Tag Archives: children

Austin, Texas, approves plan to become zero waste by 2040

On December 15, 2011, the city council in Austin, Texas, voted unanimously to approve the Zero Waste by 2040 plan. And now the program is starting to take effect.

Starting with the comprehensive master plan (pdf), the executive summary:

Zero Waste is a design principle that goes beyond recycling to focus first on reducing wastes and reusing products and then recycling and composting the rest. Zero Waste works to redesign the system to mimic natural systems, recognizing that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and everything is a resource for something or someone else. Currently, Austin is estimated to lose over $40 million annually by sending materials that could be recycled or reused to area landfills.

Austin’s Zero Waste system will strive to recover that estimated loss and eliminate waste, or get darn close. This Plan defines success as reducing by 20% the per capita solid waste disposed to landfills by 2012, diverting 75% of waste from landfills and incinerators by 2020, and 90% by 2040.

Then, bringing the children into it with a program called Generation Zero.  Offering educational programs at each grade level:

  • Kindergarten – 2nd grade – classroom composting
  • 3rd – 5th – learning about recycling
  • Middle School – learn about landfills and visit a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)
  • High School – history of trash in America

And, my favorite, offering discounts on the utility bill for reducing your trash. If you throw away more you pay more, allowing greener families to save up to $20/month:

  • 24 gallon bin – $13.35
  • 32 gallon bin – $14.60
  • 64 gallon bin – $19.75
  • 96 gallon bin – $33.50

This is exciting to watch Austin transform itself, starting from a very low recycling rate of 38% and moving all the way to zero waste.

 

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PBS fights back – Americans love PBS and we have the stats to prove it

Don’t anger PBS or they will come at you…with numbers and facts. Here is the PBS response to Mitt Romney’s threat to cut their funding during the Denver Presidential Debate:

We are very disappointed that PBS became a political target in the Presidential debate last night. Governor Romney does not understand the value the American people place on public broadcasting and the outstanding return on investment the system delivers to our nation.

  • Two-thirds of voters oppose cuts to funding.
  • 91% of American households watch PBS.
  • 81% of children aged 2-8 watch PBS.
  • A poll shows Americans think PBS is second most important use of public funds, after national defense.

They also say PBS cost each taxpayer $1.35/year, and for every federal dollar they raise another $6 from private sources. Could that be why Mitt thinks they can do without public funds?

All in all, I think Mitt would likely take back his PBS threat, if given the chance. Public Broadcasting is like the national parks, overwhelmingly supported by the public.

But don’t stop there, PBS has an entire website dedicated to this issue – ValuePBS.org - with more facts:

  • PBS has a larger audience than HBO, Discovery, Bravo.
  • 91% higher rating than CNN for news, public affairs.
  • 236 million Americans watch PBS every year.
  • 145 million stream PBS content on the web.

 

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Child obesity and soda – science says it’s a problem, soda companies say it’s not

Here is the perfect example of the obesity debate in America. Last Friday, the New England Journal of Medicine published the following:

The increase in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among both adults and children in the United States and other countries is considered a potential contributor to the obesity pandemic. Sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages alone, which are the largest single caloric food source in the United States, approaches 15% of the daily caloric intake in several population groups. Adolescent boys in the United States consume an average of 357 kcal of the beverages per day. Sugar-sweetened beverages are marketed extensively to children and adolescents, and large increases in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages have occurred among black and Mexican-American youth

Which prompted a response from the American Beverage Association (ABA):

The fact remains:  sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving obesity.  By every measure, sugar-sweetened beverages play a small and declining role in the American diet:

  • While Americans consume about 617 more calories today than they did in 1970, more than 90 percent of those incremental calories come from sources other than beverages.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages contribute about 7 percent of the calories in the average American’s diet.
  • Caloric intake from sugar-sweetened beverages declined by more than 20 percent between 2001 and 2010, yet obesity rates continued to rise.

And the most interesting part is the disputed fact – is soda 7% or 15% of the American diet? The answer – it depends. The Journal said 15% in “several population groups” and hinted at children, minorities, and adolescent boys as those groups. While the AMA did not give details and so we can only assume 7% is for all population groups.

This type of confusing disagreement is common in the food industry. One obvious statement is blurred by a logical response, and the argument that wins isn’t the science – it’s the commercials on TV and packaging on food.

The best thing we can do is become more educated eaters and support scientific studies that can explain the truth. In the end, this may be like the smoking and cancer debate of the 1980s – where multiple attempts were made to confuse the public, but in the end the truth came out.

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You can read the full piece in the New England Journal of Medicine or a summary at Time.com - and here is the ABA Press Release.

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Beautiful underwater photography of seals in La Jolla Children’s Pool – save the seals!

Camera in tow, Jana Morgan and a few friends dove in and looked around. Her images expose a mesmerizing world of green sea grass and a community of marine mammals that seem blissfully ignorant of the debate that rages on land about how to split the cove’s sand between people and animals. – UT San Diego

 

Photos by Jana Morgan, see more.

 

A great move by the photographer, but I don’t need the photos. I am a full supporter of the seals on this one. By my reckoning, every inch of the coast is owned by humans, so why not give them this small section?

The debate rages around the famous La Jolla Children’s Pool, originally created for the kids of La Jolla then taken over by the seals. That happened many decades ago and ever since a fight has been raging among the local community.

The creator of the man-made cove built the cement walls to shield children from harsh waves. She then willed it to the children of future (hence the name Children’s Pool).

