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Tag: earth talk


Roundup: Harmless, or carcinogenic?

Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides contain three key components: the active ingredient glyphosate, water, and a soap-like surfactant blend. The agricultural application of glyphosate has skyrocketed over the past 20 years.


Does the concrete industry have a big environmental impact?

The 20 billion tons of concrete produced around the world annually account for an estimated five to 10 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.


What’s the difference between a carbon tax and “cap-and-trade” system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Most of us can agree that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a must given the rapid warming of the planet; just how to do it best is another question entirely.


Do scientists have any idea why so many whales are dying in the Gulf of Alaska lately?

Over the past four months, 33 large whales have been reported dead in the Western Gulf of Alaska, which encompasses the areas around Kodiak Island, Afognak Island, Chirikof Island, the Semidi Islands and the southern shoreline of the Alaska Peninsula.


What is solar desalination?

Solar desalination is a technique used to remove salt from water via a specially designed still that uses solar energy to boil seawater and capture the resulting steam, which is in turn cooled and condensed into pristine freshwater. Salt and other impurities are left behind in the still.


Do you have any suggestions regarding how my company can start to reduce the amount of paper we use?

Cutting back on paper may seem “so 1990s” given the current focus of environmental organizations on climate change and related global issues.


What is biophilic design in architecture, and where can I see it implemented?

Biophilic design incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation, nature views and other experiences of the natural world into the modern built environment.


Are the California redwoods in danger because of the drought?

California is home to two of the three redwood tree species: coast redwoods and giant sequoias. The coast redwood is the Earth’s tallest tree, growing more than 360 feet tall, with a trunk that can extend to 24 feet wide.


What advantages do vertical farms have over traditional gardens and farms?

When Dickson Despommier’s book The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century was first published, there were no vertical farms. Now, it’s an exciting movement in U.S. food production, providing pesticide-free leafy greens and herbs to a fast-growing population.


How are environmentalists putting drones to use to help further their causes?

Conservationists are utilizing drones, or “unmanned aerial systems” (UAS) technology, to gather highly detailed imagery and other environmental data that is traditionally challenging to obtain.


Can we harness coal without emitting ourselves into another Ice Age?

Today coal still accounts for some 40 percent of worldwide electricity generation. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that global demand will continue rising to record levels, topping nine billion metric tons annually by 2019.


Lessons from BP: Is off-shore drilling any safer for the environment today?

Is off-shore drilling any safer for the environment today given lessons learned from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?


Do orcas really live as long in captivity as in the wild?

SeaWorld has faced criticism and plummeting profits after the release of the 2013 documentary, Blackfish, which tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity.


How is that being around trees and other plants can help us feel good?

Trees are known to improve air quality by capturing six common air pollutants and toxic gases: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead. In fact, a single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants per year.


How have been polar bears been faring since being added to endangered species list?

Biologists estimate that as many as 25,000 polar bears roam the far north these days, with two-thirds of them in Canada and most of the remainder in Alaska and northern Russia.


What is the best way to recycle my old and/or unwanted paint, primer and stains?

Extra paint can last for years when properly sealed and stored away from extreme heat and cold, and if unneeded, can be donated to organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Keep America Beautiful. But if paint can no longer be used, what are some safe, environmentally-responsible ways to dispose of it?


Is California’s epic drought really the result of too much meddling by environmentalists?

While no one questions that California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in recent history, the jury is still out as to why, at least according to some conservatives like former Hewlett Packard CEO and 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina.


Do animals have legal rights?

Non-human rights is a term coined by animal welfare activist and lawyer Steven Wise, who has campaigned for three decades to achieve actual legal rights for members of species other than our own.


How can I make my car more efficient for my summer road trip?

Ah, the summer road trip, that classic American experience. But long drives through steamy weather can burn through a lot of gas and cause untold wear and tear on your car’s engine and systems while putting you at risk for overheating.


How can I stop the deluge of junk mail the mail man drops off?

Junk mail has increased to a massive scale in recent years, with the average American receiving 16 pieces each week. While this might not seem like much, it adds up to weigh an estimated 41 pounds each year, according to leading anti-junk mail organization, 41pounds.org.


Where are the best places to live if global warming gets the best of us?

If temperatures continue to rise in the face of human-induced global warming as climatologists expect, some of the world’s most populous areas could become uninhabitable.


What is the Great Green Wall of China?

Unlike the Great Wall of China, a 5,000-mile fortification dating back to the 7th century BC that separates northern China from the Mongolian steppe, the Great Green Wall of China—otherwise known as the Three-North Shelter Forest Program—is the biggest tree planting project on the planet.


How can teachers integrate sustainability topics into the classroom?

Teaching our kids about sustainability and green living is one of the most important things we can do to safeguard the future of humanity and the planet we inhabit.


Earth Talk: Should I recycle my disposable batteries?

Truth be told, those old used up disposable alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, etc.) aren’t the environmental menace they used to be before the federal government mandated taking out the mercury, a potent neurotoxin linked to a wide range of environmental and health problems, as part of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996. T


What can I do for Earth Day 2015?

April 22, 2015 is the 45th annual celebration of the first Earth Day in 1970, when 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.


