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Thursday, January 23, 2020

How Paris became a cycling success story—and built a roadmap for other cities

The City of Light became the City of Bike, and U.S. cities should take notice.

By Patrick Sisson Jan 15, 2020

Paris’s great success in improving cycling will be one of the lasting legacies of Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has relentlessly pushed bike infrastructure, often to the displeasure of drivers and local officials, as part of her pledge to reduce emissions and make the city a cycling capital. Hidalgo’s efforts have also set an example that U.S. cities should follow: Think big, and don’t be afraid to talk about climate change and transportation.

Instead of relying on shared bike and bus lanes as it had in the past, Parisian officials decided to focus funding on protected cycling lanes, following a philosophy of fewer but better. The city has surpassed its goal of creating 10,000 new parking places for bikes by 2020, but lowered its target for building out bike lanes.

According to Ken McLeod, the policy director of the League of American Bicyclists, the success in Paris has come in large part from presenting a bold, citywide plan, instead of the gradual way many U.S. cities add such infrastructure, upgrading corridors one at a time after lengthy trials.

Removing Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands. How can this possibly be a victory for farmers?

How can this possibly be a victory for farmers? Fossil fuel producers and real estate developers, like Trump, yes, but FARMERS?
Jim Brandenburg/Minden Pictures

By Coral Davenport
Published Jan. 22, 2020 Updated Jan. 23, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration (January 23, 2020) finalized a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands, and other water bodies, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had shackled them with onerous and unnecessary burdens.

From Day 1 of his administration, President Trump vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s “Waters of the United States” regulation, which had frustrated rural landowners. His new rule, which will be implemented in the coming weeks, is the latest step in the Trump administration’s push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling, and endangered species protections.


“That was a rule that basically took your property away from you,” added Mr. Trump, whose real estate holdings include more than a dozen golf courses. (Golf course developers were among the key opponents of the Obama rule and key backers of the new one.) Really . . . 

“This will be the biggest loss of clean water protection the country has ever seen,” said Blan Holman, a lawyer specializing in federal water policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This puts drinking water for millions of Americans at risk of contamination from unregulated pollution. This is not just undoing the Obama rule. This is stripping away protections that were put in place in the ’70s and ’80s that Americans have relied on for their health.”

That could open millions of acres of pristine wetlands to pollution or destruction, and allow chemicals and other pollutants to be discharged into smaller headland waters that eventually drain into larger water bodies, experts in water management said. Wetlands play key roles in filtering surface water and protecting against floods, while also providing wildlife habitat.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE:  New York Times, January 23, 2020

Monday, January 13, 2020

Bike Saturdays is More than a Bike Ride


BIKE SATURDAYS is more than a Saturday bicycle ride. It's about bringing awareness to the many benefits cycling provides. Organized rides with a theme is a great way to generate community economic development and a platform to help encourage people to start taking responsibility for their own health. 

Biking has also become an international symbol for the "green movement" and a way to help the environment through non-polluting alternative transportation.

There are many non-profit organizations and businesses doing great community service work around Montana that need help and exposure to let people know they're out there and what they do. An organized group bike ride, combined with social activities and a purpose, is a great way to spread their message and have some fun along the way.

If your business or organization would like to sponsor a BIKE SATURDAYS, ride, give us a call at 406-871-6282 and we'll fill you in on the details. 

There are no fees or other financial obligations. See the calendar for the next ride event and be sure to sign up for our free email event updates and information.

Monday, January 06, 2020

The cheapest way to save the planet grows like a weed

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the cheapest and most efficient way to tackle the climate crisis. So states a Guardian article, citing a new analysis published in the journal Science

The author explains:
As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.

For skeptics who reject the global warming thesis, reforestation also addresses the critical problems of mass species extinction and environmental pollution, which are well-documented. A 2012 study from the University of Michigan found that loss of biodiversity impacts ecosystems as much as does climate change and pollution. Forests shelter plant and animal life in their diverse forms, and trees remove air pollution by the interception of particulate matter on plant surfaces and the absorption of gaseous pollutants through the leaves.

The July analytical review in Science calculated how many additional trees could be planted globally without encroaching on cropland or urban areas. It found that there are 1.7 billion hectares (4.2 billion acres) of treeless land on which 1.2 trillion native tree saplings would naturally grow. Using the most efficient methods, 1 trillion trees could be restored for as little as $300 billion—less than 2% of the lower range of estimates for the Green New Deal introduced by progressive Democrats in 

The Guardian quoted Professor Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who said, “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.” He said it was also by far the cheapest solution that has ever been proposed. The chief drawback of reforestation as a solution to the climate crisis, as The Guardian piece points out, is that trees grow slowly. The projected restoration could take 50 to 100 years to reach its full carbon sequestering potential.

A Faster, More Efficient Solution

Fortunately, as of December 2018, there is now a cheaper, faster and more efficient alternative—one that was suppressed for nearly a century but was legalized on a national scale.

