Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Our Cities Would Look Like Without Light Pollution.

November 14, 2014 | by Kristy Hamilton
What if our cities were lit by billions of stars? Wipe away the light and air pollution that obscures our view of the cosmos and we would be left with a dazzling light show.
French artist Thierry Cohen has done just that, depicting a world in which our cities and clear night skies co-exist together. “By combining two realities, I am making a third that you cannot see … but it exists! I am showing you the missing stars,” said Cohen to WIRED.
The eerie beauty of the images highlights what we are giving up; a lament to the skies city dwellers leave behind in order to live in a metropolis. 
Since urban skies are polluted with light from street signs and corner shops, Cohen had to travel to the same latitude in another part of the world to capture a clear view of the night sky. The resulting images are the product of under-exposure and a technique known as day for night. 
To view all 17 images, check out Thierry Cohen’s "DARKENED CITY" gallery. Here are a few of our favorites.

SAN FRANCISCO: 37° 48’ 30’’ N 2010-10-09 Lst 20:58  Thierry Cohen’s “Darkened Cities” gallery

RIO DE JANEIRO: 22° 56’ 42’’ S 2011-06-04 Lst 12:34  Thierry Cohen’s “Darkened Cities” gallery

SHANGHAI31° 13' 22'' N 2012-03-17 Lst 14:47  Thierry Cohen’s “Darkened Cities” gallery

Source: I FL Science

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Another Breakthrough in Hydrogen Energy Challenges Fossil Fuel Dominance

Alex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
Waking Times

Researchers at Virginia Tech have developed a new process that extracts large quantities of hydrogen gas from plants in a renewable and eco-friendly way, offering us another potential alternative to ending our dependence on fossil fuels.

After 7 years of research, Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, and his team have developed a new method of using customized enzymes to produce high quantities of hydrogen out of xylose, a simple sugar present in plants.
Zhang and his team have succeeded in using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen that previously was attainable only in theory. Zhang’s method can be performed using any source of biomass.
This new environmentally friendly method of producing hydrogen utilizes renewable natural resources, releases almost no zero greenhouse gasses, and does not require costly or heavy metals. Previous methods to produce hydrogen are expensive and create greenhouse gases. [Science Daily]
Hydrogen fuel has the potential to dramatically revolutionize the automobile market and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Vehicle manufacturers are already developing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells, which do not produce as many pollutants as regular gasoline cars. Currently in the US, the transportation sector produces 82% of total CO2 emissions in the country.

EIA estimates that U.S. gasoline and diesel fuel consumption for transportation in 2011 resulted in the emission of about 1,089 and 430 million metric tons of CO2 respectively, for a total of 1,519 million metric tons of CO2. This total was equivalent to 82% of total CO2 emissions by the U.S. transportation sector and 28% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, March 28, 2012
Zhang’s method of hydrogen production will need to find its way into commercial markets, which could happen in about 3 years, before any significant impact on the alternative energy market is possible. Even though Zhang’s process addresses the previous obstacles to hydrogen gas production, including high process costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and low quality of the end product, large investment in technology development and infrastructure would still be necessary to transition to hydrogen fuel cars.
“The potential for profit and environmental benefits are why so many automobile, oil, and energy companies are working on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as the transportation of the future,” Zhang said. “Many people believe we will enter the hydrogen economy soon, with a market capacity of at least $1 trillion in the United States alone.”
“It really doesn’t make sense to use non-renewable natural resources to produce hydrogen,” Zhang said. “We think this discovery is a game-changer in the world of alternative energy.” [Science Daily]
A future where renewable energy replaces energy production using fossil fuels is inevitable. Some have gone as far as to illustrate that we have the potential to make this shift in less than 20 years, for example, Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford University and Mark A. Delucchi of the University of California, published a study that shows it is possible to power New York State using only renewable sources by 2030.

