Archive for ‘News’

September 15, 2011

Marijuana Can Save Trees

The answer to worldwide deforestation is growing fields of Cannabis sativa to supply the world’s pulp for paper. Industrial strength hemp – marijuanaMarijuana – all illegal in the United States.

A Hemp Industries Association fact sheet reports that “hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce waste-water contamination (needs very little agricultural pesticides).”

“Hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and it’s creamy color lends itself to environmentally friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical by-products.”

“Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard.”

“Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. It can also be recycled more times.”

The Chinese used hemp for paper as far back as 8,000 BC. Ancient documents have been retrieved that were totally hemp based. Hemp fiber has proven to withstand the destructive nature of time.

Herodotus writes that Thracians used both the wild and cultivated fiber for cloth. He marveled at the garments made from hemp and compared it to linen. He also wrote about the purification rites associated with “vapor-baths” and breathing smoldering smoke from moist hemp seed. Hemp’s by-product is tetrahydracannabinol (THC) and is a psychoactive chemical generally absorbed through the respiratory system or digestive tract with a significant effect on perception and cognitive abilities.

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were advocates of Cannabis fiber and recommended their fellow countrymen to use the plant for lamp oil and fabric for uniforms and clothing. Jefferson found its cloth a rival to cotton, at much less cost and he used it to clothe his farm hands. George Washington was said to be more familiar with the plant as a drug.
It does seem that hemp is making a comeback almost everywhere except the United States. Canada has made experimental hemp cultivation a policy. China is a leading country in the production of hemp and hemp products. South Africa is growing hemp, New Zealand is growing hemp, Switzerland is growing hemp, and on and on. Projects in Kentucky and California were politically strangled, and hemp cultivation in the U.S. is a long time in coming, if ever.

In summary, the hemp movement feels that hemp fiber is more durable than wood and can be recycled more frequently than tree fiber. Hemp produces a highly nutritious seed crop that can be of comparable value to the fiber crop. Agriculturally grown hemp would fit well with natural forests and tree plantations.

…or would it?

To read the full story go to

September 14, 2011

Costa Rica Rainforest Treehouses

Costa Rica treehouse

Treehouse wonder in Costa Rica

“I’m fed up and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” If this is your current state of mind then consider this… Finca Bellavista: A Sustainable Rainforest Community.. Located on the base of an almost 6,000 foot primary rainforest mountain on the South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica – not far from the Pan American Highway, Finca Bellavista was created with the sole purpose of preserving 300 acres of local rainforest by offering a unique opportunity for ecologically minded property owners to live sustainably in and steward a managed rainforest environment. Forty years ago this would have been a no-brainer for me, but now there are other considerations that have to do with convenience stores, healthcare, 24 hour fitness…should I go

But for those of you who are more adventurous this is an alternative lifestyle that bears looking into.

With a principle focus of creating a balance between maintaining a fragile habitat for wildlife and using natural resources wisely, Finca Bellavista aims to implement sustainable energy practices such as hydroelectric and solar power, while operating a full-fledged recycling center and a common garden area for the community. This might make it an eco-utopia for some, but for others it’s a possible solution for dovetailing conservation with development.

As per Finca Bellavista‘s guidelines on their website, treehouses in the community must be low-impact, stilt-built or arboreal dwellings that utilize a rainwater catch system to provide water for each unit. Waste that is generated is to be treated with “a cutting-edge technology found in biodigestors”. A “hydroelectric turbine system” will power the entire community. The power grid will run via a system of transformers and underground power cables installed along the horseshoe-shaped main access road that runs throughout the community, producing peak power of 62 kilowatts at the generator leads. The power system at Finca Bellavista will produce clean, sustainable, and extremely reliable power for the community, all the while virtually eliminating any monthly electricity bills for residents.

Fancy a bit of socializing or Tarzan action? Residents can opt for either the community’s system of ground trails or its ‘Sky Trail’ network of zip lines and platforms that deliver them to and from their homes in the rainforest canopy. Missing the outside world? A main parking lot exists at the community’s base area, where high-speed Internet and WIFI are available.

