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The Organic Times Blog

The Natural Living Community

  • Sustainability At Southmost

       Max Pons Admiring An Indigo Snake           When he pulled out the homemade wine, I knew I was in for a doozy of a day. I was sitting in the cluttered, 1980’s-esque office of Max Pons. A tall, narrow-faced Texan with just a hint of that unforgettable drawl, Max poured his wine out of a Snapple container into a plastic medicine cup with a subtle grin. We brought our cups together, guzzled the delicious drink, and set out to explore a piece of property unlike any other in the United States.

                    Max Pons is the preserve manager of the Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve, a 1,034 acre parcel of protected land occupying the southernmost part of the continental United States. The property is bordered on three sides by the Rio Grande, while the infamous (and unsightly) border fence separates the preserve from the rest of the country. Some of the last native sabal palm forest left in the United States can be found there, as can many animal species found nowhere else in the country. That’s the reason I traveled over 2,000 miles to pay this place a visit. It was with timid excitement that I parked my trusty rental van and began exploring this Nature Conservancy preserve with my eccentric, but brilliant, guide.

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  • Slowing Down The White Gold Rush: The Elephant Poaching Problem And What You Can Do About It

    Carved elephant tusk for sale in San Francisco. Carved elephant tusk for sale in San Francisco.

           

             The last few years have not been kind to African elephants. Recent estimates put the number of African elephants killed since 2011 at over 50,000. The total number of both African elephant species (forest and savanna) is estimated to be around 550,000 individuals spread out over Earth’s second largest continent. See the problem?

                The surge in killings is directly tied to a surge in demand. The gleaming tusks that elephants use to push down trees, dig for minerals, and battle rival males are their downfall. Wealthy consumers from East Asian countries, such as China and The Philippines, often like to decorate their houses with ivory carvings, representing anything from religious figures to, ironically, elephants. Those who purchase these carvings are frequently unaware that intelligent animals were shot repeatedly, young elephants were left orphaned and grieving, and several international laws were broken to get that ivory into their home.

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  • West Virginia's Toxic Water Problem: What would you do without a good water source?

    deepwater horizon, oil, planktonWhile 300,000 people are doubtful about having clean water tonight in West Virginia, the rest of us can only imagine what it would be like to not bathe, drink, brush our teeth, clean our dishes, clothes or even give our animals the life-giving liquid we all know as water. What happened to the Elk River is reminiscent of the BP Oil Spill, also known as the United State's Greatest Environmental Tragedy.  Both instances brought clean water, something the majority of U.S. citizens take for granted, to the fore front of our nation's conscience

    Clean water in our nation is mandatory for the population majority. Without clean, running water our homes and businesses can be declared uninhabitable by the states we live in...but it wasn't always this way. Whom do we have to thank for being able to trust the H2O that streams out of our taps?

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  • Gray Wolves De-listing Process Creating Teenage Thugs?

    Gray-WolfAs the Obama Administration works to remove the Gray Wolf from the Endangered species list, states who have been managing their Gray Wolf packs have seen several outcomes from the 1996 experiment to reintroduce the once native species into the United States.

    One is a large increase in the wolf population. Currently, the country has an approximate total of 6,100 wolves with 4, 432 in the Great Lakes region, including Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Idaho has the largest Gray Wolf population with 683 wolves and at least 117 packs in 2012, with Montana following closely behind with 625 of the predators and 277 in Wyoming.  Idaho also has the largest amount of livestock loss due to wolves.

    As Idaho struggles to find a balance between ranchers and the wolves, one possible byproduct has been the rise of wolf "teenage thugs" due to the loss of adult role models and pack leaders.

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  • A Good Year For Alternative Energy

     

    Wind Farm courtesy of Wikipedia.com Wind Farm courtesy of Wikipedia.com        

               2013 went by way too fast. As I write this, on the eve of a new year, I am struck by how momentous this past year was. Horrible shootings occurred around the country, Russia became the first to drill for oil in the high Arctic, and Miley Cyrus proved to the world that she was going to reinvent herself. In spite of all this terrible news, I think the readers of this blog have plenty of cause for celebration as they look back on the past year.

