Earth Day and the crisis you've never heard of

Earth Day got its start when Wisconsin Senator Nelson Gaylord called on US university students to organize Vietnam style demonstrations and teach-ins to bring attention to environmental degradation and push a new policy agenda.  It worked.
Grassroots organizing brought together 20 million Americans in Earth Day events that first year – 1970.   In 1990 Earth Day went global and now is brings together a half billion people of every stripe- feel good folks, do gooders, deep ecologists, radical enviros  While April 22 is still refreshingly grassroots as in City Repair’s passionate, ragtag, informative day in a Portland park, the US Administration has hopped on the bandwagon with Joe Biden announcement of $452 million in Recovery Act funding for energy efficient building retrofits, including $20 million for Stumptown.
The Earth Day news that has gotten our attention is the launch of the Sustainable Phosphorus Initiative by a group of US researchers picking up on the labors of colleagues in Sweden and AustraliaPeak Phosphorus – expected in 40 years at the latest – is called – “The gravest natural resource shortage you’ve never heard of”  The parallel with Peak Oil goes only so far because humankind can get along with out oil but all living things need phosphorus to grow.
As the world’s few phosphate mines are emptied, as phosphorus in fertilizer runs off the land, as the runoff creates great dead zones in the ocean, global food supplies will decrease. Yet, sustainable sources of essential nutrients are found in the human waste we flush down the drain.  It’s time to close the loop.
At our PHLUSH event on Tuesday, April 27 (5 pm at 203 NW 2nd – everyone is welcome) we’ll report on our participation at the World Toilet Summit, our new awareness of Peak P and steps being taken by Portlanders who rightly consider urine and feces not waste, but valuable resources.

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