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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For Eagles, A Winning Mix Of Wind, Biodiesel, And Solar

Click here to read the full article from the New York Times

Sports arenas and stadiums are all about getting the most number of people to spend the maximum amount of money in the shortest amount of time possible.

Another rendering of Lincoln Financial Field, scheduled to be completed by September 2011.

But a growing number of sports buildings from Boston to Los Angeles are becoming efficient in other ways, by saving energy and reducing waste with solar panels, low-flush toilets and composting.

On Thursday, the Philadelphia Eagles announced perhaps the most ambitious green initiative yet: the installation of about 2,500 solar panels, 80 20-foot-high wind turbines and a generator that runs on natural gas and biodiesel so that Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles’ home, will be the first stadium capable of generating all its own electricity.

Becoming self-sufficient in energy is the latest in a string of environmentally friendly measures the Eagles have taken since they opened their stadium in 2003. (Coincidentally, the team’s primary color is green.) Since then, many teams have introduced similar efficiency programs, and the four major sports leagues have set up programs to help their teams share information about how to use less energy, reduce waste and save money.

As large as they are, sports stadiums consume just a sliver of the nation’s energy and produce a fraction of its waste. But they are seen and used by millions of Americans every day, which has helped leagues counter the perception that sports teams are wasteful enterprises and in fact can convey socially responsible messages to fans of all political and economic stripes.

The Eagles’ green efforts “underscore the position that we are all very visible and can make a significant effort in our communities,” said Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L. “We think it’s smart business and the right thing to do.”

To become self-sufficient, the Eagles have hired Solar Blue, a Florida-based company that will spend more than $30 million to install the solar panels, wind turbines and dual-fuel co-generation plant by the start of next season. Solar Blue chose vertical wind turbines because they produce less noise than bladed ones. They will also capture energy at night. The panels and turbines will meet about 25 percent of the stadium’s energy needs, with the generator covering the remainder, and will be visible to fans in the stadium, on television and to drivers passing by.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Tale Of Two Herds

The New Gokul Farm near Watford where they keep happy cattle. Radha Mohan Das with retired cow Karuna at Bhaktivedanta Manor. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

From Juliette Jowit at The Guardian (UK)

"Cows do not belong in fields," said Peter Willes. And with those six words the dairy farmer ignited what could become the defining battle between the decades-old push for cheaper food and the campaign against the factory farming which produces it.

Willes is one of two directors of a company about to announce plans for what would be by far the UK's biggest milk-producing farm: several thousand cows kept, hundreds at a time, inside large barns for the vast majority of the year. Conservative MP and environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith has called the proposals "squalid" and warned the project would "take farming to a new low".

The application, expected as soon as next week, is a second attempt: the first proposal for building a dairy for 8,100 cows in rural Lincolnshire and keeping them indoors around the clock, throughout the year, was withdrawn in April following public outcry when the vast scale of the Nocton dairy made it a national symbol of and rallying point for critics of the sort of intensive farming which has almost totally separated food and nature.

This week Willes told BBC radio's Farming Today programme the latest plan would be for fewer cows, and they would be allowed outside as a concession to objectors, while other environmental concerns, such as smell from the slurry and traffic through nearby villages, have also been dealt with.

However, documents shown to the Guardian by the developers a week ago still suggest numbers of up to 8,100 cows, which would make it without doubt the biggest dairy farm in the UK – where a typical herd has about 100 – if not in western Europe. The briefing, which could change by the time of the application, also says access to outdoor "loafing areas" will be restricted to 4.5 acres for each "mini herd" of 450 cows, for six to seven hours a day in summer, if the weather is good enough. These areas will not be for grazing and Willes and his co-director David Barnes "don't think many of the cows will want to go out," it adds. For the rest of the time, the mini-herds will be kept in large barns with 8.3 sq metres of concrete and sand for each animal – less than five times the space taken up by an average Holstein-Friesian dairy cow, or, relative to their sizes, roughly equivalent to a human in a standard toilet cubicle.

In these conditions the cows will be milked three times a day – about the rhythm cows choose on farms with on-demand feeding – and are expected to each produce 33 litres a day for 10 months a year. The current national average is 28 litres a day, which is itself nearly double what it was 30 years ago.

Despite the improvements, campaigners have warned they are still unhappy. "The issue really for us isn't so much that big is bad, the issue is the type of cows being used in these very large intensive dairies," said Pat Thomas, director of Compassion in World Farming's anti-Nocton campaign, named "Cows Belong in Fields" in honour of Willes's statement. "When you breed into cows this propensity for high yields you also breed in metabolic problems, and a tendency for mastitis, lameness and infertility, and also early death.

"Nocton is being heralded by its directors as the future of dairy farming. It's a rallying point for us because we don't believe this is the future of British diary farming; we don't believe it benefits the animals, the land, or the farmers." CIWF claims 100 small UK dairy farmers will be put out of business by Nocton, something the developers deny because of huge UK milk imports.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council has said Nocton's plans can provide "satisfactory welfare" (defined by the council as "the legal minimum standard" of welfare) if it is well managed, but there is concern about two previous convictions Willes received at other farms he owns. In 2008 he was fined for polluting a stream in north Devon after a case was brought by the Environment Agency, and in 2005 he had a 12-month conditional discharge after pleading guilty to having four types of antibiotics for cows which are illegal in the UK.

Defending their plans, Nocton's developers argue the super-dairy is big enough to allow them to invest in modern buildings and round-the-clock veterinary care, and by keeping cows indoors they can give them a better diet than they would get from grazing. They also point out no soy protein (associated with cutting down rainforests) will be fed to the cows, while surrounding arable land can be used to grow food for the cows, and benefit from the fertiliser they produce. The digester, used to transform cow slurry into fertiliser, will be different to US designs, so no pollution can escape. Willes said of his previous convictions that the spill was accidental and procedures were changed immediately; the drugs, he said, were prescribed by a vet and imported from Ireland to save money.

Explaining his statement to BBC Radio Humberside that "cows do not belong in fields", Willes compared intensive farming to the progress of humans from caves to cities. "Dairy cows throughout the UK spend at least five to six months of the year in buildings because during the winter months it's too wet to go out into the fields and there's no crops growing for them," continued Willes. "By bringing our cows in for longer, more of the year, we can invest in a system that's far better for the cows."

