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2018 Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival Lineup

cameraKCET and Link TV announce their lineup for the 2nd Annual Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival, held in Santa Monica. Taking place on April 21, the festival is being held just in time to celebrate Earth Day.

Throughout the course of the day, the festival will feature multiple films that highlight the natural world and the daily struggles of the wildlife that inhabit it.


9:45 a.m.: UCLA LENS Environmental Shorts Screenings

The festival will be opening with a series of short films. The Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) launched a yearlong collaboration project to produce immersive films for environmental reporting and documentaries.

Films being shown include "Taylor Yard: A Change of Heart in Los Angeles," and "Urban Ark Los Angeles" introduced by Allison Carruth, LENS Faculty Director. After these films, a Q&A sessions featuring LENS co-founder Jon Christensen moderated by UCLA Film professor Kristy Guevara-Flanagan will take place. This series will run for the first hour of the festival, and is free attendance, with reserved tickets required.

10 a.m.: “March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step”

The festival will be showing “March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step,” the sequel to the award-winning documentary filmed ten years prior. This sequel dives back into the wild penguins of Antarctica with new technologies to capture the story of a father and a son overcoming the incredible challenges of the continent.

Q&A will follow featuring Sara Mandel, an aviculturist (bird expert) from the June Keyes Penguin Habitat at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific. This film will be a free attendance event, with ticket reservations required ahead of time.

11 a.m.: “Evolution of Organic” and short film “The Soil Story”

Academy Award®-nominated director Mark Kitchell will be showing his latest film, which tells the story of those who began the organic farming movement and their journey to bringing organic foods in the mainstream of society. Showing the development of organic foods across the country, Kitchell captures the history and effects of one of the biggest movements in the American food industry.

Opening this film is the short film “The Soil Story,” showing the low-cost way to reverse climate change through soil care. Following both of these films, a Q&A session will follow, with regenerative agriculture expert Annie Martin. This screening costs three dollars (plus a processing fee), and can be booked online ahead of time.

12 p.m.: “The Last Animals”

Photographer Kate Brooks focuses on the killing of African Elephants and Rhinos, showing both the factors contributing to this epidemic and the heroic efforts of the conservationists, park rangers, and scientists striving to save these animals.

After this film, there will be a Q&A will actress Kim Delaney. This screening costs three dollars – as well as a processing fee – to be reserved ahead of time.

2:30 p.m.: “Jane”

Director Brett Morgen debuts newly uncovered footage of conservationist Jane Goodall and her 1960 expedition into the remotes regions of Tanzania to study chimpanzees. Also including exclusive interviews with Goodall, Morgen offers a new and intimate side to a woman who defied odds to become one of the world’s most admired conservationists.

This screening costs three dollars plus a processing fee to be reserved ahead of time.

5 p.m.: “Earth Focus: Sea Level Rising-Living with Water” and “Earth Focus: Climate Migration”

Concluding the festival, Earth Focus will be showing two episodes: “Sea Level Rising-Living with Water” and “Climate Migration”. The first episode focuses on how Louisiana has learned and adapted after suffering extreme damages from Hurricane Katrina. The second episode follows populations changing to adapt migration patterns to climate changes.

Following this film, a Q&A will take place with Director Nicky Milne, UCLA LENS co-founder Jon Christensen, and LENS Faculty Director Allison Carruth. This closing screening is free attendance, with ticket reservations available online.

This press release is presented without editing for your information. MOTHER EARTH NEWS does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.

What the New Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Could Mean for the Construction and Housing Market

The unexpected announcement earlier this month of new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum could impact prices for the U.S. construction, infrastructure and housing markets. Protectionist trade policy, introduced by the White House to boost domestic production and add new jobs, will impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum.

Following through on a key campaign promise and rattling stock markets, this is the latest of aggressive trade policy changes, preceded by the U.S. exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Why Tariffs, and Why Now?

