City Hippy

The diary of our struggle to live a green and fair life.

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CityHippy has posted its last post now (I now work for EMP plc, run At Home magazine online and more and personally blog over at Why? Click here to find out. We might be back. Keep our RSS feeds, keep us bookmarked, sign up for the news alert on the right. You never know...

We are dedicated to exploring how to live a greener and more ethical life. City Hippy is a growing collective of writers bringing you two types of content:

ARTICLES: Enjoy real content by real people trying really hard to live a greener and fairer life. Generally in-depth with weekly updates at least. Located in main body below.Subscribe:
BOOKMARKS: Follow our web travels & explore our 1400+ links to a greener life across various categories i.e. baby, cosmetics, DIY, furniture, garden & shopping. Short, sharp and frequent updates. Located down to the right. Click here to see our latest three bookmarks.Subscribe:


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

NEWS: Nice Organics

My pal Masita asked me a while back if I knew of any organic and ethical food stores (stores that sell fruit, vegetables, wines, groceries etc) near to where she lives on the delicious Côte d'Azur (South of France mmmm - very jealous). I had a think and a quick hunt around and came up with a store not far from her in Nice. Well she finally got to visit the store and has posted a great review. Worth a read. Her delight reminds me of the first time I visited Fresh & Wild.



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Monday, January 30, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #12

Carnival of the GreenCarnival has popped up over at Urban Eco and this one is a whopper!

My pick of the week is: Horticultural's plotting a gender clash. Jane spotlights a male gardening bastion that is being breached.

More info about the Carnival of the Green re hosting and posting available here.



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Sunday, January 29, 2006

FEATURE: The Ramsay Home Project

We love what the RamsayHome Project is all about so we got in touch and asked for regular updates. They were only too happy to oblige.

Here, in their first CityHippy update, we find out how tough it was even talking about building an alternative energy house in Canada's oil heartland. We look forward to following their progress. Enjoy.

“That will not work.”
This was the response with which my husband and I were met when we excitedly told our good friend about the geothermal heating we are installing in our currently-under-construction house in the heart of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We should have laughed. Instead, we stammered out justifications. How could we have forgotten? Our friend, like many Calgarians, earns a robust living extracting black gold from the earth.

Our province boasts annual surpluses from the riches under the soil: we pay no provincial sales tax unlike our fellow Canadians, and this year every Albertan is receiving a $400 “prosperity cheque.” Building a house or driving a vehicle which does not consume an obscene amount of fossil fuel is akin to biting the hand that feeds. Trying to convince the dutiful masses that oil exploitation is finite and perhaps unwise is, in many Calgary circles, heretical.

Why are we aiming to build a sustainable low-impact home? When we consider the options, weighing consequences for the land, human well-being, and the global political, social and environmental climates, only a sustainable home will work.

Our construction project is just getting started; check back for weekly updates on our adventure.

M from the RamsayHome project

Oh this is gonna be sure to drop by their website to offer encouragement etc.



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Friday, January 27, 2006

INTERVIEW: Craig Sams (part 3)

Things are starting to get really interesting now and in this installment, the third ( 1 2 ) of our Craig Sams interview series, we find out what Craig thinks about the Green & Blacks sale to Cadbury's and why despite critical mutterings he sees the move as a positive, even essential, step for the company and its ethical platform.

CityHippy: Craig. Some people think Cadbury's did not deserve your hard-earned Green & Blacks green credentials, that you were wrong to sell to them. Why did you sell, why to them and why was it the right thing to do?

Craig Sams: There was no way we could have taken Green & Blacks to the global status that it deserved. We’d already sold shares to William Kendall’s group of investors and managers back in 1999 and they’d shown that, with professional management and plenty of capital to resource the growth of the business, it was possible to take Green & Blacks to a whole new level of operation. But even they couldn’t have taken the next steps and, if Cadbury’s hadn’t started helping our producers to expand their production of organic cocoa beans back in 2003 we would have run out of raw materials by now.

