Dec 29, 2007

GE "Love for Coal" to promote "eco-imagination"

FROM: TreeHugger
Remember this little ditty? Though a bit dated now - the spot was originally aired in mid-2005 - this effort by GE to promote its "eco-imagination" campaign remains a classic in what not to do in green marketing.

GE was eventually pressured into dropping the ad campaign after it received numerous complaints from coal mining families. Companies (including GE) have grown more savvy over the past few years in "branding" themselves as responsible stewards of the environment - though greenwashing (unfortunately) is still all too common.

Dec 28, 2007

Warning - Toxins in dust are NOT a new phenomeonon that scientists are uninformed about.

I was concerned about the article below when I read it.
Regarding "toxins in dust"... It stated that (The articles misinformed words):
Scientists don't know for sure where all the toxins commonly found in dust come from. They also don't know the typical concentration of metals and other toxins in house dust. - "Wrong" They do and it is well documented with preventative facts.

It's a baffling phenomenon that may have significant implications, because it could mean that soil cleanups and other measures don't address some of the major sources of human exposure to metals. - "Wrong" It is not a phenomenon and it IS addressed (EPA regulated) during cleanups.

"There's a lot we don't know about house dust and what makes it potentially worrisome is just the number of chemicals and various things that end up in house dust," - "Wrong" we know a lot and "Worry" is typically generated from lack of knowledge and understanding of risk the factors 

Keeping a clean house won't stop the release of lead or flame retardants into house dust. But until researchers have a better understanding of how dust becomes contaminated and the level of risk it poses, it's the best solution to a perplexing problem. - "Wrong"  clean homes include HEPA filtration that is proven to stop spread of these toxins.
"I think it won't be long until more studies have the ability to relate some of these toxic chemicals with a wide range of behaviour effects," Dr. Diamond said. - "True" they have been around for over a decade.

Toxins in dust are NOT a new phenomenon that scientists are uninformed about.
Regardless you may find the uninformed comments from article amusing... so here is the link:
Haase Comments -  While you "could read this article"... like most things on the web, it is just a "hype" subject with misleading information. (sadly, this passes as "current" hype news when it has been thoroughly documented by EPA for decades)
In fact there have been organizations, universities and environ websites helping inform and warn the public on this subject for over a decade. Soooo.....  Here are "helpful" facts on home toxins & Dust:

Japan's Fire in the ICE-to meet its gas use demands for 14 years.

Fifty-five million years ago the world's climate was catastrophically changed when volcanoes melted natural gas frozen in the seabed. Now Japan plans to drill for the same icy crystals to end its reliance on imported energy. Billions of tons of methane hydrate, frozen chunks of chemical-laced water buried in sediment some 3,000 feet under the Pacific Ocean floor, may help Japan win energy independence from the Middle East and Indonesia.

Japanese engineers have found enough "flammable ice" to meet its gas use demands for 14 years. The trick is extracting it without damaging the environment. Japan is joining the U.S. and Canada in test drilling for methane even as scientists express concerns about any uncontrolled release of the frozen chemical. Some researchers blame the greenhouse gas for triggering a global firestorm that helped wipe out the dinosaurs.

"Methane hydrate was a key cause of the global warming that led to one of the largest extinctions in the earth's history," says Ryo Matsumoto, a University of Tokyo scientist who has studied frozen gas since 1987. . . Read more from

Dec 27, 2007

Toshiba Builds Ultra-Small Nuclear Reactor

Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.

The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.

Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009.

DOE and Wisconsin Launch Industrial Efficiency Partnership

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the State of Wisconsin today announced a voluntary collaboration to promote greater industrial energy efficiency throughout the state.  DOE, Wisconsin, Wisconsin's Focus on Energy (Focus), and CleanTech Partners have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to foster increased awareness and use of energy efficient practices and technologies by industries.
DOE's Save Energy Now campaign focuses on improving energy efficiency in the industrial sector.  Since 2005, DOE-sponsored teams have identified potential energy savings of $574 million per year.  Those energy savings could potentially avoid 3.75 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
This partnership puts Wisconsin in the spotlight as the first state in the nation to adopt the Save Energy Now approach; it also marks an important first step for DOE to bring this initiative to all 50 states by leveraging each state's own capabilities and local partnerships.
By combining Save Energy Now with CTP's effective technology deployment model and Focus on Energy's successful industrial program, Wisconsin will support a variety of activities to assist the state's manufacturing facilities. Among the activities, Wisconsin will work with DOE to:
·         Promote awareness, demonstration, and adoption of selected technologies funded by DOE's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP)
·         Train and certify 20 or more new DOE Qualified Specialists in the State of Wisconsin within the next year
·         Conduct fifteen Save Energy Now energy assessments in 2007 and conduct 100 similar assessments at Wisconsin facilities over the next three years.
·         Support outreach efforts of the Save Energy Now program in Wisconsin
·         Facilitate access by the partners to DOE software tools, training, technical information.

