The Third Direction is Body/Earth Connection

The below is from the D5 teaching manual. We hope it’s useful for you and your kids! It’s a long Direction, but here are a few common terms to get you started.

DirectionThree: The Body/Earth Connection

 The whole problem of health, in soil, plant, animal and man is one great subject.”

— Sir Albert Howard, 1939

Introduction:

The information available today on the state of our Earth’s health and its relation to our health is overwhelming, sad and often times discouraging. Shortsighted thinking leaves our planet and our very future in peril.

Consider the words from The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations:

“In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law, which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation.”

We need to live today as if it’s seven generations from now and make decisions not only for ourselves but also for those who will walk on this Earth in 200 years. They will thank us for keeping them in our minds and hearts.

In order to make good choices we need to understand how our decisions affect the Earth’s health and our health. Keep in mind that only 1/32 of the earth’s surface is suitable for food production. We all share the world’s resources and as of 2008 the global population is 6.83 billion people with one billion overweight or obese and nearly one billion without adequate nutrition.

Here are some common terms:

An Aquifer is an underground source of water. This water may be contained in a layer of rock, sand or gravel.

The Body Burden is the total amount of a chemical in the body. Some chemicals build up in the body because they are stored in body organs like fat or bone or are eliminated very slowly.

An ecosystem is a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment.

Energy is usable heat or power with the major sources being petroleum or coal. Renewable energy sources include solar and wind power.

Exposure refers to contact with a chemical by swallowing, breathing or direct contact such as through the skin or eyes. Exposure may be either short term (acute) or long term (chronic).

The Farm Bill is an omnibus bill, which is a Latin word that means ‘for everything.’ It is the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the United State government. The Farm Bill impacts the environment, our food and water supply and safety, organics, food assistance programs and the health of rural communities. It can be controversial because of food subsidies, meaning the government pays farmers to grow or not to grow certain crops and subsidizes farmer’s incomes. The Farm Bill is hundreds of pages long and can be found at:

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=FARMBILL2008

Food miles refer to the distance food travels to the point of production to the time it reaches the consumer. Food miles are one factor used in assessing the environmental impact of food. On average food travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles before it arrives in your kitchen.

A Foodshed is a term used to describe the flow of food from producer to consumer. This general definition considers a geographic area that supplies a population area with food.

Global Warming is the gradual increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, believed to be due to the greenhouse effect, caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) are organisms whose genetic characteristics have been altered by the insertion of a modified gene or a gene from another organism using the techniques of genetic engineering. This relatively new science allows DNA from one species to be injected into another species in a laboratory, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

Inputs are defined as what is put in, taken in, or operated on by any process or system.

A kilocalorie, commonly referred to as kcal, is a unit of energy equivalent to 1000 calories.

A life cycle assessment, also known as Cradle to Grave Assessment, is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from-cradle-to-grave. As an example, you would ‘follow’ an apple from the farm where it is grown to the store where it is sold to your table and analyze all the impacts to the Earth and therefore your health.

A pathogen is a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease.

Pesticides are chemicals used to eliminate or control a variety of agricultural pests that can damage crops and livestock and reduce farm productivity. The most commonly applied pesticides are insecticides (to kill insects), herbicides (to kill weeds), rodenticides (to kill rodents), and fungicides (to control fungi, mold, and mildew). Of these pesticide classes, herbicides (weed killers) are the most widely used. Today, over 1 billion tons of pesticides are used in the US every year.

http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/securty.htm

A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes the same direction and into the same place.

 

 

 

Bone Health for Kids

Bone Health for Kids:

Here are some basic facts about bone health for kids. Use this checklist when teaching groups of kids or your own children. Involve them by asking the questions and waiting for the answers. It’s really fun!

 How many bones in an adult human body?

  • There are more in a kid’s body, as some bones haven’t fused together. More than half of our bones are in the hands and feet!

 Does a human or a giraffe have more bones in their neck?

