Oct 31, 2007

Safety Pays - "It's amazing we have one very minor injury and that's all."

"It's amazing we have one very minor injury and that's all."

Neil Schultz, Polk County Sheriff's Office official, regarding Monday's huge explosion at a Des Moines-area industrial solvents plant

 "We could see the explosions from here," Colvin said. "We saw pools of flames come up and we watched the billows of smoke. When we first went outside there was a distinct chemical odor, but now that the plume has risen higher, you can't smell it, it's not as noticeable."

Read more at Des Moines Register.

Body fat is linked to six types of cancers.

"Once an individual reaches the 18-ounce weekly limit for red meat, every additional 1.7 ounces consumed a day increases cancer risk by 15%, the report said. Every 1.7 ounces of processed meat consumed a day increases cancer risk by 21%, ...

Alcoholic beverages are a factor in cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon and liver, the report says, urging that consumption be limited to two drinks a day for men and one for women.

"It doesn't matter whether you are talking about wine, beer or spirits. When it comes to cancer, even small amounts of alcohol raise your risk,"
 The 517-page report is available at www.dietandcancerreport.org.

There's no standard, enforceable definition of a "non-toxic" or "environmentally friendly" household cleaner,


Unfortunately, experts say, deciphering the labels of personal and household products isn't as simple as selecting organic produce. There's no standard, enforceable definition of a "non-toxic" or "environmentally friendly" household cleaner, says Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist and policy analyst at Consumers Union. Such terms don't provide consumers with any real guarantees about products' ingredients, she says.

There's no real standard for "natural" or "organic" cosmetics, either, says Jane Houlihan, vice president for research at the Environmental Working Group.

The Food and Drug Administration requires that cosmetics companies test their products for safety so consumers don't develop a rash or eye infection. But it doesn't require companies to study whether products contain chemicals such as endocrine disruptors.

These chemicals — which include preservatives called parabens that are found in many shampoos and conditioners — act like hormones and are linked to reproductive and development problems in infants, Houlihan says.



For chemicals that alter the hormone system, the timing of exposure is critical, says Richard Jirtle, a professor at Duke University Medical Center.

His work suggests that endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol A, or BPA, may affect developing offspring in the earliest days of pregnancy.

In an experiment published in July in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jirtle found that feeding BPA to female mice changed the color of their babies' coats. BPA caused more than cosmetic changes. In this breed, brown mice grow up with healthy weights, while those with yellow coats grow up to be obese, with a higher susceptibility to cancer and diabetes.

In Jirtle's experiment, mothers fed BPA before, during and after pregnancy had twice as many yellow babies - which made up 21% of their litters - as mothers who weren't fed the chemicals.

In humans, endocrine disruptors are of most concern during critical windows of vulnerability, especially the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

The good news for moms-to-be is that, unlike toxins such as mercury and lead, which can remain in the body for years, these chemicals don't stick around. Tracey Woodruff, an obstetrician at the University of California-San Francisco, says because it won't be stored in bone or fat as some chemicals are, BPA quickly exits the body in urine.

By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY


$612 million to promote "walking"

Filed under "the worst way to spend tax dollars"

"And you'd think walking would be free." Thanks to years of poor planning and an increasingly lazy (sorry, "busy") population, the U.S. federal government, through the Department of Transportation, is spending $612 million for a program called Safe Routes to School in about 20 states. This program sets out to "help build sidewalks, post traffic signs and find ways to make it easier for students to bike or walk to school."

autobloggreen VIA, Associated Press]"

"'Everywhere Chemicals' in Plastics Alarm Parents"

"Consider the BornFree baby bottle. It's made from a plastic five times as expensive as the one routinely used for baby bottles. It has to be shipped all the way from Israel. And its retail price -- $9.50 -- is about triple that of a conventional bottle. It's also a big seller in stores catering to parents who want the safest possible environment for their babies, stores where items labeled 'bisphenol A-free' and 'phthalate-free' line up next to the cloth diapers and breast pumps. BornFree is 'so popular, their products have been on back order because we can't keep them in stock,' says Cara Vidano of Natural Resources, a store here for new and expectant parents. To anyone not contemplating parenthood, phthalates and bisphenol A sound like something children bring home on chemistry quizzes, not cuddle in their cribs. But these chemicals are at the heart of worldwide scientific investigation and a debate over whether they are harmful to the very young. Parents, activists and many scientists are concerned that if a baby drinks from a bottle made with bisphenol A or gums a toy made with phthalates, he or she could suffer serious, even permanent, harm." Elizabeth Weise and Liz Szabo report for USA TODAY Oct. 31, 2007.  (source: sej.org)

Read it here:

The relation between consumption and water use

Water footprint

People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. The water footprint of an individual, business or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual, business or nation.

Some facts and figures

  • The production of one kilogram of beef requires 16 thousand litres of water.
  • To produce one cup of coffee we need 140 litres of water.
  • The water footprint of China is about 700 cubic meter per year per capita. Only about 7% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China.
  • Japan with a footprint of 1150 cubic meter per year per capita, has about 65% of its total water footprint outside the borders of the country.
  • The USA water footprint is 2500 cubic meter per year per capita.

Visit http://www.waterfootprint.org to find out more or visit my water fact links below:

Water conservation facts  http://neutralcleaning.com/Water%20Conservation.htm 

Water facts http://neutralcleaning.com/Water%20Facts.htm

Mercury Emissions From US Fires Surprisingly High

Forest fires and other blazes in the United States likely release about 30 percent as much mercury as the nation's industrial sources, according to initial estimates in a new study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Fires in Alaska, California, Oregon, Louisiana, and Florida emit particularly large quantities of the toxic metal, and the Southeast emits more than any other region, according to the research. The mercury released by forest fires originally comes from industrial and natural sources.
The paper estimates that fires in the continental United States and Alaska release about 44 metric tons of mercury into the atmosphere every year. It is the first study to estimate mercury emissions for each state, based on a new computer model developed at NCAR. The authors caution that their estimates for the nation and for each state are preliminary and are subject to a 50 percent or greater margin of error. A metric ton is about 10% larger than a U.S. ton.
Mercury emissions from fires. This map shows the annual average (in metric tons) of mercury released by fires for every state except Hawaii. The estimates are based on fires from 2002 to 2006. (Credit: Illustration by Steve Deyo, Copyright UCAR)

Oct 30, 2007

Oil bigger threat than climate change in 10 years

Reuters: Rising oil prices are a bigger threat to the world economy than climate change in the next 10 years - that was the surprising verdict of company executives from carbon trading, fuel cell, oil exploration and solar power firms who attended the Reuters Smaller Companies Forum. But climate change is likely to have a greater effect on the global economy over a 50-year timespan, according to those executives from old and new energy companies. "In a short-term scenario it is ...


