Florida’s courting nukes. Maybe you read my article about Bush speaking at the Renewable Energy Conference, calling for a resurgence in nuclear (pronounced noo-klee-ur) technology to solve America’s energy crisis. The good folks in Florida, led Bush boy Jeb, are taking the ball of uranium and running with it.
Two Florida energy companies, Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light have designs in place to install several new plants in the coming years, including one recently approved by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. With ever-peaking oil prices and CO2 emissions in sharp focus these days, nuclear energy is making a comeback. Both the feds and state governments are helping with tax breaks and allowing power companies to charge up front for the cost of production.
China’s been under such fire lately. People are pulling out of the Beijing Olympic games right and left because of the country’s pollution issues or alleged contributions to the Darfur crisis. It seems we’re also bombarded with constant reports of Chinese manufactured lead-based toys that endanger children. But not I’m going to talk about any of that. I’m only sharing happy thoughts here as I shine the good light on one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating civilizations.
While the Chinese may not care about kids eating poisoned paint (wait — I wasn’t going to talk about that), they care a lot about the Tibetan antelope. And the rare species, which is found exclusively in China’s Tibet-Qinghai region, not has not been doing well since the late 20th Century. This medium-sized bovid, who also goes by the name of chiru, is a gregarious animal that has a life span of about eight years.
I Am Because We Are is a film about pop star Madonna’s journey, which she embarked on to explore the effects of AIDS in Africa. Along the way, she stops to meet the people affected most, the children. As well as the leaders trying to make a difference in this forgotten part of the world. Some of the people in the film are former President Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jeffrey Sachs, and Dr. Paul Farmer.
The recent bleaching of coral reefs serves as a terrifying reminder that the threat of global warming is upon us. The increase in water temperature, along with other factors like the acidification of the oceans, has left its ghostly mark on reefs off Australia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania and the Seychelles.
But why has it affected some areas and not others? A study carried out by scientists from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (Ncar) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (Aims), reveals that it may have to do with an built-in ocean thermostat that prevents the sea surface temperature from exceeding 31 degrees Celsius. Lead author Joan Kleypas explains: “Global warming is damaging many coral but it appears to be bypassing certain reefs that support some of the greatest diversity of life on the planet.” The upshot? “In essence, reefs that are already in hot water may be more protected from warming than reefs that are not; this is rare hopeful news for these important ecosystems.”
The TV show “Dallas” is looking pretty dated these days, and it’s got nothing to do with Victoria Principal’s wardrobe or whatever you call that hairstyle worn by Patrick Duffy. Actually it’s the premise – the affairs of an oil magnate – that makes it look so 30 years ago.
Once the oil capital of America, Texas is fast becoming the epicenter of wind-power, and this clean energy source is proving a money-spinner to boot.
Erase the visual of a quaint Dutch windmill — like everything in Texas, these wind turbines are big: “twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, with blades that span as wide as the wingspan of a jumbo jet”. Texas is currently ranked number one in the country for megawatts of wind power. Wind turbines currently provide 3 percent of the state’s electricity (enough to power one million homes) and 1 percent of the electricity in America (the equivalent of 4.5 million homes).
In order to be able to contribute intellectually at dinner parties, you need to be informed on important topics. This is where the third installment in my 411 series comes in handy. Together with its predecessors – Darfur and Global Warming – the premise is simple, really: know the facts before you open your mouth (or in this case, before you buy things that don’t fall under the criteria below).
What is fair trade?
It’s a social movement, an environmental standard and an alternative way of doing business. Mostly applicable to exports from developing countries to developed countries, fair trade primarily refers to the paying of a fair price to producers of certain commodities.
Sixty years ago, a landmark novel changed the way the world looked at government. The novel depicted a dystopian — the opposite of utopian — society in which everything a person did from birth until death was monitored by neighbors (especially children), ubiquitous video monitors and a Gestapo-style police force.
The book? 1984, by George Orwell, was meant to serve as a warning against the world’s love affair with socialism, especially in England after World War II.
The reason I bring it up? Monsanto, the world’s largest seed producer, has adopted the role of Big Brother in the farm world, spying on farmers, using its multi-national bulk to intimidate farmers and squeeze dry anyone who even thinks of violating Monsanto’s planting rules.
Here’s one from the strange solutions category. Folks in Nairobi, Kenya are cleaning up their slums, putting people to work and providing free cooking and cleaning services by burning garbage. Skeptical? Me, too until I learned more.
The slums around Nairobi, where nearly 60% of the population live, suffer some of the worst living conditions in the world because city government does not recognize them as formal settlements and therefore does not extend any services like water, sewer, or garbage collection. So, what happens to the trash? It gets thrown in the street and nearby watercourses, creating a toxic environment where families wash clothes and children play.
That’s where “Firebox” Francis Gwehonah comes in. The self-taught incinerator man has designed a machine that burns so hot it destroys toxic chemicals that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. The heat from burning the garbage provides free cooking services for neighborhoods and hot water for washing clothes and other sanitation. Long term plans also include purifying drinking water for local residents — a much needed commodity.
Everyone loves a good yard sale. It’s practically an American tradition to pull your car over on a Sunday afternoon and scour through a stranger’s belongings on a personal scavenger hunt for the best priced item to add to your collection. But has this American tradition gone too far?
The federal government has decided to hold its own sale. Their yard is a chunk of ocean floor in Alaska just smaller than the size of Pennsylvania, and the items for sale are the futures of Arctic animals like polar bears, walruses and whales. That’s right…the federal government is auctioning off 46,000 square miles off Alaska’s coast to petroleum leases starting next month. Gas companies, step right up.
Ecorazzi enlisted (coco eco magazine founder) Anna Griffin to interview model and activist Lauren Bush at the Whole Foods Lifestyle store in West Hollywood. Lauren and a room full of celebrities, where celebrating the Whole Foods launch of the FEED 100 bag, created by Lauren Bush, and her partner Ellen Gustafson of FEED Projects, a socially conscious company with a commitment to feeding the world.
If you’re a fan of orange roughy, you probably can’t find it in abundance like you could in the mid-1990s. The reason: their stocks have declined by an estimated 99 percent in the last 17 years. The roughy isn’t the only one in danger; other species that have made the list include the roundnose grenadier, blue hake, spiny eel, spinytail skate and onion-eye grenadier. Never heard of them? Me neither, but these fish form an important link in the ocean’s food chain, albeit from the once-sheltered seafloor starting at about 4,000 feet down.
Deep sea trawling, the practice of dragging heavy nets along the bottom of the ocean in search of new fishing stocks, has been likened to fishing with a bulldozer. The giant nets scrape along the bottom, trapping everything there, destroying corals and causing plumes that can be seen from space. Commercial fishermen turned to this practice after our appetite for close-to-shore fish nearly wiped out the most popular species like salmon and cod. The problem is that deep-sea fish take up to 25 years to mature sexually, making them extremely vulnerable to overfishing.
Los Angeles is city of smog and silicone, strips malls and SUVs. While there are some gems like Griffith Park and the Malibu shoreline, the general consensus is that LA is about as natural as Nicole Kidman’s brow line. But don’t get depressed, organizations like Green LA are ensuring that the city gets the environmental TLC it deserves.
75 environmental leaders from Green LA met with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in late ‘07 to discuss eleven pressing issues, or “asks” — ranging from water to transportation, energy to the port. Here are the highlights: