Surferbird News-Links, 42nd Edition

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Greetings, all! Music from the Arctic, a cob house in the Arctic (seriously?), DIY laundry detergent, solar panels cheaper than fossil fuels, a Katharine Hayhoe video on climate change, and new species from 2016 - these are just a sampling of stories from today's featured news-links.

Warm up

The Northern Lights in Allendale, Northumberland (theguardian.com)

I love it when an article leads you on a wild goose chase, and this one did just that. By doing some additional research, I uncovered  a map of the UK, images of Allendale and Northumberland, Hadrian's Wall, and photos of the bedrooms at the local inn. Ah, wishful thinking - but it was so much fun exploring. In this article, the author shares the magic of the northern lights, and we experience their dance as if we were there.  One day, I hope to travel far enough northward to experience this colorful ribbon of lights.

News-Links

Environment

White Pelicans in Washington state move from "endangered" to "threatened." (seattletimes.com)

Who couldn't use a bit of good news to usher in the new year?

Morales Casanova began teaching children about the environment when she was only ten years old. (news.nationalgeographic.com)

By the time Morales was thirteen, she had asked the president of Mexico to set aside land for protection and environmental education. Today, she continues this legacy. A youthful dream became a reality that has inspired so many other children.

Biochar - a fascinating way to use yard waste (citylab.com)

It began with abandoned Christmas trees. Now, the city of Stockholm combines other sources of green waste to generate a charcoal product called biochar. The energy used to make the biochar provides hot water and heat for local homes. It's ingenious, really. In addition, the trees and plants in Stockholm are thriving on biochar, which the city adds to the soil to improve its health and drainage.

Climate change

Moving beyond politics to care about climate change (ecowatch.com)

I love Katharine Hayhoe's message, and viewers can easily share the video, below, on social media. Because her message crosses party lines, Katharine has the potential to make a huge impact on climate science support and the steps we need to take to slow planet warming - creating a healthier and safer world for Earth and its people. The choices we make in our communities affect everyone.

In 2016, solar panels became more cost effective than fossil fuels. (qz.com)

Even though global investments in renewable energy are trailing, thirty countries now enjoy solar and wind energy at prices equal to or less than what fossil fuels provide. Happy New Year!

Home

DIY laundry detergent and fabric softener (ecowatch.com)

The only ingredient you might have trouble finding is the Super Washing Soda. However, after doing a quick Google search, stores such as Target, Walmart, and Ace Hardware popped up in the search results. Furthermore, both of these recipes seem easy to make while being affordable. Our family currently uses Eco Nuts, which functions as a fabric softener in addition to being a surfactant. But I like to have alternatives on hand, and these appear to be excellent options that also go easy on the environment. (I'm not affiliated with Eco Nuts.)

Please don't use flushable wipes. (treehugger.com)

Confession time - I didn't watch the video. I know it's tempting to use adult wipes, but it's not working out so well, at least not down below where the pipes go. 

At home in the Arctic (inhabitat.com)

Reading and writing about the Arctic has finally gotten the best of me. I'm moving there. No, not really. However, when you see this cob house, which is enclosed in glass, you might want to move there, also. Oh, and the view? Spectacular. I definitely suggest you take the tour. Because I know you might want to learn more about cob houses, here's (thiscobhouse.com) an interesting link to follow.

Science and technology

Women in Science (ebi.ac.uk)

So my husband is a scientist, and he introduced me to this website. Maybe, it's better to spend more time promoting these types of programs rather than ragging on Breitbart - like I did, here.

A peek at twenty new species discovered in 2016 (ecowatch.com)

I think my favorites were the dancing peacock spider with the owl shape on its back, the magnolia, and the gryffindor spider. And yes, the Harry Potter series was the inspiration behind one of those. Can you guess which one?

Closing thoughts

Companies are hiring more people on the autism spectrum. (theatlantic.com)

One of my youngsters is on the autism spectrum. So, when I see articles like this one, I feel encouraged about his future and the future of others who fall into the neurodivergent category. I don't really like to categorize people at all, but it's true that some of us have more difficulty fitting into the norms of the workplace than others. However, companies that embrace and seek out neurodiversity have discovered the invaluable contributions of those who often possess such specialized skills.

Today's featured music

It's not an earworm. It's even better, and you get a break from my 60s and 70s folk rock. This composition and video on climate change by Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi was filmed on location, capturing the surreal, stark beauty of the Arctic along with the sadness at the thought of losing it. Read all about it, here(ecowatch.com). Watch and listen, below. Happy New Year!  Laura