45,000 square miles of forest are being lost across the world each year

45000 sq miles of forest lost across the world

Times of India: A report of United Nations Environment Programme, Global Environment Outlook-4, has warned that the consumption levels are fast depleting world resources. According to the report, 45,000 square miles of forest are being lost across the world each year, 60% of the world's major rivers have been dammed or diverted and the fresh fish populations have declined by 50% in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, the biodiversity register of the planet is becoming thinner by the day. Some 30% ...


The Achilles Heel of Nuclear Power

No, I don't mean cost, safety, waste, or proliferation — though those are all serious problems. I mean the Achilles heel of nuclear power in the context of climate change: water.simpsons.jpg

Climate change means water shortages in many places and hotter water everywhere. Both are big problems for nukes.

… nuclear power is the most water-hungry of all energy sources, with a single reactor consuming 35-65 million litres of water each day.

The Australians, stuck in a once-in-a-1000-years drought, understandably worry about this a lot:

Operating a 2,400 Watt fan heater for one hour consumes 0.01 litres of water if wind is the energy source, 0.26 litres if solar is the energy source, 4.5 litres if coal is the energy source, or 5.5 litres if nuclear power is the energy source.

Hotter water is another serious worry: (read more here…)

How serious is Wal-Mart about going green?

Wal-Mart gets ready to reduce emissions, waste and operating costs
How serious is Wal-Mart about going green? Enough that their mission, according to GreenTech Media, is to "wean itself from fossil fuels and generate zero waste from its operations." A goal like that certainly gets our attention.

This change won't happen any time soon. GreenTech writes that, "In five years, Wal-Mart is aiming to make its existing stores 20 percent more energy-efficient and to reduce the energy consumption of new stores by 30 percent. It's also working to make its transportation fleet more efficient and to turn its trash into a revenue stream."

Wal-Mart is getting ready to launch a new website where green companies can offer their technologies to the retailing giant. If Wal-Mart thinks it can reduce its environmental footprint and its operating costs by using the technology, then it's off to the races. Wal-Mart's site will launch next week at www.cleantech.com/accelerato (it currently just says "Testing page").

Now, while this effort is noble, if Wal-Mart truly wants to green all of its operations, I'd say that will have to include the many factories that produce all those products Wal-Mart sells. Sure, it's a huge challenge, but there's no time like the present to get started.

Related: From Source: autobloggreen.com
Wal-Mart's Thermal King diesel-hybrid trucks are biodiesel-ready

GreenWashing Gold Rush scramble covered by WSJ

"The green stampede is on.... Handicapping the Environmental Gold Rush"
"In the race to profit off the scramble to go green, there will be winners and losers. Here's how the players currently stack up."
From Capitol Hill to California and Brussels to Beijing, multinational companies are stepping up their lobbying and tweaking their product lines in response to demands that they get more environmentally attuned. New companies -- even new industries -- are challenging the established giants to exploit a growing market for everything from green cars to green fuels.

And a host of middlemen have sprung up to make markets in new financial instruments created by the proliferation of green-oriented subsidies and mandates. All these players are jostling to shape the new government rules to give them the bulk of the benefit -- and hit someone else with the bulk of the burden. Ultimately, the cost will be passed on to consumers.

Big energy burners are experimenting with ways to use fossil fuel more efficiently -- and to roll out supplemental fuels. General Motors Corp., for instance, is developing more hybrid gasoline-and-electric cars, a technology it dismissed a few years ago. ConocoPhillips plans to start brewing small quantities of diesel fuel from animal fat. Utilities are experimenting with a technique to turn coal into electricity that would shoot the resulting greenhouse-gas emissions underground instead of up into the air.

Alternative-energy producers are having a field day as new regulations and subsidies, and improving technology, make their power more attractive to investors. Hosts of new projects are springing up as Wall Street sinks money into everything from wind turbines to solar panels to ethanol. Credit Suisse Group just introduced a new "global-warming index" of stocks its analysts believe will benefit from the push toward lower emissions -- one of several new green-investment instruments from major banks.

Still, skepticism is warranted. A great green future has been heralded before -- and then it fizzled. In the wake of the 1970s energy crisis, Washington adopted generous subsidies for synthetic fuel and solar panels, the oil patch diversified into nuclear energy, and Detroit retooled to crank out fuel-efficient cars. Then oil prices fell back down, and those experiments fell by the wayside.

Two factors suggest today's energy crunch -- and resulting green interest -- may prove more enduring. Unlike the 1970s oil-price spike, which was due to the temporary supply disruption of the Arab oil embargo, today's oil-price rise is due largely to rising demand from the developing world, a trend many analysts predict will intensify. By 2030, annual global energy demand is projected to grow 53% above the 2004 level, according to the International Energy Agency. Even if governments adopt more aggressive policies to encourage energy efficiency, global energy demand would still rise 37% by 2030.

What's more, there's rising pressure to confront an environmental issue virtually unmentioned a generation ago: global warming. In 2005, European governments slapped utilities and some other big industrial sectors with caps on their emissions of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, which is produced when fossil fuel is burned. Now Europe is toughening those constraints. The U.S., the world's top greenhouse-gas emitter, is considering imposing a carbon cap, too. That would amount to a new tax on fossil-fuel consumption -- over time, a spur for corporations to make serious changes.

