Redwood Forests Protected

By Jerry Brownstein

We have all seen photos of the massive redwood trees of California, and now many of these marvels of nature are being protected by the native people who first revered them. A recent development in this trend saw the non-profit Save the Redwoods League orchestrate the donation of coastal redwood forestland to the Native Americans of the Inter-Tribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. The Sinkyone people will resume guardianship of the land that they lived on for hundreds of years before European settlers came. The tribe is committed to maintaining the natural state of these amazing trees, and to the [...]

Solar Panels on Farmland

By Jerry Brownstein

Should fertile land be used to grow crops, or converted to solar panels to produce green energy? A new kind of farming says that you can do both. The organic farm community of Heggelbach in Germany, has been the focal point of an experiment to merge these two activities. Under the guidance of the German government, they built elevated solar installations under which crops can grow. This method is known as agrophotovoltaics (APV). Steel columns 7 meters high hold the panels that cover 2,500 m2 of growing crops. In winter [...]

Biodegradable Batteries

By Jerry Brownstein

Award-winning Spanish scientist Neus Sabaté, of the Institute of Microelectronics in Barcelona, has developed a biodegradable paper battery for single-use analysis devices. It is activated when it comes into contact with whatever liquid is being analyzed, such as saliva or urine. Her interest in this was triggered by a pregnancy test she took which contained a button cell battery. She questioned the wisdom of using this type of battery for single use testing, as only a fraction of its energy was used and the rest was wasted. Sabaté came up with the idea of using the biological fluid that was being [...]

Dutch “Care Farms”

By Jerry Brownstein

Four days a week, 81-year-old Paula goes off to work on a farm near Rotterdam. Depending on the day, she might feed the chickens, assist with chores, or help prepare hot lunches. In many ways Boerderij Op Aarde (Farm On Earth) resembles a typical Dutch working farm, but with one key difference: Paula and most of her fellow workers have dementia. This is one of hundreds of Dutch “care farms” that are operated by people facing an array of illnesses or challenges, either physical or mental. These farms provide meaningful work with a simple philosophy: rather than design care around what people are [...]

Solving Income Inequality

By Jerry Brownstein

An increasing number of workers and business owners are looking to the town of Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain as a model to tackle the problem of wealth and income inequality. The town is home to the world’s largest worker cooperative network, and these coops have found a way to keep unemployment and income inequality in check. It is a system of about 100 cooperatives in which the owners and workers set their own salaries in an annual vote, and managers can only earn six times more than the lowest paid worker. Everyone also receives a proportionate share of their company’s yearly profits.  “The [...]

Courageous Rescue in a Fire

By Jerry Brownstein

A mother and her four children, ages 12, 8, 6 and 4, were asleep when a massive fire erupted in their house. Ryan Pasborg was driving by when he smelled smoke and saw the flames. He jammed on the brakes and saw a young girl and two boys leaving the house. The three children told him that their mother and four year old little brother were still trapped inside. Without hesitation Pasborg ran into the house, but he could not see anything because of the heavy smoke. So he crawled on the floor and found the small boy whom he carried outside.  It was extremely cold that night (minus [...]

Gardening is Good for Your Health

By Jerry Brownstein

A study from Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society surveyed more than 6,000 people, and the results showed that those who garden regularly have better health and less stress. The leader of the study, Dr Lauriane Chalmin-Pui said: “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the more frequently you garden, the greater the health benefits. Gardening at least two or three days a week has the same positive impact on wellbeing as vigorous exercise like cycling.” She went on to add that, “When gardening our brains are pleasantly distracted by the nature around us. This shifts our focus away from our stresses, [...]

A Selfless Euromillions Winner

By Jerry Brownstein

An anonymous Frenchman who won 200 million euros in the lottery, has chosen to use his winnings to preserve and revitalize the Earth. He could have spent the money on mansions, yachts, expensive cars, etc., but instead has created a foundation called Anyama. He wrote an open letter explaining why he's using his windfall this way: “The Anyama endowment fund is the result of my lifelong desire to act for nature and human beings. My dream has never been to acquire boats, castles or sports cars. It is to be useful and give meaning to this money, with maximum positive impact. That is what I'm doing [...]

An Eco-Friendly Landfill

By Jerry Brownstein

While many cities struggle with environmentally destructive landfills, Vienna has created one that is in many respects a net-positive for the environment. It’s called Rautenweg, and its success has resulted from several decades of progressive urban waste policy. In response to steep increases in waste during the 1960s, Vienna started incinerating its trash, and channelling the heat generated into the city’s district heating system. Today, the controlled burning process in the city’s four incinerators reduces Vienna’s waste to about 10% of its original volume, providing heating and hot water for [...]

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