The proprietors state that “these requirements will not only preserve the integrity of the rainforest canopy and its inhabitants, but will also provide an unusual and adventurous lifestyle for human dwellers as well. Imagine waking to the sounds of a tropical bird symphony or catching a zip-line to meet up with friends for a meal or an evening cocktail…” This might be a bit too much of an ewok housing scenario for some, or a real estate development plan that should simply exist as a rainforest preserve, but for now it is on the table as a possibility for how “going native” might be the wave of the future or the cure for what ails us.

Read more: ECO EWOK TREEHOUSES: Finca Bellavista Rainforest Village Finca Bellavista – Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

April 16, 2011

Poisoned Pot

two devotees of cannabis let their hair do the talking

True "Pot Heads"

The following should not surprise you. I’m not sure I believe this but I pass it along to those of you who want to check it out. Beware of the trojan horse poison pot.

written by Bob Frezno
We pot and hash smokers are part of a loose alliance of like-minded people with alot more in common than our affinity for the herb. We are fundamentally different from those that would never deign to try something that was prohibited by society. We are explorers, free thinkers and we are under attack.
There is a conspiracy to poison us and just us. Tens of thousands of pounds of toxins are added, on a daily basis, to pot and hash that we consume. Not since the American deployment of the toxin paraquat on pot fields have we seen such a wholesale poisoning of cannabis users and it’s being done entirely for profit.
Who could possibly be so malign as to poison a harmless pot smoker for personal gain? Look no further than your local Hells Angels chapter.
It’s well known that the bikers have their fair share of growhouses, run the big fields in the boonies and make the big buys of fresh afghani hashish. Basically they set the tone for the illegal trade and since the Angels muscled out the local gangs things have gone from bad to worse. Crap weed is laced with chemicals, the hash is full of camphor, and Oshawas legendary honey oil can now do double duty in your crankcase.
The people who ingest these adulterated products are being slowly killed and their quality of life is diminished both now and in the future. It’s time we heard an outcry against the heinous crime which is inflicted upon a vulnerable, marginalized societal demographic, namely the fun-loving quirky group of people known as pot smokers. Anyone who would kill us, even a little bit at a time, must be stopped.

April 7, 2011

Bees Take Over Porsche

Here’s something you may not know; The working memory of bees “robust and flexible.” If working memory is part of general intelligence, and honeybees have working memories as good as those of pigeons and monkeys, there’s no reason to assume pigeons and monkeys are a lot smarter than honeybees. Hence bees are not stupid. Given the choice of a new home to build a hive why wouldn’t bees seek out a nice comfortable place with luxury leather seats, stereo music and air conditioning?

Ok so get a load of this, a woman doing errands in her Porsche was very surprised to find thousands of bees massing together in the back of her vehicle. Initially she assumed it was just a few buzzing around outside the vehicle and when they dispersed, she continued on her way. However, after her child notified her that the bees had not gone away, but were actually forming in a tight bunch in the hatchback area, she knew she had a problem. Handling the bees in an aggressive and damaging way was not acceptable to the Pest Control Manager who answered her phone call, as he was aware of the large declines in bee populations recently.

He didn’t have a product that could cause the bees to vacate the car without harming them, so he called a beekeeper. A special vacuum was used to gently suck them up, and they were relocated without harm. Not all people are aware of the large dip in bee populations, called Colony Collapse Disorder. Luckily, the pest control manager did know and respected the bees enough to make the right choice in how to deal with them. Instead of having pest control personnel kill them, it may be much wiser to call a beekeeper if you ever have such a bee situation. Bees in spring often leave their old hives and set out to establish a new one.

Now isn’t it humane to treat these vital creatures in this way? I suggest we “look to the beekeepers”. Treat each other in this manner, respect others right to live and thrive. Hopefully they won’t be nesting on your front lawn!

Read more:

April 4, 2011

Midnite Gets A New Lease On Life

This is a great story of humanitarian efforts to help an animal just because. The good and the bad right. If we cover the bad and appeal to each other’s higher moral nature to right a wrong then we must also cover a story about a selfless moral act to help an animal who cannot help itself.