The financial flows in this green push remain relatively small for now. And they're competing against a huge, and cheap, installed energy base. But investment is growing fast. What follows is a snapshot of potential winners and losers as business tries to shift its green portfolio from the red side of the ledger into the black.

Read more from --Mr. Ball is The Wall Street Journal's environmental news editor,

600,000 brain damage babies born in the US... because pregnant mothers ate mercury-contaminated fish

"Power Plants Are Focus of Drive To Cut Mercury"
"Despite decades of government attempts to regulate it, ban it and erase it from household use, the poisonous metal mercury remains a threat to the environment and public health, especially to children and to women of childbearing age. As many as 600,000 babies may be born in the USA each year with irreversible brain damage because pregnant mothers ate mercury-contaminated fish, the Environmental Protection Agency says. Medical researchers are just beginning to explore such mercury exposure in adults, which can leave some people struggling through life in a disorienting 'fish fog.' Nationwide, more than 8,000 lakes, rivers and bays are compromised by mercury's toxic effects. Where is all the mercury coming from and can something be done to stop it? A partial answer can be found in the nearly 500 coal-burning power plants that supply half the nation's electricity. The $298-billion-a-year electric utility industry is the nation's largest source of mercury air emissions and the latest target of federal and state clean-air regulations. Mercury emissions in the USA have been cut nearly in half since 1990 as municipal, medical and hazardous-waste incinerators closed or installed modern pollution controls. But mercury from coal-burning power plants has risen, largely because there have been no federal limits on such emissions." Larry Wheeler reports for Gannett News Service in USA TODAY Oct. 30, 2007.

Read it here:

NYT Blog Covers Broad Waterfront

New York Times Environmental Blog Covers Broad Waterfront

"By 2050 or so, the world population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today. Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life. In Dot Earth, reporter Andrew C. Revkin examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet's limits. Supported in part by a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Mr. Revkin tracks relevant news from suburbia to Siberia, and conducts an interactive exploration of trends and ideas with readers and experts."

Read it here:
Source: sej.org

"The Mercury Connection,"

Newspaper Tests Show High Levels of Mercury in People Near Hot Spots

As part of a three-part series called "The Mercury Connection," The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier identified two areas in South Carolina with high levels of mercury in fish and collected hair samples from people who eat from these waters. Tests showed 17 people had levels higher than a federal safety benchmark and six had levels that rank among the highest tested in nation. The series comes amid a growing debate over a proposal for a new coal-fired power plant near one of the mercury hot spots identified by the newspaper. The series also showed how South Carolina government officials have had advanced equipment to test people with mercury contamination for three years but have only done one test for a member of the public. Tony Bartelme reports Oct. 28-30, 2007.

Read it here:

Lead Poisoning: "Despite Ban, Risks Remain"

 "Massive recalls of lead-laced trinkets and lead-painted toys from China are making news these days. Mattel recalled 675,000 Barbie toys last month, including Barbie's Dream Puppy House and Kitty Condo. But for the thousands of kids sickened by lead each year in the USA, it's not Barbie's Dream House that makes them sick. It's their own house. The U.S. government banned lead paint in 1978, and U.S. oil companies began phasing out leaded gasoline in 1975. Since then, the percentage of children with high levels of lead in their blood has plummeted from 88% in the 1970s to 1.6% in 2005. It's 'one of the great triumphs in public health in this country over the last 20 to 25 years,' says Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Joel Schwartz of the Harvard School of Public Health calculated that average IQ levels nationwide have risen four to five points as a result of lower lead levels in the environment. But Landrigan and others warn that the effort hasn't wiped out lead poisoning. They consider that goal feasible: There's a broad public health effort to eliminate lead poisoning by 2010, but current estimates indicate it won't happen that soon. Nearly three decades after the paint ban, hundreds of thousands of children -- most of them under age 6 -- show signs of lead exposure. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that one in four children live in housing with deteriorated lead paint, part of a toxic legacy from generations past when less was known about the dangers of such substances." Greg Toppo reports for USA TODAY Oct. 28, 2007.

Read it here:

Grants assist seven Wisconsin communities with electronics recycling

MADISON -- Seven Wisconsin organizations and municipalities have been able to boost their electronics recycling programs thanks to grants from a retailer of consumer electronics. Best Buy Co. ... Read Full Article

EHS, PSM corporate value - Priceless

"If our approach to process safety and risk management had been more disciplined and comprehensive, this tragedy could have been prevented."
QUOTE: BP America President Bob Malone, in a written statement after the company agreed to plead guilty to a felony and pay an additional $50 million criminal fine stemming from federal Clean Air Act violations tied to the March 2005 Texas City refinery explosion

Little to suggest a large-scale, climatological catastrophe playing out any time soon in the Midwest

"While the West burns and the Southeast bakes, there is little to suggest a large-scale, climatological catastrophe playing out any time soon in the Midwest. In fact, farmers in Iowa and Minnesota had trouble last week harvesting their corn and soybean crops because there had been too much rain. But potentially huge battles over water are looming in the Great Lakes region as cities, towns and states near and far fight for access to the world's largest body of fresh surface water, all of it residing in the five Great Lakes. Call them water wars, with the Great Lakes states hunkering down to protect what they see as theirs. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic candidate for president, gave voice to his water lust early this month by suggesting that water from the Great Lakes could be piped to the rapidly growing -- and increasingly dry -- Southwestern states. 'States like Wisconsin are awash in water,' Richardson told the Las Vegas Sun. Richardson soon backed off after swift protests from the Midwest, including a resounding "No" from Michigan's Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. That won't be the end of it." Tim Jones reports for the Chicago Tribune Oct. 28, 2007.

Read it here: chicagotribune

Harsh on the CFLs: One designer has threatened to wage war against them.

Alice Rawsthorn writes an excellent article about the transition from incandescent through compact fluorescent to, ultimately, LEDs.
She is a bit harsh on the CFLs: One designer has threatened to wage war against them. Another reckons they're so depressing that we'll be driven into psychotherapy. A manufacturer describes them as "very unfriendly" and, even, "a little violent."
"Designers and manufacturers are already trying to overcome these problems. The British designer, Tom Dixon, recently launched Blow, a cloudy white shade, shaped specifically to soften the chilly glow of a CFL. He is now developing a new low-energy bulb, which, he hopes, will resolve some of the aesthetic problems of existing CFLs.

