from somewhere and all that toxic chemical laden byproduct has to go somewhere when they are done.  Guess what?  A lot of it goes into the watersheds and supplies in and around the fracking areas.  Scared yet?  It’s not all about the water.  Toxic petroleum hydrocarbons have been found in the air near the wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. Benzene has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. Other chemicals included heptane, octane and diethylbenzene but information on their toxicity is limited. According to the oil and gas industry (and Popular Mechanics)  fracking is perfectly safe when “controlled. ”  Hmm. Let’s examine that.  A whole lot of water pressure mixed with highly flammable toxic chemicals being pushed into a shale bed that is MEANT to fracture under the pressure….controlled.  I don’t think Mother Nature got the memo.

So let’s get this straight so far.  Natural gas is a “clean” transitional energy source yet it uses toxic chemicals that pollute entire watersheds and the air around the well sites?  (and by around I mean within a 20 mile radius of any well.)  People that live around drilling sites are getting sick.  Cancer, brain lesions, severe life threatening neuropathy, I mean we could go on for days listing all the illnesses caused by “fracking”.   (Oh I forgot…. Fracking is completely safe according to the oil and gas industry.)   We are already losing our ability to reproduce due to the toxic chemicals in our personal care and house cleaning products,     diet of steady genetically modified garbage, and God knows what else, so let’s throw “fracking” into the mix and finish the job.  I’m sure Earth is a little tired of us arrogantly thinking we know better than nature in how to run our eco-system.

If all that isn’t bad enough, enter Dick Cheney.  (You know, former VP, former CEO of Halliburton cum puppet master, Devil incarnate).

America has in place something called the Safe Water Drinking Act enacted by former president Richard M. Nixon in 1974.   It basically ensure that Americans have safe water to drink as overseen by the EPA.  In 1997 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (Atlanta) ordered the EPA to regulate hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This decision followed a 1989 CBM fracturing operation in Alabama that landowners say contaminated a residential water well.

In 2001 then Vice-President Dick Cheney anointed (er, appointed)  a special, Energy Task Force to “investigate” the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.  In 2004 the recommendation was made by that task force to the EPA that Congress exempt hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Water Drinking Act because it posed “little to no threat” to the safety of drinking water.  This became known as the “Halliburton Loophole”.  Please bear in mind that Halliburton, in 1940, was the first company to invent hydraulic fracturing fluid and is still one of only three companies that manufacture this fluid today.

Everybody still with me?   Did I mention that the task force was comprised of Dick Cheney, Secretaries of State, Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Transportation, and Energy and senior level cabinet officials with the  advisors to the committee being oil and gas industry Chairmen from Exxon-Mobil Corp, Conoco, Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corp, and the American subsidiary of British Petroleum (BP)?  Nooooo, no conflict of interest there!

That task force had one meeting with 13 environmental groups yet (after the draft paper had already been produced) yet had over 40 meetings with oil and gas industry leaders.  Yeah, that sounds like they had sound balanced information with which to create future energy policy.

In 2005, national energy bill including the exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed. It left the door open for the EPA to regulate the use of diesel in hydraulic fracturing operations.

H.R. 1084 and S. 587, the Fracking Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (FRAC Act), would close the Halliburton loophole and require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use during the fracking process.  It is not gaining support by members of Congress.

I have one question to the oil and gas industry.  If “fracking” is so safe why does it need exemption under the Safe Drinking Water Act?

Oh did I mention “fracking” might cause earthquakes?

What are your views on “fracking”?  Do you believe the drilling of natural gas is worth the negative environmental impact?  Why or why not?

Comic strip credit: Stephanie McMillan at Code Green

Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast Day 29

I used to live on one of those cul de sacs where everyone’s lawn was manicured to perfection and every spring into the summer every single one of them smelled of chemicals.  Chem Lawn (even the name sounds ominous, eh?)  used to pull up a few times a week and spray this “mist of death” that made the lawns golf course perfect.  It also made my dog ill and made my asthma much worse.  Now there are, thankfully, organic, pesticide-free ways to perfect your lawn.