Nevertheless, governments’ support of traditional energy production via fossil fuel subsidies, which amount to $1.9 trillion per year, as reported by the International Monetary Fund, is one of the main obstacles to the growth of alternative energy sources. The IMF estimates that $480 billion of the total is comprised of direct subsidies, which have the goal of making petroleum products more affordable.
A fossil fuel subsidy is any government action that lowers the cost of fossil fuel energy production, raises the price received by energy producers or lowers the price paid by energy consumers. There are a lot of activities under this simple definition—tax breaks and giveaways, but also loans at favorable rates, price controls, purchase requirements and a whole lot of other things. [Oil Change International]
The remaining $1.4 trillion are comprised of “externalities”: “the effects of energy consumption on global warming; on public health through the adverse effects on local pollution; on traffic congestion and accidents; and on road damage.” (IMF) Current energy policies are established in such a way that fossil fuel companies do not pay for any of these “externalities”, and thus leaving these industry costs to be indirectly subsidized by governments.

Here are some more statistics about the energy subsidies in the US:
“…between 1994 and 2009 the U.S. oil and gas industries received a cumulative $446.96 billion in subsidies, compared to just $5.93 billion given to renewables in those years. (The nuclear industry, by the way.  received $185 billion in federal subsidies between 1947 and 1999.)”
Source: Forbes
With such policies in place, heavily influenced by large multi-billion dollar companies with strong government ties, is a rapid change towards renewable energy even possible? Are we ready to challenge our policies to shift financial support from harmful and damaging energy production to renewable technologies, and change our own behaviors to create a cohesive movement towards a cleaner and safer planet?

If breakthroughs in technology can offer salient alternatives to the economic stranglehood fossil fuels has on our economy, then we may realize a future of clean energy. One thing is certain, however, without practical alternatives there is no chance of changing the momentum behind extraction based energy toward clean energy.
About the Author
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for and an avid student of Yoga and life.


This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Is Hemp A Miracle Plant That Can Save The World?



By Jeffrey Green, Guest Writer
Waking Times

Hemp is perhaps the answer to most problems in the world. Ambitious, yes.  An exaggeration, no.

If grown extensively, its diverse uses can be of significant value to the environment, the economy, world hunger, personal health, and so much more.

For the environment, hemp can reduce deforestation, pesticide use, provide a sustainable biofuel, and replace GMO cotton among other benefits. It grows like a weed without the need for pesticides or heavy fertilizers.

Hemp does just about anything wood can do and it only takes 6 months to renew, not 20 years. It can be used to make paper, to build homes with, and as fuel for fire.

Hemp clothing is far more durable than cotton, which is an industry still operating a form of slavery from cultivation to production. GMO cotton has led to indentured servitude for Indian farmers where failed crops and debt result in shockingly high suicide rates. Hemp is simply a better material for clothing.

The oil in the hemp seed can be made into biodiesel just like any vegetable oil. Most arguments against biofuels are that their crops take up too much valuable farm land that should be used for food, and it takes more energy than it gives back when all things are considered (fertilizer, pesticides, planting and harvesting machinery, refining).

With hemp, biofuel is merely a bi-product of this crop, not it’s main use. The fiber of the plant is still an extremely valuable commodity. Whereas corn ethanol needs a lot of land with tons of intensive chemicals, and the process of turning corn into ethanol is then a net energy loss.

As today’s economy falters due to a variety of systematic problems, the world is in desperate need of a new industry. Worldwide hemp legalization and promotion would lead to a revolution in nearly all major industries. Entrepreneurs would have a field day with textiles, plastics, body care, construction, etc.

Industrial hemp’s female counterpart, marijuana, provides effective natural medicine for a number of ailments. Cannabis is one of mankind’s oldest recorded healing plants. As its prohibition lessens, modern man is only just beginning to discover the exciting medical uses of marijuana, which are provably vast already.

Cannabis can ease pain, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, PTSD, arthritis, and has even been proven to have anti-cancerous properties. When eaten or vaporized, cannabis is entirely beneficial as a natural alternative because any unwanted tars are not inhaled. Furthermore, juicing raw cannabis has many benefits and zero psychoactive effects.

Hemp alone is powerful enough to be a game changer for the environment and for human society as a whole. It’s time to unleash the hemp seed.