Standing in the centre ground of this debate are people such as Jon Huxley, associate professor of farm animal medicine at the University of Nottingham. Writing in the October Veterinary Record journal, Huxley and his colleague Martin Green said it is "simplistic and naive to blame the industry" or supermarkets for responding to the huge consumer pressure for cheaper milk. "If … future developments such as higher individual yield, total confinement and the super-dairy are not what we as a society want, we have to vote with our wallet and our feet."

Thomas responds: "If people saw the conditions the cows are in, how unnatural the intensive environment is, they'd know it wasn't right. A five-year-old knows cows belong in fields."

John Vidal

It is an picture of unmitigated bliss. Tulsi and Radika, a pair of beautiful dairy shorthorns, shuffle quietly in knee-deep straw; Gopi chomps a carrot offered by a visitor and Sarasavati and Padmavato murmur beside two calves born a few weeks ago. The Hare Krishna herd of 44 cows and oxen at George Harrison's old mansion in Hertfordshire is as calm as a temple.

Last week the 200 people who live and work in what is now called Bhaktivedanta Manor opened their £2.5m "protected cow" complex. It's been called a "Hilton for cows" and a blueprint for sustainable dairy farming, but the 3,000 sq metre building which is the herd's winter home, is a cross between a nursery, a workhouse and an old cows' home. The cradle-to-grave philosophy of the Hindu group known for its bells and chants ensures that any bovine on the 100-acre farm will not just be treated with respect while it lives, but will not be slaughtered if it is born male, if it falls ill or when it dries up – as happens in most commercial dairy farming.

Tulsi, Radika and co may be the most loved cows in Britain, says farm manager Shyamasundara – birth name Stuart Coyle. There are only four farms he knows that have similar no-kill policies. All the animals have names, they have all the space they want and they live on grass most of the year. The 11 that are lactating are hand-milked while listening to traditional Sanskrit music, the calves get their mothers' milk for their first five months and only then are separated. Only four of the 11 are made pregnant each year; the others are expected to pull ploughs and turn a wheel.

But if any society can be judged by how it treats its old, then the Hare Krishna cows appear to live in the ultimate nanny state. The animals all retire at around 15 – about 60 in human years – after which they are only expected to leave urine and dung on the fields to enrich the soil. And when one dies it can expect flowers and a farewell ceremony.

"It's the best a cow can get," says Shyamasundara. "They are part of our community. They give us their lifeblood in the form of milk and we care for them all their life. Of all the animals in the world the cow is the most important to humans. The cow replaces the role of the mother. You wouldn't bump your mum off if she stopped giving milk."

The 11 cows provide about 1,000 litres of "ahimsa milk" (milk produced without harm to any living being) a week, much of which is used by the group, but the plan is to sell it to the general public next year at £3 a litre. It will be the most expensive cows' milk in Britain but so many people have asked for it, they may increase the size of the herd. "Once the new dairy is working we may build it up. We can see ourselves growing it to 200 cows," he says.

According to Hindu philosophy, man and cow were created side by side; the animals are sentient beings and the relationship between them and people is spiritual not economic. Shyamasundara is not too bothered if the cows are a trifle overweight or don't have a "scientifically balanced" diet because they are being fed "for happiness not profit", he says. For him, the very idea of turning them into milk machines, as proposed by the Nocton dairies for Lincolnshire, is abhorrent.

"There's nothing inherently wrong with 8,000 cows. It's how they live and are cared for that is important. But what is proposed [for Lincolnshire] is the most remote system conceivable, the furthest away from nature that you can go. It's factory farming at its most efficient, where a cow is just a number, a chemical-based machine; not loved, but milked robotically and overseen by computers. It's not how life is meant to be. Life should be happy. The nature of cows is peaceful and living near them is relaxing. The automated callousness of that kind of environment must go into the milk," says Shyamasundara.

It is not at all naive or simplistic to farm the Hare Krishna way, he says, because intensive dairy farming has many hidden costs that are not reflected in the price of milk and is heavily subsidised.

"The £3-a-litre cost is the real price of producing the best milk and caring for animals.

This kind of farming is highly efficient in that it employs people and animals, cares for the land and does not pollute. It can provide food for the masses."

The milk taste test: Can our experts tell the difference?

We asked our panel of experts to compare the Hare Krishna milk with the supermarket version

Sam Clark (chef, Moro restaurant, north London)

Looking at both of these, the colour is hugely different, and tells a big story without even tasting them. You can also see that one of the milks has a much better viscosity. One tastes like a very ordinary low-grade milk; you can feel that the cow didn't go to a lot of effort for that, it's probably over-milked.

The other one tastes like a meal in itself. You really feel it's got a lot of goodness, it tastes three times more concentrated, there's not just a marginal difference here. The flavour lasts for a long time, it doesn't just disappear. People are so used to drinking thin, high-volume milk that they might find it difficult to drink this, they might find it too strong. It's sad that we're so used to a watered-down version.

We make all our own cheese and yoghurt here at Moro, and of course I'd love to use milk like this to produce it. You can tell it'd make a great cheese or yoghurt. I wish my kids could drink this. It tastes like you're on a farm. The flavour is very complex and really stays with you. There's no comparison. This is the real thing.

Rosie Sykes (chef and author)

Number two [the Hare Krishna milk] was much richer and more delicious and generally lovelier. It had an amazing silky texture. I've never drunk milk like that before. It even moved in a different way; it seemed very rich. I could imagine that making anything with it would improve it so much. If you made a white sauce or a custard with that it would be incredible. It was almost like cream, it was so rich. When I first opened it I actually wondered if it was all right, because it almost smelt like it was raw; not cheesy but more smelly than ordinary milk. You can't really smell shop-bought milk unless it's gone bad, but this had a definite smell. Once I tried it I realised it was fine, and instantly thought, my god, it's incredible.

I knew the other milk was normal milk as it seemed thin and lighter and bubbly.

John Vidal (Guardian environment editor)

Oooh it's creamy! It's rich! Mmmmmm! It's delicious! The other one is beige and bland. It's like a Stilton compared with Dairylea.

Interviews by Kate Abbott

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Opening The Kimono On Climate Change

From the MacroWikinomics blog of Dan Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams at the Huffington Post

In an economic and political environment where progress on global warming seems to have ground to a halt, climate change advocates in America are wondering how to move forward. A Republican-controlled House surely spells doom for climate change legislation and other measures that could stimulate the green economy. But those who support taking action on climate change should not be discouraged. Around the world there are already hundreds, and probably thousands, of collaborations occurring; everyone from scientists to school children are mobilizing to do something about carbon emissions. And the most forward-looking political leaders recognize that amplifying these grassroots energies could be our best short-term hope for meaningful action.

