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Archive for November, 2007

STUDY: CHANGING TEMPERATURES CAUSING FOOD SHORTAGES COULD LEAD TO WARS AND POPULATION DECLINES

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

THE RESEARCH DOES NOT REPRESENT DIRECT CAUSE-AND-EFFECT, BUT RATHER SUGGESTS A LINK BETWEEN CLIMATE AND CONFLICT

280px-water_droplet_blue_bg05.jpgBecause water supplies, growing seasons and land fertility can be affected by changes in climate, they might prompt food shortages that could in turn lead to conflicts, such as local uprisings, government destabilization and invasions from neighboring regions, the researchers speculate. These conflicts and the food shortages that cause them could both contribute to population declines, they add.

To see whether changes in climate affected the number of wars fought in the past, the researchers examined the time period between 1400 and 1900, when global average temperatures reached extreme lows around 1450, 1640 and 1820, with slightly warmer periods in between.

Using records reflected in tree rings and ice cores, the researchers compared temperature changes to a database of 4,500 wars worldwide that co-author Peter Brecke of Georgia Tech compiled with funding from the U.S. Institute of Peace.

MORE…

Source: Live Science

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PARENTS ALERT! SOURCING SAFE TOYS

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Corporate Greed, Health Watch, News Brief, Toxic Toys on November 30th, 2007

THIS YEAR 23 MILLION TOYS HAVE BEEN RECALLED AND THE U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION HAS INDICATED THERE MAY BE OTHERS PULLED OFF THE MARKET BEFORE CHRISTMAS

7742288toy-recallsff.jpgA poll done last month by Harris Interactive showed that about 33 percent of Americans say they will be buying fewer toys this holiday season due to safety concerns, and 45 percent said they will avoid buying toys made in China. Many readers of this column have e-mailed me to say the same thing.

But buying toys made in America isn’t easy – about 80 percent of the toys sold in this country come from China – plus there is no guarantee a toy made in the U.S. is safe. It could be assembled here with imported parts that contain lead or have small parts that could choke a child.

Marianne Szymanski, publisher of Toy Tips and Parenting Hints magazine says parents don’t need to panic, because most toys on the market are safe. Chinese factories will make about 8 billion toys for sale in America this year and only 2 percent of them, she says, have been recalled.

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Source: MSNBC

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STUDY REVEALS CONCLUSIVE PROOF OF THE DAMAGE TO NON-SMOKERS FROM SECOND HAND SMOKE

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief, Toxic Products on November 28th, 2007

TESTS SHOW DAMAGE TO THEIR LUNGS SIMILAR TO THAT SEEN IN SMOKERS

cigtray2.jpegWhat has long been believed is now proven. Second hand smoke is dangerous to the lungs of the non-smoker and over time will cause many of the same problems as experienced by those who smoke.

Now maybe lawmakers will get serious about protecting non-smokers from those who smoke? One can only hope.

Here in California, smokers have become pariahs in recent years, rightfully banished from restaurants, bars, airports, public transit and most commercial buildings.

But this does not deter many smokers, who continue to light up whenever and wherever the mood strikes them. Perhaps if we as a society started to hold them personably liable for the damage that their addiction does to others, we would have a chance of getting a handle on this situation.

The other option is to tax cigarettes to the extent that they are out of the reach of all but the richest among us.
Then, perhaps, cigarettes would loose their attraction as symbols of independence and “maturity” to the young.

-LIB

MRI SCANS SHOW SECOND-HAND SMOKE DAMAGE TO LUNGS
One third of people who breathe in high levels of secondhand smoke have damage to their lungs similar to that seen in smokers, doctors reported on Monday.

They used a special kind of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scan to look at the lungs of non-smokers who had high exposure to other people’s cigarette smoke and found evidence of the kind of damage that causes emphysema.

“We interpreted those changes as early signs of lung damage, representing very mild forms of emphysema,” said Chengbo Wang, a magnetic resonance physicist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who led the study.

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Source: Reuters

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GOOGLE MOVES INTO RENEWABLE ENERGY BUSINESS

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Corporate Responsibility, Eco -Chic, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business on November 28th, 2007

PLANS TO POUR HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS INTO A QUEST TO LOWER THE COST OF PRODUCING ELECTRICITY FROM RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES SUCH AS WIND AND THE SUN.

windturbin1.jpgIf Google realizes its goal, the cost of solar power should fall by 25 to 50 percent, co-founder Larry Page said in an interview.

