Italian architecture firm Act Romegialli designed this building to start as a little garden house, and then be gradually eaten by the garden.
Here's what it started as, an unused garage structure:
But the architects gave it a coat of plants: honeysuckle and mile-a-minute vine to start with, and then common hops and golden tiara as a flourish. Lower down, perennials (red valerian, Lindheimer's beeblossom, geraniums, and brown-eyed susans) sit by annuals (Mexican asters, marigolds, nasturtium, and red spider zinnias). In the end, you get this:
One of the great features of California's cap-and-trade program is that all the money that the state raises by selling carbon allowances to polluters is supposed to be plowed back into initiatives that help cool the climate. So not only does the program limit and reduce carbon emissions; it also forces polluters to pay to undo some of the harm that they cause.
But with such a big stack of green sitting there, staring the notoriously cash-poor state of California in its desperate face, how can a government resist?
And so it's starting to look as though $500 million raised by selling carbon allowances could be funneled away from green programs and loaned instead to the state's general fund. The L.A. Times reports:
Gov. Jerry Brown sparked controversy Tuesday when he proposed to shift $500 million out of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and loan it to the state general fund as part of the effort to balance the budget. ...
This is how powerfully good the fast food industry is at making people crave their food: A delivery service in Gaza will smuggle KFC across the Egyptian-Gaza border in order to satisfy cravings for fried chicken. So far, the delivery service, Yamama, has brought in 100 meals, according to The New York Times. Yamama waits for about 30 orders to pile up. And then, this four-hour process begins, which involves multiple cars, smuggling tunnels, and motorcycles:
[A]n Egyptian taxi driver picked up the food. On the other side of the border, meanwhile, Ramzi al-Nabih, a Palestinian cabdriver, arrived at the Hamas checkpoint in Rafah, where the guards recognized him as “the Kentucky guy.”
From the checkpoint, Mr. Nabih, 26, called his Egyptian counterpart and told him which of the scores of tunnels the Hamas official had cleared for the food delivery.
The Earth revolves around the sun. Also, it's overheating because we're burning fossil fuels.
Can you guess which of those two long-established facts just received an additional jolt of publicized near unanimity among scientists?
It was, of course, the latter. (The oil industry has no economic interest in attempting to debunk the former, and you can no longer be persecuted for claiming it.)
An international team of scientists analyzed the abstracts of 11,944 peer-reviewed papers published between 1991 and 2011 dealing with climate change and global warming. That's right -- we're talking about 20 years of papers, many published long before Superstorm Sandy, last year's epic Greenland melt, or Australia's "angry summer."
About two-thirds of the authors of those studies refrained from stating in their abstracts whether human activity was responsible for climate change. But in those papers where a position on the claim was staked out, 97.1 percent endorsed the consensus position that humans are, indeed, cooking the planet.
It's easy to see the appeal for Lisa and Jeff Charles of being at the forefront of the Alaskan village of Newtok's move to a new location.
The couple, who have six young children, were allotted one of the first houses in Mertarvik -- as the villagers call the chosen relocation site -- nine miles south of Newtok on Nelson Island.
The house allotted to the Charles family was hardly palatial: 1,350 square feet on a single level with an open-plan kitchen and living area, four bedrooms, and one bathroom.
But it's twice as big as the place Jeff built when he was 21, adding on two rooms after he married Lisa and their household grew to six children under the age of 12, a chihuahua, and a couple of puppies. There is no running water so the family use a big plastic barrel in the kitchen to store water.
The new house, fitted with wood panelling and new appliances, sits on a high ridge of volcanic rock and is flooded with light. It is supposed to have flush toilets when it is complete, unlike their current home. "This place feels maybe like a mansion compared to our other house," said Lisa. "We can't wait to move across."
I repeat: They are up. My fragile seeds have sprouted into tiny proto-herbs. Miniature leaves unfold by the hour; little stems reach toward the sun. It’s alive, I tell you! I have created life!