Already a leader in addressing climate change, the British Columbia government recently lit a fire under Canadian software developers by open sourcing hundreds of its best climate datasets and asking for innovative Web-based and mobile apps that could raise awareness of climate change and inspire action. As an incentive, the government put up $40,000 in prize money.

One of the winning apps allows helps students mange their carbon footprints. Users can track their bathing, eating, transportation and entertainment habits, and the app spits out an impact statement with annualized kg of CO2 equivalents generated. Another app aimed at small and medium size businesses, enables business owners to measure their company's emissions and then benchmark their score against peers in industry.

Executives with the B.C. Ministry of Citizen Services tell us that collaborations like these provide a low-cost way to tap new ideas and skills in pursuit of the government's climate goals. In fact, the initiative cost BC taxpayers very little. The government contributed its data. Private sector partners contributed the funds for the prize money. Software coders and local businesses provided their labor and ingenuity. And none of the initiatives spurred on by the contest require new rules or new legislation to move forward.

Should other governments be following BC's lead?

To be sure, most climate change experts generally agree that the surest way to accelerate action on climate change boils down to simple economics: if you want discourage carbon intensive activities, make pursuing them more expensive. Putting a price on carbon (through a cap and trade system or a straightforward carbon tax), for example, would help usher in a new mind-set among consumers, investors, farmers, innovators and entrepreneurs that in time will make a big difference. Make people and businesses pay the full environmental costs of what they produce and consume and suddenly every investment and purchasing decision made in retail stores, financial markets and small and large companies around the world would be made in pursuit of the least-cost low-carbon option.

Weaving carbon emissions into every business decisions would drive innovation and deployment of clean technologies to a whole new level, and make investments in energy efficiency much more attractive. Industries would need to invent and adopt new technologies that boost efficiency to limit their emissions. And consumers would curtail their own carbon footprints as the prices they pay for things like air travel and exotic fruits begin to reflect their true costs to the planet.

However, while it is true that centrally managed taxes, credits and incentives provide important levers for steering society toward low-carbon solutions, these are not the only levers. And while Congress is unlikely to take action, there is no shortage of valuable initiatives that can both help us better understand the causes and consequences of climate change and marshal the knowledge and talent required to advance sensible solutions. In fact, everyone - including climate skeptics - stands to benefit from initiatives that, like the BC apps contest, make information that was once inaccessible and hard to understand available to policymakers and the broader public.

Today, insufficient information about which economic activities--and, by extension, which communities, companies and nations--are contributing most to climate change undermines society's ability to target remedial actions and assign responsibility for correcting damaging behaviors. The right amount of transparency in such cases can change perceptions, reveal new factors that alter the stakes, or compel other participants to accept the need for and legitimacy of new regulations.

Getting our hands on comparable CO2 emission data for all industrial facilities and other human activities such as logging, fishing or mining, would be a goldmine for scientists, policy-makers, environmentalists, investors and ordinary citizens. Even better would be the ability to measure the impact of those activities on our climate in the same way companies apply financial metrics to their investment decisions to understand the bottom line impact.

We're not there yet. But over the past few years, a cornucopia of initiatives has emerged to make climate change information more accessible to the public and key institutions, including the investment community, regulators, and government purchasing organizations. Whether mapping the world's oil spills, simulating the effects of sea-level rises, tracking mammals on the verge of extinction or showing national per capita CO₂ emissions, the initiatives tend to emphasize the use of bold visual formats help communicate complex phenomena in a way that both scientists and laymen can easily grasp.

Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA), for example, maps the CO2 emissions of over 50,000 power plants and 4,000 power companies across the world. The data for current and planned installations is easily accessible through a Google Map on the project's website as well as through an API. "Our role is to translate" says CARMA's lead researcher, David Wheeler. "We take reams of data which are available out there and translate them into an easily accessible format. There are few other institutions that have the incentive to do this - most scientists don't as it doesn't affect their publication records, and policy people are either too busy or not sufficiently technical to do the work." CARMA's work is particularly important as the energy sector is the single largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, at around 65% of the world total.

The power of the platform became apparent one day when Wheeler received a call from a friend at the World Bank inquiring about a plant being built in Mmamabula, Botswana. It turned out that the installation would be a major polluter, which piqued Wheeler's interest - what else is the World Bank funding? Scrolling over to India he found plans for another coal plant, the Tata Ultra Mega, which ultimately would become one of the biggest emitters of CO2 in the world. Wheeler's finding led to a large campaign by the not-for-profit Environmental Defense Fund to institute stricter standards at the World Bank. The following year new legislation was put in place to limit the types of projects that would be eligible for funding.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) targets people with lots of money and enormous influence on the companies in which they invest. Institutional investors--the big mutual and pension funds--are a critical audience in the effort to accelerate business action on climate change. After all, they pretty much own the economy. Paul Dickinson, the organization's founder, has calculated that access to capital will become a powerful lever for encouraging companies to reduce carbon once a critical mass of investors and lenders starts attaching risk premiums to companies with climate liabilities and those without sound carbon management plans. The CDP aims to speed the transition by helping the investment community better understand how companies are positioned in relation to the risks and commercial opportunities associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy.

CDP's analysis is based on information it receives from some 2500 private and public organizations, including many of the largest corporations in the world. Less altruistic operators might have chosen to keep the data proprietary and make money by selling access to institutional subscribers. But Dickson thinks the public value of exposing the data to a broader audience exceeds the commercial potential. "Our goal is to apply the intelligence of the world to the climate change problem. Anyone that wants to look at the data can go to the website and download it."

Scientists are getting on board too. Greg Asner and Carlos Souza, two scientists at the forefront of forest science, are now working with Google to gather petabytes of historical and present satellite imagery. This information will help uncover the location and rates of deforestation around the world and allow colleagues to pitch in on research that will determine the links with climate change.

The evidence accumulated to date is already having an impact. We now know, for example, that emissions from tropical deforestation are comparable to the emissions of all of the European Union, and greater than those of all the cars, trucks, planes, ships and trains on the planet. And thanks to the work of economists such as Nicholas Stern, we also know that protecting the world's standing forests is one of the most cost-effective ways to cut carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.

