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Archive for April, 2007

EUROPE’S MOVE TO BIOFUELS THREATENS RAINFOREST

Posted in Alternative Energy, Global Warming, News Brief on April 28th, 2007

PLAN TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS MAY CREATE OTHER PROBLEMS

rainforest.jpg Europe’s dash for biofuels could accelerate the destruction of tropical rainforests, the European Commission admitted on Thursday.

The EU’s executive arm said that the 27-member bloc’s decision to increase tenfold its consumption of vehicle fuel made from crops by 2020 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would increase the pressure on virgin land, especially in Asia.

However, it said it was working on laying down minimum standards for sustainable fuels.
Chris Davies, a British Liberal Member of Parliament whose question elicited the response, cast doubt on the effectiveness of such a policy.

He said: “In a bid to solve one problem, we risk creating another, and making things worse.

Rainforest destruction is a major contributory factor in global warming and it would be ludicrous to promote this loss to slake our thirst for fuel.

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COMMENTARY: MANY AMERICANS SEE THE NEED TO FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING, BUT JUST NOT TODAY

Posted in Conscious Actions, Global Warming, Health Watch on April 28th, 2007

haze.jpg The message that America, no make that the world, must make necessary lifestyle changes to combat the effects of Global Warming is making its way through to most of our fellow citizens, but apparently with not a great enough sense of urgency to inspire immediate action.

This distressing fact is borne out by the latest New York Times/CBS poll on the topic released yesterday, which found that Americans while encouraging automakers to make fuel efficient vehicles, were reluctant to trade their oversized SUV’s for something smaller or more fuel efficient such as one of the numerous hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles currently available.

Additionally, the poll found that 52 percent of Americans believed that “protecting the environment was a greater priority than stimulating the economy”, while 68 percent felt it was “more important to encourage energy conversation that to increase energy production”.

The poll also found that the environment was a bi-partisan issue, regardless of actions to the contrary by various politicians. According to the poll, 60 percent of Republicans believe that threats to the global climate require immediate action, contrasted with 90 percent of Democrats.

On the topic of politics, 57 percent thought the Democratic Party was more likely to protect the environment, compared to 14 percent who named the Republicans as better guardians of the environment.

The poll also found that while 38 percent of Americans were willing to support a higher tax on gasoline to discourage energy consumption and fight global warming, the figure dropped to only 20 percent if the tax increase was two dollars a gallon.

The New York Times/CBS poll of 1,052 adults had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

So what does all this mean?

Are Americans in such denial that they refuse to see the impending environmental catastrophe as something, which will happen in their lifetime? Or are they confused, besiege as they are by the message of the oil industry and their faithful retainers, the scientists and skeptics, with their shrill demand for ABSOLUTE PROOF, that they are waiting to act until the urgency is absolute?

Believe me when I tell you this, it will never be more absolute than it is today.

Then there is the possibility that this lack of action is borne of fear; fear not only of change, but of what form the environmental devastation may take. This more than any of the others could be what has our fellow citizens frozen into inactivity.

Granted, Change is a scary thing. This being said, we can no longer play into our fears, or denial or whatever it is that is happening in our lives.

The time to act is now, for all of our sakes.

Simple ways to get started include reducing the thermometer setting on cold winter evenings by a point of two, and replacing our paper shopping bags with reusable cloth ones. Another relatively painless action is to replace the incandescent light bulbs in your home and office with the now readily available compact fluorescent bulbs, or even better, the new, though costly, LED bulbs.

Of course driving a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle, or one of the many hybrids, will go a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint, and save at fill-up time as well.

However you wish to become part of the solution is your business, and know that there are a wealth of options available. What is important is that you start today and faithfully stick to the changes that you make.

Clearly, we cannot count on corporate America to be good environmental stewards. They do, however, respond to their market. So we must be vigilant in driving the message home to them that we insist on a safer healthier planet for ourselves and our loved ones.

If enough people make this clear and the fact that they will not support the companies that do not share our goals in this matter, the corporations will soon change. Either that or they will be out of business.

