February 19, 2009

2/16/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. Update on Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS)

2. Suggestions on Getting Vegetarianism onto Israel's Agenda

3. New Group Offers Free Vegan Food at Events

4. Severe Fires and Floods Pressuring Australian Government to Act on Climate Change/A Wake-Up Call for Israel?

5. Linking Australia's Drought, Heat Wave and Wild Fires to Global Warming

6. International Fund for Animals (IFAW) Appeals for Funds to Help Animals Threatened by Wild Fires in Australia

7. Major Global Warming Events Planned for Washington, DC

8. Vegetarian Diets Can Reduce Costs of Responding to Global Warming

9. Thirteen Frightening Statistics Re Global Warming

10. Chance to express Your Opinion on U.S. Climate Change Report

11. JVNA Advisor Catherine Manna Has Many Creative, Thought-Provoking Videos on the Internet

12. President Obama Indicates that He Is Open to Ideas From Vegetarians

13. JVNA Advisor Helps serve Vegan Meals To Her State Legislators

14. Global Warming Even Worse Than Predicted

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Update on Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS)

To see how things are livening up at the JVS Center, please take a look at the pictures at the web site indicated below.

Forwarded message from JVS Chairman Yossi Wolfson:

Dear Richard,

I opened a photo-account for the society, so you can get some visual impression of our communal meal and the Tu B'Shvat Seder. I hope you enjoy it:


Donations for the JVS library sought

Dear Richard,

Could you send this call to your mailing list?

This is a call to all animal activists and organizations to assist in the establishment of the only resource center in Israel devoted entirely to veganism, animal welfare/rights/liberation, and ecology. We believe the center has the potential to bring about the radical change that is so badly needed for all inhabitants of this region, human and non-human alike.

Our request is simple: to participate in our drive to create an extensive library by sending us books, movies and other printed or digital material.

[I have previously donated copies of my Judaica books, and I am arranging to have copies pf “A Sacred Duty” (some with Hebrew subtitles) sent for the library.]

In order to minimize your shipping expenses, two organizations (FARM in the US and the International JVS in the UK) have kindly agreed to collect the donated material and ship it to us. You can send your donation either directly to the Center in Jerusalem or to one of these organizations. The addresses are as follows:

The Vegetarian Community Center
8 Balfour Street
Jerusalem 92102

FARM - Farm Animal Reform Movement
10101 Ashburton Lane
Bethesda, MD 20817

The Jewish Vegetarian Society
855 Finchley Road
London NW11 8LX

For more information, please contact Omer, the library coordinator, via email: omerbveg@gmail.com.

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2. Suggestions on Getting Vegetarianism onto Israel's Agenda

It is essential that vegetarianism be squarely on Israel's agenda for many reasons, including the following:

* There is currently an epidemic of diet-related diseases in Israel and among the Jewish people and others, in general.

* Animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases in CO2 equivalents than all the cars and other means of transportation worldwide combined. Some scientists are warning that global warming may soon spin out of control with disastrous consequences, if major changes do not soon occur. Israelis already suffering from global warming, with its worst drought in history, and the Israel Union for Environmental Defense projects that global warming may soon cause severe heat waves, floods and storms, a drop in rainfall of up to 30 percent, and a rising Mediterranean sea that would inundate the coastal plain, where most Israelis live..

* The production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and pursue peace.

In view of the seriousness of the issues, I urge you to get involved. As a start, to increase your knowledge of the issues, you might want to visit the Jewish Vegetarians of North America web site (www.JewishVeg.com); see our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal the World: at ASacredDuty.com (a version with Hebrew subtitles is available there); visit my web site www.JewishVeg.com/schwartz, where I have over 130 articles on all aspects of vegetarianism (including a course you can take at your own pace on “Judaism and Vegetarianism,” fact sheets, questions and answers on Jewish teachings on vegetarianism, animal concerns and related issues, a fictional dialogue between a rabbi and a Jewish vegetarian activism, an article relating Judaism to all the Jewish holidays and much more)) and about 20 podcasts of my talks and interviews.

