Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

From Poop to Gold

Check out this story that was on CNN about a city in Japan and her inhabitants’ poo

Japan’s golden poop

Pretty gnarley….and pretty awesome!

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So you don’t have enough money to travel, but you know that if you don’t go to some places around the world fast, they’ll be a melted glacier or a trash filled coastline. Well, all I can say is do your best to SAVE SAVE SAVE. Because according to scientists and CNN there are 5 places that you’d better get your behind to soon or there will be no point- global warming is going to ruin them.

  1. THE GREAT BARRIER REEF- Warming temperatures can spell disaster for coral reefs, which depend on a delicate balance of ocean temperature and chemistry to bloom into colorful displays.Many of the world’s reefs already are experiencing “bleaching” in which algae living in the coral die and leave behind whitened skeletons.

    The Great Barrier Reef — which is composed of about 2,900 individual reefs and is off the northeast coast of Australia — is seeing limited bleaching now, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority expects the problem to grow in coming decades.

    Henson said the reefs’ colorful displays are not to be missed.

    “It’s a feast for the eyes in terms of color, texture variations — it’s just amazing to see,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be enveloped in the warm water and look down just a few feet below at this amazing spread of ocean life.”

    Boats of people with snorkels typically launch into the reefs from Cairns, Queensland. If you go, tread lightly, Henson said. Visitors can damage the reefs if they get too close.

    How much sea levels will rise as the world warms is one of the trickiest parts of the climate change equation. If huge hunks of ice — such as parts of Greenland and the western shelf of Antarctica — melt, then the rise is expected to be more dramatic.

    “Nobody knows whether they’re going to completely melt or not, but we do know it’s not going to happen in the next 10 years,” Henson said.

    But for cities near the coast such as New Orleans, which already sits below sea level, rising waters could spell trouble for tourists and residents alike, even in the relative near term.

    “In the next several hundred years, life there may be difficult, and the cities may become impractical unless we can build large structures to keep the waters at bay,” he said.

    Henson doesn’t expect New Orleans to be underwater anytime soon. But travel to the Louisiana city may become more difficult in the future, he said. Scientists expect floods to become more frequent.

    “It’s sobering to be in New Orleans and look up at the levees that sit above you and keep out the Mississippi River,” he said. “You’re standing below the level of the river, looking up.”

  3. ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK  – ESTES PARK COLORADO Herds of tiny pine beetles are munching away at Colorado’s forests, turning the evergreens a sickly red and destroying large patches of trees.Cold snaps — which, in mountain terms, mean about five nights of minus-30 temperatures — usually kill off the native beetles. But winters are warming, and Henson and others said they worry the beetles can’t be stopped.

    The beetle infestation “has reached epidemic proportions as a result of climate issues,” said Kyle Patterson, spokeswoman for the Rocky Mountain National Park.

    The beetles are causing problems all over America’s mountainous west, but the issue is particularly visible at Patterson’s park, northwest of Denver. Henson recommends visiting the park this decade to ensure you can still see the dense forests in decent shape. Some of the reddened forests look beautiful in a strange way, Henson said, but visitors should note that the color isn’t natural for pine trees.

    “Come soon. It’s happening quickly,” he said.

    Visit in the summer or early fall and take a breathtaking drive to 12,183 feet, Patterson said. Or, come in the winter and enjoy snowshoeing and nearby skiing. Many of the park’s 355 miles of hiking trails are open year-round.

  4. ALPINE GLACIERS, SWITZERLAND- The European Alps sit at a lower altitude than the Rocky Mountains, and their glaciers and ski resorts are therefore more susceptible to melting, Henson said.A climate expert in Austria recently told National Geographic that the Alps’ famed glaciers will disappear entirely between 2030 and 2050. A 2006 report had said they would melt by the end of the century.

    Henson said he once took a train through the Alpine glaciers. They’re worth seeing before they go — whenever that happens, he said.

    “They’re beautiful; the light blue quality of the meltwater is really stunning,” he said. 

  5. AMAZON FOREST, BRAZIL  -Deforestation continues to be the major environmental issue in the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rain forest. But as locals and corporations chop down the Amazon’s rich forests to create farmland and to harvest biofuels, climate change may make things worse.”The fear is that there will be kind of a feedback where trees are cut down, and it gets warmer and drier” in the forest until it can’t grow back, Henson said.

