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Archive for September, 2007

BUSH ENVIRONMENTAL SUMMIT: “MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING”

Posted in Global Warming on September 28th, 2007

THE TWO-DAY SUMMIT DRAWS TO A CLOSE WITH BUSH’S CALL FOR VOLUNTARY CARBON CUTS

bush_dunce1.jpgThe sharks in Corporate America got their money’s worth from their puppet president again today with Mr. Bush’s announcement that he is rejecting the mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions proposed at the recent UN summit on the environment.

The announcement came at the conclusion of the White House’s two-day summit on the environment, highlights of which included Mr. Bush’s call for the establishment, on a nation by nation basis, of voluntary goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as his proposal of an international fund to finance research into clean-energy technology.

“By setting this goal, Mr. Bush said, we acknowledge there is a problem, and by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it. We share a common responsibility: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while keeping our economies growing”. The President went on to say that each nation should establish for itself what methods it will use to rein in emissions without stunting economic growth.

This latest “much ado about nothing” moment marks the Bush administrations first real acknowledgement that there even is a carbon crisis, much less that it is serious and poised to impact life as we know it unless serious action is immediately taken.

But you know all of that.

For conference details follow the jump to MSNBC.com.

-LIB

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ADMINISTRATION JOINS WITH AUTO INDUSTRY TO BLOCK HIGHER FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS

Posted in Corporate Greed, Eco Thugs, Global Warming, News Brief on September 27th, 2007

AT ISSUE IS CALIFORNIA’S PLAN TO INCREASE THE FUEL ECONOMY STANDARD FOR ALL CARS AND SOME TRUCKS SOLD IN THE STATE TO 43 MPG BY 2016

gaspump.jpgAmerica’s major automakers have enlisted the Bush administration in their fight to prevent states, led by California, from mandating higher fuel economy standards than those established by the federal government for cars and light trucks.

At issue is the Golden State’s plan to significantly increase the fuel economy standard for all cars and some trucks sold in the state to 43 MPG. The new standard would go into effect by 2016. Long a leader in the fight against auto generated pollution; California leads the pack in its attempts to regulate carbon emissions. Similar legislation is pending in fourteen other states.

Before individual states are allowed to set fuel economy standards for their states, federal law requires that they obtain a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. California applied for this waver in 2005.

Here it is two years alter and the EPA still has not responded to California’s waiver petition, though the agency has announced that it intends to do so soon. Also unknown, at least till now, is the Bush administration’s position on the matter, though considering the parties involved, I have trouble seeing them favoring California’s position.

Now, here’s where the story gets interesting.

It seems that earlier this year, under the same cloak of secrecy, which shrouds so much about the Bush administration, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, acting I’m sure for her boss, or at least with his blessing, oversaw a lobbying effort designed to drum up negative comments from government officials about California’s plans.

This effort, coordinated with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group that includes General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler and Toyota, had participants leaning on state governors and members of Congress to oppose California’s petition.

There is just one problem with the way the Bushies went about this, and like so much about the Bush administration, this problem is a legal one. Apparently it is illegal for federal officials to lobby lawmakers on Uncle Sam’s dime.

In a letter to James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the top White House environmental official, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., asked the administration to repudiate the lobbying, saying it should have made its objections public rather than leaning on members of Congress and state governors to oppose California’s rules.

Whether the administration will repudiate their actions in this matter is as of this writing, unknown, though in my estimate, highly unlikely. What is known is that Rep Waxman has scheduled a meeting of the House Oversight committee for next Tuesday to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, the auto companies spend millions of dollars advertising their latest environmental break throughs.

Can anyone say hypocrite?

-LIB

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BUSH BLOWS OFF THE U.N.’S GLOBAL WARMING TALKS

Posted in Corporate Greed, Corporate Polluters, Global Warming, News Brief on September 26th, 2007

HANDLERS CITE POTENTIAL CONFLICTS WITH THE PRESIDENTS OWN CONFERENCE ON GLOBAL WARMING LATER THIS WEEK AS THE REASON

unpicture.jpgWhen dozens of world’s most powerful leaders sat down at the UN this past Monday to consider ways of combating Global Warming, George Bush, the president of one of the world’s most prolific polluter nations, was nowhere to be found.

When asked to explain Mr. Bush’s absence, White House handlers cited administration concerns that the UN meeting could conflict with the President’s own conference on Global Warming scheduled for later in this week.

While this explanation, on the surface, might seem plausible, it is the underlying truth, which is unnerving. Granted, both conferences had the same stated reason for being – to institute policies, which will be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is the ways that the respective sides are choosing to deal with this problem that could not be further apart.