Follow-up surveys indicate that the plants assessed in 2006 have taken steps to save 15.1 trillion Btu of natural gas and $75 million annually. More than 60 percent of the recommendations are in progress or planned, and 90 percent of participating companies were influenced by these assessments when it came to implementing new energy saving projects. For more information on the results of the 2006 assessments, visit the Save Energy Now results page:
A third round of 250 Industrial Save Energy Now Energy Assessments is now open for applications by eligible industrial facilities. Energy experts will help industries identify energy- and money-saving opportunities, focusing on steam, process heating, pump, fan, and compressed air systems. To apply, visit the Save Energy Now website:
Learn more about Industrial Technologies Program technology research efforts at

Simple Ways to Dispose of Household Hazardous Products

FROM - Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
You can also visit the agency's Web site at:
Rather than guessing about what to do with those old prescriptions and mysterious bottles in the back of your medicine cabinet, or the unlabeled containers left by the previous owner of your home, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is recommending easy ways to dispose of potentially hazardous wastes.
· Start by taking an inventory of your home's easily-identified usable products. Tighten the lids on those items you use regularly and return them to a storage location out of children's reach. Bring any products you can't identify to a household hazardous waste collection site. The trained staff can make sure that all materials are disposed of safely.
· Expired or unwanted medications may be disposed of in the trash after taking a few simple steps. Start by scratching off personal information on the label. Pour a small amount of water into containers of pills or capsules to partially dissolve them. For liquid medications, add table salt, flour or a non-toxic spice such as tumeric or mustard to discourage anyone from ingesting them. For tablets in a blister pack, wrap the pack in multiple layers of duct tape. Finally, place the medication container in another, opaque container with a lid, such as a plastic margarine tub, to conceal the contents. Keep the materials away from children and place the materials into the garbage as close as possible to your trash pick-up day.
· Bathroom-related products that can go into the trash include old cosmetics and skin creams. The same is true for water-based glues, joint compounds, empty aerosol cans, alkaline batteries and fertilizers.
· Products that may be poured safely down the drains connected to a municipal wastewater treatment system include: bleach, ammonia-based cleaners, disinfectants, drain cleaners, hair dyes and wave solutions, toilet bowl, tub and tile cleaners and rust removers. Make sure to pour each separately and flush the line with water, before pouring a different product down the drain. Potential -- and serious -- problems could result if you mix any product with another in a sink or toilet. People living in homes connected to a septic system may dispose of these items in the garbage.
· Products requiring disposal at your local household hazardous waste collection site include: alcohol-based lotions such as perfumes and aftershave, solvent-based cleaners, oil-based paint, hair removers, nail polish and polish removers, window cleaners, floorcare products and oven cleaners. The same is true for most items stored in a garage or workshop, such as paints and stains, paint thinner, roofing tars, driveway sealer, motor oil, filters and other automotive products, charcoal lighter fluid and other fuels, fertilizers with weed killer, insect killers, mothballs, pesticides, pool chemicals, non-empty aerosol cans, shoe polish and spot removers.
Easier ways to solve disposal dilemmas include: switching to safer alternative products that are water-based instead of solvent-based, buying pump-spray containers instead of aerosols, buying the right amount of the right product for the intended job, giving away unused products to others seeking them, and taking advantage of product-exchange programs whenever possible.
Proper household hazardous waste disposal is worth the effort -- people and the environment are better-protected from unintentional pollution, our groundwater is safer for drinking, and fish and other aquatic wildlife are less likely to be affected.

43% of Canadians with Residential Pesticide Prohibitions.

As of November, over 13.7 million Canadians, 43% of the country's population, live in cities or towns that ban or greatly reduce the application of residential pesticides. The largest municipality with the ban is Toronto, at 2.5 million, and the smallest is Sainte-Paule at 229. The aggregate number of pesticide by-laws currently stands at 136, with an additional 14 pesticide
by-laws at the draft stage pending adoption. (Mike Christie, 2007, SourceDavid Schaller

"gullible warming" quotes of 2008

"One of the best response quotes of 2008" in regards to defending "Deficient Knowledge":

Quote: "The fewer clear facts you have in support of an opinion, the stronger your emotional attachment to that opinion."  - Anonymous

Better quote:
To reduce intimidating jargon to clear explanations, doesn't really take that much time at all. It just take a person who knows what they're talking about.
SIMPLE FACT: Science can be understood by children, when explained by someone who understands it.

We can bury our waste or use it as free fuel for life...

Proposed fuel-processing plant could provide 60 per cent of electricity until 2060
A plan by the nuclear industry to build a fuel processing plant at Sellafield is being backed by the government's chief scientist.
The plant would turn the UK's 60,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste into reactor fuel that will provide 60 per cent of this country's electricity until 2060...

"Spent" plutonium and uranium will have to be turned into a fuel called mox, or mixed oxide. Thorp and mox - are ready, the 60,000 tonnes of nuclear waste, the leftovers of fuel production work and other highly radioactive material that has accumulated from Britain's nuclear energy programme, could be processed.

The resulting fuel rods and pellets could then be burned in nuclear reactors over the next few decades. In turn, the waste could be burned in a new generation of power plants called fast breeder reactors. Under this scheme, Britain would be near self-sufficient in nuclear fuel for the rest of the century.

Building new reactors is controversial. Apart from their high construction costs, analysts say uranium could become scarce and expensive, with supplies from Canadian and Australian mines drying up in the next 20 years. Reactors would then have no fuel.
'We can bury our reactor waste or we can treat it and then use it as free fuel for life,' said the cabinet's chief science adviser, Sir David King. 'It's a no-brainer.'


