The state Senate on Friday gave final legislative approval to a measure that would phase out single-use plastic bags in supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores as part of an effort to rid beaches and streets of litter.

Wonderful news! Hopefully other states will follow this lead, and in turn ban plastic bags as well.

There are better alternatives to plastic bags: you can find biodegradable bags to pick up after your dog, and use reusable and produce bags when you go grocery shopping!

African Farmers Are Creating Forest Gardens and “Planting it Forward”

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In arid and degraded areas of Sub Saharan Africa, farmers who were barely able to provide for their families are now creating abundant forest gardens and “planting it forward” as they pass on successful techniques to their neighbors.

Working with agroforestry experts and volunteers from Trees for the Future, an Aid for Africa member organization, farmers in West Africa are turning small unproductive fields into veritable oases of fruits and vegetables.

One plant-it-forward scenario begins with Omar in Senegal. Thirteen years ago, he inherited about two acres (one hectare) of land with a few trees, shrubs and peanut plants. Income from this field was about $200 a year. Working with Trees for the Future, Omar began to add fast-growing trees with deep roots to improve soil quality and thorny acacia trees around the border to keep out grazing animals and harsh winds. Omar then intercropped vegetable plants and fruit trees. Within four years, Omar’s forest garden produced fruits, vegetables and tree products and an income of $1,000 a year.

Determined to spread his knowledge to others, Omar worked with Trees for the Future to provide seed and technical advice to his neighbor Keba, a 52-year-old peanut farmer who was struggling to make a living on land that was depleted from 50 years of peanut farming. Today, Keba’s land, which is surrounded by more than a thousand thorny bushes, produces a variety of crops including hot peppers, jujube berries and cashew nuts. In the past, he was lucky to earn $200 a year. Today, he earns that amount in a month from selling his hot peppers.

Keba too wanted to “plant it forward” and share his knowledge with another local farmer. The result—another thriving sustainable forest garden where there once was a degraded peanut field. Through example and word of mouth, farmers in the region continue to help each other find a better way to feed their families and rise out of poverty.

Trees for the Future has worked with more than 300,000 families throughout Africa and other parts of the world to help them return degraded land to sustainable production. John Leary, Trees for the Future’s executive director, has seen what happens when farmers “plant it forward.”

“In a place where difficulties abound, the worst thing to lose is hope. This farmer-to-farmer relationship of planting it forward brings cooperation, learning, teaching and hope…” he said.

Learn more about Trees for the Future and how they are working with African farmers to plant it forward.

Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africas grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.

 

Peatlands: aquatic regulators

This is a peat marsh or peatland found in Belarus. Peat marshes are locations dominated by soil layers known as, well, peat, a mixture of organic material in various states of decomposition, produced by centuries of plants growing and dying in the same location.

Plants growing and dying on top of each other, like in this bog, will pile up thick layers of organic material mixed with large amounts of water. That soil will then serve as an anchor for additional plants to grow, stabilizing the water lines and the ecosystem over time. Those layers can then serve as homes for all sorts of additional plant and animal life, dependent on the stabilized peat layers.

Peatlands are hugely important for mankind. They contain large amounts of stored organic carbon in them, so if they are damaged or destroyed, that carbon will rapidly release to the ecosystem and the atmosphere. Protecting peatlands therefore is a key step in fighting climate change.

Peatlands in many areas are in fact under siege as they sit at areas where fresh water, like that found in a river, becomes stagnant. Draining peatlands can give water supplies useful for farming, electricity generation, and shipping, and can create land that people can build on. Every time this happens, the end result is going to be additional CO2 pumped into the atmosphere.

These systems also serve as natural barriers against the weather. Peat bog soils can be up to 90% water, making them dense and capable of absorbing the force of storm surges and waves. Thick layers of peatlands can serve as natural protectors for cities upstream from hurricanes and typhoons, but only if they’re left in place. If the city upstream diverts the water that sustains them, the city may enjoy the water supply, but it also can put itself at greater risk from the oceans.

-JBB

Image credit: EGU Open Access
http://imaggeo.egu.eu/view/614/

Read more:
http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/biodiversity/habitats-2/peatlands.htm
http://www.wetlands.org/Whatarewetlands/Peatlands/tabid/2737/Default.aspx
http://www.peatsociety.org/peatlands-and-peat/what-peat

From the project NEW ORLEANS THEN & NOW

Franklin Avenue and Frankford Street

New Orleans, years after Katrina hit the city and caused the levees to break, the city is still a constant reminder of that tragic day and what came after. New Orleans has not been fully recovered nor rebuilt; many areas are barely starting reconstruction other areas as still abandoned and no sign of rebuilding or progress. One can still see the damage, feel the pain and hear the stories of what happened years ago. Mostly everyone has a story to tell and they all have a common conclusion; New Orleans recovery has been slow.

Del proyecto NUEVA ORELANS ENTONCES Y AHORA

La Avenida Franklin y la calle Frankford

Nueva Orleans, años después de que Katrina azotó la ciudad y causó el rompimiento de los diqués, la ciudad sigue siendo un recordatorio constante de ese trágico día y lo que vino después. Nueva Orleans no se ha recuperado por completo ni reconstruido; muchas áreas están apenas empezando la reconstrucción otras áreas aun siguen abandonadas y no hay señales de reconstrucción o progreso. Todavía se pueden ver el daño, sentir el dolor y escuchar las historias de lo que pasó hace algunos años. Sobre todo cada persona tiene una historia que contar y todos ellos tienen una conclusión común; La recuperación de Nueva Orleans ha sido lenta.

