Surferbird News-Links, 21st Edition


Welcome to the 21st edition of Surferbird News-Links! Today's edition is packed. I'm making up for last week's lackluster post. But there'll be no politics. I promise - only supermoons, witches, climate change, trees, an electric helicopter, ricotta cheese pancakes, and a whole lot more.

A rare supermoon!

No matter which candidate you supported in the election, the color of you skin, your gender, religion, sexual preference, or on which continent you live, the moon is a constant. You can always count on her.

And November 14 ushers in a rare supermoon, indeed! In fact, it won't loom this close to Earth again until November of 2034. Although there was a supermoon last month, and there'll be another in December, this one will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than your typical full moon. It's referred to as a perigee moon, which we haven't seen since 1948. But don't take my word for it, read all about it here (, while learning a bit of astronomy, too!

Witches' brew

I thought this would fit in nicely with the supermoon segment. What can I say? But seriously, what do American witches eat? ( You might, or might not, be surprised. Nevertheless, the article takes you on an intriguing journey, which will delight.




For those of you who follow the plight of the bees, here's an article on seven bee species facing extinction in Hawaii (, and a piece on sperm banks for bees ( Yes, it's really true - and a fascinating read.

Climate change

The goal of the Paris Agreement, which went into effect on November 4th, is to prevent global temperatures from rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Even if we adhere to the Paris Agreement as written, we're on track for a 3.4°C rise (

In addition, desertification of the Mediterranean ( will happen if global temperatures increase above 1.5°C.

And brace yourself for this one: some scientists think it's game over and that global temperatures could rise 4.78 to 7.36°C  ( within a lifetime. I will note, however, that although this latter research is substantial, it's also controversial.


Why do birds go for plastic? ( - As I learned from my research on plastic pollution in our waterways, plastic attracts microbes along with algae. Many seabirds, but not all species, are attracted to the smell of dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which is produced when microscopic animals feed on algae. The birds are drawn to the plastic via their sense of smell, since algae accumulates on plastic, which takes on the smell of DMS.

Sneakers made from recycled plastic by Adidas ( - What impresses me about these shoes is Adidas makes them from plastic ocean debris. The company plans to eventually eliminate all virgin plastic from its supply chain. Oh, and just in case you were thinking about buying a new pair of sneakers, they'll hopefully be available by the middle of this month. 

A crisis point for plastic pollution ( - Yes, it's true: there'll be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050, if we don't act fast. We need a plan, and we need one SOON! Take a look at the movement to save our oceans by reducing and phasing out the worst contributors to plastic pollution. Can we save our oceans - before it's too late?


This woman in India couldn't have children, so she planted 300 trees instead( - I love this story. Thimmakka and her husband devoted their lives to planting and caring for trees, since they couldn't have children. Three hundred trees now grow along the road from Hulikal, Thimmakka's home village, to Kudur in the state of Karnataka. Thimmakka is now 105 years old. There's a photo of her blessing the trees in the link above. The trees are her children.

Planting trees could save lives. ( - Planting trees in urban areas reduces air pollution and has a cooling effect, which reduces air conditioning usage. They also sequester carbon. However, some varieties actually increase harmful ozone, while groups of trees have the potential to collect particulate matter on leaves and bark, which could be problematic. So, it's important to understand where and how to plant them.

Renewable energy and green tech

Why yes, we CAN do this 100% renewable energy thing( - The simulation in this article shows how we can power the world with 100% renewable energy - 24 hours a day, in all seasons.

Bring on the electric helicopter ( - Inspired by Elon Musk and a desire for a quiet, environmentally friendly way to deliver artificial lungs to recipients, Martine Rothblatt built an electric helicopter and proved that the technology behind the idea is sound. The battery operated helicopter remained airborne for five minutes but currently has a flying time capacity of around 20 minutes. So, further development is needed in order for the helicopter to remain in the air longer. But still - this is way cool.

A botanical structure



AEON ROW ( - When you purchase clothing from, they provide you postage with which to mail them an old piece of clothing. Then, they recycle your old clothing into new fabric and create more clothes. Sweet.


How much of our food do farmers actually grow? ( - Even though I read stories about farming almost every week, some of the information in this piece surprised me. We really are moving toward automation and fewer farmers. It makes me appreciate the produce in my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box even more.

Regenerative farming in the UK ( - I'll make farmers out of us yet! Many people don't realize the negative impact that farming has on the environment, even organic farming. Regenerative farming is different. It sequesters carbon, encourages the growth of perennial food crops, and protects waterways. Take a look at this video on regenerative grazing practices that actually restore healthy soil and create animal and plant biodiversity.


Election results of food-related issues ( - Only about a paragraph in length, this article sums up food-related results from last week's election.

Is it possible to freeze food in glass containers?( - Why, I'm so glad you asked. Yes, it IS possible to freeze food in glass containers. And the link above will guide you through the process. I love reading posts from Zero Waste Chef, as Anne Marie's tips and suggestions move us toward less kitchen waste, especially plastic.

In our home, I set a goal to stop buying plastic bags for food storage. We're using the reusable plastic containers that we have in addition to glass containers. Eventually, we'll use only glass. It's all about taking one step at a time.

