Surferbird News-Links, 5th Edition


Welcome to Surferbird News-Links. Join me on an exploration of health, food, science, and the environment. For more information on the name and origin of Surferbird News-Links, see here. Oh, I almost forgot; there's always an earworm at the end of every editionWhat's an earworm? you ask. Well, scroll on down to discover!

Surferbird News-Links, a weekly summary from across the web

Giving - Village Enterprise

For those of you who have been following me for a while, you know how much I love this program. They just completed their Living on Less Campaign, and I'll let you know the results next week. For now, please visit their website for stunning images of Africa and the people who are working together to end extreme poverty. You can also check out my post about them here.



Sea levels could rise six feet by the end of this century- 99% of the Earth's freshwater ice is held within the Greenland and Antarctica ice caps. The rate of polar ice melt is happening much faster than scientists originally predicted. (Yale Environment 360)

With climate change, it's the oldest species that will survive - not the fittest - This is interesting research that will help predict how different species will fair as our climate shifts. A nice, quick read- (Yale Environment 360)

Is there a relationship between climate change and the fire in Alberta, Canada? - a short but informative read. (Climate Central)

Methane - When most of us think about climate change and greenhouse gases, we think of carbon dioxide. But did you know that methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide during the first twenty years it's released into the atmosphere?

Unused methane has many sources, both man-made and natural. But the most common industrial source is primarily from leaks in the oil and gas industry, contributing to 25% of global warming. Methane may not linger nearly as long as carbon dioxide; however, it's important that we address it's presence in our environment if we're going to slow down the acceleration of climate change.

Here's an article on methane that goes into more depth, along with this one, which explains the relationship between palm oil and methane. It's not a pretty relationship. (Environmental Defense Fund and Ensia)

What to do about Methane - Here's one last article that debates the issue of whether it's even important to worry about methane reduction, when it's such a short lived gas compared to carbon dioxide. If you read to the end, you'll probably conclude that it is. (Washington Post)

The first community in the Continental US that will need to be relocated due to climate change - This is less than an hour from where I lived during high school - Isle De Jean Charles, Louisiana. Boy has life changed since then. (NY Times)

On to some good news-links and a lighter note........

The Ken Burns American Heritage Prize - I was a bit confused at first as to what this was all about because it's really two projects. First of all, there's the AmericanPrairie Reserve in northern Montana with a mission to create the largest protected natural area in the Continental United States. Already, 310,000 acres has been set aside, restoring vegetation and wild bison herds.

The goal is for this project to ultimately extend to more than three million acres, restoring the land to the pre-Lewis and Clark era. You can read more, take a tour, and watch a short video here. But I also found an additional video, which sheds light on both the serenity and soft, surreal quality of the landscape.

The American Prairie Reserve has established a yearly Ken Burns AmericanHeritage Prize for distinguished individuals who appreciate and have contributed to furthering the American spirit. This prize reaches out to authors, artists, conservationists, educators, filmmakers, historians, and scientists. Check out the website, which I linked to above, for stunning photography and a short video.

This is one of the only areas that I haven't visited in the US, and I must say - I was completely taken in by the open, lonely landscape, which stretches out for miles. We are truly fortunate to have these kinds of projects, which wouldn't exist without the optimism and passion of individuals working toward a greater good.


I learned from this article on fermented beverages that I've been pronouncing kefir incorrectly all these years. From kombucha to kvass, and more, Lucky Peach weighs in on the differences between a variety of fermented beverages. (Lucky Peach)

Fighting to keep advances in school nutrition programs - Not only is there no push to increase the amount spent on school lunch programs, but accomplishments achieved through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization act, which was passed in 2010, are in danger of being lost. This act increased fruit and vegetable servings, among other improvements.

But what is most notable to me is that it limited the sale of cookies and chips. Until a new bill passes, the current program appears to be safe, but you can read more details through the link above. One unsurprising bit of information is that the food industry somehow got tangled up in things. (Mother Jones)

Glyphosate - There was a big "oops" this past week in regards to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and other weedkillers. The EPA inadvertently released a document which claimed that glyphosate was not likely to cause cancer, only to later pull the document from the internet stating that they hadn't finished their research.

The EPA has other concerns over glyphosate, also, and all assessments should be completed by the end of 2016. Meanwhile, Monsanto had tweeted and praised the results of the prematurely released documents. I'll let you check this circus out for yourself through the link above. Good luck. (Huffington Post)


Healthy skin ecosystem- There's another reason to ditch my synthetic clothing besides all of those microfibers that end up in the oceans (see here); they harbor bacteria that aren't in balance with or familiar to our skin. This is just one of the interesting facts I learned in this article on skin microbiota, a budding new area of research. (Chris Kresser's blog)

Immune cells glue blood vessels back together - We've known about the brain repairing itself by growing new blood vessel tissue, but did you know that white blood cells can actually glue the ends of broken vessels back together? Blood vessels will also slowly lengthen to reconnect, but this is not as efficient. This study was conducted on zebrafish, but scientists believe it's likely that the mechanisms expressed in the study are also seen in mice and humans. (ScienceDaily)

Science and Tech

Well, to my friends in the Southeastern part of the US, let's just say that you have a soft underbelly. I'm just teasing; however, the underside of the North American Plate in your part of the world is peeling off. This is why you've been experiencing more earthquakes. It's a bit challenging to grasp all of the details, but this is an interesting read if your into tectonic plates. Oh, and by the way, those earthquakes are likely to continue for a while. Sorry. (Science Daily)

VW and Shell to team up in funding a research project - Um, can you guess where this is headed? Here's a hint: they're arguing against EU fuel efficiency targets. (Clean Technica)

Inspiring Stories

Saving a life with agriculture- A twenty year combat war veteran returns home, but flashbacks begin to haunt him. He's deemed permanently unemployable until he meets the director of the Veterans and Warriors Agricultural Program under the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. This is a quick read but stunning in it's reminder of what our war veterans endure on our behalf and in the great capacity for healing - in this case, it was working the land and beekeeping that forged a path to recovery. (USDA Blog)

Great Green Wall - There's just something so inspiring about this concept - a wall of trees stretching across the African continent, 9 miles wide and 4,831 miles long. But even though this image conjurers up a plethora of warm fuzzy feelings, it's purpose is to prevent desertification along the southern edged of the Sahara, restoring agriculture as an economic activity.

Already, the west African country of Senegal has planted 12 million trees. For more information, check the link above. I extend my thanks and appreciation to Dibungi T. Kalenda, a researcher at the University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for bringing this project to my attention. You can follow him on twitter @dibungikalend. (The background information on the GreatGreen Wall was obtained through Quartz -

The Surferbird News-Links Earworm

It's time to bring this edition of Surferbird News-Links to a close with today's infamous earworm.  This one must have derived inspiration from the articles above - the wall of trees across Africa, the US veteran who found spiritual recovery through working the land, and the American Prairie Reserve.

I debated about which performance of this song to feature. I love the one from Central Park, 1982, but this particular performance resonates with me because of the warm embrace at the end and Paul Simon's participation in the vocals.

Simon and Garfunkel's friendship dates back to their Jr. High years but later became characterized by strife and ultimately a breakup. They periodically put their disagreements aside, giving us the best they have to offer.

Paul Simon wrote Bridge Over Troubled Water, which was always vocally performed by Art Garfunkel. There's a certain satisfaction gained from seeing Paul Simon perform this stirring hymn with Garfunkel, who brings down the house down with the sustaining high note.

I love putting together these weekly additions of Surferbird News-Links. I hope you enjoy them, too. If so, would you please share on social media or with friends? Thank you. Enjoy -     Laura