Please watch the very entertaining video about how hemp can save the world and share this information with everyone you know.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Green is a self-sufficiency practitioner and hemp legalization activist. He writes Follow at Facebook. This article originally appeared at Activist Post.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Are Hemp Seeds Part Of A Healthy Diet?

Hemp seeds happen to be one of the most nutritious of health foods and appear to possess a unique combination of the healthy aspects of seeds as well as the medical benefits of marijuana.
 It might be hard to imagine how this could be, so let’s take a look at the facts.

Kent Mao, ContributorWaking Times

Hemp and marijuana seem to be popular topics in today’s society since legalization measures were passed in Colorado and Washington last November. While it’s common to hear advocates proclaim the medical benefits of marijuana, studies have shown that hemp seeds can also provide a number of health advantages as well, making them a unique dietary staple that has yet to be fully recognized.
Before we get into the plenty of nutritional benefits that hemp seeds have to offer, it’s important to note the difference between hemp and marijuana.

You see, marijuana and hemp are actually two different names for the same species of Cannabis plants. But where they differ is in their THC content. Hemp are strains of Cannabis that only contain trace levels of THC, meaning they cannot get you “high” or intoxicated in any way. Although some may still try, hemp is definitely not something that should be smoked. On the other hand, hemp seeds are fast becoming a popular health food – and for good reason, we might add.

Hemp seeds happen to be one of the most nutritious of health foods and appear to possess a unique combination of the healthy aspects of seeds as well as the medical benefits of marijuana. It might be hard to imagine how this could be, so let’s take a look at the facts.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of hemp seeds is that they contain omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) in a ratio of 4:1 – the ideal ratio recommended by the World Health Organization for fatty acid intake.

Why is this important? EFAs are required by the human body for maintaining good health, but cannot be synthesized on their own, meaning that EFAs can only be obtained through a balanced diet. What’s more, no other nut or vegetable oil contains EFAs in the same ratio as hemp seeds, which makes them one of the healthiest sources of EFAs that are known today.

But that’s not all. The oil from hemp seeds contain other healthy fats as well, namely polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). You might be familiar with PUFAs if you are one of the many who take fish oil supplements on the daily, which are also rich in PUFAs. However, plant sources of PUFAs have been found to be more tolerated by the human body, which makes a good argument for switching from fish oil to hemp seeds.

The important part of all this is that regular intake of PUFAs and EFAs has been linked to the prevention of diabetes and various forms of heart disease. They are also believed to help prevent and even improve the outcome of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are two of the most common ailments among the aging population.

If this still isn’t enough to convince you to scribble hemp seeds down on your grocery list, consider this fact. Hemp seeds contain all 21 known amino acids, which makes them a more complete source of protein than eggs, meat, milk, and soy. Vegetarians, take note.

What’s more, hemp seeds are also rich in soluble and insoluble fibers. Fiber is another key component of a healthy diet, helping to reduce blood glucose and cholesterol levels as well as regulating movements of the bowel.

Finally, hemp seeds contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including the highly coveted Vitamin E. Vitamin E is one of the most well known antioxidants and is commonly available as a dietary supplement. Antioxidants also provide tremendous health benefits and have been shown to reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and arthritis, among many others.

Whether you happen to be a diet fanatic or not, the bottom line is that hemp seeds are one of the most nutrient-rich health foods on the market today. While hemp cultivation is still prohibited under US federal law, almost half a million pounds of hemp seeds are imported by the States every year and are commonly available in grocery stores in the form of shelled seeds, oil and flour. It might be just hearsay, but they taste great too!
About the Author
Kent Mao runs the excellent website, an online resource for medical marijuana facts, information and research. actively engages in the online discussion of marijuana research and policy. You can learn more by visiting

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Toothless Progressive Caucus "Deeply Opposed" to Social Security cuts.