Forgive me for going a bit mad with power -- I’m just so excited that my very first foray into growing from seed is actually working so far. Sure, I’ve managed to keep a series of windowsill plants alive in pots over the past few years (bless you, you affable succulents). But I bought all of them as hearty young plants, already strong and bushy and requiring little more than water from me. It’s like adopting a high-achieving college kid -- with all the hard work already done, you can’t exactly call yourself parent of the year.
But my recent seed-bombing expedition awakened something in me. I haven’t yet seen any sprouts from the secret seed bomb I snuck into a corner of my backyard -- my cue to check on the seed-filled clay capsules I lobbed into vacant lots (maybe the dry spell of the past few weeks is to blame?). So while I’m waiting for my guerrilla gardening luck to kick in, I decided to try growing herbs from seed for the first time.
Do you feel like your doctors and your more annoying friends are always telling you to drink more water? Well, they're just trying to help. Water is so important for your health! Sadly, water tastes like, well, water. And since Americans eat like 100 pounds of sugar a year, the taste of water just isn't good enough for us. Even though we are very lucky to have fresh water, we don't get too excited about it -- 20 percent of people say they just don't like how it tastes (i.e., watery). What we do get excited about are artificially flavored, sugar-free water products.
Tea Partiers who watched gleefully as the sequester slashed government spending are welcome to douse forest fires near their homes with teapots full of Earl Grey this summer. Across-the-board budget cuts mean federal wildfire fighting efforts could be overwhelmed.
The U.S. Forest Service will hire 500 fewer firefighters this year and 50 fewer fire engines will be available than previously expected, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week. The Interior Department also plans to pare back its firefighting crews.
The seasonal firefighting jobs are going up in smoke because of Congress's inability to come up with a national spending plan. President Obama called for spending cuts and tax increases to help balance the budget, but Republicans would have none of the latter.
Salt’s membership in junk food’s holy trinity (along with sugar and fat) means it’s one of the food industry’s essential tools for making its products addictively good. (Journalist Michael Moss reveals this in his eye-opening book Salt Sugar Fat, but if you’ve ever housed a box of Cheez-Its solo, you already knew that.) For decades now, limiting salt intake has been part of the public-health mantra; groups like the American Heart Association vilify salt for its links to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and recommend that we all aim for no more than 1,500 milligrams a day of salt consumption.
But all of a sudden a new report is causing a stir by saying that recommendation may be meaningless, and that consuming extremely low levels of sodium could actually be harmful.
Far out. Pass the Cheez-Its!
Sadly, it’s not quite that simple. The report, commissioned by the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confuses more than it clarifies. It looks at studies on sodium intake and health outcomes conducted since 2005 — the last time the U.S. issued dietary guidelines on salt. Back then, the USDA recommended that the general population consume 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day, and that populations at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure limit intake to 1,500 milligrams. The more recent evidence calls those guidelines into question. The New York Times reports:
“As you go below the 2,300 mark, there is an absence of data in terms of benefit and there begin to be suggestions in subgroup populations about potential harms,” said Dr. Brian L. Strom, chairman of the committee and a professor of public health at the University of Pennsylvania. He explained that the possible harms included increased rates of heart attacks and an increased risk of death. …
There are physiological consequences of consuming little sodium, said Dr. Michael H. Alderman, a dietary sodium expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who was not a member of the committee. As sodium levels plunge, triglyceride levels increase, insulin resistance increases, and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system increases. Each of these factors can increase the risk of heart disease.
“Those are all bad things,” Dr. Alderman said. “A health effect can’t be predicted by looking at one physiological consequence. There has to be a net effect.”
Medical and public health experts responded to the new assessment of the evidence with elation or concern, depending on where they stand in the salt debates.
Some experts worry the report will send the wrong message -- that we’re off the hook in terms of watching our salt. A spokesperson for the AHA said the group “remained concerned about the large amount of sodium in processed foods, which makes it almost impossible for most Americans to cut back.”