tagged w/ Ratings Abuse
A global report card on nations doing the most, and least, to clean up the environment.
...the EPI is the best measure we have of how nations are faring in the battle to save the environment, and the findings are striking. As one might expect, the overall rankings place small, wealthy Scandinavian societies at the top, and poor, war-torn African nations at the bottom. But one big surprise is that size is no excuse for poor performance; big and small nations occupy both the top and bottom ranks. And bigger surprises come when you compare nations with peers of similar income, or with neighbors. In the following pages, you'll find chapters on the best—and worst—nations in every income group: the rich, the middle class and the poor.
China in particular has long argued that it is too poor to afford the Western luxury of environmental awareness. The EPI exposes this claim to be bogus. China ranks last among 15 nations in its income group (the fifth decile), behind Vietnam. If Colombia, the group's leader, can afford environmental concern, why can't China?
In its environmental priorities, the United States is in some ways remarkably similar to China, the EPI reveals. Like China, the United States scores poorly among countries in its income class (the top 10 percent), ranking third from the bottom, due in large part to terrible scores for emissions, which are heavily weighted in the index because of their contribution to global warming. And like China, the weak U.S. emissions scores are due in part to reliance on coal. In the EPI, the United States scores 38 on carbon emissions from electricity generation, compared with an average of 68 for countries of similar wealth. That statistic lowers the U.S. score in emissions per capita, which Yale puts at 56, far below the peer-group average of 74.
Again, it comes down to moral and political will. Trying to excuse the lack of it by stating anything else is simply bogus. Even in Kenya people are turning to solar and they hardly have an economy to speak of. So the US, China, and other rich countries will be exposed for the morally bankrupt leadership they have all at the expense of this planet and its people just to make gold bars that will serve no purpose without a planet.A global report card on nations doing the most, and least, to clean up the... more
Hawaii has become the first state in the nation to pass into law a requirement that all new homes built after Jan. 1, 2010, be equipped with solar or other energy efficient hot water systems.
Signed into law by Hawaii’s governor on June 26, the bill's introducer, Senate Majority Leader Gary L. Hooser (D-Kauai, Niihau) said, "Hawaii is almost totally dependent on imported oil for its energy needs and estimates show that, with this law, our oil consumption will be cut by 30,000 barrels during the first year and continues to decline exponentially thereafter."
While allowing for other energy efficient choices, the new law is widely seen as a solar hot water mandate and is expected to cut home energy usage in Hawaii by an average of 30 percent starting in 2010.
With the price of oil recently reaching $140 per barrel, Hooser considers Hawaii's move toward cheaper, cleaner energy "a vital decision for our island state."
"While the instituting of broad mandates is never an easy thing to do, the public benefits resulting from the passage of this measure are huge," he added.
Hawaii currently has the highest electricity costs in the nation and it is estimated that homeowners will save $600 annually for a family of four. "The additional disposable income combined with a cumulative multiplier effect of that income circulating in the Hawaii economy, rather than being exported to import foreign oil, will result in significant additional economic activity," Hooser said.
Economics aside, the groundbreaking measure enables Hawaii to lead the nation in the country's growing effort to combat global warming. Hawaii's switch to solar will prevent the emission of over 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere every year.
Aloha Hawaii! This is the way to go and show leadership as well. Who needs Washington Dc?Hawaii has become the first state in the nation to pass into law a requirement that... more
Mountain ecosystems are experiencing a major mix-up in plant species, thanks to climate change. As Earth heats up the cool alpine temperatures, plant species have begun a slow-motion diaspora to escape, relocating upward an average of 29 meters per decade. With plant species migrating at different speeds, the entire makeup of mountainside communities is changing and potentially heading toward extinction, researchers conclude online today in Science.
Previous research has shown that alpine flora and fauna are especially vulnerable when it comes to global warming and that the upper and lower boundaries of populations' home ranges have been moving higher up the mountain with every successive generation. Instead of focusing on those edges of a species range, Jonathan Lenoir, a plant ecologist at the Paris Institute of Technology in France, and colleagues decided to examine what climate change was doing to optimum ranges--the zones where most of a population lived--for plants in the mountain forests of western France. By analyzing species surveys that spanned a century, from 1905 to 2005, they were able to map the migration of 171 species.