Of course climate deniers, and those who see the world's attempt to control climate change as a threat to their business interests, aren't necessarily interested in the truth. They will continue to unleash their armies of lobbyists to water down policy, spread bogus science, and block innovations that might threaten their business models. But the best way to counter back-room lobbying and misinformation is not to hunker down as some climate scientists have in the wake of the climategate scandal, but to foster greater transparency and open debate around the risks of not acting now.

Tim Palmer, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford whose current work focuses on quantifying and managing the uncertainties surrounding climate change, suggests that everyone concerned by the climate change issue, particularly those who are skeptical, ask themselves exactly how large the probability of serious climate change should be before we should start cutting emissions? 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 50%? "Considered this way," says Palmer "it's clear that the black and white dichotomy between the 'climate believers' versus 'climate skeptics' is indeed a false one."4 And if you happen to be one of those people who believe that action is merited today, there is no point waiting for the political gridlock gripping the country to recede. Thanks to Web, we have the most powerful platform ever for people to learn about climate change, inform others and self-organize.

Follow Anthony Williams on Twitter:

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Take Back Control Of Your Food!

Click here to learn more!

There are 2 million farmers and 300 million eaters in the United States. Between them stand a handful of corporations who control how food gets from one side to the other.

December 8 is the last of five public workshops held by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the USDA to examine whether a handful of food and farming companies may be exercising illegal monopoly control over the food system. You’re probably well aware that corporations have far too much control over what we eat, how it’s grown, where it’s available, what it costs, and so much else. Most of what matters about why our food isn’t healthier and safer is the direct result of the stranglehold that just a few corporations have on every link of the food chain.

So, this government investigation is a really big deal for the future of what and how we eat — and you can be a part of the outcome. We need to show USDA and DOJ that all of us working for food justice — and all of us who eat! — reject big business’ control of our food system and that we demand strong action from the investigation.

Ready to take action?! Go to DC on December 8 and speak out to DOJ about justice in the food system! If you’re too far away, submit an online comment! Use the resources on this site to help.

We’ll be updating and adding new info and pages regularly in the next couple of weeks, so check back often! Make a comment about what other info would be useful!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Special thanks to Caitanya Mangala for the link!

Celebrate Thanksgiving with vegetarian and vegan dishes from some of your favorite chefs and cookbook authors. Find all the recipes from Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving series below or go to the Well blog to learn more about the series. New dishes will be added daily until Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data On Rising Seas

Click here to read the full article from the New York Times

The scientists say that a rise of even three feet would inundate low-lying lands in many countries, rendering some areas uninhabitable. It would cause coastal flooding of the sort that now happens once or twice a century to occur every few years. It would cause much faster erosion of beaches, barrier islands and marshes. It would contaminate fresh water supplies with salt.

In the United States, parts of the East Coast and Gulf Coast would be hit hard. In New York, coastal flooding could become routine, with large parts of Queens and Brooklyn especially vulnerable. About 15 percent of the urbanized land in the Miami region could be inundated. The ocean could encroach more than a mile inland in parts of North Carolina.

Abroad, some of the world’s great cities — London, Cairo, Bangkok, Venice and Shanghai among them — would be critically endangered by a three-foot rise in the sea.

Climate scientists readily admit that the three-foot estimate could be wrong. Their understanding of the changes going on in the world’s land ice is still primitive. But, they say, it could just as easily be an underestimate as an overestimate. One of the deans of American coastal studies, Orrin H. Pilkey of Duke University, is advising coastal communities to plan for a rise of at least five feet by 2100.

“I think we need immediately to begin thinking about our coastal cities — how are we going to protect them?” said John A. Church, an Australian scientist who is a leading expert on sea level. “We can’t afford to protect everything. We will have to abandon some areas.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Animal Rights, Vegetariaism, and Karma-Free Living

A great interview from our friend, the world-renowned vegetarian chef extraordinare Kurma Dasa.

Click here for Kurma's website, Cooking With Kurma, featuring tons of great and transcendentally delicious recipes.

Claudette Vaughan
recently interviewed me for the excellent website Abolitionist-Online - a Voice for Animal Rights

Here's the interview, serialised.

Transcendental Higher Life: Kurma Dasa from the Hare Krishna’s Interviewed on animal rights, vegetarianism and karma-free living

Kurma Dasa is one of the world’s leading proponents of pure vegetarian cuisine. Dubbed “Australia’s Vegetarian Guru,” Kurma has been writing cookbooks, teaching students and hosting internationally broadcast TV shows for over thirty-five years. Kurma’s innovative cooking continues to shake off the outdated notion that vegetarian food is lackluster.

We at the Abolitionist are great fans of his because every recipe book works – like magic! Even some of the supposedly complicated recipes like breads are easy to follow with Kurma’s recipes and every recipe is a success.

All Kurma’s dishes are consistent with the concept of Indian Ayurveda – this means no meat derived products, no fish, eggs, garlic, onions or mushrooms. Vegan soy milk can easily be substituted when required by a recipe. His cookbooks won’t let you down!

Claudette: "What is the Hare Krishna’s contribution to animal rights?"

The Hare Krishnas have contributed enormously to the rights of animals ever since the inception of the Krishna Consciousness Movement over 40 years ago, specifically in the following ways: distributing literally millions of books in over 38 languages, encouraging people to become vegetarians; establishing farming communities all over the world where animals are allowed to peacefully live out their natural lives; and cooking and distributing tens of millions of plates of pure vegetarian food in all our restaurants, temples and festivals.

Claudette: "We fight for one right for God’s animals and that is: Animals have a natural lifespan that should not be truncated by humans and they have a right to live. What’s a Hare Krishna’s understanding Kurma das?"

We agree. All creatures are sons and daughters of God. So the animals are our brothers and sisters. We have no right to kill and eat our brothers and sisters.

Claudette: "I think a Hare Krishna devotee believes fully that animals have souls. There’s no argument there – is that correct?"

Correct. All living things that exhibit the six symptoms of life - birth, growth, development, reproduction, dwindling and death - are alive. Life is the symptom that the soul, the living force, is present, in all these varieties of life. It is more accurate to say they ARE souls, living out their lifespan in the dress of whatever body they may inhabite this time around, whether it be plant, insect, bird, aquatic, beast or human form.

Claudette: "Tell us about your cooking books because they are all veg, very easily adaptable to vegan, no eggs etc."