While the list below may surprise most... the real surprise is what is NOT on the list:
That makes it the #1 killer at 1-in-3
Heart Disease 1-in-5
Cancer 1-in-7
Stroke 1-in-23
Accidental Injury 1-in-36
Motor Vehicle Accident 1-in-100
Intentional Self-harm (suicide) 1-in-121
Falling Down 1-in-246
Assault by Firearm 1-in-325
Fire or Smoke 1-in-1,116
Electrocution 1-in-5,000
Drowning 1-in-8,942
Air Travel Accident 1-in-20,000
Flood (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-30,000
Legal Execution 1-in-58,618
Tornado 1-in-60,000
Lightning Strike 1-in-83,930
Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting 1-in-100,000
Earthquake 1-in-131,890
Dog Attack 1-in-147,717
Asteroid Impact 1-in-200,000**
Tsunami 1-in-500,000
Fireworks Discharge 1-in-615,488

Indiana's facilities discharged more than 378 million pounds of pollutants into Lake Michigan

FROM - pouring it into Lake Michigan

The Clean Water Act set out to "virtually eliminate" discharges to U.S. waterways by 1985. But a Post-Tribune analysis shows Indiana's major facilities discharged more than 378 million pounds of pollutants into Lake Michigan and its tributaries in just one year.
Dumping of nearly all pollutants discharged by Indiana's 33 major polluters has fallen dramatically since 1979. The Clean Water Act has made a difference.

Dec 20, 2007

59 miles per gallon $2,500 car in 2008?


Acceleration wise, it's the same as a Maruti 800... and gets  58.8 miles per gallon. In the past, Tata has said its $2,500 car, which is due for release next June and will be on display next month, will be the cleanest in the world. Tata also has plans to make a compressed air and fuel cell car but most greens are not happy because dropping the price for a car so dramatically will mean an increase in the number of cars and, likely, more pollution.

Nissan may import the car to the United States or Europe, so the question is, might you buy the 59 miles per gallon $2,500 car in 2008?

WI - Emissions? A little bit won't do jack...

JS Online likes to show a nice graphic and article saying how if everyone helped a little we can "save a lot"...    These may seem like small and insignificant measures to help small families in local communities... however the average "sprawl lifestyle" with a 3,000 sqft home on a "clear cut" archer of land with two SUV's in the driveway can make a BIG difference with these little suggestions.

Click to enlarge


Graphic/David Arbanas (Click to enlarge )

More importantly they state: Coal-fired plants are the most polluting way to generate electricity - contributing to air quality issues and public health problems. Coal plants also are the leading contributor to rising emissions of carbon dioxide. 


In regards to lowering emissions: "It's clear that some of these things are going to be easy, and some of these things are going to be pretty much impossible" for U.S. or state governments to implement, said Christopher Damm, a Milwaukee School of Engineering researcher who is forming an advanced energy technologies laboratory at the college.

"Efficiency measures are going to be the most cost-effective way to cut emissions in the near term," Damm said.


George Meyer, former secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources, says Wisconsin already is years behind in curbing emissions because it failed to implement global warming action plans in the 1990s.

Bruce Nilles, a Sierra Club lawyer, agreed. Wisconsin needs to move more quickly to shut down coal plants and embrace alternative energy sources, he said.

"Right now, we take our energy dollars and send them to Wyoming to buy coal," he said. "We just need to decide as a state that we want to lead in reducing our wasteful energy practices. It's not about doing with less - it's about being smarter with what we have."


"alarmist pressure" forces pursuit of the Nuke option...

Under "alarmist pressure" our great nation may compromise safer and cleaner alternatives in a rash decisions that were "dumb for decades" now being sold as "O.K. now in a time of eco-crisis".
We CAN produce "clean and near waste free" nuclear plants, but these are not the ones being proposed...
Old designs will still carry the same "dumb for decades" theme.
My hope is that the same regulators blocking permits for poorly designed coal planets are reviewing the proposed nuclear planets. Cleaner and safer designs are out there for both and development companies need to pay for prevention on the front end... not with our lives on the back end.


Between December and May, Florida produces virtually the entire US crop of field-grown fresh tomatoes. Fruit picked here in the winter months ends up on the shelves of supermarkets and is also served in the country's top restaurants and in tens of thousands of fast-food outlets.

Fruit-pickers, who typically earn about $200 a week, are part of an unregulated system designed to keep food prices low and the plates of America's overweight families piled high. The migrants, largely Hispanic and with many of them from Mexico, are the last wretched link in a long chain of exploitation and abuse. They are paid 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes collected. A worker has to pick nearly two-and-a-half tons of tomatoes – a near impossibility – in order to reach minimum wage. . .

Florida has a long history of exploiting migrant workers. Farm laborers have no protection under US law and can be fired at will. Conditions have barely changed since 1960 when the journalist Edward R Murrow shocked Americans with Harvest Of Shame, a television broadcast about the bleak and underpaid lives of the workers who put food on their tables. "We used to own our slaves but now we just rent them," Murrow said, in a phrase that still resonates in Immokalee today. (read more VIA

Bush Signs Bill to Boost US Vehicle Fuel Efficiency


Dec 19, 2007

Studies support efforts to reduce diesel exhaust air pollution

Another post for my friend Rob...