Recent history suggests that this Progressive Caucus is a toothless tiger that
issues empty threats: and that when it comes time to cast a vote, these representatives
do not have the cojones to stand up to the President and their party.
By Frankly Speaking
In an otherwise fine article on today entitled "Liberal groups threaten primaries over Obama budget", contributor Alex Seitz-Wald writes:
Over 100 Democratic House members — more than half of the caucus — have already signed a letter pledging to vote against any bill that includes entitlement cuts, meaning Obama may well have to rely on Republicans to pass his budget.
This is actually a mischaracterization of the contents of the letter.
The letter itself only states strong opposition to these proposed cuts. In no place do they pledge to vote against them, they merely offer to work with the President on an alternative.
Here's the strongest statement they make on the issue:

...we remain deeply opposed to proposals to reduce Social Security benefits through use of the chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living adjustments. We remain committed to making the changes that will extend solvency for 75 years, but Social Security has not contributed to our current fiscal problems and it should not be on the bargaining table.
In a related article, "107 Dems try to take entitlement cuts off the table", Seitz-Wald writes:
Ellison and his colleagues are hoping to head off that possibility (switching to the Chained CPI) with this letter. “I think it’s a big deal. There’s a consistency in the Democratic Caucus and I wouldn’t be surprised if we get even more,” he said. “We’re hoping that it’s enough to stop it. But if a bill comes on the floor, there’s probably enough Republicans, and even some Dems, who might still favor cuts to these vital programs. But at least consistently within the Democrats, I’m hoping our caucus won’t participate in that.”
Wow. That's pretty inspiring rhetoric, is it not? Ellison is "hoping our caucus won't participate", there's "consistency" and they’re all also “deeply opposed”. Oh yeah... and they’re “committed”.
The President must be shaking in his boots.

I can’t say that I’m impressed. These are many of the same people who threatened  to vote against the Affordable Healthcare Act if it did not include a public option.  Well, guess what? They almost all voted for the bill. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many times Progressive Democrats have “deeply opposed” something or  made a “committed” stand and then caved under pressure and vague promises from party leadership.
There's no telling if the House GOP will even allow this to the floor, but I wish I could believe that if it does make it to the floor of the House, these people will stand up for their values and for the American People and vote against cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it would signal to the President that he cannot take the House Progressives for granted anymore: and perhaps in the future he would not be so quick to sign on to right-wing Bush era thinking on Social Security, healthcare or any number of issues. 
Recent history suggests, however, that this Progressive Caucus is a toothless tiger that issues empty threats: and that when it comes time to cast a vote, these representatives do not have the cojones to stand up to the President and their party.
The numbers are there. Over 100 representatives signed this letter. That's a sizeable bloc of votes. Now if only they had the strength of their convictions to follow through on these issues, we might have a strong Progressive Caucus in Congress that could influence legislation and votes. Then, and only then, they could take a real stand and make a meaningful difference in the fight to reverse the ongoing dismantling of the New Deal and its related programs.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

SURPRISE... Prohibition Is About Greed & Power, Not Getting High.

The Feds don't care about pot smokers; they just keep HEMP illegal in order to maintain the power, medicine, and fuel monopolies

Source: NaturalNews
(NaturalNews) The Feds (federal government) couldn't care LESS about pot smokers, and a bunch of people feeling happy and eating nachos late at night while talking about the universe and maybe a little "green" peace. In fact, the U.S. government only cares about keeping HEMP FARMING ILLEGAL because that, my friends, will ruin the corporate medicine, power and fuel conglomerates. Think about it; cigarettes and alcohol cause diseases and deaths right and left, but nobody overdoses on pot, so what is so bad about it? Hemp! Hemp is what is so "bad" about marijuana, and the United States government does not want or need the competition. If they legalize pot, they legalize the growing of hemp, it's that simple. (

If you don't know about it already, no plant on earth, not even soy, has ever spawned as many different products (and as much controversy) as hemp. You can buy hemp clothing, hemp paper, hemp milk, hemp oil, the list goes on. One Canadian company actually built an electric car out of hemp. Hemp is "taxonomically identical" to marijuana, as both are classified as Cannabis Sativa L, and the only true difference between them is the concentration of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance in pot, of which marijuana usually contains at least three percent.

