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Let the Sun Shine In
( 0 Votes )
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 21:05
Everywhere (Literally) December 2014—Rooftop solar panels have always been the province of the well-to-do, eco-friendly folks willing to shell out extra bucks to be green.

But that is all starting to change.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the cost of putting solar panels on a typical American house has fallen by some 70 percent over the 15 years. And a recent report from Deutsche Bank shows that solar has already achieved so-called “price parity” with fossil fuel-based grid power in 10 U.S. states. Deutsche Bank goes on to say that solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in all but three states by 2016—assuming, that is, that the federal government maintains the 30 percent solar investment tax credit it currently offers homeowners on installation and equipment costs.
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The Wright Stuff
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Wednesday, 17 December 2014 20:51
Newport, Oregon, December 2014—This beautiful small city on the Pacific Coast of Oregon is the home of Rogue Ales—a growing brewery that sells its product in every state in the Union and dozens of foreign countries. They not only grow a lot of their own ingredients, they’re helping keep alive the history of this “last frontier” state, by paying respect to its growing techniques and practices—some of which have now been replaced by machines.

Earlier this fall, they had a special VIP visitor stop by at Rogue Farms, their central growing area, during the hop harvest. Her name is Shirley Wright. She’s 89 years old and sharp as a tack.

Shirley and her family were among the tens of thousands of Oregonians who came to the area around Independence, Oregon during the 1930’s for the annual hop harvest.
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Who’s the Greenest of Them All?
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Sunday, 23 November 2014 18:52
Everywhere, USA, November 2014—Our friends at Earth Talk recently replied to a question about Sweden being the greenest country in the world and, if so, by what standards? Learn, too, where the U.S. ranks in this response:

It’s true that Sweden came out on top in the recently released ranking of 60 countries according to sustainability by consulting firm Dual Citizen Inc. in its fourth annual Global Green Economy Index (GGEI). Norway, Costa Rica, Germany, and Denmark rounded out the top five. The rankings take into account a wide range of economic indicators and datasets. It all relates to leadership on climate change, encouragement of efficiency sectors, market facilitation and investing in green technology and sustainability, and management of ecosystems and natural capital.

Sweden’s first place finish reflects the Swedes’ ongoing commitment to climate change mitigation and sustainability policies and practices. The country is a leader in organic agriculture and renewable energy as well as per capita investment in green technology and sustainability research. Upwards of 75 percent of Swedes recycle their waste, while only four percent of the country’s garbage goes to landfills. In fact, Sweden imports garbage from other nations to burn as a renewable source of energy.
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Plastics
( 0 Votes )
Sunday, 23 November 2014 18:16
Remember that now iconic line (and the way it was delivered) in the now classic Mike Nichols film, The Graduate? In so many ways, things have changed.

The argument today is that we while we must continue finding new ways to feed our growing global population, we must not kill our planet to do it. A good example is getting rid of those ubiquitous little plastic bags we use to carry home the bacon. But even though it’s used here to grab your attention and encourage you to read further, ridding ourselves of plastic bags are just one of many problems we face.
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The Skinny on Ethanol
( 0 Votes )
Friday, 26 September 2014 15:45
Everywhere, USA, September 2014—Ethanol and similar “biofuels” made from corn and other crops seem like a good idea given their potential for reducing our carbon outputs as well as our reliance on fossil fuels. But recent research has shown that the federal government’s push to up production of corn-derived ethanol as a gasoline additive since 2007 has actually expanded our national carbon footprint and contributed to a range of other problems.

U.S. corn producers started ramping up ethanol production in 2007 as a result of George W. Bush’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which mandated an increase in the volume of renewable fuel to be blended into transportation fuel from nine billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion by 2022. Ethanol now makes up 10 percent of the gasoline available at filling stations.
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What’s a Paraben? (And Should we Fear Them?)
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Wednesday, 17 December 2014 20:40
Everywhere USA, December 2014—First commercialized in the ‘50s, parabens are a group of synthetic compounds commonly used as preservatives in a wide range of health, beauty and personal care products. If the product you are using contains methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl and/or isobutylparaben, it has parabens.

These ingredients are added to deodorants, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and makeups, among other products, to stop the growth of fungus, bacteria and other potentially damaging microbes. Researchers have also found that some 90 percent of typical grocery items contain measurable amounts of parabens, which is why even those who steer clear of potentially harmful personal care products also carry parabens around in their bloodstreams.

What worries public health advocates is that while individual products may contain limited amounts of parabens within safe limits set by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), cumulative exposure to them over a range of several different products could be overloading our bodies and contributing to a wide range of health problems. 
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Should “Frankencrops” be Frightful?
( 0 Votes )
Sunday, 23 November 2014 18:26
Everywhere, USA, November 2014—Genetic engineering (GE) is the process whereby DNA from unrelated species is combined to produce improved or novel organisms. Proponents of GE insist that the benefits of increased crop yields and less agricultural waste outweigh the potential risks. But many environmental and public health advocates aren’t convinced.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), one risk of GE is that our new “frankencrops” could become invasive, toxic to wildlife, or dangerous in other, as yet unknown ways. But the most damaging impact of GE in agriculture so far is the phenomenon of pesticide resistance. Millions of acres of American farmland are infested by weeds that have become resistant to Monsanto’s popular herbicide glyphosate (aka, Roundup). Overuse of Monsanto's ‘Roundup Ready’ trait, which is engineered to tolerate the herbicide, has promoted the accelerated development of resistance in several weed species.
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Ban Those Bags!
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Tuesday, 21 October 2014 21:21
Everywhere, USA, October 2014—California made big news recently when it announced the first statewide ban on plastic shopping bags set to kick in during the middle of 2015.

Beginning last July, large grocery stores, pharmacies and other food retailers in the Golden State were no longer able to send shoppers home with plastic bags. Convenience markets, liquor stores and other small food retailers can continue to dole out the plastic a big longer—but must join ranks next year.

Back in 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. municipality to ban plastic shopping bags. In intervening years upwards of 132 other cities and counties in 18 states and the District of Columbia instituted similar measures. Of course, Americans are late to the party when it comes to banning plastic bags: The European Union, China, India and dozens of other nations already have plastic bag bans or taxes in place.
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Is Antarctica Really Melting?
( 0 Votes )
Monday, 25 August 2014 19:31
Literally Everywhere, USA, August 2014—We’ve heard a lot of talk and read many articles about the warming of our planet. Here’s an update on this vitally important question and what impact it might have on coastlines around the world:

The Antarctic continent is roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined and is composed of rock covered by glaciers some 16,000 feet thick. The glaciers form from fallen snow, compacting into successive layers of ice. Then they move downhill toward the coasts and “calve” into the ocean as icebergs. Eventually, they melt out into the sea. Antarctica and Greenland combined hold about 99 percent of the globe’s freshwater ice.

According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, the result of the entire Antarctic continent melting completely would be a sea level rise of about 200 feet around the world, which would lead to untold devastation.
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