Two real-world studies from Europe demonstrate the health damage done by automotive air pollution, especially the kind emitted by diesel engines.
An 11-year period of improving air quality in Switzerland, which started with some of the cleanest air in Europe, produced measurable benefits in lung function for adults as they aged, according to a report in the Dec. 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Even with small improvements in air quality, you get measurable health benefits," said Dr. Ursula Ackermann-Liebrich, a professor of public health at the University of Basel. "That is true at levels even which are quite low."
And an unusual collaborative study by American and British researchers, reported in the same issue of the journal, showed that people with asthma who walked along a street used by diesel-powered traffic experienced loss of breathing much greater than those who strolled through a traffic-free park.
"The unique feature of this study in real-world conditions was that we have demonstrated that typical urban levels of air pollution with diesel-rich powered vehicles have measurable effects," said Dr. Junfeng Zhang, chairman of environmental and occupational health at the New Jersey School of Public Health and an American member of the research team. "There have been theories or hypotheses of diesel exhaust or particle matter and also laboratory studies with animals, but this was a study in the real world with real people."
The Oxford Street walk produced a 5 percent to 6 percent reduction in lung function, "and asthmatics already have compromised lung function," Zhang said.
The reduction in lung function was "significantly larger" than what was measured after the Hyde Park walk and was accompanied by an increase in biomarkers of lung inflammation. The negative effect on the lung was greater than has been seen in animal studies using breathing chambers, Zhang said.
The Swiss study found a decrease in the amount of airborne fine particulate pollutants, a major feature of diesel emissions. That improvement in Swiss air quality was accompanied by a slowing in the rate of the loss of breathing function that occurs as people age, Ackerman-Liebrich said. The journal report attributed the healthful effect to "decreasing exposure to airborne particulates."
"There seems to be something more potent than other forms of air pollution in diesel exhausts," said Dr. Morton Lippman, a professor of environmental medicine at New York University. "It is something many other studies have pointed to."
The issue of diesel pollution is of growing interest because "new diesel technologies are increasingly coming on the market," Lippmann said. Diesel automobiles are much more common in Europe than in the United States but are gaining attention because of their greater fuel efficiency, he noted.
The two studies are welcome because they assess the effect of diesel emissions at relatively low levels, Lippmann said. "That remains a complex issue," he said. "Getting statistically significant information on a small average effect on a large population is not easy. There are a lot of unknowns. Most effects are associated with particles rather than gases in the mixture, but there is no data on which part of the components is particularly nasty."
Reducing emissions from diesel engines is one of the most important air quality challenges facing the country. Even with more stringent heavy-duty highway engine standards set to take effect over the next decade, over the next twenty years millions of diesel engines already in use will continue to emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious public health problems. These problems are manifested by thousands of instances of premature mortality, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, millions of lost work days, and numerous other health impacts.
Diesel powered equipment

Building on the successes of EPA's regulatory and non-regulatory efforts to reduce emissions from diesel engines, EPA has created the National Clean Diesel Campaign (NCDC). The Campaign will work aggressively to reduce the pollution emitted from diesel engines across the country through the implementation of varied control strategies and the aggressive involvement of national, state, and local partners.

NCDC participants are committed to reducing diesel emissions and finding innovative ways to protect human health and the environment. To fully address the challenges of reducing diesel emissions the NCDC is using a multi-pronged approach:


Programs for the Existing Diesel Fleet

Over the last five years, EPA has brought forward a number of very successful innovative programs all designed to reduce emissions from the diesel fleet. In conjunction with state and local governments, public interest groups, and industry partners, EPA has established a goal of reducing emissions from the over 11 million diesel engines in the existing fleet by 2014. Looking at these engines, EPA determined there were general sectors that provided the best opportunity to obtain significant reductions. In addition, school buses were identified as an area where diesel emission control can greatly help a susceptible population. These sectors are school buses, ports, construction, freight, and agriculture. Each program provides technical and financial assistance to stakeholders interested in reducing their fleets' emissions effectively and efficiently.


Regulations for Clean Diesel Engines and Fuels

The Agency is devoting significant efforts to ensuring the successful implementation of stringent new standards for diesel fuel and new diesel engines. These standards are the critical foundation of EPA's diesel control program.

Beginning June 1, 2006, refiners must begin producing clean ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel- diesel fuel with a sulfur level that is at or below 15 parts per million (ppm)- for use in highway diesel engines. Low sulfur (500 ppm) diesel fuel for nonroad diesel engines will be required in 2007, followed by ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for these machines in 2010, and for locomotives and marine engines in 2012.

Besides reducing emissions from the existing diesel fleet, these clean fuels will enable the use of advanced aftertreatment technologies on new engines. Technologies like particulate traps, capable of emission reductions of 90% and more, will be required under new standards set to begin phasing into the highway sector in 2007, and into the nonroad sector in 2011. These programs will yield enormous long-term benefits for public health and the environment. By 2030, when the engine fleet has been fully turned over, PM and NOx will be reduced by 250,000 tons/year and 4 million tons/year, respectively. This will result in annual benefits of over $150 billion, at a cost of approximately $7 billion. Similar stringent emissions standards for locomotives and marine diesels are now being developed. EPA is also working to reduce emissions from large commercial marine diesel vessels like cruise and container ships through the use of cleaner fuels and engines.

Together these programs will yield enormous long-term benefits for public health and the environment.


Politics have more to do with the price of gasoline than supply and demand.

The unsavory influence of politics on local gas prices

For years, the oil industry has said that oil prices determine gas prices, but our research suggests that politics have more to do with the price of gasoline than supply and demand.

In October, a local nonprofit consumer group, the Utility Consumers' Action Network, published a chart showing the relationship between high gas prices and presidential job ratings. The chart shows a "mirror effect" since 2001 establishing a strong correlation between low job approval ratings for the Bush administration and high gas prices. For example, when gas prices reached their zenith in May of this year ($3.45 a gallon in North County and $3.20 nationally), the president's job approval ratings dropped to a record low of 29 percent.... read more of this story here..