For image licensing visit my image library www.juancarlosarchive.com or send inquiries to licensing@juancarlosphotos.com

© Juan Carlos - All Rights Reserved / Todos los Derechos Reservados

EPA Gov Doc/Site/App: How’s My Waterway

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “How’s My Waterway,” app and website helps people find information on the condition of thousands of lakes, rivers and streams across the continental United States from their smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.

The How’s My Waterway app and website uses GPS technology or a user-entered zip code or city name to provide information about the quality of local water bodies. The latest release includes such as data on local drinking water sources, watersheds and efforts to protect waterways and improved features.

  • SEARCH: Go to http://www.epa.gov/mywaterway and allow GPS technology to identify the nearest streams, rivers or lakes or enter a zip code or city name.
  • REVIEW: Instantly receive a list of waterways within five miles of the search location. Each waterway is identified as unpolluted, polluted or unas­sessed. A map option offers the user a view of the search area with the results color-coded by assessment status.
  • DISCOVER: Once a specific lake, river or stream is selected, the How’s My Waterway app and website provides information on the type of pollution reported for that waterway and what has been done by EPA and the states to reduce it. Additional reports and technical information is available for many waterways.Read simple descriptions of each type of water pollutant, including pollutant type, likely sources and potential health risks.
  • EXPLORE: Related links page connects users to popular water information on beaches, drinking water and fish and wildlife habitat based on a user’s search criteria.
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Steam And Smoke - Small Eruption Near Bardarbunga Volcano on Iceland

Iceland, August 29, 2014

Iceland’s Meteorological Office reported that the eruption took place yesterday at the Holuhraun lava field, 5 kilometres north of Dyngjujoekull glacier, near Bardarbunga volcano.

No volcanic ash has been detected by the radar system, the event was described as being not highly explosive and not producing significant amounts of the fine ash that can affect aircraft engines.

Landscape/Environment Tut

Okay so i got a few notes on how i go about Environments/Landscapes…so i’ll share a method thats easy to work with….bare with me its been a little while since ive drawn them Lol

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First thing you want to start of with in your gradient background…use what ever is your preference. Depends on the setting, ima do some type of desert/dusty place.

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You’ll learn that the Lasso tool is gonna be your bae when it comes to environments…that and its pretty useful. Now your going to be working in three tones, 1.Dark 2.Mid 3.Light and it will always be the darkest at the front fading to light towards the back…make sense? So you will have three layers for each one to make your life easier and Lock those layers so you will only color within that area. Make sure the dark layer is on top. 

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Here is where the fun kicks in…we add our dets, try to stay with each tone and dont end up making it all muddy so you cant distinguish each one. Now you can go about this any way you please, you can paint it all in with one brush ( for some reason people get anal about shit like that, thinking there great for using one brush…i think if you got tools use em if you know how to do it right.) Or you can use custom brushes…since this is a tut ill mostly use custom brushes to slap stuff around. Its up to you really, also use the lasso tool like i said its your bae.

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The lasso can help define things better for you, so i wanted to add a structure type on the third layer. If you want to give an effect that the selection ive made is in front of the background right click your selection and invert it, add some lighting around the edges…only a little though you dont want to over do it.

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Also if you’ve done something on a layer you dont want to mess up or paint on what you can do is create a clipping mask on that layer. Its kinda like locking the layer to that one so you dont go outside of the layer or ruin what you worked on. Make a new layer above the one you wish to attach it to and right click the newlayer, a menu will pop up, your looking for clipping mask. Once you clicked it the layer should look like what ive circled. 

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Once your done working on each layer we are gonna put in some mist effect, this is something that helps separate each section. So make a new layer between each of your three as shown in the image. Like i said you can use what ever method you like, i just use a soft brush or cloud/mist brush to get what i want. 

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Now we are going to add some definition to the image a good one to use is Curves. You can find this where your layer menu is, at the bottom you’ll find it, ive circled what your looking for. On the third image is what will appear when you click curves, all you need to do is drag the little square and you’ll see some magic happen. So adjust it to your preference. If you want you can also mess with brightness/contrast too. ALSO i would recommend adding a person in the image, it gives you an idea of the scale your environment is.

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I was going to end it there but hey, ill show one last thing…its pretty simple. and that is some water reflection, we are going to turn the middle into water instead cause its a little boring right now. I merged all layers but the first one, you then want to make a selection and copy/paste. Free transform in the shortcut is ctrl T and do a vertical flip on it then adjust so its mirroring the top. 

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Now make a clipping mask like i explained earlier on the reflected surface and use the radiant tool…i think its called that lol it gives it more of a water surface like you see. For the image below it i used a custom brush which creates a water effect, aaaaaaaaaand bam you got you water now covering the area…easy huh. 

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And so this concludes the Tutorial and you have the end result. Hopefully that gave some tips on how to approach landscapes…they can be confusing sometimes on where to start. Enjoy and let me know if it was useful or not :P

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