Mountain ecosystems are experiencing a major mix-up in plant species, thanks to... more
Hong Kong's stock exchange, schools and public transport were suspended Wednesday morning after severe tropical storm Fengshen brought heavy wind and rainfall to the city.
Hong Kong's observatory issued the first typhoon signal number eight of the year, the third highest of a four-stage storm warning system indicating gales or storm-force winds were expected, on Tuesday night.
But the warning was lowered to strong wind signal number three at 11.15 am (0315 GMT), as wind speeds dropped to 41-62 kilometres per hour.
"The public should remain on the alert as occasional gales continue to affect the western part of the territory and over offshore waters," said a spokesman for the observatory.
Fengshen, literally meaning the God of Wind, has killed more than 1,000 people in the Philippines and took a surprise turn towards the southern Chinese city Tuesday night.
The storm had initially been expected to swing into the South China Sea from the Philippines and track northwards to Taiwan but instead veered northwest, the observatory said.
The storm, at about 60 kilometres northeast of Hong Kong on Wednesday, is forecast to weaken and move north or north-northwest at about 14 kilometres an hour further into China's Guangdong province.
The observatory said it was heading towards Shenzhen, just over the border from Hong Kong, but had not caused any major damage.
Tourists were stranded in Macau last night after ferry services between Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen were halted.
Some taxi drivers in Hong Kong took the opportunity to raise fees as people began the after-storm scramble to work.
Hong Kong's stock market was due to reopen at 2.30 pm (0630 GMT).
Hong Kong's stock exchange, schools and public transport were suspended Wednesday... more
The United States is the largest producer, stockpiler, and user of cluster bombs in the history of the world. These horrific hybrids between aerial bombs and land mines kill and maim hundreds of innocent civilians all around the world every year—many of them children.
Last month, 111 nations committed to a much needed global ban on cluster bombs, but Bush won't sign it. So far, the leading presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, have been silent on whether they will endorse this important treaty.
We need a President who will do the right thing. Ask all the presidential candidates to commit to sign the global cluster bomb ban.
Why the silence presidential candidates? Too busy at rallies and press conferences and raising all those millions to discuss real issues? They dropped these bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan as they were dropping poptarts and peanut butter from the sky so people would think they were picking up food instead of bombs. Children have lost arms and legs because they pick these things up to play with them while they are still detonated. I would then think any presidential candidate who claims to be "anti-war" or at the very least to have a conscience would sign this treaty.The United States is the largest producer, stockpiler, and user of cluster bombs in... more
Fred Pearce is an environment and development consultant whose latest book is When the Rivers Run Dry : Water–The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century.
Our list of things to worry about – global warming, oil shortages, bird flu, terrorism, etc. – seems to grow every year. Why do you say water is the “defining crisis of the twenty-first century?”
Oh, there are plenty of things to worry about. Most of them arise from Homo sapiens having to work out how to live together in ever greater numbers on the one planet. Right now we seem to be good at finding technical and organizational fixes (none of the above are really insuperable problems), but rather poor at finding ways of making them happen. In truth, I’d put water up there with global warming at top of the agenda. Many climate scientists think that our big problems with global warming will come less from the warming itself and more from the big changes in hydrology that it causes – droughts and floods, dried out soils and ecosystems, empty rivers, and maybe the worst, the sheer unpredictability of where and when we will have water.But water also defines quite well our problems in moving from a world of apparently plentiful resources – a world in which if we screw up we can move on – to a world of finite resources, where we have to manage carefully to get by. We still often see water as an essentially free and unlimited resource. But it isn’t. The public policy response to water shortages is still to build a new dam or sink a new well, with little regard for the thought that there may be no more water in the river to be captured, or underground to be pumped.