    The best way to visit the forest is by boat, Henson said. That way, you’ll leave less of a mark on the struggling ecosystem.

    Of course, getting to a boat on the Amazon is not simple, and the long trip can create a lot of heat-trapping pollution. Henson said the destination might be one of those better left alone by tourists.

All of this information comes from cnn.com


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I’ve returned from my second trip to Israel in a year last Monday. Every time I go it’s different, I end up seeing something new that is old. I end up seeing someone old in a new setting and meeting someone new who will inevitably become an old friend. Those of course, are welcomed changes and experiences, but much like one other time I spent in Israel there was one drastically different thing that could not go unseen. War.

I went as planned, even during the war. This longing to be in Israel no matter what and sentiment within the Jewish community to “not let them win” has been a strong aspect of my life, and as it turns out, of 39 other Americans my age.

The war was hardly in our face, in fact, it seemed to not even be happening- but of course CNN and BBC would have you think that the world is ending.  But enough about the bad, I’ll talk about the good, the VERY good.

Only 2 out of the 40 participants opted out of joining us on this brilliant Birthright trip. There was a total of 47 people on our bus, including 3 staff members and a group of off duty Israeli soldiers there to meet the Americans and create lasting friendships.

On our first day we went to Jerusalem and visited the Kotel, or Western wall, or Wailing wall. We had a beautiful havdallah service, ending Shabbat and welcoming in the new week. This was our first shabbat together, and for most of the participants they had not been very involved in services of this kind before, so it was quiet, but still moving, as we were in the holiest site for Jews.

We then traveled  south and woke up early to n16319176_35310340_8785hike up Masada for watch the sunrise.

This is always a fantastic hike, it’s not too hard, but there is an incredible pay off once you get up there.

One thing that we get to do on the winter trips but not on the summer trips is visit the southern most point of Israel- Eilat. It’s on the Red Sea and borders with Egypt and Jordan.

There was a security issue with one of the hikes that we were set to do- the Army was doing training operations in the area, so we were relocated to another hike, which was as our guide tells us SO MUCH BETTER than our first. As far as I knew and could see, he was right. This was an exhilarating hike filled with fossils and rock wonders and even the stuff the Cleopatra had imported to Egypt use as makeup. hike I like to say that I like hiking, and I’ll be the first to admit that most of the time I’ll complain a little, but I realized last week that it’s not that I don’t like hiking, I actually love it when the hike is right. I LOVED every minute of this hike. No ifs, ands or butts about it. hike1 This was the highlight of my trip for sure.

Now, from there we went to spend a night in a Bedouin tent. I usually find this to be fun and interesting, but because our bus driver was told to wait for us in the wrong place and on top of that had no cell reception, we were delayed quite a bit (after coming up with ways to keep warm and who to eat first). We arrived at the Bedouin tent late- it was fully dark out and we were extra-ordinarily tired. We didn’t get to partake in any of the fun things they had planned for us, like a drum circle or a sit down for traditional tea with the Bedouin leaders.

This was only the beginning of a pretty shitty experience over all. We all were sleeping in one big tent on “mattress pads” with sleeping bags that had gone around the block if you catch my drift.  None of us slept well, including one of the guys who had a nightmare of demon children crawling under and into the tent- which resulted in him screaming in the middle of the night.

The next morning we were to ride camels- it’s a fun experience but not one that needs to be had more than once- I opted out. I can only imagine that the participants were in pain in their normally happy areas, so going back to the Kotel in that state, on no sleep and seriously stinky was not something we all wanted to do.  BUT to top it all off, one of the girls received a lovely present from the Bedouin tent in the form of a rash. I cannot stress enough how awful of an experience it was. This is us eating in our tent.food

From there we went from dry sandy conditions to wet and muddy ones in the Golan (the north)golan

This part of the country is one that most people who haven’t been to the region don’t every expect to see. It looks like Scotland with rolling green hills and moisture in your hair. We saw some museum sites, Syria & Lebanon and old army bunkers. The group went on another hike but due to the rash and a few other impending illness’, I stayed back with a couple of the participants. Once our tour of the north had ended, we headed to Tel Aviv- perhaps one of the more famous cities in the Middle east, known for it’s liberal culture and beautiful coast. When we approached the coastline, almost everybody commented on how it looked like Miami.

beachWE had a lovely shabbat in Tel Aviv. On saturday we all walked around the city looking at it’s striking Bauhaus style architecture and then had a relazing afternoon on the beach.beach-coffee

Then came our night out in Tel Aviv. It was poorly planned, because we went out Motze Shabbat (or after shabbat, on Saturday night) when not many people go out because the work week begins on Sunday. But, since we were almost 30 people, we took over the club anyway. We went to a place called, well shit, I don’t remember but it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m not going to plug a club in Tel Aviv that will mostly likely be called something new in a month.