Day 29

What you can do today

Have a truly “Green” lawn and garden by avoiding use of toxic chemicals. Visit the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns website for more information.

Make sure you stop by Reduce Footprints  and meet her honor roll and see how she manages to keep up with the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast.

 

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Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast Day 28

Reducing water usage in your home is one of the biggest conservation methods going.  Not only will you help your community resources and green your community but will save big bucks on water bills.

Day 28

What you can do today

Reduce water usage in your home by fixing leaky faucets, which can waste up to 50 gallons a day.  Turn the tap off and on during shaving, washing hands and brushing teeth. (You can save a gallon of water while washing hands, 9 ½ gallons brushing teeth, and up to 19 while shaving by turning the water off and on.) Only flush the toilet when absolutely necessary. Most toilets use about 5 to 8 liters of water every time you flush. You can reduce this by placing a milk jug filled with water inside the tank. If you need to replace your toilet, buy an energy efficient model that uses less than two gallons of water and consider purchasing a dual flush toilet.

Welcome Spring!!!

Today is the first day of Spring 2012 and I thought showing you some of my favorite pictures of spring would be a great way to celebrate the renewal of life!

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Intentional Conscious Parenting and the Bedtime Routine

Bed time routines are important for babies and children to establish good sleeping habits that they will keep for the rest of their lives. Kids thrive on routines and bedtime is one of the easiest times to establish an important routine. A routine will help avoid night time tantrums that come up as you get ready for bed, but it will also help your children fall asleep and stay asleep. A routine gives you time to connect with your children before they go to bed. This is very valuable quality time.

According to WebMD, our bodies have a natural 25 hour cycle, instead of 24. If we don’t have a routine, with a regular bedtime and waking time, we would “drift out of sync” with the 24 hour day. Establishing this early in children is important.

Bedtime for Babies

For babies, a good simple routine, implemented at the same time every night, will help them have quality sleep and add stability to their day. A warm bath, reading a few books, some quiet play, and singing are all good activities for a bedtime routine. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that ultimately, the goal is to be able to lay your baby in their crib, kiss them goodnight and they will fall asleep on their own. Babies wake naturally all night long, if they cannot go to sleep on their own, they will cry for you to help them. This means less quality sleep for you, as well as for your baby. Of course, all babies have individual needs and you know how to meet your baby’s needs so they get the best night of sleep.

Bedtime for Older Children

As your child grows, the bedtime routine will change as well. Once your child is able to understand, it is a good idea to give warnings that the bedtime routine is about to begin. For example, start at 30 minutes out and say “we are getting ready for bed in 30 minutes.” Warn them again at 10, 5, and 2 minutes. This should help cut down on the protests, as your child has had time to prepare. Or, you can allow your child to choose one last activity before starting the bed time routine. This way they know that activity is the last thing they will get to do before bed, no exceptions. Once the bedtime routine has begun, try to include all of the excuses your child will use to stretch out the time before lights out. These types of things include, getting a drink of water, going to the bathroom, limiting the amount of stories and keep it the same every night, etc. It is important that you are firm about going to sleep when the routine is finished. Be sure to spend at least a few minutes connecting with your child, asking them about their day, or finding out what their hopes are for tomorrow. This time will be cherished by your child, and they may even look forward to bedtime.

As your child develops into a preschooler, they will thrive on making choices. While the time they go to bed will not be their decision, they can make other choices during the routine. For example, they can choose which three stories to read, what pajamas they want to wear, and whether or not they want to brush their teeth first, or go to the bathroom first. When your child is included in the bedtime routine in healthy ways, they will have more positive associations with going to sleep.

Changing the Bedtime

If the current bedtime is too late or too early, or your child’s age demands less sleep than it used to, don’t drastically change the bedtime in one night. Instead move the routine and bedtime 10 minutes earlier or later, depending on your desire, each night, until you have reached the appropriate bedtime.

The more consistent you are with your routine on a day to day basis, the better your child will handle and recover from interruptions such as vacations, visits from grandparents or a Friday night dinner party.