The Mountain View-based company initially hopes to harvest cleaner-burning electricity to meet its own needs and sell power to other users or license the technology that emerges from its initiative, dubbed “Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal.”

“If we achieve these goals, we are going to be in the (electricity) business in a very big way,” Page said. “We should be able to make a lot of money from this.”

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Source: The Associated Press

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CHRISTMAS TREES GO ‘GREEN’ FOR UPCOMING HOLIDAY

Posted in Conscious Actions, Eco -Chic, Ethical Business, Sustainable Values on November 27th, 2007

TO OBTAIN GREEN CERTIFICATION A FARM MUST MEET CERTAIN STANDARDS FOR MANAGING WETLANDS, NUTRIENTS AND PESTS. WATER AND SOIL CONSERVATION MEASURES ARE REVIEWED, AND BIODIVERSITY AND WORKER SAFETY ARE ALSO CONSIDERED

christmastreesgi.jpg Nearly 29 million households bought a fresh Christmas tree last year, according to industry estimates. This year those consumers, well at least a lucky 200,000 of them, will have another option available to them. This year they will be able to buy a Christmas tree grown under environmentally sustainable conditions. A “green” Christmas tree, so to speak.

Sustainable Christmas trees are the brainchild of several of the nation’s largest Christmas tree growers. To be certified “green”, a grower must comply with strict standards established for managing wetlands, nutrients and pests. Water usage and soil conservation measures are also considered, as are biodiversity and worker safety.

“These measures help mitigate some of the environmental dangers of Christmas tree farming, such as excessive use of pesticides and contribution to erosion,” according to today’s Associated Press posting on the topic.

The green trees will be recognizable by special labeling. If you are in the market for a Christmas tree this holiday season, why not buy green. You will be glad you did.

-LIB

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STUDY: RISING GREEN HOUSE GAS EMISSIONS RESPONSIBLE FOR 400% INCREASE IN WEATHER-RELATED DISASTERS THESE PAST TWENTY YEARS

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Corporate Greed, Corporate Polluters, Global Warming, Government Shenanigans, News Brief on November 26th, 2007

WHERE 120 NATURAL DISASTERS PER YEAR WAS THE AVERAGE IN THE EARLY 1980S, TODAY THE ANNUAL FIGURE IS CLOSER TO 500

2007-10-26-rostonstory.jpgOh! Goody. More data. More brilliant men and women telling us what we already know, that this is indeed our eve of destruction. That the killer fires, floods, hurricanes, droughts and other extreme weather related disasters wreaking havoc on our planet, the past few years, are our own damn fault. That it is our society that is undermining our continued existence by poisoning our atmosphere with the unchecked release of raw, untreated greenhouse gasses.

And guess what we as a society will do with this scientifically documented and peer reviewed information? Not a goddamn thing!

It astounds me, a logical man, that in light of the wealth of data supporting this argument, that there are still those among us who have the audacity, no, make that stupidity, to dispute the correlation between the two. What is it going to take for them to see the light? Will they ever?

Is it going to take a natural disaster in Grosse Point, Michigan for the auto industry to become believers and truly support the next generation of hydrogen/electric cars and trucks that produce zero emissions?

Does Washington DC need to be wiped out by killer tornados for congressmen and congresswomen to cut their ties with the auto, fossil fuel and cattle lobbyists and do what is right for the American people?

Or do the waves need to start to overlap Batter Park in New York’s historic Wall Street district, for the gray suit and bible boys and girls who make up our corporate elite to begin using their dollars for what is best for our nation and our people and not just for the select few?

Sadly, if it takes till then, it will be too late.

-LIB

More than four times the number of natural disasters are occurring now than did two decades ago, British charity Oxfam said in a study Sunday that largely blamed global warming.

“Oxfam… says that rising green house gas emissions are the major cause of weather-related disasters and must be tackled,” the organization said, adding that the world’s poorest people were being hit the hardest…

“This is no freak year,” noted Oxfam director Barbara Stocking. “It follows a pattern of more frequent, more erratic, more unpredictable and more extreme weather events that are affecting more people.”