Apart from the air we breathe, water is the most basic, most urgent, need that we all have. We can survive for a while without food, but not without water. We can survive forever without oil – but not without water. Water has no substitute. The good news, though, is that it is a constantly renewed resource. The natural water cycle of evaporation and rainfall constantly cleans and recycles it. We will never “run out” of water in the way we might run out of oil. So the trick, as we find local and sometimes regional reserves running out, is to realise that fact, and to manage our use of water in a way that meshes with the natural cycle.
From that perspective, managing water is a model (and, because of its urgency and universality, the defining model) of how we deal with nature. Not as a force to be confronted, but as a force to be nurtured and to be worked with. That notion holds in every sphere from using “soft engineering” in order to manage floods, to harvesting the rains and to preserving wetlands.
The short answer to the question, therefore, is that meeting water needs (and managing our water demand to fit water availability) is both a major challenge in itself for the 21st century and will define more widely our ability to coexist with nature and make good use of the planet’s fast diminishing “natural capital.” And my belief is that if we can get water right we will be able to get most things right.
This is an informative and important view about the one resource we cannot live without: water. And along with mismanagement, waste, overconsumption, population increases, broken infrastructure, corporatization, and now climate change entering the mix, our rivers are drying up. This is a crucial issue that I truly wish more people knew about and felt an urgency about. As Mr. Pearce stated in this first question, if we can get water right we will be able to get most things right. But we have to act now.Fred Pearce is an environment and development consultant whose latest book is When the... more
The increasing costs of production and the falling farm prices that go hand in hand with globalisation and corporate hijack of seed supply, combined with the decline in farm credit is putting an unbearable debt burden on farmers. The lure of huge profits linked with clever advertising strategies evolved by the seeds and chemical industries are forcing farmers into a chemical treadmill and a debt trap. It has been witnessed that across the country, farmers are taking the desperate step of ending their life. The pesticides, which had created debt, also became the source of ending indebted lives. More than 150,000 farmers have committed suicide in India due to distortions introduced in agriculture as a result of trade liberalisation. More than 20,000 farmers have committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh alone. After the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2006, the suicide has increased alarmingly, reaching more than 1400 with debt trap cotton farmers putting an end to their lives in Vidharbha region alone.
Apart from providing guidance and help to the farmers for the revival of agriculture, Navdanya, under the "Asha ke Beej" (Seeds of Hope) program, distributed the indigenous variety of seeds to the farmers and encouraged them to shift to organic and sustainable agriculture. More than 6000 farmers were distributed indigenous seeds.
Navdanya also realized that one of the crisis farmers were facing was a seed famine created by Monsanto. Navdanya therefore started a seed bank in Kalaspur village. And on 2nd and 3rd June seeds were distributed from the seed bank in villages in Vidharbha.
Navdanya is committed to ending the vicious cycle of violence in agriculture, which is leading to farmers' suicides. We are committed to strengthening the virtuous cycles of peace based on cooperation with nature and among communities to promote a sustainable and life enhancing food system.
People taking it upon themselves to fight Monsanto and give people hope gives me hope. Dr. Vandana Shiva is a woman who has been fighting for farmers and women, and against Monsanto and corporate ownership of seeds and resources including water for years. She is a heroine whom I personally love and respect very much for her tireless work on behalf of others.
The increasing costs of production and the falling farm prices that go hand in hand... more
"The early arrival of the monsoon in Delhi, breaking a 108-year old record, has puzzled weather officials. It punches a hole in the entrenched theory -- the hotter it gets, the better the chances of the monsoon. But this year, the north has been cooler by almost 1.5 degrees C. Yet, it took merely 12 days, instead of 30, for the monsoon to cover most of India. So is this freak weather? Is it climate change? In recent days, there have been other instances of freak weather in other parts of the world, floods in the U.S. and Australia [and China]."
"The early arrival of the monsoon in Delhi, breaking a 108-year old record, has... more
Beautiful coral reefs are increasingly under threat from climate change, and so are 4,000 species of fish, critically dependent on them for food, shelter or reproduction, warns a study.
It blames global warming for the latest threat to marine biodiversity. Already many corals have died because of warmer waters associated with climate change.