So take the time today to do a HOME ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT. The current edition of Vanity Fair has an excellent one to use as a guide. And once you have the raw data, move forward.

We will all be in your debt.

Then the next time that the New York Times and CBS News take this poll, the numbers will be different. Moreover, you and your family will have the good feeling that comes from being a part of the change.

Namaste

– LIB

RELATED STORIES: Poll Finds Majority See Threat in Global Warming (NY TIMES)

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IT’S STILL NOT EASY SELLING GREEN

Posted in Cool Products, Miscellaneous, Sustainable Living, Sustainable Transportation on April 28th, 2007

MARKETERS NEED TO OFFER MORE ECO-FRIENDLINESS TO CLOSE THE DEAL

prius.jpg The Prius hybrid may be cool among Hollywood stars and the DVD of “An Inconvenient Truth” may be flying off shelves, but it’s still not so easy selling green.

Marketing experts say companies that deal in environmentally friendly products can’t expect most consumers to buy their products simply because they might help save the earth. To convince people to fork over their hard-earned cash for a funny-shaped bottle of detergent or unusual-looking light bulb, the products also need to appeal in other ways.

“It’s a very small niche market that’s interested in buying green,” said Edwin Stafford, associate professor of marketing at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. “Most consumers buy on consumer benefit.”

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THE REAL WATERGATE

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief on April 28th, 2007

BUSH ADMINISTRATION ENABLES SALE OF MUNICIPAL WATER SYSTEMS TO MULTINATIONALS

water1.jpg All across the United States, municipal water systems are being bought up by multinational corporations, turning one of our last remaining public commons and our most vital resource into a commodity.

The road to privatization is being paved by our own government. The Bush administration is actively working to loosen the hold that cities and towns have over public water, enabling corporations to own the very thing we depend on for survival.

The effects of the federal government’s actions are being felt all the way down to Conference of Mayors, which has become a “feeding frenzy” for corporations looking to make sure that nothing is left in the public’s hands, including clean, affordable water.

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BIRDS, DOLPHINS, SEA-LIONS SICKENED, KILLED BY ALGAE IN CALIFORNIA

Posted in Corporate Polluters, Miscellaneous on April 28th, 2007

BIRDS AND SEA MAMMALS POISONED BY CONSUMING FISH AND SHELLFISH THAT HAVE CONSUMED THE ALGAE.

dolphins.jpgA morass of toxic ocean algae swamping sections of California’s coastline has sickened hundreds of birds, sea lions and dolphins, environmentalists said Friday.

Animal protection agencies have reported a sharp increase in fatalities and illnesses amongst wildlife because of the thick “blooms” of algae that have appeared in the state’s coastal waters.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro compared the environmental impact of the algae to an oil spill, saying in a statement that several species of animals had been affected.

“I have been doing this work for 35 years and I have never seen anything like this as far as the number of species affected, other than an oil spill,” IBRRC director Jay Holcomb said.

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CALIFORNIA WARNS OF SEAFOOD DANGER

Posted in Health Watch, Toxic Food on April 28th, 2007

SHELLFISH AND SOME OTHER SPECIES CAUGHT OFF THE MAY CONTAIN DOMOIC ACID, A TOXIN. THAT CAN KILL

langoustines.jpg Citing concerns over the domoic acid poisoning that has already sickened hundreds of birds, state health regulators on Friday urged people not to eat certain types of seafood — including shellfish and sardines — caught by recreational fishermen off most of the Southern California coast.

The warning also covers the organs of commercially sold lobster and crabs as well as those caught by recreational anglers.

Health officials typically issue a warning against eating mussels about May 1. Officials say they know of no one who has been sickened. But this year, regulators decided to expand the quarantine after finding high concentrations of domoic acid in some samples of other shellfish, said Lea Brooks, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Health Services.

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THE LATEST USDA FOOD RECALL LIST

Posted in Health Watch, Miscellaneous, Toxic Food on April 28th, 2007

The table below provides summary data on archived cases from the current year. For information about recall cases from prior years, select another year from the drop-down menu above.