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Source: APF

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EU PONDERS BAN ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED CORN

Posted in Eco Warriors, Gen. Modified Foods, Health Watch, News Brief, Sustainable Food on November 26th, 2007

SUCH A DECISION WOULD INTENSIFY THE CONTINUING BATTLE OVER GENETICALLY MODIFIED CORN

gen corn.jpgEuropean Union environmental officials have determined that two kinds of genetically modified corn could harm butterflies, affect food chains and disturb life in rivers and streams, and they have proposed a ban on the sale of the seeds, which are made by DuPont Pioneer, Dow Agrosciences and Syngenta.

The preliminary decisions are circulating within the European Commission, which has the final say. Some officials there are skeptical of a ban that would upset the powerful biotechnology industry and could exacerbate tensions with important trading partners like the United States. The seeds are not available on the European market for cultivation.

MORE….

Source: NYT

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FOOD SUPPLIES FEEL GLOBAL WARMING’S HEAT

Posted in Global Warming, News Brief, Toxic Food on November 26th, 2007

THE WORLD’S POOR EXPECTED TO BEAR THE BRUNT

farmers_mkt_02_o_large.jpgFrom meat, poultry and milk to potatoes, onions and leafy greens, everything consumed on the world’s dining tables is feeling the heat from climate change, scientists say.

Researchers are trying to establish the extent to which global warming will affect livestock, plant life and staple crops such as rice to bolster their resistance to disease and breed stronger varieties.

“In some ways, the time for doing things is already past,” said John McDermott, deputy director of research at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute. “The changes are already happening.”

MORE….

Source: AFP / Raw Story

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DISCOVERY: TERMITE GUTS MAY HOLD KEY TO BETTER BIOFUELS

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Cool Products, News Brief on November 23rd, 2007

THE EFFICIENT PROCESSES THAT TERMITES USE TO TURN WOOD INTO FOOD COULD BE HARNESSED TO TRANSFORM WOOD INTO FUEL AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO CROPS LIKE CORN

ethanol1.jpgThe back half of a termite is an odd place to look to solve the world’s energy crisis, but scientists believe the insects’ guts may hold the key to better and cheaper biofuels.

Researchers said on Wednesday that they have identified a rich reservoir of wood-digesting enzymes exuded by bacteria living in termites.

The efficient processes the insects use to turn wood into food could one day be harnessed in factories to transform wood into fuel for transport as an alternative to crops like corn.

The discovery follows a genome-wide analysis of bacteria from the hindgut of the Nasutitermes termite species in Costa Rica, published in the science journal Nature.

Soaring oil prices and concerns about climate change have triggered a boom in biofuels produced from renewable resources like sugar, corn and soybeans.

But making gasoline substitutes from wood – a plentiful but tougher biomass source – has proved elusive.

Termites, whose voracious appetite for wood causes massive damage to homes worldwide, have no such problems. In fact, their intestines are astonishingly efficient bioreactors – chemical processing chambers.

Now the secret of how they convert wood into sugars is starting to be unlocked by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, the California Institute of Technology and biotechnology company Verenium Corp.

MORE….

Source: Reuters

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UN: “EMISSIONS GROWTH MUST END IN SEVEN YEARS”

Posted in Conscious Actions, Eco Warriors, Endangered Species, Global Warming, News Brief on November 23rd, 2007

REPORT LAYS OUT STARK CHOICES TO AVOID THE DEATH OF SPECIES

unpicture.jpgThe world will have to end its growth of carbon emissions within seven years and become mostly free of carbon-emitting technologies in about four decades to avoid killing as many as a quarter of the planet’s species from global warming, according to top United Nations’ scientists.

The stark choices laid out yesterday by the agency’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describe the daunting task if the world is to avoid the consequences of a planet heated up by more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) since 2000.

Rajendra Pachauri, who leads the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won this year’s Nobel Peace opens the lid of a paella, a typical dish of Valencia, cooked by Greenpeace activist using a solar kitchen outside the City of the Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia, Spain. Friday, Nov. 16, 2007. Working until dawn, negotiators on Friday concluded a policy guide for governments on global warming that declares climate change is here and is getting worse, one of its authors said. The brief Summary for Policymakers, will be released Saturday by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

MORE….

Source: WaPo

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