New York City Orders 850 Hybrid Buses, Switches to Hybrid Cabs

Closeup photo of the side of a vehicle painted taxicab yellow and bearing a taxi fare chart and a hybrid badge.

Forget the Checker Cab: The Big Apple's new trademark taxi is a hybrid.
Credit: Ford Motor Company

The streets of New York City will soon feature many more hybrid vehicles, as the city's buses and taxis shift to the fuel-saving technology. On Monday, Orion Bus announced that the city has ordered 850 diesel-electric hybrid transit buses for use by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Bus Company and MTA New York City Transit. When delivered to the city in early 2010, the buses will make the MTA's diesel-electric hybrid bus fleet the largest in the world, with nearly 1,700 hybrid buses. The buses will be powered by a hybrid drive system developed by BAE Systems and incorporating lithium-ion batteries, achieving a fuel economy improvement of as much as 30% relative to standard diesel buses. The buses will also produce only 10% of the particulate emissions and 60% of the nitrous oxide emissions produced by conventional diesel buses. See the press release from Daimler Buses North America, which owns the Orion Bus brand.

In addition, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) voted last week for new regulations that require all new taxicabs in the city to achieve 25 miles per gallon (mpg), starting on October 1st, 2008. The TLC requirements increase to 30 mpg a year later, and exempt accessible taxicabs. The new regulations effectively require a shift to hybrid taxis in the city and are expected to result in an all-hybrid taxi fleet by 2012. The regulations follow a goal set by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in May 2007. At that time, the city had only 375 hybrid vehicles in its fleet of 13,000 taxicabs, but since then the number of hybrid taxis has nearly doubled to 627, which is more than any other U.S. city. See the TLC press release (PDF 46 KB) and the article from this newsletter on Mayor Bloomberg's May announcement. Download Adobe Reader.

From EERE Network News is also available on the Web at:

Cal-OSHA Quote of the day: in public school shops... "What we found was alarming."

Hawaii to Step Up School Inspections, about safety hazards in the shop programs of nine Hawaii public schools
Hawaii education officials vow to increase safety inspections of public schools in response to a state report that found 55 violations at nine campuses and two offices this year. Most of the problems were found in shop programs and were considered serious enough to have killed or badly injured students or employees. By Alexandre Da Silva, Honolulu Star Bulletin
Go to the Full Story...

Saving 6 million children world with just a few Wall Street Christmas bonuses...

WHY the big concern on clean Water and Plastic Bottles?

(CNN) -- The next time you fall sick and someone suggests it's because of something in the water, they could be right. According to the World Bank, 88 percent of all diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water...

Nanhu Lake in Chongqing, China. Around 70 percent of China's rivers and lakes are polluted.

The number are daunting. Annually, water-related problems are responsible for:

  • 4 billion cases of diarrhea, resulting in the deaths of more than 6 million children.
  • 300 million malaria sufferers;
  • 200 million schistosomiasis sufferers;
  • 6 million people who have been struck blind by trachoma;
  • and 500 million people who are currently at risk of contracting it, the World Bank says.
  • At any one point in time, 50 percent of all people in the developing world will be in hospital suffering from one or more water-related diseases. Most will be children, water-related diseases being the second biggest killer of children worldwide (after acute respiratory diseases like Tuberculosis), according to Water Aid. (Diarrhea alone has killed more children in 10 years than all the people killed in wartime since World War 2, according to UNICEF).

    The situation in the developing world will be particularly difficult moving forward, the U.N.'s fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) is warning -- by 2025, it says, the developing world's demand for water will have increased by 50 percent (the need of developed countries will have only increased by 18 percent).

    Increased demand comes at a time when freshwater stocks are falling in many places. Already in western Asia, reports The Independent, freshwater stocks have fallen from 1,700 cubic meters per person per year in the 1980s to 907 today (and by 2050 it will be just 420 cubic meters).

    But access to safe drinking water is not just a poverty issue. It affects everyone. And the reason has to do with how industry disposes of its waste.

    According to UNESCO, up to 500 million tons of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge slip into the global water supply every year. In the developing world, UNESCO says, as much as 70 percent of industrial waste is just dumped untreated into the rivers and lakes. China is a perfect case in point. According to Greenpeace, around 70 percent of China's lakes and rivers are now polluted from industrial waste, leaving 300 million people "forced to rely on polluted water supplies."

    Endangered groundwater - An industry that has many fingers pointing at it, however, is the agricultural sector. Currently, the Earth's readily usable mass of potable water represents around 1 percent of the total amount of water on Earth. The vast majority of that water -- at least 70 percent -- is used for agricultural purposes. And the "main source of water pollutants in many countries" is agricultural runoff containing nutrients and agrochemicals, the GEO-4 says.

    According to the Earth Day Network, 14 million people in the U.S. now regularly drink water contaminated with carcinogenic herbicides. And arsenic levels in drinking water around the globe are now putting more than 140 million people in more than 70 countries at risk of lung disease and cancers.

    Groundwater represents 97 percent of all freshwater that is readily available to us (surface water such as rivers and lakes accounts for just 0.3 percent) Nearly one-third of all people rely "almost exclusively" on groundwater supplies for their drinking water. In the U.S, 50 percent of the population (including 99 percent of its rural population) relies on groundwater.