''The problem for specialist coral fishes is that when the corals die, the fish have nowhere else to go. Other kinds of fish live more independently, but depend on reefs for shelter in the juvenile stage of their life,'' said the study's co-author Philip Munday.
''As coral communities become less healthy, so too do the fish communities. A loss of diversity in corals due to bleaching and other impacts is also likely to lead to a loss in diversity among the fishes which inhabit them,'' the researchers said.
Like corals themselves, coral fishes seem to prefer a temperature-stable environment and heating of the water may affect them in unpredictable ways.
For instance, Munday said, warmer water may lead to higher survival rates in baby fish - but it could equally send a signal to adults to stop breeding, as reproduction is often governed by water conditions.
Recent research has shown that some species might grow more slowly if temperatures go above their preferred range.
An estimated 200 million people worldwide derive their livelihoods and a major source of sustenance from coral reefs. In Australia, a $5 billion tourism industry depends significantly on visitors being able to view corals and their colourful fish.
Beautiful coral reefs are increasingly under threat from climate change, and so are... more
A project to map every place in the world's second-largest tropical forest where trees have been cut down will be announced today.
A purpose-built camera will be sent into space to record every clearing and logger's track in the Congo Basin in Africa to determine how much of the forest is left.
The camera will be fixed to a satellite and should be operational by the end of 2010 as part of an initiative to save the Central African tropical forest from being chopped down.
At twice the size of France, the Congo Basin forest is exceeded in extent only by the Amazon but it is estimated that loggers, many of them illegal, destroy an area the size of 25,000 football pitches every week.
Forests absorb huge quantities of carbon but it is released when they are cut down and their preservation is regarded as one of the biggest challenges by those trying to slow the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change.
Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, will announce extra funding to save the forest today when he explains the camera project. It will record the forest in more detail than before.
A project to map every place in the world's second-largest tropical forest where... more
#1: Coal Increases Rates of Disease
The United States burns more than a billion tons of coal each year – that’s 20 pounds of coal for every person in the country, every day.
According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and anadditional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.
#2: Coal Kills Jobs
Despite coal industry claims that coal mining creates lots of jobs, the truth is that coal mining employment has been declining for decades, due to increased use of machinery instead of manpower.
In West Virginia alone, coal mining employment has plummeted from 126,000 miners in 1948 (who produced 168 million tons of coal), to just 15,000 miners employed in 2005 (who, with the help of machinery, produced 128 million tons of coal).
#3: Burning Coal Emits Mercury
Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of human-generated mercury pollution in the U.S. Mercury emissions from electrical generation continues to rise.
Mercury in mothers' blood and breast milk can interfere with the development of babies' brains and neurological systems and can lead to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, problems with coordination, lowered IQ and even mental retardation.
#4: Burning Coal is Fuel for Global Warming
The U.S. produces about 25 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Burning coal contributes 40 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. According to the United Nations Environment Program, coal emits around 1.7 times as much carbon per unit of energy when burned as does natural gas and 1.25 times as much as oil.
#5: Coal Kills Miners
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 12,000 coal miners died from black lung disease between 1992 and 2002.
#6: Coal Wastes Huge Quantities of Water
Coal mining requires an estimated 70 to 260 million gallons of water every day.
Continued at the link where you can find out how to stand up to 'clean coal' in your community and online.#1: Coal Increases Rates of Disease
The United States burns more than a billion tons... more
Federal scientists and Western water managers will call Congress' attention Friday to the potentially devastating effects of climate change on the Colorado River, warning that an expected warming trend would reduce the amount of water in the river.
All told, the Colorado is a water source for more than 25 million people in seven states and Mexico. The volume of the river is particularly critical for southern Nevada because the Colorado feeds Lake Mead, which supplies 90 percent of the Las Vegas Valley's water.
At Friday's congressional briefing, research scientist Gregory McCabe will present a study that shows even a 1.5-degree increase in the overall temperature of the Southwest will decrease the river's flow. It will also increase the likelihood that it will fall short of the amount needed to meet the annual allocations upon which Nevada and the other members of the Colorado River Compact rely.
