In nature, there is no such thing as waste. To have an ecosystem means that all the organisms present are balancing each other out, providing for one another so that every problem has an equal and opposite solution.
There's a gallon of rotting cabbage on my kitchen counter right now--a little delicacy called Sauerkraut. Guided by Sandor Ellix Katz' Wild Fermentation, I bravely chopped up a mess of cabbage, green onion, carrots and their tops, added water and salt, shoved the whole thing in a crock with a another one on top. That was last Monday night.
Now I've got a little ecosystem going in my kitchen, thriving with healthy bacteria that are predigesting the cabbage for me, freeing up nutrients my body couldn't otherwise access. The healthy Lactobacilli that came from somewhere in my kitchen will become a part of my body, an ecosystem (officially called the human microbiome) that already contains approximately 100 trillion bacteria living symbiotically with my 10 trillion cells--that's a 10:1 bacteria to human ratio. The approximately 500 species in my gut are so helpful in the digestive process that, according to a nicely footnoted Wikipedia article, "the metabolic activity performed by these bacteria is equal to that of a virtual organ, leading to gut bacteria being termed a forgotten' organ."
For more information check out this great Science Daily article about how decoding the microbiome might play a role in health and illness. You can also read the latest news from The Human Microbiome Project, a federal initiative to map the microbiome.
These ecosystems just go to show that for every problem there's an equal and opposite solution. To that end, I am pleased to announce two news items in this fashion!
New York's Riverkeeper released an important report yesterday revealing that, though the Hudson is getting healthier, there's still has a long way to go. In the words of Riverkeeper Boat Captain John Lipscomb, "We still have a significant problem with sewage contamination. The recent 200+ million gallon sewage spill in New York City is only a minor part of widespread contamination that regularly occurs in the Hudson.” I encourage you to check out the Riverkeeper website to read more about this eye-opening report, or listen to the audio explanation.
The ultimate solution will mean that what goes down NYC's pipes during a rainstorm doesn't flow back unchecked into the river. In the meantime, it might be nice for swimmers, kayakers and river walkers to at least know when it's happening. You can help make this so! Sign this petition to join Riverkeeper, New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat and New York State Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti in calling for a Sewage Right to Know Law for New York so that the public can be properly informed about where and when it is safe to get in the water.
I've recently been going to protests and meetings about the dangers of hyrdraulic fracturing, or "fracking." While there's tons of natural gas lying underneath the ground, current fracking technology is unsafe, requires millions of gallons of water that must be dumped after, and has the potential to contaminate the water we depend on for drinking (and flushing, but that wasteful practice is a whole other post). When I go to these events, I've been struck by the inherent dilemma--yes, fracking is a bad way to get energy and, yes, our energy consumption is out of control. So if we're going to say "No!" to fracking, but can we say "Yes!" to?
Sunday, 8/14, at 2pm The MORE Project presents a FREE screening of Josh Fox's Gasland, an expose on fracking, followed at 4pm by Fuel the Film, all about exciting new possibilities for energy. A discussion with The Puru will follow and the beer will surely flow over at Pour George on 8th btwn 5th and 6th Aves, because there's nothing like alcohol and documentary films! Full details just below.
Now I've gotta go. It's sauerkraut hour.
Shawn "The Puru" Shafner
2 Great FREE films – Sunday 14-Aug-2011 at 2 PM in NYC
The M.O.R.E. project is proud to present a ‘fair use’ screening of TWO outstanding films on Sunday 14-Aug-2011. There is NO admission fee! A ‘fair use’ screening must be FREE!
The two award winning films are “Gasland” at 2 PM, and “Fuel” around 4 PM. They will be shown in the back room of a great bar in Greenwich Village called “Pour George” at 35 West 8th St, New York, NY 10011 / (212) 253-2999. That's just East of 6th Ave. Take the N/R to 8th Street, the 6 to Astor Place, or the A/C/E to West 4th St.
“Gasland” by Josh Fox explores the truly deadly consequences of extracting natural gas by the process called hydraulic fracturing aka “fracking”. This process has reportedly already contaminated drinking water in 34 states and unless we block it, fracking will soon start in areas whose water feeds New York City.
People are being sickened and killed by fracking all over the country, but the laws that are supposed to protect us have been bypassed by Halliburton and other large companies.
Josh F’s courageous film digs deep into what fracking is, what it does, how it kills, and who profits from (literally) ‘making a killing’…
“Fuel” is the story of Josh Tickell, filmmaker and eco-evangelist, who spent eleven years exploring real-world energy alternatives to oil, coal, and natural gas. He put his findings into his film along with his brave spirit (as did Josh Fox).
Josh T found that there ARE real ways to create power that do not poison the Earth and all the living beings who share it. In his film, he explores energy creation from wind, solar, tidal and biofuel power sources. He also makes a fantastic case for biodiesel fuel created by algae from sewage and industrial waste.
If you are coming to the event, please RSVP, John Hechtman at email@example.com. You don’t have to do this – as long as we have space to seat you, no one will be turned away. But Pour George is not a large place – it would be very helpful to have a rough idea of how many people are coming. For more info call 212 586 4633.