Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day, the idea of a Wisconsin senator, the late Gaylord Nelson, back in the Sixties. The first Earth Day took place in 1970, with some 20 million supporting its cause. Now 500 million are expected to celebrate this year’s event.

Hundreds of millions of people switched off their lights for Earth Hour last month.

This is all very encouraging, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Other statistics are anything but. Such as, since 1970, the Earth’s population has almost doubled, the share of arable land per person has almost halved and more than 160 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide have been released into the atmosphere (that’s more in the last 40 years than in the two hundred prior to 1970).

So, without wishing to get all preachy, please commit to doing at least one new ‘little something’ for the good of our planet, such as collecting rain water or not using the car at weekends – and get someone else to follow your lead.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for enhancing simple, sustainable living.

One thing I’m doing this year is growing my own vegetables, so tips and encouragement from the green-fingered would be especially welcome.

You might like to read what the Wilderness Society recommends for making a difference, tune in to Earth Day TV, write to your elected political representatives and e-mail Congress (because the successor to Kyoto should involve the USA, with the emphasis being put on protecting the climate, not corporate profits).

If you need inspiration, or just a stark reality check (yes, you can call it a guilt-trip, I know that I feel guilty), there are some shocking photographs of melting glaciers, dried-up riverbeds, mounds of dead fish and creeks filled with rubbish – here.

To take a line from Greenpeace, enough is enough.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

91 thoughts on “Earth Day”

  1. One thing I’m doing this year is growing my own vegetables, so tips and encouragement from the green-fingered would be especially welcome.

    I hope the crop is fruitful so that you don’t go hungry. Did you use fertilizer or just good old manure for your garden patch?

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. I’m trying to do it organically, so haven’t used anything off the shelf… yet. I’m hoping that home-made compost and mulch will do the trick.

    2. Do you have a septic tank F’ed ?

      You’ll find “water” from the filtered chamber has a marvellous impact on your veg (and saves using that precious tap stuff).

      Can’t vouch for the taste though.

    3. I’ve always used sheep manure with great results.

      To waste as little water as possible when having to water during dry spells, I build earth dams around tomato plants and such. It’s easy. Just mound the soil with your hands in a circle around the plants about a foot away from the main stalk and about 6 inches high. Water each plant separately within the inside of the dam. That way, all of the water goes down directly to the roots and does not run off to areas where it is not needed.

    4. Thankfully I have no shortage of water, with several water butts and a regular supply of rainfall keeping them topped up, but thanks for the water-saving tips.

    5. Compost is all you need… I’ve been doing it for about 20 years now. I like to mix a little dirt with mine, about 25% dirt. Then I like to put a layer of dirt on top to keep the compost down.

      Tomatoes are always a favorite, I need to keep them out of direct sun here in Arizona, carrots are slow going, I love asparagus – but you’ll need to be patient with that also (comes back on its own every year, better than before).

      Try anything, that’s the fun in it.

  2. Hi, Dave.

    Love your records, bla bla bla (the usual). 😀

    So, here’s what I’m gonna do tomorrow, that I usually do every year, since 2002 or 2003:

    I usually get some eucalyptus seeds from my father and plant them in an area that has been consumed by fire, even if that’s not a public area. Portugal is not a very big country, but in the last 10 years there has been a lot of fires here. Hope it helps the environment.

    So, what are your ideas for tomorrow?

    Greetings,
    João Dias

    1. 13. One for each Welsh player selected for the Lions’ squad.

      Jokes aside, no leeks. Plenty of spring onions, though.

  3. Does getting someone else to mow my lawn, thus saving the energy I would have to expend count?

    True story: I am a retired police officer. In the late 70s I was working in a cruiser late at night in a terrible downpour. A car passed me going the other direction with no lights on. Concerned, I turned around and pulled the car over. Inside was an elderly man, probably close to 90. I asked him why he was driving with his headlights off in this storm. He told me he was trying to conserve energy.

    Later that night I filled out the paperwork to have him re-tested for his driver’s license.

    Dave

  4. Hey FEd,

    I caught part of a tv show recently that had a bit on this swirling ‘plastic ocean’ phenomenon. I found this more extensive article online which is enough to make you weep in despair.

    There used to be a commercial on tv for Monsanto (the people who brought us Agent Orange, if I’m not mistaken) which used the tag line that “without plastic, even life itself would be impossible.” That may be true to a point, but it looks as if it might also be the death of us.

    I can’t wrap my mind around the enormity of what it would take to solve the problem but I certainly hope that our world leaders will seek out and heed the advice of those who can.

    Peace!
    Gabrielle

    1. Thanks Gabs, it really opens your eyes.

      I recall in the 80s when DDT and other banned chemicals were sold to 3rd World countries and in return, we ate their fruits of labour while the natives were dying without gear to protect themselves.

