Surferbird News-Links, 51st Edition


Gratitude, troubles brewing in our oceans, a perennial grain, benefits of agroecology, recyclable carpets, an automated delivery truck from Ford and more—these are some of the stories in today's edition of Surferbird News-Links. I had planned to take a break from writing, but too many stories keep piling up in my newsfeed. Besides, crafting Surferbird News-Links is so much more fun than doing dishes or organizing my desk. :) I'd like to take a moment before the news-links surfing begins, though, to share some good news. GreenBiz republished the article I wrote for Ensia on cotton. I'm feeling thankful. But I'm especially thankful to you because I wouldn't have submitted a proposal to Ensia if I hadn't started this blog. And I doubt that I would still be writing blog posts if no one ever read them. From the bottom of my heart—thank you.


The hows and whys of gratitude (

By the time you finish reading this edition of Surferbird News-Links, you may feel grateful for this article on gratitude. Written with a refreshing candidness and a sense of humor, the author inspires us to cultivate gratitude while tackling everyday problems along with bigger ones, such as climate change, politics and pollution. And I especially liked the part about the cool journal and pen.



Climate change and Earth's oceans

Acidified waters in the Arctic Ocean are expanding northward and extending deeper. (

This doesn't bode well for critters at the bottom of the food chain, such as snails, clams and mussels, because the acidic water affects their shell development. As a result, it's likely we could see a decline, or even a  collapse, in salmon, herring, crab and other marine populations during our lifetimes. According to the article, "melting sea ice has allowed more of the Pacific water to flow through the Bering Straight into the Arctic Ocean." It's important to note that the Pacific Ocean is already acidic and contains a lot of carbon dioxide.

Climate change and Earth's deep waters (

I don't like being the bearer of bad news. Yet, remember, knowledge, even unpleasant knowledge, has the potential to create change. That being said, increased temperatures, decreased oxygen and acidification of our planet's waters spell troublesome times for the creatures that live in the deepest parts. What happens in the top layers of the ocean affect the bottom dwellers. And as Earth's waters warm, the metabolism of critters that live at the bottom increases. However, their food supplies will decrease due to the oceanic changes mentioned above. We will most likely see significant disruptions in our oceans' ecosystems in the future.

Air pollution

Air pollution from Asia is increasing ozone pollution in the Western U.S. (

Ozone contributes to breathing difficulties and can also damage crops, decreasing their yields. It wouldn't be such a big deal if the ozone remained high in the atmosphere, where it absorbs ultraviolet radiation. But, unfortunately, the ozone coming across the Pacific from Asia ends up closer to the ground—not such a good thing for the Western U.S.

Circular economy/recycling

Recyclable carpets—will companies make good on their claims?

Finally, a carpet manufacturer, Mohawk, has developed a 100 percent recyclable carpet made from only one kind of fiber. But, have they worked out the logistics, such as collecting old carpets and ensuring that recycling is profitable? The devil is in the details. I sure hope so.

Food and farming

Agroecology, perennials, and Kernza

Is an agricultural model based on perennial plants part of our future? (

I've shared articles about Kernza before, but there's much more to learn in this interview with Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute. Kernza is a new perennial grain developed from an ancient relative of wheatgrass. The beauty of Kernza is that it doesn't need to be dug up and replanted year after year. This means it can sequester a lot of carbon while leaving the soil undisturbed, unlike other grains. In addition, Wes discusses the benefits of agroecology and working with, instead of against, nature. In these settings, farms resemble ecosystems rather than monocultures.

Agroecology has the potential to address a multitude of food and environmental challenges. (

This article from Ensia compliments the above article beautifully. Agrecology holds promise for reducing agricultural-based water pollution, conserving water, sequestering carbon, preventing soil loss and providing increased economic security for farmers through crop diversification. So, what are we waiting for?


A versatile buttermilk pancake recipe (

I like the looks of this recipe because it reminds me of my tried and true pancake recipe from years gone by. And the author notes that other flours can be substituted for wheat flour. I've had such a hankering for pancakes lately, but I'm fairly sure gluten doesn't agree with me. So, I'll have to get back to you on this one and let you know how mine turn out. I'm thinking about using masa harina or buckwheat instead of wheat flour.


A stand up/sit down desk made of environmentally friendly materials (

Made of bamboo and recycled aluminum, the CrossOver allows you to move from standing to sitting with ease. Although it's not too terribly expensive, the CrossOver doesn't quite fit into my budget at the moment. However, it's something to keep in mind for the future. An additional benefit to the CrossOver is that it's made in the U.S.

Science and technology

Ford is looking to develop automated delivery trucks (

My, my how the world is changing fast. This leads me to ask many questions, though. How will we replace people's incomes? Are automated vehicles safer? I certainly hope so. If we can improve the safety of our roads and reduce pollution while making sure everyone has enough of the basics to live a comfortable life, then I'm all for it. Anyway, it's not as if I could stop technology. Perhaps it's best to surf along with it.


This is one of the first songs I learned to play on my guitar when I was about 12 years old—and it's a sappy one. I make no apologies for sharing it, either. Are there other tender souls out there who remember and appreciate this song? Also, did you get a load of those bell-bottoms? I love them!

Have a great weekend,