I have written four cookbooks. My first, Great Vegetarian Dishes, was written in 1989 and is a bit of a classic, having been re-printed seven times, and still in the shops. My next book was Cooking with Kurma, then came Quick Vegetarian Dishes, and lastly (for now) Vegetarian World Food. The recipes are all strictly vegetarian. There are now close to 1 million of my books in print.

Vegans, who don't indulge in any dairy or animal-origin food find the recipes very easy to adapt, almost without exception.

Claudette: "Did your cooking talents emerge out of all those wonderful Hare Krishna Sunday feasts?"

Yes, and also my 10-year stint in the kitchen at Gopal's Restaurant in Swanston Street, Melbourne, where I started cooking seriously for 500 patrons a day throughout the 1980's.


Claudette: "What’s your latest work called and how did it come about?"

My latest work is a new version of a classic Hare Krishna Cookbook and guide to Karma-free living entitled "The Higher Taste".We distributed over 3.7 million copies of the first edition. The new version not only has over 50 of my recipes, but also has the latest information on important subjects as health and a meatless diet, the hidden cost of meat on the environment, factory farming and compassion.

Claudette: "What animals are you particularly close to?"

I am particularly fond of cows. I regard the cow as my mother, and feel very blessed when I can have her company.

Early Morning in Belgium:

Claudette: "Tell us about your Vegi-Cards".

The Vegi-Cards are two sets of 52 gorgeous, laminated recipe cards with full-colour photos in sturdy boxes. One set is a selection of quick recipes, and the other is a selection from my second book 'Cooking with Kurma'


Claudette: "Many animal rights people eat at the Hare Krishnas ‘Food For Life’ van especially here in Sydney where the devotees are sensitive and cook with vegetable oil for us to eat. What’s the philosophy behind feeding humans veg food."

'Food' infers vegetarian food. Partaking of body parts and organs hardly qualifies as food for humans. Specifically, non-vegetarian animals like dogs and cats and tigers are equipped physiologically to eat meat, they require it, and they accrue no karma in eating it.

Humans, however, are designed to be vegetarian. We can live long, natural healthy lifes eating vegetarian food. Eating animal food leads to disease, shortens our life and pollutes our bodies. As a direct result it dulls our finer perceptions and leads to a cruel mentality. Furthermore, eating animals is bad karma. Those that regularly eat animals will have to become animals in future lives and be eaten themselves.

Click here for Part 2

Friday, November 12, 2010

Industrial Ag & Globalization Are Destroying Rural Communities Worldwide

Click here to read the full lecture from the Organic Consumers Association

By Vandana Shiva

Recently, I was visiting Bhatinda in Punjab because of an epidemic of
farmers suicides. Punjab used to be the most prosperous agricultural region
in India. Today every farmer is in debt and despair. Vast stretches of land
have become water-logged desert. And as an old farmer pointed out, even the
trees have stopped bearing fruit because heavy use of pesticides have killed
the pollinators - the bees and butterflies.

And Punjab is not alone in experiencing this ecological and social disaster.
Last year I was in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh where farmers have also been
committing suicide. Farmers who traditionally grew pulses and millets and
paddy have been lured by seed companies to buy hybrid cotton seeds referred
to by the seed merchants as "white gold", which were supposed to make them
millionaires. Instead they became paupers.

Their native seeds have been displaced with new hybrids which cannot be
saved and need to be purchased every year at high cost. Hybrids are also
very vulnerable to pest attacks. Spending on pesticides in Warangal has shot
up 2000 per cent from $2.5 million in the 1980s to $50 million in 1997. Now
farmers are consuming the same pesticides as a way of killing themselves so
that they can escape permanently from unpayable debt.

The corporations are now trying to introduce genetically engineered seed
which will further increase costs and ecological risks. That is why farmers
like Malla Reddy of the Andhra Pradesh Farmers' Union had uprooted
Monsanto's genetically engineered Bollgard cotton in Warangal.

On March 27th, 25 year old Betavati Ratan took his life because he could not
pay pack debts for drilling a deep tube well on his two-acre farm. The wells
are now dry, as are the wells in Gujarat and Rajasthan where more than 50
million people face a water famine.

The drought is not a "natural disaster". It is "man-made". It is the result
of mining of scarce ground water in arid regions to grow thirsty cash crops
for exports instead of water prudent food crops for local needs.

It is experiences such as these which tell me that we are so wrong to be
smug about the new global economy. I will argue in this lecture that it is
time to stop and think about the impact of globalisation on the lives of
ordinary people. This is vital to achieve sustainability.

Seattle and the World Trade Organisation protests last year have forced
everyone to think again. Throughout this lecture series people have referred
to different aspects of sustainable development taking globalisation for
granted. For me it is now time radically to re-evaluate what we are doing.
For what we are doing in the name of globalisation to the poor is brutal and
unforgivable. This is specially evident in India as we witness the unfolding
disasters of globalisation, especially in food and agriculture.

Who feeds the world? My answer is very different to that given by most

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Project Sprout: From A Humble Idea, A Garden Grows

by Sam Levin at the Slow Food USA blog

Sam Levin is one of three co-founders, along with Sarah Steadman and Natalie Akers, of Project Sprout, an organic, student-run garden on the grounds of Monument High School in Great Barrington, Mass. Now in its second year, Project Sprout supplies the school’s cafeteria with fresh fruits and vegetables, helps feed the hungry in the community and serves as a living laboratory for students of the Monument school system.

Sam, a Sophomore at Monument, gave a speech at the opening ceremony of Terra Madre ‘08 in Italy, and inspired thousands of delegates from around the world who traveled to Turin for the event. The Slow Food USA blog is thrilled to share his remarks with our readers.

Exactly one year ago Monday, I walked through the doors of my public high school in Massachusetts planning on presenting the idea of Project Sprout to my Guidance counselor. And that’s all it was, an idea. I had not one detail worked out, only that I wanted the students of my school and the people of my community to begin paying more attention to their food, and in turn the natural world around them. I was already an avid naturalist, and when I wasn’t in the woods or swamps, I was spending time on the farm down the road from my house, playing soccer with the pigs or riding the cows. So, after talking to my guidance counselor, Mr. Powell, I connected with two other students, Sarah a junior who loved gardening and children and Natalie a sophomore who was desperate for delicious vegetables in the cafeteria, and together we began refining the idea and figuring out the details of the project. Within weeks we had a plan.