Fascinating. So many questions raised by this.

Can companies, perceived as evil, change or be changed? I say yes.

Does the sale of an ethical business to a mainstream non-ethical business make the ethical business any less ethical? I say no.

Does the existence of sites like ethiscore (and seecompanies) represent a shift from focusing on products that are Fairtrade to examining companies as a whole? I say yes.

What do you say?

Join us for part four when Craig explains why only one product from the Green & Black's stable was ever Fairtrade certified. Fascinating stuff. Stay tuned.



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Thursday, January 26, 2006

SPECIAL: Our 1000th bookmark

We finally chose our 1000th bookmark and it focuses on the biggest issue of our time. It was so hard to pick one out of all those sent in but thanks for all your suggestions. We will get round to them all we promise. So much great stuff out there.

So the winner was a BBC article titled: Nuclear reactors under spotlight.

Going Nuclear may cut emissions say those in favour. Going Nuclear is unneccessary lunacy say those against. Clearly safety is a primary concern. What about existing wastage? Could renewables be enough? Do we need Nuclear to prevent climate change? A very murky issue indeed.

It is time the City Hippy took a look at this extremely complex this space.

Feel free to offer your opinions in the meantime...the more the merrier.



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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

NEWS: London directory of Sustainable Design 2006

Just discovered a great new resource being built for London businesses. If you have, or know anyone that does, an environmentally-friendly product which is designed and/or made in London, then read on.

The Sustainable Production Project at Business Link For London and The Eco-Design Fair have started compiling a directory of London-based Sustainable designers and producers.

Due to be published in early 2006 (so get your skates on) and also to be available online at Eco-Design Fair the directory will hopefully include fashion and fashion accessories; furniture and lighting; fine art and sculpture; home accessories and food suppliers.

The best part is that the directory will be sent out to 1,000 key London retailers, not to mention libraries and resource centres. And before you ask it will be printed on recycled paper, using vegetable-based inks!

For more info contact Angela Jackson, Business Link for London, ajackson[at]bl4london[dot]com or tel: 020 7010 1563.



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NEWS: Suggest our 1000th bookmark

Just a reminder about the CityHippy 1000 bookmark challenge. Have accumulated 999 bookmarks since we started collecting them and we are now looking for that one special bookmark to be our 1000th.

What do you think it should be? Will post about the lucky bookmark and the person who suggests it will win a prize (not sure what, will speak to the winner and come up with something cool and of value to them).

Either email us @ cityhippy[at]gmail[dot]com, tag it yourself with 'cityhippy' in or technorati or post a comment here.



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NEWS: Spreading the news & Lentil love

Two quick tidbits for you:

1) If you are in the NYNY area then tomorrow night I urge you to check out iciNYC. The great and the good of the green world will be there. You should be too.

In their words:
ICInyc is a roving celebration of front line visionaries blending fashion, design, media and the arts with the modest task of saving the planet. Come mix. Come dance. Come. It’s ici.
Would be there in a flash if I lived nearby. Sigh!

2) As mentioned previously WholeFoods are opening up their first London store in the next year. Sounds like great timing to me considering that analysts TNS conducted a study showing that Britain's wholefoods market is now worth as much as £233 million - up 26% in the last year!!! Shrewd and prescient move by WholeFoods!



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Monday, January 23, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #11

Carnival of the GreenCarnival comes to town over at Ideal Bite and yet again the threads of the green blogosphere continue to delight.

My eye was drawn this week to Jeff's post on poop power. Brilliant and funny.

More info about the Carnival of the Green re hosting and posting available here.



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Sunday, January 22, 2006

INTERVIEW: Craig Sams (part 2)

In the second installment (part one) of our Craig Sams interview series we discover how hard it was creating two astoundingly ethical companies: Green & Blacks and Whole Earth Foods.

CityHippy: Craig, what would you say was the biggest barrier you encountered in setting up Green & Blacks and Whole Earth Foods and how did you overcome it?