Please consider using these materials and more for letters to editors, talks on the issues, conversations with rabbis and other Jewish leaders and in other ways that will increase awareness of the issues. We must respectfully challenge rabbis (including chief rabbis), educators, politicians, medical professionals, media representatives and many others, and urge them to consider the issues.

The fate of Israel, Judaism and perhaps all of humanity and all of God's creation may depend on your actions.

Please contact me if you have questions, concerns or suggestions.

Many thanks,


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3. New Group Offers Free Vegan Food at Events

Forwarded message from long time vegetarian activist and JVNA advisor Rae Sikora:

Vegfund has just been launched!

We have an anonymous donor who is giving us a large sum of money every month to be used to offer free vegan food at events. We are an all volunteer organization. We are looking for people who would want to serve vegan food at events that can include: farmers markets, religious events, companion animal shelter events, sanctuary events, art fairs, concerts, theatre, Earth Day, university events, and more. The recipient (individual or organization) does not actually put on the event. The individual/group receiving the funds would have a table or booth at the event and serve great free vegan food and give out free educational literature on the benefits of a plant-based diet.

The funds cover: food (either cooked by the group/individual or purchased), serving supplies, booth/table fees, etc). Currently we have more money than recipients because this is so new and we are trying to get the word out that this funding is available. It is an amazing opportunity to spread the vegan message of compassion and health.

For more detailed information or to pass this information on to people you think might be interested, our new website:

Thanks so much,
The VegFund Board

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4. Severe Fires and Floods Pressuring Australian Government to Act on Climate Change/A Wake-Up Call for Israel?

Fires, Floods Pressure Australian Government on Climate


James Grubel, Reuters: "Australia's deadliest wildfires increased pressure on the national government to take firm action on climate change on Monday as scientists said global warming likely contributed to conditions that fuelled the disaster. At least 130 people were killed in wildfires, set off by a record heatwave in southern Victoria state over the past week days, while large areas of Queensland state remain flooded by tropical downpours."

[Editor's comment: Since Israel is now suffering from the worst drought in its history and the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED; Adam Teva v'Din) is projecting that global warming will cause severe heat waves, storms and floods, a decrease in average rainfall of up to 30% and major flooding of the coastal plain where most Israelis live, unless major changes soon occur, I think Israel should also increase its responses to global warming.]

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5. Linking Australia's Drought, Heat Wave and Wild Fires to Global Warming

Letter from Veg Climate Alliance Web Site Coordinator Alistair Dark to the Australian media:

Dear Editor

The prime minister has cried bloody murder over Victoria's tragedy, perhaps ignoring useful information from the scientific community that points to a less dramatic cause.
The land down in Victoria has been so dry for recent weeks that a flicked cigarette could have set it ablaze. They had a record heatwave on top of years of drought. But no, such a tragedy must be "someone's fault."

Extreme weather conditions like this, and the humanitarian crisis along with them could be the norm in the future. (link: The Economist)

Land clearing, the vast majority for animal agriculture, coupled with global climate change, has prepared Australia for such decimation. A study was done a couple of years back that showed how removing native vegetation increased temperature and worsened drought. (link: University of Queensland)

These sad and devastating fires should be seen as warning sign and a call to action: reduce or eliminate animal production and consumption. It's the fastest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as protect our local climate.

The switch to an organic plant-based diet would not only heal our world in the quickest possible time frame, reducing our carbon footprints up to 94%, it would also decrease chronic illness like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Life can be extended up to to fifteen years on such a diet.

Climate change is claiming life all over the world and will continue to do so in more drastic ways until we find the courage to change. We must be proactive in this situation. We need to lighten our load on the land which is done best with a veggie diet. We need to do it fast and let the land recover and become a carbon sink.

