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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

November 25, 2011

Air Date: November 25, 2011



Durban Climate Talks

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The international climate summit is set to begin in Durban, South Africa. The global community will continue to tackle the issue of climate change and how industrialized nations can help developing countries reduce their emmissions. Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists tells host Steve Curwood that China will play a key role in the talks this year and that the world economic situation will add an additional hurdle to the talks. (06:00)

The New Seven Wonders of the World

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The Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and Colossus of Rhodes are a few of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Now the list is getting a makeover. Eamonn Fitzgerald of New7Wonders has organized an online and cellphone poll to elect seven new world wonders. He tells host Steve Curwood about the preliminary winners. (05:25)

Rebranding the Asian Carp as Dinner / Ike Sriskandarajah

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Asian Carp are infamous for their invasion of the Mississippi River and jumping out of the water. But some scientists, fishermen, social service agencies, and even marketers see a lot of promise in this aggressive fish. As Living on Earth’s Ike Sriskandarajah reports, there’s a move to change the fish’s image, in order to feed hungry people and slow an invasion. (10:50)

Discovering new causes of Parkinson’s

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A new study suggests that exposure to the common industrial solvent TCE or trichloroethylene may lead to Parkinson’s disease. Host Steve Curwood speaks with Dr. Samuel Goldman of The Parkinson’s Institute in California about the disease and how his team identified potential environmental causes. (07:40)

The Garden of Eva / Bruce Gellerman and Jessica Ilyse Kurn

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Waste not, want not, could be the motto of gardener Eva Sommaripa. She uses all parts of the plant when cooking and eats weeds. Eva’s garden is the subject of a new book by chef Didi Emmons called Wild Flavors: One Chef's Transformative Year Cooking from Eva's Farm. Living on Earth’s Bruce Gellerman and Jessica Ilyse Kurn went down to the farm to see what was fresh for the picking. (10:00)

Caravan of Hope / Bobby Bascomb

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More than 25 bands from 11 different African nations are traveling across the continent to raise awareness about climate change. Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb reports that the musicians are hoping to raise awareness as international climate talks begin in Durban, South Africa. (03:30)

Show Credits and Funders

Show Transcript

HOST: Steve Curwood
GUESTS: Alden Meyer, Eamonn Fitzgerald, Dr. Samuel Goldman
REPORTERS: Ike Sriskandarajah, Bruce Gellerman, Jessica Ilyse Kurn, Bobby Bascomb


CURWOOD: From Public Radio International - this is Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

The international climate summit kicks off in Durban, but negotiators say it'll go nowhere without China.

MEYER: I think China's at a turning point where it needs to step up and show the same kind of leadership internationally that it started to show domestically in terms of committing to try to constrain its growing emissions of greenhouse gasses.

CURWOOD: And the musicians traveling across Africa to raise consciousness and urge action on climate disruption.

Also, a new line on dealing with invasive, aggressive fish - eat them.

IRONS: Carp’s a four letter word. People think carp and they think of Grandpa’s carp. Even though we know they’re over-fished in the rest of the world, we don’t have a big desire here in the U.S. to eat bighead and silver carp.

CURWOOD: The net effect of taking a bite out of Asian carp. Those stories and a lot more this week, on Living on Earth. Stick around!


ANNOUNCER: Support for Living on Earth comes from the National Science Foundation and Stonyfield Farm.

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Durban Climate Talks

Durban, South Africa will be host to this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

CURWOOD: From the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts, this is Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results - you might conclude that the international community has, indeed, gone mad.

Every year, negotiators convene to debate urgent steps they must take to tackle rising greenhouse gas emissions, and the increasingly real climate disruption they're causing.

The nations make agreements to cut emissions. Almost twenty years ago, there was the Framework Convention, then the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan, the Cancun Agreements…but despite the talk, emissions continue to rise.

Now, the climate caravan has rolled into Durban, South Africa, and we turn to longtime observer Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists to learn what possible progress we could see this time around. Welcome to Living on Earth, Alden.

MEYER: Hi, Steve. Good to be with you.

CURWOOD: Tell me, what are the goals for these upcoming climate talks in Durban?

MEYER: Two things. First of all, we would need to make progress on the decisions made last year at the climate summit in Cancun - things like actually getting a green climate fund up and running to provide assistance to developing countries for reducing deforestation, deploying clean energy technology and adapting to the impacts of climate change that many of them are already starting to experience.

Second, we need to have a political deal on the long-term future of the climate regime. And without some framework and some agreement for how we are going to build on Kyoto, bring in countries like the U.S. and China that don’t have obligations under Kyoto and create a more ambitious and comprehensive regime, it’s likely that even the European Union will have a hard time signaling in Durban that it’s willing to stay in the Kyoto Protocol long-term.

CURWOOD: Let’s talk about the Kyoto Protocol. The first commitment period of Kyoto is set to expire at the end of 2012. What will happen after that?

Alden Meyer is Director of Strategy and Policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. (Photo: Union of Concerned Scientists)

MEYER: Well, the Kyoto Protocol will continue, of course. There’s nothing to end that. But without any countries having binding commitments beyond 2012, it becomes kind of a hollow shell. The Europeans have said they are willing to stay in Kyoto. Countries like Japan, Russia and Canada have signaled very clearly over the past year or two that they are not willing to stay in the second commitment period of Kyoto beyond 2012.

They want to see it replaced by a more comprehensive and ambitious treaty that includes the U.S., China, other major developing countries. And the United States has made it very clear that without clear signals from developing countries that they will accept legally binding commitments at the end of the day, the U.S. might be prepared to block such a mandate coming out of Durban.

CURWOOD: So, what do you see as the role of China in these talks?

MEYER: China plays a key role in these talks because, of course, it has overtaken the United States now as the world’s number one emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, and also because its emissions are increasing rapidly.

It also, of course, is putting a lot of money into clean energy technology - solar, wind, advanced vehicles and batteries, etc., and I think China is at a turning point where it needs to step up and show the same kind of leadership internationally that it has started to show domestically in terms of committing to try to constrain its growing emissions of greenhouse gasses.