Messaging from the federal government initially declared no country, including Canada and Mexico, would be exempt from the tariffs unless the U.S. can negotiate a better deal with NAFTA. The Trump Administration has since announced Canada and Mexico will now be exempt from the tariffs — undoubtedly a relief for Canada, which produces 16 percent of U.S. steel and 41 percent of U.S. aluminum.

Speaking at a White House meeting, Trump said no one truly understands how badly other countries treat the U.S., and that “disgraceful” trade policies have obliterated the country’s capacity to produce vital commodities. "When our country can't make aluminum and steel," he said, "you almost don't have much of a country."

The U.S. is the world’s largest steel importer, and even though it relies on shipments from more than 100 countries and territories, Trump has singled out China previously as a threat to domestic trade and did so once again in his statement.

China accounts for 2 percent of 2017’s steel imports, following Obama Administration-era 2016 trade taxes of various types on imported steel, causing imports from China to drop by almost 66 percent.

Aluminum remains another matter. China is the fourth-largest supplier to the U.S., equaling $389 million in 2016, according to a February report from the Department of Commerce.

The Effect on State Economies, Construction Projects and the Housing Market

As expected, speculation on the domestic effects of these tariffs is flooding the media, and advisers have been bitterly divided over how to proceed, given the potential ensnarement of allies such as the EU.

Industries in the U.S. — namely, automakers, food packagers and construction — have pushed back on the tariffs for months, stressing that not only will they prompt retaliatory trade actions, but without cheaper imports, their costs will increase, eating into profits and forcing prices to rise or workers to be laid off.

The National Association of Homebuilders is among several trade organizations that spoke against the import taxes, claiming higher steel costs will raise construction costs for its members, and then get passed onto homebuyers.

The construction industry, it seems, is still finding its way through the April 2017 tariffs the White House imposed on the five Canadian lumber companies. In retaliation to Canada’s U.S. dairy import restrictions, lumber prices have since increased 31 percent, which, compounded by higher steel prices, could price some homebuyers out of the market.

The construction industry — accounting for 43 percent of all steel shipments in the U.S., including over 345 billion shipments in 2013 of certain steel products — is currently unable to meet demands for housing as it is, and the hike in prices means the shortage of affordable housing has created some fierce competition. Reports include bidding wars on houses people haven’t even viewed yet. Mortgage rates are now rising, and the national average earlier this month was 4.28 percent, an increase of 3.85 percent at the start of 2018.

However, on the flipside, not all building projects use a huge amount of steel. Single-family homes require more wood than metal, and steel and aluminum only contribute between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of a home’s cost. Larger buildings such as flats and skyscrapers will experience more effects from the tariffs.

Scott N. Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, is one individual who support these tariffs, releasing a statement saying, “enforcement action must be broad, robust and comprehensive.” Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio also defended the move, calling the news “long overdue” for steelworkers in his state.

A Summation So Far

Speculation will continue, since no one really knows what’s going to happen and how exactly tariffs will affect the construction and the housing markets. Lumber tariffs seem to have already taken their toll on rural and suburban housing costs, but as it stands, it seems larger projects in cities will experience the direct cost hike of rebar and cladding.

We will know more after the administration has defined tariffs more clearly, once the White House has issued its infrastructure plan and once an infrastructure bill has been passed.

Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living and has an especially strong passion for helping others increase their mental health and happiness by improving their daily productivity and positivity. To learn more about Kayla, you can follow her on Google+Facebook  and Twitter and check out her most recent posts on Productivity TheoryRead all of Kayla’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

EU Fails to Prevent Illegal Eel Trafficking

eelThe Sustainable Eel Group (SEG) is calling for the EU to take action against the harmful and illegal trafficking of the European eel taking place. The European eel is already critically endangered, with fishing restrictions in place for the species, as well as a trade ban forbidding the eel to be exported outside of the EU. So far this season – despite these restrictions – about 110 million young European eels have been illegally trafficked to Asian countries, where the species is considered a great delicacy. Due to its huge popularity, the Japanese eel markets almost faced total collapse from overfishing.