  • They’re the same!

Peak ages for bone density and growth is 9-12 years of age. By age 17, 90% of bone mass is established.

Think of bones like a bank account: You put in calcium until you reach the age of 18, then the bank is closed and you can only withdraw.

Sources of calcium:

Dark, leafy greens such as collard greens and kale, spinach, chard, and bok choy.

Broccoli

Calcium-fortified orange juice and tofu.

Almonds

Dairy products

Milk also contains vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium

Some cereals

How much calcium do you need a day as kids?

  • 1300 mg, 1100 mg for adults

What else is good for bone health?

  • Exercise! Weight-bearing exercise is particularly good for bones. This can be from light weight lifting or by using their own weight for weight bearing exercise; such as you do with pushups.

Osteoporosis means porous bones. Ask the kids if they know what this word means. Explain that porous bones are weak bones.

What is not good for bone health?

Phosphoric Acid, which is found in sodas. It interferes with calcium absorption.

Caffeine also interferes with calcium absorption.

Kids like this next one and I am always surprised at how many kids know the meaning of the word. Ask them, do you know what ‘Euphemism’ means? Definition: The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive. Here is a real life example of a euphemism; ‘Energy’ drinks. ‘Energy drinks’ only give you short-term energy while doing a lot of damage to your good health.

Supplements: Vitamin D- 400 IU/day. Please ask your health professional for supplement advice.

Kids want strong bones and once they know the facts; they are more likely to lessen their soda and caffeine intake and increase bone-health foods.

 

 

 

 

Always a Favorite! Spring Rolls.

The kids we have taught always loved this recipe–making them and eating them. Some prefer peanut butter and some almond butter; it’s up to you!

Enjoy!

Spring Rolls and Almond Dipping Sauce

Servings: 12

SPRING ROLLS

2 small cucumbers, seeded

2 medium carrots

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

12 sprigs fresh cilantro

12 mint leaves

 

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 ounce rice noodles

6 spring roll wrappers (rice), 8 1/2 inch size

8 leaves Bibb lettuce, torn into small pieces, ribs removed

 

PEANUT OR ALMOND DIPPING SAUCE

2- 1 inch piece ginger root, peeled

5 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons chili paste

1 cup peanut or almond butter

1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup Rapadura

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce, vegan

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 lime, juiced, to taste

Water, if too thick

Slice the cucumbers and carrots into matchsticks.

Optional: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the oil, noodles and the remaining salt. Boil until the noodles are tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and arrange them on a baking sheet, loosely covered with a damp towel.

To assemble: Set up a large shallow bowl of hot water. Slip a spring roll wrapper into the water. When the wrapper becomes pliable (after about 30 seconds) remove it from the water and lay it flat on a piece of waxed paper. Place lettuce on the bottom half of the wrapper. Arrange vegetable mixture over the lettuce along with mint and cilantro. Spread out 1 heaping tablespoon of the noodles over the vegetables, if desired.

Roll up the wrapper, tucking in the ends as you roll, and rolling as tightly as possible.

Cut each roll in half across the middle on the diagonal.

Stand the rolls flat on their ends and serve with peanut dipping sauce.

DIPPING SAUCE: In a blender add the ginger, garlic and chili paste. Blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients except the water. Blend until smooth and taste. You’re looking for a balance of taste that includes, hot-sweet-salt-tart-pungent. If it tastes balanced and it’s too thick add a little water. Re-taste you might have to re-adjust the key ingredients.

Eating Seasonally

Spring: Peas, avocado, green onions, mustard greens, raw grated beets

Summer: Red pepper, Jicama, radishes, lettuces, zucchini and other summer squash

Autumn: Bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cabbage

Winter: Daikon radish, bok choy, carrots

 

SafetyNEST: Healthier Babies

 Here is SafetyNEST’s Mission:

Please peruse everything this wonderful group of women are doing, and then join me on April 5th at The Commonwealth in San Francisco, to meet them in person and to hear more.

Here is the link to the Program:https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2019-04-05/prenatal-care-healthier-toxic-free-babies

SafetyNEST:

OUR MISSION

To educate the medical community and families about the health risks associated with exposures to toxic chemicals, particularly during vulnerable periods of development.

SafetyNEST’s vision is simple: we want every pregnant woman to have easy access to clear, credible information to keep your pregnancy and your baby healthy. We provide the support and tools to prevent diseases linked to toxic chemical exposure. We help you make your NEST safe.

Every day, we are awash in chemicals. There are 85,000 of them surrounding us in everything from our bed mattress to our hand lotion. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires toxicity testing on just 200. That leaves 99% to do their thing. And evidence increasingly shows that exposure to these chemicals, particularly during vulnerable periods of development, can cause problems from preterm birth, birth defects, childhood asthma and obesity to a range of cancers.

You might wonder, if this situation is really so bad, why hasn’t my doctor told me, my friends, my sister, my daughter? Turns out, only 1 in 15 doctors has been trained in toxic chemicals, and only 1 in 5 say they talk to you about it. It’s just not top of their list – yet. But, it’s top of ours.

SafetyNEST Science reinforces its sister organization, mySafetyNEST, Inc., which delivers digital tools that educate and empower moms-to-be to make safer choices to safeguard her pregnancy. All the tips and recommendations you will find on mySafetyNEST.com (our sister organization’s digital health platform launching soon) come from the most credible research centers in the United States, including University of California San Francisco Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center.

SafetyNEST Science and mySafetyNEST, Inc. were created by Alexandra Destler, a mom of two who was struck by how hard it was to reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals – even in her own home. Interested in learning about more, from Alexandra and the team?

Kids Love to Make Soup

Wintertime and soup just go together. A nice bowl of steaming soup to warm and nourish you is perfect on a cold day. Good soup begins with homemade stock. We have found that kids of all ages love the process of making soup. They get to use knives a lot (which they love!) and soup allows you some creativity with ingredients. Have fun!

Stock and Broth:

What is the difference between a stock and a broth? Stock is made from simmering vegetables, meat or fish, mostly the bones with little flesh, in water and straining. With a browned stock, the vegetables or meat are browned first. When you simmer just the bones from meat, the subsequent stock has more gelee, the jelly-like substance you’ll see when the stock has cooled, which binds nicely when making sauces. With broth, more meat is used, so the broth is generally richer than stocks and ready to use as is. Most home cooks, we have discovered do not want to spend the time making broths and stocks, so this recipe is more like a broth because you’ll use the whole chicken, which you can then use for something else. We never add sea salt to stock or broth as it reduces slightly and can become too salty. Salt the broth, if necessary, after you make your soup or sauce.

Perhaps we should call it Brock?

Chicken Stock

Makes: 2 quart

1 whole free range chicken, about 3 1/2 lbs, rinsed, giblets discarded

2 whole carrots, cut in large chunks

3 stalks celery, cut in large chunks

1 medium white onion, quartered

1 small potato, halved

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 whole bay leaf

6 sprigs parsley

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 4 quarts). Add the thyme, bay leaves, parsley and peppercorns and allow it to slowly come to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that come to the surface.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When it is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids and peppercorns. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.

Vegetable Broth

Makes: 2 quarts

4 quarts water

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1 medium potato, or parsnip, optional

3 large carrots, cut into chunks

4 ribs celery, with tops, cut into chunks

2 whole bay leaves

1/2 cup parsley, stems and leaves

2 sprigs thyme, about 1 tablespoon

2 inches seaweed, such as Kombu

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

In a large pot, place the vegetables and the cold water.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add herbs and simmer (partly covered) for 60 minutes

Allow to cool, strain and put in containers. You may keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze.

For a richer flavor you may roast the vegetables in a bit of olive oil in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes before you simmer with water and herbs if you like.