So while hunting for arsonists, we might also like to switch to a plant-based to prevent future blazes like this, give ourselves the best chance for a stable climate, and increase our lifespan while we're at it.
Alistair Dark
45 Lay St
Upper Mount Gravatt, 4122
Brisbane, QLD

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6. International Fund for Animals (IFAW) Appeals for Funds to Help Animals Threatened by Wild Fires in Australia

Forwarded message:


Photo: Rescued Koala

You may have seen this famous photo showing a firefighter giving water to "Sam" the koala as she holds his hand. The firefighter found Sam walking painfully on scorched paws along the smoldering forest floor. Sam was rushed to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter, a group IFAW is supporting with an emergency grant.
Please help save more animals like Sam

Dear Richard,

We're in a race against time to help the animal victims of Australia's devastating bushfires.

Hundreds of people and countless animals have already perished in the worst bushfire disaster Australia has ever faced.

Kangaroos have been found dead on the roads...cows burned where they lay...one turtle's shell melted and fused to its body...a baby wallaby's ears and nose were burned to a crisp when he stuck his head outside his mother's pouch.

Please help the animal victims of the Australian wildfires.

IFAW's Emergency Relief Team is already on the ground helping local wildlife caretakers with search and rescue operations, providing medical treatment to burned and abandoned animals that are emerging from the fire zone - koalas, possums, kangaroos, dogs, even horses and birds - as well as food and vet supplies.

But recovery for many animals will be a long process, and we desperately need to raise funds to help over the long term with medical supplies, animal cages, blankets and towels.

Please give what you can to help us rescue and care for the animal survivors.

Your donation will do so much to help IFAW continue its crucial Emergency Relief operation to care for these helpless creatures:

* Continuing vital search and rescue operations for wild animals and lost or abandoned pets.
* Providing lifesaving treatment and critical vet supplies to animals saved and brought to local care centers.
* Providing essential food and water - the scorched landscape has left very little natural food for animals.
* Providing emergency funding to local groups that are also rescuing and caring for animals.

Relief workers cannot do it all - they must help stricken and injured people. It's up to us to help the animals.

Any amount you can spare will help the victims of Australia's fires and victims of other natural disasters and incidents of cruelty and suffering around the world.

The victims of Australia's fires simply can't wait. Please make a donation right now.

Thank you, from the burned animals who need you in this tragic time,

Fred O'Regan
IFAW President Charity Navigator Four Star Charity Certified by Independent Charities of America

**IFAW is rated "Exceptional" by Charity Navigator for exceeding Industry Standards
**IFAW is certified as one of the "Best in America" by the Independent Charities of America

p.s. You may be asking yourself: Is there anything one person can do in the face of such an overwhelming tragedy? The answer is a resounding YES, but there's no time to lose.
Please donate now to help Australia's bushfire animal victims.

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7. Major Global Warming Events Planned for Washington, DC

Forwarded message from environmental/global warming/energy/social justice activist Ted Glick:

For people coming to D.C. for the big Power Shift conference Feb. 27-March 2(www.powershift09.org) or the big civil disobedience action at the coal-fired Capitol
Coal Plant March 2 (www.capitolclimateaction.org), here's information on another big event on March 1 that will help make this be a not-to-be-missed weekend in D.C.!

Ted Glick

Dear Friends,

Wendell Berry, the literary giant who has shaped America's environmental consciousness for 50 years, will be in D.C. March 1st and 2nd for rare public
appearances. As well as taking action at the Capitol Coal Plant on March 2nd, Berry will join authors and climate heroes Bill McKibben, Terry Tempest Williams
and Gus Speth for a special event on March 1st ? the night before the action.

Like you and me, Berry, McKibben, Williams and Speth are overwhelmingly alarmed by the growing crisis of global warming. On Sunday night March 1st, these three
leading authors and activists will read poetry, speak and answer questions about the climate crisis.

The "Night with Berry, McKibben, Williams and Speth" will be held at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium and will begin at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $15,
$10 for students, and all the proceeds benefit the Chesapeake Climate Action Network ? the only group dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in the
region. Ticket demand is very, very heavy so please, book early.

View event details and purchase your tickets:

Please forward this alert far and wide. And we look forward to seeing you in early March at these historic events.


