Green, Green (Environment)

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Wise One

Green, Green (Environment)

Postby Wise One » 2007 Oct 21 13:19

A wonderful folk song wrote:Green, green, it's green they say,
On the far side of the hill.
Green, green, I'm goin' away
To where the grass is greener still.

But why "go away" if we can make our world greener right here, right now? The column below tells how we can get the biggest environmental bang!

Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times wrote:October 21, 2007
Save the Planet: Vote Smart

People often ask: I want to get greener, what should I do? New light bulbs? A hybrid? A solar roof? Well, all of those things are helpful. But actually, the greenest thing you can do is this: Choose the right leaders. It is so much more important to change your leaders than change your light bulbs.

Why? Because leaders write the rules, set the standards and offer the tax incentives that drive market behavior across a whole city, state or country. Whatever any of us does individually matters a tiny bit. But when leaders change the rules, you get scale change across the whole marketplace. And the energy-climate challenge we face today is a huge scale problem. Without scale, all you have is a green hobby.

Have no illusions, everything George Bush wouldn't do on energy after 9/11 -- ”his resisting improved mileage for cars and actually trying to weaken air-conditioner standards -- ”swamped any good works you did. Fortunately, the vacuum in the White House is being filled by leaders from below.

Take the New York City taxi story. Two years ago, David Yassky, a City Council member, sat down with one of his backers, Jack Hidary, a technology entrepreneur, to brainstorm about how to make New York City greener -- ”at scale. For starters, they checked with the Taxi and Limousine Commission to see what it would take to replace the old gas-guzzling Crown Victoria yellow cabs, which get around 10 miles a gallon, with better-mileage, low-emission hybrids. Great idea, only it turned out to be illegal, thanks to some old size regulations designed to favor Crown Vics.

Recalled Mr. Hidary: "When they first told me, I said, "Are you serious? Illegal?"" So he formed a nonprofit called SmartTransportation.org to help Mr. Yassky lobby the City Council to change the laws to permit hybrid taxis. They also reframed it as a health issue, with the help of Louise Vetter, president of the American Lung Association of the City of New York.

"New York City has among the dirtiest air in the U.S., "Ms. Vetter said." When it comes to ozone and particulate matter, New Yorkers are breathing very unhealthy air. Most of it is tailpipe emissions. And in New York City, where asthma rates are among the highest in the nation, the high ozone levels create very serious threats, especially for kids who spend a lot of time outdoors. Converting cabs from yellow to green would be a great gift to the city's children."

Matt Daus, who heads the taxi commission, which is independent of the mayor, was initially reluctant, but once he learned of the health and other benefits, he joined forces with Messrs. Yassky and Hidary, and the measure passed the City Council by 50 to 0 on June 30, 2005. Since then, more than 500 taxi drivers have converted to hybrids -- ”mostly Ford Escapes, but also Toyota Highlanders and Priuses, and others.

On May 22, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the greenest mayors in America, decided to push even further, insisting on a new rule, which the taxi commission has to approve, that will not just permit but require all cabs -- "13,000 in all" to be hybrids or other low-emission vehicles that get at least 30 miles a gallon, within five years.

"When it comes to health and safety and environmental issues, government should be setting standards," the mayor said. "What you need are leaders who are willing to push for standards that are in society's long-term interest." When the citizens see the progress, Mr. Bloomberg added, "then they start to lead." And this encourages leaders to seek even higher standards.

I asked Evgeny Freidman, a top New York City fleet operator, how he liked the hybrids: "Absolutely fabulous! We started out with 18, and now we have over 200, mostly Ford Escapes. Now we only put hybrids out there. The drivers are demanding them and the public is demanding them. It has been great economically. With gas prices as they are, the drivers are saving $30 dollars a shift." He said drivers who were getting 7 to 10 miles a gallon from their Crown Vics were getting 25 to 30 from their hybrids. The cost of shifting to these hybrids, he added, has not been onerous.

Now Mr. Hidary is trying to get law firms and investment banks, which use gas-guzzling Town Cars "12,000 in the city" to demand hybrid sedans only.

This is how scale change happens. When the Big Apple becomes the Green Apple, and 40 million tourists come through every year and take at least one hybrid cab ride, they'll go back home and ask their leaders, "Why don't we have hybrid cabs?"

So if you want to be a green college kid or a green adult, don't fool yourself: You can change lights. You can change cars. But if you don't change leaders, your actions are nothing more than an expression of, as Dick Cheney would say, "personal virtue."