CURWOOD: China has said: No, no, no, it’s not going to do anything unless the U.S. is involved publicly. Privately, are they more flexible, do you think?

MEYER: Well, I think China has been indicating more flexibility, not to the U.S. necessarily, but to the European Union, who is the sort of lead country here negotiating the future of Kyoto with the developing countries. And there has been some signals behind the scenes, we understand from those private conversations, of some flexibility from China. China acknowledges that it is going to have to take on greater responsibility over time, as it is now the world’s largest emitter.

CURWOOD: And what role do you think the world’s economic woes are playing in these climate negotiations?

MEYER: Well it’s, I think, a distraction on a number of fronts. One is, of course, on the climate finance front. When you’re struggling in Europe to save the Euro and prevent the collapse of economies like Greece and Italy, you have a hard time thinking about raising more money. But, to their credit, they are talking about that and they do have political support in the European Union for going forward on climate finance.

Second, of course, when you are facing economic hard times, it makes it hard to think about lifting the level of ambition in terms of emissions reduction and mitigation actions.

And third, and this is also important, the fact that many of the European leaders who have traditionally been champions on this issue and pushing for progress are distracted politically by their internal crisis. So, leaders like Prime Minister Cameron of the UK or President Sarkozy or Chancellor Merkel have other bigger fish to fry on their plates, and they’re not putting the kind of time and attention in that Europe did, for example, in the run up to Kyoto or in some of the other key meetings.

CURWOOD: What about the United States? What do you see as the role of the United States in these talks?

MEYER: Well, I mean, the U.S., of course, is not under Kyoto. We don't have a binding commitment and, of course, that has rankled a lot of the rest of the world. We clearly have the technology and the wherewithal to reduce our emissions if we put our mind to it. But, of course, the U.S. is hobbled by the domestic political debate where many in the Republican party and even some Democrats question the reality and the urgency of climate change and whether we have to move forward.

And the administration knows it would be very difficult to get, for example, two thirds of the Senate to ratify a binding treaty anywhere in the near term. So, they don’t have a lot to bring to the table in terms of higher ambition of emissions reductions or greater financial contributions for developing countries, and yet they’re trying to shape the outcome of these talks to their liking.

CURWOOD: Twenty years into this process, Alden Meyer, are you a pessimist or an optimist?

MEYER: I am a cautious optimist because I think I have to be to stay in this business, otherwise I’d go crazy. You really have to look at some of the positive trends - the fact that investment in clean energy technology worldwide is increasing at double digit rates every year, costs of wind turbines, photovoltaics, other clean energies are falling. So there are bright spots, but the problem is, of course, they’re not enough and fast enough to deal with the science and the physical crisis that the climate system is facing, so that’s the pessimistic side. But you either stay in this game and keep fighting for progress where you can make it or you hang up your spurs and go home and I’m not ready to do that yet.

CURWOOD: Alden Meyer, thank you so much.

MEYER: Thank you, Steve.

CURWOOD: Alden Meyer is Director of Strategy and Policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Related links:
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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[MUSIC: David Byrne/Brian Eno “I Feel My Stuff” from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Todomundo Records 2010)]

The New Seven Wonders of the World

Photograph of Jeju Island, South Korea (Photo: Martin Chen)

CURWOOD: The original list of the Seven Wonders of the World was a kind of tourist guidebook to the ancient world - think the Colossus of Rhodes or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Well, both those wonders are gone but modern communications technology offers the chance for a globally democratic way to select and rank the greatest natural wonders.

So the organization New7Wonders has completed a survey to create a new list. People around the world were asked to vote online or via cell phone. The response was so huge, particularly from Asia, that a final tally of those cell phone votes is still being verified.

But New7Wonders has gone ahead with a preliminary list, and spokesman Eamonn Fitzgerald joins us now from Munich to fill us in. Welcome to Living on Earth!

FITZGERALD: It’s a pleasure and greetings to your listeners.

CURWOOD: Well, thank you. Let’s quickly go over this new list of natural wonders. And they’re in alphabetical order, right?


CURWOOD: So that would mean we'd start with the Amazon Rainforest.

FITZGERALD: It’s an iconic symbol of everything about the planet’s environment that is both precious and endangered, and certainly for many on the green side of the political divide, almost a holy significance.

CURWOOD: So, next we go to Halong Bay in Vietnam - that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the Amazon.

FITZGERALD: It’s unique in many ways - thousands of little islands - an entire phenomenon encased within itself. But one again that is under great stress and in danger because there is a tremendous move to commercialize it and provide a constant tourist influx.

CURWOOD: Now, next on the list alphabetically: Iguazu Falls, which sits by Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. I’ve been there, by the way. It’s a great place, but why did you list it?

FITZGERALD: It is very spectacular. It is very beautiful. And, in the competition, it proved to be very, very popular, significantly, perhaps, outside of that particular region. People from many countries where there was no finalists in the competition - take, say, Great Britain or Norway or Scandinavia - many of them who would have visited Iguazu Falls, like you, perhaps felt inclined to vote for it.

CURWOOD: Next alphabetically we have Jeju Island in South Korea.

FITZGERALD: I was there in April and, again, it is very, very beautiful. It’s a volcanic island, and so, it has a combination of stone and plant life that is quite unique, and I was immediately aware of the danger posed by commercial development.

What we’re seeing is the emergence of a vast mid-class in China. Let’s say we have two hundred million of the 1.2 billion people who now wish to travel. Some of them will obviously go to Boston, some will go to Venice, some will go to Munich, and a lot will explore the immediate neighborhood in Asia. And Jeju Island will be one of the places that they would go.

CURWOOD: In Indonesia, there’s Komodo National Park. And what’s so beautiful about Komodo National Park?

FITZGERALD: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think the thing here is the fascination with the world’s largest lizard, which is a fearsome creature. And there’s something spectacular about the animal, and its home is just someplace that is magnetic.

CURWOOD: So moving down the list, alphabetically, we come to the underground Puerto Princesa River in the Philippines.