Say Goodbye To Pesticides, GMOs & Fertilizers

Hemp can be used for natural medicine, food, textiles, medicine, paper, clothing and affordable shelter. Hemp can serve as natural fuel for homes, cars, and businesses. The power companies that charge you hundreds of dollars every month would be crippled. Thousands of retail "conglomerates" would go under. Gas companies would go bankrupt. People could get healthy, instead of eating processed foods and GMO pesticide-laden, cancer causing food. That's right, cancer could be prevented and cured. Forget about marching for the cure, cannabis and hemp would be the new "dynamic duo" of food and medicine in the United States, and all over the earth. (

So what do the feds and the mainstream media do about hemp and its impending MASS BENEFITS? Look over there - distraction! Let's talk about whether or not people should be allowed to smoke pot, that way nobody will think about hemp being legalized, which would only solve nearly every resource crisis in the United States. The media has everyone debating about pot heads instead of natural resources, you see?

Living Off The Grid

Millions of people living "off the grid" is a problem. It's a huge problem for the government and the corporations that overcharge and abuse the power of supplying energy and resources to the country. Gas and power rank at the top of that "food chain." Let me explain.

If the U.S. government legalizes marijuana at the federal level, and all or most of the states follow suit shortly thereafter, that would mean everyone could grow hemp. If everyone can grow "pot," then everyone becomes their own small farmer, and for reasons far beyond some practical vegetable garden that provides a tasty, healthy salad. Far beyond the "weed" garden of "the herb" that helps with cataracts, skin cancer, allergies, and nausea.

Hemp becomes your second job and your greatest source of wealth, because growing it eliminates major bills you incur regularly, bills which are influenced by inflation, corrupt government, and everyone's use and misuse of it around you ( Suddenly, you drop off the grid, actually growing your own power, fuel, clothing, building materials and food, and very healthy food at that. Have you really taken a long look at the benefits of hemp, or did you think that was just a "hippy" thing?

Hemp Nation USA!

By the way, do not expect any successful GREEN ENERGY development and resources coming from the government any time soon. That's like "the war on drugs" the "war on cancer, and the war on terror" - all complete hoaxes. Why do you think the government won't mass produce solar panels and wind mills? Oops, so much for power bills! Most Americans spend 40 hours a month working just to pay their power and fuel bills. Why do you think we are at war, because terrorists threaten our way of life? No. It's for free oil from abroad to be sold in United States.

Top Reasons For The U.S. Government's "War on Hemp"


Hemp as fuel and clean energy: Question: Who needs a welfare check or social security when you can grow a few grand worth of hemp every month in your own back yard? ( Are you still not sure? "Hemp fuel is a way out of oil! Planting only six percent of the continental United States with biomass crops such as hemp would supply all current domestic demands for oil and gas." That's perfect for cars, homes, small businesses and living off the grid. (

Hemp as medicine: Who says hemp can cure cancer? Should you know more about hemp seed oil and cannabis sativa? Are any doctors talking about it? ( Does hemp oil contain omega-3s, which are devoid in most U.S. food, but which are vital to good health? Yes. Another question: Can you buy hemp seed oil legally online and have it delivered to your home? Yes, you can.

Hemp clothing is free of chemicals. Goodbye formaldehyde and skin allergies.
( Organic linens are sold right here in the U.S. legally, but who knows? You could be wearing chemical-free, eco-friendly, cruelty-free hemp products that are made in the U.S. Oh, and what about water conservation and being environmentally friendly? Hemp plants need around 50 percent less water per season than cotton does, and hemp can grow with little irrigation. The facts are out there:

Hemp is essential food: Seeds of the plant "cannabis sativa" (hemp seeds) contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life. No other single plant source has amino acids in such an easily digestible form, nor has the essential fatty acids in as perfect a ratio to meet human nutritional needs
( Plus, hemp provides sustainability. Hemp is 100 percent biodegradable, so bye-bye pollution from plastics, like bisphenol-A (BPA).