                Devastating climate change is like a desert mirage that is not vanishing as we get closer. Recently, we have learned that our best bet to fight this catastrophe is to shy away from fossil fuels in favor of alternative energy sources. Herein lay our justification for celebration. Wind, solar, and even wave-generated energy have had new advances in this past year that leaves me optimistic for 2014.

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  • Do babies really need iPads?

    ipad for babies? how young is too young?

    Toy makers capitalize on the Holiday buying season by rolling out new toys, hoping to be the latest "Tickle Me Elmo" of the year. This month, Fischer Price introduced their new infant bouncer, complete with an iPad holder on the "activity bar" placed 10-12" over the baby's recumbent form.

    Commercials show the infant merrily reaching out to touch the images flashing on the screen, while the smiling mother looks on,  seemingly content that her child is not only being entertained, but also educated.

    But are iPads really necessary for babies? How young is too young?

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  • Walking Dead is based on the Environmental Movement

    zombie recycling

    Last night I watched the “Mid-Season Finale” of Walking Dead and realized that this Comic Strip turned Television Epoch is actually based on the Environmental Movement.  I know what you’re thinking, but bear with me, let’s examine the most recent episode. My point really becomes very clear during the Governor’s challenge to Rick’s group at the prison gates.

     

    Here’s the scene for those of you who missed it: The Governor, standing on a tank surrounded by a heavily armed cadre has two of Rick’s friends as bound hostages kneeling before him. His goal is to take over the prison haven, currently held by Rick’s group. He issues this ultimatum: “Leave before Sundown or I will kill you all,” he decrees from his position of power.

     

    Rick, standing apart from his group, looking small and desperate, responds with an alternative to the deadly proposal: “No, wait, it doesn’t have to be this way! Really, we can all live together, if not harmoniously at first, then after time. He extolls the list of enticements: we have plenty of land, we can grow food, we have walls, we will be safe, we CAN DO IT,” his voice rising and falling like that of a practiced preacher.

     

    During his impassioned plea, the camera watches the face of the only non-zombie Senior Citizen on the show. Hershel’s eyes become calm and his face peaceful as he seemingly envisions Rick’s promise of a harmonious and healthy future.

     

    Camera pans to the small Rick, standing like David before Goliath and there’s the slightest breath of hope…and then the Governor chops Hershel’s head off.

    So here’s the parallel:

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  • Tips for a more eco-friendly holiday season

    5282671121_7dce1aff0e_qThe holidays are quickly approaching and with them comes mass amounts of waste. I don't think anyone likes to think about how much we waste with all the paper, decorations, and packaging we use during the holidays but it's true; the holidays are generally not very "green".

    The good news is that we can have eco-friendly holidays if we want to! We don't have to buy into all the commercialism and give into all the excess waste. We can have our green holiday and even save some money in the process!

    Here are some eco-friendly ways to celebrate the holidays this year.

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  • Healthy Homes, Healthy Families & a Healthy Planet SALE!

    shop-the-sale copy Don't miss our Small business Saturday and Cyber Monday Sale!   We work hard to select artisans & brands that are striving to make a difference in the world. As you shop this holiday season, consider supporting those dedicated to Healthy Homes, Healthy Families & a Healthy Planet.

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  • Lady Bird Johnson Pioneer Environmentalist and First Green Lady of the Land

    Lady Bird is still cool Lady Bird was the First Green Lady
    Ask anyone under the age of 50 and they probably won't be able to tell you who Lady Bird Johnson was, or about her relevance to the Green Movement.Before Nancy Reagan began her "Just Say NO" program, and long before Michelle Obama championed children's healthy eating habits, Lady Bird (actual first name Claudia Alta) began the "Beautification Movement" shortly after her husband Lyndon Johnson assumed the Presidency in 1964 upon JFK's assassination. 
    Lady Bird has been credited with pioneering the Environmental Movement in America. This inspiring woman's courage and commitment to this nation's lands was perhaps born out of tragedy. 
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