Green-News: Thursday 1.29.09

  • Experts fear global warming could create dead zones in the ocean, carbon dioxide-heavy ecosystems devoid of sea life, and these pockets of environmental inactivity could last for up to two millennia. Runoff from agriculture is already causing dead zones; the AFP explains.
  • Using available acreage for growing biofuel crops might exacerbate global food shortages and push up prices. That’s why South Korean scientists have developed a way to use marine algae or seaweed to produce ethanol, instead occupying land; NewScientist investigates.
  • The green industry could fire up the U.S. economy. In California, green-collar jobs are on the rise. Improved efficiency standards have created 1.5 million jobs over the last three decades, such as wind-energy technicians and solar panel installers; The Los Angeles Times reports.
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Green-News: Tuesday 1.27.09

  • The economy is suffering. And unemployment is rising. But green jobs are expected to boom, such as farmers, CSA coordinators, recyclers, conservation biologists and solar power installers. Currently, the solar industry employs over 25,000 workers, but it could leap to 110,000 by 2016; via FastCompany.
  • Speaking of community supported agriculture. There are plenty of reasons to eat local! Locally grown food tastes better, retains more nutrients, contains no genetically modified organisms, promotes genetic diversity, and is better for the environment and preserves open spaces; from Green Living Review.
  • Now, despite out obvious recession, interest in green products continues to grow. A new survey of 9,000 consumers revealed shoppers deliberately bought more green products in 2008 than any year before. In 2007, 32% of people sought green products, but in 2008 it increased to 34%; ENN reports.
  • Under the new administration, government officials are hopeful the "Bigger Better Bottle Bill" has its first real shot at becoming law. The legislation would impose a nickel deposit on non-carbonated beverage containers and invest unredeemed deposits into state cleanup programs; The Post-Standard explains.
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Green-News: Thursday 1.22.09

  • That dirty bottle with the red cap looks like trash. But it actually holds the first weapons-grade plutonium ever made. And no, it wasn’t found in some war-torn country. It was unearthed in Washington State, at an abandoned 1940s weapons plant; via NewScientist.
  • India has drawn a hard line against plastic bags. The capital city has banned all non-biodegradable shopping bags. And now, effective immediately, anyone caught with a plastic bag will face up to 5 years in prison and up to a $2,034 fine; DiscoBlog explains.
  • Southern China’s bustling factories are spewing a haze over Hong Kong, covering the famous harbor with pollution and threatening the city’s economy. Officials worry the poor air quality will force people to leave the city and no new people will move in; the AFP reports.
  • Creative agriculture may slow global warming. Planting crops, specifically those with waxy leaves, with traditional farm crops will reflect sunlight and reduce temperatures by 2 degrees in central North America and parts of Asia and Europe; via The New York Times.
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Green-News: Tuesday 1.20.08

  • Sorry spring-breakers, tequila is not good for the environment. The region of Mexico, where tequila is made, cannot re-grow blue agave cactuses, tequila’s prime ingredient, fast enough. The blue agave takes 6 years to mature and increased production has made tequila unsustainable; from NewScientist.
  • Climate change whacks the environment. But it also harms human health. And not just from pollution. An epidemic of nephropathia epidemica, which can cause internal hemorrhaging and death, in Europe is being blamed on booming vermin populations, due to warming temperatures; ScienceDaily explains.
  • A group of major U.S. corporations, including 3 automakers, has announced a joint pact to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. A spokesperson for the coalition says America, has the will, the capabilities and the courage to eco-innovate, even in these tough economic times; via ENN.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has settled a lawsuit over their failure to adequately monitor mercury emissions from cement plants. In 2007, a group of 9 states sued the EPA. As part of the settlement, the agency will now regulate cement plant mercury pollution; the Associated Press reports.
  • More bad news for the EPA, this time 6 environmental groups have sued the EPA over a rule that doesn’t require dairies and livestock farms to notify officials when harmful materials, like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, found in cattle urine and feces, are released; the Associated Press investigates.
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Green-News: Thursday 1.15.08

  • The rainforest houses the world’s largest collection of plants and animals. Scientists call it our heart and lungs, but the Brazilian Amazon has suffered major deforestation, more and more land is being cleared for cattle pastures. In some areas, deforestation has increased by 50% in 1 year; from LiveScience.
  • Maybe old people can replant the rainforest! A new study suggests gardening helps older men and women feel better. Researchers claim on most days gardeners meet the recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity and in the spring many people spent an hour gardening; Reuters reports.
  • And a Japanese firm plans to manufacturer CD and DVD cases with rice-plastic. The composite material is 10% rice and consumes significantly less fossil fuel during production and emits 10% less carbon dioxide than traditional materials, but the hybrid cases are more expensive; from CleanTechnia.
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Green-News: Tuesday 1.13.09

