Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Global trade and sustainability: Can utopia happen in Vermont?

"Salsa from the Gut" http://www.salsafromthegut.com/

By Christian Avard | Special to the Vermont Guardian

The notion of fair trade could eventually apply as much to exports from Vermont as it does today to imports, and the state’s green image could be a business asset when it comes to global commerce. That was the conclusion of a recent conference that examined global trade and its relation to socially, ecologically and economically sustainable regional development.

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Armed Forces Are Put on Standby to Tackle Threat of Wars over Water

by Ben Russell and Nigel Morris, The Independent.

Yesterday, Britain's Defence Secretary, John Reid, pointed to the factor hastening the violent collision between a rising world population and a shrinking world water resource: global warming.

In a grim first intervention in the climate-change debate, the Defence Secretary issued a bleak forecast that violence and political conflict would become more likely in the next 20 to 30 years as climate change turned land into desert, melted ice fields and poisoned water supplies.

Climate campaigners echoed Mr Reid's warning, and demanded that ministers redouble their efforts to curb carbon emissions.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Why the world needs a Plan B for China

By Lester Brown

China has now overtaken the US as the world's leading resource consumer. Among the basic commodities -- grain and meat in the food sector, oil and coal in the energy sector, and steel in the industrial sector -- China now consumes more of each of these than the US except for oil. It consumes nearly twice as much meat -- 67 million tonnes compared with 39 million tonnes in the US; and more than twice as much steel -- 258 million tonnes to 104 million.

The important questions now are: what if China's consumption per person of these resources reaches the current US level, and how long will it take for China's income per person to reach the US level?

Oil Shortages Look Certain by 2007


Dale Allen Pfeiffer -- FTW Energy Editor

Gas Shortages Are Most Pressing, But Economics Shows No Easy Answers

Why The Oil Markets May See Price Dips Before The Collapse and Why This Will Make the Outcomes Worse

Fatigue of Nations

By John Elkington and Mark Lee, Grist Magazine

What chance is there that the environmental revolution will reach the bottom of the wealth pyramid wherever it may be found, from Chicago to Calcutta, from London to Lahore? Will the future be driven by "trickle down," "trickle up," or something more akin to what would have happened if the fabled Dutch boy had taken his fabled finger out of the fabled dike?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Rewarding Recyclers, and Finding Gold in the Garbage

By BONNIE DeSIMONE, New York Times

The process seems elegantly simple. Households get credit for the weight of materials they recycle, which is scanned and recorded through a computer chip embedded in the garbage bins when they are picked up by the sanitation crew. They exchange that credit for coupons at various businesses. Municipal officials save disposal fees. Recycling companies make more money from processing. Retailers gain the feel-good association with a socially beneficial activity.

Research: World Warmest in 1,200 Years

Sci-tech Today

The study, setting specific thresholds to define unusually warm and cold periods, used diaries from the Middle Ages and eyewitness accounts of extraordinary weather such as the freezing over of canals in Belgium and the Netherlands over the centuries.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Glaciers Flow to Sea at a Faster Pace, Study Says

By ANDREW C. REVKIN, New York Times

The amount of ice flowing into the sea from large glaciers in southern Greenland has almost doubled in the last 10 years, possibly requiring scientists to increase estimates of how much the world's oceans could rise under the influence of global warming, according to a study being published today in the journal Science

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Investors Are Tilting Toward Windmills


It's hard to be in a business where you literally — as well as figuratively — are tilting at windmills. But that business may have just gotten its biggest tail wind yet.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Conspicuous Little Consumers

By Kelly Sharp, Texas Observer. Posted February 13, 2006.

A new book explores the effects of marketing on children. Is it making them more autonomous, or turning them into depressed, obese mega-consumers?

Permanent Energy Crisis

Michael Klare, Tomdispatch.com. Posted February 13, 2006

There are many reasons to believe that, unlike the gas and electricity crises of the 70s, 80s and 90s, the energy troubles we now face will last for decades.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bottled Water, A Natural Resource Taxing the World's Ecosystem

Published on Saturday, February 11, 2006 by Agence France Presse

The study said that demand for bottled water soared in developing countries between 1999 and 2004 with consumption tripling in India and more than doubling in China during that period.

That has translated into massive costs in packaging the water, usually in plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is derived from crude oil, and then transporting it by boat, train or on land.

"Making bottles to meet Americans' demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 US cars for a year," according to the study. "Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year."

Once the water is consumed, disposing the plastic bottles poses an environmental risk.

The study, citing the Container Recycling Institute, said that 86 percent of plastic water bottles in the United States end up as garbage and those buried can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Global Warming Pushes Ski Industry Downhill

By Daniel A. Shaw, Grist Magazine. Posted February 9, 2006.

With the Olympics starting this week, all eyes are on the slopes of Turin. But skiing and snowboarding could disappear from our collective culture in about 50 years if global-warming forecasts ring true. In a lot of popular ski areas, there simply won't be any snow.It's already happening in parts of Europe: They're wrapping glaciers in Switzerland, and Scottish Highlands ski areas are being recast as mountain-biking destinations. In the United States, resorts in the Pacific Northwest got a harbinger last season when a warm winter led to a 78 percent drop in skier visits.

Global warming, of course, will impact practically every aspect of life the world over, and recreational plights won't be our biggest worry. But right now, the ski industry is the perfect coal-mine canary for its fallout. And while no single industry can reverse climate change, enlightened self-interest is driving ski areas to adopt a wide range of innovative energy measures to prolong their survival -- and maybe ours.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sweden Plans to Be World's First Oil-Free Economy

by John Vidal, The Guardian, posted on Commondreams

· 15-year limit set for switch to renewable energy

· Biofuels favoured over further nuclear power

Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations.The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months.

The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises.

86 Evangelical Leaders Join to Fight Global Warming

Published: February 8, 2006, New York Times

Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's Capitalism Or A Habitable Planet - You Can't Have Both

by Robert Newman, the Guardian, posted on Commondreams

Our economic system is unsustainable by its very nature. The only response to climate chaos and peak oil is major social change.There is no meaningful response to climate change without massive social change. A cap on this and a quota on the other won't do it. Tinker at the edges as we may, we cannot sustain earth's life-support systems within the present economic system.

Capitalism is not sustainable by its very nature. It is predicated on infinitely expanding markets, faster consumption and bigger production in a finite planet. And yet this ideological model remains the central organising principle of our lives, and as long as it continues to be so it will automatically undo (with its invisible hand) every single green initiative anybody cares to come up with.

Mineral Levels in Meat and Milk Plummet Over 60 Years

Published on Thursday, February 2, 2006 by the Guardian / UK

"today's agriculture does not allow the soil to enrich itself, but depends on chemical fertilisers that don't replace the wide variety of nutrients plants and humans need"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Stark warning over climate change

By Richard Black
Environment Correspondent, BBC News website

Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases may have more serious impacts than previously believed, a major scientific report has said.

The report, published by the UK government, says there is only a small chance of greenhouse gas emissions being kept below "dangerous" levels.