Taking Quality Time

At the end of the day it can be tempting to rush getting the kids in bed so you can have some time to get other things done or relax. However, spending quality time with your kids, as they get ready and go to bed, will help them have quality sleep for their whole lives. In the long run, it will help you have more time in the evening, as kids come to expect a regular bedtime and go to sleep without protest after a relaxing routine. Both you and your kids will cherish the time to connect and chat about the important things in their lives, and they will appreciate the stability a bedtime routine provides.

How do you help your kids sleep well? What are your favorite parts of the bedtime routine?

Photo “Bedtime” courtesy of Emil Ovemar

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Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast Day 27

The worst part about being in the Middle East much of the year is the complete lack of recycling program.  Oh they “green wash”  quite a bit, especially in Qatar with their seemingly endless “green”  conventions but, at the end of the day, they are so lacking in basic eco-friendly practices such as recycling.

Luckily for me I buy almost nothing packaged, preferring whole foods, and save for the plastic vegetable bags I have to use because they refuse to allow me to use my reusable cotton ones, and the odd packaging for quinoa because they don’t understand the concept of bulk really well, this has reduced our trash down to about one bag every 3 days.  I’m working on getting that down to one a week.

We compost and use that to fertilize our measly attempts at vegetable gardening.  I feel better knowing that, at the very least, leftover food isn’t ending up in the landfills here.

Day 27

What you can do today

Reuse and recycle waste, and compost food waste to reduce the rubbish destined for landfill sites. If you don’t have one, consider buying or making a composter. The average US household produces about 4.5 pounds of solid waste per day. Landfill sites are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, with every pound of solid waste generating 2 pounds of greenhouse gases. Composting is methane-free.For information about composting and buying composters, see http://www.composting101.com/.

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Meatless Monday: Roasted Chickpea Nuts

It’s Meatless Monday again yet my body is screaming for protein.  My usual breakfast protein shake did not satisfy that craving for nutrient-dense protein and I find myself dreaming of a grass-fed beef tenderloin and roasted cauliflower about now. I want healthy snacks made of protein!

The cauliflower is all cut up and ready for the oven but what to do about that protein fix?  I am actually in a “grazing” mood lately.  I don’t actually love the idea of sitting still long enough to eat a full meal.  I simply have too much to do these next few weeks and though I cook almost every day and love it, it’s the sitting down and eating for more than 20 minutes that is chilling me to the bone.  I go through these moods every Spring and I listen to my body.  When it wants to graze, it grazes.

Roasted Chickpea nuts are a simple and quick way to use up that tin (BPA free of course) of chickpeas lingering in the back of your pantry and are a wholesome nutrient-dense alternative to less than healthy chips or other snacks.

Want to know why these little nuggets are so healthy? Chickpeas are high in necessary nutrients like iron, folate and the sleep-promoting, seratonin-building tryptophan, plus they contain a unique set of antioxidants that protect our cells from damage. Chickpeas also keep our tummies, hearts and blood sugar levels happy.

Feel free to change up the spices in this recipe too!  If you fancy something sweet try coconut sugar and cinnamon, for an italian version some oregano, basil and thyme.  Really the only limitation is your imagination.  The best thing about these little beauties are that you can enjoy them without all the questionable preservatives and MSG!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups chickpeas, strained and gently blotted with a kitchen towel or spun

2 Tbsp. coconut, grapeseed, or olive oil

1 Tbs chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Toss the chickpeas in a bowl, add the oil and spices and mix until everything is coated. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

Lay the chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 45-60 minutes, giving them a stir every 10 minutes or so, until they are shrunken and crunchy.

Allow them to cool. Then devour.

 What are your favourite uses for chickpeas?

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Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast Day 26

Can you imagine sending your child to bed hungry each night?  Millions of parents around the globe do.  Climate change, as well as many other reasons (thanks Monsanto), is destroying valuable farm lands, creating more deserts which is increasing famine numbers by leaps and bounds.

Charities do their part but it is not enough. With only a little effort you can make a big difference in your communities and around the world!

Day 26

What you can do today

Today, join with others in your community to participate in a Hunger Meal.
Climate change causes deserts that take away arable land for agriculture. Learn more about the relationship between climate change and world hunger at http://www.worldhunger.org/env_hunger.htm.

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