Key to UN solution is regulation, instituting by treaty a system of caps that each country would be expected to keep to and penalized if they failed at doing so.

This is in marked contrast to the president’s method of dealing with the situation. In Mr. Bush’s scenario, technological advances would replace conservation, driven, as is this president’s pattern, by large government handouts earmarked officially for Global Warming research and development.

While I would not want to discount any technological solutions that corporate America might be capable of developing, the reality is that if they are possible, they are years away from being workable. More importantly, if the consensus of the world’s climate scientists is accurate, and there is no reason to believe otherwise, then time is one luxury that is no longer on our side.

Furthermore, there are not that many examples lately of corporations doing the right thing when there is a potential of it conflicting with their financial bottom line. Why should this time be any different?

Sadly, no one in the mainstream media had the stones to point this out to the administration spokesperson. If they had, they would have most certainly commented on the sheer lunacy of entrusting the future of what could be life on earth to the very same greedy bastards responsible for much of the environmental problems in the first place.

Furthermore, had the media been doing its job representing the people, and not merely acting as stenographers for the administration, they could also have brought up the mess that the corporations have made of the fledging bio-fuel industry, and how, as usual, short term profit was placed before the long term benefits to the planet and her citizens.

But no, apparently the day when the media could be counted on to keep the political hacks honest is no more.

Otherwise it would be common knowledge – and not something that many will learn of here for the first time – that corn, the source of virtually all of the bio-fuel being manufactured in America today, is among the worst products one could use as an energy source.

Not only is corn inefficient, but processing it into a fuel requires the expending of nearly as much fossil fuels as it takes to make gasoline.

There is, however, an even darker downside to making fuel from corn. This is the strain, which the policy puts on the worldwide food markets, particularly the poorer countries, many of which, in the past, received the corn now being earmarked for fuel as food.

In a perfect world, just this last point alone would have the boys and girls in the R&D departments of the world’s major oil companies looking to other sources of energy, perhaps, cellulose. But this is George Bush’s world, and perfect is not a factor here, money is.

The fact that, for the moment, corn can be processed into fuel cheaper than most any of the other options, is all that matters to corporate America. The success of research to level this playing field and make available better, more efficient sources of bio-fuel doesn’t seem to matter all that much. The policy is set in stone. Corn it is and for many of the companies, corn is all it ever will be.

This in spite of the fact that cellulose, the tough, woody plant material found in the cell walls of plants, is a far better option as a source of fuel because it requires less energy to make and emits less greenhouse gasses than fuel made from corn.

The same is true with other promising energy crops including switchgrass, poplars and willows, all of which have the added benefit of being able to be grown on land unsuitable for rising food crops.

In the perfect world referred to earlier, Mr. Bush’s government would be an aggressive supporter of this research. But they are not. Lately it has fallen upon entrepreneurs like Virgin companies chief, Richard Branson, to personally write the checks to make this a reality.

Also in our wished for perfect world, the president would care far more for the well being of all of our citizens and far less about what is good for the multinational corporations. But then, the corporations are about all that the president has left in the way of supporters.

The worst part about Mr. Bush’s approach to Global Warming is that it provides cover to nations unwilling to seriously address this issue. Timothy E. Wirth, a former senator and an environmental official in the Clinton administration, who is now president of the United Nations Foundation sums it up best: “The leadership role of the United States is absolutely essential. Unless the United States decides that it wants to be a major and committed leadership player in this and make very specific commitments, much of the rest of the world is effectively going to hide behind the skirts of the United States and not do anything.”

Amen, brother. Amen.

-LIB

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AS GM FOOD APPROACHES 75% OF ALL FOOD CONSUMED, IS THERE A CAUSE FOR CONCERN?

Posted in Gen. Modified Foods, Health Watch, Sustainable Food, Toxin Alert! on September 24th, 2007

AN OVERVIEW OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED VS. NON-GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD INGREDIENTS

tomatoes.jpg The sides are drawn in the battle for your food dollar, with foods containing genetically modified ingredients on one side and foods free from genome manipulation on the other.

For those unsure of the difference, Genetically Modified foods are foodstuffs that have been produced from organisms, which have had their genome, or hereditary information, altered through a process known as genetic engineering.

Currently, the most common genetically modified foods are those derived from plants, with soybeans, corn, canola, cottonseed oil and wheat topping the list. According to Wikipedia, the source of most of the date in this posting, fully 89% of the planted area of soybeans, 83 percent of cotton, and 61 percent of maize are producing plants, which have been genetically modified.

