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Britain Newsnight's reporter Jeremy Paxman talks to Russell Brand...
Brand was the guest editor of a revolution-themed issue of Britain's New Statesman magazine, released in October, that includes a 4500-word manifesto by the actor/activist. In the current interview Jeremy Paxman asks why anyone should listen to a man who has never voted in his life.
Brand explains why he doesn't vote:
It's not that I'm not voting out of apathy, I'm not voting out of absolute indifference, and weariness, and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations now and has now reached a fever pitch, where we have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that [is] not being represented by that political system, so voting for it is tacit complicity with that system."
"I don't get my authority from this preexisting paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people," says Russell. "I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity."
"The burden of proof is on the people with power" and "we are exploiting poor people all over the world" and "the genuine legitimate problems of people are being ignored".
Brand feels a revolution is inevitable and that one of the triggers of the revolution will be Climate Change.
How do we solve the problem of the suburbs? Urbanist Jeff Speck shows how we can free ourselves from dependence on the car -- which he calls "a gas-belching, time-wasting, life-threatening prosthetic device" -- by making our cities more walkable and more pleasant for more people.
Jeff Speck is a city planner and architectural designer who, through writing, lectures, and built work, advocates internationally for smart growth and sustainable design. As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, he oversaw the Mayors' Institute on City Design and created the Governors' Institute on Community Design, a federal program that helps state governors fight suburban sprawl. Prior to joining the Endowment, Mr. Speck spent ten years as Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk and Co., a leading practitioner of the New Urbanism, where he led or managed more than forty of the firm's projects. He is the co-author of Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream as well as The Smart Growth Manual. He serves as a Contributing Editor to Metropolis Magazine, and on the Sustainability Task Force of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His new book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, is now available in print, digital, and audio format.
A bit of an ad for Ikea - but sets an optimistic tone that many other companies will follow suit.
The big blue buildings of Ikea have sprouted solar panels and wind turbines; inside, shelves are stocked with LED lighting and recycled cotton. Why? Because as Steve Howard puts it: “Sustainability has gone from a nice-to-do to a must-do.” Howard, the chief sustainability officer at the furniture megastore, talks about his quest to sell eco-friendly materials and practices -- both internally and to worldwide customers -- and lays a challenge for other global giants.
More than 690 million people visited an Ikea store in 2012; the company sold €27 billion worth of low-priced sofas, lamps, bookshelves and other goods (including €1.3 billion just in food) from more than 1,000 suppliers. Steve Howard, the chief sustainability officer, is charged with making that supply chain, and the company's 298 stores and almost 3,000 products, live more lightly upon the earth.
Coming to Ikea from the nonprofit consultancy Climate Group, Howard has embraced the challenge of working with a single big company, and the improvements he's made so far include helping farmers grow more-sustainable cotton around the world, remaking classic products to use fewer parts, and investing €1.5 billion through 2015 in renewable energy sources, notably wind and solar. (Like the rollout in the UK of Ikea solar panel systems for the home.) And if you've been to an Ikea lately, you probably already know this, through signs and explainers posted all over the store. Telling the story of sustainability is key, Howard believes, as companies like his become agents of transformative change. As he says: "I don't think we've fully realized the extent to which sustainability is going to shape society and the business landscape over the next couple of decades."
The Solar Decathlon is training and inspiring the next generation of architects, engineers and entrepreneurs. The two-year competition challenges collegiate teams to build energy-efficient, solar-powered houses.
Over the course of the competition, students gain hands-on experience in everything from fundraising and marketing to design and construction. Showcasing their houses to the general public allows students to get feedback on their designs and how they work in the real world -- something that many of them would never get in the classroom.
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. www.solardecathlon.gov
2013 Top Five:
The biological purpose of sleep, to flush out toxins:
A study by University of Rochester Scientists in the journal Science reveals that the brain's unique method of waste removal -- dubbed the glymphatic system -- is highly active during sleep, clearing away toxins responsible for Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders. Furthermore, the researchers found that during sleep the brain's cells reduce in size, allowing waste to be removed more effectively. This revelation could transform scientists' understanding of the biological purpose of sleep and point to new ways to treat neurological disorders.
Helene Benveniste of Stony Brook University has also been studying the glymphatic system and its capacity to remove toxic waste from the brain. youtube.com & www.jci.org
The neuroscience of sleep:
Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages -- and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health. Learn more here: blog.ted.com
Residents of Ikaria are healthier and live longer than the rest of us -- so what's their secret?
Rules: Do not wear a watch. Garden. Eat only yours and your neighbors home grown food (including honey and wine). Socialize, walk and dance. Optional: stay up late and take an afternoon nap...
