Surferbird News-Links, 57th Edition


Welcome! Here's a peek at today's stories: a towering iceberg, climate change math, Wild Fermentation, 410 parts per million, frozen produce vs. fresh produce, latex balloons, faith and farming, plants that love your bathroom, coal-free in the UK (for a day), "Sweet Baby James" and more—Surferbird News-Links.

Last edited September 26, 2017 to improve readability


An iceberg to remember (

Imagine an iceberg as tall as a skyscraper. Icebergs are common in "Iceberg Alley," where Arctic ice drifts along the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. But the iceberg pictured in the article, above, is estimated to be 150 feet tall, and that's just the part above water. I won't soon forget how it dwarfs the coastal village of Ferryland, Newfoundland, Canada.



Celebrate important occasions by releasing balloons—not! (

We think of latex balloons as being biodegradable, but they're not. They contain plasticizers and dyes, and according to the article, "they never fully biodegrade." Also, the remnant pieces look like food to turtles and jellyfish. And birds often become tangled in the ribbons, which are also synthetic. Although it's true that latex balloons eventually breakdown, this can take years and doesn't mean the same as biodegradable.

Renewable energy and green technology

New Orleans is forging ahead— on bicycles. (

There's so much to love about New Orleans. But, now, there's even more to love because according to Streetsblog,  "About one in 30 local residents now gets to work by bike, double the rate from 2007 and sixth highest rate among large US cities, right between Seattle and Oakland." The CleanTechnica link, above, features a short video that takes you on a test ride through the streets of New Orleans. I sure do miss that place!

A day without coal in the UK (

Last Friday, April 21st, the UK went 24 hours without using coal to power electricity—the first time that's happened since the Industrial Revolution. What's more, the UK plans to stop using coal permanently by 2025. Shall we celebrate with balloons? Nah. But this is excellent news. Congratulations, UK!

Climate change

Carbon dioxide levels exceeded 410 parts per million. (

Carbon dioxide levels haven't been this high in millions of years. Furthermore, increasing amounts of carbon dioxide trap even more heat, escalating planet warming at a faster rate.

Three important numbers to remember about climate change (

You're not going to like this. I sure didn't. And to think I learned about it before drinking my first morning cup of coffee. But it's important. And the math might help you discuss climate change intelligibly with people who doubt the science behind climate change and believers. In a nutshell, you need to remember three numbers: 2°C, which is "a political number, not a scientific one," according to Bill Mckibben (troubles begin at 1°C), and it's the number set by the Paris Agreement; 565 gigatons, the amount of carbon dioxide we can add to the atmosphere by 2050 and stay under a 2°C temperature rise; and finally, 2,795 gigatons, which is the amount of carbon remaining in industry-owned and other fossil fuel reserves. Basic math: 565 ≠ 2,795. Houston, we have a problem.

Food and farming

Connecting faith with caring for the land (

If the article above caused despair, this one restores hope. People of all faiths and backgrounds are concerned about the environment, and this video eloquently expresses that.

An updated version of Wild Fermentation (

I have the original version of Wild Fermentation, and it's a classic. But after reading the description of the updated version, I'm definitely buying a copy. Have you dabbled in fermented foods? I have interesting tales to tell—perhaps another time. Did you know that oatmeal can smell like cheese? I don't even want to think about the taste.

Health and home

Are frozen fruits and vegetables nutritious? (

Although the University of Georgia collaborated with the Frozen Food Foundation for this project, the scientists reached similar conclusions to those of prior studies: Both fresh and frozen produce are nutritious and contain comparable nutrient levels. Given that people often store fresh produce up to five days in the refrigerator, frozen produce can sometimes be a better option, depending on the fruit or vegetable. It's important to note, however, that the study didn't evaluate all vitamin and mineral levels. Also, frozen broccoli contained lower amounts of folate than fresh broccoli. For more details, take a look at the article, which provides a link to the study.

Plants that thrive in your bathroom (

I should take notes because our bathroom needs some greening. But some of these plants, such as the spider plant, also filter pollutants. And it's easy to grow a spider plant from a cutting. Let me know how it goes.

Science and technology

A nice summary on the march for science (

This is a colorful description of the March for Science, especially the jokes and jargon on participants' signs. I live with a scientist, and my youngest son is well on his way to becoming one, too. When my son was in kindergarten and people asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, his reply was that he wanted to build the water shortage solver to end California's drought. He even drew intricate diagrams to support his ideas. I would have felt right at home at the March for Science, except for the crowds.


What you do and say is what you become. (

This is a short read, but it's a gem. And he's right, you know. Thank you for the attitude adjustment, Seth, because what we think also influences who and what we become.


Another great James Taylor song—