The demand in countries such as Japan, China, and South Korea is so high that their eel farms cannot keep up with demand for ‘unagi kabayaki’, and has caused farmers to look elsewhere to keep up their supplies. To meet this demand, farmers require some hundred tons of eel to continue growing them in farm ponds, so they depend on illegal eel trafficking to repopulate their farms each season.

Recent evidence shows that while the EU may have implemented a trade ban on the European eel, EU Member States may not be properly or strictly enforcing the ban. France alone has declared that 140 million glass eels have been captured so far this season, but a market survey showed that only some 30 million have been sold in legitimate European markets, while the rest have vanished.

This lax policy when it comes to the European eel is putting the entire population in jeopardy. Andrew Kerr, Chairman of SEG stated: "The failure to control the selling and distribution of European Eel is threatening the whole recovery effort - for every eel legally eaten, 3 to 5 are being trafficked".

SEG is now calling the EU out, demanding that it takes further action to prevent illegal trafficking and fishing of these eels. The overfishing and illegal trafficking of these else is not only putting the entire species population and future at risk, it is also gambling thousands of jobs held by those who legally fish, sell, and trade these eels.

The group is calling for the EU to take the protection of this species more seriously, upholding the bans and restrictions put in place to responsibly fish and protect the eels, as well as giving harsher punishments to those who re caught partaking in the multi- billion-dollar trade business. Where criminals in the USA are being imprisoned for their illegal trafficking, the EU has only handed out small fines for those caught.

SEG is stating that the even with restrictions and bans in place, the EU has faltered due to its failures to stop or lessen the trafficking, and demanding better actions in the future.

This press release is presented without editing for your information. MOTHER EARTH NEWS does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.

Deer Repellents : Types, and Do They Work?


There is a wide and varied mixture of deer repellents that you can try and buy to keep deer from invading on your land. In our experience, very few of these repellents actually work, but some homeowners swear by them.  The only one that is truly effective method is hiring a nuisance wildlife operator to professionally prevent deer.

Some things that you need to take into consideration when you're using a deterrent or repellent is the effectiveness of them (if there was any to start with), cost, and timing of when to stop or reapply. Liquid or granule-based repellents, for example, will need to be reapplied after you water your lawn or garden or any time after it rains. Electrically powered repellents, such as noise or sound devices, will either run on batteries, solar panel, or via the mains. Solar panel ones are obviously cheap to run, but can be more expensive to buy upfront. If the device runs on batteries or via the mains, you will need to think about the long-term running costs. This can also be the case for electrical fencing, which is another method you can look at for keeping wild critters at bay.

There are a few homemade remedies, usually said to deter deer and other nuisance wildlife from hard-hit plant life, usually by way of a very bad taste. Chili peppers or hot sauce, for example, can be used as a spicy repellent, but these can actually make the animal feel sick in some instances, so it isn’t recommended.  Another one is a mixture of eggs that smells like rotten eggs. We know that these are more wives tails that we wouldn't want on our land, and we're sure that many of you can say the same thing. On the other hand, human or dog hair is known to be effective.  The deer smell the human or dog scent and keep away.  In fact, really strong smells is something that deer seem to steer well clear of, and you can use strongly scented anything to try and deter them from your land. You could look at using fabric softener, or an old bottle of really strong perfume that you don't like. The strong scents can sometimes work to deter deer, but can attract other creatures. Strong and sweet perfumes, for example, can bring in bees or wasps from far and wide. Make sure whatever you use is not toxic, and won’t cause a problem for or contaminate local water or food sources, or soil.  Onions and garlic are not advisable, however, because there are a number of other wild animals, including dogs and cats, that can't eat them. Onions and garlic are just two examples of toxic foods for domesticated pets.

