Environment

Season Awareness Day - Winter Solstice

Season Awareness Day - Winter Solstice

Winter

This is the season when water is the dominant element. It is the time of feelings, a deep Yin time. Winter is the time to replenish yourself and bring all the constitutions into balance. Read what you can do to balance yourself.

Plants Can Benefit From Probiotics, Just Like Us by Dan Nosowitz on July 20, 2015

If you’ve seen a yogurt commercial or read a wellness blog in the past few years, you may have noticed that probiotics—helpful bacteria—are breaking through to the mainstream.

Probiotics have been advertised as a treatment for everything from allergies to digestive issues to, amazingly, social anxiety. New research indicates that we might not be the only ones to benefit from probiotics, though: a study from the University of Washington suggests that plants might grow bigger and stronger with a dose of bacteria as well.

Friendly bacteria in humans, mostly located in the gastrointestinal system, can have all kinds of effects, breaking down foods and chemicals and turning them into nutrients and compounds that can be more easily or efficiently absorbed by the body. In plants, they work a little bit differently, and are not very well understood.

Past research shows that all plants have what are called endophytes, basically the plant version of probiotics. Endophytes can be bacteria or fungi, and by definition are, at the very least, harmless. (Harmful bacteria or fungi would be classified as some sort of parasite.) But we know hardly anything about how the relationship between the endophyte and the plant itself works.

Older research has focused on endophytes found in little nodules attached to the roots of plants. It’s known that the endophytes in these nodules sometimes serve a similar purpose for plants that probiotics do for us: the endophytes turn a key element for growth, in this case nitrogen, into a form more easily absorbed by the plant. Nobody’s quite sure how they get there (guesses include an early presence in the seed and movement through the environment), and their behavior is mostly a mystery.

The new research takes a huge step forward by finding endophytes elsewhere in the plant body. Working with poplar and willow trees at first, the team, led by Sharon Doty of the University of Washington, found endophytes in leaves, stems and the roots themselves, not just in the nodules attached to the roots.

In a paper published by the American Society of Agronomy, Doty and her team not only isolated these endophytes, but extracted them and transferred them to an entirely different plant species: rice. This is where things get interesting, and possibly groundbreaking, in terms of agriculture, because the rice given a booster shot of endophytes grew fuller and stronger root systems, even though the amount of nitrogen in their greenhouse home soil hadn’t changed.

This is a huge leap forward, because it allows plants to make better use of limited nitrogen in their environment. Nitrogen is the great problem in plant nutrition; nitrogen-based fertilizers can have a really nasty effect on the environment, and by giving the plant a sort of life hack to make the most of the nitrogen it has, we could potentially decrease the amount of nitrogen fertilizer we have to use.

Who knew? Looks like plants aren’t so different from us, after all.

Image via Flickr user Noelle

Bokashi composting how to - Time To Recycle

Bokashi Composting

A fast, easy way to compost ALL of your food scraps.

Bokashi is an anaerobic (no air) decomposition process. It is fermentation, think "pickles," "wine," or "yogurt."  It is simple to do, provides fast results, puts off little to no smell, and can be convenient for all homes. You can compost all of your food scraps right in your own kitchen, garage, or patio. Bokashi means "Fermented matter" in Japanese and has been practiced by farmers in Japan for centuries. Only recently has Bokashi made it's way to the U.S.

Composting In Your City

Where do you live?

Cities are always updating their information. Please check back if you do not find information for your community.

Bokashi VS Bio-digester

While the end result is similar, there are several key differences between the Bokashi method and the Bio-digester method. The main difference is that Bokashi uses beneficial microbes, or living microscopic celluar organisms, while traditional composting uses heat and soil microbes to break down plant matter. The Bokashi method allows you to compost all of your food scraps, and not just the plant based food waste. This results in higher quality compost that has more nutrients and beneficial microbes for your soil.

read more.... http://timetorecycle.com/compost/bokashi.asp

Fantastic Fungi: The Spirit of Good

The fungal-fantastical. Emerging from their axial homes, fungi are beginning to be understood as nutrients to the human consciousness and ecological sustainability. Paul explores mycology and compels support for your own good nature and our fungal allies. This is the first in a collaboration of Louie Schwartzberg of Blacklight films (Movingart.tv) and Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti (fungi.com).

Paul Stamets - How Mushrooms Can Save Bees & Our Food Supply | Bioneers

Published on Nov 3, 2014

In this 6th Age of Extinctions, the biosphere’s life-support systems that have allowed humans to ascend are collapsing. Visionary mycological researcher/inventor Paul Stamets illuminates how fungi, particularly mushrooms, offer uniquely powerful, practical solutions we can implement now to boost the biosphere’s immune system and equip us with benign breakthrough mycotechnologies to accelerate the transition to a restored world.

This speech was given at the 2014 Bioneers Annual Conference.

"Since 1990, Bioneers has acted as a fertile hub of social and scientific innovators with practical and visionary solutions for the world's most pressing environmental and social challenges.

To experience talks like this, please join us at the Bioneers National Conference each October, and regional Bioneers Resilient Community Network gatherings held nationwide throughout the year.

For more information on Bioneers, please visit http://www.bioneers.org and stay in touch via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Bioneers.org) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/bioneers).

Gallery: The oldest living things in the world

Artist Rachel Sussman is obsessed with very old things that are still alive. No, not certain members of the British aristocracy. Things like the Pafuri baobab, a South African tree that is likely at least 2,000 years old — and requires an armed guard escort to visit. Or the stromatolites of Western Australia, organisms connected to the oxygenation of the planet that began some 3.5 billion years ago.