Mike Tidwell Director, CCAN

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8. Vegetarian Diets Can Reduce Costs of Responding to Global Warming

The New Scientist February 10, 2009

Eating less meat could cut climate costs

By Jim Giles

Cutting back on beefburgers and bacon could wipe $20 trillion off the cost of fighting climate change. That's the dramatic conclusion of a study that totted up the economic costs of modern meat-heavy diets.

The researchers involved say that reducing our intake of beef and pork would lead to the creation of a huge new carbon sink, as vegetation would thrive on unused farmland.

The model takes into account farmland that is used to grow extra food to make up for the lost meat, but that requires less area, so some will be abandoned. Millions of tonnes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, would also be saved every year due to reduced emissions from farms.

These impacts would lessen the need for expensive carbon-saving technologies, such as "clean coal" power plants, and so save huge sums, say Elke Stehfest of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and colleagues.

Flatulent feeders

Climate-change experts have warned of the high carbon cost of meat for several years.

Beef is particularly damaging. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is released from flatulent cows and by manure as it decays. Furthermore, to produce a kilogram of beef (2.2 pounds), farmers also have to feed a cow 15 kg of grain and 30 kg of forage. Grain requires fertiliser, which is energy intensive to produce.

Stehfest has now weighed the economic impact of beef and other meats against the cost of stabilising carbon dioxide levels at 450 parts per million - a level that some scientists say is needed to help prevent dangerous droughts and sea level rises.

If eating habits do not change, Stehfest estimates that emissions would have to be cut by two-thirds by 2050, which is likely to cost around $40 trillion.

If, however, the global population shifted to a low-meat diet - defined as 70 grams of beef and 325 grams of chicken and eggs per week - around 15 million square kilometres of farmland would be freed up. Vegetation growing on this land would mop up carbon dioxide. It could alternatively be used to grow bioenergy crops, which would displace fossil fuels.

Supermarket labels

Greenhouse gas emissions would also fall by 10% due to the drop in livestock numbers, she calculates. Together, these impacts would halve the costs of dealing with climate change by 2050.

To help consumers, the environmental cost of meat, in terms of carbon emissions per portion, could also be included in the purchase price, says Stehfest.

The costs sound about right, says Raymond Desjardins of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. However, it may be unfair to compare future farms to current ones, he adds.

Journal reference: Climatic Change (DOI: 10.1007/s10584-008-9534-6)

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9. Thirteen Frightening Statistics Re Global Warming

Global Warming by the Numbers

Friday the 13th just got a little scarier. Here are 13 facts about the realities of global warming. Even Jason would be scared.

The numbers speak for themselves -- we must make 2009 the showdown year for global warming action. There is no time to lose.

You can help by spreading the word any way you can -- through email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, whatever works for you.
Take Action.
Tell a Friend.

Increase in the global carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1992.

388.57 ppm
Average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in May 2008, a record high.

541 - 970 ppm
The projected concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 2100 under a business as usual scenario where we don't dramatically reduce global warming emissions.

260 - 280 ppm
Average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before industrial emissions.

50 - 200 years
Length of time carbon dioxide stays in the earth's atmosphere before it is absorbed into carbon sinks.

1000 years
Length of time changes in the earth's surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level will remain even after carbon dioxide emissions are completely stopped.

Percentage that 2008's Arctic seasonal sea ice melt outpaced normal levels.

Increase in the rate of Greenland's ice melt over the last five years.

1.7 days
Number of days earlier seasons are coming than 50 years ago.

1.5 million
Number of acres of forests in Colorado destroyed by the pine beetle, which is better able to survive warmer winters and is wrecking havoc in America's western forests.

$427 million
Amount spent by the oil and coal industries in the first six months of 2008 in political contributions, lobbying expenditures and advertising to oppose climate action.

Number of global warming bills passed by the Senate.

Number of global warming bills passed by the House.


* NOAA CO2 Trends
* IPCC Third Assessment Report
* Carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere
* Atmosphere, Climate & Environment Information Programme
* ESRL News: New Study Shows Climate Change Largely Irreversible
* Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis
* An Accurate Picture Of Ice Loss In Greenland
* Pine Beetles: Worse Than You Thought
* Early seasons : article : Nature Reports Climate Change
* Hill Heat : Oil and Coal Industries Spending Two Million Dollars a Day to Shape Political Debate

Thanks for all that you continue to do.