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fangz1956
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Postby fangz1956 » 2007 Oct 24 10:17

Excellent food for thought.......thanks.

:wink:
Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

resigned

Postby resigned » 2007 Oct 24 14:12

I've often wondered if people realize that we have global warming because of our life style. Who is willing to change their life style. Not many I think. Just a thought.

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loverockbridge
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Water supply

Postby loverockbridge » 2008 Feb 02 17:23

Related to and spinning off from some other threads here, do any of you wonder and worry if all of us out here in the county on private wells are going to run out of water soon? I do.
I can see two new homes going up from my front deck, both within half a mile of me and most likely having punched wells into the same aquifer. Since I built my house in the mid 80's three new homes have drilled wells closer to me than that. My well has never been real strong, I have to use caution, especially in the summer. Ground water is completely unregulated by the government unless you contaminate it. So this means, as long as our local land regulations allow anyone with two acres and fifty feet of road frontage to build a house and drill a well, and the aquifers are not getting bigger, the same water supply is having to serve more and more people. Does this mean that we all keep drilling deeper if we run out of water? Build cisterns? Buy truckloads of water?
I also think Rockbridge County, in light of an inevitable water shortage, should be doing more to encourage water conservation, even for those on private wells. For example, give a tax break to those who buy high efficiency washers (they operate on 40-70% less water than older washers) or install low-flow toilets and showers.
We can see it coming: do we have to wait for it to be a crisis before we do anything about it?

resigned

Re: Water supply

Postby resigned » 2008 Feb 03 07:01

We will probably have to wait until a crisis occurs. I feel the same way about our well. We are about 10 to 15 inches below the rain fall for the average year. My numbers may not be accurate but are very close. I am so careful about the water we use. I told my husband we need to collect all the gray water such as from the washing machine for me to use to water my flowers. I am also concerned about our well. I understand that Las Vages is going to run out of water in five years. My husband says that there is only so much water on this planet and eventually we will use it all up. I feel we are a country that has no cares about these things as we have grown so used to having so much. Having grown up in the Ozark mountains I understand about doing without. We had to carry our water from a well into the house in buckets and I am not that old. We just didn't get electricity until I was 11. Our well went dry and we were desperate. We had to carry water in barrels from our grandparents and neighbors who had wells as we had dairy and beef cattle. We had a new well drilled but that event always is in the back of my mind.

I remember a big company that wanted to buy the property in Kerrs Creek so that could bottle spring water (apparently there is a big spring there?) and ship it out. I believe that was stopped. Don't remember the particulars. But I agree with you.

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fangz1956
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Re: Water supply

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Feb 03 08:25

Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Wise One
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Re: Water supply

Postby Wise One » 2008 Feb 03 14:03

Ever-expanding withdrawals of water from the ground are worrisome and can grow to ruin wells.

Even more worrisome, for both groundwater systems and surface streams, is deforestation of our country. For every tree removed, a little less water will become groundwater.

Why? Because cleared land is less pervious to the passage of water through the soil into groundwater systems than is forested land. Rainwater that no longer becomes groundwater must run promptly to the nearest surface stream, carrying with it nutrients, silt, fertilizer and pesticides.

Even worse are impervious surfaces like rooftops, parking lots and roads. Rainwater that strikes them, instead of being filtered slowly through groundwater systems for months before it enters a surface stream as clean water, enters the surface stream within minutes carrying the same pollutants.

:dance14: Dig up your lawn and plant oak trees instead. Use pervious pavers for driveways & parking lots. :dance14:
"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like Donald Trump."

bvgirl

BV's Trees

Postby bvgirl » 2008 Feb 29 11:03

Will someone please enlighten me as to why the City of Buena Vista finds it necessary to cut down so many trees? Does someone have a phobia? (dendrophobia) Or against cooling shade, noise buffers, beautiful fall colors, homes for birds & squirrels or the added perk of camouflaging unsightly eyesores known as telephone poles? Could it be to cut down on the demand for City provided leaf removal? Are they are selling the lumber? Where is going? Hopefully to heat homes of the City's needy. Seems several times a week I hear the buzz of saws in some location of the city. First, Park Avenue was stripped. Which I considered to be one of the more attractive streets in the city, tree wise. Then those magnificent maples edging Penny Park were taken down. This really ticked me off! All the time spent raising donations to create that quaint little park. With the original wrought iron fence left intact and beautiful shade trees. And now it has been robbed of it's most charming character. The tree in the alley was even cut down. What parent/grandparent wants to sit in the hot sun and watch their kids burn their buns on scorching hot playground equipment. Possibly some of the trees were diseased, but not all. Some stumps were perfectly healthy. Two hundred years to grow and gone in forty-five minutes. What a shame.