FITZGERALD: Again, we’re talking Asia. We’re talking about a country where we saw, perhaps, another interesting aspect of the idea of how a global poll functions. Filipinos are spread all over the world - the domestic economy is very, very weak - but you have lots of people from the Philippines working as nurses in New York City, as service personnel in the Gulf, and they are all very proud of their homeland, and they all voted for the Philippines finalist.

CURWOOD: And finally, Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa.

FITZGERALD: A symbol of South Africa. Nelson Mandela saw it daily from his prison on Robben Island and vowed to praise it as soon as he was released.

CURWOOD: Now, some of these winners that have made it on the list are threatened by human activity. In fact, I suppose, most of these, really, run some sort of risk. To what extent do you think being on this list will protect these places from being destroyed?

FITZGERALD: It is up to the custodians of these seven places to put in place some kind of structure that allows for the reality of tourism, but also for sustainable development. And, if the two can be combined in a very pragmatic and progressive way, there is hope that they can be preserved.

CURWOOD: Alright, well, I’m going to pack my bags. It’s going to take me awhile to see all these places!

FITZGERALD: Good luck and enjoy the trip.

CURWOOD: Eamonn Fitzgerald is head of communications for New7Wonders and joined us from Munich. Thank you so much, sir.

FITZGERALD: You’re very welcome, Steve.

Related link:
New7Wonders webiste

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[MUSIC: Bruce Cockburn “World Of Wonders” from World Of Wonders (Columbia Records 1992)]
CURWOOD: Details of the winners, as a well as the 28 finalists can be found on our website loe.org. And, by the way, what's your favorite natural wonder on the planet? Let us know. You can text us or email us at comments@ LOE dot ORG. Or call us at 1-800-218-9988, that's 1-800-218-9988. Or, post your selection on our Facebook page - PRI's Living on Earth.

CURWOOD: Just ahead, we continue our series “Go Fish: Striving for Sustainability” with a taste of how a problem might become an asset. Keep cooking with Living on Earth!

[CUTAWAY MUSIC: Book T Jones: “Regulation Time” from The Road From Memphis (Deluxe Edition) (Anti Records 2011)]

Rebranding the Asian Carp as Dinner

The Illinois River is now home to these fearsome flying fish (Photo: Illinois National History)

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I'm Steve Curwood. The Asian Carp has invaded the Mississippi River system. As the fish encroaches on the Great Lakes, scientists, entrepreneurs, and community organizers are coordinating efforts to pull this fish out of the rivers and onto our plates.
In the second part of our series, Go Fish: Striving for Sustainability, Ike Sriskandarajah investigates what needs to happen to take a bite out of the invasive Asian carp.

SRISKANDARAJAH: On a warm afternoon, I met Kevin Irons in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn in Bolingbrook, Illinois - about 30 miles from Chicago. Irons runs the aquatic nuisance species program for the state of Illinois, and just came out of meetings with biologists and commercial fishermen. He agrees to show me why they met in this small town.


IRONS: Yeah, as we drive out here, we’re going to park at the end of this road.

SRISKANDARAJAH: Irons drives a few miles away from the hotel and turns onto a dusty service road that cuts through two thin bodies of water.

IRONS: And it’s on essentially the shores of the Des Plaines River. And to our right is where the Chicago sanitary and ship canal exists.

Kevin Irons manages the Aquatic Nuisance Species Program. He stands on a service road between the Des Plaines River and the Chicago ship canal. (Photo: Ike Sriskandarajah)


SRISKANDARAJAH: The Chicago Sanitary and Ship canal is manmade, carved into bedrock to save a city from its own sewage one hundred years ago. The river moves waste from the city and is the only shipping link for cargo between the Mississippi and the Great Lakes. The Des Plaines River is natural.


IRONS: It’s a very slow river. We see aquatic vegetation, shore birds. We see a fishing egret out here. So even though we’re close to Chicago, you feel kinda remote. You can see why people want to spend some time out here. You may also get a sense for why people are so concerned about Asian carp.

SRISKANDARAJAH: Not far from here, the invasive Asian carp are more densely populated than anywhere in the world. And if they made it across this 30 ft wide service road from river into canal, they would be on their way to Lake Michigan.

Two Asian Carp varieties: bighead and silver, are the most proficient water invaders. They exist on nearly every continent. They’re highly adaptive, reproduce quickly and eat a ton of plankton. That is why scientists like Irons are sounding the alarm.

IRONS: It takes a biologist a while to convince other people and we have to consider everything. That’s why the pictures, the movies have been so valuable to us. If I say there’s a lot of fish, what does that mean? But if you see a picture of 100 fish jumping out of the water around a boat, oh, that’s a lot of fish.

SRISKANDARAJAH: Asian carp are infamous for jumping at the hum of a motorboat. YouTube has made them the poster child for invasive species.

[SOUND OF YOUTUBE VIDEO: MAN: “Here we go, the land of the jumpin' carp” SOUND OF FISH SPLASHING WITH MOTOR. “Here we are, hang on. Look at ‘em Fred, look!” FRED: “Dear lord!” WOMAN: “Oh my lord! Look at that.” MAN: BEEP BEEP that knocked my hat off!”]

SRISKANDARAJAH: The kamikaze fish, averaging 35 pounds, can break bones and knock people unconscious.

[SOUND OF YOUTUBE VIDEO: (Laughter) “Oh crap! They hurt!”]

SRISKANDARAJAH: In the mid '70s catfish farmers in the south imported Asian carp to eat the scum off their ponds. But flooding soon washed the fish into the Mississippi. The schools moved north, up the Mississippi system and were first found in the Illinois River 25 years ago. Now there are more here than ever.

Illinois is fighting the carp occupation with electrified barriers, vigilant river patrols and DNA sweeps. The White House has even appointed a Carp Czar. But there’s a secret weapon that has not yet been deployed. A strategy invasive-insiders call “when you can’t beat 'em, eat 'em.”

IRONS: Commercial fishing may be that one tool that can remove enough fish - I mean millions of pounds, consistently.