Craig Sams: Capital deficiency – so we worked very hard, spent very little, did everything on a shoestring. It meant that each innovation cannibalised the previous success, which became a cash cow for as long as it could. It’s not the right way to build up a business, but we never had any money and didn’t trust anyone else to really stay on message about the principles of what we were doing.

Great bit of accidental business wisdom there and as at least one successful and respected venture capitalist / business angel will tell you it is often actually better to have less money when starting a business than more. Less money tends to ensure you spend it wisely.

Also Craig's (& Co) committment to their principles meant not bringing people in just for the any ethical business it seems wiser to stick to your ethical guns rather than go for the quick cash and compromise what is essentially the ethical core of the operation.

In part three Craig tells us about the sale of Green & Blacks to Cadbury's and why he believes that without selling to Cadbury's Green & Blacks would have literally run out of organic chocolate. Heaven forbid!!!



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Thursday, January 19, 2006

SPECIAL: A journey of a 1000 links

I started adding links to our account way back on April 7th 2005. Since then I have nearly added 1000 bookmarks, many suggested by you, across a wide variety of topics including (see tag cloud at bottom of post for all tags - the larger the word the more links it has):

Currently we have 997 links and the 1000th link will feel pretty special. Will do a post about whatever site or article is lucky enough to be the 1000th link.

Got any suggestions? Whoever suggests the 1000th link will win a prize...not sure what...

Namaste and thanks for all the tips thus far.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2006


City Hippy loves interviewing people that inspire us. We get lots of great info from them about living a greener and fairer life PLUS we get to hear their thoughts on a range of other topics.

We recently had the honour to interview Craig Sams.

Craig is quite possibly the most successful greentrepreneur on the planet, at the very least, one of a seriously successful few.

Craig not only started Green & Black's, producer of arguably the finest organic Chocolate the world has ever tasted but he also created Whole Earth foods, purveyors of a range of natural food products free from artificial preservatives and additives.

Both have now been sold and yet Craig is still a busy man. He has many proverbial fingers in various vegan pies and we wanted to find out more.

This interview is presented across a series of posts with only one Q&A in each post to break it down a bit. Not a cheap attempt to keep you coming back we promise (although we like that too) but just to prevent huge posts which take ages to read.

We asked Craig a variety of questions including:
  • what he thinks the UK should do for energy in the future (here's a clue, he thinks one of the options is satanic - hmmm wonder which one)
  • why he believes progress to trade justice is hamperered by corruption
  • why he sold to Cadbury's and why he believes this deal was/is a good thing for ethical businesses and finally
  • how he would rule the world
So let's kick things off:

CityHippy: Hi Craig, first of all thanks for the interview. Pleasure to speak with are an inspiration to us and many others. OK first question I have is why did you start Green&Blacks & Whole Earth?

Craig Sams: I started Yin Yang Ltd in 1967 as a macrobiotic restaurant. With my brother Gregory we grew it into retail (Ceres Grain Shop and Ceres Bakery), a macrobiotic workingman’s café (Green Genes, 1971), a wholesaling and manufacturing operation (Harmony Foods, Whole Earth, from 1971). We started up originally to spread the macrobiotic message, which is about eating mostly grains and vegetables, limited amounts of the rest, balanced diet, justice, organic food, no nightshade foods, no additives or chemicals in food, healthy lifestyle, because we believed that this was the most effective way to bring about real political change. When people are healthy then society develops in a healthy way, I still believe it.

We buy that. The connections between food and politics are numerous. Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy society?

Next we find out what Craig thinks was the biggest barrier in setting those businesses up and how he overcame them.



Additional: Click here to read part two of the series

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Monday, January 16, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #10

Carnival of the GreenCarnival time over at Unplugged Living. I think Kevin has done a great job on what I think is the biggest carnival yet! Check it out.

My pick of the week: Nick @ Triple Pundit's post about the deep and murky connections between ethics and consumerism. More info about the Carnival of the Green re hosting and posting available here.



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NEWS: Passing the event horizon

Remember Jan 16th 2006.