    2. Thanks for that. I’ll weep in despair with you.

      Did you see the photo of a man buried in plastic bottles in a Shenyang waste dump? Manufacturers should be forced to spend some of their obscene profits on alternative, renewable packaging. Take Coca Cola, for example. I read the other day that they sell 300 different drink brands in more than 200 countries. They couldn’t afford to use glass bottles instead of plastic (glass being infinitely recyclable)?

      Plastic is certainly evil. Have a look at this, if you need convincing.

  5. I am teaching my students about being goo stewards of the Earth — Recycling, Reducing, Re-Using, turning off the lights when we leave a room, etc. It is a hard lesson to teach kids from the urban gangland that is their lives. If I could tie it in with the gangs, I might be able to teach them about it.

    1. I am teaching my students about being goo stewards

      You’re bound to be brought up on charges… just sayin’.

    2. Great stuff, Dan. Education is where it is at. I swear by it.

      Once Imogen starts school, I will try and get involved with starting green campaigns or at least green awareness at her school with the teachers and pupils.

      I believe in education. 🙂

  6. Working for one of the largest corporations in the US, I am encouraging my co-workers to turn off their desk lamps and desk tops before they leave. By my understanding, computers use more energy in ‘sleep’ mode and the only reason they are not turned off is because people don’t want to wait the few extra seconds for it to start, but it is no longer causes damage to turn them on and off each night like it use to. If I’m wrong someone can correct me.

    Fed – Good luck with the garden. I’m going to leave my vegetables to be raised by my local growers and keep supporting them at the Farmer’s Market.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I might have to take a leaf (oh dear, that was a terrible pun) out of your book, as many of my lettuce seedlings are looking limp and pathetic, although they do smell like lettuce…

      As for computers being left in ‘sleep’ mode, that’s always been a pet hate of mine. Good for you, I hope you set some new habits.

    2. One thing we’ve done at the company I work for, is to set all the monitors (and we’re talking around 2,000 of the beasts) to automatically switch off after a set period of time. That deals with those who cannot be bothered to turn their screens off properly and leave them on overnight and over the weekend. Just one of many things we’re doing to help reduce and educate…

      For those interested in doing this for themselves, on most screens it can be done via the monitor’s own menu (look for the little buttons at the bottom of most monitors).

      And yes, it was a fun job going round and doing this to each one!! 8|

  7. Hi again Fed,

    Just thought you would like to know. Kat’s just home and has been in an all day meeting with regards to the 4 nominated sites in the Lake District for the nuclear site. She is so disgusted with it all. As you may be aware there is one already up there, I think that one produces weapons grade Uranium. Kat has been offered a post with the Scottish planning inspectorate, and I think this fiasco to put new nuclear sites more or less in the national park has made her mind up.

    And that’s the problem with the world, we are putting money and jobs before our environment.

    Check out New Zealand, that’s a country that does cherish is surroundings.

    Damian.

  8. One thing I’m doing this year is growing my own vegetables, so tips and encouragement from the green-fingered would be especially welcome.

    My boyfriend and I are doing the same, so I know how it’s hard to fight parasites, slugs and diseases without using any chemical and polluting substance.

    Some home made composts have been useful enough for us, for example the mixture of water and crashed garlic to send away the grubs of butterflies (especially the white one, if you have them where you live) which eats the cabbages or the fireplace ashes all around the plants, to keep off the slugs.

    Copper and water sprayed on the plants is also a remedy which works against many kind of parasites and diseases and it’s also accepted as not polluting in organic agriculture.

    These are the methods we tried till now, but our experience is very limited and I think we’ll have to do a lot of hard work before our plants give us the beautiful fruits we are used to buying in the shops, but I don’t mind. Our fruits are our fruits and we’re proud of them. 😀

    I also would like to send you this link. It makes me really angry and amazed. Many famous, respected scientists signed that document and I really can’t understand how and why they could do it.

    1. Thanks for the link and tips – and good luck to you both with your fruit- and vegetable-growing adventures. 🙂

      I’ve got broken egg shells and seaweed protecting my seedlings at the moment. I’m told that hair clippings and pine needles are also effective slug repellents.

  9. If only people would hang on to things longer, I am sure that would help. My mobile is 5 years old as is my digital camera. I don’t own an iPod and my Walkman celebrates its 12th birthday this year. My car is 9 years old. My stereo is 20 years old and I have only gone to Broadband last year.

    I try and not use my car at weekends and use the train for long journeys. I don’t watch TV and own a clockwork radio. Sometimes less is really more so why oh why are we so materialistic? It can really be so silly to spend a fortune in finite resources to save so little.

