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Archive for June, 2007

GIANT MICROWAVE TURNS PLASTIC BACK TO OIL

Posted in Clean Energy, Eco Warriors, News Brief on June 30th, 2007

oil1.jpg A US company is taking plastics recycling to another level – turning them back into the oil they were made from, and gas.

All that is needed, claims Global Resource Corporation (GRC), is a finely tuned microwave and – hey presto! – a mix of materials that were made from oil can be reduced back to oil and combustible gas (and a few leftovers).

Key to GRC’s process is a machine that uses 1200 different frequencies within the microwave range, which act on specific hydrocarbon materials. As the material is zapped at the appropriate wavelength, part of the hydrocarbons that make up the plastic and rubber in the material are broken down into diesel oil and combustible gas.

GRC’s machine is called the Hawk-10. Its smaller incarnations look just like an industrial microwave with bits of machinery attached to it. Larger versions resemble a concrete mixer.

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SOURCE: New Scientist

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U.N. REPORT WARNS OF SPREAD OF DESERTS TO FERTILE LAND

Posted in Global Warming, News Brief on June 30th, 2007

CALLS FOR QUICK ACTION

Desert1.jpg Enough fertile land could turn into desert within the next generation to create an “environmental crisis of global proportions,” large-scale migrations and political instability in parts of Africa and Central Asia unless current trends are quickly stemmed, a new United Nations report concludes.

“The costs of desertification are large,” said Zafar Adeel of the United Nations University, who is based in Canada and is an author of the report, to be released Thursday.

“Already at the moment there are tens of millions of people on the move,” Dr. Adeel said in an interview. “There’s internal displacement. There’s international migration. There are a number of causes. But by and large, in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia this movement is triggered by degradation of land.”

The report’s authors say individual nations and international groups must collaborate to solve what has so far been an underrecognized crisis in the making, caused mainly by climate change. Water resources are overexploited because the poor have no other options, and climate change has exacerbated the cycle. Governments and wealthier countries must aid these populations to develop more sustainable livelihoods or suffer the consequences, the report says.

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SEX TOYS GO GREEN

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief, Sustainable Living on June 26th, 2007

CONCERN ABOUT EFFECTS OF COMMON CHEMICAL LEADS CONSUMERS TO SEEK SAFER OPTIONS

GreenSex2.hlarge.jpg It is, perhaps, a measure of just how mainstream sex toys have become that there are now budding consumer and environmental awareness campaigns being waged over them.

The biggest controversy is about the materials from which many toys are made.

Most vibrators, dildos and “love dolls,” for instance — especially the soft, pliable “jelly” type — use some form of plastic. In an effort to make the materials softer and more lifelike, PVC plastics suppliers incorporate one or more members of a family of compounds called phthalates (FAY-lates).

To hear some environmentalists tell it, using a vibrator that includes phthalates is akin to bathing in DDT. Alarmed, some sex toy retailers, most prominently San Francisco-based Good Vibrations, are banning toys that include phthalates. But to hear the chemical industry tell it, phthalates are about as benign as mountain spring water. So what is a sex toy consumer to do?

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SOURCE: MSNBC – Sexploration

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GOOGLE TO GIVE TEN MILLION IN GRANTS TO HELP COMMERCIALIZE PLUG-IN HYBRIDS AND FULLY ELECTRIC VEHICLES.

Posted in Alternative Energy, Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Conscious Actions, Cool Products, Eco -Chic, Ethical Business, News Brief, Sustainable Business on June 24th, 2007

GOOGLE IS BACKING FUEL-EFFICIENT, HYBRID CARS AS PART OF A PLAN TO MAKE THE ENTIRE FIRM CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2008.

pluginhybrid.jpgGoogle’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, will give $1m in grants to encourage the adoption of hybrids.

It has pledged a further $10m to help commercialise plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles.

“We believe our support can stimulate public consumption,” said Urs Hoelzle, Google’s operations senior vice president.

“These types of cars could make a big difference in how much carbon they produce,” he added.

Power producer

The firm said the hybrid vehicles produced 65% fewer CO2 emissions than the average car in Europe.

Google’s own fleet will be converted to hybrid technology and the firm will look for grant proposals to promote further use of fuel-efficient cars later in the year.

Google said it was investing in renewable energy sources and offsetting emissions that could not be eliminated directly, in order to go carbon neutral.

The US web giant announced it had finished phase one of a 1.6-megawatt solar panel system at its headquarters in Mountain View, California.

It will provide almost a third of the HQ’s energy needs. The firm has also committed to creating an additional 50 megawatts of renewable energy by 2012 – enough to power 50,000 homes.