  • People are getting hip to green energy, like wind and solar. Now, solar panels might be the cool new thing to stick on your house. But there’s a problem. When it snows, they get covered, rendering them powerless! So, many solar system owners are calling for a solution; The New York Times investigates.
  • California is considering legislation that would require retailers to only sell the most energy efficient LCD and plasma TVs. Naturally, industry leaders are opposing the laws, saying it’ll drive up prices and some manufacturers fear they won’t be able to meet increased standards; The Los Angeles Times explains.
  • Nowadays, even fitness is high-tech. Most gyms look like arcades. Seems like nobody just runs in the park anymore! So, if you’re looking to green your workout, consider buying a reusable water bottle, taking a bike ride, wearing organic workout clothes or encourage your gym to go green; via Huddler.
  • States in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, have agreed to cut carbon emissions from transportation fuels. The effort will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting sustainable usage of renewable fuels; SustainableBusiness News reports.
  • Drinking water in the U.S. is in trouble. A new report has detected 11 unusual pollutants, including gemfibrozil, an anti-cholesterol drug, and naproxen, a painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug associated with heighten asthma risk. Experts say the low levels do not pose a health risk; via NewScientist.

Cut Back Meat, Save the Planet...

You shouldn’t eat a lot of meat. It’ll boost your risk of heart attack, cancer and other diseases. But the rearing of livestock also beats up the environment, polluting water supplies and generating huge amounts of greenhouse gases. That’s why many scientists are scrambling to repurpose cattle emissions, i.e. cow farts, burps and poop, into sources of energy, specifically methane fuel.

Now, those systems cost money and might not always be practical. So here’s a simpler solution, don’t eat as much meat! It doesn’t mean you have to go vegetarian, vegan or even flexitarian, but some experts insist if Americans cut meat consumption from 12 ounces per capita to only 3.1 ounces per day, roughly the size of a deck of cards, we’ll slow global climate change; Fresh Greens explains.

Not a bad idea. Especially when you consider Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid, he recommends eating foods like meat and dairy very infrequently.

Via Serious Eats.

Fruit and Vegetable Lapse...

You’d certainly be better off eating them, but here’s a time-lapsed look at what happens to various fruits and vegetables left to decompose for 74 days. It’s pretty amazing to see how quickly the strawberries fall apart and how durable the onions are. And the potatoes are certainly opportunistic! That growth you see towards the end is sprouting out of the spuds. I’m part nerd, so I find this stuff fascinating.

Now, for the opposite end of the plant lifecycle, check out the organic tomato I grew on a pile of garbage this past summer. “On the path unwinding. In the Circle. The Circle of Life.”

FDA Cracks Down on Crushed Beetles in Food

Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth. Apparently food producers have been grinding up bugs to make food colorings for years! Beetles are a source of carmine or cochineal extract, which makes red, pink, orange and purple. And there’s been very little restriction on its use. A spokes person for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has lobbied to get carmine banned, said there is no way to tell how many products contain the dyes, it can be anything red. The FDA has decided to act now, due to reports of allergic reactions, requiring manufacturers to list carmine or cochineal in the ingredients; The Palm Beach Post reports.

Sounds yummy! There’s actually a big obsession with cramming bug parts into our food. Recently, Greenpeace unveiled a series of advertisements, featuring green onions shaped like spiders, scorpion carrots and peapod grasshoppers, to raise awareness for genetically modified ingredients in food.

Not to mention, a previous experiment showed rats fed genetically engineered corn developed signs of liver and kidney toxicity after 3 months. The corn contained a compound to repel insects.

Green-News: Thursday 1.8.09

  • Hong Kong has major pollution issues. In fact, 1 in 5 residents are considering leaving the city due to poor air quality, which would leave the local economy in disarray. And just last year air pollution reached it worst levels ever. But, the city has yet to introduce new air quality standards; from the AFP.
  • South Australia has put the kibosh on plastic shopping bags. Even 100% degradable plastic bags are out! As of May 4 retailers using any form of plastic bags will be fined $5,000 AUD and if bag suppliers try to peddle shopping bags to retailers, they could face fines of $20,000 AUD; from TreeHugger.

Green-News: Tuesday 1.6.09

  • Every year tourists flock to New York City’s Times Square to ring in the New Year. But this year, after the 1 million guests went home and a ton of confetti was released, the city was stuck with 40 tons of garbage to clean up, sanitation crews worked until 8AM; the Associated Press reports.
  • Following the massive coal ash spill in East Tennessee, nearby water supplies have tested high for arsenic, lead, chromium and other toxic metals, ranging 2 to 300 times higher than acceptable drinking water standards, even as far as 2 miles downstream; The New York Times investigates.
  • A Swedish town is set to recycle heat from a local crematorium. Cremating human remains releases toxins, such as mercury from dental fillings, and in order to clean this gas it must first be cooled. So recovering this heat can be used to feed the public heating system; from TreeHugger.
  • Scientists have invented cement that absorbs earth-warming carbon dioxide. Traditional cement actually produces 5% of the world’s total carbon emissions. But this new formulation uses magnesium silicates and eats large amounts of carbon dioxide as it hardens; via The Guardian.
  • The Great Barrier Reef is dying. At the current pace, researchers fear all new growth will stop by 2050. Since 1990, robust corals have slowed in growth by 14%. Scientists cite warming sea temperatures and ocean acidification for the decline; The Sydney Morning Herald reports.