Green-News: Tuesday 12.30.08

  • Plastic bottles and bisphenol-A (BPA) are in the news a lot lately. And recently, despite consumer outrage, the FDA said BPA is safe as it’s currently used, like in food packaging, but now the agency has agreed to reexamine the research on BPA’s health risks; The New York Times reports.
  • Last week, a small town in Tennessee was flooded by a billion gallons of water and coal ash, when a retention pond for a local coal-burning plant burst! Homes were destroyed, but the long term effects could be worse. Officials fear toxins from the slurry could ruin drinking water; via the Associated Press.

Lead in the Lights...

Here’s good reason not to leave those holiday lights up until spring. A new study in the December issue of the Journal of Environmental Health reveals many types of Christmas lights contain dangerous levels of lead. The plastic coating on the cord sheds lead dust, especially when exposed to sunlight. Although scientists believe the risk is negligible, they are quick to point out, that no amount of lead is safe for children; Discovery News investigates.

And last year, a New Jersey-based research center tested 4 varieties of holiday lights and determined brands like Wal-Mart, GE, Sylvania and Philips, all had lead levels above the 15 microgram limit set by Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, some Philips test samples came back as low as 3.2 micrograms, but Wal-Mart brand lights clocked in as high as 132.7 micrograms of lead. Eek!

Lead lurks in a lot of places. Recently, it was discovered that 1 in 3 toys contain lead. And other things, like fishing tackle, sports turf and garden hoses, also pose a lead risk. To make matter worse, lead exposure has been linked anti-social behavior and criminal acts.

So, for next year, I found these 90% energy-efficient LED lights, the manufacturer claims they’re lead-free, with the exception of the cord; via the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition.

Green-News: Wednesday 12.24.08

  • And higher temperatures could mean more males. Warmer incubations are pivotal to the hatching of male crocodiles and fish. Scientists believe a change of just 7 degrees will yield 3 males for every 1 female, this ratio is unfavorable for maintaining populations; LiveScience explains.
  • Methane gas is coming at us from all angles. Power plants and livestock spew greenhouse gases into the sky, but hotter temperatures are bringing it up from the ocean too. Methane from melting underwater permafrost is bubbling out of the East Siberian Sea; via National Geographic News.
  • Estimates reveal 100 million Americans breathe sooty air in 46 metro areas of the United States. And recently, the EPA added 15 more cities to list, in surprising locations, like Alaska. Diesel-burning trucks, power plants and wood-burning stoves are to blame; from the Associated Press.

Green-News: Tuesday 12.23.08

  • On New Year’s they drop the ball. But some people shoot off fireworks too. And sure, they look cool, but they hurt the environment and your health. A new study shows that fireworks aggravate respiratory conditions, like asthma, because they release harmful aerosols; NewScientist reports.
  • Ethiopia is giving away 4 million low-energy light bulbs. For free! All citizens have to do is trade in their old-style incandescent bulbs. The new lights will last longer and help lower people’s energy bills. But, the low-energy bulbs won’t last forever and are 6 times more expensive; from the BBC.
  • So, amidst all the swirling weather news, President-elect Barack Obama has appointed two climate change experts, a physicist and a marine biologist. One will serve as Obama’s science advisor and the other will oversee ocean and atmospheric studies; from The New York Times.

Green-News: Monday 12.22.08

  • Sails power boats by wind, but Japan has launched the first solar-powered cargo ship. It can carry 6,400 cars and is outfitted with 328 solar panels, costing $1.68 million dollars. This power system with generate 40 kilowatts and covers 0.2% of the boats energy needs; the AFP reports.
  • Speaking of chilly temps, the United States wants to protect 7 species of penguins. The list includes 6 varieties classified as threatened and the African penguin that is an endangered species. But the penguins also live beyond the U.S., so protection could be limited; from MSNBC.

Green-News: Friday 12.19.08

  • Wind turbines could harm crops. Stronger turbulence might make land surfaces warmer and dryer. But there are a bunch of proposed solutions, like determining the optimum space between turbines and integrating wind power with the natural kinetic energy cycle; ENN investigates.

Green-News: Thursday 12.18.08

  • This year the Vatican will recycle its Christmas tree. At 33 meters, it’s the tallest tree ever displayed in St. Peter's Square in Rome. And instead of just chucking it into the wood chipper, the Vatican will use the wood from 120-year-old tree to make toys for poor children; Reuters reports.
  • The U.S. is now growing a lot of maize for biofuels. But experts insist the lack of crop-diversity is messing with bug populations. Meaning there are less insects to eat pests that harm crops. Maize fields attract fewer ladybugs to eat the aphids that damage soybeans; NewScientist explains.
  • We all assume temperatures are constantly on the rise, but according to a new report, 2008 was actually the 10th warmest year since 1850. But, without humans mucking up the climate we would have been 50% less likely to see a year as warm as 2008; The New York Times investigates.
  • Despite their bad reputation, Cuba is a leader in the “eat local” movement. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba planted thousands of local gardens to make up for the lack of imported food, setting up urban gardens next to parking lots and even on city rooftops; via ENN.

Green-News: Wednesday 12.17.08

Green-News: Tuesday 12.16.08

Green-News: Monday 12.15.08

  • Mexico pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, making it one of the few developing countries to set such a goal. They’ll use solar power, wind power and other clean technologies to meet the mark. Officials hope other countries follow; via the Associated Press.

Green-News: Friday 12.12.08

  • Here’s more oceans news, according to a recent computer model, ozone depletion, i.e. holes in the ozone layer, is causing ocean acidification, resulting in weaker carbon sinks. The ocean is the earth’s largest carbon sink, soaking up 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas; from NatureNews.

Green-News: Thursday 12.11.08

  • The European Union has a bright idea, phase out all low-efficiency light bulbs by 2012. This will include all incandescent and less-efficient halogen lamps with less than C-class efficiency, prompting a shift to compact fluorescents bulbs and higher-efficiency halogen; ENN reports.
  • Hewlett-Packard is also getting more energy efficient. Starting next year, they’ll roll out a line of “Enviro” batteries for laptops. Typical battery power declines after 150 chargers, but new lithium-ion batteries will retain an 80% charge, even after 3 years of use; CNet News investigates.
  • Putting prisoners to work is a good use of energy too! The Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York will allocate inmates to work in a $55 million solar module factory. The modules produced at this facility will be used in government installations; via CleanTechnica.
  • The United Nations has placed 21 new species on the endangered list. Cheetahs, manatees, 3 species of dolphins, Egyptian vultures and Mako sharks are among the animals in danger of extinction, officials blame over-fishing and inadequate conservation funding; the AFP reports.
  • Gwinnett County, near Atlanta, Georgia, will start fining residents $500 for failing to recycle. The county Commission Chairman said the move is in line with state policy to reduce solid waste by 25%. They’ll be targeting people who abuse waste removal; via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • If the U.S. stiffens on carbon regulations and greenhouse gas emissions, consumer products could face ecoflation. Basically, the cost of manufacturing and transporting goods will rise and earnings will drop, requiring companies to improve production or charge more; Reuters reports.

Green-News: Wednesday 12.10.08

  • A cruise ship has run aground on Antarctica's western peninsula. The passengers and crew were rescued but officials fear the vessel may be leaking unknown amounts of oil. This could cause long-lasting damage the pristine channel and local environment; via National Geographic News.

Green-News: Tuesday 12.8.08

  • Experts worry that converting food crops into fuel crops will inflate world food prices. So now biologists recommend converting saltwater plants into worry-free biomass. This would also open up large expanses of land not previously suitable for agriculture; Wired Science reports.
  • The term “clean coal” is all the rage. But an environmental group, backed by Al Gore, is launching a campaign against clean coal, claiming there is no such thing as clean coal and no coal-burning plant in the U.S. captures its global warming pollution; The Washington Post investigates.

Green-News: Monday 12.8.08

 

Pig Poop into Power...

Bacon doesn’t grow on trees. In fact, rearing just 300-grams of pork sucks up 1,440 liters of water and only 6-ounces of pork spews 1,108 grams of carbon, not to mention meat’s hefty fuel cost and disease-promoting effects. That’s why a group of eco-conscious farmers are cutting emissions by cooking the poop from their 3,000 pigs. It captures methane and can provide electricity to the local grid; The New York Times investigates.

Green-News: Friday 12.5.08

  • Toronto has gone hardcore against plastic. No more water bottles at city hall and an eventual city-wide ban in 2 years. Then starting in June they’ll be a 5 cent fee on plastic shopping bags. And by 2011, hard plastic takeout food containers will be banned too; GreenSpace investigates.
  • Barack Obama plans on making the Whitehouse green. After he takes office he will sit down with the chief usher of the presidential mansion and discuss its energy efficiency. He’s doing it because it wants to show the country that going green is not hard; from the Associated Press

Green-News: Thursday 12.4.08

  • Nuns of the Conventus of Our Lady of Consolation in the U.K. are going green, inspired by a saint’s vision of a world living in light. They’ll be moving into a solar-powered monastery with rainwater harvesting, woodchip boiler and other eco-innovations; The Guardian reports.
  • And more bad news, the Whitehouse has approved regulations allowing coal mining debris to be dumped into nearby streams and valleys. Environmental groups are upset, claiming this ruling will accelerate the destruction of mountains, forests and streams; The New York Times explains.
  • At a U.N. conference on climate change in Poland, environmentalists criticized the U.S. and other rich nations for not making commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions. And speakers cite a lack of trust between the developed and the developing word; The Associated Press reports.
  • Back to coal, Greenpeace activists were briefly arrested in Denmark for attempting to board a cargo ship carrying South African coal to Denmark. Protestors contend it’s outrageous that a small country like Denmark burns 8.3 tons of coal every year; the AFP investigates.
  • Here’s more protesting. This time 10,000 German metal workers came out against the European Union’s plans to combat climate change, which they feel will hurt their industry. Last year 27 members of the E.U. agreed to a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020; more from the AFP.

Green-News: Wednesday 12.3.08

  • Wind power might change the weather. Using a computer model, scientists determined a mega wind-farm from Texas to central Canada and the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains, on the average, lowered wind speeds by 2-3 meters per second; Discovery News investigates.
  • Our energy demands show no signs of slowing down. Leading researchers to believe that even if we switch to clean power, all the heat generated from our energy needs might still cause the planet to warm up, despite the reduction in greenhouse gases; NewScientist reports.
  • Rainforests soak up carbon emissions. But they’re being chopped down in order to grow biofuels. Here’s the problem, a new study has determined the benefit of using this land for biofuel wouldn’t show up for 75 years. Meaning forest conservation is more eco-friendly; TreeHugger explains.

Green-News: Tuesday 12.2.08

 

Green-News: Monday 12.1.08

  • The Bush Administration has issued a request to state governments. Tell us how much you don’t want us to regulate emissions. Current provisions will establish a mandatory limit on carbon dioxide, the Whitehouse feels this is a bad idea; via The Washington Post.