    Ian

    1. Very well said, Ian. Here are mine:

      Mobile – 3 years old
      Digital camera – 5 years old
      Car – 10 this year (I’m so proud)
      Stereo – 8 years old

      But I do own an iPod, rendering my 11-year-old Discman redundant, and I do watch TV (my Sky+ box having to be on standby when not in use, much to my irritation). I do have a wind-up/solar-powered radio and use the train often, if that redeems me at all.

      Now, who will share our pride in having (allegedly) out-dated things? We want to hear from you and discover how old your cars and stereos are. Have no shame; the older it is, the better. 😉

      No-one need point out that more recently-manufactured vehicles and electrical goods are usually more fuel- and energy-efficient, by the way. That will just get us scrambling around the backs of our fridges and televisions looking for energy efficiency rating labels, and nobody wants that.

      Joking aside, who’s to say whether it’s better to fill landfill sites with out-of-date cast-offs in favour of more energy-efficient goods, or to stick with what you have until it needs to be replaced? Apple? Sony? Samsung? I can’t imagine why, but I suspect they only want to relieve you of your money rather than your guilty conscience at not being ‘green’ enough.

    2. My mobile phone is 3 years old as well but it replaced one that I had held onto for 7 or 8 years. In fact, when I updated it the operator who assisted me couldn’t believe I was still using it. And the funniest part was when someone saw me using my old phone, they always commented it was the best phone they ever had.

      My main digital camera is a first generation Kodak 1 megapixel camera that takes some of the best pics, it is also over 10 years old. You don’t need millions of megapixels to take great photos, you only need a quality camera. And I’m still trying to figure out why you need memory to hold upwards of 1,000 pictures. You know that most of those digital pictures you have are crap. There was more quality when you knew you only had 12 pictures to take on an old fashioned film camera. In fact, I also just dug out my old Pentax film camera. It was a fantastic hobby that I want to get back into.

      I use an old HP laser printer that is also over 10 years old and it works great. I know people who have gone through 5 or 6 printers to my one.

      Stereo is also over 20 years old and plays loud whenever I need it to.

      I do have an iPod but it is the 2nd generation 30GB model that is several years old – still plays music fine.

      As for TV, we have the expanded basic cable. I don’t see a need to have 500 channels of crap to choose from, I’m happy with only having 50 channels of crap.

      I’m kinda known as the guy with the dinosaur technology, but I don’t mind.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    3. I also think that sometimes less is really more and I don’t say so only from an ecological point of view.

      I have some things which I could never replace with anything else, for example my old (my father bought it when he was young) reflex camera. I also have a digital one, which is also more than ten years old now. It takes beautiful pictures, but not so beautiful as the ones taken with the other camera.

      Some old things have really more quality than the new ones.

      Apart from that, I have a 4 year old mobile phone, a 16 year old stereo and no car at the moment, even if I think I’ll have to buy it soon if I want to work and have a normal life. I would do without it if I could, because I really don’t like to drive, but the reality is that I’m not free to decide about it.

      I’m sure there are lots of people who think like me. Wouldn’t it be good for our environment if they could decide to go on foot or by bike, instead of using polluting cars?

  10. Has anyone seen ‘An Inconvenient Truth’? I think it is stunning and even though I was never a Gore fan, he seems to care more about the environment than either of the Bushes. Too bad the ‘chad’ count in Florida when in Bush’s favor. We might have been in a different place today. I have seen the evidence of some of what he has touched on with the pine beetle devastation in the national parks. The park rangers all said the same thing. Global warming has meant that there have not been enough days below zero to kill the beetle. It just goes dormant.

    What I have been doing is to stop using my clothes dryer. Have not used it since last July. That’s a small thing. I plant herbs. My husband takes the bus to work and I drive the car maybe one day a week to the grocery store. Less, if I have planned well. Lots of other things that are little but keep trying to keep using my head.

    Not matter what, the need is urgent and I wish there was a major push in this country to do something now! Right now, I know the major focus is on the economic struggle. Hate to think what the planet will look like in our children’s children’s time.

    Earth Day seems a puny effort to me.

    Jan

    1. I know it’s had its critics, but I really enjoyed (in the loosest sense of the word, of course) An Inconvenient Truth.

      I wish Al Gore wouldn’t fly quite so often, though.

      I don’t know why politicians and businessmen insist on flying so frequently when they profess to care so strongly about the environment and the size of their carbon footprint. Couldn’t they just make better use of video-conferencing technology instead?

    2. It’s not just the flying, it’s the flying private. Why fly in a jet plane with 6 folks in it instead of flying commercial where you leverage a few hundred? First class cabin is actually quite cosy.

