I have often dreamed of owning a Prius. I am certainly energized by thoughts of push-button ignition, sleek, egg-shaped driving fun, and of course 55 mpg. Unfortunately my dreams took a blow this week as I learned of Toyota’s resistance to the new energy bill, which calls for Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Mmm… corn. How wonderful does a great, big, sweet, freshly barbequed yellow ear of corn sound to ya (especially one spliced with virus genes, and genetically engineered to include a little bit of insecticide in every kernel)? What? You don’t like virus genes? Oh, and come on — you really can’t even TASTE the Roundup residue. Okay, okay. So, maybe that’s not so wonderful. But regardless of wonderful, that’s exactly what 75% of the corn grown in the United States is: Genetically Modified (GMO). I’ll say it again: 75% percent. Out with the kitchen apron and in with the lab coat. And the worst part is, though you may have heard of GMOs, knowing whether or not you’re eating them is a different story, since the U.S. currently has no labeling requirements on food crafted from biotechnology.
Corn, soy, canola and cotton — these are the big four to remember. Aside from being the largest crops grown on American soil, they’re also the crops most frequently grown using Genetically Modified Seeds. Referred to as GE (Genetically Engineered) and GM or GMO (Genetically Modified), these new “plants” are made up of DNA that’s been spliced with all kinds of different genes in the hope of making the crop hardier and more profitable. “Potatoes may be spliced with chicken genes, tomatoes spliced with fish genes, corn spliced with ‘virus’ genes, pigs spliced with human genes… bacteria, insect and animal combinations, and various plant combinations [are] produced.” (via Safe 2 Use)
Here’s some big news for the week: the city of Pittsburgh wins an award. Hooray! The twentieth largest city in the United States, which is home to over 2 million people, takes home the prize for… oh, wait — hang on… better re-cork that champagne… Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
I’ve gotta say that I hate noise-makers. I don’t like them on New Year’s celebrations or birthdays, or even when some idiot feels the road is more his than someone else’s and lets them know with an ear-splitting honk. As far as I’m concerned, the world is noisy enough and there’s little need to add to that.
But here’s an exception where it would have come in handy. MSNBC reports that 500 ducks died after landing on a toxic pond in Fort McMurray, Alberta. This is the first time in 30 years that such an incident has occurred in the Syncrude Canada Ltd.-owned oil sands. Aside from the obvious query of why we need a toxic pond in the first place, Alberta Premier, Ed Stemlach, has questioned why noise-making cannons were not deployed to scare off the birds.
General Motors, the not so flattering subject of Chris Paine’s documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, is feeling the pinch of previously pulling the plug on the EV1. I mean, duh. The recent launch of the flashy Tesla rubbing salt into their wounds can’t possibly feel good. But GM is putting a brave face on past errors by throwing themselves into the world of green. Their website proudly announces that they have the “most models with EPA-estimated 30 mpg or higher highway fuel economy.”
Ryan Mickle of Triple Pundit attended a recent presentation in San Francisco by GM Chairman and CEO, Rick Wagoner, where he spoke on the future of the company with a firm focus on green technology. As we all know, after 76 years of being America’s number one car manufacturer, GM lost the top spot to Toyota — a move which can in part be attributed to the success of the Japanese carmaker’s green fleet, including the hugely popular Prius.
When it comes to saving the planet, are personal choices enough? Quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of the Chicken Little predictions that the earth is on the verge of collapse. It’s not that I buy into the “Global warming? What global warming?” claims, it’s just that every week, somebody new writes an article about how quickly the end will come if we don’t change immediately.
Anyone who is paying attention will have noticed that oil hit $125 per barrel on April 28.
Hmm… So, what does that mean? Because I don’t see anyone driving less — our dear President’s interim solution after Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf. And I certainly don’t see people slowing down — as far as I know, I’m the only one pushing this solution, even though by dropping from 70 to 60, we would save at least 3%, which is good for the pocketbook and for CO2 levels.
Many people think the best way to keep teenagers out of danger is through avoidance or abject fear, whereas I’ve always thought informative discussion was a more effective way to go. And what better way to spark a dialogue about the environmental repercussions of excessive bottled water consumption than through green sneaks? Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
When you think of socially responsible retailers, Walmart probably isn’t the first name that springs to mind. And rightly so. The world’s largest corporation has come under fire from grassroots organizations, environmental groups, labor unions, women’s rights campaigners (and just about everyone except shoppers in middle America) over its sometimes questionable policies and business practices.
“Goodbye For Nau” begins the sad letter on the Portland, Oregon-based sustainable apparel company’s website as it announces its closure after only 14 months in business. Despite the organization’s plan to turn retail as we know it upside down and establish new methods of shopping for clothes that promote greener and more responsible living, some critics say their overly ambitious business model was not as sustainable as their products. Nau, on the other hand, says the tight credit market is to blame.
When it comes to saving the planet, are personal choices enough? Not according to Tom Crompton of BBC News’ Green Room. Small changes in personal behavior, according to his recent article, only serve to make us feel better about ourselves: “Unfortunately, as a response to problems of the scale that confront us, it seems that they are shot full of holes.”
What’s really needed, he says, are fundamental changes to modern society’s thirst for more stuff.
Crompton says even making choices to re-use old products rather than buy new ones — driving a car until it falls apart, for example — simply allow us to focus our spending power somewhere else. “If I save money by repairing my old car rather than buying a new one, I could spend the savings on cheap flights abroad. The net environmental impact will probably be negative.”
Now, I know you’ve all been on tenterhooks (or flippers) since my earlier report this month over the controversy surrounding the sea lions of the Columbia River dam. You’ll remember how the National Marine Fisheries Service wanted to trap or kill 85 sea lions annually because of their voracious appetite for salmon? Well, the Humane Society sought an emergency order to contest this federal authority and I’m happy to report they won. Sort of.
Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted the emergency order, saying: “The lethal taking of California sea lions is, by definition, irreparable. This logic also applies to the salmon consumed by the sea lions.” The court said the reprieve would only apply to the spring chinook run and that it hoped the case would be resolved by next year. The federal authorization recommended an annual take of about 30 sea lions. A full appeals court is scheduled for May 8th in Pasadena.
Want a surefire solution to curbing carbon emissions? Tax them. That’s exactly what the savvy air quality regulators in the San Francisco Bay Area are attempting to implement. In what is believed to be a first for the nation — a government body will charge businesses for contributing to climate change.
The agency in question is the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which plans to bypass inaction in Sacramento and Washington by (according to the New York Times) charging industries “4.4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide emitted.” The agency, which already has independent authority to charge industries for other pollution, such as particulates, says this new fee “would be stretching its mandate to include carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases.”