Lowish-carb lemon ricotta cheese pancakes ( - These pancakes do contain wheat. But all things considered, they're low in carbs and high in protein. And I suspect you could substitute a gluten-free flour for the wheat flour. Mostly, these pancakes appeal to me because I currently have a thing for ricotta cheese.

What's the difference between ghee and butter, and which one is better? ( - Learn all about the history and preparation of ghee, its nutritional composition and health benefits, and how to use it in cooking and food preparation. I wouldn't sweat this one. Ghee has stood the test of time.

A 2,500-year-old alcoholic beverage ( - An archaeologists and anthropologist, Bettina Arnold, unearthed a 2,500-year-old bronze cauldron containing a type of alcoholic beverage called braggot, which was buried with the deceased in a German burial plot. Bettina, along with others, analyzed and recreated the beverage - a fermented mix of honey, meadowsweet, mint, and barley. But don't look for it on grocery shelves anytime soon. You'll have to make this one, yourself!


Safety of carrageenan ( - Are you familiar with carrageenan? Pick up a box or carton of any old processed food, and read the label. Chances are, it's in there. The food industry adds carrageenan to foods as an emulsifying ingredient. Chemists derive it from seaweed, however, the commercial processing of carrageenan is far from natural.

The research behind carrageenan's tainted name points to potential intestinal inflammation along with other possible concerns, although the evidence is debatable. Interestingly, even the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recommends caution. And yes, the organic foods industry permits the addition of carrageenan to processed foods. But that may soon change. The article contains links to the studies along with additional information. The owl avoids it.

Benefits of raw milk ( - I can't believe I read this in Science Daily, but I did. The benefits of raw, or farm milk as they called it, include increased protection from asthma and allergies. Although the authors of the study decline to recommend raw milk because of potential pathogens, they do feel it's worthwhile pursuing less extreme processing methods to retain the same benefits. Hint: it's all about the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, at least in this study.


Soda tax and conflict of interest ( If you haven't already read about this, hold on to your chair, pants, or whatever. Despite your personal opinion on a soda tax, what would you say to the soda industry paying dietitians to tweet against a soda tax?

The relationshop between ALL soda and diabetes ( - This article has links to studies on both regular soda and diet soda. I stopped linking to this resource a while back because of its political ads, but there was no getting around using them as a resource, this time.  They do an excellent job of pulling together much of the research on the link between type 2 diabetes and diet soda, here.

Bottom line, the study cites a relationship between the sweet taste of the artificial sweetener and the expectation of calories. Because the diet soda lacks calories, it sets up a craving for more food - at least that's what happens with mice and fruit flies.

They also found a correlation between artificial sweeteners and increased insulin levels along with decreased glucose tolerance. If you read down to the bottom of the article, it links to even more studies that correlate diet soda with type 2 diabetes along with increased risk of strokes and heart attacks (NIH).

The science behind artificial sweeteners and diabetes ( - The fascinating research behind this study correlates artificial sweeteners with altering the gut microbiome of both mice and humans. Interestingly, administering antibiotics to the glucose-intolerant mice, got rid of the glucose intolerance.


Monsanto is all upset because international scientists consider Roundup a probable human carcinogen( - Oh, for crying out loud! When will Monsanto and company clean up their glyphosate and go on home. This is quite a story. If you're concerned about what's in your food and where it comes from, I urge you to read this piece.

And did you know some research suggests that one of Roundup's inert ingredients, POEA, is actually quite toxic ( Not surprisingly, most studies have focused on isolated glyphosate.

But I would be doing you a disservice without this ( article which aims to debunk everything I just said. Rest assured, I'll deliver a post on glyphosate and Roundup to your inbox soon, as it's a complicated topic. I'm not a fan of glyphosate and its inert playmates, but I do find value in considering an alternate perspective.

Meanwhile, I'm concerned you might need a bit of excitement next week. After all, the election is over. So, here's a paper from the NIH on the relationship between glyphosate, celiac disease, and gluten intolerance. And here's one more publication (NIH) on pesticides and their inert ingredients. The paper specifically mentions Roundup.

Mental health

A nice read on gratitude - and it's not what you think. ( - Gratitude certainly has its place in creating a sense of what's important, sustaining mental health, and in cultivating humility. But sometimes, people use gratitude to hide depression, especially when gratitude becomes extreme. I appreciated this post - a different perspective on gratitude. See if anyone you know fits the description in the article.

Science and technology

Leprosy found in British red squirrels ( - It's 12:49 a.m. here in California. And I don't trust myself to do justice in summarizing this article. I do hope you'll take a look, though. Only humans, squirrels, and nine-banded armadillos have ever been known to contract leprosy - a fascinating, if not startling, read.

Just for fun

Dancing in the street, literally ( - Would a little pedestrian humor brighten your day? I thought so. The crosswalk, in the link above, does far more than simply light your way :) Take a look at this design from the U.K., which intends to make construction zones and traffic jams a whole lot less stressful - talk about dancing in the street!


Well, I know it's hard to believe, but I wasn't graced by an earworm last week. I'm sad. And I'm scared for planet Earth and all her inhabitants. So, I conjured up "Mercy, Mercy Me" by Marvin Gaye. I'm not sure what to do about climate change. But I'll keep researching and writing posts. Thank you for stopping by my wood.   Laura