      Years ago I had been invited to fly private on a few trips and yes it is a great experience that can spoil you. But you also wouldn’t believe at how much those flights costs. For the cost of one domestic private round trip flight, you can fly a family of 4 from the U.S. to the U.K. in first class.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    3. Although what Gore has done is commendable, I think the Nobel organization missed on this one BIG TIME:

      In May 2008, a 98 year-old Polish lady named Irena Sendler died.

      During WWII, she got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist but she had an ulterior motive. She KNEW of the Nazis’ plans for the Jews. Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and, in the back of her truck, she had a burlap sack for the larger children. She had a dog in the back of the truck that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the noise of the children. She managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 children before she was caught; the Nazis broke both her legs and her arms and beat her severely.

      Irena kept a record of the names of all the children that she smuggled out which she kept in a glass jar buried under a tree in her back yard. After the War, she tried to locate any parents that had survived and reunited the families. Most, of course, had been gassed but she helped those children to be placed into foster family homes or adopted.

      In 2007, Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize but was not selected. Al Gore won – for a slide show on Global Warming (which 30,000 scientists are refuting via law suit).

    4. FE’d:

      I agree about the flying. However, I watched the commentary of the film presented by the director. It sounded like much of the flying that Gore did that was shown in the film, was done during the years that he had been trying to get people to listen to his slide presentation about global warming. And sometimes the only way you get people to listen is to be there in person.

      This film changed my opinion about Gore and reinforced my opinion about both Bushes.

      Jan

  11. ‘A little something’, more symbolic than effective, partly to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing something (very) difficult for our planet: I will leave my computer and monitor turned off all day tomorrow.

    One thing I’m doing this year is growing my own vegetables, so tips and encouragement…

    Onions, potatoes, thyme… indispensable for a perfect Tartiflette…

    And do you know that slugs find beer irresistible? :)) So, to get rid of them without using pesticides, just fill shallow dishes with beer and put them out in the garden. You can easily imagine what will happen.

    But maybe you can’t imagine wasting beer on slugs… 😉

    Michèle

    1. That’s definitely an inexcusable waste of beer. Besides, I don’t want to resort to indiscriminate killing, if I can help it.

    2. Slugs will not always take to the beer. I found a jar filled with water and a lot of salt and then picking up the slugs and dumping them in is the only way. Only problem is the screaming of their little voices in your sleep!

      Seriously though, I had so many one year, I thought I could hear them march across my yard. I had to get rid of some in order to save my garden. :))

      Jan

  12. Hi David – Thank you so much for all your good efforts, and for striving to warm us all up to do as much as we all can.

    Ironically (in light of the general trampling of the Earth by the so-called “Christian” West), it is Christians who perhaps have the most solid theological underpinning for a healthy and truly sacred ecological vision. Man was placed in Eden to tend the garden, and in the Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation), it is those who destroy the Earth who are among those singled out for judgment (Rev 11.18).

    One great example in my life: I regularly visit an Orthodox Christian monastery in northern Ohio which moves closer to food self-sufficiency each year through gardening, composting, root cellar, water conservation, and reduced electric use. For practical environmental theology, may I recommend the writings of John Chryssavgis, ecological advisor to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

    As for my own modest efforts, I try to take up as small a “carbon footprint” as possible; I drive an old (’96) Honda which gets 25 mpg combined, 34 hwy, I don’t usually drive on my day off, I try to walk to do my shopping locally, I don’t shower every day, turn lights off when leaving a room, use small wattage fluorescent bulbs, etc. I’m probably not a very good consumer!

    May we all set a good example as best we can!

    1. Hunt, you are a gentleman and a scholar! Psst… don’t tell the right wing conservatives over here (in the States) that there are other Christians besides them… I think it would damage their psyche. :))

      I think Ralph Nadar also is a big proponent of a clean environment, if I’m not mistaken.

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

  13. Hi Ho FEd,

    Regarding the gardening part of your post FEd…

    1] Grow food you actually want to eat. Pumpkins are really easy to grow, but if you don’t like them then what’s the point?

    2] Get to know your local area and in particular your yard, balcony, greenhouse etc. Knowing where the best full sun is for example is ideal for certain plants, not so good for others.

    3] Think ahead, making sure you will have the right amount of water at the right time. Avoid dry spells and floods for plants that don’t like them.

    4] Prepare your soil well. Healthy, pH balanced, well composted, fertilised and mulched etc. This can take years with the help of worms and poo (chook poo is best) or one day if you can afford to buy some in. Most people know that fertilisers don’t need to be synthesised versions, but neither do trace elements such as iron or lime. You don’t need to buy any of these, just hunt about and find them in nature.

    5] Look after your plants at their various life stages. Young plants are tender, flowers and fruits need an extra boost at the right time and so on. Also, don’t forget there is a whole army of nasties out there that want to eat it as well.