The plan was simple. Create a student-run organic vegetable garden on school grounds, that would be used as an educational tool for students ages 2-18, provide delicious produce for the school lunches, and ultimately build connections with nature and food for the children of our district. And with that plan, along with some energy, excitement, and motivation, we began working towards our goal.

We met with local farmers and gardeners, landscapers and designers, teachers and groundskeepers. We worked with non-profit leaders and most importantly, we worked together. I couldn’t walk by Mr. Powell’s office without stopping in to talk to him. Sarah and Natalie and I met in between classes and during lunch, after school and before school. Although we hadn’t even known each other before October, as time went on, our relationship became unbreakable. As we know, food brings people together. But as I have learned, working to save food creates unbelievably powerful bonds between people.

It’s amazing what an idea can become. But until you have witnessed that evolution, from thought to existence, you truly cannot trust that it will happen. So for the first three months, we worked almost nervously. We were preparing for the school committee meeting, where we had to present for approval of our project. We had been warned again and again to be prepared for rejection, that the School Committee was likely to turn us down, and we were still unsure what would happen. But quickly we replaced that fear with an immense excitement. We read book after book on gardening, and studied every project we could find that was somewhat related to what we were doing.

Meanwhile, something important happened. We found a potential location: an old soccer field across from the high school. Suddenly, our intangible idea gained some tangibility, and we began working at full speed. We took soil samples, and measured water tables and hours of sunlight. We plotted out potential locations for the first year’s garden. And by the time the School Committee meeting January came along, it felt like we had worked too hard, and too long to be told by a bunch of people sitting around a table that we couldn’t grow this garden, that we couldn’t make a difference. So we decided to simply blow them away. We realized we would have to be ready for every question they asked or challenge they posed with ten answers and a whole packet research to back us up. And on January 15th 2008, we were approved.

Afterwards, we realized that it was an important formality that needed to happen, but that we had actually been approved 3 months before when we decided we were going to do this.

We started working with Bridghe, our garden designer and professional gardener, to design yearly plans of the garden. We met with more and more farmers. We sold native plants as our first fundraiser, and sent hundreds of fundraising letters to businesses around the area. We planned our first benefit, a pig roast at a local farm to table restaurant, with all local food donated by local farmers, and live music from a student band. At the pig roast, we raised over nine thousand dollars and had over three hundred community members gathered together enjoying some local food and talking about gardening and farming.

And as time went on, there were more and more successes like that. We built a unique water catchment system that collected rainwater to water our crops. We have raised over thirty thousand dollars to date, and have implemented the first steps of our education program, by having a kindergarten class come every Monday to the garden to learn.

In August, at the Slow Food Nation eat-in in San Francisco, I pledged on a tablecloth that within a year we would get something into the school lunches. One month later, we served lettuce with cherry tomatoes, carrots, and green beans in the high school and elementary school cafeterias.

And slowly, we have proven ourselves. We proved to the school committee that we were organized and dedicated, and that we had thought through the challenges we would face. We proved to our teachers that we weren’t just out to scatter some seeds across the earth. And most importantly, we proved to ourselves that youth can make a difference. We did it by doing big things and little things. We did it by donating over five hundred kilograms of produce to low income families around the region, and by putting a cherry tomato in the mailbox of every staff member and teacher at our school.

On Monday, exactly one year after walking into my school to talk to Mr. Powell about this idea of getting kids to think about food and the natural world more, I once again walked through those doors. This time, I had just come up from the garden, where I had been looking at the lines that had been drawn out for the expansion of the garden, and the area that had been marked for a fruit orchard. I was going into school to talk to Mr. Powell, but this time, I needed to make sure that that the head of the cafeteria had received our thirty kilograms of potatoes for the Project Sprout Mashed Potatoes. I also had to confirm the meeting with students from the nearby school who want a garden as well. I wondered in two Octobers from now when I’m a senior, when I walk through the doors of the school, what I would be going to talk to him about. And I wondered who would be checking up on the garden before school in 20 years, when even Mr. Powell is gone. And I knew, that no matter who it was, someone would be there, and the garden would even more beautiful than it is today.

This last year, has been the best year of my life. I have had the most amazing moments working on Project Sprout. Moments like seeing a class of kindergarteners run into the garden, actually excited about pulling up weeds. One girl informed Sarah that “he hated sweet peas, but that the ones at Project Sprout were delicious.” Moments like, when students in detention started coming down to the garden, and they started asking for more jobs because they were having so much fun. One kid, who most of the time I’m afraid is going to beat me, told me that Project Sprout kicked ass. Or moments like, one night after a follow up school committee meeting in September, when the whole team hung out in the parking lot of the school eating our fresh picked watermelon on the back of Mr. Powell’s truck.

But working on Project Sprout, I have also had some of the worst weeks and days of my life. Like when it seemed our entire fundraising event would fall through after two months of planning. Or when we didn’t get the first grant we applied to, that we spent four weeks working on. At one point in the spring, I missed a science competition to go to an important Project Sprout meeting, and the people I let down didn’t talk to me for months. There have been nights where I didn’t sleep at all, and I thought I would never recover. But I would take a thousand more of those nights, for just one of the amazing things that have happened over the last twelve months.

But it is not just what has happened in the past twelve months, although those things were incredible. It is about how it happened, and it is about what is going to happen. Because, the truth is, Sarah and Natalie and I are not special. We don’t have some awesome gift or power. We just have two things. We have youth, which is found in every town in every part of the world, and we have motivation, which is out there. A lot of it is out there. Mount Everett, the school in the town south of us, has asked for help starting their own Project Sprout. So has the school in the town North of us. As well as Lincoln Academy in Maine, over five hundred kilometers away. Youth Radio in California, almost five thousand kilometers away wants a version of Project Sprout, and even a school in Kedougou, Senegal all the way across the Atlantic wants to become our sister project, in the development of a Project Sprout Kedegou. That’s the most exciting part that—that it is spreading. There are kids all over the world who want to make this happen, all they need is a little hope and inspiration.

What all of you (at Terra Madre) have started is an unbelievable beginning to a powerful revolution. But I know that all of you are wondering if my generation will be able to continue that revolution, and carry it to the extent of its mission.

I’m here today because I want you to know, that we got it. I want you to know, that from know on, people can stop saying “Kids these days,” and start saying, “kids these days!”.

