ENN Weekly: April 23rd - 27th

ENN rounds up the most important and compelling environmental news stories of the week. In the news April 23rd - 27th: The discovery of an Earth-like planet, Bush's controversial endangered wildlife plan, the ten best green buildings in the U.S., a possible Parkinson's-pesticides link, and much more.

Top Ten Articles of the Week
In the news April 23rd - 27th: The discovery of an Earth-like planet, Bush's controversial endangered wildlife plan, the ten best green buildings in the U.S., a possible Parkinson's-pesticides link, and much more.

1. Scientists Find Most Earth-Like Planet Yet
European astronomers have spotted what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet outside our solar system, with balmy temperatures that could support water and, potentially, life. They have not directly seen the planet, orbiting a red dwarf star called Gliese 581. But measurements of the star suggest that a planet not much larger than the Earth is pulling on it, the researchers say in a letter to the editor of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics

2. U.S. Senators Question Bush Endangered Wildlife Plan
Bush administration plan to change rules of the Endangered Species Act protecting American wildlife drew pointed questions Wednesday from five U.S. senators, who called the proposed changes "troubling." The senators posed 15 questions to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, asking for full responses within one month, with no forward movement on rule-making until they are answered.

3. U.S. Architects Announce 10 Best Green Buildings
The best environmentally friendly buildings in the United States include a visitor center in Texas, a water treatment plant in Connecticut and a house in California, U.S. architects announced Monday. In presenting the Top 10 Green Awards, the American Institute of Architects celebrated the best examples of sustainable architecture and environmental design.

4. California Farmers Experiment with Growing Oilseed Plants for Biodiesel
California farmers are hoping to strike oil -- vegetable oil, that is -- with a series of experimental trials involving crops that can be processed into biodiesel. Some of the efforts to produce the sought-after fuel call for growing hearty crops such as canola on unproductive land that can't support higher-value produce.

5. Studies Line Up on Parkinson's-Pesticides Link
Evidence that pesticides can cause Parkinson's disease is stronger than it has ever been after a meeting of experts who have put together links in animals and people, scientists say. One study shows that farm workers who used the common weedkiller paraquat had two to three times the normal risk of Parkinson's, a degenerative brain disease that eventually paralyzes patients.

6. Canadian Economy Can Handle Emission Plan, Flaherty Says
The Canadian economy will be able to handle any impact of the Conservative government's plan to cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Thursday. After a 30-minute speech in Toronto to the Canada-India Business Council, Flaherty told reporters the economic effects of the new measures would be significant but manageable.

7. Ford Names Exec Head of Environmental Sustainability Efforts
Ford Motor Co. has promoted Susan M. Cischke to a senior-level management position heading the automaker's global environmental sustainability efforts, the company announced Monday. In a conference call with reporters, Chief Executive Alan Mulally said Cischke will be responsible for charting Ford's course on future products and manufacturing techniques as they relate to energy consumption and environmental protection.

8. Indonesia's Aceh, Papua Pledge To Protect Forests
Governors from three Indonesian provinces which are home to most of the country's rainforests pledged on Thursday to conserve them as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change. The governors of Aceh, Papua and West Papua provinces appealed for the government and the international community to provide financial incentives through carbon trading schemes.

9. Scientists Demand Changes to Film by Global Warming Skeptic
A group of British climate scientists is demanding changes to a skeptical documentary about global warming, saying there are grave errors in the program billed as a response to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." "The Great Global Warming Swindle" aired on British television in March and is coming out soon on DVD. It argues that man-made emissions have a marginal impact on the world's climate and warming can better be explained by changing patterns of solar activity.

10. Coalition Aims To Build Nation's First Successful Artificial Surf Reef
Californians have created plenty of surf spots by accident with harbor jetties, power plant outflows and even drainage pipes. Creating one on purpose is proving more difficult. In Ventura County, engineers want to build the nation's first successful artificial "surf reef" at a site known as Oil Piers, an accidentally created surfing hot spot that disappeared when a pier was demolished in 1998.

Photo: In celebration of Earth Day, 2007. A classic view of our planet as seen from space. Credit: NASA

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