    6] Prepare to put in some time, or pick plants that don’t need much if you don’t have much.

    7] Finally, remember that plants don’t need perfect garden beds to grow in. Just like you can grow ornamentals in pots, on balconies and indoors, you can do the same with veggies. Sometimes it’s even easier.

    Rock On,
    Christopher

    1. Thanks for the helpful advice, Christopher – much appreciated.

      I’m actually using pots and propagators to get started (growing potatoes, carrots, lettuce, radish, spring onions, tomatoes, beetroot and spinach beet).

      Your tip on soil preparation is key. I shouldn’t have assumed that any random mixture would do for each seed type, as the carrots have taken a while to push their way through some fairly heavy soil. Trial and error, I suppose. I like to think that I’ll have more success next year with greater quantities of home-made compost to work with and some valuable experience behind me.

      I have to say, though, that it’s been very enjoyable having a go. I’d recommend it to anyone.

  14. Hey all,

    Well I should be doing more I guess – I’m not working at the moment so there’s no excuse – except for 2 babies!

    We’re only using 1 car now if that’s any consolation and we are doing a lot more walking than we used to – like to town and the shops.

    I agree global warming/increased CO2 emissions are a worry but what I am more concerned about really is massive emerging counties like India and in particular China building new power stations faster than Bellway build houses!

    For next year we’re getting a little greenhouse and a vegetable patch for the oldest – he’ll be 3 by then and able to help out a little – every little helps as they say!!

    PS. Fed: What a game last night by the way!!!? I still think the title is United’s but it should be a good run in all the same. 8)

    Cheers,
    Dave

    1. It’s been an exciting season, hasn’t it? I hope there are a few more twists and turns to come… and that Rafa has knocked a few heads together after that comedy of errors at the back last night.

      A greenhouse and vegetable patch for the little one sounds like a great idea.

  15. You don’t have to reinvent your life to have a positive impact. The small things add up if you do enough of them.

    We have stopped accepting plastic bags from stores and we carry reusable cloth shopping bags with us when shopping. We’re looking for local products in the supermarket, and trying to avoid buying fresh fruit and veggies that are shipped up from California and South America. Thankfully our stores are carrying more locally grown organic products that are grown in greenhouses in the winter.

    I’ve started car pooling to work with some colleagues. We would love to use public transit to get to work, but sadly here in Canada, it’s just not practical unless you happen to live and work in our largest cities, which we don’t.

    Probably the biggest impact has come from simply slowing down when driving. By reducing our speed and obeying the limit, our fuel consumption has dropped by close to 10%, not to mention it keeps us on the good side of officer Dave’s former colleagues! You get accustomed to everyone passing you fairly quickly, and I actually feel more relaxed when I’m driving. Surprisingly my wife was a tougher sell on it than I was! 😀

    We should all do our part. Our children’s future depends on it.

    Jeff

    1. Great suggestions, Jeff. I’ve reduced my speed on the roads, too. We could all benefit from doing that.

      It’s right what you say about the small things adding up if you do enough of them, and when something becomes second-nature to you, it’s not even a chore remembering to do it.

      Our public transport systems really should be improved drastically so that everyone can consider leaving their cars at home, at least some of the time. Again, why do our governments fritter money away on the most stupid proposals when the obvious improvements to everyone’s lives are surely staring them right in the face?

  16. We are starting to see the benefits of composting now, I have 3 on the go at various stages of decomposition, if that’s the right word?

    I also installed a water butt to collect rain water.

    We are venturing into growing a few veggies. We have a green house to which we are now making good use of. I’m not sure we will ever grow enough to feed ourselves, it’s just a bit of fun at the moment.

    Is digging up public parks and football pitches for growing food going too far? We do seem to be talking about an impending disaster that prompted this in WW2.

  17. Thank you very much for the links, FEd. I’ve looked at them right now and I was really amazed by the pictures of Telegraph.

    I also signed the letter proposed by Greenpeace.

    As for the comment I wrote yesterday, I’m now realizing that the word “compost” you used in your post meant just “compost”. I thought it meant “mixture”, I don’t know why. We also use that English word to indicate the organic fertilizer. I translated too much. 😛

    Anyway, the home made compost works very well for us.

    Parasites are our biggest problem, that’s why I wrote those remedies. Without them, we would have an insects breeding instead of a vegetable garden. :))

    1. Amazing.

      Considering that “the oven is targeted at the three billion people who use firewood to cook in developing countries,” I hope that Mr Bøhmer doesn’t allow some shameless corporation to wave a fat wad of notes under his nose and turn the invention into their latest cash cow.

      Speaking of which, the feed additive for livestock, derived from garlic, which can cut methane emissions by at least 5% is a good idea.