SRISKANDARAJAH: But so far, that tactic is unused only because Americans have a prejudiced palette against the carp

IRONS: Carp’s a 4-letter word. People think carp and they think of Grandpa’s carp. Even though we know they’re over-fished in the rest of the world, we don’t have a big desire here in the US to eat bighead, silver carp.

SRISKANDARAJAH: The common carp is a bottom feeder - living off mud, bugs and it's notoriously strong-smelling. The Asian carp lives near the top of the water and is a planktivore. And some biologists swear it’s good eating.

IRONS: I’ve eaten it several times. It’s very good - one of the best tasting fish products, maybe, in the world. In fact, Illinios is working with a program we call Target Hunger Now or Feeding Illinois trying to get this fish product into places like food shelters.

SRISKANDARAJAH: Over the past year, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has been working with food banks to channel this river of protein towards urban food deserts and hungry people across the state.


SRISKANDARAJAH: I met with Tracy Smith, the director of Feeding Illinois, outside A Safe Haven , a shelter in Chicago.


SRISKANDARAJAH: Smith oversees a network of eight food banks that moved 127 million pounds of food last year to soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters - like the one we’re at. This year, Feeding Illinois is stretched thin.

SMITH: One of the things that strikes me in every part of the state that we go to - they all talk about an increase in demand and decreasing federal and state support. Every single pantry that we’ve walked into has said, "look at my empty shelves." This is a crisis situation.

Feeding Illinois Director, Tracy Smith, speaks at the Target Hunger Now carp tasting event. (Photo courtesy Feeding IL)

SRISKANDARAJAH: The food banks are especially short on protein. That’s where the Department of Natural Resources partnership comes in. The program, Target Hunger, enlists deer hunters to supply fresh meat.

SMITH: Yes, we do already…the food banks and food pantries work with the Department of Natural Resources to do a venison program and we get about 100,000 lbs of venison out of that program a year.

SRISKANDARAJAH: But Asian carp is a completely different animal.

SMITH: Yeah… No, the scale would be much larger. 100,000 lbs in the scope of 127 million that are distributed is pretty small. And in addition, because it is not being consumed widely, there’s an education component. Is it something that clients are going to accept? The worst thing is to have food that people don’t want to eat.

SRISKANDARAJAH: So Feeding Illinois, with help from the DNR and the culinary world, gave food-bank clients a taste of carp cuisine. I met three Safe Haven residents who were at the tasting. Susan Harper, Michelle Miles and Willie Rimson were initially biased against the fish. But could taste triumph over reputation?

"A Safe Haven" residents, Susan Harper, Willie Rimson and Michelle Miles tasted Asian carp. Two out of three of them would go back for second helpings. (Photo: Ike Sriskandarajah)

HARPER: Yeah, the way they prepared it, you know, it was almost like a salmon croquette with a lemon sauce on it, and I thought it was great. I think it’s something that they could serve at A Safe Haven, and it’ll bring a lot of protein and some taste into our menu. I think it’d be a wonderful idea.


MILES: Yeah, I thought it was good.

SRISKANDARAJAH: Though not everyone took to it.

RIMSON: That carp croquette was not to my liking. It was just a strong fishy taste to it, you know. I actually wouldn’t go and buy. No, not now that I’ve had it. No.

SRISKANDARAJAH: But Harper and Miles said they would look for Asian carp at the grocery store.

HARPER and MILES: Absolutely, absolutely. I would… if I knew how to cook it right, I would serve it.

SRISKANDARAJAH: So how easy is it to cook? I ordered a few pounds from a place that catches and process Asian carp - Schafer’s Fishery in Illinois. They sell it ground up - hamburger-style.


SRISKANDARAJAH: My package arrived in a white Styrofoam box with one-pound vac-u-packed units that looked like bio-medical waste.


SRISKANDARAJAH: But fried up with some seasoning…


Ground carp is versatile - carp tacos, carp chili and carp nacho dip. The fish absorbs flavors well. (Photo: Ike Sriskandarajah)

SRISKANDARAJAH: Rolled into a taco - it tastes more like meat than fish. It seems that this protein has promise. That’s why Tracy Smith, back at Feeding Illinois, is figuring out the business of getting this product into the pantries.

SMITH: The unique thing about Asian carp is that they’re not using it commercially in the United States right now, and so in order to use it for humanitarian purposes, a whole infrastructure really has to be built up to do it.

SRISKANDARAJAH: That means hiring fleets of fishermen, processors, distributors…

SMITH: You also have to pay people well enough that it's worth it for them to get involved in the process.

SRISKANDARAJAH: And for that to happen, there has to be enough people who want to eat this stuff. But how do you sell something that has a bad reputation? Well that’s what marketers do.

HALDEMAN: What do I do, specifically? High-level creative strategy.

SRISKANDARAJAH: High-level creative strategy?


Brock Haldeman, President of Pivot Design, says with the right marketing strategy and budget, carp could really catch on. (Photo: Ike Sriskandarajah)

SRISKANDARAJAH: Brock Haldeman is the President and CEO of Pivot Design, a Chicago firm that builds brands. I wanted to know what a carp campaign might look like. So before we met, I sent him a dossier of facts that I thought would be helpful - like how carp’s a lean protein, high in omega 3, low in mercury. It’s likely the most environmentally friendly meat around. But Haldeman told me selling this fish has little to do with the facts.

HALDEMAN: I mean the stigma is really the name. There’s lots of examples in, sort of, the food world of taking a horrible sounding fish name, give it a new name and actually make them very popular.

SRISKANDARAJAH: Ever heard of Patagonian Toothfish? One LA-based fish importer in the 70s found this little-known, undervalued fish. He renamed it Chilean sea bass and sold it to restaurants around the world. Now it's nearly fished out of existence.

Some carp cheerleaders want to reintroduce it as “Silverfin.” Then marketers like Haldeman would erase Asian carp from memory. But to pull off this level of “brand rollout,” to make Asian carp - I mean Silverfin - the new turkey dinner … it’ll cost you.

HALDEMAN: Uh, a lot. It’s probably, you know, a six figures effort.