Sam Parry
Director, Online Membership and Activism

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10. Chance to express Your Opinion on U.S. Climate Change Report

Forwarded message:

Submit Comments on Important U.S. Climate Change Report


The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) has completed its Second Public Review Draft of the Unified Synthesis Product: "Global Climate Change in the United States." This draft report is open to comment until February 27, 2009:

"Global Climate Change in the United States" will provide accessible, compelling information on the potential impacts of a changing climate in the United States that will be highly relevant and useful as the public and policy makers grapple with the urgent need to reduce U.S. heat-trapping emissions and adapt to changes that are now unavoidable. The anticipated release of the final report this spring will help inform public and policy debates over climate legislation. With the political stakes so high, the powerful interests opposed to emissions reductions will likely seek to undermine these findings. Both the number of comments and their quality are essential to ensure that the final report is robust.

We strongly encourage you to comment on the parts of the report that pertain to your area of expertise. Click here:
After an initial review by UCS scientists, we would like to draw your attention to a few key aspects of this draft report:

:: In our view, the language on mitigation in this draft is quite vague, and may be interpreted as downplaying the importance and urgency of swift and deep cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. We encourage you to submit comments directed at strengthening this language.

:: This draft includes sea level rise projections that take advantage of new research published since the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC's) 2007 Fourth Assessment. We think it is important to use the most up-to-date science on this topic. Comments supporting this inclusion may be valuable.

Comments must be submitted as an email attachment to USP-comments@climatescience.gov by the close of business Friday, February 27, 2009.

Please follow instructions from the CCSP when submitting comments.
Please let us know if you submit comments: ssi@ucsusa.org.


Jean Sideris
Outreach Coordinator
Climate Program
Union of Concerned Scientists

Please forward this email to your colleagues who might be interested in submitting comments:
Background and Additional Resources:

The Unified Synthesis Product, prepared by a top notch team of authors, draws upon the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 21 Synthesis and Assessment Products of the CCSP, and other recent results from scientific literature. We are pleased that it also incorporates the Northeast Climate Impact Assessment, and other regional impact assessments that UCS has fostered. This summary is intended to be a "coherent analysis of the current understanding of climate change science... and identify important gaps in the science."

Climate Science Watch on Unified Synthesis Product:
U.S. Climate Change Science Program:

Reports from U.S. Climate Change Science Program:

IPCC Fourth Assessment:


Please send us an email message that tells us what action you took. Send to: ssi@ucsusa.org

Comments or questions: If you have general questions, comments or concerns about this or any SSI email, contact Jean Sideris, Outreach Coordinator, Climate Change Program, via email at ssi@ucsusa.org, by phone at 617.547.5552, or by postal mail to Union of Concerned Scientists, Two Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA 02238.


The Sound Science Initiative is a project of the Union of Concerned Scientists. UCS relies on individuals like you to support our research and advocacy. Join us to promote practical, science-based environmental and security:



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11. JVNA Advisor Catherine Manna Has Many Creative, Thought-Provoking Videos on the Internet

Below are URLs for Catherine's Videos:

Are we keeping Kosher?

Why Jews need to become Vegans today! A Sacred Duty!

Lets Peace it together

Strange World

Isaiah 55 Invitation to the Thirsty "Come, all you who are thirsty”

Its time for peace

The way we were

A celebration of Life

One Single day

Universal Sovereing

When you believe

For the love of the game

MUSIC & POETRY Winter Night in Iserlohn & Winter Afternoon
Performance by Catherine Manna

The message of love

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12. President Obama Indicates that He Is Open to Ideas From Vegetarians

Thanks to author, educator and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for the following message:

I am "open to any idea, whether it comes from a Democrat or a Republican or a vegetarian."

President Barack Obama,
2/10/2009, Ft. Myers, FL
Town Hall Meeting

In the spirit of tri-partisanship, let's send Pres. Obama our ideas!