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Noodles

Serves 4

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 Cloves garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2″ thick slices

2 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2″ thick slices

1 cup broccoli, cut into small pieces

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 1/2 quarts chicken broth

4 ounces dried wide egg noodles

1 whole bay leaf

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

1 large tomato, chopped

1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, finely chopped

Sea salt and pepper

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, broccoli, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and bring the liquid to a boil.

Add the noodles and let simmer for about 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken and fresh tomatoes and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Variations for eating seasonally:

Spring: Peas, asparagus, beet greens, carrots, celery, collard greens, chives, parsley, green garlic

Summer: Tomatoes, green beans, corn, red pepper (not too much,) summer squashes, basil

Autumn: Potatoes, corn, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, broccoli, pumpkin, shallots, turnips, parsnips

Winter: Broccoli, cabbage, chard, kale, parsnips, winter squashes, turnips, yams

 

An easy task for kids to help with Global Warming

These handy tips are from One Million Women:

https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/

1. Kitchen sponges

When plastic sponges begin to fall apart, little bits of them go down the drain. I use cellulose sponges. When they break down, I compost them.

2. Homemade dishcloths

knit these out of natural fibers a couple of years ago so their vivid colours have faded but they still work well. Of course, you can just buy dishcloths but I do enjoy making stuff. Knit dishcloths make a great project for children or adults learning to knit. The texture of the checkerboard pattern scrubs more effectively than a smooth stockinette pattern. If enough people want the pattern for this, I can write a future post on it.

3. Loofah sponges

My daughter bought one of these a couple of years ago and it worked like magic at scrubbing dishes. I would love to grow my own loofah but I have such a shady yard and loofah requires full sun. Find instructions on growing your own here.

4. Natural bristle brushes

If you have reduced plastic in your kitchen already, then you may have developed a glass jar addiction similar to mine. Because I have no dishwasher, I use natural bristle bottle brushes to clean my bottles and narrow-neck jars.

5. Rags

My mother—who, at 83, grew up without paper towels—wonders how I live without them. Let me preface the following rant with the admission that my research into paper towel manufacture comes from the saw mill and paper mill passages of Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? However, I think I can safely claim that just some of the steps in the life-cycle of a paper towel include:

  • Chop down trees
  • Transport logs to the saw mill
  • Harvest scrap lumber from logs cut into rough boards
  • Transport scrap lumber to the paper mill
  • Run scrap lumber through the chipper
  • Add a bunch of water and chemicals to the wood chips to make wood pulp
  • Run the pulp across a bunch of screens to form paper towels
  • Bundle the long sheets into rolls of paper towels
  • Shrink wrap the rolls of paper towels in plastic
  • Transport the paper towels to the warehouse
  • Transport the paper towels to the store
  • Drive to the store to buy paper towels
  • Unwrap the plastic and throw it out or into the recycling bin because you’re in denial that that kind of flimsy plastic can actually be recycled
  • Use the paper towel once
  • Toss the soiled paper towel into the garbage
  • Argue with your partner or kids about who should take out the garbage
  • Lug your garbage to the curb because you lost
  • Repeat until the last tree falls

Rather than wipe up messes with paper towels, I use my lifetime supply of cotton rags I cut out of my kids’ old t-shirts. Yes some nasty manufacturing processes went into the production of said t-shirts but I will use these rags for years.

Read more: 12 ways to recycle your t-shirts

6. Dish gloves

I have given up on using dish gloves because I find they always spring leaks too soon. And I’m actually rather proud of my somewhat rough hands—I have worked hard to get them. If you want to protect your hands, we have tried this brand of plastic-free, 100 percent latex gloves lined with cotton.

Opt for more natural cleaners

7. Vinegar or vodka diluted with water

My daughter likes to combine one part vodka to one part water to clean counters, tables and appliances. I also use diluted homemade scrap vinegar to clean. Use a one-to-one ratio for that also, depending on what you need to clean.