Hemp for storage and emergencies: Learn about survival and "surthrival" during natural disasters, nuclear disasters, GMO pollution and more. The Health Ranger has done his "homework" on this subject thoroughly, and you can and should learn the basics. (

Lastly, why do you think alternative fuel agendas are a big joke, full of companies which are federally funded, but running for the hills, with the federal funds feeding huge salaries and bonuses that bankrupt the companies?

These businesses are made to fail, period. Natural News has covered this well before. Health enthusiasts all over the world are waking up to the truth about natural resources and natural medicine. Mike Adams said it best, "We are living through the end of one era and the birth of a new one." (

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Everything Petroleum Does, Hemp Can Do Better.

Becca Wolford, Contributing Writer
Waking Times 
December 28, 2012

We are in an economic crisis. But don’t panic, there are always good things that come out of crises. It’s all a matter of being aware, being ready, and being educated.

Our economy, put simply, really sucks right now. But the United States is not alone. Other countries are facing the same pain. There are several factors that have had a hand in the decline.
Here is a simplified example:

A country has good currency and a strong economy. It sees a population growth and economic growth. More programs are implemented (public works, healthcare, public housing assistance, welfare, Social Security, Medicare, Workman’s Comp., etc.), aiding in influence in economic issues and politics…and then the money and influence gets channeled into a huge military fund/presence. The military is then utilized, and enormous expenditures occur (funding wars). This transfer of money, or wealth, is the cause of economic pain for most of the population, and results in inflation and the declining value of the dollar.

(image from

Here are the main reasons for our economic state today:
1. Housing Bubble
2. Record amounts of debt
3. Oil

If you look at history about 100 years ago, when the big oil boom started, that is when the economy surged and the population started seeing an increase. And, when you think about it, almost everything you have is the result of oil. Clothing, food, homes, vehicles, transportation, electronics, household goods – all are/were dependent on oil, either in the manufacturing of those goods or the transportation used in getting those goods to you.

The United States uses 25% of the world’s daily oil supply, and imports 70% of that. (

Oil is not a renewable resource, and it is a DECLINING resource. Easy, cheap oil is on the decline. Countries are seeing a decline in oil extraction, and there is a rush to find either new oil fields or alternate sources of energy. Again, at this point, it is the EASY, CHEAP oil that is on the decline.

Global oil production is declining at 8-10% per  year. And what does this mean? Higher prices. For EVERYTHING.

Now, this is not the end of the world as we know it. There IS a solution, and that solution is HEMP.
Hemp does everything that petroleum does, AND BETTER!

Extracting fossil fuels are harmful to the environment and to human health. Petroleum extracting and processing is a chemical-intensive, expensive process.  Hemp oil for fuel is simply a matter of growing, harvesting, and processing.

Petroleum-based plastics are not biodegradable. Hemp-based plastics are recyclable and biodegradable.

Fuel for transportation can be replaced with hemp-based biofuels. Hemp fuel is clean, efficient, and…if it spills it does not harm the environment, it is more like a fertilizer.

Everything, EVERYTHING, that petroleum does, hemp does. So, why are we feeling this pain from fossil fuels?

Why are we not allowing our farmers to grow hemp?  Well, we know the reasons – big oil, pharma, timber, and chemical companies do not want to lose their investment dollars; the military – using OUR dollars to fund wars, some of which have to do with…yes, you guessed it…OIL.

What would happen if in the next few years we, in the U.S., farmed hemp on a large scale? We would have no more dependence on foreign oil, we certainly wouldn’t need so much money spent on the military, we would have a clean, safe alternative, and every single factor in our lives when it comes to food, clothing, health, transportation, housing, etc. – it would all be thanks to HEMP. Our economy would start to heal. The government wouldn’t need to print new money, causing more debt (which, by the way, is NOT the answer to reviving a sucky economy).

So, what do we do now? We keep speaking, we keep educating, we work toward legalizing industrial hemp farming in the U.S. We put our energy into doing everything we can to rid ourselves of dependence on foreign and domestic fossil fuels. Will this happen overnight? No. Of course not. But we can begin taking steps NOW to take us in that direction.