Today goes down as a crucial date in the history of humanity. Today is the day James Lovelock gave us our starkest warning about the state of Gaia and a wake up call of things to come. Oh and his new book is out ;)

If he is correct then arguably humanity faces a bleak future, if any. His solution seems to be that we should stop worrying about preventing climate change, which is, he now feels, on an inevitable path, and should instead think about preparing for a long, dark winter.

That is why he advocates the use of Nuclear power. Much food for thought people. Testing times ahead one way or another.



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Sunday, January 15, 2006

NEWS: Sale @ Reworks

Sale alert for you.

The recycled glassware and gift store REWORKS has 25% off selected items until 1/20/06.

You would get an extra 10% if you were on their mailing sign up whilst you are over there to be sure you get future discounts etc.



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Friday, January 13, 2006

NEWS: Loving the Ladybirds

I’m always eager to do more in the garden, but to be honest when it comes to beating back the bugs on my fledgling tomato plants I struggle with my enthusiasm and my ethics – it’s a nightmare.

The reason I’m growing tomatoes is because I can’t get any taste satisfaction from regular supermarket ones! However greenfly have also taken a liking to my toms as I don’t want to add poison to my food to keep them at bay. So I had to find an alternative.

A solution came when a friend recommended the green gardener.

I decided to buy some ladybirds and after a successful summer protecting my plants I believe these little treasures are now all tucked up sleeping inside the ladybird house I bought for them.

I also purchased some food which I can put out to wake up my welcomed guests as soon as my green enemy returns this spring!

Rebecca @

Rebecca will be regularly contributing to City Hippy about her green exploits and she is also a reseller for One Group so if you want to purchase some superb cosmetics certified to the highest organic standards normally reserved for food products then I recommend you click and explore

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

EVENT: Make A Difference

Wouldn't it be nice to have one place to go where everybody knows your name, sorry, where all your green, organic, sustainable and ethical lifestyle solutions can be found under one roof?

Well fret no more because the recently launched Mad Show may be the answer to your real and virtual dreams. In their words:
If you’re after quality clothing, beauty products, food or drink, a holiday or something special for the home or garden, you’ll find it here.

Mad* stands for Make a Difference - and all products promoted by Mad* are from organic, fairtrade or sustainable resources. So you can rest easy, knowing that you can make a difference - without sacrificing quality, simply by the way you spend.
Not only do they have a nice looking website with products and news but they are hosting a great looking event in London on June 2nd, 3rd and 4th 2006.

Sounds very CityHippy to me. See you there I hope. Do let me know if you are going.



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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

NEWS: Starbucks Challenge 3.5 awards

After reading the 40 Starbucks Challenges taken this week, City Hippy and green LA girl have picked 2 winners!

Winner #1: Justin
took 5 challenges, all over the Seattle area, since Challenge 3.0 -- despite the fact that he doesn't like the taste of Cafe Estima!
Award: An enviro-friendly, reusable, and chic workplace
dish set
(right, a $39 value!)

Some honorable mentions: Matty from Rockville put the challenge before his date -- what a guy! And fromscatteredtribe
of Arizona had a textbook failure with almost every possible error made and still managed to not murder anyone.

But the winner #2 is... Ardent Eden's It's Not Just for Coffee post, which was informative and generated some great comments too.
Award: Fair trade yummies from Clipper-Teas!

Details about Starbucks' response to this round of the challenge to come soon, pending a call back from Cindy of Starbucks.

We will report back in mid-March, when - according to the LA Starbucks managers we met with last month - all LA-area stores - and hopefully stores all over North America, should, at the very least, have French presses and serve fair trade coffee to those who ask firmly.

Stay tuned -- And if you find yourself at a Starbucks between now and then, always ask for fair trade coffee :)

Have a fair trade day :)

City Hippy
and green LA girl

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Monday, January 09, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #9

Carnival of the GreenThe Carnival of the Green takes us to Shea Gunter's blog today.