"I live in the West. I worry about water supply," McCabe said. "We have lived in an anomalously wet century. A shift to a much drier climate coupled with additional warming spells trouble for the future."
"Because the water usage is so large in the (Great) Basin, it is very sensitive to even small warmings," McCabe said.
McCabe's study estimated the effects of 0.86-degree Celsius warming, which is 1.548 degrees Fahrenheit -- the same amount as the climate has changed in the past century -- and the 2-degree Celsius, or 3.6-degree Fahrenheit, warming of the climate that scientists say is possible in the next century.
He analyzed these changes against the backdrop of tree ring records used to estimate river flows going back more than 500 years, as well as more than 100 years of data from the river.
Friday's hearing comes on the heels of a recent release of a report detailing effects of warming on fish, forests, rangelands and arid lands. The U.S. Agriculture Department report predicts dwindling rivers, an increase in extreme weather -- droughts and floods -- and the death of plant life.
Federal scientists and Western water managers will call Congress' attention... more
MSF medical staff have in the past month carried out more 17,000 consultations, with an average of 500 per day in the last week of May. At first, more than half the patients were treated for injuries caused by the cyclone, but very soon other pathologies linked to the dire conditions in which people lived dominated the consultations. Some MSF teams have seen a high number of respiratory infections and cases of diarrhea, which could be linked to a lack of access to clean water, absence of shelters, and exposure to heavy rains in recent weeks.
"In many areas, especially where death rates have been high, we are seeing more and more people suffering from mental health problems," says Alena Koscalova, MSF medical coordinator in Yangon. "Some can not talk anymore, others are highly depressed after they lost their loved ones. In the coming weeks, we will try to address this problem by giving trauma counseling and psycho-social support with mental health specialists."
Over a three month period, MSF expects to carry out around 50,000 consultations at a rate of 500 per day. MSF aims to respond to any disease outbreaks within 24 hours of the reports and to ensure that any patients with severe health problems will be referred to secondary level health facilities. So far, no disease outbreak or alarming rates of malnutrition were reported by MSF’s 36 mobile teams in the delta.
Four weeks after the relief operations started, food, shelter, and access to clean water and remain the biggest needs of the victims. Food supplies have been largely insufficient as specialized agencies have not been able to set up proper distribution channels and in many areas, people have barely received enough to survive, if anything at all. Tens of thousands of people have seen their houses destroyed, lost all their properties and food reserves and have to rely on external assistance.
Doctors Without Borders is truly one of the most extraordinary organizations on this planet. No matter where tragedy strikes they are there to give aid and life to those who suffer regardless of what they need. While I feel helpless in being able to do as much as I would like to help these people, I know that through helping DWB I am helping them and that gives me peace of mind.
If you wish to help the people of Burma, Doctors Without Borders is for sure a good way to get that help to them. This is another tragedy that I fear is falling out of the consciousness of people now that the initial news cycle is over. However, millions still suffer and the international community must then in my opinion step up and hold the military junta in Burma accountable for the deaths of those who did not receive aid in time due to their dictatorial rule of this country.MSF medical staff have in the past month carried out more 17,000 consultations, with... more
Residents of the Kalamazoo and all of southwest Michigan can to their part to protect the Great Lakes during a free public pharmaceutical collection later this month.
Old and unwanted medicines and personal care products will be accepted on Saturday, June 21, from 9 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo.
The event is sponsored by Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that provided a grant for the project.
The collection is part of the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge involving over 100 projects in eight states across the Great Lakes Basin.
Southwest Michigan residents can rid their home of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals plus personal care products.
Items that will be accepted include:
Prescription medication, such as antibiotics, birth control, and insulin
Medication samples and over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, cold medicine
Personal care products, such as medicated ointments, lotions, and shampoos
Items that will not be accepted include:
Medical waste like sharps and syringes and products containing mercury like thermometers.
The collection is free to southwest Michigan households.
Organizers say the collection is important to protect Lake Michigan and other lakes/streams like Arcadia Creek.
