Surferbird News-Links, 43rd Edition

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Welcome back to Surferbird News-Links! Or rather, I should welcome myself back, since I'm the one who's been away. Never mind all that. Today's edition includes a podcast on chocolate, climate change news, two dessert recipes, how to stop the pipelines, Target's new plan to stop carrying products with toxic chemicals, and more. But wait! Today's edition also includes an earworm — a lively earworm.

What have I been up to? Well, I think I'm finished with the freelance project. Now, it's a waiting game. But whatever the outcome, I learned so much from the process.

I also managed to get my youngster off his night owl schedule. It took about a week. And on some days, we had to watch him like a hawk, so he wouldn't fall asleep too early — only to be up in the wee hours of the morning. Sleep training a 13-year-old boy can be tricky! Ah, but the parents prevailed.

One last bit of news I'd like to share is that I've been rewriting an older piece on passing childhood. It was one of the first posts I wrote when I started this blog. If you'd like to take a look at what I hope is a new and improved version, you can check it out here. Now, on with the news-links!

Warm up

A couple of stories appeared in my newsfeed today after I had already completed writing most of this post. Because they made the headlines, the information probably isn't new to you.

The first one is about Seattle withdrawing $3 billion from Wells Fargo (grist.org) as a way to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline. The second story points to the fact that almost half of those who voted for our current president believe in climate science (e360.yale.edu). This has important implications for uniting people from all political parties to take action. Call your representatives in Washington. Sign petitions. But please, if you believe climate change is real, let them know.

News-Links

Environment

World's chocolate forests threatened (theatlantic.com)

This is an excellent podcast on chocolate if you have time to listen. It begins with chocolate's history and includes some entertaining facts, such as the English mistaking cacao beans for sheep dung. I don't want to give any more of the fun parts away, though. It ends with the plight of chocolate's future, its connection with slave labor and the importance of buying higher quality chocolate. Oh, and I almost forgot — there's even a segment on chocolate's health benefits.

At the end of the podcast, the narrators mention a few brands. Our family recently tried Taza chocolate, and I love it! It's one of the few brands that offers 80 percent dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt. I'm not affiliated with Taza chocolate, but maybe I should be!

So, you want to stop the pipelines? (triplepundit.com)

I can't promise this will do the trick, but near the end of the article there's a link to the banks that fund the Dakota Access pipeline. Do you bank with any of the banks listed? I'm guilty as charged. You may live in another country besides the U.S. and still have investments or checking accounts with one or more of these. Perhaps it's time to explore the benefits of joining a credit union.

It's no big deal, really. It's only been "several million years that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 passed 400 parts per million." (e360.yale.edu)

According to the article above from YaleEnvironment360, CO2 levels could reach 2,000 parts per million by the year 2250 if we don't take stronger actions to reduce CO2 levels. This would represent a similar atmosphere to that of the Jurassic. It's important to note this is the most pessimistic estimate. However, even if emissions went to zero tomorrow, it would take about 10,000 years for CO2 levels to return to preindustrial levels.

A plastic-free plastic bag (treehugger.com)

A company in Bali, Avani, is fed up with plastic waste. Can we afford to wait for everyone on the planet to switch to non-plastic bags? In California, where I live, voters opted to ban single-use plastic bags. But when I saw what some stores replaced them with, I was aghast — slightly heavier plastic bags that cost 25 cents. Avani bags are made from cassava. In addition, they're biodegradable and compostable. Feel free to pass the word along to your favorite retail stores! In the meantime, don't forget about making your own shopping bag from old T-shirts.

Food

Simple, three-ingredient, gluten-free cookie (food52.com)

Not only do I follow FOOD52 through Feedly, but I also have an email subscription to their blog. So when this recipe appeared in my inbox, the three-ingredient part caught my attention. OK, I'll be honest. The fact that the recipe originated from the author's friend in Paris didn't hurt matters, either. What's funny is that I don't bake at all these days. But if I keep running up against so many delicious sounding recipes, I might have to startup again.

Easy truffles made from your favorite chocolate (food52.com)

What's appealing about these truffles is the option to use a less-sweet chocolate. Sugar has always made me sleepy — the opposite effect it has on most folks. I skip the energy boost and go straight to the crash. Consequently, I eat a lot of 85 percent dark chocolate. And who knew truffles contained only two ingredients, not counting the cocoa powder for rolling? The chocolate of your choice and cream make for a yummy and potentially low-carb treat if you're into that sort of eating and choose a darker option.

Health

Climate change, rain and increased mercury in seafood (grist.org)

This is something to keep an eye on as more mud washes into the sea from increased rains. But it doesn't have to be this way. It's preventable if individuals and communities work together. In the meantime, please do stay informed about mercury levels in seafood. Some health professionals suggest even more conservative guidelines than the EPA. What are the recommendations where you live?

Fast food packaging contains dangerous chemicals, study says. (treehugger.com)

I already knew about this, but I didn't realize that fluorinated chemicals were the culprit. I assumed the problem was BPA and its relatives. Nope. According to the article, fluorinated chemicals are the same types of chemicals used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpet, floor waxes and other common household items.

Target plans to remove toxic chemicals from its products. Thank you, Target! (sustainablebrands.com)

Yet again, here's another reason to shop at Target. They hope to complete the transition by 2022. The article even lists specific chemicals they plan to phase out.

Science and Technology

Replacing fluorescent tubes with LEDs (cleantechnica.com)

I've never liked fluorescent tube lighting. I've even opted against renting certain apartments because the kitchens had this kind of fixture. Would an LED bulb make a difference in light quality? I don't know, but it's worth further investigation.

Earworm

I usually include an earworm in only Friday's edition of Surferbird News-Links. But it's been so long since I posted that I thought we should celebrate. Besides, this time, I'm sparing you from my usual sappy 60s and 70s folk music.

Laura