Future plans call for the creation of bananas genetically modified to protect consumers against disease, fish metabolically engineered to mature more quickly, and plants which have had their makeup tweaked to produce new plastics with unique properties.

While all of this sounds very encouraging, there is something about consuming food, which man has messed with that just does not sit that well with me. Maybe I’m just old fashion on this point. But then, I also take issue with poultry that greedy factory farmers have injected with growth hormones to fatten up in the hope of increasing their return on investment.

While I’m pretty certain that I am not alone in wanting my food to be as pure as possible, and not the end result of millions of dollars worth of genetic experimentation, we are definitely in the minority. Currently better than 75% of all foods sold here in the United States contains ingredient that have been genetically modified.

So, as a haven for like minds, I have included a link to what I believe to be the most comprehensive list of what products are and what are not genetically modified. Consider printing this list and taking it with you the next time you go to the market.

Maybe, by combined action, we can forestall the day when all food is the product of genetic manipulation.

-LIB

JUMP TO THE LIST

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SAY GOODBYE TO MUCH OF WHAT WE KNOW OF AMERICA AS OCEANS FUELED BY GLOBAL WARMING RESHAPE THE NATION

Posted in Global Warming, News Brief on September 24th, 2007

LEADING SCIENTISTS CLAIM FLOODS WILL HAPPEN REGARDLESS OF ANY FUTURE ACTIONS TO CURB GREENHOUSE GASES

_40423755_larsen_b203.jpgGlobal warming – through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warmer waters expanding – is expected to cause oceans to rise by one meter, or about 39 inches. It will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation.

Rising waters will lap at the foundations of old money Wall Street and the new money towers of Silicon Valley. They will swamp the locations of big city airports and major interstate highways.

Storm surges worsened by sea level rise will flood the waterfront getaways of rich politicians – the Bushes’ Kennebunkport and John Edwards’ place on the Outer Banks. And gone will be many of the beaches in Texas and Florida favored by budget-conscious students on Spring Break.

That’s the troubling outlook projected by coastal maps reviewed by The Associated Press. The maps, created by scientists at the University of Arizona, are based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Few of the more than two dozen climate experts interviewed disagree with the one-meter projection. Some believe it could happen in 50 years, others say 100, and still others say 150.

Sea level rise is “the thing that I’m most concerned about as a scientist,” says Benjamin Santer, a climate physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

“We’re going to get a meter and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, a lead author of the February report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris. “It’s going to happen no matter what – the question is when.”

MORE….

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CANCER FOUNDATION RECALLS 200,000 BRACELETS CONTAMINATED WITH LEAD

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Corporate Greed, News Brief, Public Service Announcement, Toxin Alert! on September 24th, 2007

THE CHINESE MADE BRACELETS ARE BLAMED FOR POISONING 9 YEAR OLD BOY WHO MADE THE MISTAKE OF PUTTING THE LEAD-RIDDEN BRACELET IN HIS MOUTH

lead-bracelet.pngThe Massachusetts based Friends of Mel Foundation, in announcing the recall of the bracelets, asserted that they had been assured in writing by the supplier, China’s Ningbo Metal Manufacturing, that the product did not contain lead.

However, independent lab tests conducted on various bracelets by Massachusetts Materials Research Inc. showed that while the multicolored beads in the Friends of Mel’s bracelets contained no lead, the small silver-toned rings connecting the beads had high lead content.

Friends of Mel foundation has promised to replace all bracelets free of charge with “a lead-free product.” They will also reimburse postage for anyone who wishes to return their bracelet.
They may be contacted at The Friends of Mel Foundation, Post Office Box 1660, Wakefield, MA 01880.

Source: Consumerist / Boston Globe

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STUDY: BIOFUELS COULD BOOST GLOBAL WARMING

Posted in Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy on September 21st, 2007

BIOFUEL CROPS RELEASE AROUND TWICE THE AMOUNT OF THE POTENT GREENHOUSE GAS NITROUS OXIDE THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT. THIS WIPES OUT ANY BENEFITS FROM NOT USING FOSSIL FUELS

_42813383_sugarbeetspray2032.jpg Growing and burning many biofuels may actually raise rather than lower greenhouse gas emissions, a new study led by Nobel prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen has shown. The findings come in the wake of a recent OECD report, which warned nations not to rush headlong into growing energy crops because they cause food shortages and damage biodiversity.