The must read article here: www.nytimes.com
'You'll never get your head around how big the universe is,' warns astronomer Pete Edwards of the University of Durham in this film about measuring astronomical distances. 'There are as many stars in the universe as there are grains of sand on the Earth.' So how far is a light year? And supposing our galaxy were the size of a grain of sand, how big would the universe be? www.theguardian.com
Education is the key. In this exclusive, unedited interview, "I Am Malala" author Malala Yousafzai remembers the Taliban's rise to power in her Pakistani hometown and discusses her efforts to campaign for equal access to education for girls. Malala Yousafzai also offers suggestions for people looking to help out overseas and stresses the importance of education. An amazingly inspirational young woman.
The Last Stand of the Orangutan: The Power is in Your Palm - a new national campaign exposing the US snack food industry for putting Conflict Palm Oil into the food products we buy everyday.
Palm oil is found in roughly half the products sold in grocery stores and its production is now one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction worldwide. It is the single biggest threat driving orangutans toward extinction and is responsible for widespread human rights violations including displacement of Indigenous Peoples, land conflicts with forest dependent communities, and forced and child labor.
On top of that, deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, where palm oil is grown, is pushing more carbon pollution into earth's atmosphere each year than all the cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships in the United States combined. In fact, due to deforestation, Indonesia has the third largest greenhouse gas emissions behind China and the United States.
But we can do something about it!
The most popular and influential snack food companies using Conflict Palm Oil, dubbed the “Snack Food 20” by RAN, control some of America’s most well known household brands including Pepsi, Heinz, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smuckers. They spend millions a year to instill brand loyalty and trust in their customers - us - and they really care what we think. It is crucial that these companies hear from you right now. Tell them that you will not stand for Conflict Palm Oil in your food. Together we can convince these brands to take action and change the destructive way Conflict Palm Oil is grown.
Learn more, upload your photo, and join Rainforest Action Network's Palm Oil Action Team at InYourPalm.org or www.laststandoftheorangutan.org
The Coolest Nature Video Ever Edited By Roen Horn.
One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.
There are a wide variety of ways for everyone to contribute to increasing soil organic matter (SOM). Composting food leftovers, kitchen scraps and garden waste are primary methods. Cost-effective local, municipal composting programs are on the rise. On farms, cover crops and agroforestry methods work to increase SOM, and the regeneration of natural grasslands and reforestation are other strategies for improving soil health.
For more information, visit the Center for Food Safety's Cool Foods Campaign: www.coolfoodscampaign.org
Christine Amanpour spoke with Jane Goodall, a primatologist best known for her work with chimpanzees, and Doctor Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist who fights for changed agricultural practices.
“I really believe the time has come for sanity, for responsibility,” Shiva told Amanpour, “for recognizing the rights of Mother Earth, for recognizing a deep science that works in accordance with the laws of Gaia” – the Greek personification of Earth – “not the shallow and irresponsible science that works only in the marketplace for profits and power.”
Goodall and Shiva spoke with Amanpour as they were attending the International Women’s Earth and Climate Change Summit in New York. Co-organizer of the summit, Osprey Orielle Lake stated that "Nature will not wait while politicians debate, women around the world are facing the impacts of a changing climate every day, and we are coming together to say 'Enough is enough. It is time for action that addresses the roots of this crisis and fosters just solutions." www.iweci.org/summit
In Singapore, the challenge of feeding a growing population is pushing the concept of urban farming to new heights. A super-efficient vertical farming system is producing greens for 5 million residents.
"Can we supply enough food for everyone on the planet?" It's a question plaguing leaders around the world. In Singapore SkyGreen offers one example of how this might be possible, "not just technically, but economically". By increasing their food security while reducing the impact of food production on global climate change, SkyGreen is 10 times more productive per square foot than conventional farming.
So sad. Ross Longdon, his partner Elif Yavuz (Clinton Foundation) and their unborn child were victims of the Nairobi shopping mall massacre.
Ross is an architect with a deep sensitivity to the communities and traditions in which his projects are located. Born and brought up in rural south-eastern Tasmania, he now focuses on ecologically and socially sustainable tourism infrastructure in environmentally sensitive locations. His is currently working in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania on a number of eco-lodges and smaller cultural projects and will show us how a building can be integrated into communities on many levels.
Honeybees have thrived for 50 million years, each colony of 40 to 50,000 individuals coordinated in amazing harmony. So why, seven years ago, did colonies start dying en masse? Marla Spivak reveals four reasons which are interacting with tragic consequences. This is not simply a problem because bees pollinate a third of the world’s crops. Could this incredible species be holding up a mirror for us?