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Callyinva
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Re: BV's Trees

Postby Callyinva » 2008 Mar 01 12:39

BV Girl,
From what I understand is that they claimed they were cutting down all the dead trees. When they cut the one down at Penny Park I know it chapped alot of butts. The park was something that many a residents loved to stop at while strolling downtown, even if they didnt have kids. I've been in many a conversation about who the citizens of BV should vote for in the race for mayor. I think you should vote for the one who will irritate and aggrevate council the most. Give them a taste of their own medicine. What goes around comes around, or in the famous words of Ron White ...

bvgirl

Re: BV's Trees

Postby bvgirl » 2008 Mar 11 11:53

Thanks for the reply Cally. Since my first post I have heard from what I believe to be a reliable source that many more trees are to follow. I know two met their demise last week. Grrrrrrrrrrr. It breaks my heart and I don't even consider myself a so called 'tree hugger'. There were at least five taken out at Penny Park. At least two facing on 21st St, two facing on Forest Ave and the one in the alley. With the need for reducing energy needs, skin cancer on the rise and the greenhouse effect it just doesn't make sense to me.

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fangz1956
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Burning Food

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Jun 03 18:27


Burning food: why oil is the real villain in the food crisisFood is now worth more as petrol than on the table, says Chris Goodall, and the unpalatable truth is that only a long and painful attack on oil consumption will reverse the spiral in food prices
Chris Goodall guardian.co.uk, Friday May 30 2008 Article historyThe rising cost of foods is widely being blamed on the use of grains for biofuels, and the case for the prosecution is simply made. About 100m tonnes of maize from this year's US crop will be diverted into ethanol refineries, an increase of a third on 2007's figure. This means one in 20 of all cereal grains produced in the world this year will end up in the petrol tank of US cars, the country that is most aggressively increasing the use of food for fuel.

As we are all increasingly aware, world demand for cereals has recently exceeded the available supply. The UN's food and agriculture organisation (FAO) estimates suggest that the world ran down its stocks of grains by about 50m tonnes during the past year. The 100m tonnes of maize to be used by US ethanol refineries in the next year is double last year's global grain shortfall. Without ethanol production, supply would exceed demand and price inflation might have been kept in check. The IMF largely agrees with this view, saying that growth in biofuels has caused 70% of the increase in maize prices over the last few years.

But the effect is not limited to maize. Price rises in one commodity inevitably spill over to other crops. Farmers switch from producing wheat and other grains as the price of corn rises, reducing the supply of other cereals. Similarly, increasingly expensive corn encourages food manufacturers to switch to other grains, and livestock producers to feed their animals with other foods. Soybeans, for example, are used for cattle feed when the price of corn goes up. The IMF thinks that 40% of the inflation in soybean costs is directly down to the expansion in biofuels around the world.

So can we confidently convict biofuels of the charge of causing a very large part of the spikes in food prices? Not quite. Few will dispute that biofuels have made the problem worse, but the roots of food price inflation are far deeper and even more worrying.

The first factor is one happily raised by the US ethanol industry. It points out that their refineries are using far less corn than is needed to meet the increasing demand from Chinese consumers for meat. One lobbying document points out that Chinese meat consumption per person has doubled in the last decade or so, rising almost to European levels. This increase has required an extra 200m tonnes of grain per year to feed the animals, twice what will be used in 2008 in US ethanol refineries. So rising demand from the growing middle classes in developing countries is driving prices up more than biofuels.

FAO data also indicates that more grain has gone to feed animals in the past 10 years, although their estimates are less alarming than those from the US ethanol industry. The FAO says the grain being used for animal feed has risen by about a 100m tonnes in the past 10 years, but this compares to an increase of only 70m tonnes in the amount directly consumed by people.

This leads on to a second, even more worrying issue that underlies food price inflation. Agricultural productivity is simply not growing fast enough. US government data shows global yields per hectare rose 2% a year between 1970 and 1990 and then fell to 1.1% over the succeeding period. Productivity enhancements over the next 10 years are expected to average less than 1% a year. Since world population growth is averaging somewhat over 1%, we are heading for global hunger, with biofuels only hastening the speed.

We can see this in production data from the FAO: the amount of available grain for every person in the world edged downwards last year. The world could try to compensate for faltering productivity growth by expanding the area given over to crops, but this runs the risk of increasing the rate of worldwide deforestation, already causing a fifth of global CO2 emissions.