Certain plant types have been said to have varying degrees success too. If you plant things that the deer don’t eat in front of the plants that the deer do eat, there’s a good chance they won’t venture through to get to the good stuff. You can even mix them in among the often-eaten plants too. These include flowers, such as snapdragon, daffodils, lavender, and hyacinth, along with herbs — thyme, dill, and oregano. These are very fragrant. You’ll enjoy them, but the deer is said to dislike them.

Elizabeth Gatto is a promoter of humane treatment of animals and supports many wildlife conservation organizations.  She promotes humane nuisance wildlife removal so people know it is possible to respect nature as well as maintain safety in your home. Find her online at AAAnimal Control.  Read all of Elizabeth’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Shout Out to Earth Law Volunteers

 Himalayas by YAS

What is Earth Law?

Just a quick intro first, Earth Law shifts our current paradigm.

What does that mean? It means that I used to look at things in a very narrow way – how convenient is it for me? What’s the price tag? How fast does it ship? It’s not that those considerations go away, it’s that they are now joined by a lot of other questions: who produced these and are those producers fairly treated and paid, is there an alternative to this that doesn’t use new resources, do I really need it, can I get it from closer?

So my paradigm has shifted from a well-trained consumer to a more thoughtful citizen of the planet, who understands that we are all connected – all things on the planet are interconnected in some way. And, I’m neither separate nor above those things but an integral part of that connected web. So what am I doing to be of service to that web?

Which brings me to ELC’s most precious component: our volunteers

Earth Law Center’s team includes 75 active volunteers right now. With just 3 full time staff, that means we have turned ourselves into a volunteer-based organization. These generous people have full time jobs, children, classes to go to and a host of other choices for how to spend their free time. Yet they choose to dedicate some of their precious hours every week to a cause they believe in – protecting our planet.

Without them, ELC could not have launched a dozen legal initiatives last year or put out our very first Annual Report. Even this blog you are reading has been posted by a dedicated volunteer with a full time job and many other things he could be doing with his time (thank you, Mo!).

Implications for a Larger Paradigm Shift

While I believe ELC’s volunteers are the best, they are not the only ones sharing their expertise and talents with a cause they believe in. According to multiple studies, volunteerism is on the rise – particularly among younger adults.

Could this herald a larger paradigm shift? Think about the access economy. According to Wikipedia, the access economy is a business model where goods and services are traded on the basis of access rather than ownership: it refers to renting things temporarily rather than selling them permanently.

So AirBNB doesn’t own rooms nor does Lyft or Via own cars. Could the decreased need to own things have a domino effect on other traditional “wants” – less space needed to store rarely used things, connecting with a community, less cash needed as the list of must-buys shrinks?

By choosing a different kind of leisure activity, could we all actually be ushering in a new way of being in which we actively connect to our passions and seek to do something about it beyond clicking a social media icon?

I’d like to thank  the wonderful people who make Earth Law Center possible – and for those who give their time every week to organizations who share their passions. Together we really can make a difference, and it starts with each one of us.

Want to do something yourself?

Read more here. Sign up for ELC’s monthly newsletter here. Volunteer for this initiative here. Donate to the cause here.

Darlene May Lee is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, which works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. She works to build a force of advocates for nature's rights at the local, state, national, and international levels. Connect with Earth Law Center on TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn. Read all of Darlene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Earth Law Center’s First Initiative in Africa

Earth Law Center’s First Initiative in Africa

 Ethiope River

I’m so excited to tell you that Earth Law Center and the River Ethiope Trust Foundation (“RETFON”) just launched an initiative to establish legal rights for the River Ethiope in Nigeria. The River Ethiope would be the first waterway in Africa to gain legal rights recognition. The Ethiope is also Earth Law Center’s first initiative in Africa!

So what does rights recognition mean for the Ethiope River?

The Ethiope doesn’t get human rights, by the way. It’s not going to vote or pay taxes. With rights, the Ethiope gains legal protection from pollution, diversion, and dams. It also means that local communities have the right to sue would-be destroyers of the river in court because they’d be suing on behalf of the river.

