The largest fire in Greenland’s history warns of an extreme future

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The largest wildfire in Greenland’s history is burning bright as a warning sign for a future rattled by catastrophic climate change. On the world’s largest island, known for its snow-covered glacial landscape, satellite images have captured the similarly colored smoke clouds now billowing from the fire. Scientists are concerned that the black carbon smog produced by the fire could be absorbed by Greenland’s massive ice sheet, of which one-third has now been affected by the soot settling from the… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building



Renovated California cabin with star-studded history goes up for sale

This renovated lodge-inspired house preserves the star-studded legacy of the original structure and combines glamour–the house served as a fabled retreat for several Hollywood icons-and the quaint quality of a countryside lifestyle. The original home was built for 1923 silent movie “The Courtship of Miles Standish”, and was owned by Daryl Hannah before the current owner decided to renovate and expand. The owners commissioned architect Chris Peck, interior designer Lisa Strong, builder Eric Dobkin… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Great Barrier Reef bleaching is the “worst coral die-off” in recorded history

The health of the Great Barrier Reef is widely thought to be an indicator for the state of the Earth’s marine ecosystems, and the announcement made Tuesday that the reef is currently experiencing the worst coral die-off in recorded history doesn’t bode well for the rest of our waters. The depressing conclusion was reached after evaluating data collected during more than 900 dives along the the 1,400-mile reef.

When coral is exposed to too much warm water, it dies, thus transforming… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

It’s Been One Year Since Vermont Made History

One year ago today, Vermont made history. May 20, 2013, was the day Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill to make Vermont the third state in the US with a Death with Dignity law—the first law of its kind on the East Coast, and the first passed through the legislative process. I was honored to be among the crowd which gathered to witness the bill signing ceremony. What a day!

It was a day full of emotion and elation. Some folks at the ceremony were facing serious illnesses and were relieved to know they’d have more options if their prognoses became terminal. People who’d carefully considered what’s best for themselves their entire lives simply wanted more control over their final days. Each person I talked to recognized that what might be the best decision for one person may not be what others would choose, but one truth prevailed: all individuals should be able to make that decision for themselves.

These principles are fundamental to Death with Dignity laws. People who’ve made all the major decisions in their lives—whether or when to get married, buy a house, have children—typically also want to have the option to make their final decision about how they die. As Governor Shumlin said during his speech, Death with Dignity “does not compel anyone to do anything they don’t choose in sound mind to do.” It’s the decision of a terminally ill, mentally competent individual, and no one else.

Vermont’s law, which emulates the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts, was achieved after more than 10 years of dedicated work together with our partners in Vermont. And our work didn’t stop there.

Soon after the law went into effect, National Center board member George Eighmey (who was with me at the bill signing ceremony) and other professionals familiar with the processes in Oregon and Washington worked closely with Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen to develop a system in full compliance with the Vermont law.

With our firsthand knowledge of Death with Dignity laws, we also quickly became a resource to help doctors and pharmacists in the state learn more about their rights, the safeguards in the law, and the request process. In addition, throughout the year, we provided information directly to terminally ill Vermonters seeking information about the state’s new law.

With Vermont’s law in place and celebrating one year, momentum toward Death with Dignity policy reform is now growing from, quite literally, coast to coast. It’s a matter of perseverance and time before all terminally ill Americans will have the option to control the manner and timing of their own deaths. With your support, the Death with Dignity National Center will be there every step of the way!

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History is Made

Vermont: the first state to pass a Death with Dignity law through legislation!

Lawmakers in Vermont supported the rights of terminally ill individuals and passed a Vermont law designed on the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts—the first one to be enacted through a legislative process and first of its kind on the east coast.

Today’s historic event comes after more than 10 years of diligent work by our partners, Patient Choices Vermont. From the beginning in 2002, our family of organizations has been directly involved as a full partner with Patient Choices Vermont. Together, we’ve changed the entire conversation around end-of-life care policy reform.

The new Vermont law emulates the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts and provides a process for mentally competent, terminally ill patients to achieve a peaceful death by ingesting medication provided by their physician.

This was the kind of option Rep. Dick Mallary and his wife Jean wanted for themselves and the reason for their passionate supporter of Patient Choices Vermont. Unfortunately, the law didn’t pass in time for former Rep. Mallary.  In September, 2011, suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer, he chose to end his life. Without the protections afforded by the new Vermont law he was forced to die alone for fear his loved ones could be charged with a crime. Today, Governor Shumlin’s signature ensures terminally ill Vermonters are able to die in the comfort of their own homes and say their final goodbyes to loved ones in a peaceful setting.

This new law, and all of the information shared throughout the multi-year effort to pass it, has directly changed the national conversation around death, dying, and assisted death. This is a giant step forward for our entire movement, and all of us here at the Death with Dignity National Center are proud to have worked with Patient Choices Vermont to build the foundation for Vermont:

  • Eli Stutsman, founder of Oregon Death with Dignity and author of the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts provided countless hours of legal counsel over the duration of the Vermont effort;
  • With our supporter’s help, DDNC raised and donated over $200,000 directly to Patient Choices Vermont to fund their educational efforts, constituent outreach, and town forums.;
  • We provided nearly 2,000 staff hours in educational efforts, political strategy consultation, and constituent outreach;
  • Leadership, political strategy, and a historic perspective of the Death with Dignity movement and the Oregon experience were provided over 11 years of on the ground in person meetings, phone calls, and emails.

Every step of the way we worked alongside Patient Choices Vermont, sharing our years of experience advocating for Death with Dignity laws.

Everyone deserves to decide how to live the rest of their lives when death is near. We’ll continue to move forward as people throughout the US join their voices together to demand more end-of-life options. The Death with Dignity National Center will stand with them, just as we did this year in Vermont, last year in Massachusetts, in Washington in 2008, and 19 years ago in Oregon.

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