That’s why I’m here today. Not because the story of Project Sprout is a success story. This project is still very young and we still have a long way to go. Who knows what challenges and obstacles lie ahead. It is not a success story. It is something else entirely. It is a window through which all of us can get a glimpse at the power of youth. It is a promise to our parents, to all of you, that we will continue what you started. The story of Project Sprout is a message from our generation to all those that came before us that says, “We will be the generation that reunites mankind with the earth.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Navajos Hope To Shift From Coal To Wind And Sun

Click here to read the full article from the New York Times

“It’s a new day for the Navajo people,” said Lori Goodman, an official with DinĂ© Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, a group founded 22 years ago by Mr. Tulley. “We can’t be trashing the land anymore.”

Both presidential candidates in the Navajo election have made the pursuit of cleaner energy a campaign theme, but significant hurdles remain, including that Indian tribes, as sovereign entities, are not eligible for tax credits that help finance renewable energy projects elsewhere.

And replacing coal revenue would not be easy. The mining jobs that remain, which pay union wages, are still precious on a reservation where unemployment is estimated at 50 percent to 60 percent.

“Mining on Black Mesa,” Peabody officials said in a statement, “has generated $12 billion in direct and implied economic benefits over the past 40 years, created thousands of jobs, sent thousands of students to college and restored lands to a condition that is as much as 20 times more productive than native range.”

They added, “Renewables won’t come close to matching the scale of these benefits.”

But many Navajos see the waning of coal as inevitable and are already looking ahead. Some residents and communities are joining together or pairing with outside companies to pursue small-scale renewable energy projects on their own.

Wahleah Johns, a member of the new Navajo Green Economy Commission, is studying the feasibility of a small solar project on reclaimed mining lands with two associates. In the meantime, she uses solar panels as a consciousness-raising tool.

“How can we utilize reclamation lands?” she said to Mr. Yazzie during a recent visit as they held their young daughters in his living room. “Maybe we can use them for solar panels to generate electricity for Los Angeles, to transform something that’s been devastating for our land and water into something that can generate revenue for your family, for your kids.”

Mr. Yazzie, who lives with his wife, three children and two brothers, said he liked the idea. “Once Peabody takes all the coal out, it’ll be gone,” he said. “Solar would be long-term. Solar and wind, we don’t have a problem with. It’s pretty windy out here.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Kansas, Climate Skeptics Embrace Green Energy

Click here to read the full article from the "Beyond Fossil Fuels" series in the New York Times

The energy experiment started as a kitchen-table challenge three years ago.

Over dinner, Wes Jackson, the president of the Land Institute, which promotes environmentally sustainable agriculture, complained to Ms. Jackson, his daughter-in-law, that even though many local farmers would suffer from climate change, few believed that it was happening or were willing to take steps to avoid it.

Why did the conversation have to be about climate change? Ms. Jackson countered. If the goal was to persuade people to reduce their use of fossil fuels, why not identify issues that motivated them instead of getting stuck on something that did not?

Only 48 percent of people in the Midwest agree with the statement that there is “solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer,” a poll conducted in the fall of 2009 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed — far fewer than in other regions of the country.

The Jacksons already knew firsthand that such skepticism was not just broad, but also deep. Like opposition to abortion or affirmations of religious faith, they felt, it was becoming a cultural marker that helped some Kansans define themselves.

Nevertheless, Ms. Jackson felt so strongly that this opposition could be overcome that she left a job as development director at the University of Kansas in Lawrence to start the Climate and Energy Project with a one-time grant from the Land Institute. (The project is now independent.)

At the outset she commissioned focus groups of independents and Republicans around Wichita and Kansas City to get a sense of where they stood. Many participants suggested that global warming could be explained mostly by natural earth cycles, and a vocal minority even asserted that it was a cynical hoax perpetrated by climate scientists who were greedy for grants.

Yet Ms. Jackson found plenty of openings. Many lamented the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Some articulated an amorphous desire, often based in religious values, to protect the earth. Some even spoke of changes in the natural world — birds arriving weeks earlier in the spring than they had before — leading her to wonder whether, deep down, they might suspect that climate change was afoot.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Hindu Sect Devoted To The Environment

DHUNDLI, INDIA — About three kilometers from this village, across dirt tracks and open scrubland, there is a settlement of seven mud huts bordered by millet and lentil fields. No electricity or telephone poles run to these huts. There’s not a satellite dish to be seen.

In the dry, open land that surrounds the settlement — part of the great Thar Desert that dominates the western part of the state of Rajasthan — black buck deer roam freely, foraging for leaves. They are noticeably bold; they seem unafraid of strangers.

The deer have good cause to feel safe. The settlement — like scores of others that dot this harsh landscape — is populated by members of the Bishnoi, a community that traditionally reveres and protects nature.

Although they are often referred to as a tribe, the Bishnoi are, more properly, a sect within Hinduism. They were founded in the 15th century when a saint laid down 29 precepts for his followers (hence their name: bis means 20 in the local dialect, and noi means nine). Today, there are around 600,000 Bishnoi, spread across northern and central India.

Several Bishnoi precepts are directed at encouraging harmony between man and nature. They include injunctions against eating meat and felling trees, and an exhortation to “be compassionate toward all living beings.”

The Bishnoi are devoted ecologists. Although they are friendly people, full of toothy smiles and warm hospitality, they can also be fierce when defending nature. The Bishnoi of this area have been known to chase down poachers and attack them.

The Bishnois’ ecological ethic represents a remarkable ideology in modern India, where the environment so often seems to take a back seat to the quest for economic growth. Across the country, forests and glaciers are dwindling, air and land are being polluted, and coastlines are disappearing.

A recent World Bank report suggests that environmental sustainability is likely to be “the next greatest challenge” to India’s development in coming years.

I wanted to visit the Bishnoi settlement outside Dhundli because I wondered if their way of life offered a path to sustainability. Historically, India’s environmental consciousness (such as it is, anyway) has often been driven by grass-roots, traditional movements.

Many people attribute the birth of modern Indian environmentalism, for example, to the Chipko movement, a spontaneous protest that erupted in the 1970s when peasants in the Himalayas rose up to stop the destruction of their forests.

More recently, the environmental costs of development have been highlighted by the discontent of tribal populations that have protested large mining and industrial projects in several states.

Could the Bishnoi, in the same way, have something to teach the rest of the country about living in harmony with nature?

I was introduced to the Bishnoi way of life by Sajjan Bishnoi, the 75-year old patriarch of the settlement I visited, and his son, Khiyaram Bishnoi. Sitting under a leafy neem tree, they told me about their community’s efforts to live with nature.