Even so, most designers see CFLs as an interim technology, which will be phased out as soon as LEDs become affordable. "

In the future, lights need no longer be independent objects, hanging from the ceiling, or perching on a table or floor. The Japanese designer, Naoto Fukasawa, is experimenting with the integration of lighting and other domestic functions that are now executed by separate objects, into the modular panels of "intelligent walls." Ingo Maurer has already sunk LEDs into walls and tables in one-off commissions.

Richardson - "States like Wisconsin are awash in water" and wants some.

Don't You Dare Touch Our Water - 2007-10-29_094024.jpgtreehugger.com

 That's what a lot of Great Lakes states and provinces are saying; as John noted earlier, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson from New Mexico said "States like Wisconsin are awash in water" and wants some.

He backed down, but the Chicago Tribune suggests that will not be the end of the issue. "The fires in Southern California, the prolonged drought in the Southeast and the shrinking flow of the Colorado River, which feeds seven Western states, have underscored the importance of water supplies in rapidly developing regions and the determination of a handful of states to hold on to a resource they see as key to their economic future."

With fresh water supplies dwindling in the West and South, the Great Lakes are the natural-resource equivalent of the fat pension fund, and some politicians are eager to raid it. The lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world's surface fresh water.

"You're going to see increasing pressure to gain access to this [water] supply," said Aaron Packman, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University. "Clearly it's a case of different regional interests competing for this water."

The Great Lakes states and provinces are trying to put together a water compact to protect the water, and it is, of course, an international issue. In a world where planning principles and logic prevailed, one would look forward to a reversal of the migration to the southwest as people come back north for the newly temperate climate, but no, according to an environmental lawyer: there is "no way for the Great Lakes states to prevent the U.S. government from taking the water if the federal government wants to do so."

"It doesn't make economic sense to send Great Lakes water to the High Plains or the Southwest, but we know the thirsty will be calling." Read full at Chicago Tribune

Wood Construction vs Deforestation

From treehugger.comprincemix.jpg quotes from Prince Charles- "The simple fact is that combating deforestation is likely to be one of the quickest and most cost-effective means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions" -"Wood can be the perfect sustainable material; it sucks up CO2 and once cut, it holds it for the life of the building." a reader writes: " I was going through the feed today and noticed a story that made me think about the other.

I don't believe that there is any contradiction here. HRH is talking about the burning of forests, particularly the rainforest, to clear land for agriculture (including palm oil plantations) or to use as fuel. There is also rainforest habitat loss due to illegal logging of exotic woods for architectural uses.

The architecture and construction we show on TreeHugger (and the wood construction we promote) is built from sustainably harvested forests, usually close to the location of construction. Our favorite woods are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)  who say  "In many forests around the world, logging still contributes to habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples, and violence against people who work in the forest and the wildlife that dwells there. Many consumers of wood and paper, and many forest products companies believe that the link between logging and these negative impacts can be broken, and that forests can be managed and protected at the same time. Forest Stewardship Council certification is one way to improve the practice of forestry."


TreeHugger suggests that one should Choose their wood wisely, and avoid phony industry-run certification schemes.

Pick the right wood and use it wisely and there are few better, greener building materials.


Every year as much as one-third of Madagascar, one of the planet's most biodiverse islands, goes up in flames.

Madagascar is world-famous for its lemurs, a diverse group of primates that are endemic to the Indian Ocean island nation. Madagascar is also known for widespread bush fires that are usually set by farmers and cattle herders seeking to clear land for subsistence agriculture or promote the growth of new vegetation for animal fodder. These fires sometimes escape scrub areas and spread into parks and endangered forest areas.

While the Malagasy government has tried to crack down on burning, the lack of an effective monitoring system has made it difficult to track fires and keep them from spreading. The new Fire Alert System – a collaborative effort between Madagascar's ministry of Environment, the International Resources Group, and Conservation International with USAID funding -- allows anyone with an Internet connection to see where fires are burning. The system includes email alerts that notify subscribers when a fire has been detected in a specified area.

Data from the Fire Alert System can be viewed using Google Earth

CHINA - No clean air or sewage treatment...

About 60 percent of Chinese cities still regularly suffer from air pollution and have no centralized sewage treatment facilities, according to a report by China's environment watchdog, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). Read more on how China struggles with urban pollution from mongabay

The widely touted "hydrogen economy" is a particularly cruel hoax.

James Kunstler, for instance, argues in his 2005 book The Long Emergency (see Rolling Stone excerpt here) that after oil production peaks, suburbia "will become untenable" and "we will have to say farewell to easy motoring." In Rolling Stone, Kunstler writes, "Suburbia will come to be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world." (No -- that distinction probably belongs to China's torrid love-affair with coal power.)

But suppose Kunstler is right about peak oil. Suppose oil hits $160 a barrel and gasoline goes to $5 dollars a gallon in, say, 2015. That price would still be lower than many Europeans pay today. You could just go out and buy the best hybrid and cut your fuel bill in half, back to current levels. Hardly the end of suburbia.

The 'Comments', not this article by the GRIST were great... http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/10/29/01347/293

"Comments on ..latest post: It never ceases to amaze me how informative and helpful Romm is concerning the science of global warming, and how incurious he seems to be about solutions.  In particular, he obviously is not very interested in trains or walkable communities, and I don't just mean the occasional reference.  

He obviously is not doing much reading on oil.  $5/gallon by 2015 is also pretty funny, if it wasn't tragic, because it will likely be much higher by then.  But the point [odograph] is not exactly what the price of oil will be when, the point is that we should be seriously considering alternatives to classic suburbia, which fortunately many contributors to gristmill do."

Wisconsin wastewater treatment plants named best-operated by EPA

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently named the village of Trempealeau Wastewater Treatment facility a recipient of the 2007 National Clean Water Act Recognition Award. The award recognizes municipalities and industries for outstanding and creative technological achievements in wastewater treatment and pollution abatement programs. Regional honors were also awarded. Wisconsin 2007 Regional Operations and Maintenance Excellence awardees are the cities of Medford and LaCrosse.