Peace, Dan

[I strongly agree, and I have already sent him an open letter.]

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500



Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
Fax: 202-456-2461

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13. JVNA Advisor Helps serve Vegan Meals To Her State Legislators

A newly formed group working under NHARL, Citizens For Food that Makes a Difference, made a HUGE difference Wednesday, from 11:30 - 1:30, as we served up a vegan lunch for our state reps in the [New Hampshire] State House Cafeteria.

We served 200 meals and could have served many more had we not run out. Who knew?

The genesis of this meal was HB 1422 , a bill to form a commission to make recommendations to our Governor on preventing childhood obesity. A few of us saw this as an open door to promote vegan food and for the last few months, went through protocals to reserve the space to offer this meal.

We made our plans, got incredible food donated, bought some ourselves, had meetings, communicated very well, advertised well, made packets filled with vegan information, had a resource table, gave out 25 Milk A to Z books generously donated by my special friend, Robert Cohen, and had the best time serving vegan chili, BBQ Seitan strips, roasted sweet potatoes, brown rice, a burrito bar with homemade salsa, tofu sour cream all the fixins, a bi-colored cabbage salad tossed with apples, raisins, shredded carrots, and mixed with a maple, balsamic, olive oil vinagrette infused with cranberrys....Indigo Cafe donated two huge sheet carrot and chocolate cakes and Linda D poured up a variety of non-dairy milks...

Kat did an exquisite job decorating the info table and handing out books and info. Tricia , Sherry and Linda D and Linda R helped do everything from serving to talking to everyone, as well as SO much before hand. It was truly an incredible group effort.

My special friend, Dixie Lea, helped me prep the day before in Bethel Maine, at Cafe Dicocoa, This place is too awesome but not as awesome as the owner, Cathi Dicoco, who donated her time, equipment, some products, got up at the crack of dawn to heat everything, put it in her van, drive over 2 hours to Concord, set up with us, help serve, and then took everything back to Bethel. All for a whopping no money.... I will never be able to repay her but the energy and ripple affect of this event repays us all, many times over.

To be in our own Capitol, serving vegan food to our own reps, who were delighted and appreciative, moved me beyond words....Even the guys in the kitchen (the food service was still open in another part of the cafeteria) wanted info on vegan food.

I heard from Jan Pendlebury that people were very pleased and comments were very positive.

I have already been contacted by a couple of women , one who works for the Concord Co-Op who wants to work with us , and also the "wellness coordinator" for the NH General Court...Who Knew?

Now we have an opportunity to participate in a huge event, over 2000 kids, April 11, just around the corner. I'll forward the info I just got sent to me by the president of Granite State Reading, another women who wants to change the world with no budget( well, a budget measured very differently than dollars).

How can we pass up an opportunity to feed kids healthy snacks, provide a speaker promoting veganism and healthy school food, and perhaps a vegan chef doing demos???I'll be spending the next few days calling and emailing organic wholesale distributors for an idea if we can pull this off....

Hats off to everyone who had a hand in this fabulous lunch!!!' We ROCK.

Laura Beth Slitt

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14. Global Warming Even Worse Than Predicted

Forwarded article:

Global warming seen worse than predicted


By Julie Steenhuysen - Sat Feb 14, 4:46 pm ET

- A general view shows chimneys from a cement plant in Baokang, Hubei province January 6, 2008. (Stringer/Reuters)

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

"The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we've considered seriously," Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said "the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious" than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC's fourth assessment report called "Climate Change 2007."

He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

"There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years," Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

He pointed to recent studies showing the fourth assessment report underestimated the potential severity of global warming over the next 100 years.

"We now have data showing that from 2000 to 2007, greenhouse gas emissions increased far more rapidly than we expected, primarily because developing countries, like China and India, saw a huge surge in electric power generation, almost all of it based on coal," Field said.

He said that trend was likely to continue if more countries turned to coal and other carbon-intensive fuels to meet their energy needs. If so, he said the impact of climate change would be "more serious and diverse" than the IPCC's most recent predictions.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)

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