Bees pollinate a third of our food supply -- they don’t just make honey! -- but colonies have been disappearing at alarming rates in many parts of the world due to the accumulated effects of parasitic mites, viral and bacterial diseases, and exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota professor of entomology and 2010 MacArthur Fellow, tries as much as possible to think like bees in her work to protect them. They’re “highly social and complex” creatures, she says, which fuels her interest and her research.
Spivak has developed a strain of bees, the Minnesota Hygienic line, that can detect when pupae are infected and kick them out of the nest, saving the rest of the hive. Now, Spivak is studying how bees collect propolis, or tree resins, in their hives to keep out dirt and microbes. She is also analyzing how flowers’ decline due to herbicides, pesticides and crop monoculture affect bees’ numbers and diversity. Spivak has been stung by thousands of bees in the course of her work.
By 2050, it will take 100 billion land animals to provide the world's population with meat, dairy, eggs and leather goods. Maintaining this herd will take a huge, potentially unsustainable toll on the planet. What if there were a different way? In this eye-opening talk, tissue engineering advocate Andras Forgacs argues that biofabricating meat and leather is a civilized way to move past killing animals for hamburgers and handbags.
An entrepreneur in tissue engineering, Andras Forgacs is the co-founder and CEO of Modern Meadow, a company developing novel biomaterials. These include cultured meat and leather which, as they put it, "will require no animal slaughter and much lower inputs of land, water, energy and chemicals". This approach involves sourcing cells from living animals, multiplying these cells into billions, and then assembling them into the tissue precursors of meat or leather. The products, for now, are at a prototype stage.
Previously, Andras co-founded Organovo, which uses 3D bioprinting to create human tissues for pharmaceutical research and medical applications, such as drug development and replacement tissues. Organovo’s bioprinting technology was recognized by MIT Technology Review on its TR50 list of most innovative companies for 2012.
The devastating flooding that pummeled Colorado last week, also inundated a main center of the state's drilling industry. The mix of floodwater's and drilling operations has spurred environmental and health concerns that industry and government officials say they are closely monitoring, and that activists have seized on as another demonstration of the dangers posed by hydraulic-fracturing. Pictures and videos that cropped up in recent days showing inundated oil pads, flooded wells, and, in some cases, overturned tanks and ruptured lines. Many were reportedly captured in Weld County, an area northeast of Denver and Boulder that was hit hard by the flooding. With nearly 18,000 active wells, it's also a main drilling center in Colorado, a state that increasingly relies on hydraulic-fracturing for its energy production. "Our biggest fear is that oil and gas hydrocarbons and hydrofracking chemicals will get into the water supply, and that the flooding will spread the pollution over a large swath of the landscape."
"The biggest concern is open-wastewater pits," said Robert Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Duke University, who lead a study earlier this year linking fracking to water contamination. The hazardous fluid waste from hydraulic fracturing, also called flowback water, is sometimes stored in open-air pits that Jackson said can possibly overflow if inundated.
The Denver Post reported on Wednesday evening that at least 5,250 gallons of crude oil spilled from two tank batteries into the South Platte River. www.denverpost.com
Frogs (and amphibians in general) are in danger -- worldwide, nearly one-third of the world's amphibian species are on the verge of extinction. And yet, frogs contribute to our well-being in many important ways. Kerry M. Kriger describes why frogs are in trouble and how you can help save them.
The best way to save the frogs is to educate yourself about amphibians and amphibian conservation, and fortunately, there are many free educational resources online. A great place to start is www.savethefrogs.com, which has several hundred pages of free information on frogs. The website was created by Dr. Kerry Kriger, who founded SAVE THE FROGS! nonprofit organization and wrote the script for this Ted-Ed video. The SAVE THE FROGS! How To Help page offers over 50 ideas on ways to help frog populations.
Lesson by Kerry M. Kriger, animation by Simon Ampel.
View full lesson: ed.ted.com/lessons/disappearin...
National Geographic journeys along the remote Alaskan coast ... in search of garbage. A team of scientists and artists investigates the buildup of marine debris washing out of the great gyres, or currents, in the Pacific Ocean. Called the Gyre Expedition, their goal is to create art from the trash they find to raise awareness about its impact on oceans and wildlife. Their artwork will become part of a traveling exhibition in 2014.
Learn more about the expedition and the next phase of the Gyre Project:
The sun's greatest events as captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) from February 2012 to February 2013.
A highlight of the SDO's (third year) occurred on June 5, 2012, when Venus crossed in front of the sun, as viewed from Earth – an occurrence that will not happen again for more than 100 years. Credit: NASA/GSFC Read more about SDO here: www.nasa.gov