Are we past the point of no return on climate change?

While we may not yet have reached the point of no return—when no amount of cutbacks on greenhouse gas emissions will save us from potentially catastrophic global warming—climate scientists warn we may be getting awfully close.


Is backyard firepit smoke a health hazard?

With summer approaching, many of us are eagerly anticipating the first night we can gather with loved ones under the stars around our backyard firepits.


Helping prevent Amazon deforestation

Most if not all deforestation is ultimately driven by our consumption, so avoiding products and companies responsible for deforestation is the logical first step.


Energy East: Worse than Keystone XL?

The Energy East Pipeline is a $12 billion project proposed by TransCanada Corp. that will combine existing, converted natural gas pipelines with new pipeline construction to carry oil some 2,800 miles across Canada from Alberta’s tar sands fields to export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick.


Seeding our oceans

Ocean fertilization is a technique whereby swaths of ocean are “seeded” with iron to promote the growth of phytoplankton (microscopic plants that form the base of the marine food chain), and is one of several promising geo-engineering techniques that could help mitigate global warming.


Solar: Uncertain future?

In the U.S., a new solar project was installed every three minutes in 2014, and jobs in the solar industry rose from 15,000 employees in 2005 to nearly 174,000 today.


Earth Talk: Safe insulation

Making your home more energy efficient is certainly good for the planet and will cut your heating/cooling bills, but you’re right to worry about chemical off-gassing.


Earth Talk: Blizzard of e-waste

With a record four million pre-orders for Apple’s best-selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it’s more evident than ever that consumers want the latest in smartphone technology at their fingertips.


Divestment and fossil fuels

The climate movement has embraced divestment—that is, ditching stocks, bonds or investment funds deemed unethical or morally ambiguous—given how effective the tactic was in helping topple Apartheid in South Africa by shaming the companies still willing to do business there.


Health impact of coal

Coal combustion plants account for more than half of Americans’ electric power generation. According to Coal’s Assault on Human Health, a report by the non-profit Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), coal combustion releases mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other substances known to be hazardous to human health.


Moms Clean Air Force: Naptime activists unite!

Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF) is a community of 400,000+ parents working to combat air pollution and respond to the climate change crisis.


Sunscreens get safer

The ingredients in some common chemical-based sunscreens are known to cause allergic reactions for some people and have been linked to reproductive and behavioral problems in animal studies.


Televisions bigger and greener than ever?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans’ 275 million television sets burn through some 65 billion kilowatt hours of energy each year, representing four to five percent of U.S. household electricity consumption.


Microbeads and marine pollution

Can brushing your teeth or using an exfoliating face or body wash be an act of pollution? Perhaps so, because over 1,000 personal care products contain tiny plastic “microbeads,” each about a half millimeter in diameter.


Better living through conservation genetics

Traditionally, conservation biologists have relied on field observation and sample and statistical analysis to help them understand the dynamics behind species loss.


What fish can we eat?

Between mercury poisoning, overfishing and the environmental impacts of fish farms or “aquaculture,” some might expect to see a “Proceed with Caution” sign above seafood counters soon.


What is being done to protect grizzly bears?

Before European colonization of North America, upwards of 50,000 grizzly bears—also known as brown bears—roamed free across what is now the continental United States.


Moving beyond flame retardants

Putting flame retardants in furniture seemed like a good idea back in the 1970s to help protect against the risk of fire, but our insistence on safety has come back to haunt us.


Assessing the risks of genetically engineered crops

Earth Talk examines the potential health and environmental impacts of so many genetically engineered organisms in our food supply.


Earth Talk: Should plastic bags be banned?

California made big news recently when it announced the first statewide ban on plastic shopping bags set to kick in during the middle of 2015. Beginning in July, large grocery stores, pharmacies and other food retailers in the Golden State will no longer be able to send shoppers home with plastic bags, while convenience markets, liquor stores and other small food retailers will join the ranks a year later.


Earth Talk: Are fuel cell cars green?

Fuel cell cars have not caught on and skeptics wonder if they ever will. One big hurdle is that creating hydrogen fuel turns out to be highly inefficient compared to other readily available fuels.


Earth Talk: Is organic agriculture sustainable?

Dr. Henry I. Miller, former director of the Office of Biotechnology at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, argues that conventional farming—which uses synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers and often genetically modified (GM) seed stock to maximize yields—is actually better for the environment, producing more food and using less water compared to organic farming.


Earth Talk: The bright future of wind power

Hydroelectric sources of power dwarf other forms of renewable energy, but wind power has been a dominant second for years, and continues to show “hockey stick” growth moving forward.


Earth Talk: Teaching kids about climate change

Kids today may be more eco-savvy than we were at their age, but complex topics like climate change may still mystify them. Luckily there are many resources available to help parents teach their kids how to understand the issues and become better stewards for the planet.


Earth Talk: Cheaper natural gas lowering carbon dioxide emissions

Carbon dioxide emissions are indeed lower than at any time since 1994, according to data recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). But if you think that the rise of the hybrid car, our embrace of public transit, walking, biking and those new windows on the house are behind the trend, think again.