May 23rd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
In an attempt to combat global warming, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 for a waiver under the Clean Air Act to institute a program that would significantly reduce vehicle pollution.
Under federal law, the EPA was supposed to grant the state’s request to toughen emission standards, unless the agency found compelling reasons to deny it. With Bush II in office, the EPA last year rejected the request, and U.S. automakers celebrated.
On Tuesday, President Obama and the Governator will team up to correct this mistake by devising meaningful greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger cars and trucks, including cohesive regulatory standards for the nation’s automakers. By 2016, the new federal standards would ideally achieve a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.
FYI: Thirteen states—Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—have adopted California’s standards and are awaiting favorable EPA action. Together, they represent approximately 40% of the U.S. market.
For Your Organic Bookshelf
Read More:Redressing Bush’s Car Copout
March 26th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
First we invented the wheel. Humans built the pyramids. Then we moved up to automobiles, artificial hearts and sneakers with lights in them and now British scientists have created the robot fish. Five of these carp-shaped cyborg fish will be used to monitor pollution in the northern Spanish port of Gijon.
Much like your laptop in a Starbucks, the cyber-fish will use Wi-Fi technology to transmit information back to researchers. Chemical sensors will sniff out hazardous pollutants, such as leaks from underwater pipelines.
Earlier versions required human controls, like traditional mini-exploration submarines, but these new and improved fish navigate independently. At a mere $29,000 apiece and measuring nearly 5 feet long, they’re highly energy efficient and can swim around and analyze water pollution for hours on end. Plus they look cool!
Reminds of the United States Navy using dolphins to detect explosive mines in the ocean, but I have question. Are they too real looking? I watch a lot of Animal Planet and these robots look a lot like a tropical fish and fish get eaten all the time. It’d certainly be a killjoy if a mako shark snapped up a $29,000 investment. Maybe they should be outfitted with torpedoes too.
Read More:Robot Fish Detects Water Pollution
February 4th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
In China, every 30 seconds a baby is born with physical birth defects and now, officials are claiming 10% of those deformities are due to environmental pollution.
According to the state-run media, that adds up to nearly 1.1 million births a year.
The northern province of Shanxi, a coal-rich region with large-scale chemical industry, is a major source of pollution and reports the nation’s highest rate of birth defects.
Researchers blame China’s 8 main coal zones, saying if the rate of birth defects continues to increase it will soon become a social problem, disrupting economic development and quality of life.
Pollution from coal, specifically mercury emissions, has been linked neurological disorders in humans and animals.
Via the AFP.
Read More:Pollution to Blame for China’s Rise in Birth Defects
January 28th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
New research in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals improved air quality in the United States has added months to people’s lives.
Between 1978 and 2001, the average lifespan in the U.S. increased to 77 years old, up 3 years from previous figures, experts attribute the jump to lower levels of harmful particulates.
Particulate matter in air pollution, like grit, dust, soot and chemicals from factories and cars, can lodge deep in people’s lungs and heighten risk of lung disease, heart attack and stroke.
Scientists examined government census data and death records from 51 U.S. cities and after adjusting for variables, such as smoking habits, income, education and migration, they determined from 1978 to 2001 particulate matter in the air fell from 21 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 14 micrograms per cubic meter in the studied cities and during this time Americans lived an average of 2.72 years longer; the Associated Press reports.
The Clean Air Act, passed in the 1970s, is credited for the improvements. The legislation gave the Environmental Protection Agency the power to establish and enforce national standards to protect people from particulates and other pollutants.
Now, states like California are doing their part to improve air quality. Starting this year, all new cars sold in the state will display labels ranking the vehicle’s smog emissions and impact on global warming.
Read More:Cleaner Air Lengthens Lives
January 7th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
That big sticker on new cars at the dealership is mystifying. So much information! And I have no idea what it all means. But California is about to cram more details on there.
Starting this year, all 2009 model cars sold in California will post labels ranking the vehicle’s emission standards, specifically smog and the car’s impact on global warming.
The brainchild of California’s Air Resources Board, the new stickers will rate smog and global warming on a scale of 1 to 10. The higher the scores, the more environmentally-friendly the car is.
Most vehicles receive an average rank of 5 for both criteria.
The global warming score is based on the car’s greenhouse gas emissions and pollution caused during manufacturing. And the smog rating tallies the vehicle’s non-methane organic gases and nitrogen oxides.
To learn more, check out www.DriveClean.ca.gov.
Read More:California to Rate Cars on Smog and Global Warming
June 8th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
A few thoughts about the environment today, which happens to be World Ocean Day. If you plan to spend any hot afternoons at the beach this summer, take a few minutes to reflect on the wondrous oceans that cover two-thirds of our planet. Even if your schedule is crazy-busy, be sure to sign The Ocean Project’s petition to urge the United Nations to officially recognize June 8 as World Ocean Day. More information is available in Tuesday’s blog entry.
“Every year, the ocean just seems a little bit smaller,” says Dr. Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, an associate professor of biology at the University of Miami and principal investigator of the Earthwatch Institute’s Coastal Ecology of the Bahamas project. “There is more trash washed up on the beach with every tide in all shapes, materials and languages. There are fewer fish and conch around for local consumption and greater fears as new information is circulated about health threats in contaminated coastal waters.”
The Earthwatch Institute recruits global volunteers to support scientific field research. You can work alongside leading scientists, conducting research and learning about what it takes to protect a sustainable environment. Earthwatch is now celebrating its 35th anniversary, and more than 4,000 volunteers from all 50 states and 79 countries participated in field research last year. Can you think of a better way for those of us who support organic living to spend some vacation time? Click here to find out about upcoming volunteer projects—from exploring wildlife habitats in Kenya to conducting field experiments in Costa Rica to improve the ecological sustainability of shade-grown coffee.
“We need to act like our actions matter, because they do matter,” says Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, president-elect of the International Sea Turtle Society and a former principal investigator of an Earthwatch sea turtle project in Baja California, Mexico. “We must act like our actions affect others, because they do affect others. We need to evolve our ways as if our life depended on it, because our life does depend on it. To take on the pressing issues facing our ocean planet, we need more creative, innovative and progressive-minded people who understand that it’s one ocean, indivisible, after all.”
Read More:Our Endangered Oceans