ENN Weekly: August 27th - 31st

ENN rounds up the most important and compelling environmental news stories of the week. In the news August 27th - 31st: River pollution, population and climate, arsenic in drinking water, glass-sand beaches, and much more.

Top Ten Articles of the Week
In the news August 27th - 31st: River pollution, population and climate, arsenic in drinking water, glass-sand beaches, and much more.

1. China Rivers Threaten Sixth of Population
Polluters along two of China's main rivers have defied a decade-old clean-up effort, leaving much of the water unfit to touch, let alone drink, and a risk to a sixth of the population, state media said on Monday. Half the check points along the Huai River and its tributaries in central and eastern China showed pollution of "Grade 5" or worse -- the top of the dial in key toxins, meaning that the water was unfit for human contact and may not be fit even for irrigation, national legislators were told.

2. China Says One-Child Policy Helps Protect Climate
China says its one-child policy has helped the fight against global warming by avoiding 300 million births, the equivalent of the population of the United States. But delegates at U.N. climate change talks in Vienna said on Thursday birth control is unlikely to find favour as a major policy theme, partly because of opposition by the Catholic Church and some developing nations trying to increase their population.

3. Many Nations Suffer Problem of Arsenic in Drinking Water, New Research Finds
Arsenic in drinking water is a global threat to health, affecting more than 70 countries and 137 million people, according to new research. Large numbers of people are unknowingly exposed to unsafe levels of arsenic in their drinking water, Peter Ravenscroft from the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge, told an annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society in London on Wednesday.

4. New Zealand Warns of Toxic Chinese Toothpaste
New Zealand on Wednesday asked retailers and consumers to dispose of 11 brands of Chinese-made toothpaste after tests confirmed they contained toxic chemicals. The Ministry of Health said in a statement that a third of the Chinese-made toothpaste tested contained "unacceptable levels" of diethylene glycol. Diethylene glycol is an industrial solvent used in paint and antifreeze and can cause kidney and liver damage.


5. Sand-Like, Pulverized Glass Seen as One Solution to Florida Beach Erosion
icture a beautiful beach spanning miles of coastline, gently lapped by aqua-colored water -- and sprinkled with glass. Ouch? Think again. It feels just like sand, but with granules that sparkle in the sunlight. Faced with the constant erosion of Florida's beaches, Broward County officials are exploring using recycled glass -- crushed into tiny grains and mixed with regular sand -- to help fill gaps. It's only natural, backers of the idea say, since sand is the main ingredient in glass.

6. Airlines Body Sees End Of Paper Tickets In 2008
The global airlines body IATA said on Monday it had placed its last order for paper tickets, clearing the way for air travel to be based entirely on electronic ticketing from June 1 next year. The changeover from paper would not only cut airlines' costs by $9 for every traveller but would also mean the industry - criticised by environmentalists for its part in global warming - would save 50,000 mature trees a year.

7. Antarctic Ozone Hole Appears Early, Growing
A hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has appeared earlier than usual in 2007, the United Nations weather agency said on Tuesday. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said it would not be clear for several weeks whether the ozone hole, which is expected to continue growing until early October, would be larger than its record size in 2006. "It is still too early to give a definitive statement about the development of this year's ozone hole and the degree of ozone loss that will occur. This will, to a large extent, depend on the meteorological conditions," the Geneva-based agency said.

8. Indonesian Palm Oil Boom Threatens Orangutan, Environment
Naingolan shunts the excavator into high gear and tears into a patch of smoldering forest on Borneo island, clearing the way for yet another palm oil plantation that Indonesia hopes will tap into a surge in global demand for biofuels. Despite government claims pristine jungles are escaping the effects of the "green solution" to the energy crunch, the boom is threatening the survival of animals like the endangered orangutan and turning the country into a major global warming contributor, environmentalists say.

9. Company Says Product Will Help Heal Soil after Wildfires
The millions of acres scorched by wildfires and left susceptible to mudslides can be shored up by spreading inexpensive granules that a company says will keep barren soil in place when the rainy season arrives. U.S. Forest Service scientists have been testing Encap LLC's product that bonds the clay inside soil to form a "net" to help vegetation recover. Called PAM-12, it's a synthetic chemical that looks like salt and is wrapped in recycled paper.

10. Norway Unveils "First Ecological Prison"
Norway put on show on Monday what it calls "the world's first ecological prison," where inmates play important roles in daily operations and learn to do their bit to protect the environment. The Bastoey Island low security prison uses solar panels for energy, produces most of its own food, recycles everything it can and tries to reduce its carbon footprint.

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