Surferbird News-Links, 29th Edition


Welcome to the 29th edition of Surferbird News-Links! Today's stories include: baking with alternative flours, snow and ice, agroecology, a snowman video, eucalyptus trees, and more.

Well, you just never know what to expect when you check your daily Twitter notifications. So, guess who's following me? Could we have a drum roll, please? Thanks. OK, enough with the suspense. Chauvinist Pigs. That's right. Chauvinist Pigs is now following me on Twitter. I'm not going to whine about my predicament like I did last spring when I was placed on some sort of anti-Trump hate list because of a political essay I wrote. ( It's just over to the right a bit.) It wasn't even about our president-elect. I'm a big girl now, or is that a big owl?

Updated December 1, 2016



The battle over what to do with eucalyptus trees in California (

Eucalyptus trees aren't native to California, which is partly why some environmentalists and activists would like to remove them. The process, however, would involve using copious amount of herbicides. Additionally, this group wants to restore native species in order to preserve indigenous ecosystems - oak woodland-grassland. On the other side of the fence, you have environmentalists who see the trees as beneficial due to their ability to sequester carbon and to provide habitat, shade, beauty, and recreation. Both of these groups back up their positions with scientific data. And I see both sides to the argument. But without a doubt, I love to linger under the canopy of a moist eucalyptus grove.

Climate change

Eek! A short video on Obama's true climate change record (

I'm going to fess up. I was surprised. Whereas much progress on reducing CO2 emissions occurred here in the states, the U.S. Import-Export bank under the Obama administration funded so many foreign fossil fuel projects that emissions overseas will pretty much negate emissions reductions achieved on the home front - from a global perspective. And climate change is a global issue. It's complicated, though, and I encourage you to read the article that goes along with the video.

So, the cryosphere is disappearing. Now what? (

First of all, let's define cryosphere. It's the ice and snow on land and the ice in our waters, including the ice in oceans, rivers, and lakes. As it disappears, the darker color of the water absorbs heat, whereas ice and snow reflect heat. Ecosystems, biological cycles, and perhaps even the jet stream are affected by the loss of cryosphere. The winter photography in this piece reminds me just how much we're going to miss the loss of so much ice and snow.

Here's a crowdfunding project that removes CO2 (

Cool Effect is a crowdfunding program that supports projects around world that take action against climate change. The projects they support only include those backed up by extensive research and solid scientific models. You can make both monthly and one-time donations. I don't believe there's a minimum as I pretended to donate $5, and their system seemed to accept my measly offer. You can also support a project or give a gift. The snowman video, which Cool Effect produces, is today's featured video, below.

Good news (

Patagonia's Black Friday fundraiser, which I mentioned over Thanksgiving, went well. Extremely well. Ten million well. They're donating all of the money to grassroots environmental groups that are working to fight climate change.


How to cook with seven different alternative flours (

Alternative flours aren't considered to be alternative in other parts of the world. Take a look at seven different flours and how to bake with them. But please do note, not all of them are gluten-free.


Climate smart agriculture or agroecology - which one will it be? (

I suspect some of each. This article does an excellent job of explaining the relationship between greenhouse gases and agriculture in reference to the recent COP22 meeting. Two important aspects of growing food into the future are mitigating the effects of climate change and adapting to the changes. The article also discusses climate smart agriculture vs. agroecology with a bias toward agroecology. It's a bias I probably share, however, it's important to explore all sides. So, in an effort to present both forms of agriculture, I found a more thorough description of climate smart agriculture here.

The magic tree that could give coffee plantations a boost (

Interspersing macadamia trees with coffee plants could help protect coffee from a warming climate while providing an additional crop for farmers to sell. Intercropping vs. monocropping is also good for the soil and pest management. I so wish to keep my beloved coffee.


Do food stamp recipients buy more junk food? (

The answer to this question might surprise you - or not. And in case you were wondering, according to the government study published in Quartz, the answer is no. All Americans eat a lot of junk food. There's even a handy graph that compares food items purchased between food stamp recipients and non-food-stamp recipients.

Science and technology

Increased levels of helium found in groundwater near epicenter of earthquakes (

Scientists discovered that when stress occurs between Earth's inner rocks prior to an earthquake, an increased amount of helium is released into groundwater. More studies are needed, however, for scientists to make definitive conclusions. I'm an amateur earthquake, geological fault, tectonic plate buff. What can I say? This is really fascinating, however, and could help predict earthquakes in the future.

Today's video

Here's the video I mentioned above. It's short, funny, and gets the point across. By the way, I hope it doesn't bother you when I share links or videos like this one that asks for donations. Everyone is asking for donations since the election. Just to ease your conscious, I share the information while being aware that many of you, like our family, have limited funds, also. The film definitely makes an impression, though.  Laura