    2. Funnily enough there is a much swankier version available online for the bargain price of just 260 Euros.

  18. If we are all commenting on a weboard about compost wouldn’t that be considered com-posting?

  19. After recently seeing the moving “Knowing” I did some reading about our wonderful planet Earth. By the way I do recommend the movie.

    What I found most intriguing is that scientists predict that the Earth has an expected life of another 1.5 billion years, however they also predict that the planet will be inhabitable in 500 million years. These predictions are not because of our actions but are just considered part of the evolution of the planet. Our actions may accelerate the deterioration of the planet but eventually the planet will die on its own. What I find fascinating are further discussions that our massive oceans will eventually dry up. Think about that – 70% of our planet is covered in water and eventually that will be gone.

    Certainly half a million years is a long, long time away. If you take an average human lifespan of 70 years, it is over 7 million generations away from today. That is not an excuse to just do nothing now as that is extremely short sighted and selfish. Fact is that we should strive to let the planet live out its half a billion years and not cut it short by 100 million.

    Conceptually for some it is difficult to grasp what tomorrow will be like let alone a million years from now. But we can do something about tomorrow that could make a difference a million years from now.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  20. I spent all morning at Dunkin’ Donuts before realizing that it wasn’t “Girth Day”.

    At least I will be able to contribute a good amount of fertilizer a bit later on in the day…

  21. Hi FEd and mates,

    back again after a lot of time in L’Aquila (what strong people!) and New York (6 years after “the big apple” changed very, very much: threats of terrorism and recession are spread everywhere).

    Best wishes for the Earth Day: we all are involved in this matter, not great actions for common people, but just little cares day by day (rubbish, water, lights, energy…)

    This night (H.20 It) in Rome, in Piazza del Popolo, we’ll get an evocative “low impact” free gig with Ben Harper, Subsonica and many more bands. The gig will be aired by National Geographic Channel HD, too.

    Remind our daily little cares. 😀

    A hug from Rome
    diana

  22. I added a new garden area this year, lined it with wood that came from some steps I tore out, used stakes made from old base boards, and painted it with left over paint. I took out 15 5 gallon buckets of landscaping rocks, and then dumped two full dumpsters of homemade compost in.

    I am as we speak putting an indoor palm in the house, it’s going in an antique 10 gl. crock. The liner is made out of a 6 gl. chlorine tab bucket with holes cut in the bottom for drainage, and lined with some of those rocks I pulled out of the garden area. Not using any compost in the indoor planter… too many bugs, but I tried!

    The rest of those rocks were mixed with cement and sand to make home made concrete. The concrete was then mixed with broken bricks, chipped off old cement, broken tools, and other things as a filler in a red brick project around my almond tree. The project saved me from hauling home 20 bags of concrete, instead I hauled home 4 bags of cement.

    Most of the bricks I have been using I got for free through the craigslist. I brought home about 1300 new and used red bricks, some of them were custom made bricks. The others were bricks headed to the dump that needed to be cleaned up and have cement chipped off of them. If the people who got rid of them saw what I did with them, they would flip out.

  23. Shout out from one of the Greenest places on the planet, Humboldt County, Kalifornia. We tout one of the first hydrogen fuel cells, and our waste water treatment facility in Arcata uses a bird and wildlife marsh sanctuary. Come give us a visit.

    And stop and watch the whales from Trinidad.

    Cheers to all.

  24. Fed, if slugs and snails are becoming a problem, and you don’t like the idea of killing them here’s a tip.

    Using a trowel preferably with a long handle, gently slip the blade of the trowel under slug/snail and using a sidewards underarm motion flick the little molluscs as far as possible away from your garden. Just imagine the thrill they get from the sensation.

    P.S. The long handle provides extra leverage, also it would be a good idea that none of your neighbours are watching.

    1. :)) I’ll bear that in mind. Maybe I should hurl them at the cat that, in spite of barking dog and very real threat of a close encounter with both Frisbee and Super Soaker, still insists on brazenly strutting into my garden to torture the poor birds as they feed.

      Little b*stard.

    2. Google up “Critter Ridder” FEd.

      As you’ll see, it’s a product containing all natural ingredients designed to repel such pests. I’ve used it with excellent results.

  25. Hi FEd,

    This has nothing to do with Earth Day, but I thought it was interesting and I dare you to try to answer some of these questions. It has to do with what it took to achieve an 8th grade education in 1895.

    What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895…

    Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

    This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

    8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS – 1895
    Grammar (Time, one hour)

    1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
    2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
    3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph.
    4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of ‘lie,”play,’ and ‘run’.
    5. Define case; illustrate each case.
    6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
    7 – 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

  26. Here’s more, if you want me to stop I will!!! 8|

    Arithmetic (Time, 1 hour 15 minutes)

    1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
    2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
    3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
    4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
    5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
    6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
    7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20 per metre?
    8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
    9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
    10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

    A little more… OK?!!