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COMMENTARY: NEW STUDY PURPORTS THAT RELIGION IS GOOD FOR KIDS

Posted in Consciousness, Ethical Living, Miscellaneous, Sustainable Values on April 27th, 2007

THE TYPES OF VALUES AND NORMS THAT CIRCULATE IN RELIGIOUS CONGREGATIONS TEND TO BE SELF-SACRIFICING AND PRO-FAMILY.

prayinghands.jpg I am not sure how I feel about providing children with a religious education. I had one and I don’t think it made me a better person.

One thing is for sure; religion with it’s fire and brimstone approach to life sure as hell complicated the things for me, particularly in the already difficult teenage years.

What did make me a better person were the experiences that one encounters in the course of their daily life. There is much nastiness, hate and other bad things in our world today and for the last century or so.

This being so, it did not take long for me to decide that I wanted something better than all that. Further consideration made me realize that I could not want better things for me and mine and not wish them for others as well. Yes, I know, the Golden Rule and I don’t mean the one practiced by far too many Americans today; the one about he who has the gold makes the rules. Here I am a strict traditionalist.

Contrasting my 14 years of Catholic school religious indoctrination is my 21 years old daughter’s story. For the most part she did not receive a formal religious education, though there were a few years at the local Friends Christian school. Unlike me, she was from a young age, taught by her saintly mother the difference between right and wrong and how to recognize one from the other. She was then held to that standard in all aspects of her life.

This method obviously worked. The proof is in the fact that she is a kind, considerate young woman who I am proud to have as a daughter. I am happy also that as she grew through her teenage years, she was fortunate enough to discover a belief structure that worked for her, and is happy in that choice. This is not something that that many people can say, otherwise we would not see all of the migration religion to religion that we see in our world today. Nor, would the extreme groups be as popular as they are.

Clearly many of our regular readers will have different opinions on this topic. For that reason, I have included the findings of a new study by Social Science Research, stated to be the first study to look at the effects of religion on young child development.

It is their contention that Kids with religious parents are better behaved and adjusted than other children. They have isolated the following three reasons for this condition.

First, religious networks provide social support to parents, he said, and this can improve their parenting skills. Children who are brought into such networks and hear parental messages reinforced by other adults may also “take more to heart the messages that they get in the home,” he said.

Secondly, the types of values and norms that circulate in religious congregations tend to be self-sacrificing and pro-family. These “could be very, very important in shaping how parents relate to their kids, and then how children develop in response,” he said.

Finally, religious organizations imbue parenting with sacred meaning and significance, he said.

LiveScience.com has a more specific breakdown on the data. Follow this link to LiveScience

- LIB

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STUDY: WOMEN SUFFER FROM ALCOHOLISM SOONER

Posted in Health Watch, Toxic Living on April 24th, 2007

MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO LIVER, HEART AND OTHER CARDIOVASCULAR CONSEQUENCES THAN MEN

prohibition.jpg Alcohol abuse damages women’s brains and other organs more rapidly than men’s, according to a study released Monday.

Women suffered from alcoholism sooner and while drinking smaller quantities than men, according to authors of the study published in the May issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Researchers gave 78 male and 24 female Russian alcoholics aged 18-40 a battery of tests of their mental functions after four weeks’ abstinence as well as a control group of 68 men and women who were not alcoholics.

The female alcoholics did worse on tests of visual memory, reasoning and problem-solving than their male counterparts.

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FDA STEPS UP INSPECTIONS OF MEAT AND POULTRY PLANTS

Posted in Corporate Polluters, Health Watch, News Brief, Toxic Food on April 24th, 2007

WILL CONCENTRATE ON FACILITIES WITH POOR HEALTH SAFETY HISTORIES

63098556.jpg The first major changes to food inspection in a decade will increase federal scrutiny of meat and poultry plants where the danger from E. coli and other germs is high or where past visits have found unsafe practices.

The new policy will result in fewer inspections at plants with lower risks and better records for handling meat and poultry.

“We’re just putting resources where the risk is greatest, and those plants that demonstrate excellent control will get less of our resources,” said Richard Raymond, the Agriculture Department’s top food safety official.

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