Goes without saying that I love the Carnivals...they are just such a great way to start the week.

Pick of the week for me is The Evangelical Ecologist's post on Crunchy Conservatives. This appeals to me particularly as the UK's Conservative Party new leader, David Cameron, is making a lot of green noises. More on that soon. Nice one Don.



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Saturday, January 07, 2006

NEWS: Another Starbucks 3.5 Success

Did my second Starbucks Challenge 3.5 on the other store on the Kings 'beautiful people' Road (128 Kings Road, London ENG, SW3 4TR, United Kingdom - store 33400).

Again was a repeat challenge on a store previously challenged. And yet again hd no problem getting my Fairtrade coffee here. Gotta love Starbucks for it when it works.



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Friday, January 06, 2006

NEWS: Vive Le Vivavi

Just wanna wish Josh and the Vivavi crew the very best of luck with their brand new NY store of green wonders. Check it looks awesome. So wish I could visit and chill in that wonderfully stylish green space.

PLUS Josh and Vivavi are getting into the movie business..ish! They have produced a great film with one of their furniture designers, Scrapile. Worth a look for sure.

In their words:
In this, our first film, we go in-depth with our Scrapile furniture designers to take you behind the scenes and into the world of cutting-edge sustainable design.
I'm ready for my closeup Mr. Dorfman!



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Thursday, January 05, 2006

NEWS: Starbucks 3.5 Success

Did my first Starbucks Challenge 3.5 on one of the stores on the Kings Road in London's fashionable Chelsea.

Was a repeat challenge to a store I challenged before. Walked in, 'what's brewing' sign told me there was fairtrade brewing, I asked for a large Fairtrade to go. Barista just made it in a flash. Problem free delivery. Nice one starbucks. Credit where it is due. It seems so much easier to score an FT coffee in the UK.



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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

NEWS: Starbucks sub-Challenge 3.5

So Starbucks admitted it hasn't lived up to its own policy to French press a cup of fair trade coffee for anyone who asks for it. And during meetings with and in letters to bloggers, the mermaid's promised to work on fixing its "break down in customer service" -- at least in the LA area, which is a great start.

So during this first week of 2006, we're starting easy. We're wondering if Starbucks employees are aware which of their coffee blends are actually fair trade certified, as opposed to Starbucks' own internal "fairly traded" "certification." Considering that there's only one fair trade coffee in Starbucks -- Cafe Estima -- it shouldn't be that hard, as long as someone has taken the minute to let employees know that Cafe Estima's the fair trade blend. And to make it even easier, Cafe Estima's brewing as the coffee of the week this week (at least in the US & Canada)!

The Challenge
1) Visit your local Starbucks this week (Jan 2 to Jan 8 ) and ask: "Could I get a cup of fair trade coffee?" (Don't specify Cafe Estima!)
2) Tell us what happened next. Ideally, the barista should immediately offer you a cup of Cafe Estima, which should already be brewing.

BLOGGERS: simply blog about what happened and tag it with "starbuckschallenge" (all one word) on (put the Starbucks location in the "extended" description). We'll pull all articles into a feed. If you do not know about, then just mention the phrase 'StarbucksChallenge' as one word in your post, and we'll catch it.

NON-BLOGGERS: tell us what happened by writing a comment on either City Hippy or green LA girl, or send an email to City Hippy or green LA girl, and we'll do the rest.

Win a prize!
On Jan. 9, City Hippy and green LA girl will award 2 prizes: 1 to the person who takes the most challenges, and 1 to the person with the most interesting, entertaining, educational, insightful, or funny report.

The prizes? An enviro-friendly, reusable, and chic workplace dish set, and fair trade yummies from provided by City Hippy.

Challenge results
On Jan. 9, City Hippy and green LA girl will take the challenge results to Starbucks, either commending them on their progress on barista education efforts about fair trade, or asking them to, um, work on that.

Take the challenge, and please feel free to let us know what YOU think our next step should be as activists, and what you think Starbucks' next step should be as a company that says it wants to be a leader in corporate social responsibility.

