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The Worldwatch Institute offers a unique blend of interdisciplinary research, global focus, and accessible writing that has made it a leading source of information on the interactions among key environmental, social, and economic trends. Our work revolves around the transition to an environmentally sustainable and socially just society—and how to achieve it.
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U.S. Government Dumping $100 Million Into Filthy Fuels Project
November 9, 2007 08:37 AM - James Russell, Worldwatch Institute
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the final environmental impact statement (EIS) on its proposal to contribute $100 million toward a new plant that will convert coal to liquid fuels. According to the statement, emissions estimates cited in earlier drafts of the EIS were only a small fraction of the expected releases of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the facility. Based on the revised estimates, the plant will directly emit more than 114 million tons of the greenhouse gas over its lifetime. The massive injection of public funds into this major new emissions source stands in stark contrast to growing demands for meaningful U.S. action to mitigate climate change.
Costa Rica and New Zealand on Path to Carbon Neutrality
November 7, 2007 10:11 AM - Janet Sawin, Worldwatch Institute
While some of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) hem and haw about how to—or even if to—limit their contributions to climate change, at least two small countries are blazing trails for the world to follow. Both Costa Rica and New Zealand have declared over the past several months their intentions to become carbon neutral. Together, they accounted for about 0.15 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, according to the World Bank.
Three “Garbage Crusaders”Ě in Modern Cosmopolitan Beijing
November 2, 2007 08:08 AM - , Worldwatch Institute
Every city needs someone to take care of the garbage. The most resource-efficient way to dispose of urban trash is to recycle and reuse it. But recycling and reuse are more difficult than they sound, especially in cities where residents mix up all kinds of solid wastes.
Pollutants Implicated in Births of More Girls Than Boys
October 29, 2007 10:38 AM - , Worldwatch Institute
A recent study found that residents of Canadian communities who were exposed to emissions from polluting industries such as oil refineries, metal smelters, and pulp mills gave birth to more females than males, a reversal of the normal sex ratio. This is likely due to high levels of common air pollutants called dioxins and is not a surprising finding, according to James Argo, a medical geographer with the IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health, who conducted the study. “There is a very strong association [in the scientific literature] between chronic exposure to dioxins and an inverted sex ratio,” he said.
More Cars or More Transportation Alternatives: What Will the World Choose?
October 26, 2007 09:18 AM - , Worldwatch Institute
As Tata Motors, one of Asia’s leading automakers, prepares to tap into India’s middle-class market by releasing the “world’s cheapest car” in 2008, other countries with a long history of car dependence are grappling with ways to limit the social, health, and environmental costs of motorized transport. One alternative is so-called bus rapid transit (BRT), which operates like rail transport but offers more flexibility in routes. The systems are gaining popularity in cities in the automobile-loving United States as well as in rapidly developing nations in Asia and Latin America.
Is Beijing’s Air Quality Ready for the 2008 Olympics?
October 24, 2007 08:19 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute
The upcoming Summer Olympic Games have galvanized the host city of Beijing into a frenzy of efforts to beautify its image. With the clock ticking down to August 8, 2008, Beijing has expedited the revitalization of buildings along the city’s major roads, painting worn gray exteriors with more vibrant colors. Flat rooftops have been converted to more-attractive sloped ones, and shoddy and chaotic one-story houses are now hidden behind newly erected ancient-style walls decorated with beautiful imagery.
Increase in Grain Prices Affects U.S. Food Donations
October 22, 2007 09:22 AM - Jessica Hanson , Worldwatch Institute
From Illinois corn to Kansas wheat, U.S. grain crops are experiencing their fastest price hike since 1990. The rise in prices is being felt not only at the grocery store, but also in international food policy, as the costs of corn, cooking oil, and other items commonly purchased for U.S. food aid programs have increased sharply. The United States is the largest single donor of food worldwide, but the volume of aid provided through its leading assistance program, Food for Peace, dropped by more than half between 2000 and 2007, to 2.4 million metric tons, in response to a 35-percent increase in the cost of agricultural commodities in the last two years.
Why I care about pregnancy and fish
October 18, 2007 12:22 PM - Brian Halweil, Worldwatch Institute
I took particular interest in the recent U.S. scandal involving a seafood industry front group recommending that pregnant women eat more fish, despite existing concerns about high mercury levels in some species. Why? First, because I’ve been writing about seafood for Worldwatch for many years. Second, because my wife is just a few short weeks from giving birth to our first child.
In India, Chronic Diseases Grow With Consumption
October 15, 2007 07:59 AM - , Worldwatch Institute
Over the next decade, India’s burgeoning consumer class is likely headed for an onslaught of chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. A new report from the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that the proportion of deaths nationwide from long-term maladies will skyrocket from 53 percent in 2005 to nearly 67 percent by 2020.
Planet Wins Nobel Prize
October 14, 2007 09:18 AM - , Worldwatch Institute
The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a triumph for the planet and its inhabitants, who will increasingly struggle to adjust as the world warms.
It is with extreme satisfaction that we receive the news that Gore and the IPCC have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Oystein Dahle, Chairman of the Board of Worldwatch Institute and a leading Norwegian environmentalist.