Tue, Mar

ENN Weekly: August 20th - 24th

ENN rounds up the most important and compelling environmental news stories of the week. In the news August 20th - 24th: Fire retardant, thawing ice, toxic toys, plastic bags, and much more.

Top Ten Articles of the Week
In the news August 20th - 24th: Fire retardant, thawing ice, toxic toys, plastic bags, and much more.

1. Bush Official Faces Contempt Charge for Not Studying Environmental Impact of Fire Retardant
A federal judge in Montana has ordered the Bush administration's top forestry official to explain why he should not be held in contempt of court for the U.S. Forest Service's failure to analyze the environmental impact of dropping fish-killing fire retardant on wildfires. If found in contempt, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, could go to jail until the Forest Service complies with the court order to do the environmental review.

2. Antarctic Ice Thawing Faster Than Predicted
A thaw of Antarctic ice is outpacing predictions by the U.N. climate panel and could in the worst case drive up world sea levels by 2 meters (6 ft) by 2100, a leading expert said on Wednesday. Millions of people, from Bangladesh to Florida and some Pacific island states, live less than a meter above sea level. Most of the world's major cities, from Shanghai to Buenos Aires, are by the sea. Chris Rapley, the outgoing head of the British Antarctic Survey, said there were worrying signs of accelerating flows of ice towards the ocean from both Antarctica and Greenland with little sign of more snow falling inland to compensate.

3. New Study: Americans Reach Environmental Turning Point, Companies Need to Catch Up
A new study says the vast majority (87%) of consumers agreeing they are seriously concerned about the environment and most Americans are looking to the federal government to strengthen their enforcement of green regulations (73%). The study also found that while they say balance between economic growth and environmental protection is a good goal, the environment should come first when a conflict arises (52%). The study was done by GfK Roper Consulting, a division of GfK Custom Research North America, who today released its 2007 GfK Roper Green Gauge study.

4. Global Warming Causing Mediterranean Sea to Rise, Threatening Egypt's Lush Nile Delta
Millions of Egyptians could be forced permanently from their homes, the country's ability to feed itself devastated. That's what likely awaits this already impoverished and overpopulated nation by the end of the century, if predictions about climate change hold true. The World Bank describes Egypt as particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming, saying it faces potentially "catastrophic" consequences.


5. Lead Causes More U.S. Recalls of China-Made Toys
Excessive amounts of lead paint on toys and other children's products led the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue a recall of more than 300,000 Chinese-made items on Wednesday. The recall includes about 250,000 SpongeBob SquarePants address books and journals because they may have excessive levels of lead paint on their metal spiral bindings. SpongeBob is a popular cartoon character from the hit show that airs on Viacom Inc.'s Nickelodeon cable channel.

6. Africa Wages War on Scourge of Plastic Bags
They've become as much a symbol of Africa's landscape as the stereotypical lions and plains. Discarded plastic bags -- in the billions -- flutter from thorn-bushes across the continent, and clog up cities from Cape Town to Casablanca. South Africa was once producing 7 billion bags a year; Somaliland residents became so used to them they re-named them "flowers of Hargeisa" after their capital; and Kenya not so long ago churned out about 4,000 tonnes of polythene bags a month.

7. EPA Claims Stricter U.S. Refinery Emission Rules Not Needed
According to the US government, health risks linked with toxic air pollution from crude oil refineries are "acceptably low" and "don't justify" tighter federal rules, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday. The EPA was required to review its policy on refinery pollutants by a settlement reached in 2006 with environmental groups like the Sierra Club, who had sued the agency in 2005 for missing a 2003 deadline for issuing its review.

8. CSR's Impact on Brands Grows
American companies in nearly every sector say they embrace corporate social responsibility (CSR) not only because it's the right thing to do, but also because it strengthens their brands. They also recognize that a stronger brand is a more valuable one, which is an important factor since the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued standards this year for reporting how much brands and other intangible assets are worth. According to Laurance Allen, founder of Value News Network, FASB's actions will accelerate the integration of intangibles into mainstream financial analysis, affecting share price. The problem is that no one has been able to show exactly what impact CSR implementation has on brands, let alone measure it. Until now.

9. FEMA Moves Hurricane Victims Out of Trailers over Health Complaints
About 1,000 Louisiana families have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to move them out of government-issued trailers and mobile homes over concerns that the shelters are contaminated, FEMA officials said Thursday. Jim Stark, director of FEMA's Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office, said the agency already has moved -- or is moving -- about 140 of the families into apartments at the agency's expense.

10. Pigeon Dung Examined in Bridge Collapse
Pounded and strained by heavy traffic and weakened by missing bolts and cracking steel, the failed interstate bridge over the Mississippi River also faced a less obvious enemy: pigeons. Inspectors began documenting the buildup of pigeon dung on the span near downtown Minneapolis two decades ago. Experts say the corrosive guano deposited all over the Interstate 35W span's framework helped the steel beams rust faster.

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