Crutzen and colleagues have calculated that growing some of the most commonly used biofuel crops releases around twice the amount of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) than previously thought – wiping out any benefits from not using fossil fuels and, worse, probably contributing to global warming. The work appears in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and is currently subject to open review.

‘The significance of it is that the supposed benefits of biofuel are even more disputable than had been thought hitherto,’ Keith Smith, a co-author on the paper from the University of Edinburgh, told Chemistry World. ‘What we are saying is that [growing many biofuels] is probably of no benefit and in fact is actually making the climate issue worse.’

MORE….

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CALIFORNIA RECALLS STATE SPONSORED LUNCH BOXES

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Miscellaneous, Public Service Announcement, Toxin Alert! on September 21st, 2007

MORE THAN 50,000 LUNCH BOXES GIVEN OUT BY THE STATE AS PART OF ITS NUTRITION EDUCATION EFFORT MAY CONTAIN ELEVATED LEVELS OF LEAD

lunchbox1.jpgThe California Department of Public Health said testing found increased lead levels in three lunch boxes, which were made in China. They are green canvas and bear a logo that says, “Eat fruits & vegetables and be active.” Officials urged the public to stop using the roughly 56,000 such boxes that have been handed out at health fairs and other events.

People should return the lunch boxes to the places they got them or take them to their local household hazardous waste collection facility for disposal, officials said.

The department has handed out about 300,000 lunch boxes for health promotion and nutrition education, through programs such as the Network for a Healthy California Program and the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Dr. Mark Horton, director of the department, said in a statement that all of its health promotion items would be evaluated for safety.

“We will no longer use lunch boxes until such time as we are assured that every lunch box is safe,” he said.

The boxes that tested positive for lead were manufactured by TA Creations, which has factories in Canton, China.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are more vulnerable than adults to lead poisoning, and even low levels of exposure can affect a child’s mental and physical growth.

No known cases of lead poisoning have resulted from the use of the lunch boxes, officials said.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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STUDY: EATING FEWER CALORIES COULD LEAD TO LONGER LIFE

Posted in Health Watch, Public Service Announcement on September 21st, 2007

FINALLY A TANGIBLE BENEFIT FOR COPING WITH THE AGONY OF CONSTANT DIETING

251.jpgResearchers from Harvard Medical School, Cornell Medical School and the National Institutes of Health have discovered two genes that determine the lifespan of cells. When cells are exposed to certain types of stress, such as a reduction in calories, the genes go into overdrive, and fend off diseases associated with aging, such as cancer, diabetes and dementia.

The newly found genes, SIRT3 and SIRT4, do this by keeping the “heart” of the cell, its mitochondria, alive when it would typically wane and die.

When cells undergo a restriction in calories, they send signals through the membranes and activate a gene called NAMPT. When that gene’s levels increase, a small molecule called NAD begins to collect in the mitochondria, in turn stimulating the mitochondrial enzymes created by SIRT3 and SIRT4.

The end result are mitochondria that grow stronger and increase their energy output, decreasing cells’ aging processes.

MORE….

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PRODUCT ALERT! RECALL ISSUED FOR “BABY’S BLISS APPLE FLAVORED GRIST WATER”

Posted in Health Watch, Public Service Announcement, Toxic Food on September 21st, 2007

PRODUCT TESTED POSITIVE FOR CRYPTOSPORIDIUM, A PARASITE WHICH CAN CAUSE INTESTINAL INFECTIONS

infant.jpgThe California Department of Public Health warned consumers on Wednesday to immediately stop giving Baby’s Bliss Apple Flavored Gripe Water to children because it may be contaminated with a parasite that can cause intestinal infections.

Baby’s Bliss Gripe Water is advertised and sold as a liquid herbal supplement on the Internet and at various retail establishments nationwide, including in California. Approximately 17,600 bottles of this product were distributed nationwide.

The product is labeled and intended for use by infants as young as 2 weeks old. It is packaged in 4 fluid ounce bottles and identified with Lot Code No. 26952V, expiration of October 2008.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed, through laboratory analysis, that unopened retail samples of the product were found contaminated with Cryptosporidium. The revelation came as a result of an investigation of an ill 6-week-old infant in Minnesota who had ingested the product. No illnesses have been reported in California.

The most common symptom of infection is watery diarrhea, while other symptoms include dehydration, weight loss, stomach cramps or pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms generally begin two to 10 days after becoming infected with the parasite, and generally lasts a week or two.

While most people with healthy immune systems will recover without treatment, the infection could be serious or even life-threatening for certain individuals.

MORE….

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