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SURVEY: MOST COUPLES WITH UNUSED EMBRYOS WILLING TO DONATE TO STEM CELL RESEARCH

Posted in Conscious Actions, Health Watch, News Brief on June 24th, 2007

MANY STORED EMBRYOS WILL BE DESTROYED ANYWAY, AND LETTING THEM BE USED IN RESEARCH COULD LEAD TO LIFESAVING TREATMENTS

embryos.png Stem cell research is in the opinion of most credible SCIENTISTS, the greatest hope for combating many of today’s most debilitating diseases. As a person currently living with one of those diseases, this is a matter of great personal importance for me.

Hence, I take great offense when politicians of the ilk of George W. Bush use this all-so-important issue to garner votes from the more extreme elements of their base.

Granted, there are some segments of our population who consider the use of embryos in this manner to be the taking of an unborn life. It is their belief that life begins at fertilization, though there is no concrete scientific evidence to support this theory of viability.

But then again, in one of the sadder realities of our times, science or for that matter any sort of fact really doesn’t mean all that much to those who consider themselves to be true believers.

But this is America, and every person is entitled to his or her own beliefs. Where I have a problem is that few if any of the opponents of stem cell research, particularly the oh-so vocal politicians who scream from the rooftops their dedication to the issue, ever say anything about the commonplace policy in the fertility industry of destroying embryos extracted and stored, but for whatever reason, not used.

In the posting, which follows, reference is made to a new survey, the results of which may surprise many hardened stem cell opponents.
It is on issues like this that my faith in Americans basic decency is reinforced.

Now if only the politicians were so decent

-LIB

A majority of couples with stored embryos from fertility treatments say they would be willing to donate unused embryos for stem cell research, says a doctor who surveyed patients.

“Large numbers of infertility patients … support using embryos for research, and these are people who have invested emotionally and financially in these embryos,” Dr. Anne Drapkin Lyerly of Duke University said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Use of stem cells derived from embryos is a moral issue that has troubled politicians, religious and medical leaders and couples with stored embryos. And it’s an issue with strong advocates on both sides. The problem is, obtaining stem cells kills the embryo.

Many see this as wrong and argue that they are protecting life. That’s what led President Bush to veto a bill Wednesday that would have eased limits on using embryos in research.

Others point out that many stored embryos will be destroyed anyway, and letting them be used in research could lead to lifesaving treatments. So Lyerly and Ruth R. Faden of Johns Hopkins University decided to ask the opinions of couples who had undergone fertility treatments and who had frozen embryos in storage at treatment centers.

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MEDITATION MAKES IT’S WAY INTO THE CLASSROOM

Posted in Conscious Actions, Consciousness, Health Watch, News Brief on June 24th, 2007

gong.jpg The lesson began with the striking of a Tibetan singing bowl to induce mindful awareness.

With the sound of their new school bell, the fifth graders at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School here closed their eyes and focused on their breathing, as they tried to imagine “loving kindness” on the playground.

“I was losing at baseball and I was about to throw a bat,” Alex Menton, 11, reported to his classmates the next day. “The mindfulness really helped.”

As summer looms, students at dozens of schools across the country are trying hard to be in the present moment. This is what is known as mindfulness training, in which stress-reducing techniques drawn from Buddhist meditation are wedged between reading and spelling tests.

Mindfulness, while common in hospitals, corporations, professional sports and even prisons, is relatively new in the education of squirming children. But a small but growing number of schools in places like Oakland and Lancaster, Pa., are slowly embracing the concept – as they did yoga five years ago – and institutions, like the psychology department at Stanford University and the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, are trying to measure the effects.


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TYSON TO SELL CHICKEN FREE OF ANTIBIOTICS

Posted in Health Watch on June 24th, 2007

TYSON IS THE WORLD’S LARGEST PROCESSOR AND MARKETER OF CHICKEN, BEEF, AND PORK AND SUPPLIES CHICKEN TO KFC, TACO BELL, MCDONALD’S, BURGER KING, WENDY’S, WAL-MART, KROGER AND COSTCO

tyson.gif It’s about time. Now let’s hope that all of the other meat packers follow suit.

-LIB

Tyson Foods, one of the nation’s largest poultry producers, said yesterday that it would no longer use antibiotics to raise chicken sold fresh in stores and would start a $70 million advertising campaign to promote the shift.

The company said that fresh chicken raised without antibiotics was shipped to stores Monday and would be sold beginning later this week in packaging that emphasizes there are no artificial ingredients.

“We’re providing mainstream consumers with products they want,” Tyson’s chief executive, Richard L. Bond, said at a news conference.