    Unfortunately, polluted groundwater is becoming more common. Already, 50 percent of groundwater samples tested by the U.S. Geological Survey contain pesticides. Arsenic contamination of groundwater has also been discovered in Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Mexico and Thailand, reports Earth Day Network.

    According to the WorldWatch Institute, toxic chemicals have contaminated groundwater supplies "on every inhabited continent."

    Although soft drinks continue to dominate the beverage market and are responsible for most plastic beverage bottling, the staggering rise of bottled water sparked the backlash against plastic bottles. Sales of single-serving plastic water bottles more than doubled between 2002 and 2005 to almost 28 billion bottles.

    Environmental impact The 1.5 million barrels of crude oil used each year to manufacture plastic water bottles in the U.S. could fuel 100,000 cars for a year. Thousands of tons of greenhouse gases are emitted transporting bottled water around the world. Just 23 percent of all plastic bottles are recycled, meaning some
    52 billion end up in landfills or littered.

    Saving grace The industry has reduced the amount of plastic in its beverage packaging by 40 percent during the past five years, and some companies such as Nestle are pushing initiatives to further lighten the plastic while others such as Coke are opening plastic-bottle recycling plants.

    Alternatives Fill a reusable bottle with filtered tap water. Recycle the plastic bottles you do accumulate. Had the 2 million tons of plastic bottles thrown in the trash in 2005 been recycled instead, 18 million barrels of oil would've been saved. Sources: Container Recycling Institute, Earth Policy Institute

    BP and 'The biggest environmental crime in history'

    BP, the British oil giant that pledged to move "Beyond Petroleum" by finding cleaner ways to produce fossil fuels, is being accused of abandoning its "green sheen" by investing nearly $1.5bn to extract oil from the Canadian wilderness using methods which environmentalists say are part of the "biggest global warming crime" in history...
    BP is investing heavily in extracting so-called "oil sands" that lie beneath the Canadian province of Alberta and form the world's second-largest proven oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. Despite production costs per barrel of 15 to 1 per barrel in Saudi Arabia,
    "BP has done a very good job in recent years of promoting its green objectives. By jumping into tar sands extraction it is taking part in the biggest global warming crime ever seen and BP's green sheen is gone."
    Producing crude oil from the tar sands – a heavy mixture of bitumen, water, sand and clay – found beneath more than 54,000 square miles of prime forest in northern Alberta – an area the size of England and Wales combined – generates up to four times more carbon dioxide, the principal global warming gas, than conventional drilling. The booming oil sands industry will produce 100 million tonnes of CO2 (equivalent to a fifth of the UK's entire annual emissions) a year by 2012, ensuring that Canada will miss its emission targets under the Kyoto treaty, according to environmentalist activists.
    "It takes about 29kg of CO2 to produce a barrel of oil conventionally. That figure can be as much 125kg for tar sands oil. It also has the potential to kill off or damage the vast forest wilderness, greater than the size of England and Wales, which forms part of the world's biggest carbon sinks. For BP to be involved in this trade not only flies in the face of their rhetoric but in the era of climate change it should not be being developed at all. You cannot call yourself 'Beyond Petroleum' and involve yourself in tar sands extraction." Mr Hudema said Greenpeace was planning a direct action campaign against BP, which could disrupt its activities as its starts construction work in Alberta next year.
    Licenses have been issued by the Albertan government to extract 350 million cubic metres of water from the Athabasca River every year. But the water used in the extraction process, say campaigners, is so contaminated that it cannot be returned to the eco-system and must instead be stored in vast "tailings ponds" that cover up to 20 square miles and there is evidence of increased rates of cancer and multiple sclerosis in down-river communities.
    David Schindler, professor of ecology at the University of Alberta, said: "Right now the big pressure is to get that money out of the ground, not to reclaim the landscape. I wouldn't be surprised if you could see these pits from a satellite..."

    biomonitoring moves forward

    The day we "get used to" arsenic and even more troubling industrial/product chemicals in our bodies is the day we have lost our way.

    [from David Dempsey] The 2008 studies will be part of a $2 million experiment in biomonitoring, which collects human tissue, hair, blood or urine to look for harmful contaminants.

    But Brase worries that if a person is identified as exposed to chemicals, it might be blown out of proportion or misused in some other way. "If you come out with a study and 80 percent of children have some arsenic levels, that could incite the public to unnecessary concern and could push a policy agenda that may limit progress in this country," she said. Or it might lead to justified anger and policy reform to reduce chemical trespass into the bodies of children and other citizens.

    The article appears to blur "biomonitoring" -- testing of human beings to determine what chemical substances have already invaded our bodies without our consent -- with the desire expose children deliberately to pesticides to see what happens. There's a big difference.

    Adopting a style of research that has proved controversial in other states, Minnesota health officials are poised to test for arsenic in 100 children and for chemicals formerly made by 3M in 200 adults.


    Researchers at the University of California conclude carbon dioxide emissions in China are projected to grow between 11.05% and 13.19% per year for the period 2000-2010 according to this paper What does this mean? I hope you are sitting down because you won't believe this. 

    In 2006 China's carbon dioxide emissions contained about 1.70 gigatons of carbon (GtC) (source). By 2010, at the growth rates projected by these researchers the annual emissions from China will be between 2.6 and 2.8 GtC. The growth in China's emissions from 2006-2010 is equivalent to adding the 2004 emissions of Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia to China's 2006 total (source). The emissions growth in China at these rates is like adding another Germany every year, or a UK and Australia together, to global emissions.  Source

    Joel Makower:Greenwashing "bottled cigarettes?"

    by Joel Makower , ... Bottled water isn't a cigarette, of course. It doesn't cause cancer, emphysema, birth defects, and the like. So, my analogy is, admittedly, a bit dramatic.