SRISKANDARAJAH: Six figures sounds like a lot, but these invaders threaten the commercial and recreational interests of the Great Lakes - a nine figure value.
Millions of dollars can buy influence; evangelists to push your product into the market. I asked Midwestern rapper, Juiceboxxx, if he could put the message to music.

JUICEBOXXX MUX: Throw it to the song!

[MUSIC: “Don’t call it carp. Don’t call it carp.
Don’t call it carp…” RECORD SCRATCH]

HALDEMAN: But, no, you’re not going to use … There’d be no references to carp ever. You basically have to say goodbye to that name and reintroduce this product with its new name.

[MUSIC: JUICEBOXXX: Alright. “Silverfin! Silverfin!

SRISKANDARAJAH: If marketers, fishermen, biologists and a rapper have their way, it might not be too long before there’s a Silverfin invading a grocery store near you. For Living on Earth, I’m Ike Sriskandarajah.

[MUSIC: Juiceboxxx “Don’t Call It Carp” self produced for LOE]

CURWOOD: You heard Juiceboxxx’s Don’t Call it Carp. We're looking for catchy songs that could make carp the catch of the day. Email us your jingles to comments@ LOE dot ORG. We'll put our favorites on the air and Schafer fisheries will send you some of their prime cut carp.

Related links:
- The Official Website of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee
- Chef Phillippe Parola was the chef behind the carp croquettes and the website “Silverfin Craze”
- Sara Schafer’s Asian Carp Recipes
- Listen again to Juiceboxxx’s advice on selling- silver fin

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Discovering new causes of Parkinson’s

Dr. Samuel Goldman of The Parkinson's Institute.

CURWOOD: Parkinson’s disease afflicts some 700,000 Americans. The disorder often causes tremors and an unsteady gait. And more than many other diseases, Parkinson’s is linked to environmental exposures. Now comes news that among the possible causes of the disease is a common workplace chemical. Joining me to talk with about the new research is Dr. Samuel Goldman, one of the authors. Welcome, Sir.

GOLDMAN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

CURWOOD: My pleasure. Your study is really interesting. You looked at twins, and you looked at twins where one brother has Parkinson’s disease and one doesn’t. And you then reconstructed a detailed work history for them - any place they’d worked for more than six months since they were 10-years-old. What did you find?

GOLDMAN: We found that the twin who was exposed to a compound called trichloroethylene, or TCE, had a more than six-fold increased risk of having Parkinson’s disease than their unexposed co-twin. And there were also some other solvents that we looked at as well, including one called PERC, or perchloroethylene, which is the most common dry cleaning solvent, and that was also associated with a markedly increased risk of Parkinsons.

CURWOOD: What if they had been exposed to TCE or PERC?

GOLDMAN: Exposure to TCE or PERC was associated with a nearly nine-fold increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

CURWOOD: That’s a startling number, isn’t it? You must have been pretty excited to see this.

GOLDMAN: Well, excited, dismayed… We’ve always believed that the vast majority of Parkinson’s disease is a consequence of environmental risk factors, but it’s important to recognize that this is a single study, so replication of our results is really important at this point before we can progress to being really certain that this is a causal link.

CURWOOD: Talk to me a bit about these chemicals. TCE, now that’s trichloroethylene, now what does it do?

GOLDMAN: TCE was extremely widely used - it still is, but not so much as 30 years ago. So it would be used, now, primarily for degreasing of metal parts in manufacturing. And in fact, it’s in a broad range of consumer products and it has been for decades. And actually, up and through the 1970s, TCE was used to de-caffeinate coffee. It has been used as a general anesthetic. It was in wide use during the 1940s and 1950s primarily as an obstetrical anesthetic, strangely.

CURWOOD: So, tell me a bit about how you did design this study. You got almost a hundred sets of twins?

GOLDMAN: Correct. Well, we’ve been following this cohort of twins since the early 90s, and then that’s a very powerful study design to be able to look at environmental risk associations with disease.


GOLDMAN: Because twins, if they’re identical twins, they are genetically identical. And if they are fraternal twins, they are at least genetically very similar. So we are able to remove the genetic background effect from the equation and focus specifically on differences in environmental exposures.

CURWOOD: Now, what were the most occupations for the people who got sick?

GOLDMAN: The most common occupational exposure settings for TCE and PERC were among electricians and dry cleaners as well as people who repaired industrial machinery and artists.

CURWOOD: Artists?

GOLDMAN: Artists use solvents commonly.

CURWOOD: Of course art is a career; it’s also a hobby. What hobbies were people most at risk of getting Parkinson’s from this toxic exposure?

GOLDMAN: The hobbies that we observed were people working in carpentry. Artists again, people who worked in photography in particular. But oftentimes it’s in the household settings where exposure levels can be exceedingly high because there is no one enforcing a regulatory maximum or protective equipment in the home.

CURWOOD: So, Dr. Goldman, if somebody came into your office today and said, ‘Gee, I read your study. I want you to know that I worked at an aircraft engine repair place and was up to my elbows everyday in TCE. I’m fine today.’ What would you tell him he could do to help keep from getting Parkinson’s?

GOLDMAN: I would love to be able to offer some advice, but currently there really is no way that we’re aware of, to delay or prevent Parkinson’s disease. I think the most important thing we can do right now is to replicate this observation and if it’s found to be a consistently observed link between exposure to these compounds and Parkinson’s, I would hope that the funding agencies would really get behind this work and help us move it forward.

CURWOOD: And what are we to make of the fact that so many environmental contaminants seem to be linked, or even perhaps cause, Parkinson’s disease - there are earlier studies that have shown that have shown that several pesticides cause it by destroying brain cells, and research also points to, what, some heavy metals like manganese?

GOLDMAN: To me, as an investigator, for many years in Parkinson’s disease, I am really shocked at the paucity of environmental factors that we’ve been able to identify.

CURWOOD: Paucity? Too few?

GOLDMAN: I would like to know what causes Parkinson’s disease. So I feel like we’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of identifying risk factors for Parkinson’s disease. What’s really interesting about Parkinson’s is that there are very few naturally occurring disease clusters.