An investigation by the Associated Press found a wide variety of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, mood stabilizers and hormones, in the drinking water of 41 million Americans.
Most medications pass untreated through wastewater treatment plants because those facilities are not designed to remove the chemicals.
The pharmaceuticals are discharged into local rivers or groundwater.
For more info call 269-373-5211.
The goal of the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge was collecting/recycling of one million pounds of e-waste plus the collection/proper disposal of a million pills. The goals were exceeded by 500 percent..
The Earth Healing Initiative (EHI) offered interfaith liaisons to volunteer and encourage members of local churches/temples to participate in the Earth Day events in their area.
This video on EPA Challenge projects was made possible by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA Region 5 office in Chicago, the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office in Chicago with the non-profit Interfaith EHI in Marquette MI
The EHI involves American Indian tribes and a coalition of churches, synagogues and other faith traditions joining together to heal, protect and defend the environment.
I’m Greg Peterson Earth Healing TV
Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services
Kalamazoo County Environmental Health Bureau
EPA Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products
EPA Region 5 Office
Interfaith Earth Healing Initiative
Cedar Tree Institute
Southwest Michigan First
Kalamazoo Downtown Central City website
Loy Norrix High School
Interfaith graphics by Justice St. Rain (Baha'i Community) of Interfaith Resources - Special Ideas website:
Residents of the Kalamazoo and all of southwest Michigan can to their part to protect... more
A severe shortage of housing has left hundreds of thousands of cyclone survivors in Myanmar exposed to heavy rain as the monsoon season begins, aid agencies said Saturday.
The United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said there was an urgent need for tarpaulins to provide temporary shelter to an estimated 1.5 million homeless survivors. Otherwise, the threats of hunger and disease could intensify, they warned.
"Exposure to the elements five weeks after a disaster of this magnitude has to be a major concern," said John Sparrow, a spokesman for the IFRC. "People are in a weakened condition. They are sick; they are hungry. Without shelter, their whole situation is seriously exacerbated."
Sparrow estimated that only a quarter of those who need shelter materials have been reached.
The U.N. estimates 2.4 million people were affected when Cyclone Nargis hit May 2-3, and warns that more than 1 million still need help, mostly in the hard-to-reach Irrawaddy delta.
John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said "relatively few" of those survivors who were badly affected by the storm have not received any sort of aid. But he said the U.N.'s effort needs to be stepped up because many survivors still need help and supplies.
"I think people are getting to all the main places, although it's not always as easy as it should be," he said. "There's no evidence of starvation at the moment, although as I say many people are still in significant need of aid."
U.N. officials and aid groups have criticized the regime for hindering access to the delta, saying it has prevented enough food, water and shelter from reaching desperate survivors.
The U.N. also said Saturday that a lack of funding was hindering the aid effort, with only $20 million of the required $50 million received to finance logistic efforts that allow it to extend aid operations into remote regions.
A severe shortage of housing has left hundreds of thousands of cyclone survivors in... more
Drivers are paying an average of $4 for a gallon of gasoline for the first time. AAA and the Oil Price Information Service say the national average price for a gallon of regular gas rose to $4.005 overnight from $3.988. But consumers in many parts of the country have already been paying well above that price for some time.
Gas is expected to keep climbing, putting greater pressure on consumers and businesses, because the price of oil is soaring in futures markets. Light, sweet crude shot up nearly $11 a barrel Friday and approached $140 for the first time.
Along with higher fuel costs, consumers are also contending with higher prices for food and other goods because of rising transportation costs.
So how high does it have to go before Americans come out of their comfy little homes to SPEAK UP? They are having protests in Europe, but here? Do Americans actually enjoy getting it up the butt everyday? At this point I then hope gas goes up to 7-8 dollars a gallon by July 4th. Then maybe people will have something more to care about than their barbecues and weekend getaways. Maybe then they will finally start to understand what is coming down on us and this planet that we are contributing to by our apathy and waste.
Drivers are paying an average of $4 for a gallon of gasoline for the first time. AAA... more