    But bottled water causes plenty of problems. Its production taxes the water tables of the communities where bottling plants are located, according to the Earth Policy Institute. Farmers, fishers, and others who depend on water for their livelihoods suffer from the concentrated water extraction when water tables drop quickly.

    And then there's the energy use. EPI notes that: In contrast to tap water, which is distributed through an energy-efficient infrastructure, transporting bottled water long distances involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels. Nearly a quarter of all bottled water crosses national borders to reach consumers, transported by boat, train, and truck.

    Or consider the fact sheet I received recently from the Pacific Institute, one of the most authoritative sources on water issues, and author of the biennial reference work, The World's Water. It cites data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation, which reports that

    Americans bought a total of 31.2 billion liters of water in 2006, sold in bottles ranging from the 8-ounce aquapods popular in school lunches to the multi-gallon bottles found in family refrigerators and office water coolers. Most of this water was sold in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, requiring nearly 900,000 tons of the plastic. PET is produced from fossil fuels - typically natural gas and petroleum.

    Based on this, the Institute estimates that in 2006:

    • Producing the bottles for American consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation
    • Bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide
    • It took three gallon of water to produce one gallon of bottled water

    Given all this, should we be touting an eco-friendly plastic water bottle, or a carbon negative product shipped roughly 7,000 miles to market? Is this a valid environmental claim? Is that the best we can do?

    It all brings to mind that age-old question: If a cannibal eats with a fork, is that progress?  (Sweet words Joel;-)

    Read full by Joel Makower


    Dec 18, 2007

    Wisconsin DNR; first integrated resource management agency in Nation

    WDNR goal...  increase efficiency, integrate environmental programs to better protect natural resources, and be more responsive. 
    Wisconsin has much to celebrate as we approach the New Year. On July 1, 2008, your Department of Natural Resources turns 40. As the nation's first conservation "superagency," bringing together traditional fish, game, forestry, and parks with environmental protection functions, the DNR has lived up to that distinction. It has been a leader at home and in the nation, building on the foundation of landmark federal laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Acts, Wisconsin's public trust doctrine and citizens' strong conservation ethic.
    The DNR's dedicated employees, working together with lawmakers, conservation and environmental groups and individual citizens, have made tremendous progress in cleaning up Wisconsin's skies, its lakes and rivers. For example, the Milwaukee River, once an open sewer for the state's largest city, now boasts 37 species of fish in a stretch formerly impounded by the North Avenue Dam, thanks to extensive pollution clean ups, dam removals, habitat restoration and fish stocking programs.
    The strong combination of pairing conservation programs with environmental ones assures healthy habitat to sustain people and wildlife. Bald eagles have rebounded beyond our expectations, the wild turkeys DNR reintroduced in the 1970s now cover our landscape, and our unique, internationally noted population of the prehistoric lake sturgeon remains robust. Citizens enjoy access to waters and outdoor recreational opportunities that are second to none, including for hunting, fishing, and bicycling on the nation's first rails to trails system.
    Wisconsin boasts more forests than at any time since we began systematic forest inventory in the 1930s; we've been a national leader in assuring our state, county and private forests are managed sustainably. We've built a nation-leading program to clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive use.
    Here are just a few more milestones the DNR's integrated approach has helped Wisconsin achieve:
    • Wisconsin in 1970 became the first state to ban DDT to protect eagles and other birds, helping spur the recovery of our nation's symbol.
    • Wisconsin established the nation's first Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, preserving for future generations important features left by glaciers more than 11,000 years ago.
    • Wisconsin in 1983 became the first state to meet the nation's Clean Water Act interim goal with all municipal wastewater treatment plants meeting at least secondary treatment with many more doing even better. Many of our most polluted rivers in the 1960s now support thriving fish populations.
    • Wisconsin became the first state to receive authority from the federal government to carry out its own drinking water program and has since assured its citizens some of the cleanest drinking water in the world; year-in and year-out, fully 97 percent of all public water systems have met all health-based standards.
    • Wisconsin in 1984 established the most comprehensive program in the U.S. for managing and protecting groundwater. In that same year, Wisconsin became the first state to pass a law to control acid rain to protect sensitive lakes in northern Wisconsin.
    • Wisconsin was the first state to restore protection of its wetlands when federal law stopped in 2001.

    Public hearing on "Great Lakes invasive species rule" From WDNR


    Truck Drivers Face Elevated Health - Report Posted for Rob

    Posted for "Rob" my friend and transit driver...
    Diesel Exhaust Poses Health Threat to Port Truck Drivers
    OAKLAND (December 4, 2007) – California port truck drivers face increased health risks from breathing dangerous levels of diesel exhaust fumes inside their truck cabs, according to a new report released today. The report was released just days before regulators are scheduled to consider requiring a clean up of the fleet of heavy duty trucks that transport cargo to and from the state's busy ports. The report's authors say their study shows the need to overhaul the fleet, reduce waiting times at terminals and limit pollution from other port sources.    
    Entitled "Driving on Fumes: Truck Drivers Face Elevated Health Risks from Diesel Pollution," the report prepared by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports, details the health risks of truck drivers who haul containers in and out of the Port of Oakland. The report revealed that the amount of diesel particulate matter found inside the truck cabs was double the level considered acceptable by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and up to 2,000 times greater than the level typically considered acceptable by state and federal environmental protection agencies.
    Drivers are often forced to idle for hours in long lines, causing them lengthened exposure to old polluting trucks, as well as other polluting sources at the port, such as cargo equipment and ships carrying freight...