 The world federation of consumer organizations, Consumers International announced the winners of the International Bad Product Awards. . . This year's winners are:

- Coca-Cola - for continuing the international marketing of its bottled water, Dasani, despite admitting it comes from the same sources as local tap water.

- Kellogg's - for the worldwide use of cartoon-type characters and product tie-ins aimed at children, despite high levels of sugar and salt in their food products.

- Mattel - for stonewalling US congressional investigations and avoiding overall responsibility for the global recall of 21 million products.

With the overall prize going to:

- Takeda Pharmaceuticals - for taking advantage of poor US regulation and advertising sleeping pills to children, despite health warnings about pediatric use.

1/3 of all food wasted - food supply chain accounts for a fifth of all emissions

Six in 10 Americans believe the use of corn to make ethanol has raised food prices

US Survey Ties Biofuels to High Food Costs, Hunger
The Hormel Hunger Survey released on Monday also showed 53 percent of Americans polled believe government subsidies for ethanol production will help reduce US dependence on foreign oil, but nearly as many -- 47 percent -- oppose the subsidies because they increase food prices.

Last week Jean Ziegler, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, called for a five-year moratorium on biofuels, saying it was a "crime against humanity" to convert food crops to fuel at a time when there are more than 850 million hungry people in the world. Read more by Andrea Hopkins

Oct 26, 2007

BP to Pay Largest Criminal Fine Ever for Air Violations

Today, BP Products North America, Inc. agreed to pay a total criminal fine of more than $60 million for violations of federal environmental regulations in Texas and Alaska. In addition to the penalty, the company will spend approximately $400 million on safety upgrades and improvements to prevent future chemical releases and spills.

"BP committed serious environmental crimes in our two largest states, with terrible consequences for people and the environment," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Today's agreement sends a message that these types of crimes will be prosecuted."

This is the largest criminal fine ever assessed against a corporation for Clean Air Act violations and the first criminal prosecution of the requirement that refineries and chemical plants take steps to prevent accidental releases. The requirement was passed in 1990 as part of the Clean Air Act following the explosion at the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India where thousands were killed and injured.

BP will pay $50 million for a catastrophic explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others at its Texas City refinery. BP will also pay a $12 million fine for spilling 200,000 gallons of crude oil onto the Alaskan tundra and onto a frozen lake in March 2006, resulting in the largest spill that ever occurred on the North Slope.

In addition to the $50 million fine, the company pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act and will serve three years of probation for the Texas City incident. BP is also required to complete a facility-wide study of its safety valves and renovate its flare system to prevent excess emissions at an estimated cost of $265 million.

Read more from http://www.chemalliance.org/news/index.asp?StoryID=2194

"Safer Water Comes With Big Price Tag"

"After decades of inaction, the federal government is finally forcing states to clean up their polluted rivers, lakes and bays, but is providing virtually none of the funding to do so. Neither is the state of Florida, which has appropriated $10 million a year to deal with what state officials estimate will be a $10 billion cleanup. That means cities and counties, which are struggling with money problems of their own, will shoulder most of the financial burden. 'The bottom line is these problems are locally generated and are the results of increased development and increased pressure on water,' said Tom Singleton, whose job at the state Department of Environmental Protection is helping local governments develop cost-effective ways to reduce pollution. For many counties, the costs will be enormous. Pasco County officials estimate they will have to spend $260 million building systems to clean up nutrient pollution that washes into the upper Hillsborough River and tributaries." Mike Salinero reports for the The Tampa Tribune Oct. 25, 2007.

Eco-Skeptics Deserve Skeptical Scrutiny,

littlegreenlies.jpgThe sweet notion that making a company environmentally friendly can be not just cost-effective but profitable is going up in smoke.  Read this monumentally silly article at Business Week but also look at the very good slide show, with their take on who is going green and who is just a greenwashing poseur.

Auden Schendler learned about corporate environmentalism directly from the prophet of the movement. In the late 1990s, Schendler was working as a junior researcher at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a think tank in Aspen led by Amory Lovins, legendary author of the idea that by "going green," companies can increase profits while saving the planet. As Lovins often told Schendler and others at the institute, boosting energy efficiency and reducing harmful emissions constitute not just a free lunch but "a lunch you're paid to eat."

Inspired by this marvelous promise, Schendler took a job in 1999 at Aspen Skiing Co., becoming one of the first of a new breed: the in-house "corporate sustainability" advocate. Eight years later, it takes him six hours crisscrossing the Aspen region by car and foot to show a visitor some of the ways he has helped the posh, 800-employee resort blunt its contribution to global warming. Schendler, 37, a tanned and muscular mountain climber, clambers atop a storage shed to point out sleek solar panels on an employee-housing rooftop. He hikes down a stony slope for a view of the resort's miniature power plant, fueled by the rushing waters of a mountain creek. The company features its environmental credentials in its marketing and has decorated its headquarters with green trophies and plaques. Last year Time honored Schendler as a "Climate Crusader" in an article accompanied by a half-page photo of the jut-jawed executive standing amid snow-covered evergreens.

But at the end of this arid late-summer afternoon, Schendler is feeling anything but triumphant. He pulls a company sedan to the side of a dirt road and turns off the motor. "Who are we kidding?" he says, finally. Despite all his exertions, the resort's greenhouse-gas emissions continue to creep up year after year. More vacationers mean larger lodgings burning more power. Warmer winters require tons of additional artificial snow, another energy drain. "I've succeeded in doing a lot of sexy projects yet utterly failed in what I set out to do," Schendler says. "How do you really green your company? It's almost f------ impossible."

...More interesting is the reaction to the article from one of the businesses cited in the article, Johnson and Johnson, as expressed on their corporate blog:
But failed to mention : Johnson and Johnson has proclaimed a 17% reduction in carbon emissions since 1990, based largely on RECs. Without the credits, the pharmaceutical giant has seen a 24% increase.

