commentary

Earth sciences need a higher profile
March 6, 2008 05:39 PM -

Let's encourage the mood of political cooperation on the big issues during the International Year of Planet Earth, says Nasser Ennih. The International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) — launched earlier this month in Paris — is an opportunity to use the knowledge, experience and publications of the world's estimated 500,000 earth scientists to better inform decision-makers and politicians about how to achieve sustainable development.

Battle lines drawn over GM sugar beets
March 6, 2008 05:29 PM -

Thousands of acres of Roundup Ready genetically modified sugar beets will be planted this spring with sugar from the GM crop entering the food supply. Consumer and organic groups are suing to block production of GM sugar beets. In January, farmers, food safety advocates, and conservation groups filed suit in federal court challenging the deregulation of genetically modified, herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready sugar beets by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Attorneys from the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice are representing plaintiffs Organic Seed Alliance, Sierra Club, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Center for Food Safety in the lawsuit, which seeks a thorough assessment of environmental, health, and associated economic impacts of the deregulation as required by federal law.

Recycled Fish: Anglers as stewards of the resource
March 6, 2008 05:14 PM -

How do you recycle a fish!? That’s a question we are asked often at Recycled Fish, and it always makes us smile. The short answer — you let it swim! Recycled Fish is the non-profit organization of anglers as stewards of the resource. One of the most tangible things we anglers can do is to release our catch. That’s “Catch and Release” fishing, and it’s caught on! Over 80 percent of Americans now release their fish most or all of the time. But the “catch and release” conversation is still a good starting point for how those of us who fish can be stewards of the fishery, and our name “Recycled Fish” speaks to that.

China Goes Green(er)
March 6, 2008 05:02 PM -

In the last year or so, a lot of not-so-pleasant stuff's been coming out of China: lead-filled toys, poisoned dog food, toxic flip-flops, more lead-filled toys, poisoned toothpaste — need we go on? We think not — we're all about good news, after all. And finally, China's given us something to smile about: Last week, the most heavily polluted nation on earth announced a plan to stop providing free plastic bags to its citizens at shops and supermarkets.

"Plastic Soup" Debris in Pacific Ocean
March 5, 2008 09:23 AM -

Here's another reason for retailers to charge for plastic bags. The swirling debris of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean has now grown to a size that is twice as large as the continental U.S. How do we know this? The Alguita Marine Research team just landed from a month-long tour of the area, known as the North Pacific Gyre. They set out to investigate just how much plastic debris is floating in the ocean, how this plastic affects marine life, and how this might affect humans that eat fish found in the area.

What happens if China’s “one child” is left behind?
March 3, 2008 04:01 PM - Robert Engelman

Based on a senior official’s remarks, it looks like China may soon relax its one-child policy. That has raised fears among some demographers that the country will experience a massive baby boom once the reproductive shackles come off, and hence “could overturn predictions of an imminent end to global population growth,” in the words of New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin. Almost one in five human beings is Chinese (1.3 billion out of a global total of 6.7 billion), so the country matters immensely to human numbers. But there’s an assumption embedded in this discussion that deserves to be challenged.

Battle over rBGH-free labeling continues in US states
February 27, 2008 10:50 AM -

In a setback to Monsanto and supporters of its genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBGH, Pennsylvania and Indiana refused to pass laws prohibiting dairy manufacturers from labeling their products rBGH-free, while Ohio has put restrictions on such labeling. Meanwhile, Kansas recently introduced a bill banning the labels.

Battle over rBGH-free labeling continues in US states
February 27, 2008 10:50 AM -

In a setback to Monsanto and supporters of its genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBGH, Pennsylvania and Indiana refused to pass laws prohibiting dairy manufacturers from labeling their products rBGH-free, while Ohio has put restrictions on such labeling. Meanwhile, Kansas recently introduced a bill banning the labels.

Exploring the Green-BoP Nexus Pt. 1: A Nano-Sized Car Reveals
February 27, 2008 10:34 AM -

The launch of the Tata Nano, the ridiculously low-priced car that could open a floodgate of new drivers in India and elsewhere, is undoubtedly one of the milestone innovations marking the early years of the 21st century. This is not just because of the unprecedented feat of technological and design innovation it represents but because of the huge rift it exposes in the public debate over the linkages between two crucial concepts, poverty and environment.

Tree Blocks: Building imagination with reclaimed trees
February 27, 2008 09:31 AM -

While cleaning the kids’ playroom for what must be the umpteenth time today I spied the bag of Tree Blocks that our entire family loves to build with. These unusual building blocks are cut from tree branches and make the most beautiful sculptures, keeping little hands busy for at least long enough for me to get a shower. The “elves” at Tree Blocks identify abandoned or end of productive cycle plots of apple, cherry and hazelnut trees and contact the farmers. They then push the old trees over removing the roots. Tree Blocks bridges and blocks are made from the wood purchased and processed by the “elves.” This leaves the farmer clean soil and seed money, so he can get back into production.

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