  27. 8| More, LMAO!!

    U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

    1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
    2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
    3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
    4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
    5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
    6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
    7 Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
    8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

    Orthography (Time, one hour)

    1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
    2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
    3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals.
    4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u.’
    5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e.’ Name two exceptions under each rule.
    6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
    7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
    8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
    9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
    10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

    1. Now it’s more like: “Spell Mississippi… without looking at how it’s written in the question.”

      One of Frankie Boyle’s finest, that. Just a few posts too late.

  28. OK!!!! This is it, I promise.

    Geography (Time, one hour)

    1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
    2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
    3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
    4. Describe the mountains of North America.
    5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
    6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
    7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
    8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
    9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
    10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the Earth.

    What a fun time this would be. I would have loved to have had an education like this growing up.

  29. On a somewhat serious note, but not really, but kinda… Today is my mother’s birthday, she is 66 today and for her birthday my father got her DIRT!! LMAO!!!!! I thought it was extremely thoughtful!! So now they’re diggin’ in the dirt and planting stuff. 🙂

    Happy Earth Day everybody.

  30. I agree that everything done for conservation will add up in the end. I have always recycled, turned off lights, used low wattage alternatives when available and generally tried not to use anything in excess. For example, it really peeves me to see the water running when someone is brushing their teeth – especially in the movies. I could go on…

    My wife and I decided that when we buy our new house (providing, of course, that our 9+ month not-so-much-fun journey of selling our current house actually ends) we will be installing solar power to help run the house. My sister works for a solar company and it just seems to make so much sense in the long run. If there are further hydro or wind options we will investigate those as well. Other than that… if there is a job that manpower aka me can do instead of using machinery (again to a point) I will do the labor myself. I do make sure my boys watch so that when they get old enough they can experience “character building” by helping their old man…

  31. My youngest son’s school are in the process of making one of these greenhouses from plastic bottles.

    It was actually quite surprising how quickly a school of about 100 kids managed to collect a couple of thousand empty bottles.

    1. That was really good… I am actually thinking of trying that. I’m not sure about rounding up a thousand bottles though.

      I wonder how long they would last in the Arizona sun?

    2. A greenhouse made of plastic bottles is a great idea. It must be perfect to protect the vegetables from the cold.

      Young children surely enjoyed building them. 🙂

  32. What’s the point of switching off our lights for only a few minutes? I believe this is not enough! We really need a concrete solution for our problem and it is a BIG one. The earth is actually our home and the necessity for energy is for certain exaggerate.

    The world governments should change their power ambition for environmental awareness. Venezuelan government in 1st place!

    Happy Earth Day to everyone.

  33. Our organization covers three counties and we get together once a year to meet new employees, learn new tricks, and swap horror tales. Our meeting was today and the theme was “Green.” They gave out energy-saving kits, totes made from recycled materials, CDs with “green” tips, and stainless steel coffee cups for door prizes.

    We already recycle everything from cardboard to paper (we use both the front and back most of the time) to glass to plastic, anything that the recycling center will take. And we reuse everything we can reuse until it falls apart.

    That said, I know I could do better.

  34. Some of the comments above reminded me of something I read.

    A few years ago, a family who lives not far from my home tried to sow in the house garden some local wild plants and flowers which had become very hard to find in our area since some years.

    They did it just to enjoy themselves, but the result was much more important than the one expected, because they actually managed to reintroduce some of those species in their original environment.

    Their garden also started attracting many different kinds of insects, butterflies and birds, so it seems their simple experiment really helped the biodiversity in our area.

    Big changes can come from little actions. 🙂

  35. Hi Fed!

    Good news for all fans in Central Europe. At 1st of May from 12.15 to 13.15 clock (MEZ) we can see 60 minutes from the DVD “David Gilmour: Live in Gdansk” on the German TV channel 3Sat (Pop Around the Clock 2009).

    Best regards from Berlin,
    Ina

  36. Well, I can proudly say that I do not own a car.

    Okay, so my husband has an old economical Land Rover Discovery (it is the most economical car he has ever owned) which has low carbon emissions and he is also an auto mechanic/MOT inspector by trade, but he needs this car for work as there are no public transport links to his place of work. He was always envious of me being able to commute to work on the train or bus.

    However, I always prefer to walk somewhere if I have the time. If I cannot walk, I either cycle, catch the train or bus. When I am working evenings, I cycle to my clients’ homes. I did not realise how hilly it was around me until I started to go to work on my bicycle!