When you find a cluster, it’s a good sign that there’s likely to be a shared environmental determinant in those people. But there are very few naturally occurring clusters of Parkinson’s disease. So that implies that the environmental factors that go into causing Parkinson’s disease are likely spread out over a very long period of time and maybe different in everyone.

So what we’ve been able to link so far is, as you pointed out, several pesticides have been linked, but only a couple - paraquat - an herbicide -, and rotenone - an insecticide. As someone who has worked in this field for many years, I’m somewhat discouraged at the small number of environmental compounds that have been definitively linked with Parkinson’s disease.

CURWOOD: What you’re saying to me is that Parkinson’s disease as a disorder might be akin to, if you’ll forgive me, a broken leg. In other words, you can break your leg skiing, it could be in a car crash, you could fall over in your garden, you could get hit by a door. That it’s the endpoint of any number of processes.

GOLDMAN: That’s absolutely right. I think that we’ll find that there are many environmental insults that ultimately coalesce to result in Parkinson’s disease. But that in any given individual, the route to get to that point is different.

CURWOOD: Sam Goldman, thanks so much for talking with us today.

GOLDMAN: Well, it’s been a real pleasure and thanks for your interest in our work.

CURWOOD: Sam Goldman is a physician and public health researcher with the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, California. He was part of a team whose research appears in the Current issue of the Annals of Neurology.

Related links:
- Dr. Samuel Goldman, et al. Annals of Neurology, Nov. 2011
- The Parkinson’s Institute
- NIH on Parkinson’s

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[MUSIC: Nicholas Payton “indigo” from Bitches (In + Out Records 2011)]

CURWOOD: Coming up - just in time for the holiday season - we visit a farmer who preaches: Let us eat weeds! Stay tuned to Living on Earth!

ANNOUNCER: Support for Living on Earth comes from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Gilman Ordway - for coverage of conservation and environmental change, and the Sierra Club, welcoming students back to college with SIERRA magazine’s annual ranking of America’s “Coolest Schools.” Online at sierraclub.org/livingonearth. This is Living on Earth on PRI, Public Radio International.

[CUTAWAY MUSIC: Chick Corea – Gary Burton: “What Game Shall We Play Today” from Crystal Silence (ECM Records 1973)]

The Garden of Eva

Eva and Jessica look at the raised beds. Eva’s house is in the distance. (Photo: Bruce Gellerman)

CURWOOD: It's Living On Earth, I'm Steve Curwood. Three hundred and ninety years ago English Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians gathered for a 3-day feast along Plymouth Bay - sharing what they had, thankful for their harvest. Not far from that place today is Eva’s Garden: a small, but unusual farm that’s the subject of a new cookbook “Wild Flavors.”

It’s by chef Didi Emmons, who spent a year with Eva Sommaripa learning how to barter with neighbors, forage for food, and live a simple, self-sufficient life. Living on Earth’s Bruce Gellerman and Jessica Ilyse Kurn visited Eva’s Garden - and have our story:


KURN: Okay Bruce, I think it’s coming up. Make a right here on Allen Neck Road.

GELLERMAN: This part of southeast Massachusetts once belonged to the Wampanoag. Early European settlers purchased it from tribal chiefs for 30 yards of cloth, some moose-skins, axes, shoes and an iron pot.

KURN: Oh, it’s amazing - look at the horses. I could live here.

GELLERMAN: It’s a bucolic landscape: rolling hills and green fields, black-and-white cows, and stonewalls. We pass a bird sanctuary and a winery.

KURN: Jordan Road - here we are. Turn right on Jordan road.

GELLERMAN: About 40-years ago, Eva Sommaripa came here to South Dartmouth. She fell in love with the place - stayed and tried her hand at farming; growing herbs and greens for her family.

Didi harvests sunchokes with Jessica. (Photo: Bruce Gellerman)

KURN: Here we go. That must be it.


KURN: Today, Eva’s home garden has grown into a commercial boutique farm. She raises 250 different kinds of organic vegetables and herbs. She sells them to restaurants from New York City to Portland, Maine. Eva built her home herself - two stories, blue shingles. Cords of wood stacked high in neat piles.

GELLERMAN: Boy, look at all of this wood. Boy, they’re prepared.


EMMONS: Hello? Hi, I’m Didi.

KURN: I’m Jessica.

EMMONS: Hi, Jessica.

GELLERMAN: Hi, I’m Bruce… Didi Emmons was one of those chefs who bought Eva’s greens. Over the years, they became best friends - sharing recipes and swapping stories. Didi writes about some in her book “Wild Flavors.”

Didi picks parsnips. (Photo: Bruce Gellerman)

KURN: Eva and Didi could pass for mother and daughter; the same high cheek bones and dimples… frizzy hair topped by floppy knit hats, which they wear, even indoors.


EMMONS: Do you guys want something to drink? I have lemongrass … lemon verbena tea…

KURN: Eva sets out cups. She has farmer’s hands: hard working and strong.

GELLERMAN: Didi pours the tea.


Eva and Didi cook in the kitchen. (Photo: Jessica Ilyse Kurn)

EMMONS: Lemon verbena has a lot of healing qualities as do most herbs, so…

KURN: Didi teaches cooking to inner city kids. She started Haley House Bakery Café in Boston. It’s run by people once homeless or in prison. But she spent most of last year at Eva’s garden.

GELLERMAN: How did you meet her?

EMMONS: She sent me a fax. I was opening a restaurant. And it was the third restaurant that I had opened in Boston. And she had written in the margins, saying good luck with your restaurant, and I was so tickled and flattered that she even knew me. I had been hearing about her for years in restaurants.

GELLERMAN: When you were writing this book, she was front and center in your mind? This was about her farm and your recipes, your food. How did you get the mix?

EMMONS: Well, I originally thought I could write about the inner city youth that I teach and Eva at the same time in a book, and I tried to work with that for a while and then it just came to me that I really had to choose one or the other.

And I really wanted to write about Eva while she was still farming, I mean she’s 70 now. And there is so much that I want to capture here that I just decided for this book I would focus on Eva. You know, she's kind of a back-to-nature kind of a farmer, but it’s like way back to nature.