This is the widespread cultivation of industrial hemp, the nonintoxicating form of cannabis grown for fiber, cloth, oil, food, and other purposes. Hemp grows to 13 feet in 100 days, making it one of the fastest carbon dioxide-to-biomass conversion tools available. Industrial hemp has been proved to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop, making it the ideal carbon sink. It can be grown on a wide scale on nutrient-poor soils with very small amounts of water and no fertilizers.

Hemp products can promote biodiversity and reverse environmental pollution by replacing petrochemical-based plastics, which are now being dumped into the ocean at the rate of one garbage truck per minute. One million seabirds die each year from ingesting plastic, and up to 90% have plastic in their guts. Microplastic (resulting from the breakdown of larger pieces by sunlight and waves) and microbeads (used in body washes and facial cleansers) have been called the ocean’s smog. They absorb toxins in the water, enter the food chain and ultimately wind up in humans. To avoid all that, we can use plastic made from hemp, which is biodegradable and nontoxic.

Iodine, a Critically Important Nutrient

How many of us have ever thought about iodine for optimal health?

I'm guessing not many. A friend of mine who is recovering from Leukemia and now a thyroid condition has spent much of his rehab time researching his condition. He learned about the remarkable benefits of iodine and encouraged me to do the same and feature it here, in the magazine.

I found out its amazing stuff.

"Iodine affects the most basic functions of the body. It's found in every single one of our body’s hundred trillion cells. Without adequate iodine levels, life is impossible. Iodine is the universal health nutrient and brings health on many levels." Gabriel Cousens, MD. Iodine – The Universal & Holistic Super Mineral

Iodine is an essential mineral commonly found in seafood. Your thyroid gland uses it to make thyroid hormones, which help control growth, repair damaged cells and support a healthy metabolism. Unfortunately, up to a third of people worldwide are at risk of an iodine deficiency.

Iodine, while not as abundant as we’d like it to be, has some properties which make it incredibly useful to the body. It binds well to organic compounds as a result of its higher atomic number, and it is necessary to the synthesis of thyroid hormones. According to the American Thyroid Association, “Iodine is an element that is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. The body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet.”

How essential? 

How much iodine do we need daily? The Institute of Medicine has set the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iodine in adult men and women at 150 μg per day. Individuals who add table salt to their food regularly should use iodized salt. One teaspoon of iodized salt contains approximately 400 μg iodine. As noted, since the introduction of iodized salt, iodine deficiency has been virtually eliminated in numerous parts of the industrialized world. Many areas still suffer from iodine deficiencies on a massive scale, however.

With all this talk about iodine, thyroids, and the like, what are we trying to accomplish? How does iodine benefit the body? What are the benefits of iodine that really matter to the body? Most who even have a cursory knowledge of iodine understand that iodine helps convert thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to T3 and T4 (triiodothyronine and thyroxine), aiding and supporting proper thyroid function. But what else can we expect from iodine?

Benefit 1: Energy

It doesn’t take a clinician to notice what iodine can mean energy-wise for those who take it as a supplement. Iodine is well-known as an energizer. Why is this so? Iodine is very effective in breaking down both carbohydrates and fats in the system. It accomplishes this by helping the body’s metabolism maintain consistency. By supporting stable metabolic activity, your body is more efficient at processing and utilizing the minerals and nutrients in your diet while forestalling fat absorption. When your energy levels are up, your body is better-suited to activity and better able to be active. You’re able to combat the lethargy that results from slower metabolism.

Benefit 2: Toxin Removal

As noted, iodine has an atomic number of 53. This higher number allows it to bind to toxins very well. This ability extends to bacteria as well. It is useful in pulling some heavy metals, such as mercury and lead, out of the body in addition to its antibacterial abilities. Of note is iodine’s ability to support the body in eradicating the bacteria which causes peptic ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues.

Benefit 3: Anti-cancer Agent

As a support to the proper function of the thyroid, iodine has been linked in studies to support for prevention of thyroid cancer.

Per the Mayo Clinic: 

“Thyroid cancer occurs when cells in your thyroid undergo genetic changes (mutations). The mutations allow the cells to grow and multiply rapidly. The cells also lose the ability to die, as normal cells would. The accumulating abnormal thyroid cells form a tumor. The abnormal cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread throughout the body.”  Since iodine facilitates normal cell lifecycle function, including apoptosis, it can support normal die-off of cells in the thyroid and promote healthy function therein.

Benefit 4: Juvenile Cognitive Development

Studies have shown that severe iodine deficiency during childhood has resulted in numerous adverse childhood physiological and cognitive deficiencies. Giving iodine supplements to children with mild iodine deficiency improves their reasoning abilities and overall cognitive function. In children living in iodine-deficient areas, iodine supplements seem to enhance both physical and mental development. 

Benefit 5: Protection from Radioactive Material

A case in point is what happened in Poland:

“After the 1986 Chornobyl (formerly called “Chernobyl”) nuclear accident, shifting winds blew a radioactive cloud over Europe. As many as 3,000 people exposed to that radiation developed thyroid cancer over the next ten years. Most victims had been babies or young children living in Ukraine, Belarus, or Russia at the time of the accident. The region of excess risk extended up to a 200-mile radius from Chornobyl. Poland, immediately adjacent to Belarus and Ukraine, distributed KI to more than 95% of their children within three days of the accident and does not appear to have had an increase in thyroid cancer.” 

