Surferbird News-Links, 37th Edition

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Welcome to the 37th edition of Surferbird News-Links! Today's highlights include: Hanukkah, sustainable housing, fossil fuel divestments, growing tea in Oregon, and more. Also, next week I'll be searching for special holiday music from different cultures to share. So, stay tuned and join the Surferbird for a change of pace, Tuesday through Friday.

Warm up

Hanukkah and abundance (qz.com)

Celebrating light and abundance from above - these are two important parts of Hanukkah. We aren't limited by the physical. All things are possible because of God. Although I'm not Jewish, I appreciated learning about the historical roots of Hanukkah and the reminder that miracles can happen. There's more to learn from the article, and I hope you find abundance and gratitude in this holiday season, regardless of your personal or religious beliefs.

News-links

Environment

Fossil fuel divestments (climatecentral.org)

Fossil fuel divestments from around the world have reached 5.2 trillion. Individuals, universities, religious organizations, local governments, pension plans, and philanthropists are channeling their money into renewables and other funds. In light of our president-elect's agenda, this is encouraging. Perhaps, renewable energy is unstoppable.

Is 1.5 degrees still possible? (greenbiz.com)

I don't know, actually. I haven't felt too hopeful about keeping global temperatures at or below this point. Two degrees Celsius? Maybe. It would take disruptive change to make this happen, however. And this article outlines how making changes in energy use, agriculture, forestry, and land use could get the job done. We would need all hands on deck, though - governments, businesses, and individuals. Sigh. As a reminder, we're currently on target, even with the Paris Agreement, for a 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius temperature increase this century.

California will launch its own damn satellites, if necessary (businessinsider.com)

No worries. If our president-elect follows through with removing funding for NASA's Earth-Science program, which monitors glacial melting, hurricanes, wildfires, coastal erosion, land use, and solar storms, "California will launch its own damn satellite." Thank you, Governor Jerry Brown.

Renewable energy

Bill Gates to fund clean energy (grist.org)

Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) is a capital fund started by Bill Gates. The purpose of the fund is to fight climate change and, hopefully, make money in addition. Gates has promised to invest one billion of his personal money in clean energy. Other technical and financial leaders have also pledged to invest in the fund, which has a twenty year duration. You can take a look at the fund's potential projects on the BEV website.

Offshore wind project up and running (thinkprogress.org)

I mentioned the Block Island Energy Farm in a prior Surferbird News-Links edition, but today, I'm here to report that it's up and running.  Congratulations! This is the first major off-shore wind farm in the U.S., and it's powering an Island.

Housing

Sustainable, affordable housing project in Oberlin, Ohio - small communities making a difference (sierraclub.org)

These stories about small communities quietly moving in a direction often counter to state and national agendas, is inspiring, to say the least. Oberlin adopted a Climate Action Plan in 2011 to "decrease the use of fossil fuels, increase energy efficiency of homes and businesses, and invest in green development." In addition, the Oberlin Project extends sustainability outreach to include food and agriculture. At a time of national uncertainty in regards to sustainability, pollution, and climate change, communities like Oberlin are paving the way for independent action. And they're doing it with compassion.

Earthship - a sustainable vacation house to rent (treehugger.com)

The link above is to the article, but you can learn a lot by simply watching the video.

Food

Antibiotic resistant super-bacteria found on farm (civileats.com)

Scientist detected carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) on a pig farm in Ohio, and CRE can infect humans. Also, the fact that it was found outside of a hospital setting, where scientists previously found CRE, means that it's spreading. Since carbapenems are last-resort antibiotics, this is serious. Because of antibiotic overuse in animals, we now might possibly be in a situation where no drugs exist to treat a deadly disease. The article suggests consumers purchase meat from farms that don't routinely use antibiotics.

Growing tea in Oregon (modernfarmer.com)

I'm not talking about herb teas like mint and chamomile. The Minto Island Tea Farm in Oregon is growing traditional black tea, and they plan to expand - big time. Other than a few operations in Hawaii and South Carolina, tea isn't considered a major U.S. crop. However, there's no reason why it shouldn't thrive in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. So, the Minto Island Tea Farm is expanding its operation - 15 to 20 acres, which will make it the largest tea farm in the U.S., besides a 130 acre tea farm in South Carolina. And it's organic.

Health

Zip codes and likely cause of death (nbcnews.com)

These nifty maps provide statistics on likely causes of death based on your zip code. Oh what fun. It's interesting, though, from a statistical standpoint. But on a more positive note, here's an article that lists the components of healthy communities. How does your community rate?

Closing thoughts

Bridging the gap between science and religion with wonder (nautil.us)

The Reverend William Buckland was a geologist and minister in England during the early 19th century. He, along with others, collected and studied fossils on England's Jurassic Coast. Buckland, at one point, even mentored Charles Darwin. But unlike today and in the period of history that followed his discoveries, he embraced both science and his faith. The author of the article, an adjunct MIT professor and director of the MIT Museum, brings up an important point. Perhaps our culture might benefit from bridging the divide between anti-religious science and anti-science based religion with a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world.

Earworm

I have no idea why this earworm chose me. However, the energy and vocals in this song inspire. Now, I didn't plan this, but it kind of fits with the all things are possible perspective, above. Enjoy, and stay warm during the polar vortex.   Laura