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My Contribution to the Technosphere

Technosphere. Who knew there was a term for all the junk humans have made? Every week I dutifully haul the recycle bins to the curb and place them next to my trash can. I wonder how much is actually recycled and how much trash I contribute to the landfill. Do my castoffs and disposables add up to inches? Feet?

A paper published in The Anthropocene Review  this week divides “contributions” to the technosphere into categories: urban, rural, subterranean, marine and aerial. Although I am contributing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, my weekly trek to the street probably contributes more depth to the urban sphere than any of the others: cords from out of date technology, jeans with holes in the knees, the Styrofoam box with restaurant leftovers I never ate, empty Bic pens, irreparable household items…

I decided to figure out how much of the sphere I’m responsible for. According to the Review, humans have accumulated an estimated 30 trillion tons of “stuff” – enough to fit over 100 pounds worth over every square meter of the planet’s surface. I went to Worldometers to learn what the world population is currently (7,475,632,700 when I clicked on), thinking I would divide the 30 trillion tons by that figure. Trouble is, the meter is racing. I thought about all those babies being born, requiring how many disposable diapers, all growing up to fill their own recycle bins and trash cans.

It’s scary thinking about how humans of the Recent Epoch (Holocene, 11,700 YA to present) are impacting the planet with our innovative creations. The technosphere, a relatively new phenomenon in geological time is changing the planet. I fear the consequences, yet I continue to assist its evolution.  “The technosphere is a major new phenomenon of this planet – and one that is evolving extraordinarily rapidly.” -Professor Mark Williams, University of Leicester.

Vote YES on Solar Issue

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I encourage you to vote yes on the solar tax abatement proposal on August 30, or before. Early voting has begun in my county. Opponents (guess who?) have cleverly confused voters with a petition worded in a way to confuse voters and maintain the status quos. The proposal on the Florida Primary Election ballot will remove a barrier to solar by exempting the panels and other solar equipment from the real property tax and the tangible property tax. This policy will lower the cost of solar and greatly expand solar development. I’m betting your utility company is slipping brochures into your bills telling you to vote no. Who’s side are they on? Yours or theirs? Vote YES on Amendment 4 on August 30.

In November we will again vote on a solar issue. That one will prevent Florida residents and businesses who produce solar energy from selling it to their neighbors. What utility company wants that kind of competition? I will remind you in November to vote NO on this one

For more information visit Floridians for Solar Choice. Go to http://www.flsolarchoice.org/

The Dreaded Stinging Nettle

stinging nettle

‘Tis the season for the dreaded stinging nettle. My azaleas occasion a riot of color under clouds of dogwood. Pink phlox carpet roadsides, meshing blooming seasons as never before in my memory. Nettles, too, have reared their sweet heads.

“Sweet?” you ask. Back in my novice camping days, I thought so, until I naively tried to pick some for the picnic table. Ouch! Walking through the yard this morning, dodging the prickly pest, I decided to find out what purpose, other than beauty, these 500 some species serve. I theorized: a food source for some butterfly or moth (correct), or maybe a tortoise or small mammal (wrong).

How about large mammals, say, humans? I was stunned to learn that teas, soups and juices made from the fuzzy single-stemmed perennial are not only consumed by humans, but are used in healing! Apparently, the leaves contain antihistamines or hydrocortisone. Healers as far back as 2,000 years used the plant to stop internal and external bleeding.

Nettle teas cure mucus congestion, water retention and diarrhea. Gargling the tea helps mouth and throat infections and application to skin clears up acne and eczema. External application also promotes healing of burns. Teas help stimulate digestive glands and help new moms produce more milk. No surprise there, as it is used as fodder for cows, to stimulate milk production.

Juices made from the stinging nettle purportedly ease the rash caused from its own leaves! Really? Of course, some preparation is required. Soaking in hot water removes stinging chemicals, allowing the leaves to be handled and eaten without harm.

I’ll take the word of the experts. But if you’d like to know how to serve this ubiquitous little pest as a veggie, get the recipe or directions for soups, teas, and juices, check out Mother Earth News. For me, a close encounter with the little terror is best remedied with an immediate scrubbing of Lava Soap from the workshop.

Such encounters, too, remind me of the scriptural admonition that even the least of these creations have value. Please let me know if you do try any of these folk remedies so I can reevaluate my opinion of you. Of course, I’ll be upgrading you to brave.