We had an AMAZING time, although I was not drinking (due to the fact that it’s my job to staff this trip). Everyone got all gussied up and we had a fantastic last night out together.

Here is the entire group on our first day


On a more personal note- one which may be seen as political, but I see it as patriotic. There is now a beautiful cease fire in the middle east between Hamas and Israel. The fact remains that Israel is pulling out her troops, even when rockets were fired into Israel AFTER Hamas agreed on the cease fire. We’re not dealing with an army, we’re dealing with terrorists. While I was in Israel, a cease fire was proposed by Israel and the UN and Hamas decided not to agree with it, which seems to be thier formula- don’t agree to it when Israel proposes it, wait a week, then propose it and show the world that Hamas is the real good guy- In my opinion that is cowardice.

After 8 years of being Hamas’ playgroud for Quassam rockets, Israel retaliated. There is no way any other country in the world would excercise that amount of restraint when a war of terror is being waged on her citizens. Now, world, let’s not cast stones when we all live in a glass house.

* all of the later section of this post which includes politics is the view of Jessi, not Against the Grain, although I believe that ATG stands behind the notion of keeping the citizens of any country safe when a terror group invades.

Peace and Love,

Jessi Amanya (Faith)

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The earth is a complex planet, made more complex by her inhabitants. In a simpler time when we ate the food that we had in our immediate surroundings, and walked to where we needed to go which wasn’t farther than a mile the earth was happy. Today the earth is crying. I like to think of her as an elderly relative; she used to be able to do things by herself and she used to be able to keep her kids in check but now she’s weak and frail and the responsibility is on us, her kids. She’s crying for attention. We put her up in a nursing home and forgot about her.  Everything we do, I mean everything has an effect on someplace else in the world and sooner rather than later it’s going to catch up to us, the ones with money and power; money and power that we’re seeing slip through our fingers.

The chain of events of selfish people effects us in ways we don’t know about. Most of us don’t care as long as we get our latte and warm car to take us to work.  Well let’s break it down so the claim of ignorance isn’t viable any longer.

There is a new series on CNN that investigates how small things we do can effect a whole eco-system in the long run. It’s called Planet in Peril; Behind Enemy Lines.  Lisa Ling and Anderson Cooper are two of the main reporters who travel to parts of the earth that most Americans, Brits, Canadians, French etc etc don’t know about.

One instance is Sharks. Sharks are scary, mostly thanks to movies like Jaws and that one story a year about surfers who see a shark fin lurking in the water. Sharks are arguably the most defamed animal in the world, but let’s be serious, they only try to eat humans when humans are their home’s invaders. The statistics are that in a year there are about 5-15 shark related fatalities in the world, but there are about 100 million shark deaths a year due to humans. That number is not only staggering but widely unknown. Now, these shark deaths are not because the human felt in danger, they are for food. Shark fin soup is a Chinese delicacy and for the sale of that delicacy hunters kills sharks, de-fin them, and throw their mangled bodies back into the water.

This is a huge ecological devastation because sharks are the defenders of the seas. When sharks begin to go extinct and it’s not of natural causes the eco-system changes completely.  When the marine eco-system changes so do businesses that fish in those waters and consequently billion-dollar economies like ours implode.

So, as you read this please know that the example of the sharks is not the only one. Our actions have impacts on not only people in other parts of the world, but the animals that we choose to learn about and try to save (ex. “Save the whales!”), yet we don’t choose to think about the impact before we take the action. Please, think about what your actions may do to others, human and non-human alike, before you make that action. It’s a small delay in our day that could possibly help save lives or help to keep intact entire eco-systems! You DO make a difference.

Planet in Peril; Battle Lines- a CNN Special Report airs December 11, 2008. Check your local listings for times.

Save our Earth, it’s the only one we got.


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