8. Baking soda

I use baking soda to wash pots and pans and to scour my sink. It cuts through grease much better than dish soap and rinses off more easily. You can also use it in combination with vinegar to creating an effective paste cleaner.

Read more: How to use bicarb soda for just about anything around the house

9. Homemade dish soap

My kids dislike my homemade dish soap. Accustomed to the super soapy dyed and scented commercial stuff—I didn’t go plastic-free until they were 10 and 16—they claim my homemade stuff doesn’t suds up. As evidence that my homemade soap does indeed create some lather, I submit the photo below. You can find the recipe for homemade dish soap here.

10. Bulk dish soap

Sometimes, however, you must compromise with your loved ones. Yes, when you buy dish soap in bulk, you do contribute to the plastic problem as the giant bulk container you drew your dish soap from will eventually hit landfill. But by buying bulk dish soap rather than all those small plastic bottles of the stuff, you do reduce your plastic footprint greatly.

Read more: Why you should make the switch to castile soap

11. Homemade dishwasher detergent

I don’t have a dishwasher, so I cannot vouch for the efficacy of these recipes but they look good. This one contains controversial boraxThis one does not.

12. Lemon and salt for copper pots

Copper shines beautifully, cooks wonderfully but tarnishes quickly. To clean my copper pot, I sprinkle the outside with salt and then rub it with half a lemon. It removes tarnish almost instantaneously. Rinse the copper very well after cleaning to avoid corrosion.

Look for alternatives before buying consumer products packaged in–or made of—plastic

13. Window cleaner

Use a rag to clean your windows with vinegar and water and dry with crumpled newspaper. Works better than Windex and you won’t inhale nasty chemicals while you clean.

Read more: DIY glass cleaner with natural ingredients

14. Garbage disposal freshener

You can shell out your hard-earned cash for plastic-wrapped garbage disposal cleaning pods filled with God-knows-what or you can simply toss a couple of lemon quarters in the garbage disposal and run it.

Read more: How to make cleaning spray from citrus peels

15. Air freshener

Like many soft plastics, most commercial air fresheners contain phthalates, “hazardous chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems.” The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 86 percent of the common commercial air fresheners it tested contain phthalates. I find that a slow cooker filled with water and a few tablespoons of baking soda works well to freshen the air. A few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle filled with water also does the trick. You can burn incense too. Or open a window…

Read more: How to make natural air freshener

16. Garbage bags

Certain people I live with—and do not wish to mortify—demand a trash can in the bathroom. I can control my teen and adult child only so much (okay, very little), as I mention in the post “7 Tactics to Counter Zero-Waste Sabotage in Your Home.” But rather than lining the bathroom trash can with a plastic bag, I line it with the tissue paper wrapping from our toilet paper rolls. Newspaper also works. If you compost, you can pretty easily keep your kitchen garbage dry and thus eliminate the need for a plastic trash bag.

Read more: Do biodegradable rubbish bags work?

Bonus tip: Don’t be so picky about cleanliness

I’m not advocating for filth here. However, our war on bacteria has contributed to the mass extinction that our gut microbiota now face. “So what?” you may say, “Germs must die.” Well, it turns out that your gut plays a huge roll in your health, your weight, even your mood. You can find out why in The Good Gut(Read my review of the book here.)

Many household cleaners like bleach kill not only bad bacteria but good bacteria as well. As a result, our guts come into contact with fewer good microbes. The authors of The Good Gut, pioneers into research on the microbiome, advise us to clean our homes with less toxic ingredients, such as vinegar, castile soap and lemon juice.

Find out what essentials you need to create a zero-waste shopping kit!

Read this next: How to get rid of mould the natural way

Anne Marie Bonneau writes the blog The Zero-Waste Chef. She runs her kitchen following three simple rules: no packaging; nothing processed; no waste. Anne Marie lives in Northern California, where she teaches fermentation workshops, speaks on zero-waste and plastic-free living and hosts webinars on these topics. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @ZeroWasteChef.