Sussman has spent years researching the science behind each shot, tracking down researchers to find out what they know — and then figuring out exactly where she needs to head next. “I try to approach them as portraits,” she says of her images. “I want to differentiate them from landscapes or straight documentary; these organisms have so much character and in some way they are all individuals.” In these often quiet, calm images, it’s the story beneath the surface that counts.

Many of the images are contained in her book, The Oldest Living Things in the World, in which she offers a crisp snapshot of a world that has lasted for millennia — sometimes against all of humanity’s best efforts. Here, take a look at some of the photographs. At the bottom, see the TED Talk she gave on her quest back in 2010.

Read more http://ideas.ted.com/2014/05/29/gallery-the-oldest-living-things-in-the-world/

Fungus Discovered in Rainforest Capable Of Eating Plastic Pollution – Expanded Consciousness

One of the biggest problems facing the earth, plastic pollution, could soon meet its match if students at Yale University are able to breed a recently discovered plastic-eating fungus on a large scale.

Plastic pollution, exemplified by the giant floating island of trash the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean, is highly detrimental to the world’s ecosystem because it breaks down extremely slow. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, plastic doesn’t actually biodegrade:

“Plastics do not biodegrade, although, under the influence of solar UV radiations, plastics do degrade and fragment into small particles, termed microplastics.”

This presents humans with a challenge that must soon be met, considering much of our plastic trash ends up in the ocean where it breaks down into toxic microplastics, winding up in sea life. Not only is this dangerous to the sea life, but it’s also dangerous to people because we end up consuming these very fish which we are poisoning with our trash.

Many groups and organizations have been formed to clean up plastic that ends up washing ashore on our beaches, but the vast majority of plastic pollution ends up in the ocean. The planet has a growing addiction to cheap and industrious plastic, increasing in use exponentially every year with no end in sight.

This is why the discovery of plastic-eating fungus is so exciting. According to Inhabitat,

On an expedition to the rainforest of Ecuador, students from Yale’s Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry discovered a previously unknown fungus that has a healthy appetite for polyurethane. According to Fast Company, the fungus is the first one that is known to survive on polyurethane alone, and it can do so in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment, which suggests that it could be used at the bottom of landfills.

The discovery was published in the scientific journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Researchers were also able to isolate the enzyme responsible for decomposing the plastic.

It isn’t exactly clear how this fungus will be implemented in bioremediation, but one can picture floating plastic islands covered in mushrooms which will eat the entire trash pile then sink into the ocean.

It’s also important to wean ourselves away from petroleum based plastics because they require many resources just to manufacture, and pollution doesn’t start or end with the trash in the gutter. Many other sustainable options are available which could used instead, like hemp based or other plant based plastics.

Read more at http://expandedconsciousness.com/2014/09/02/fungus-discovered-in-rainforest-capable-of-eating-plastic-pollution/#lHHBBVqCrWvftbAG.99

http://expandedconsciousness.com/2014/09/02/fungus-discovered-in-rainforest-capable-of-eating-plastic-pollution/

Salt Water Powered Car Gets European Approval

A car which uses an electrolyte flow cell power system is now certified for use on European roads. The car is called the Quant e-Sportlimousine, which made its debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

Not only can this car run on salt water, but it is claimed that the car has peak power of 920 horsepower (680 kW), 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 217.5 mph (350 km/h).


Read more: http://www.intelligentliving.co/salt-water-powered-car-gets-european-approval/#ixzz3C5V14uyl

Mushroom Tiny House

You GREW a House?! (Yes… and so can you!)

We didn’t just build a tiny house, we grew it. That’s right, the Mushroom® Insulation in the walls were literally alive and grew in place. This is a radical test of Ecovative’s Mushroom® Insulation.

Ecovative uses mycelium (mushroom “roots”) to bond together agricultural byproducts like corn stalks into a material that can replace plastic foam. We’ve been selling it for a few years as protective packaging, helping big companies replace thousands of Styrofoam (EPS), and other plastic foam packaging parts. We’re now working to develop new products for building materials. This project is an exciting, radical and innovative approach to try a bunch of ideas, learn a lot, and grow something really awesome.

Here’s how it works. Mushroom Insulation grows into wood forms over the course of a few days, forming an airtight seal. It dries over the next month (kind of like how concrete cures) and you are left with an airtight wall that is extremely strong. Best yet, it saves on material costs, as you don’t need any studs in the wall, and it gives you great thermal performance since it’s one continuous insulated wall assembly. The finished Mushroom® Insulation is also fire resistant and very environmentally friendly.

http://mushroomtinyhouse.com/post/49260789636/you-grew-a-house-yes-and-so-can-you

The Big One: A Northwest Earthquake Survival Guide | Portland Monthly

When the next Big One does happen, a 700-mile chunk of tectonic plate known as the Juan de Fuca, stretching from British Columbia to Northern California, will slide beneath the North American plate, causing the entire Northwest coastline to sink by up to 6.6 feet. The resulting quake won’t be a California-style short blast of energy along a fault line in the earth’s upper crustal zone. It will be bigger, deeper, and longer: 3–4 minutes, with potentially dozens of aftershocks, some very powerful, for days, even months, later. 

Read more....

The future of agriculture may be too small to see. Think microbes | Public Radio International

Stick a shovel in the ground and you’ll dig up some soil, maybe a few little rocks and, of course, some roots.

Now — take those roots inside for a closer look and you’ll see something else as well.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-07-02/future-agriculture-may-be-too-small-see-think-microbes