That's true . . . apart from the fact that Johnson and Johnson is not merely a "pharmaceutical" company . . . but it also fails to tell the whole story.

At first blush, a 24 percent increase in carbon emissions since 1990 does sound significant. And contrasted with the company's claimed 17 percent reduction, it almost makes J and J sound dishonest or hypocritical.

Oct 25, 2007

White House: Report Not `watered Down'

Associated Press: The White House on Wednesday denied that it ``watered down'' congressional testimony that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention delivered on the impact climate change is having on public health. Two sources familiar with the documents said the White House severely edited the CDC director's congressional testimony, removing specific scientific references to potential health risks. Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Atlanta-based CDC, the ... Link

LED Lights that offer a 4-Year Payback

The City of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the newest LED City™, expects to install more than 1,000 LED streetlights beginning next month. The City anticipates a 3.8-year payback on its initial investment. The LED lights typically burn five times longer than the bulbs they replace and require less than half the energy. The LED streetlights currently installed in Ann Arbor are based on the New Westminster Series made by Lumec, Inc., which contain LED light engines from Relume Technologies, Inc. The light engines are based on the performance-leading Cree XLamp® LED.

Full implementation of LEDs is projected to cut Ann Arbor's public lighting energy use in half and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,425 tons of CO2 annually, the equivalent of taking 400 cars off the road for a year. Detroit Edison, Ann Arbor's local utility provider, will meter the new LED streetlights with the intent to gather sufficient information to develop new LED-based tariffs.

One of the reasons LED light clusters quickly became popular on traffic lights is because long-lasting LEDs reduce maintenance costs, increase public safety (no completely dead lights at rush hour) and avoid traffic blockages during maintenance. A similar rationale lies behind the increasing popularity of LED clusters in automotive lights. The advantages of LED street lights, similarly, are significant beyond mere payback on energy savings.

Via::Cree & Treehugger


From SEJ.org:

When considering the impact of transportation on the environment, most people think of cars. However, air travel is gaining increasing scrutiny as a climate change culprit. Are people and organizations in your region aware of how their flying habits affect global climate? How significant is this impact? And what, if anything, are today's air travelers willing to do about it?

In June 2006, ABCnews.com reported that "Air travel accounts for about 3.5 percent of the human contribution to global warming," according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

At issue is not just today's air travel, but tomorrow's. IPCC says "CO2 emissions from aircraft in 1990 account for about 2.4% of the total; they are projected to grow to about 3% or more than 7% of all fossil fuel carbon emissions by 2050".

AIR TRAVEL GAINING POPULARITY - Air travel is now more popular than any time since 9/11. In March 2007, the Official Airline Guide (OAG, an air travel industry research and publishing organization) reported that the number of flights scheduled in October 2007 is 3% higher than in the same month last year. ..the highest October figure for more than five years."

Federal statistics also indicate the increasing popularity of air travel. On Oct. 15, 2007, the US Dept. of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported: "US. airlines carried 72.2 million scheduled domestic and international passengers on their systems in July, a record high for a single month and 2.2 percent more than the previous record of 70.6 million in July 2005."; release.


"We've all got to die of something."

On the heavily polluted town of Port Arthur, Tex.:

WOW- I think they have a ton of jobs for a guy who thinks like this in China...

Precipitation in Northeast, Midwest Contains Nitrate from Distant Industrial Facilities

Read the full story in Water & Wastewater News.

Rain and snow in rural areas of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States contain nitrate that has been traced to power plants and other industrial facilities hundreds of miles away, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study.

Although vehicles are the single largest emission source of nitrogen oxides in the Northeast and Midwest, distant stationary sources may have a greater impact on nitrate found in rain and snow, USGS officials stated. Link from Laura B.(www.lib.wmrc.uiuc.edu)


Contents of an albatross' stomach. . . R: A trapped turtle [An] enormous stew of trash - which consists of 80 percent plastics and weighs some 3.5 million tons, say oceanographers - floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man's land between San Francisco and Hawaii. Marcus Eriksen, director of research and education at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, said his group has been monitoring the Garbage Patch for 10 years. . . The patch has been growing, along with ocean debris worldwide, tenfold every decade since the 1950s, said Chris Parry, public education program manager with the California Coastal Commission in San Francisco.

"At this point, cleaning it up isn't an option," Parry said. "It's just going to get bigger as our reliance on plastics continues. ... The long-term solution is to stop producing as much plastic products at home and change our consumption habits."

Parry said using canvas bags to cart groceries instead of using plastic bags is a good first step; buying foods that aren't wrapped in plastics is another.

After the San Francisco Board of Supervisors banned the use of plastic grocery bags earlier this year with the problem of ocean debris in mind, a slew of state bills were written to limit bag production, said Sarah Christie, a legislative director with the California Coastal Commission.

But many of the bills failed after meeting strong opposition from plastics industry lobbyists, she said.

Meanwhile, the stew in the ocean continues to grow.

Read more from JUSTIN BERTON,-

Oct 24, 2007

Green schools are healthy for students, teachers and the environment.

Built right, green schools are productive learning environments with ample natural light, high-quality acoustics and air that is safe to breathe.

Schools everywhere are going green, nurturing children while saving money. Get the facts and learn how you can make the case to build green schools.

DYK - 1% of the world's energy goes into the manufacture of chemical fertilizer

(1% of the world's energy goes into the manufacture of chemical fertilizer - Source here).

"Worry about bread, not oil,"

...Forget about how you’ll afford gas to put in your car to get to work as declining production, increasing demand, and the devaluation of the dollar push us towards $100/barrel oil. What needs to be understood is that peak oil likely means peak food. About 17% of US energy use goes into agriculture. The food in the grocery store that you buy traveled a long way to get to you, and it was probably grown with fossil-fuel intensive fertilizers and pesticides. As of 1994, it took 400 gallons of oil and equivalents to feed each US citizen, and that number has probably gone up.

US Corn Ethanol Policy Will Fuel Inflation

However, the bank finds that this rapid conversion of food to fuel will put increased inflationary pressures on food prices.