Then the seals came in, 100s of them, and it became an instant tourist attraction. This places environmentalists and nature lovers on one side, open-access for children on the other side. An unfortunate split.

The debate still rages every morning as both sides trek out to the beach and mark their territory. The open-access folks plant a flag in the sand that says “open” and shoo away the seals from that part of the beach. During which the pro-seal activists film this to ensure no harmful shoo-ing occurs, and, lately, document any problems the pregnant seals and baby seals encounter with all this conflict.

If you’re interested, join the pro-seal cause – Facebook – Save La Jolla Seals

 

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Reforms in foster care showing good results – children in foster care drops for 6th straight year

The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago, according to new federal figures demonstrating the staying power of reforms even amid economic turbulence.

The drop results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place.

The average length of stay in foster care has been reduced by more than 10 percent since 2002, according to the report. The mean stay is now 23.7 months.

Of the children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 52 percent were boys. Twenty-one percent were Hispanic, 27 percent black and 41 percent white; 104,236 of them were available for adoption.

 

Source: The Washington Post - Number of children in foster care drops for 6th straight year, to 400,000, despite hard times

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Ai WeiWei reviews London’s opening ceremony for 2012 Olympics – criticizes Beijing’s

Brilliant. It was very, very well done. This was about Great Britain; it didn’t pretend it was trying to have global appeal. Because Great Britain has self-confidence, it doesn’t need a monumental Olympics. But for China that was the only imaginable kind of international event. Beijing’s Olympics were very grand – they were trying to throw a party for the world, but the hosts didn’t enjoy it. The government didn’t care about people’s feelings because it was trying to create an image.

In London, they really turned the ceremony into a party – they are proud of themselves and respect where they come from, from the industrial revolution to now. I never saw an event before that had such a density of information about events and stories and literature and music; about folktales and movies.

At the beginning it dealt with historical events – about the land and machinery and women’s rights – epically and poetically. The director really did a superb job in moving between those periods of history and today, and between reality and the movies. The section on the welfare state showed an achievement to be truly proud of. It clearly told you what the nation is about: children, nurses and a dream. A nation that has no music and no fairytales is a tragedy.

 

Keep reading: The Guardian - Olympic opening ceremony: Ai Weiwei’s review

 

 

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Albert Einstein’s letter to a little girl who wanted be a scientist

From the delightful Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein’s Letters to and from Children comes the following exchange between Einstein and a bright, witty South African girl named Tyfanny, who reminded Einstein of his own granddaughter and with whom he exchanged several letters despite being at the height of his career and cultural prominence.

In a letter dated September 19, 1946, Tyfanny writes:

I forgot to tell you, in my last letter, that I was a girl. I mean I am a girl. I have always regretted this a great deal, but by now I have become more or less resigned to the fact. Anyway, I hate dresses and dances and all the kind of rot girls usually like. I much prefer horses and riding. Long ago, before I wanted to become a scientist, I wanted to be a jockey and ride horses in races. But that was ages ago, now. I hope you will not think any the less of me for being a girl!

Sometime between September and October 1946 — a snappy response time by the day’s standards — Einstein replies:

I do not mind that you are a girl, but the main thing is that you yourself do not mind. There is no reason for it.

 

Source: Brain Pickings - Women in Science: Einstein’s Advice to a Little Girl Who Wants to Be a Scientist

 

 

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New museum exhibit – Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology

The Chachapoyan Fertility Idol

Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, presented by the National Geographic Society, immerses you in the science and history of field archaeology. Walk in the footsteps of beloved film hero Indiana Jones as you embark on this interactive museum adventure.

This unique exhibition features :

  • A vast and exclusive collection of Indiana Jones film props, models, concept art, and set designs from the Lucasfilm Archives
  • An interactive tour of legendary sites that sheds light on historical myths such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail
  • A rare chance to see some of the world’s most impressive material remains and real-world artefacts from ancient societies from the collections of the world-renowned Penn Museum and the National Geographic Society archives
  • A handheld multimedia guide that lets you personalize your exhibit experience
  • An interactive quest game that let’s children of all ages test their skills and explore the exhibit content in a fun, innovative way

 

Currently, in Spain but coming to Southern California in October 2012.

 

Learn more  - Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology – The Exhibit

 

 

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Amazon Studios selects four TV projects for online streaming – further Netflix competition

Just a month after we brought you news that Amazon Studios was calling for original comedy and children’s series projects, the company announced today that it has selected its first four projects, choosing three comedies and one children’s show.

The company has switched its focus to four TV projects, they are:

 

  1. The 100 Deaths of Mort Grimley – Where a man kills himself, then is forced to become an avatar of Hell, with the duty to get a special list of 100 people to commit suicide in his stead, or else be damned to spend all of eternity next to his cruel, smothering mother.
  2. Magic Monkey Billionaire - When their magician owner dies after winning the lottery, Rabbit and Monkey are shocked to learn that he left his money to happy moron Monkey and donated evil genius Rabbit to a 2nd grade class. In each episode, Rabbit hatches a plan to steal Monkey’s billions.
  3. Doomsday - A mockumentary about the supposed end of the world.
  4. Buck Plaidsheep – A courageous critter from Fleecy farm, who’ll face any danger and solve any problem. Armed with a variety of vehicles, Whether it be a jet pack, rowboat, hang glider or even a jeep, He always has the best vehicle to get the job done.

 

More about Amazon StudiosAmazon Studios goes head-to-head with Netflix, selects first four original TV projects for production

 

 

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