GELLERMAN: Outside, the air is crisp and salty - the ocean isn’t far. Didi and I sit on a log near a tractor.

Eva grabs a pitchfork and heads to the fields. (Photo: Bruce Gellerman)

KURN: And Eva heads for her shed. On her belt - a leather holster with the tools of her trade: pruning shears, scissors and marking pen. She grabs a pitchfork and sets off for her garden.


KURN: How big is your farm?

SOMMARIPA: I actually have about somewhere between two and three acres actually cultivated and a lot more woods and we’re actually growing some … right in that area there are shitake mushroom logs.

KURN: Eva plants the usual: kale, carrots and peas, as well as the unusual: cardoon, bronze fennel and calaminth. What she doesn’t grow, she finds by foraging: wild mushrooms, wood sorrel and goosefoot.

SOMMARIPA: I call these garlic greens. Have a bite. It’s very fresh.


KURN: At the peak of the harvest, Eva puts 15 pickers to work. Now, she’s prepping her raised beds and fields for winter. She takes her pitchfork and heads for a stand of tall, dry stalks and starts hacking away.


KURN: She says they’re sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes.

SOMMARIPA: So these are … this area was actually, we never planted any of these this year. They are all leftover. We thought that we had taken every single one out from the previous year, and nevertheless, we hadn’t and they all grew back.

KURN: All of this work for just those little tiny roots?

SOMMARIPA: Well, we’re hoping to find some more of these bigger tubers. These are called tubers - these little underground parts. See there’s a pile over there of the stalks.


KURN: It’s the compost pile - covered in weeds. Weeds are vilified by most gardeners, but glorified by Eva.

Bruce Gellerman talks to Didi Emmons while Eva Sommaripa looks on. (Photo: Jessica Ilyse Kurn)

SOMMARIPA: This is interesting too: on the compost pile here - this is a big compost pile - this is not the kitchen garbage one - and on it we put all of the weeds that we pull up and plants that are finished and spent and done. And a lot of them will start growing again on here, or sow their seeds.

And here we have some really nice chickweed - alias Stellaria - which is looking beautiful on the compost pile. And some … I mean, look at the size of that. This is a weed, but the leaf is at least an inch long. And I’m going to eat it because it’s so good.


KURN: Straight from the compost pile.

SOMMARIPA: Straight from the compost.

KURN: Eva turns the invasive plant in the field into a savory snack.

GELLERMAN: But Chef Didi Emmons says it’s in the kitchen where Eva really cooks.


GELLERMAN: Oh wow, look at this compact kitchen!

EMMONS: It is the most compact kitchen. You could feed an army in here. And it's kind of a galley kitchen. Makes you feel like you’re in a ship, doesn’t it?

GELLERMAN: Yeah, if I stand in the middle and stretch my arms to either side, that would be the width.

EMMONS: And it stores so many pieces of equipment, you wouldn’t believe. You could do anything that you could imagine in here. She’s got all kinds of food mills and processors, and there's more storage way back up here. Her refrigerator is like a science experiment. She’s constantly salvaging stocks and reductions and juices from what she cooks. And then she concocts other things from that.

Eva shows off her refrigerator—packed with her homemade concoctions and experiments. (Photo: Jessica Ilyse Kurn)

SOMMARIPA: Let me open the fridge. We have some pickles that we made when cucumbers were abundant. And actually the pickles are gone, but I saved the pickle water to use as salad dressing and for pickling other things.

In here: sassafras root, which I think makes the greatest sorbet when you combine it with rum and maple syrup. And, you can smell - it smells like root beer.

EMMONS: What I like about her fridge is that there aren’t any bright yellow and red labels from companies. I mean everything here is just in jars and plastic containers and bags.

SOMMARIPA: There’s venison marinating in beer. Which is stale beer left over from a party at another farm from down the street. Nobody finished the keg of beer, and so they gave it to us. And we have a neighborhood expert bow hunter, who helps us keep the population under control and provide for delicious meals.

GELLERMAN: Well, I want to talk about your philosophy. I mean who would cook with stale beer? This is like: waste not, want not.


GELLERMAN: But the notion is you waste nothing. Nothing goes to waste.

SOMMARIPA: I try to waste nothing. (Laughs)

GELLERMAN: Did you start off saying consciously: I want to live sustainably; I want to live with a low-carbon footprint? Or is this just who you were?

SOMMARIPA: It’s just evolved.

KURN: It said in your book you haven’t been to a supermarket in 10 years. So how do you get things like olive oil, you know, cooking things that don’t grow around here?

SOMMARIPA: The olive oil I actually trade with friends who import olive oil from Italy and they have free picking of greens in my garden anytime, and whenever I run out of very good olive oil they replenish.

GELLERMAN: And right then, as if on cue, there’s a knock on the back door.


KURN: It’s Felicity Forbes-Hoyt, Eva’s neighbor from just down the road. She’s got Wellingtons on her feet and a basket in her hand.

FORBES-HOYT: She’s very generous with her produce, and so, her neighbors come and get salad whenever we are hungry.

GELLERMAN: So you can just come right over here and grab some greens and say, "thanks Eva?"

Jessica Ilyse Kurn with Eva and Didi in the garden. (Photo: Bruce Gellerman)

FORBES-HOYT: Yup, exactly.

GELLERMAN: What do you give her in exchange?

FORBES-HOYT: Well, my husband clams, and sometimes we bring clams, sometimes I do a little transport help, sometimes … we’re friends. (laughs).

[MUSIC: Tom Verlaine “Meteor Beach” from Around (Thrill Records 2006)]

KURN: And Felicity Forbes-Hoyt heads out to pick some greens in Eva’s garden.

GELLERMAN: And those clams her husband barters: they may have come from the very same bay the Wampanoag gathered theirs for that first thankful feast. For Living on Earth - I’m Bruce Gellerman.

KURN: And I’m Jessica Ilyse Kurn.

[MUSIC: Tom Verlaine “Meteor Beach” from Around (Thrill Records 2006)]

CURWOOD: You’ll find recipes for parsnip and wild mushroom pie, sunchoke dumplings with swiss chard and a lot more in Didi Emmons new book about Eva Sommaripa’s garden. It's called, "Wild Flavors." You’ll find a link and photos at our website LOE dot ORG.

