When Dawn Erupts with Sunshine (Earth Whispers – Part 3) by Janine Donoho

Earth from the space station

Earth from the space station

As a conservation biologist, it’s difficult to keep from running around screaming, “The sky is falling.” Not only does that abuse my throat, it’s not at all productive. Besides, there are success stories associated with projects that could be emulated worldwide. Let’s shift gears and tout those for a change.

Shidhulai fleet boat

Shidhulai fleet boat

Amid our earth’s manmade landscapes—a veritable crazy quilt of sprawling urban centers punctuated by degraded swathes of natural resources—we’re also under the constant influence of our radiant sun. For many of us, that means gallons of sunblock and fabrics woven to keep our skin from flipping out and punishing us. Then there’s solar energy and I break into a happy dance. As Elon Musk said, “We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun, you don’t have to do anything, it just works. It shows up every day.” So how’s that harnessing of the sun’s energy going?

In at risk Bangladesh, you’ll find Mohammed Rezwan’s nonprofit ‘Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’, which means self-reliance. You see, inundated Bangladesh is drowning with over a third of its landmass underwater each year. Rezwan’s floating and solar-powered fleet of schools, libraries, sustainable farms, and health clinics work to offset this loss of actual land. Solar photovoltaics (PV) power this vision. Brilliant on so many levels.

SolarPACES Members

SolarPACES Members

Other projects worldwide include concentrating solar power (CSP), often by transferring energy into steam. At this time, nineteen countries are committed to these forms of solar energy. The issue at hand? Connecting generating sources of solar power into a grid that delivers to urban centers. The usual suspects of fossils—er, fossil fuel tycoons—continue to make this more difficult than it needs to be.

Solar Energy

Solar Energy

Not listed as a member nation? Sweden. One of their most successful solar projects is Ripasso Energy with 32% solar-to-grid energy so far. And the Swedes just get better. Since 1970, this country’s renewable geothermal, wind, and solar use, including collaborative infrastructure along with rigorous building codes, have led to 90% less oil dependency, nearly 10% decreased CO2 output, and markedly reduced sulfur pollution. Woo-hoo!

So yes, let the sun shine down. The star at the center of our solar system still belongs to all. The lower cost of residential solar power has also adjusted into a more doable realm. Now it’s up to us to block insatiable oil magnates and their legislative minions from further taxing that, too.

Are you using solar power to rock your world? If not, do you plan to do so?

Fusion for all

Fusion for all

Garden of Eating (Earth Whispers – Part 2) by Janine Donoho

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

Even as our beautiful living space known as Planet Earth heats beyond her best health, when spring comes to these highlands, my yearning turns to my annual Mediterranean garden. When we moved here over a decade ago, we immediately laid out our garden rooms with the most sacrosanct going to my vegetable and fruit space. That’s the only one I’m unwilling to share with the local wildlife. Deer, bear, moose, marmots, squirrels, and chipmunks don’t share when it comes to succulent cucumbers, basils, tomatoes, melons, and eggplants.

Planting the mounds

Planting the mounds

Last year’s attempt to grow melons outside my fenced area ended with humorously frustrating views of a doe and her two fawns standing on the boxes as they tugged leaves and melons through the bird netting. Since I grow perennial flower and shrub offerings specifically for native fauna in other garden rooms, it’ll be aromatic herbs and greens in those vulnerable boxes this season. Hoops versus netting may allow me some share of the harvest, too. Lessons learned.

Native browsers

Native browsers

Seed catalogs brighten winter and this year’s fresh delights? Sweet Baby Doll, New Queen, and Sugar Cube melons; Stars and Stripes eggplant; Dinosaur zucchini; Banana Legs tomatoes; Bulldog okra; Dragon Tongue beans; and Corno di Toro Rosso peppers. These novelties join the reliable varieties leading to baskets of harvest. Surrounding those will be the usual suspects of carrot rainbows, piquant radishes, robust spinach, kale bliss, luscious chard, and lettuces with plenty of marigold and nasturtium to act as natural deterrents to predatory insects.

I wish you a productive gardening season, my friends, and hope you’ll share your successes, too.

What do you love to grow in your gardens? Please share those experiments that led to ah-ha moments.

These beauties love my vegetable patch too much.

These beauties love my vegetable patch too much.

Previous season with garden helper.

Previous season with garden helper.

The why we do this.

The why of it.

Melons and salad

Melons and salad

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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