Have a fair trade day.
City Hippy and green LA girl

Useful posts:
The Launch, 2.0, 3.0, Activism 2.0 (analysis of new wave of consumer activism), FAQ, challenges ( and finally the ever developing Google Map.


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NEWS: Starbucks Challenge in Guardian

The esteemed Guardian have today taken up the cause and featured the Starbucks Challenge as the Campaign of the Week, the first of 2006 I might add. Seriously flattered.

For those new visitors to the site, welcome, let me just give you some insta-numbers and point you to some useful posts to tell you more about the challenge.

Starbucks Challenge Numbers:
Since launch on Oct 4 2005 193 blogs have challenged 255 times in 13 countries including 29 states and DC. And that does not take into account challenges from Dec 3 2005 so doubtless that will have gone up in the last month.

Plus hopefully many of you will add to those numbers and spread the word even further in the coming days. Taking the challenge really is as easy as just asking for a Fairtrade coffee in your local Starbucks and then just letting us know what happens. For more info read on.

Useful posts:
The Launch, 2.0, 3.0, Activism 2.0 (analysis of new wave of consumer activism), FAQ, challenges ( and finally the ever developing Google Map.

It's Gwynnie time
To all of you who have participated thus far, thanks, could not have achieved what we have without you.

To the bomb girl!

I would also finally like to thank the Academy, God, my parents, my first pet Chi Chi...



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NEWS: Sustainability Bike Tour

I recently flagged up something in our bookmarks that sounded interesting and got in touch with the guy (Vladislav Davidzon) in charge for more info. I asked him to explain more about what it is they do and hear it is, in his own words:

Bike hundreds of miles. Meet incredible people. Participate in amazing service projects. Stay on organic farms and work to promote sustainable food growth practices. Study and work with Native American communities. Live with the land and camp under the stars. Change your world, one mile at a time.

This summer, you can take an extraordinary journey. Tune up your bike, pack your bags, and join fellow riders from all over the world for an incredible excursion across Oregon, utilizing the most sustainable method of transportation available: your own bike.
  • Study and apply the philosophies of permaculture, alternative building, appropriate technology and sustainable energy.
  • Spend time with Native American communities, work with salmon restoration and indigenous building practices.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of how organic food is grown, and distributed.
  • Explore some of the most beautiful places in Oregon while learning about natural history, deep ecology, and environmental ethics.
  • Observe local economics projects and grassroots democracy struggles in places through which you travel.
  • Participate in a traveling community of cyclists coming from all over North America with a variety of backgrounds but with a shared longing for a better world.
  • Discover consensus decision-making and use it to make collective decisions within your community.
  • Learn about nutrition, health and fitness through long-distance cycling.
Visit the website for more information and to enter to win one of the
one-week tours! / 503-239-8426
For a multitude of reasons I cannot go on this tour but if I could I would be there in a sounds awesome!

UPDATE: I asked them for pics and here is the link they sent me for last years pics...I so wanna go! WAAAAAH!!!!



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Monday, January 02, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #8

Carnival of the GreenHooray and welcome to 2006. I hope you had a happy New Year celebration if you celebrated.

What better way to start off 2006 than with the first Carnival of the Green of 2006.

Suhit has done a great job on #8 - please do go check it out here.

My pick of the carnival this time is Circadiana's excellent post about how climate change impacts the web of life.

Here is an extract:
On one hand, watching evolution in fast action is fascinating (not to mention that it provides plently of new ammunition to counter creaitonists' claims against what they like to call "macroevolution"). On the other hand, watching species go extinct due to unwillingness of some humans to accept responsibility for global warming and to implement strategies to counter it, is more than frustrating. It makes one ashamed to be a Homo sapiens.
One other thing that concerns me is the potential for all this to affect the food chain. Still, we will all be able to eat Soylent Green, sorry, GM produce. Hurrah! [ahem]

I hope you have a peaceful and green 2006.



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