Archive for November, 2008

Tree Portraits

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

South Korean artist Myoung Ho Lee encourages viewers to see trees in a new way by photographing each one against an enormous backdrop of canvas in the landscape.

“Trees are attractive objects in that they enable people to think philosophically and appreciate aesthetically. But too often, we don’t recognize the value of ordinary mundane objects around us. Seeing trees in a refreshing way or restoring the value of trees is to awaken all beings on earth in my work,” he told The Morning News

Great Green Wall

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

It’s telling that while China’s first Great Wall was built to hold back warrior horsemen from Central Asia, its new Green Wall is designed to counteract human-caused climate change.

Fifty years of forest cutting have left few trees to block the ferocious sandstorms that have pushed the Gobi Desert southward, ever closer to Beijing. According to a new study, the Green Wall, a 70-year project to plant a 2,800-mile shelterbelt of trees, could lead to an increase in precipitation of up to 20 percent and decrease the temperature in the area. The project also will improve relative humidity and soil moisture, and reduce prevailing winds. It is expected to be an international model for dealing with hotter and drier conditions expected due to climate change.

Could It Come to This?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Ilka Halso’s Museum of Nature, where forests and rivers are preserved under glass.

I’ll Drink to That

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Immacolata, my Italian grandmother, swore by marsala. When she’d work up a sweat digging in the garden, she’d come inside and take a swig of the wine, a traditional aperitif in southern Italy. When we’d get coughs, she’d boil down some red table wine with a dollup of honey and let us sip the resulting concoction. Don, my (non-Italian) husband, called the stuff “hocus pocus” until we convinced him to try it one night when he was hacking away with bronchitis. He slept like a baby.

These days science is providing some vindication for the Italian cure-all. First, researchers cracked the “French paradox” — why people who live on fois gras, cheese, and butter don’t die en masse from heart attacks. They drink red vin with all that fatty food, of course. Then came the news that red wine may lower prostate and lung cancer risk, and improve liver health. Now we learn that the polyphenols in red wine may also ward off Alzheimers by blocking the formation of proteins that build the toxic plaques believed to destroy brain cells.

Salut’, as Immacolata would say.

Polyphenols are found in high concentrations in tea, cocoa, nuts, berries, and other plant foods as well as wine.

Do Food Miles Matter?

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

A dissenting view. Crux of the argument:

In the United States, a 2007 analysis found that transporting food from producers to retailers accounted for only 4 percent of greenhouse emissions related to food. According to a 2000 study, agriculture was responsible for 7.7 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In that study, food transport accounted for 14 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture, which means that food transport is responsible for about 1 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.