Heartwarming story of the day: Midnite, a 4-year-old miniature horse, was given a new lease on life with the help of a custom-fit prosthetic leg. Midnite was born without part of his left hind leg and was neglected by his original owners. Fortunately, he wound up at Ranch Hand Rescue, a farm animal sanctuary in Argyle, Texas. Rescuers reached out to a local prosthetic limb company, and they were able to create a custom leg for Midnite. Check out the results here:

Read more:

December 8, 2010

Should We Be Concerned?

Planet green, treehouser, Limbaugh, O'reilly, environment
Every now and then I come across something so powerful and true I need to include it in the blog. Personally I find Limbaugh and O’Reilly entertaining. Most of the time their opinions and reportage is silly and not truthful but I look at them like I do Lewis Black or Seinfeld for that matter. They make me laugh and think. So I’m reblogging this article By Mickey Z., Planet Green

Imagine for a minute if corporate-sponsored mouthpieces like Limbaugh and O’Reilly were correct on either of these points:

Global warming is a hoax
Humans are not responsible for climate change
Well, guess what? It wouldn’t change the green movement’s primary mission. Because while some waste valuable time debating deniers, every 24 hours:

13 million tons of toxic chemicals are released across the globe
Over 100 plant or animal species go extinct
200,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed
45,000 humans die of starvation
And that’s just the tip of the melting iceberg…

Climate change, of course, connects to many of the pressing green issues but our eco-system would be in peril even if the deniers are right. We’d still have 80 percent of the world’s forests gone. We’d still have 90 percent of the large fish in the ocean gone. In other words, we’d still have an urgent need to dismantle industrial civilization and work towards a greener future.

Read more:

October 17, 2010

EPA Likely To Revoke Largest Mountain Top Removal Mining Permit In West Virginia

Protestors against mountaintop mining

Protestors against mountaintop mining

Following up on my earlier blog about this issue it seems that activism might have helped the EPA make a decision. This is why we need to keep the pressure on the government and our local lawmakers to insure they don’t make laws that line the pockets of corporations that are hellbent on profits and destroying our environment. The story below was posted by: Beth Buczynski

On Friday, an EPA official announced that the agency has reason to believe the Spruce Fork No. 1 mine may result in unacceptable adverse impacts to fish and wildlife resources in the state of West Virginia.

“We intend to issue a public notice of a proposed determination to restrict or prohibit the discharge of dredged and/or fill material at the Spruce No. 1 mine project site.” EPA Region III Acting Administrator William C. Early wrote in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Huntington District office.

If both agencies choose to invoke the Clean Water Act in this case, it could result in the revocation of Arch Coal Inc.’s permit for the Spruce Fork No. 1 mine in Logan County.

The Spruce Mine is the largest surface mine in West Virginia. The current permit, which was issued in 2007, allows the company to exploit about 2,300 acres through mountain top removal mining and to dump the resulting waste in more than eight miles of streams.

Although the Arch operation is the only surface mine for which an Environmental Impact Statement has ever been prepared, Early wrote that conclusions included in that assessment “are not supportable.”

West Virginia’s Gov. Joe Manchin (D) recently filed a lawsuit against both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, accusing the agencies of purposefully delaying 23 pending mountain top removal mining permits and harming the state’s economy in the process.

Fifty House Democrats have since joined together to support of new regulations that make it tougher for coal companies to continue mountain top removal mining.

Tell Congress You Oppose the Destructive Practice of Mountaintop Removal Mining!

October 14, 2010

Listen to Ted Danson

Ted Danson

Vote NO on Prop 23
Texas oil companies are trying to erase California’s progress in the fight against climate change. Help create millions of green jobs and stand up for California and the oceans’ future.

Act Now
We can’t let Texas oil companies make California – and our oceans – dirty.

Prop 23, funded by Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro, will be up on November’s ballot. If it passes, California will be prohibited from making progress on its greenhouse gas emission goals until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or less for one year. Something that has only occurred three times in almost four decades.

