Green-News: Monday 8.11.08
- When you think military, you don’t automatically think green—well, except for the camouflage—but apparently our armed forces want to lead the United States in green energy. Bernie Woodall of Reuters reports:
The military has set a goal that 25 percent of its energy should come from renewable sources by 2025 and aims to create machines and methods to help Main Street America reach similar targets, said Alan Shaffer, a retired Air Force officer who leads the Pentagon's research and engineering arm.
"It's only the Department of Defense that is big enough and has the federal mandate for the necessary scope of development" of new energy technologies and products, said Shaffer.
While the military marches on a greener path in which "every soldier is a steward of the environment" -- in Shaffer's words -- the federal government faces widespread criticism for failing to take significant action to slow climate change.
On the same day Shaffer arrived in California last week to tour military bases that test energy efficiency and renewable power, California announced plans to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for "wantonly" ignoring its duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
- Michael Smith of Green (Living) Review explains that not all plastic bags are made from oil, but nevertheless, Americans should get away from the free plastic grocery bag. Here’s more:
In some countries, such as the USA, for instance, most of the plastic bags given away by grocery stores and others are made not from oil but natural gas, and the USA has ample supply of natural gas within its own borders – so no costly imports. Other countries are not so lucky.
In addition it has to be said that that only applies if the bags are actually produced in the USA and not, as will be more likely the case, in places such as China (or India). The source of the ethylene from which the polyethylene is then constructed we do not know.
Whatever the source, the fact remains that Plastic Bags Are Bad For The Environment
Most of what you have read about plastic bags is true. Plastic bags kill wildlife, cause pollution, clog landfills and indirectly raise the price of food at the grocery store. There are also, aside from those made from PLAs, that is to say those that are made from a plastic made from corn starch and lactic acids and such, no biodegradable plastic bags about. That is a fallacy and absolute greenwashing. Ordinary polyethylene shopping bags do NOT biodegrade; they photodegrade. That is to say they break down into ever smaller and smaller particles of plastic in the environment, all the while releasing harmful substances into the soil and water.
- ENN reports that the USDA has put 15 out of 30 federally accredited organic certifiers on probation. It seems some people weren’t playing by the rules, which compromised the “organic” integrity of some produce. See for yourself:
Chinese imports have had a bad year in the news, making headlines for contaminated pet food, toxic toys, and recently, certified organic ginger contaminated with levels of a pesticide called aldicarb that can cause nausea, headaches and blurred vision even at low levels. The ginger, sold under the 365 label at Whole Foods Market, contained a level of aldicarb not even permissible for conventional ginger, let alone organics. Whole Foods immediately pulled the product from its shelves.
Ronnie Cummins, the national director of the Organic Consumers Association, emphasizes that most organic farmers "play by the rules." They believe in organic principles and thereby comply with organic standards. Unfortunately, Congress' pitifully inadequate funding for enforcement, including for organic imports from countries like China, "guarantees it'll be easy for unscrupulous players to cheat, and that's obviously what's going on here."
Farms that produce USDA-certified organic food are not personally inspected by anyone from the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). As a small and underfunded agency within the USDA (it has fewer than a dozen employees), NOP relies on what it calls Accredited Certifying Agencies -- ACAs -- to do the legwork. The ACAs take responsibility for ensuring that any farm or processor bearing the organic label meets the strict requirements for certification.
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