Pinnacles and cones of cyanobacteria formed on the ocean floor under Antarctic ice. Source: Dale Andersen, ScientistAtWork blog.

Meet the Tiny Desert Slime that Holds our Topsoil Together. For Now.

If your eyes were microscopes and you had really good sunblock, you could lie down in the Arizona Desert and watch tiny microbes build colonies of millions around you. These greeblies, called cyanobacteria, colonize the very top layer of soil and need little more than sunshine to survive. In their wake, they leave a trail of slime that glues the soil together, allowing larger organisms like moss and lichens to grow.

It sound like something out of a Robert Heinlein novel, doesn’t it? But we should think fondly of cyanobacteria because there is mounting evidence that they are what knits our ecosystems together and their slimy calling card could save us from the killer effects of climate change.
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Carbon credits for flights are common but aren’t as simple as they look. Picture: Fuzz, CC.

Three ‘Green’ Alternatives that Aren’t So Simple – and Three that Are!

You’re planning a holiday and you’re excited. You have plotted your route around festivals and natural wonders you want to see and now, it’s time to book your flights. At the bottom of the web form, the airliner asks if you’d like to offset the carbon created by your trip. It costs you $3.25. “Sure,” you think, “it can’t hurt to do my bit for the environment”.

So what if I told you it can hurt? Continue reading

Seafood Watch has the low-down on Mahi Mahi. Source: website

Meet the big fish in the sustainable seafood push

So here we are, my husband and I, standing in a busy Asian supermarket on a Saturday morning and I have two cuts of frozen fish in my hands. My husband and I are discussing which one to buy and we’re considering type of fish, cut, price and how far it’s traveled to our plate. Then I throw a spanner in the works: is it sustainable?

My husband sighs. He does this when I ask him to rinse out his disposable drink cup, and when I am dithering in the toilet paper aisle, trying to work out whether I care enough about the earth to spend an extra 9c a square. It’s the resigned sigh of a moderately green man who is married to an environmental zealot.

The good news – for my marriage and the line of people forming behind us in the supermarket – is that it’s becoming easier to find out what’s actually on your plate, where it came from and how sustainable the fish stocks are. Continue reading

smart cat

Nonprofit leaders – your time is meow

There are cats gifs in this post because I’m hella excited.

Excited because I’ll be spending the first part of September in a room with some of the nation’s best nonprofit minds in a gathering organized by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN).

Part forum, part leadership academy, the Leading Change Summit is billed as an exclusive gathering where nonprofit leaders can learn strategies and get feedback from the sector’s heavyweights. Continue reading