While the benefits of iodine are numerous, an iodine deficiency can prevent most, and in some cases all, of these functions from occurring in our bodies. Knowing the symptoms of low iodine can make the difference between feeling fatigued, cold, sore, and struggling with sudden weight gain and thriving. Asking the right questions, like “How do I make sure I’m getting enough iodine?” and “Is it possible to get too much?” is the key to fully understanding this vital mineral.

Symptoms of Low Iodine

Iodine deficiency was a problem for many years (prior to the 1920s) in various areas of the world. In the United States, the Great Lakes, Appalachian regions and the Northwest dealt with this issue along with most of Canada. Treatment of iodine deficiency by the introduction of iodized salt has virtually eliminated iodine deficiency and the so-called “goiter belt” in these areas. However, still today many other parts of the world do not have enough iodine available through their diet, and iodine deficiency continues to be an important public health problem globally. Approximately 40% of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency.” 

Iodine deficiencies aren’t only an issue in less developed parts of the world. Many athletes or those who excessively sweat can have iodine deficiencies merely because they’re not replacing the iodine they’re losing through activity. While severe iodine deficiencies are rare in the developed world, it can be helpful to know what to look for. 

The following are several symptoms that may be related to low iodine levels:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Lethargy
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Joint pain
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Memory problems
  • Irregular or heavy periods
  • Swollen neck

While most associate iodine loss with sweat, some can be excreted in the urine, too. Additionally, since the thyroid gland stores iodine in it, iodine deficiencies can lead to enlargement of the thyroid and hypothyroidism. Furthermore, mothers who received inadequate amounts of iodine can be at risk of giving birth to children with intellectual disabilities.

How Do I Get Iodine?

In addition to supplements, many foods offer good amounts of iodine. The great news is that many of these are likely already a part of your diet.

While many traditional foods–including those you might find at the holiday table, like roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, and baked potatoes—offer good amounts of iodine, several sea-based sources offer prime amounts. Look for seaweeds like kombu, which is often used as stock bases in soups and stew, or nori, which can be sprinkled on salads or used in wraps or sushi. Always opt for organic seaweed; conventional seaweed often contains disruptive heavy metals.

However, seaweed isn’t the only food with iodine. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of twenty-one foods with high amounts of iodine:

  • Cranberries
  • Milk
  • Cod
  • Turkey breast
  • Cheese
  • Tuna
  • Boiled eggs
  • Dried seaweed
  • Baked potato
  • White bread
  • Squid
  • Persimmon
  • Feijoa (also known as pineapple guava)
  • Seabass
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Walnut
  • Salmon steak
  • Peas
  • Mussels
  • Shrimp

Knowing how much iodine to take depends on an individual’s age, activity level, and even climate. The average human body contains 15-20 mg, most of which are found within the thyroid gland. Adults require roughly 150 mcg of iodine daily, while women who are pregnant or lactating need nearly double the amounts. 

Can I Be Taking Too Much Iodine?

While proper amounts of iodine are good, high doses can be dangerous. Those with thyroid problems, hyperthyroidism, and autoimmune diseases can regress with too-high doses. Furthermore, coupled with iodine through seaweed, certain medications, and even radiology procedures can put people at an even higher risk.

Keep in Mind

Iodine can be stripped through exposure to halogens like fluoride, chlorine, and bromine. Additionally, certain vegetables in the cabbage family, including brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, turnips, kale, and watercress can block iodine absorption. For this reason, be mindful of how often you are consuming them. One way to better absorb iodine from the foods you consume is to cook them properly—I don’t mean, learn to cook better but to understand the effect that various cooking methods can have on your iodine absorption. A study published in 2013 in the Journal of Food Science and Technology determined that to avoid iodine loss, add salt after cooking is complete. Furthermore, storing iodized salt in humid or hot conditions can degrade the iodine; for this reason, it’s recommended to keep your salt in a pantry and away from heat exposure.

Eating high-sodium foods at restaurants, in particular, is not a good way to increase your iodine. Few restaurants use iodized salt, meaning that salt consumption can go up without receiving any of the benefits of iodine. As Harvard Medical School explains, “To get all your iodine from salt, you would need more than half a teaspoon of iodized salt a day. That's two-thirds of the daily allotment of sodium (1,500 milligrams) recommended by the American Heart Association.” In other words, opt for iodine-rich food sources.

Where you live and the quality of your soil, can play a significant role in how much iodine you receive in your diet. More than 100 countries globally add iodine to salt to help citizens get enough. For this reason, use iodized salt to season your food once cooked and be sure to emphasize iodine-rich foods, like seaweed. Lastly, iodine supplements may be worth looking into for those who struggle to get enough iodine in their daily diets.

The Basics of Life

  By Willard “Woody” Michels Guest Blogger A couple years ago a man named Gabriel Sherman wrote a book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” Th...