More about the Ethiope River

You can find the River Ethiope in the Delta State of Nigeria. It begins in the community of Umuaja, where it emerges from the earth at the base of a giant silk cottonwood tree – a place of worship for adherents to the traditional Olokun and Igbe religions. The river then runs for approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles) and empties into the Atlantic. It is believed to be the deepest inland waterway in Africa.

Local communities rely upon the River Ethiope for drinking, bathing, fishing, medicine, agriculture, and many other purposes. It also supports rich biodiversity. Threats to the river include industrial contamination, oil spills, solid waste disposal, and impacts from a growing population and booming tourism industry – particularly at the river’s mysterious source, which is being degraded by overuse.

Other rivers have already gained rights recognition

The River Ethiope seeks to join a growing list of rivers whose rights have already been recognized. In 2017, a treaty between the New Zealand government and Māori tribe of Whanganui recognized the Whanganui River as a “legal person” possessing rights. Just five days later, the Uttarakhand High Court in India recognized the Ganges (or “Ganga”) and Yamuna Rivers and their surrounding ecosystems as rights-bearing entities, although the Supreme Court of India later stayed this decision. Also in 2017, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that the Atrato River possesses inherent rights to “protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration.” 

But we can’t do this alone. For us to truly halt and reverse the destruction of our natural environment, we all need to join in. To paraphrase Buckminster Fuller, on Spaceship Earth, there are no passengers, only crew.

Want to do something yourself?

Sign up our Universal Declaration of River Rights here

Read more about the River Ethiope initiative here

Sign up for ELC’s monthly newsletter here

Volunteer for this initiative here

Donate to the cause here

Darlene May Lee is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, which works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. She works to build a force of advocates for nature's rights at the local, state, national, and international levels. Connect with Earth Law Center on TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn. Read all of Darlene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

PBS Presents Special Earth Day Broadcastings

earthTo celebrate Earth Day this year, PBS is kicking off with a week of special environment-themed programs for the entire week before the big day. Topics throughout the week will range from agriculture to meteorology to climate change, giving viewers a thorough overview of the history and issues of different environmental aspects.

To get the week started, PBS will be showing “What Lies Upstream”, a program investigating the chemical spill of West Virginia that left over 300,000 Americans without clean drinking water. Investigative filmmaker Cullen Hoback studies the effects of this event, and reveals that the entire structure many Americans believe is protecting their water is actually a broken system.

Of course, it would not be a week of celebrating the environment without an appearance from Bill Nye. A champion of the sciences behind climate change, Nye continues to promote environmental awareness and create a more scientifically literate world. During the PBS broadcasting week leading up to Earth Day, Bill Nye pairs up with Independent Lens and sheds his famous “Science Guy” costume and advocates for the science community and its findings, specifically addressing those who do not believe in climate change.

This environmental broadcasting event offers four full programs to highlight some of the more serious issues happening on our planet today. These programs examine the shifting changes in our environment from multiple angles, and teaches us why it is so important that we take action to prevent further damages.

An additional featured film during this week of broadcasting is NOVA’s “Decoding the Weather Machine”, which looks at the changing weather patterns of our planet, and what we can do to better understand and live with these changes. Also, another Independent Lens film, “Look and See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky”, brings viewers to rural America to understand the changing landscapes of industrial agriculture.

This special broadcasting week will also include a daily PBS KIDS program, featuring new environmentally educational episodes from Splash and Bubbles, Nature Cat, and Wild Kratts. By including children in celebrating Earth Day, we can help them grow up knowing how their actions and choices effect their planet.

PBS is taking this opportunity to try and further educate Americans about the real implications climate changes bring to our planet, and how we can protect Earth from more damages in the future, before it is too late.

This press release is presented without editing for your information. MOTHER EARTH NEWS does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.