Nobody in their settlement ate meat, they said. Nobody used electricity. They only used motor vehicles when they absolutely had to.

Khiyaram Bishnoi pointed to a thatchlike material on the roofs of their houses. He said they only used plants they knew animals didn’t eat.

He told me, also, that the Bishnoi tried to limit their use of plastic — a choice that was evident in the clean surroundings, noticeably absent of garbage, and in particular of the plastic waste that plagues so many villages and towns in India.

Plastic, he said, was bad for the environment. It lined the bellies of animals, and sometimes choked them.

This evidence of ecological living was impressive. But it was clear, also, that for all their adherence to an ancient way of life, the Bishnoi were struggling against the onslaughts of modernity.

Sajjan Bishnoi talked about another son. He worked in a distant town, as a miner. When asked whether he was aware of what mines did to the environment, how they split open the earth and choked trees with their dust and explosives, he grimaced and said, “It’s necessary for the money.”

He also told a familiar tale of agricultural decline — how yields had gone down, how the water had turned bad. Once, the Bishnoi had been able to live off the land. Now many were forced to move to the cities and take up modern jobs.

The overall impression, sitting in that quiet, bucolic and in many ways quite inspiring settlement, was of an island. I was impressed by the Bishnoi way of life, but I wondered how long they would be able to maintain it. I felt the world was closing in, washing up against the island, eating away at its shoreline.

Father and son both spoke of a new generation that was living in the cities. Sometimes, they conceded, this generation lost themselves. They would drink, maybe even eat meat.

“India is getting more and more developed,” Khiyaram Bishnoi said. “People like us are less educated and have more expenses. Our children will move to cities.” He said he worried that the 29 precepts would decline.

He gave me a tour of the settlement. He showed me the small huts in which they lived, the mud vessels in which they cooked. It all had a simplicity that was almost heartbreaking.

As we walked around, he said that he, too, worked sometimes in the city. It was difficult out there; he hated the filth and the crowds. But he had no choice. He had a family. He had to feed them.

I folded my hands and thanked him for the tour. “Good luck,” I said. “I think you have a hard time ahead of you.”

“Yes, hard time,” he said, and he smiled. “Hard time, but a good life.”

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

UN Invites Hungary's Eco-Valley Foundation To Attend COP16

By Madhava Smullen on 9 Oct 2010
From ISKCON News
Radha Krishna Dasa
Eco Valley Foundation chairman Radha Krishna Dasa makes one of his 73 presentations last year on sustainable living.

The Eco-Valley Foundation and Sustainability Sciences Research Institute—a non-profit organization run by ISKCON devotees in Hungary—received an invitation from the United Nations this September 20th for the COP16 Climate Summit from November 29th to December 10th in Cancun, Mexico.

The Eco-Valley Foundation (EVF) collects and propagates knowledge about economic, environmental and social issues, and helps people to start and maintain sustainable communities.

Chairman Radha Krishna Dasa is also part of Hungary’s most successful eco-village—ISKCON’s Krishna Valley.

“We want to create a universally adoptable blueprint for living,” he says. “At the heart of this is developing the understanding that we are part of God’s creation, and not the ruler of it. Doing this will inspire us to live in harmony with our surroundings, and to embrace sustainable living.”

Radha Krishna further explains: “There should be three things in a sustainable society: a temple, a school and a place to get together. On a broader level, a temple means that there should be a goal of life that the community is all working to achieve. School doesn’t necessarily mean formal education: it refers to practical life skills such as how to grow crops, how to take care of cows, how to clean your clothes, how to cook, how to build and repair homes, etc. And a place to get together – such togetherness makes people happy, and we would like to see everyone happy.”

EVF has already been busy propagating its message on a major scale: it is affiliated with eight Hungarian universities, and has connections with two more in India and Dubai. It is currently running four scientific research programs, tutoring 32 university student dissertations, and just drew 480 participants to its annual sustainability conference at Krishna Valley—the largest of its kind in Hungary. In addition, Radha Krishna Dasa made 73 presentations around the world within the last year, speaking to university students, scholars, and professionals in India, Dubai, the USA, Sweden, and Denmark.

With the invitation to COP16, however, the Eco-Valley Foundation will get the chance to present its message to some of the world’s biggest decision-makers.

President Obama and over 180 other Heads of State attended last year’s summit, as well as many politicians and environmental and economic ministers. These are also expected to attend this year, as well as thousands of scientists, professors, governmental delegations, and NGO delegations.

“We would like to represent our ideas of simple living and high thinking to those people who can change things in the world,” says Radha Krishna. “And this is a great opportunity to show the leaders of society a liveable, replicable model, and to express our interest in getting to know them and to start working with them.”

The COP summit—the largest meeting of the Conference of the Parties, the supreme body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change—is held once a year. COP16 is, of course, the sixteenth annual meeting—the summits have been held since before the Kyoto Protocol came into effect in 1997, establishing legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

This year’s and next year’s meetings will focus mainly on discussions about how to renew the Kyoto agreement, which is effective only until 2012. These are of major importance, since if the agreement is not renewed in 2012, countries will have free reign on greenhouse gas emissions and this could have disastrous consequences for the environment.

The two devotees nominated to attend COP16 as representatives of the Eco-Valley Foundation are EVF strategy and development director Vadim Sviridovich, from Russia, and assistant to the chairman George Kirs, from Hungary. Both are economists, while George is also a teacher.

“We have been given admittance as an observer organization, which means that they will be able to attend all the meetings and to give feedback on them in writing,” Radha Krishna says. “They can also apply to set up a separate brainstorming session or discussion that they lead during the climate summit, and have permission to set up an exhibition. Of course, we will also be able to meet and make contacts with people we would like to work with later.”

At their first ever COP meetings, the EVF representatives plan to gather information, draft a proposal, give their input in writing on the issues that are discussed, and express the importance of creating small communities.

“In the future, we would like to work with governmental officials and scientists and universities to help people make sustainable villages and towns, and to develop already existing villages and towns in a more sustainable way,” Radha Krishna says. “We want to show them a model that is a real, practical way of life.”

He concludes: “Ultimately, we would like to show the world in a scientific way that Srila Prabhupada’s teachings on how to live are sustainable and would result in a much happier world than the one we have right now. We want everyone to live a happy life, maintain themselves nicely, and go back to Godhead at the end of their life.”

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