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Urban garden sites tainted with harmful chemicals

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With remnants of once-legal lead paint, leaded gasoline and other pollutants from the nation's industrial past tainting land in U.S. cities, soil researchers warn that the growing number of urban farmers and community gardeners need to test their dirt and take steps to make sure it's safe.

An article on The Huffington Post blog details the threat to urban gardeners across the country.

'Crazy for energy? Obama, nuclear power, and giant dams in the Ring of Fire'

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As President Obama visits Chile, the nation looks toward even riskier solutions for its energy needs -- environment and public safety be damned. Sound familiar?

Columnist George Black blogs on the Natural Resources Defense Council's OnEarth blog about the future energy plans of the South American nation.

Living on a rotating rock eight light minutes from the nearest star

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We haven’t even caught up with Galileo. How pitiful is that? It’s been 400 years since scientists learned that the earth rotates around the sun, and yet we talk and act like we don’t know this fact. Our language—the sun “set” and “rose” -- still keeps reflecting the outdated and illusory view that the sun is moving around the earth. Thus our consciousness is stuck there, depriving us of a real and exciting engagement with the planet as it really is.

How I came to make Earth my life's work

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To give you a better understanding of what has shaped my views expressed here, I would like to tell you more about myself and my passion for the Earth.

My childhood was lived on a farm close to nature and to the Catholic church. At age 20, I joined the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Wichita, finished my education degree and began elementary teaching. After four years, I became a DRE and eventually a Pastoral Associate. I completed an MA in Theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Feeling called to other ministry, I left the community after 15 years, got married, adopted 3 children all at once (ages 3,4 and 6), worked for National Catholic Reporter Publishing Co., started a women’s center for personal and spiritual growth, was Director of Christian Formation for an Episcopal church, and was self-employed for the past 13 years doing education, spiritual direction, and massage.

The modern dilemma -- paper or plastic?

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I’m wondering what our forebears did long before plastic and paper bags were created. My educated guess is that they only bought a tenth as many things. And when they did, baskets, buckets, grain sacks, and aprons all made good totes with minimal environmental impact. Creative use of what was at hand seemed to be the order of the day. I have a feeling that determined shoppers have always found a way to get their purchases home!

So what are we moderns who care about the health of the Earth supposed to do? Here are my solutions in order of preference: 1) Take neither paper nor plastic bag if possible and put your hands and arms to good use 2) Use a durable cloth bag 3) Drop those purchases into a second-hand paper or plastic bag and 4) Ask for plastic. Let me comment on each choice.

Most people have never considered that they don’t need a bag for most purchases. Store clerks routinely chuck even the smallest or largest of items into an unnecessary plastic bag, but you can simply tell them you don’t need one. I’ve been doing this for several years and so far no one has forced a bag on me, nor has any over-zealous guard tackled me on suspicion of shop-lifting.

Hal Borland: March dusk

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"The March full moon has emphasized the lengthening daylight most of the past week, but it is the day-end glow not the moonlight that now tells the true time of year. Dusk has begun to linger and the long nights are slowly retreating. We have a softening light at sunset, no longer the cold winter light that winked out abruptly and left the world to brittle stars. Winter dusk has a sharp and icy edge, but the dusk of March begins to soften the rim of darkness.

"No season ends overnight. Change comes slowly. Winter must be melted and blown and washed away, just as spign must be leafed and blossomed and grudally grown into summer. But the hard blue shadows and the ice-green sky of January and February have now relaxed into an afterglow that gentles the hilltops and eases the valleys with tones of pink and rose. Even the blustery winds of March tend to fall away at sunset. The winter night's dark fang is somewhat dulled.

Stewardship versus deep ecology

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In 1987 church environmental activists convened a nationwide ecumenical gathering in Indiana, the first Conference on Christianity and Ecology. Their aim was to bring together people from Christian churches around the country to discuss what could be done to bring a more active environmental awareness to the forefront in both preaching and praxis.

The conference was held on the shores of Lake Webster. Hundreds came from every corner of the United States.

The Black Madonna: 'We come from, and are contained somehow, by this darkness'

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A statue or painting of Mary in which she is depicted with dark or black skin, the Black Madonna images are among the oldest Madonna images in the world. In Sue Monk Kidd’s best-selling novel The Secret Life of Bees, an image of the Black Madonna adorns honey jars and becomes almost a major character. China Galland’s 1991 novel, Longing for Darkness, describes a pilgrimage in search of the same figure.

Japan's nuclear crisis sparks conversation on energy safety

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"The ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan as a result of the devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11, has touched off renewed discussions about managing the risks and benefits of nuclear power in the United States." writes Andrew Freedman on the Natural Resources Defense Council On Earth blog.

"With 104 nuclear reactors currently providing about 20 percent of America's electricity, and a coalition of Republicans and Democrats -- including President Obama -- pushing for the construction of multiple new facilities, the prospect of a significant change in public support for this renewable form of energy carries with it significant implications for how the U.S. can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to fight global climate change."

His article also contains many useful links to other sites with good information about the ongoing situation in Japan's nuclear power sites.

'Too cheap to meter': The top 10 myths of nuclear power

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Documentary filmmaker Michael Rose lists the top ten myths about nuclear power generation on the Huffington Post Green blog.

"Lewis Strauss who chaired the Atomic Energy Commission in 1954, the predecessor of today's Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRC), spoke of an era when "atomic furnaces" from fission and fusion reactors would provide clean, safe, reliable, abundant and cheap power for generations to come. Such power would be 'too cheap to meter.' It hasn't been the panacea he foretold. In fact, it's been a train wreck of accidents, cost overruns, nuclear weapons proliferation and an ever-growing waste problem that is always on the verge of being solved."

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In This Issue

April 11-24, 2014

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