    The Council have a good recycling scheme too in that they provide people with containers (which are ironically made of plastic) for plastics, glass and paper. They also take green garden waste fortnightly. Birmingham is also filled with trees. I have always loved this fact about the City. Trees, trees, trees everywhere.

    I think most of the City’s waste goes to the incinerator as opposed to a land fill site, but I will have to make further investigations in this regard.

  37. Growing up, my daddy tended 3 very large vegetable gardens. One was simply feed corn for the hogs, and the remaining two produced enough food to last our family through fall, winter and spring.

    I’m lucky that my parents passed these skills to me, although when I was 12 years old I didn’t think so. I just knew that I never hated anything like stringing and breaking beans and shucking corn. It wasn’t like we were only working up enough for the day’s meal, we were basically doing production work. My daddy would leave early in the morning and go pick his green beans, then on his way to work in the mines, he would drop off 2-3 bushel baskets full (1 US bushel = 35.239072 liters), for my sister and I to “work up”. 😡

    It was awful!

    Not many people garden that seriously these days, but my daddy at age 61 still does it.

    I love growing and preserving my own veggies, and if you have any specific questions, I’d be obliged to help if I can. I hope you’ll have great luck, Fed.

    Try filling small shallow containers with cheap beer to ward off slugs. Instead of eating your cabbages they’d rather get pissed. :))

    Placing a small toothpick or twig alongside a seedling’s stem will keep cut worms from loping off your babe’s heads.

    In your blender, whirl up some warm water, a handful of hot chilli peppers and a splash of veggie oil. Strain the mix and place it in a spray bottle for an all natural insecticide.

    Oh, and never plant a tomato plant near a walnut tree.

    Good gardening.

  38. Hubby’s always grown onions, potatoes, tomatoes etc., but last year I started and had a go at cabbages, caulis and broccoli… the slugs, snails, butterflies and caterpillars had a field day. More success with beans, aubergines and courgettes though.

    Cut the bottoms off plastic bottles if you have any and use them as cloches.

    Getting into it even more this year and at the moment have no available window sills… Good fun, a cheap hobby, can swap with friends and neighbours and very rewarding when a plant grows, flourishes and can then be eaten!

  39. Guess you have heard.

    The British government has given the go ahead for coal fired power stations, and they say they will be able to pass the harmful gases under the seabed.

    Do you think we will see pigs flying over these power stations?

    Damian

  40. Re: Eco-disaster created by plastic bottles.

    I read in my newspaper today that a society here in France (in the Champagne area), called ‘Vegetal & Mineral Water’ will start producing this summer ‘bioplastic’ water bottles, totally compostable and biodegradable within three months, made from non-transgenic maize for the bottle itself and from potato flour for the cork. They will use vegetal stick for the tags.

    They are expected to produce three million bottles per year from 2012 and more than five million bottles per year from 2014.

    A drop in the ocean, I know…

    Click here.

    Michèle

    1. A good initiative. Let’s hope it will work as an example for other societies like that.

      Here in Italy a big cooperative supermarket line adopted the same bioplastic to produce its shopping bags and recycled plastic from bottles for its shopping baskets.

      It’s true that bioplastic has a very short life.

      If you forget one of those bags somewhere for too much time you’ll find a pile of grinded white material instead of it. I forgot one or two of them in a cupboard some months ago and when I opened it, it seemed it had snowed. 8|

  41. I am going on an Introduction to Permaculture course in the Forest of Dean this weekend. I will be going offline completely… including leaving my iPhone at home!

    If you would like to know about Permaculture and have the time, please watch this 50 minute long video, ‘Farm for the Future’.

    My opinion is that the only option that will enable us humans to survive this crisis is to simply use less energy. We cannot expect to be able to continue as we have. You may have heard about Food Miles? We need to start thinking about Food Feet!

    In other news… my car tax, MOT etc. is due at the end of this month so I am going to declare SORN (or even sell it!), put it in the garage and try to live without it for a few months. I will be using a combination of walking, cycling (using easily transportable fold up bike, possibly electric!), bus, train, taxis, car hire and a few of us are looking at founding a Car Club around one shared car.

    On Earth Day I was taking part in a Network Meeting for our local Transition Town Initiative where we are busy forming working groups to tackle such subjects as Energy, Waste, Health, Transport, Food and Re-skilling.

    I apologise for not contributing to the blog much recently and I have not read the comments above as I have not had the time. All of the above is keeping me really busy. 🙂

    1. If you are in the UK and would like to watch ‘A Farm for the Future’ in better quality on iPlayer then it is STILL available to view.

      The demand for this programme has been such that every effort has been made to get as many people to see it as possible. Thank you BBC. 🙂

  42. I thought you might like to visit this site about ‘les trucs et astuces pour le jardin et l’environnement’. Toute les rubriques sont intéressantes.

    Michèle

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