Related links:
- Wild Flavors
- Didi Emmons
- Link to blog post about recipes

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[MUSIC: Tom Verlaine “Meteor Beach” from Around (Thrill Records 2006)]

Caravan of Hope

Musicians of all kinds are traveling are joining in. (Photo: James Akena/PACJA)

CURWOOD: We come back now to the beginnings of the UN Climate Negotiations in Durban, South Africa, with a musical call for action and message of hope from performing artists in Africa, including Angela Katatumba from Uganda.

[MUSIC: KATATUBMA: “Yo this is a message to everybody. Let's get together and save Mother Nature.” Angella Katatumba: “Let’s Go Green” from A web video

CURWOOD: East Africa is in its worst drought 60 years. It’s seen as a sign of things to come.

[MUSIC: KATATUMBA: “Let's go green, let’s go green. Keep it clean.”]

CURWOOD: Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb caught up with Angela Katatumba as the musicians were making their way to the climate meeting in Durban.

KATATUMBA: We use our voices to get people fired up and educate people about climate change in Africa. Uganda usually has an amazing climate. It’s usually warm and just perfect. These days, when it’s hot it’s way too hot. When it’s cold it’s way too cold. When it’s wet it’s storming. We’re seeing things like landslides, which we’ve never had before.

[MUSIC: KATATUMBA: “The seasons have changed. Things don’t happen the way that they did before.”]

BASCOMB: The changing weather has inspired musicians from 11 different African nations - from Tanzania to Rwanda, Zimbabwe to South Africa - to join the caravan. They are all concerned that the unusual weather is having a huge impact on people, especially farmers.

KATATUMBA: Poverty is on the rise because people who’d expect to harvest in the rainy season, now it’s the dry season. There’s a lot of drought. People can’t predict the weather anymore so it’s causing quite a bit of crisis here for sure.

[MUSIC: KATATUMBA: “The time is now. Let’s not wait or we’ll be too late…”]

The Caravan of Hope in Malawi (Photo: Action Aid)

KATATUMBA: You know, climate change is such a boring subject and it’s not easy to get the youth involved and get them fired up. So, that’s why we use artists to get on board, use their voices to create awareness and educate people about climate change in Africa.

[MUSIC: KATATUMBA: “So when did you last show care? And when did you last lend a hand? Let’s plant trees. Stop littering the streets. Let all of the garbage go into recycle bins. I’d like to see a world without global warming. Forget the past mistakes, we’re moving forward. No turning back now that we’ve got forewarning. It’s up to us. I hope you keep you mind open. Let’s go green!”]

KATATUMBA: Oh, the reaction is amazing! Personally the youth that I’ve appealed to and created awareness to have started youth programs at school where they’re recycling. They’re planting trees. So, yeah, it’s pretty much been successful using artists to bring the message to the youth.

A map of part of the Caravan of Hope (Photo: Action Aid)

As much as in the western world is filthy in the sky, we are filthy on the ground. You know, like littering is out of this world. You could walk miles and miles before you see a garbage can. Obviously, we would love to see western governments like America reduce their emissions and China. We also need government to include a climate change program in schools because this is an ever-growing, very serious problem.

[MUSIC BY MAMA AFRICA (INSTRUMENTAL), Ben Mankhamba “mama Africa” from a You Tube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVlvsKhKEUc]

BASCOMB: More than 25 bands are joining Angela on the tour. One of them is Green Malawi, led by Ben Mankhamba.

[MUSIC: MANKHAMBA: “Oh what a beautiful day. Cool greens from the beautiful river. Fresh air from ever-green mountains. Birds in the trees singing sweet, sweet sounds. Green my home, green this town. You’re beautiful (Africa!). You’re wonderful (Africa!). I love you (Africa!)”]

(Photo: Action Aid)

BASCOMB: A lot of people in Africa can see something is strange about the weather, but when the Caravan of Hope came through, they were finally able to put a name to it. And as climate change negotiators meet in Durban, the artists hope their music will inspire governments to take action. For Living On Earth, I’m Bobby Bascomb.

Related links:
- Caravan of Hope Blog
- Action Aid

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[MUSIC: Ben Mankhamba “mama Africa” from a You Tube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVlvsKhKEUc]

CURWOOD: On the next Living on Earth: aquaculture looks like an answer to scarce wild, but there's a problem:

AMADORI: We've, pretty much, out fished all of the main, commercial fishes in the ocean. So, what we're doing now is we're harvesting their food. Just so we can grow fish in an aquaculture setting, so it's not the most sustainable practice.

CURWOOD: Harvesting cafeteria leftovers though, could help. That's next time on Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Ben Mankhamba “mama Africa” from a You Tube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVlvsKhKEUc]

CURWOOD: Living on Earth is produced by the World Media Foundation. Our crew includes Eileen Bolinsky, Ingrid Lobet, and Helen Palmer, with help from Sarah Calkins, Gabriela Romanow and Sammy Sousa. Our interns are Raphaella Bennin and Jack Rodolico. Jeff Turton is our technical director. Alison Lirish Dean composed our themes. You can find us anytime at LOE dot org – and while you're online, check out our sister program, Planet Harmony. Planet Harmony welcomes all and pays special attention to stories affecting communities of color. Log on and join the discussion at my planet harmony dot com. And don’t forget to check out the Living on Earth facebook page. It’s PRI’s Living on Earth. And we tweet on Twitter - @livingonearth, that's one word. I'm Steve Curwood. Thanks for listening!

ANNOUNCER 1: Funding for Living on Earth comes from the National Science Foundation, supporting coverage of emerging science. And Stonyfield Farm, organic yogurt and smoothies. Stonyfield invites you to just eat organic for a day. Details at justeatorganic.com. Support also comes from you, our listeners; the Go Forward Fund; and Pax World Mutual and Exchange-Traded Funds, integrating environmental, social, and governance factors into investment analysis and decision making. On the web at paxworld.com. Pax World, for tomorrow.

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