About the Author

Becca Wolford is a writer, entrepreneur, artist, reiki practitioner, and hemp activist. She has experienced first-hand the nutritional and healing benefits of hemp and her passion is learning, writing, and educating others about the benefits of hemp – benefits that encompass nutritional health for humans, a healthy environment, and a healthier economy. Becca also distributes Versativa, an amazing raw, clean, hemp-based nutritional supplement and Restoration90, a raw, clean, nutritional product with marine phytoplankton, hemp, and essential nutrients for optimum health. Please support her at her excellent blog

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Friday, December 28, 2012

How to Start Your Own Garden Almost Free

How to Start Your Own Garden Almost Free

By Alina NiemiKitchen Garden International

Yes, the economy is in bad shape, I know.  But don’t use that as an excuse for not gardening.  You can take the expensive route and buy everything you need to get started, or you can be resourceful and end up with something that works, for little to no money.  Here are some tips to get you started.

The trellises in the photo above are bed frames, railings, and other items collected from the side of the road. Other people's trash is your free garden!

Contain It
The first thing you need is something to grow in.  Start with the containers your food comes in.  Asceptic boxes, plastic tubs, and plastic bottles, all of which you would otherwise just discard, can all be used as containers to start seeds in.  Add some holes for drainage, some potting mix, and you’re ready to go.

You can also use newspaper pots.  Strips of newspaper wrapped around a cylinder, with the bottoms folded under, aren’t sturdy enough for the long term, but they can be used to start seeds in.  When you transplant them, put the whole thing, pot and all, into the ground or larger container.

Feed It
Fertilizer can be had in the form of compost, which is basically all your waste fruit and vegetable scraps, eggs shells, and some paper.  Vermicomposting, or composting with worms, can even be done in a bin inside your house–tucked under your kitchen sink, for example.

You will reduce the amount of garbage that goes into landfills.  You will get free fertilizer.  You will give life to worms (if you vermicompost).  And you won’t be forced to use chemical-filled soil mixes and fertilizers that are sold in garden and home centers, which may have a detrimental effect on our environment (not to mention your wallet).

Water It
The cheapest way to obtain water for your plants is to collect rainwater.  You can use any container you like.  (Avoid containers that have had toxic or cleaning chemicals in them.)  I’d suggest covering them with screening to prevent mosquito infestation, especially if you’re in an area where mosquito-borne illnesses, such as encephalitis or Dengue Fever, can be a problem.

You can often find discarded 5-gallon buckets from restaurants.  Be sure to clean them out thoroughly before you use them.

Reproduce It
Use what you buy from the grocery store to start more plants. Lemongrass and green onions are easy to grow and will provide you with leaves and stalks both.  Lemongrass leaves make a delicious hot or iced tea.  Use green onions in your salads and sandwiches.

Fresh herbs are commonly sold in grocery stores these days.  Mint and sometimes basil can be started by placing a sprig in a jar of room-temperature water until roots sprout.  Change the water daily and transplant as soon as possible, to prevent rotting.

Trade It
Become a part of an online gardening forum, a local gardening club, or something similar.  Almost all of them have formal or informal seed swapping opportunities.  Trade something you have a lot of, or seeds for something you’ve grown but don’t like, for something new.  It’s also a great way to trade varieties that don’t do well in your climate, for something that didn’t work for someone else in theirs.

Train It
Use found objects as trellises for climbing or sprawling plants, such as pole beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  The back of our little garden plot is lined with bed frames and rails, metal shelving supports, and other things.  All of them were picked up from curbside, thrown out by others.  Even if the metal rusts, it will last several years before it needs to be replaced.

So you see, you can be a cheapskate if you want or need to in your gardening efforts.  But be sure to be generous with your harvest, and share it with your neighbors, friends, and others.  I’ve fed arugula to electric company workers, herbs to neighbors, and cholesterol spinach to practically anyone who passes (since it grows almost without any help from me in our area.)

You’ll be opening their eyes to the pleasures of gardening, introducing them to new taste sensations, and maybe making them a little healthier in the process.  And that way, they might not complain about the toilet tanks, truck tires, and bed frames in your yard that you are using to grow everything with!

