commentary

Billboards Never Looked So Good
March 21, 2008 10:45 AM -

One medium that lends itself well to the use of discarded materials are bags - handbags, totes, backpacks, attache bags, wallets. I have seen an incredible array of bags made entirely from, or at least incorporating trash, or what would one day surely be bound for landfill but for this creative re-fabrication. Some of my favorites are one of a kind, few of a kind or one-of-a-kind pieces. Lately, billboards have been getting a lot of mileage in the eco-accessories world.

Do You Know What Toxic Chemicals Lurk in Your Clothing?
March 13, 2008 12:24 AM -

You know that if you eat that sugar-filled cookie, it might spike your insulin, and if you put on cosmetics with chemicals in them, they will probably end up in your blood. But have you ever thought twice about putting on your favorite T-shirt, or snuggling into your cotton sheets? A growing number of parents are demanding organic cotton clothing and diapers for their babies. Many don't stop with clothing, but have furnished their homes with organic flooring or carpeting, organic mattresses, organic linens, organic window coverings etc. Are they fanatics or do they have scientific evidence to support their lifestyle changes?

Pushing for 'Fair Food' on Campus in the Land of Hog Factories
March 13, 2008 12:19 AM -

Last year, a bunch of students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill got tired of the industrial dreck served up in the cafeteria. They discovered that the landscape around them was producing some amazing, chemical-free meat and produce and set about figuring out how to get some in school dining halls. Led by seniors Sally Lee and David Hamilton, they declared themselves FLO Food (FLO = fair, local, organic), and began negotiating with Campus Dining Services in earnest. CDC took them seriously and negotiated respectfully, but a key gap in understanding between the two groups quickly emerged.

Nano-Threat: Risk and Reality
March 13, 2008 12:08 AM -

Broadly considered, there’s probably no field of applied scientific research and development with implications as profound and far-reaching as nanotechnology. Governments and industry are pumping billions into developing nano-engineered materials that may one day in the not to distant future completely overturn the manufacturing of an incredibly wide range of products, from semiconductors and solar cells through weapons and drug delivery systems to everyday food, health and cosmetics products.

A Low-Emissivity Coating That Really Works
March 12, 2008 11:16 PM -

To say that there is a lot of hype about insulating paints and radiant barrier coatings is an understatement. The Internet is rife with claims of paints that dramatically reduce heat transfer—usually based on some technological magic spun off from NASA. While these products may have some relevance in the extreme conditions of outer space, manufacturers of paints containing “ceramic beads” or “sodium borosilicate microspheres” are making claims that defy the laws of physics—and independent test results—when they claim they can save significant energy in buildings. Well-engineered coatings with metallic particles can reduce radiant heat transfer, however. LO/MIT-II from SOLEC—Solar Energy Corporation has a long track record of success and is, at least for now, the only such product made with a water-based, low-volatile-organic-compound (VOC) formulation.

THE U.S. OF SOLAR POWER — OUR CARS TOO.
March 12, 2008 11:13 PM -

Technologically we could build solar power plants so expansive, covering such a large area, that they could be seen from space. But we don’t have to. We could plaster the world’s deserts with solar photovoltaic or concentrated solar thermal power plants to provide many times the amount of power needed to run the world’s economies. But we don’t have to turn the world’s deserts into energy-generating industrial sites. Large scale solar power plants can be built anywhere where sun-drenched real estate is affordable.

Caribbean tourist trade counts the cost of climate change
March 12, 2008 10:59 PM -

Hurricanes and rising sea levels are threatening Caribbean tourism. So how will the region’s most important industry safeguard its future? Kory South has spent the last 15 years building his dream resort in St Elizabeth, Jamaica. But his dream is in peril from rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes. South has incurred millions of dollars in losses from hurricanes affecting the island over the last three years.

U.S. Cap & Trade, Politics and the Elections
March 12, 2008 10:51 PM -

Analysts at New Carbon Finance foresee a national cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme emerging in the U.S. in 2012-2013, one that by 2020 has the potential to grow to $1 trillion, more than twice the size of the European Union’s. Though the Bush administration has said that any such legislation would be vetoed, the chances of a national cap-and-trade scheme being put into effect by law, perhaps as soon as 2009, look likely with the election of a new president, though the positions of the candidates, as well as the two houses of Congress, encompass a range of attitudes and approaches, the analysts note.

Food versus fuel in the Philippines
March 12, 2008 10:44 PM -

The government wants farmers to plant crops for biofuels on a vast scale. But could the quest for green energy create food shortages? Growing world energy demand, the insecurity of long-term supply and the consequences of fossil fuel use for climate change are driving governments to look for alternatives. To meet rising energy needs, many countries are promoting the production and use of biofuels - energy extracted as a gas, liquid or oil from plants.

Chainsaws Cut into Cambodia’s Preah Monivong National Park
March 12, 2008 10:31 PM -

Cambodia’s Preah Monivong National Park is an ecological jewel, rich in unique and endangered wildlife and plants. Known better in the country by its local name of Bokor, it is located in the southwest in Kampot Province and is among Cambodia’s most visited tourist attractions. The range of habitats found within Bokor support a number of important mammal species including tigers, leopards, Asian elephants, sun bears, and gibbons. A total of 223 bird species have been recorded in the park, six of which are globally significant, 13 are regionally significant, and 12 have never been seen elsewhere before.

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