Lastly, we must consider a thorny economic issue. Government legislation in the US and the European Union – as well as their large subsidies - may have created the ethanol industry, but the refineries can now stand on their own financial feet. With oil at $135 a barrel, it is very profitable to turn the starch in maize into motor fuel. Simply put, food is worth more as petrol than it is on the table, even if the subsidies are removed. The only way of stopping farmers selling their grain to the refineries would be to introduce an outright ban on adding ethanol to petrol.

The IMF may be correct that the rise of biofuels has caused much of the world's recent food price inflation. But now that we know how to make ethanol efficiently from foodstuffs, it is sky-high oil costs that are keeping up the price of agricultural commodities. For a sustained reduction in food prices, we need oil prices to fall to much lower levels. This would also reduce fertiliser and diesel expenses, helping to restrain the upward march in agricultural prices.

Biofuels advocates reply that by substituting for gasoline, corn ethanol helps to reduce oil consumption. Unfortunately, it is a very bad exchange. America's use of corn for ethanol absorbs 5% of the world's cereal crops but has replaced less than 1% of global oil use. The unpalatable truth is that only through a long, sustained and probably painful attack on oil consumption can the world hope to reverse the spiral in food prices.

• Chris Goodall is the publisher of http://www.carboncommentary.com. His book on technologies to address global warming will be published by Profile Books later in 2008

About this articleClose This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Friday May 30 2008. It was last updated at 17:10 on May 29 2008.
Contact usClose Contact the Environment editor
environment@guardian.co.uk Report errors or inaccuracies: userhelp@guardian.co.uk
Letters for publication should be sent to: letters@guardian.co.uk



Rather eye-opening and some serious "food" for thought.


:hmm:
Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Wise One
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Re: Burning Food

Postby Wise One » 2008 Jun 03 18:59

Corn-to-ethanol is, indeed, "burning food." It is one of the dumbest scams Archer-Daniels-Midland ever suckered the government into. It does not displace oil, since it requires so much oil for fertilizer, tillage, harvesting, processing and transportation. It is, pure and simple, a transfer of money from the taxpayer to several large corporate farmers, middlemen, and processing industries. It is dumb, dumb, dumb and should not have an additional penny of subsidy or government mandate from this day forward. Let the free market select it if it is beneficial and competitive (which it is not.)

This is a disturbing diversion of food, inefficiently feeding machines instead of humans, but please understand the larger and more disturbing reality.

Grain is now being diverted by animals, as real incomes (outside the US) rise and people transition up the food chain. Chinese, Indians, Africans, etc. now eat directly less rice, wheat, and other grains, taking more of their diet as chickens, pigs and cows. Animals convert grain to meat very inefficiently, so that a person who formerly subsisted on one bushel of grain now requires ten bushels as he eats his grain in the form of meat.

Eat lower on the food chain and save the world.

:wink: Pass the grasshoppers and rice, please. :wink:
"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like Donald Trump."

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Amy Probenski
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RIP

Postby Amy Probenski » 2008 Jun 09 19:58

:cry: This is very, very sad. Rest In Peace. :cry:

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fangz1956
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Re: Burning Food

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Jul 01 01:13

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/cartoon ... ert.mugabe

This thread seemed to be the most logical place for this post. I have been following this story as closely as my spare time allows. It has been a shocking eye-opener and a heartbreaker. I have read personal stories about people fleeing or attempting to flee Zimbabwe in order to survive and/or not starve. I have read news reports of the outrageous cost of small portions of food with prices that can change within minutes. I have read of the atrocities and murders inflicted on the opposition party and their families by Mugabe and his henchman. I have read of a cruel leader who uses food as political leverage and then has the brass to blame the West for the hunger crisis in Zimbabwe. I have read of the shameless attitude of South Africa(the bastion of progressive democracy and equality??) in this matter. I can understand why world leaders were more than dismayed (and some outraged) by Mugabe's presence at the World Food Summit.

Is a boycott of Zimbabwe's goods a solution to this complex and multi-faceted problem? At this point, I do not know and wonder what would happen to the people of that nation if such a boycott were put into place. Would they be thrown deeper into the abyss of poverty and hunger? Neither am I sure that military intervention is the answer as violence begets violence and people still starve. This has all the makings and markings of another Rwanda and we all know how that turned out..............tragically as the entire world turned its back. Now that their sham of an election is over and Mugabe still reigns supreme, I shudder to think what other tragedies and atrocities await the people of Zimbabwe. It is a horrific situation without an easy answer. But there are no easy answers as "we are not in Kansas anymore, Toto."

Drawing my own conclusions from this reading and my own personal observations, I wonder if a similar fate awaits Americans somewhere down the road and in the not too distant future. If we look at the combined effects of the price of oil, FISA and other eviscerations of the Constitution, a spineless, duplicitous and capitulating Congress combined with an apathetic voting populace, I can certainly see us heading in that direction. We needn't think that such things could never happen here. We are a people strung up by fear. We slept while the highest office in the land has managed to grab near dictatorial power. Most assuredly, I am not the only person who has noticed a decline in the quality of produce available in the grocery stores. I can't comment on meat as I stopped purchasing that over a year ago and now only do so for extremely special occasions. Nonetheless, more has changed than just the price in the marketplace.



:cry:
Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Wise One
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Re: Burning Food

Postby Wise One » 2008 Jul 01 09:43

fangz1956 wrote:... FISA and other eviscerations of the Constitution, a spineless, duplicitous and capitulating Congress combined with an apathetic voting populace
This story, sadly and emphatically, confirms your view.
"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like Donald Trump."

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fangz1956
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Re: Burning Food

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Jul 02 08:31

Thanks for the interesting read, Wise One. I ran across this editorial this morning from the New Times in Kigali. Some of this sounds eerily familiar.

2 July 2008 The New Times (Kigali) wrote:EDITORIAL: African Union Should Indict Mugabe

The African Union Summit going on in Egypt has so far not pronounced itself on the run-off presidential elections in Zimbabwe, which took place on June 27 and saw Robert Mugabe claiming a 'landslide victory'.

Morgan Tsivangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, a party which beat Mugabe's ZANU PF in the first round election had opted out a few days to the poll.

They cited what was being witnessed by the whole world - unbearable violence against opposition members by government security operatives and war veterans.

MDC did the sensible thing because it was increasingly becoming evident that the incumbent was hell-bent on defeating his opponent no matter what it took. He allegedly had to rely on intimidation, arrests, abductions, assault and outright killings.

At the end of it all he managed to turn around the loss his party had suffered during the initial contest into a resounding 85 percent victory.

How can the African leaders fail to see through this sham election? Or if they have, how bad did the situation have to look in order for them to find it an obligation to stand up to Mugabe, for Zimbabweans?

It has been argued in some circles that a summit hosted in a country, itself led by a Hosni Mubarak who has been in power for 27 years, attended by a Muammar Gadaffi in power since 1969, and an Omar Bongo at the helm of Gabon for the last 41 years, and a host others who have been there for over a decade, was never going to say much against Mugabe.

This observation may hold some water, but it completely misses a key point; the main issue in Zimbabwe is not that Mugabe has been in power for too long. It is that for the last ten years or so, he has subjected the people of Zimbabwe to all sorts of otherwise avoidable political and economic hardships, for the sole reason that he has to continue being in power.

Let the African leaders not be held hostage by an insignificant fact in these circumstances that Mugabe has company on the continent of leaders who have been around for even longer. They should focus on the hell into which he has led his nation and primarily judge him on that, as they propose ways of steering Zimbabwe back on the course of peace.

:hmm:
Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Juggler
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Green Offices?

Postby Juggler » 2008 Aug 04 16:52

[youtube]Xumesoib7bE[/youtube]
PS. Her accent is incredibly weird. I'm guessing it's Schweizerdeutsch (Swiss dialect of German).

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Amy Probenski
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I've Seen the Light

Postby Amy Probenski » 2008 Aug 26 19:29

[youtube]FvOBHMb6Cqc[/youtube]

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Neck-aint-red
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Misconception about Lyme Disease

Postby Neck-aint-red » 2008 Aug 27 17:12

While people know that Lyme Disease is caused by deer ticks, many wrongly conclude that deer are strongly implicated in the disease cycle.

The real culprits are rodents, which exist in vastly larger numbers than deer and are the main source of blood that sustains the tick and the disease.

So if you really want to do your part to suppress Lyme Disease, don't assume that shooting deer will be very effective. Instead, support steps that will restore vigorous ecosystems with large and healthy populations of predatory birds and snakes to keep the mouse population low.

[youtube]O72bnVlsQR4[/youtube]

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nudgewink
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Green Marketing

Postby nudgewink » 2008 Oct 10 15:45

One must approve the trend toward "green marketing", using effective spokespersons.

Some have suggested we may be going too far.

:thum: But I'm not complaining. :thum:


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