Salting Roads takes a Toll on the Environment
January 14, 2015 10:49 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2
The United States has a salt problem, and it extends well beyond the excessive sodium we consume in our diets. In the winter months, municipalities rely on dumping salt on the roads to minimize the effects of ice. Altogether, the U.S. uses ten times the amount of salt on roadways than it does in the processed foods we consume. While the salt may help to keep drivers safe, it does come at a cost:
1. It Increases Our Own Salt Consumption
You can throw salt down on roads, but you can’t force it to stay there. In due time, salt makes its ways into nearby waterways where it lingers. As a result, a lot of the water we wind up drinking has higher levels of salt than it would otherwise. Vox cites a study that finds 84% of city-adjacent streams have higher levels of chloride thanks specifically to these road-salting techniques. Apparently, during the months following salted roads, 29% of these streams have more salt than the federal “safety limits” for drinking water allow.
An app to save 400 million animals
December 15, 2014 09:57 AM - Alex Rodriguez, MONGABAY.COM
Brazilian biologist Alex Bager has been leading a crusade to raise awareness of a major but neglected threat to biodiversity in his country.
Every year over 475 million animals die in Brazil as victims of roadkill, according to an estimate by Centro Brasileiro de Ecologia de Estradas (the Brazilian Centre for the Study of Road Ecology) or CBEE, an initiative funded and coordinated by Bager. This means 15 animals are run down every second on Brazilian roads and highways.
"The numbers are really scary and we need people to know about them," Bager said.
To register cases of roadkill throughout the country, Bager came up with the idea of an app, now used by thousands of citizen scientists. And a national day of action in November saw hundreds of volunteers participate in events to highlight the impact of roadkill on biodiversity.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
December 3, 2014 10:18 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or The People’s Tree, began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide The People’s Tree. This national forest also works with state forests to provide companion trees that are smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C.
This year, the 88-foot-tall white spruce tree was harvested from the Chippewa National Forest in northeastern Minnesota by Jim Scheff who won the Logger of the Year award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI).
That begs the question how can a logger win an award from a sustainability group?
China gets serious about reducing smoking
December 2, 2014 02:21 PM -
In 2009, China's estimated 300 million smokers consumed a staggering 2.3 trillion cigarettes: more than the number smoked in the next four top tobacco-consuming countries—Indonesia, Japan, Russia, and the United States—combined. The health toll is enormous as well: Tobacco causes roughly 1 million deaths in China each year, including 100,000 fatalities blamed on secondhand smoke, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). If tobacco use is not curtailed, WHO warns, China’s death toll could rise to 3 million each year by 2050.
The nation’s capital, Beijing, is taking that chilling message to heart. On 28 November, the Beijing Municipal Government adopted a ban on smoking in all indoor public places—"with no loopholes and no exemptions," crowed Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO representative in China, in a press release. The new law will take effect on 1 June 2015.
Is Premium Milk on the Horizon?
December 1, 2014 09:41 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
Could premium milk be the greatest coup for beverage companies since bottled water? Coca-Cola apparently thinks so. Like its competitors within the beverage industry, the company is trying to find new ways to boost profits since their flagship products, fizzy drinks, have long been suffering from flat sales. While more consumers avoid both sugary and diet sodas and hipsters find alternatives from cold brewed bottled coffee to kombucha, Coca-Cola’s shareholders want increased sales. Premium milk could be the answer for Coke. Coca-Cola is a major investor in Fairlife, which promises to transform the dairy industry by providing “more vroom for your milk.” Starting with the marketing, this is not your parents’ or grandparents’ dairy: instead of pastoral scenes of farmers and cows, the ads are a composite of Alicia Silverstone Aerosmith videos, Marilyn Monroe’s iconic Seven Year Itch photo and a certain scene in Something about Mary. So what is all the fuss about? After all, it is just milk, right? Not according to Coca-Cola.
The link between Omega-3 fatty acid and stopping smoking
November 30, 2014 08:36 AM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels
Think you’ve tried everything to quit smoking, but just couldn’t do it? Then you’ll want to read on. According to a new study, taking omega-3 supplements reduces craving for nicotine and even reduces the number of cigarettes you smoke a day.
“The substances and medications used currently to help people reduce and quit smoking are not very effective and cause adverse effects that are not easy to cope with. The findings of this study indicated that omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly,” said Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar, head of the addictions program at the University of Haifa.
If ladybugs move into your house this fall, make them welcome
November 21, 2014 09:49 AM - Rob Forman, Rutgers University
During the warm months of the year, ladybugs are like adorable, bright-colored lapel pins. They land on us, accessorize our clothing in brilliant red or orange with stylish black spots, and are delightful to have around. Several cultures even think of ladybugs as good luck charms for anything from marriage to childbirth to the weather to a good harvest. Then fall arrives and the ladybugs need to find warmth, which is most available inside people’s homes – where they often descend in large numbers. Suddenly they’re not as cute to many people as they seemed outdoors. But Jessica Ware, an insect expert and assistant professor of biology at Rutgers University-Newark, says having ladybugs indoors serves a very useful purpose, and humans should welcome their temporary houseguests.
ENERGY STAR's first multifamily properties announced today
November 13, 2014 08:31 AM - ENERGY STAR
Roughly one-third of the U.S. population lives in the country’s 500,000 multifamily buildings, and they spend $22 billion on energy every year. Until this year, apartment and condo managers lacked the tools to measure how much energy they were wasting and compare their performance nationwide. Meanwhile, energy costs for renters have risen by 20 percent over the past decade.
Today, a new era of savings will be ushered in when the U.S EPA announces the first set of multifamily properties to earn the ENERGY STAR certification. The ENERGY STAR first became available to the sector this September, after a three-year partnership with Fannie Mae to develop the scoring system for multifamily properties.
Good job: were using less water!
November 5, 2014 01:48 PM - U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Water use across the country reached its lowest recorded level in nearly 45 years. According to a new USGS report, about 355 billion gallons of water per day (Bgal/d) were withdrawn for use in the entire United States during 2010.
This represents a 13 percent reduction of water use from 2005 when about 410 Bgal/d were withdrawn and the lowest level since before 1970.
“Reaching this 45-year low shows the positive trends in conservation that stem from improvements in water-use technologies and management,” said Mike Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior. “Even as the U.S. population continues to grow, people are learning to be more water conscious and do their part to help sustain the limited freshwater resources in the country.”
Baby Boomers Advocate for Sustainable Communities, Too
November 5, 2014 07:58 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
If we are to believe much of what we see in the press, millennials will have to make a more sustainable world to get us out of the mess that the baby boomers are leaving behind. But such generalities may not be necessarily true. Even AARP, which has paid plenty of attention to the baby boomer vs. millennials conflict, has made the case that its membership is concerned about the same issues with which the younger generation is often preoccupied. For example, one may not intuitively think of AARP as a locus of information on smart cities and better urban planning. This powerful lobbying group, however, has an impressive archive that inspires its members to advocate for more “liveable communities.”