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About Saving the Earth ...

It ain't a pretty picture. There are a lot of approaches to sustaining a comfortable life and adjusting to what lies ahead.

Solar Passive Greenhouse

We built a solar passive all-season greenhouse in 2009, and are enjoying fresh veges all year, in Iowa's zone 4-5. See solar passive greenhouse. We've worked out the kinks so that the soil never gets below 42 degrees, even though it may be -15 outside.

What You Can Do

One of the best books that I've come across is The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. They have comprehensively reviewed all of the activities that consumers, not industry itself, do that create "normal" and toxic pollution. They identify, the degree of water, soil, and air pollution. This gives the user a great tool to really identify how, "I", as an individual, can help.

Of course, the number one item is, cars, light trucks (including SUVs). The Guide says:
"The first mistake to avoid is buying a car that is bigger or more powerful than you really need. These days light trucks (including [SUVs, vans, and pickups]) are all the rage among affluent consumers. (The fraction of vehicles sold that are light trucks grew from 16.5% in 1980 to 40% in 1996.) The bad news for the environment is that the average new light truck gets only 20.5 miles per gallon, while the average new passenger car gets 28.5. Even more important, both cars and light trucks have gotten much heavier and more powerful in the last decade. If it weren't for this trend, fuel consumption by personal cars and trucks would be 15% lower than it is today."

"Although we have resisted assigning an overall ranking to the different categories of personal consumption, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the personal use of cars and light trucks is the single most damaging consumer behavior. It is a major direct cause of greenhouse gases and many types of air pollution, and indirectly, it is also a major source of water pollution (through manufacturing of cars, oil and gasoline production, and runoff from highways) and ecologically harmful land use (for the road network). What can ordinary consumers do about it?"
To briefly summarize, we travel a lot because driving is affordable, satisfying and convenient and communities are spread out. They recommend that you learn how to travel light, including thinking twice before you purchase another car. If you are buying a car, make sure it is the right size for your everyday needs and is the most fuel efficient and least polluting in its class.
"The key is to choose a car that meets your regular or typical needs, not your extraordinary needs. Television ads notwithstanding, most of those who own four-wheel-drive all-terrain vehicles rarely drive through blinding rainstorms on muddy hillsides."

"Once you have decided on the appropriate size, look for the most fuel-efficient and least-polluting cars (often the two go hand in hand) in that class. The range of performance is wide -- usually a 50% difference or more between the most and least fuel-efficient vehicles in a class. Even between vehicles of the exact same size and weight, the differences between the best and worst choices can be 20% or more. So a little research can make a big difference."
If you are interested in current information, take a look at The Union's website: www.ucsusa.org.

Other useful resources

Perlandra - Machaelle Small Wright For those of you who have read, Behaving As If the God in All Life Mattered, the website provides a reference source for the art of co-creative gardening. Highly recommended!
Transcendental Meditation This is an excellent program for growth of consciousness, physical health, and mental well being.
Natural Resource Defense Fund No explanation needed.
The Nature Conservancy Ditto.
Genetic-ID Development of GMO crops is destroying our native species and developing super-bugs. The excuse that these foods are going to save the world isn't true. What these foods will do is to make developing nations dependent upon mega-corporations.
Grow Biointensive This is the organization that is making a difference, not only for US organic farmers, but for developing nations. Self-sustainable mini-farming. Excellent data here.
Tom Brown Tracker School Survival and growth of consciousness courses; thought provoking and good resource books.
Grow Intensive and John Jeavons -- and his famous book which is the bible of many serious gardeners, "How to Grow More Vegetables: Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine", is an excellent resource.
The Oil Drum Excellent blog/commentary/ ongoing discussion on peak oil and post peak oil and all that entails.

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