    Truck Drivers Face Elevated Health Risks from Diesel Pollution - Health Report

    Diesel pollution is well known to be hazardous to human health. Groups at particular risk include workers in diesel industries, such as trucking and rail, and communities located near major sources of diesel pollution, such as ports and freeways. This December 2007 issue paper summarizes the alarming findings of one of the first investigations to measure drivers' exposure levels to diesel soot inside trucks serving our nation's ports. The issue paper also provides a set of recommendations for reducing health risks to drivers and local residents, including the immediate clean up of the port truck fleet, an increase in operational efficiency to reduce the time trucks spend at the terminals and a reduction in pollution levels from other port sources.


    Workers discuss health concerns in the trucking industry.

    Press release
    Fact Sheet (302 KM pdf)

    Adobe Acrobat file (size: 835 KB)
    Click here if you need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader (free)



    More Diesel Emission Information:

    "Trucks Power China's Economy, at Suffocating Cost"

     The hybrid option minimal savings over the life of the vehicle for car owners...

    Ocean-going vessels emit up to 3% of the total world inventory of 100 tons greenhouse gas emissions (ICCT).

    Bused kids breath pollutants up to five times dirtier than the air outside...

    Hydrogen HOAX from  Reader Comments

    MILITARY Hybrid Garbage trucks from Oshkosh Truck Corp.

     Ethanol - Americas Big Fat Loser

    Labels: , ,

    "Choking on Growth: In China, Farming Fish in Toxic Waters"

    FUQING, China -- Here in southern China, beneath the looming mountains of Fujian Province, lie dozens of enormous ponds filled with murky brown water and teeming with eels, shrimp and tilapia, much of it destined for markets in Japan and the West. Fuqing is one of the centers of a booming industry that over two decades has transformed this country into the biggest producer and exporter of seafood in the world, and the fastest-growing supplier to the United States. But that growth is threatened by the two most glaring environmental weaknesses in China: acute water shortages and water supplies contaminated by sewage, industrial waste and agricultural runoff that includes pesticides. The fish farms, in turn, are discharging wastewater that further pollutes the water supply." David Barboza reports for the New York Times Dec. 15, 2007, in the eighth in a series of articles and multimedia "examining the human toll, global impact and political challenge of China's epic pollution crisis."

    Corn ethanol killing gulf region

    Because of rising demand for ethanol, American farmers are growing more corn than at any time since the Depression. And sea life in the Gulf of Mexico is paying the price.
    The nation's corn crop is fertilized with millions of pounds of nitrogen-based fertilizer. And when that nitrogen runs off fields in Corn Belt states, it makes its way to the Mississippi River and eventually pours into the Gulf, where it contributes to a growing "dead zone" - a 7,900-square-mile patch so depleted of oxygen that fish, crabs and shrimp suffocate.
    The dead zone was discovered in 1985 and has grown fairly steadily since then, forcing fishermen to venture farther and farther out to sea to find their catch. For decades, fertilizer has been considered the prime cause of the lifeless spot.
    With demand for corn booming, some researchers fear the dead zone will expand rapidly, with devastating consequences.
    "We might be coming close to a tipping point," said Matt Rota, director of the water resources program for the New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network, an environmental group. "The ecosystem might change or collapse as opposed to being just impacted."



    BALI-important news from conference: the deforestation pact.

    The media is reporting a lot of clearly implausible policies, but they are missing the most important news to come out of this conference: the deforestation pact.
    20% of anthropogenic emissions are from deforestation – it's arguable the worst thing humanity has done for the planet.
    A $300 million grant program will be created at the World Bank to assist developing countries with planting new trees. The real achievement was REDD: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing countries, a pay-and-preserve program.
    "It is one of the substantial achievements of this conference," said EU Environmental Commissioner St...
    And I would have to agree with the Commissioner

    Dec 17, 2007

    US Food Inflation Parallels 70s on Ethanol Boom

    VIA-http://groovygreen.comREUTERS  - Rising US food inflation, now a 25-year high, is reminiscent of the 1970s and will continue for the next five years due to growing world economies, increased food demand and a sharp expansion of corn-based ethanol production, a top food economist said Friday.

    "What happened in the early '70s and what is happening today is that we have moved food input price to a new plateau. Ultimately, the consumer is going to have to absorb those increased costs," said Bill Lapp...
    Futures prices on the Chicago Board of Trade, the benchmark for commodity grain and soy markets, have risen to multi-year highs this year. Wheat hit an all-time high of US$9.81-3/4 a bushel just on Friday. Soybeans on Friday reached over US$11.60 a bushel, a price not seen since 1973, and corn rose to US$4.37-1/4 in February, the highest level in a decade.
    "The underpinnings for the higher commodity prices are world economic growth, a weak dollar and increased use of our corn crop for the production of ethanol," Lapp told Reuters in an interview.
    While most of the US corn crop, or 43 percent is fed to livestock to produce meat, dairy products and eggs, an increasing percentage is being used to produce ethanol. Twenty-four percent of this year's corn crop will be turned into ethanol, up from just 14 percent two years ago.
    Picture VIA-