Consumers will have to pay slightly more for the privilege though. Dave Hogberg, a senior vice president at Tyson, declined to specify how much of an increase shoppers would see at stores, but he said it would be “below the cost consumers say they’re willing to pay.”

He added that competitors charge about $1.50 to $2 a pound more for boneless, skinless chicken breast without antibiotics and that the price increase for Tyson’s antibiotic-free chicken would be less than $1 a pound.

Tyson will also be spending more to raise the antibiotic-free chickens, although Mr. Hogberg declined to say how much. He said that Tyson was converting 20 – not quite half – of its production facilities to produce the products.

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AMERICAN INDIANS: ‘EARTH MOTHER GETTING ANGRY’

Posted in Eco Warriors, Global Warming, Miscellaneous, Sustainable Living on June 24th, 2007

TAKING STEPS: IN CALIFORNIA, MINNESOTA, NEW MEXICO, AND ELSEWHERE, TRIBES HAVE USED SOME OF THEIR CASINO PROFITS TO START ALTERNATIVE OR RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS, INCLUDING BIOMASS-FUELED POWER PLANTS

CryingIndian.jpg From New Hampshire to California, American Indian leaders are speaking out more forcefully about the danger of climate change.

Members of six tribes recently gathered near the Baker River in the White Mountains for a sacred ceremony honoring “Earth Mother.” Talking Hawk, a Mohawk Indian who asked to be identified by his Indian name, pointed to the river’s tea-colored water as proof that the overwhelming amount of pollution humans have produced has caused changes around the globe.

“It’s August color. It’s not normal,” he said.

“Earth Mother is fighting back – not only from the four winds, but also from underneath,” he said. “Scientists call it global warming. We call it Earth Mother getting angry.”

At a United Nations meeting last month, several American Indian leaders spoke at a session called “Indigenous Perspectives on Climate Change.” Also in May, tribal representatives from Alaska and northern Canada – where pack ice has vanished earlier and earlier each spring – traveled to Washington to press their case.

Those who study American Indian culture believe their presence in the debate could be influential. They point to “The Crying Indian,” (View Commercial) one of the country’s most influential public-service TV ads.

In the spot, actor Iron Eyes Cody, in a buckskin suit, paddles a canoe up a trash-strewn urban creek and then stands by a busy highway cluttered with litter. The ad, which aired in the 1970s, ends with a close-up of Cody, shedding a single tear after a passing motorist throws trash at his feet.

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REPORT: FEDS MISLED NYC ON DUST FROM GROUND ZERO

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief on June 24th, 2007

180px-Aerial_photo_of_WTC_groundzero.jpg
Federal environmental officials misled Lower Manhattan residents about the extent of contamination in their condominiums and apartments after the collapse of the World Trade Center, according to a preliminary report released last week by the Government Accountability Office.

According to the report, made public during a Senate subcommittee hearing, the Environmental Protection Agency did not accurately report the results of a residential cleanup program in 2002 and 2003. More than 4,000 apartments in Lower Manhattan were professionally decontaminated in that program, and the agency reported that only a “very small” number of air samples taken in those residences showed unsafe levels of asbestos.

But the agency failed to explain that 80 percent of the air samples were taken after the apartments had already been cleaned.

“That was misleading,” said John B. Stephenson, director of the natural resources and environment division of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress. He spoke after testifying at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which is reviewing the government’s response to environmental and health issues at ground zero.

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SOURCE: NY Times

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THE PET FOOD INDUSTRY’S HISTORY OF KILLING OUR PETS

Posted in News Brief, Toxic Food, Toxic Products, Toxin Alert! on June 19th, 2007

THE RECENT WAVE OF MELAMINE POISONINGS WAS JUST THE LATEST WAVE OF ANIMAL DEATHS FROM TOXIC PET FOOD

Beagle_600.jpgMany were shocked by the thousands of pet deaths that prompted the recent pet food recall, but the truth is that the pet food industry has a long history causing the deaths of many more.

The commercial pet foods industry rakes in billions of dollars annually. In exchange for our dollars, we trust the companies to provide our pets with quality nutrition. The recent pet food recall demonstrated that our trust has been misplaced. But while many were shocked by the tragic deaths of beloved pets, many more would be shocked to know that the pet food industry has a long history of mistreating our pets. I first began researching the industry in 1990, when my two dogs became ill after eating a well-known commercial food.

The first thing that came to light was the fact that the pet food industry is virtually self-regulated. The only requirement that the industry must meet is to adhere to the Labeling Act, which states that food must contain the name and address of the producing company, whether the product is intended for dogs or cats, the weight of the food, and the guaranteed analysis.

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SOURCE: Alternet

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