CibcBy the end of next year we predict food inflation will be running well over five per cent. As ethanol production rises to nine billion gallons in 2009, food inflation will approach seven per cent, its highest level in more than 25 years. ...like tortillas, but they are spilling over to other grain prices as farmers scramble to expand corn production at the expense of other crops. Grain prices are the strongest they have been in memory while global inventories continue to shrink to record lows.

—Jeff Rubin, Chief Economist and Chief Strategist at CIBC World Markets

Ninety-five percent of the ethanol currently produced in the US is distilled from corn. The Administration has set a target to raise ethanol production from a level of roughly one billion gallons a year in 2000 to 35 billion gallons a year by 2017.

Rubin notes that huge subsidies are needed to achieve these goals as corn-based ethanol production is simply not economically efficient—not even with $100 per barrel oil. The key reason is the huge amount of energy that is required in first growing and harvesting the corn, transporting it to the distiller, distilling the ground cornmeal into ethanol and then transporting it by truck and train to users across the country. These more costly transportation methods are required because ethanol cannot be transported in conventional pipelines.

These subsidies, worth some $8 billion in 2006, have stimulated the sector as ethanol production hit six billion gallons a year in mid-2007. At this rate of growth, CIBC World Markets expects the Administration's target will be reached by 2012, a full five years early. The report estimates that subsidies will rise to "a staggering level" of more than $25 billion when production reaches the 35 billion gallon target by 2017 or sooner.

By Mike Millikin greencarcongress.com

Wisconsin has "Greenest Building on the Planet"


That's what the US Green Building Council Prez said about the new Aldo Leopold Legacy Center when it presented its LEED Platinum certification. "This building does things that people are dreaming about," said council president Rick Fedrizzi. "There are people out there saying, 'Somehow, somewhere a building will be able to do that.' This building is doing it today."

Celebrating the life of Aldo Leopold, considered by many as the father of wildlife management and of the United States' wilderness system, the Wisconsin building has an amazing list of features; Kubala Washatko Architects note:

-Underground earth tubes supply fresh, tempered air to the facility in all seasons;
-Wood was harvested onsite from trees originally planted by Aldo Leopold;
-the zero net energy building generates over 50,000 kWh of electricity annually.


There is lots of technical information on the site but not much about the actual architecture, and the website designer is so completely crop-crazy that I could not find a single decent picture of the building; the first picture is from the architect's website.


'The Legacy Center has a 39.6 kilowatt (kW) solar electric (photovoltaic) system on its roof, the second largest in Wisconsin. Our PV array consists of 198 panels and can generate 60,000 - 70,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. Each kWh equals the electricity used to keep a 100 watt light bulb lit for 10 hours."


"The design team thought carefully about the Legacy Center. They considered not only its energy efficient features and green design aspects, but worked meticulously through how the building would fit into the larger context of its local environment, the people who use it, and the landscape of rural Wisconsin: in short, the way the Legacy Center would inhabit its world."


"The pine trees Aldo Leopold and his family planted in 1935-1948 are a major building component in the Legacy Center. In the form of structural columns, beams, and trusses, as well as interior paneling and finish work, Leopold lumber is featured in all three of the Legacy Center buildings."


More information but not much in the picture department at:Aldo Leopold Legacy Center

Green - "is the color of mold and corruption."

Rolling Stone Lovelock, "cutting greenhouse-gas pollution won't make much difference at this point, and much of what passes for sustainable development is little more than a scam to profit off disaster. "Green," he tells me, only half-joking, "is the color of mold and corruption."

James Lovelock, father of the Gaia Hypothesis and foremost representative of the OMFG we're all totally f*cked!!1! school of green thinking:

In Lovelock's view, the scale of the catastrophe that awaits us will soon become obvious. By 2020, droughts and other extreme weather will be commonplace. By 2040, the Sahara will be moving into Europe, and Berlin will be as hot as Baghdad. Atlanta will end up a kudzu jungle. Phoenix will become uninhabitable, as will parts of Beijing (desert), Miami (rising seas) and London (floods). Food shortages will drive millions of people north, raising political tensions. "The Chinese have nowhere to go but up into Siberia," Lovelock says. "How will the Russians feel about that? I fear that war between Russia and China is probably inevitable." With hardship and mass migrations will come epidemics, which are likely to kill millions. By 2100, Lovelock believes, the Earth's population will be culled from today's 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million, with most of the survivors living in the far latitudes -- Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, the Arctic Basin.  Read more from David at the Grist

Report Finds North America's Big Industries Emitting Fewer Toxins

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

A continued decline in releases of toxic chemicals to the environment — 15 percent for the United States and Canada from 1998 to 2004 — is being driven by a group of industrial facilities that are the largest generators of emissions, according to a report released on Oct. 18 by a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) commission.

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation's (CEC) report, however, also finds that the leading role of the largest waste-producing facilities stands in stark contrast to a substantial increase in chemical releases and transfers by a much larger group of industrial facilities that report lower volumes of emissions.

Link From wmrc.uiuc.edu Laura B.

Oct 23, 2007

America's First Wind Powered County

Officials in Montgomery County Penn. announced last month the county will power all county facilities with 100 percent wind energy. Equal to the electric consumption of 2,700 typical homes, the alternative energy purchase ranks among the top 10 largest green power commitments by a governmental body in the US and makes Montgomery County the first wind powered county in the country.

The purchase of 29,391 megawatt hours of wind powered electricity, equal to the output of more than seven modern 380 foot tall wind turbines, is estimated to have the same environmental benefit as planting more than 16,000 acres of trees or removing 3,700 cars from the roadways. The purchase is produced in partnership with Community Energy, a wind energy marketer.

Five percent of this major wind purchase will be provided by PECO Wind, PECO's retail wind energy product. Montgomery County joins Upper Dublin Township and the Borough of Bridgeport as wind energy purchasers as well as more than 7,300 Montgomery County residents and 115 area businesses, including LaSalle High School and Elmwood Park Zoo, who purchase PECO Wind.

Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation . PECO serves 1.6 million electric and 480,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania. In 2006, the company delivered 38.2 million megawatt-hours (Mwh) of electricity and 76.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas to residential, business and institutional customers.

Thanks for link - davickservices.com

Will they blame "everything" on global warming?

This is not a joke...

Minneapolis Star Tribune headlined:

Did heat, rusted plates doom bridge?
… authorities are analyzing what role the 91-degree heat on Aug. 1 might have played in increasing stress on the already-weakened L-11 gusset plate, which connected four steel beams located near the bridge's south end. Like the New Orleans levees that failed during Katrina, this bridge was not well-designed. In particular, it apparently could not handle the consequences of the cold and heat that Minneapolis is subjected to: (more…)
Haase comments ...
My GEO also overheated a few times also this year due to "global warming" ?
I assure you that Both Toyota and bridge Engineers will confirm that both my GEO and this bridge were designed to work on this heat range + 10%. However, my GEO and this bridge had the same weakness "load and mileage range exceeded" 
I guess we can look for the cause to justify our personal answers in anything... 

Island of floating toxic plastic garbage, twice The Size Of Texas

A little-known island continent of floating toxic plastic garbage,
Officially known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, until it can be taxed, U.S. officials will continue to ignore it.

National fires... preventable global warming.

If only 1% of all money that goes to "monitoring and reporting" climate change went towards a national campaign for forest fire prevention and education.  
National fires, add to global climate warming. and are preventable in most cases. But investment in awareness and response programs are desperately needed.
Equal to nearly a decade of U.S. car emissions
What "environmental blow" is more important to prevent... the one that hits you in the face. 

Dupont to Appeal W.Va. Jury's US$196 Mln Verdict

NEW YORK - DuPont Co said Friday it will appeal a jury's verdict awarding nearly US$200 million in damages in a class-action suit brought by people who claimed they were sickened by contamination from a former zinc smelting plant.

"We are extremely disappointed by the outcome of the Spelter case," DuPont's General Counsel Stacey Mobley said. "We believe there were many errors that deprived the company of a fair trial," DuPont's Mobley said. "We believe the evidence shows that there is no increased risk of disease or need for remediation in the class area."
 "DuPont's remediation was, and continues to be, supervised by state and federal regulators," Mobley said. "The company's cleanup efforts were in compliance with applicable state and federal regulations."

Greenpeace Admits Targeting Apple Grabs Headlines


NanoTech - Health and Safety who knows who cares?

Scary photo goes with a scarier thought that the vast majority of high tech facilities go without "basic" OSHA and EPA program compliance.
High tech fields demand "higher" tech security, environmental and safety programs... yet few EHS professionals find a match of skills within this fast paced climate.
I am always amazed by how much basic health, safety, security and environmental information is missing from workers and owners in high tech fields.
What they are often missing most, are the additional profits and employee benefits of a well run EHS program.
Often investing millions in "security/ safety" programs that miss out on the basics. When just the basics would have eliminated the need for the extreme.  

Steep decline in oil production brings risk of war and unrest, says new study

· Output peaked in 2006 and will fall 7% a year
· Decline in gas, coal and uranium also predicted

Oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico at sunset
World oil production has already peaked and will fall by half as soon as 2030, according to a report which also warns that extreme shortages of fossil fuels will lead to wars and social breakdown.

"The world soon will not be able to produce all the oil it needs as demand is rising while supply is falling. This is a huge problem for the world economy," said Hans-Josef Fell, EWG's founder and the German MP behind the country's successful support system for renewable energy.

The report's author, Joerg Schindler, said its most alarming finding was the steep decline in oil production after its peak, which he says is now behind us.

The results are in contrast to projections from the International Energy Agency, which says there is little reason to worry about oil supplies at the moment.

However, the EWG study relies more on actual oil production data which, it says, are more reliable than estimates of reserves still in the ground. The group says official industry estimates put global reserves at about 1.255 gigabarrels - equivalent to 42 years' supply at current consumption rates. But it thinks the figure is only about two thirds of that.

Britain's oil production peaked in 1999 and has already dropped by half to about 1.6 million barrels a day.

Read more from Ashley Seager- The Guardian 

Oct 22, 2007

How do you destroy the economy and cause a drought of biblical proportions? "produce bottled water with ethanol"

Has anyone in the state department reviewed a complete study of the groundwater table draw down from "bottled water" and corn ethanol production?

The state department should put the obvious correlation between increased corn ethanol and bottled water production water usage with national drought trends.

Overlaying national aquifer table draws from corn ethanol production and biomass usage locations over national drought maps based on the last five years reflect an obvious and disturbing trend...

Projected production of ethanol is 5-6 Billion gallons in 2007. "The production of which requires 5-7 Gallons of "very clean" water to produce PER GALLON" or 24-42 Billion gallons of clean water to manufacture.

Factoring in crop usage may push this number to 780 Gallons of water for 1 Gallon of ethanol. This number easily hits the trillions.

U.S. FUEL ETHANOL Industry biorefineries and Production CAPACITY
Ethanol Total Capacity will be 13,485,000,000,000 by 2010 - that is way to many 0's

Using a "conservative" estimate, this is Trillions of gallons of precious water.

Bottled water factories...are using more than 18 million barrels of oil and up to 130 billion gallons of fresh water a year to create 41 gallons of bottled water.

Opppss... there goes 89 Billion gallons of fresh water, because I was to lazy to use the tap or a drinking fountain.

i.e. national groundwater table draw down we are currently seeing.

If they are trying, the real way to destroy the National Economy and cause a drought of biblical proportions, would be to "produce bottled water with ethanol".

Instead of using 18 million barrels of oil to make our pretty water bottles we take to soccer games, we could produce bottled water with ethanol that has a net energy loss of 20-30%.

This would take the energy of 23 million barrels of oil and maybe we could blow out 100 trillion gallons combining the two.

Oh wait, that IS what the nation is trying to do. Yikes.

See more data correlation and summary info:
U.S. Drought monitor

Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States (2007)

Ethanol's Water Shortage (wall street)

Ethanol Total Capacity and energy loss

Bottled Water Boom Has Environmental Drawbacks