I added a post to my blog if you want to see how to use toilet tanks as containers for your garden. They already come with drainage holes, they are rectangular, so you can stack them next to each other, saving space.  And they are deep, so you can grow carrots and daikon in them, too.  See using toilet tanks for container gardening

About the Author
Alina Niemi is a gardener, foodie, teacher, writer, illustrator, and traveler. She is the author of The New Scoop: Recipes for Dairy-Free, Vegan Ice Cream in Unusual Flavors
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On Drug Policy, Europe Shows Us the Money—and It's Ugly


On Drug Policy, Europe Shows Us the Money—

and It's Ugly

December 19, 2012   by Daniel Wolfe & Joanne Csete     
Public Health Program, Global Drug Policy Program

The goal of balanced drug policy was revealed to be more rhetoric than reality with the release of the first set of national profiles on drug-related public expenditure by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The profiles detail drug-related government expenditures in 30 European countries, finding that on average, spending on law enforcement and public safety greatly outpaced spending on health. Even in countries that position themselves as pioneers of harm reduction and drug treatment, the accounting shows how much policing and punishment are still the priority in Europe’s approach to drugs. In the UK for example, spending on public order and safety was 61 percent of the total drug budget—compared to only 13 percent on health. Belgium reported spending 62 percent of its drug budget on law enforcement, but less than one percent on harm reduction services. Sweden reportedly spent less than a single percent of its budget on harm reduction. Some countries like Austria, Poland, and Romania haven’t even bothered to report figures on their national drug strategies.

As numerous Open Society Foundations partners have detailed in the ‘Count the Costs’ campaigns in Eurasia and Western Europe alike, the drug war is exacting a terrible toll in terms of prisoners taken, productivity destroyed, and people stigmatized and criminalized. The EMCDDA’s summary helps to show the link between these outcomes and national budgets that emphasize too many arrests, too little treatment and counseling, and not enough access to clean needles. Law enforcement will always be part of a balanced approach, but it must not be disproportionately prioritized over support for health-based interventions that can stop HIV infection and help drug users make positive change. Health services not only work better than prisons in many instances, but are cheaper.
For the many countries looking to the EU for pragmatic leadership in drug strategy, this money trail leads to an ugly conclusion: the ‘punish and control’ model is alive and well. European countries have ample evidence that health approaches to drug problems work. Now, they need to fund them.

Original Story: On Drug Policy, Europe Shows Us the Money—and It's Ugly
Source: Open Society Foundations

For Many Cannabis Is An Exit Drug.

Is Marijuana an 'Exit Drug'? 

Study Suggests Some Are Taking It as a Substitute for Prescription Drugs and Alcohol

NORML/ By Paul Armentano

A surprising three quarters of medical cannabis consumers say they subbed in pot for more harmful substances.

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Three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance, according to survey data published in the journal  Addiction Research and Theory.
An international team of investigators from Canada and the United States assessed the subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada.
Researchers reported that subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals. Authors reported:
“Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”
Overall, 75.5 percent (n=305) of respondents said that they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance. Men were more likely than women to report substituting cannabis for alcohol or illicit drugs.

Authors concluded: “While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our under- standing of cannabis-based substitution effect.”

Previous studies have similarly demonstrated cannabis’ potential efficacy as an exit drug. A 2010  study published in the Harm Reduction Journal reported that cannabis-using adults enrolled in substance abuse treatment programs fared equally or better than nonusers in various outcome categories, including treatment completion. A 2009  study reported that 40 percent of subjects attending a California medical cannabis dispensary reported using marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, and 26 percent used it to replace their former use of more potent illegal drugs. A separate 2009  study published in the American Journal on Addictions reported that moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among opiate-dependent subjects in a New York state inpatient detoxification program.

Full text of the study, “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients,”  appears online in Addiction Research and Theory. NORML Advisory Board Member  Mitch Earleywine is a co-author of this study.

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and is the co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (2009, Chelsea Green).

Read Original Story: Is Marijuana An Exit Drug?