Pledge to vote NO on Prop 23 and keep California a leader in fighting climate change »

Prop 23 is a massive step backwards for California’s leadership in climate change. Not only will it prevent further progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it will repeal and essentially erase all the climate change progress California has made since the state’s landmark 2006 law.

While these oil companies want you to believe climate change legislation hurts the economy, the truth is it will create millions of green jobs and help establish California as an economic leader in alternative energy.

Our oceans need clean energy. Dependence on dirty fossil fuels, like oil, is changing the oceans’ very chemistry. Emissions in the atmosphere are changing the chemical make up of our oceans, making them more acidic and severely affecting marine life like corals and shellfish. As part of sensitive and vast marine ecosystems, reefs are vitally important to the overall health of the oceans – and the planet.

I know I can count on you to support California’s efforts to reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions and work towards a sustainable future. Vote No on Prop 23 on November 2nd »

For the oceans,
Ted Danson
Actor, Activist, Board Member

PS. We need your help in getting the word out that Prop 23 is disastrous for California and our oceans. Please take the pledge and forward this email to 5 friends, share it on Facebook and post it on Twitter.

September 28, 2010

The Only One of Its Kind

A new destination lodge in Japan offers communing with nature Eastern Style

Gankoyama Treehouse

I applaud Yoshinori Hiraga and his efforts to educate, inform and engage his people about communing with nature and learning more about Japan’s forest resources. One by one is the way to get people involved in a global effort to perserve this wonderful world we live in.

Chiba tree house village latest in eco-tourism
By Taro Fujimoto (reposted)

Forget about 5-star hotels. Try spending the night in a tree house. Not only is it fun but it offers a realistic way to practice “eco tourism” and “co-existence with nature” – phrases which are often bandied about in our daily conversation. Since 1998, Gankoyama Tree House Village has been providing people with the opportunity to think of nature and our modern life in terms of effective use of forest resources.

Gankoyama is located in the middle of the Boso Peninsula in Chiba, about two hours by car from central Tokyo. About 2,500 people a year visit the 12,000 square meters of the lower mountainous camping area to learn outdoor skills. Among the outdoor programs, the Tree House Master program, in which participants learn how to build tree houses in two days, has been the most popular, attracting lots of media attention. Every program requires reservations in advance. The tree house-building tour is the only one of its kind in the world. All of Gankoyama’s energy needs are provided by solar panels and a wind generator; no electricity is used.
In March, Gankoyama started to actively accept foreign visitors, launching its English-language website. Participants can enjoy the outdoor workshop skills for 8,000 yen and tree house building for 28,000 yen per person. Fees for families and groups are cheaper.

participants walking in the forest

The Walking Forest

“The primary purpose at Gankoyama is to provide people with an opportunity to think about the most effective use of forest resources in Japan,” says owner Yoshinori Hiraga, 49.

Hiraga, who was born in Tokyo and currently runs an air conditioning company in Yokohama, says he found the majority of mountains in Japan, which have been forested since the pre-modern era, neglected as a result of depopulation and an increase in imported cheaper wooden materials from abroad. “Since I used to play in the mountains when I was small, I wanted to revive forest resources. I just love mountains,” says Hiraga.

Learning how to co-exist with nature

Through the Tree House Master program, he wants participants to understand the fact that Japanese for a long time incorporated nature into their daily lives, including effective use of forests with regular maintenance, but they don’t do it so much anymore. Hiraga is hopeful that more Japanese will pay attention to their traditional concept of how to co-exist with nature. “Foreigners, especially those from Europe and the United States, are much more aware of effective use of forest resources and natural energy generation than Japanese.”
After operating Gankoyama for 10 years, Hiraga says he has learned that Japanese adults need someone’s help to enjoy themselves in nature. “Westerners enjoy themselves here as if they were kids. I just tell them the basic rules here in English and some gestures. They are usually happy on their own without us. If you need a tour guide, then you won’t enjoy yourself here.”
As an external member of a local city council for the environment and a guest invited by a non-governmental organization (NGO), he has visited the U.S. to research environmental policies around the world.

man climbing into a treehouse

climbing into a treehouse

“I think in Western countries, people have tried to artificially control nature. They tend to ‘do something in nature,’ which is how they enjoy themselves here,” said Hiraga. “In Japan, nature has always been a part of our life. Unfortunately, one of the reasons why Japanese are indifferent to nature now is that they take it for granted.”