Your Kid’s Jaws, Teeth and Health..

Last evening’s program that I had the pleasure to chair at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco was truly eye-opening. Very brief summary: breastfeeding is more work for a baby than feeding from a bottle, so if at all possible nurse your baby as it strengthens his or her jaws which leads to aligned teeth, and a more open air passage—kids should never snore. When your baby starts to eat food, don’t have them suck it out of a package for ease. Again, make them work for it a little. When they start to eat real food sitting up at a table, have them chew well and take their time. There is so much more, but please do purchase and read the fascinating book and listen to the Podcast when it’s live—-link below.

Some basics on the program, the book authors and the book, Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic. (by the way, all proceeds go to charity)

Here is the link to the program. Check back end of the week as the podcast should be live by then. https://tinyurl.com/y9q87r59

JAWS: THE STORY OF A HIDDEN EPIDEMIC

There is a serious hidden epidemic just now being discovered by the public health community. It’s most obvious symptom is the growing frequency of children with crooked teeth wearing braces, but it includes children snoring, keeping their jaws hanging open, frequently afflicted with stuffy noses, children and adults with disturbed sleeping at night (sleep apnea) often unrecognized, attention and behavioral problems, and a general decline of physical appearance. Those symptoms indicate a building medical emergency that lies in the collection of serious diseases connected mouth breathing and disturbed sleep — a collection that includes heart disease, cancer, ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, suicide, asthma and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease. Disturbed sleep is an extremely serious stressor of the human mind and body; among other things, it tends to depress the immune system, making an individual much more vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases, and modifications of the brain that are manifest in many ways only partially understood. Add to this the large contributions of sleep deprivation to highway accidents, medical mistakes and poor performance at work and in school, and it’s easy to see how important this unrecognized public health emergency is. Come learn what causes this problem and many solutions. ‘Forwardontics’ will be discussed with clear explanations.

Sandra Kahn, D.D.S., M.S.D., is a graduate from the University of Mexico and the University of the Pacific. She has 25 years of clinical experience in orthodontics and is part of craniofacial anomalies teams at the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University.

Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D., has been a household name since the publication of his 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb. He is Bing Professor of Population Studies Emeritus and President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. Ehrlich is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Crafoord Prize, the Blue Planet Prize, and numerous other international honors. He investigates a wide range of topics in population biology, ecology, evolution, human ecology, and environmental science.

Explaining Global Warming to Little Kids

Here is some basic information that might help when children ask what global warming is and what to do to help.

Weather vs. Climate

Weather includes lots of things that should be familiar – temperature, rain, snow, wind speeds, or wind direction. Climate refers to the average weather conditions in a certain place over many years. For example, the climate in Minnesota is cold and snowy in the winter, and the climate in Hawaii is warm and humid all year long. The climate in one area, like the Midwest or Hawaii, is called a regional climate. The average climate around the world is called global climate.

The Earth is wrapped in a blanket of air called the ‘atmosphere’, which is made up of several layers of gases, such as carbon dioxide. The sun is much hotter than the Earth and it gives off rays of heat (radiation) that travel through the atmosphere and reach the Earth. The rays of the sun warm the Earth, and heat from the Earth then travels back into the atmosphere. The gases in the atmosphere stop some of the heat from escaping into space. These gases are called greenhouse gases and the natural process between the sun, the atmosphere and the Earth is called the ‘Greenhouse Effect’, because it works the same way as a greenhouse. The windows of a greenhouse play the same role as the gases in the atmosphere, keeping some of the heat inside the greenhouse.

The Natural Greenhouse Effect

The atmosphere has a number of gases, often in tiny amounts, which trap the heat given out by the Earth. To make sure that the Earth’s temperature remains constant, the balance of these gases in the atmosphere must not be upset.

The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

Some of the activities of humans also produce greenhouse gases. These gases keep increasing in the atmosphere. The balance of the greenhouse gases changes and this has effects on the whole of the planet.

Burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Cutting down and burning trees also produces a lot of carbon dioxide. Cows flatulence -ask your parent what that means -produce methane which is linked to global warming.

Because there are more and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, more heat is trapped which makes the Earth warmer. This is known as GLOBAL WARMING.

A lot of scientists agree that humans activities are making the natural greenhouse effect stronger. If we carry on polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, it will have very dangerous effects on the Earth.

The Effects

With more heat trapped on Earth, the planet will become warmer, which means the weather all over Earth will change. For example, summers will get hotter, and winters too. This may seem a good idea, but the conditions we are living in are perfect for life, and a large rise in temperature could be terrible for us and for any other living thing on Earth.

All over the world, these weather changes will affect the kind of crop that can be grown and even the nutrients in that crop. Plants, animals and even people may find it difficult to survive in different conditions.
Sea Levels

Higher temperatures will make the water of the seas and oceans expand. Ice melting in the Antarctic and Greenland will flow into the sea.

Higher sea levels will threaten the low-lying coastal areas of the world, such as the Netherlands and Bangladesh, and closer to home, New York City, Florida and parts of California. Throughout the world, millions of people and areas of land will be at danger from flooding.

Farming

The changes in the weather will affect the types of crops grown in different parts of the world. Some crops, such as wheat and rice grow better in higher temperatures, but other plants, such as corn and sugarcane do not. Changes in the amount of rainfall will also affect how many plants grow.

The effect of a change in the weather on plant growth may lead to some countries not having enough food. Brazil, parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and China will be affected the most and many people could suffer from hunger.

Water

Everywhere in the world, there is a big demand for water and in many regions, such as the Sahara in Africa; there is not enough water for the people. Changes in the weather will bring more rain in some countries, but others will have less rain.

In Danger!

Plants & Animals

It has taken million of years for life to become used to the conditions on Earth. As weather and temperature changes, the homes of plants and animals will be affected all over the world. For example, polar bears and seals will have to find new land for hunting and living, if the ice in the Arctic melts.

What can you do?

Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair: Remember your four R’s!

Reducethe most important. If you don’t buy so much stuff in the first place, then you don’t need to reuse or recycle it.

Reuse whatever you can (like plastic supermarket bags). If you can’t reuse something,

Recycle it! means that something is used again by converting it into something else. Broken class can be made into new glass!

Repair it! Do you know how to sew on a new button?- as just one example.

If you can’t do any of those things, the waste you generate ends up in huge landfills. Much of what you find in these stinking dumps is plastic waste.

Make your own climate… in your home or your room!

Turn off things that use electricity when nobody’s using them

Leaving lights, heating, air conditioning, computers, TVs and other electronics on when you don’t need them wastes a lot of energy.

If it’s warm in one room and cold in another, close the door. The door helps keep heat in.

Leaving things on standby (like TVs, computers and stuff) also uses a surprising amount of energy. Newer models mostly use much less standby power but if you’re away for a few days, it still makes sense to turn stuff off.

Make your own climate… around you!

When it’s hot, dress cool

When it’s cold, dress warm

Every little thing helps! You can make a difference.

Pine Ridge Reservation Kids

Some Native American Reservations are wealthy present day because they offer gaming and if they’re lucky they also have fertile land on which to grow crops. Others, like the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, have neither of the aforementioned.

I was fortunate enough to spend a few days on the reservation and to interview kids there as the basis for DirectionFive. I had been in Harlem and  in South Chicago–places that are familiar to most as areas of poverty and crime. Pine Ridge was worse and left me mentally and physically ill.

At this time of year, they’re preparing for a brutal winter and often parents need to decide between the electric bill and food.

If anyone could help, please do so. It’s a shameful part of our history, which you and I can’t change, but today we can try to make a difference. Please give what you can.

From the Friends of Pine Ride reservation website:

Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation

Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe with an estimated population of close to 40,000. The reservation is large, and its needs immense, commensurate with grinding poverty.