He says the key phrase “sustainable life” is more familiar to Westerners than Japanese. “The majority of Japanese have no idea what that concept means.”

As a business, Gankoyama has been successful since its launch. The Japanese government approved Gankoyama as a good plan for effective use of forest resources. On weekends, people from all over the country visit and stay there. During the summer holiday season, Gankoyama is always full of visitors.

However, Hiraga recalls how he erred in his prediction for environment-related trends in Japan when he was launching Gankoyama in 1998: “I thought the so-called environment market would be much bigger in Japan. But in fact, the government and society shifted its focus to more monetary things, such as increase in exports and deregulation of financial markets. Everybody wanted to know how to make money. Now we see in many developed countries that environmental polices are becoming the top priority.”

‘Experience market’ for children

What helped Gankoyama’s success was the growing demand in the ‘experience market’ for children, Hiraga says. “Even if mothers don’t know the concept of ‘sustainable life,’ they know instinctively that children need experience in nature.” After children, foreigners in Japan are the second largest potential market.

“‘Eco’ is something existing in our daily life. Some philosophical trends like LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) and Slow Life have already come and gone and nobody talks about them anymore. Eco should mean ‘sustainable.’” Hiraga says he just wants more people to enjoy nature in the way that children used to play in the mountains in the past.

Hiraga is often asked to hold seminars nationwide. Sharp Corp, for example, donated its solar panels for solar power generation to Gankoyama and holds CSR (corporate social responsibility) seminars in Gankoyama. Hiraga says Gankoyama has proved it is a profitable business model to revive forests in Japan, and he hopes young people will launch similar businesses.

Spending almost all of his time in Gankoyama, Hiraga is dedicated to providing people with opportunities to think of how they can live with the nature. Those who know Hiraga say he is almost a kid when building the tree house.

September 14, 2010

Just When You Think You’ve Seen It all: Part 1

Fuselage of a plane used as a home on a river

The Jet Home

If you think humans cannot adopt to the changing environment and the financial downturn, check this out. A mind-blowing jet plane home overlooking a lake with a cost of about $30,000!

A trend possibly? Creative individuals around the country have taken to converting used airplanes into living spaces. Some relish the novelty and connection to aviation, while others trumpet the toughness of the frames. Provided another plane doesn’t crash into it I think it’s a very safe way to go.

In 1994, a hairstylist in Benoit, Miss., named JoAnn Ussery lost her 1,400-square-foot house to an ice storm. Ussery had a relative who worked in aviation, and the two came up with the idea to salvage a Continental Airlines 727. It cost her $2,000 to buy the plane, $4,000 to move it to her lakeside lot, and about $24,000 to outfit it comfortably. Ussery did much of the renovation herself, and took advantage of the ample windows and storage bins, as well as the lavatory. Ussery told reporters that she was mainly attracted to the idea because of the plane’s low cost and durability.

Mercedes-Benz dealer Francie Rehwald of Malibu, Calif., has been working on a unique home built from a recycled Boeing 747, at an estimated cost of $2 million. Rehwald told reporters that she is interested in green building and that her project involves turning the wings into a roof, the nose into a meditation temple and the trademark “bulge” into a loft. This I gotta see!

Two boat homes peer out over a residential street

The Boat Homes

Lots of resourceful people have converted boats into living quarters on dry land. One example that stands out can be found on South Bass Island in Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay, Ohio. After 50 years of service on the Great Lakes, the Henry Ford-built Benson Ford was sectioned by an enterprising Ohio couple, who turned the elegant cabins into a private residence.

Thanks to Brian Clark Howard for this article which appeared in the Daily Green. Jet photos © JoAnn Ussery/Airport Journals/Boat Homes © Stan Fader/Flickr