Free Trade versus Good Food

The EnvironmentaList - March 31, 2015
How the World Trade Organization struck down Country of Origin Labeling for meat
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Girl Scouts Become Change-Makers as they Tackle Mental Health in the Community

Girl Scouts of America - March 31, 2015

Saint Clair, Missouri, a small rural community of 4,472 people located along Historic Route 66, is home to a group of dynamic young women who call themselves “Friends for Change.” In an effort to improve their community, the girls are working to create an arts program, and they recently built an outdoor amphitheater in their local park to host it. 
The girls are a part of Challenge and Change, a program for Girl Scouts in rural communities funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This investment is part of Girl Scouts’ ToGetHerThere campaign, the largest fundraising campaign for girls in history.
Powered by investors, Girl Scouts helps girls in rural communities become change-makers as they create and start long-term community service projects. They get plenty of help along the way through a comprehensive curriculum, instruction by specially trained Girl Scout program staff, and mentoring by community champions. Girls even receive seed funding to launch their projects.
But as inspiring as Challenge and Change is in and of itself, the program is also addressing a community issue the girls care about a great deal: mental health. Ten percent of youth in St. Clair have reported considering suicide, and the effects of bullying and depression are also areas of major concern. The girls learned that a lack of arts in rural communities has a negative impact on area youth—indeed, studies have indicated that increased involvement in and access to the arts can significantly decrease emotional problems in adolescents. Arts and theatre programs have, for example, been successful in allowing young people to learn appropriate forms of emotional expression.
After completing the amphitheater the girls were honored for the project by their town’s local chamber of commerce. The theater will benefit 4,000 people, will be available for community use, and will host events such as concerts, plays, art shows, and other gatherings. The positive outcomes of the program projected by the girls include increased social cohesiveness, expanded creative outlets, and improved community relationships. In their short time being involved in Challenge and Change, these young women have not only gained vital skills in public speaking and leadership—they have also realized the power they have to change their community and the world for the better.
“This is just awesome. It’s such a neat feeling. Deep down inside, I always knew that somehow this project would happen.” – Miranda Murphy, girl member
Categories: Environment

Major Wildlife Impacts Still Felt 5 Years After Gulf Oil Spill

Yale Environment 360 - March 31, 2015
Nearly five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico continue to die at unprecedented rates, endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are experiencing diminished nesting success, and many species of fish are suffering from abnormal development among some juveniles after exposure to oil. Those are the conclusions of a new study from the National Wildlife Federation, released three weeks before the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, which began on April 20, 2010. The study also said that populations of brown pelicans and laughing gulls have declined by 12 and 32 percent respectively, and that oil and dispersant compounds have been found in the eggs of white pelicans nesting in Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. The National Wildlife Federation said that the oil giant, BP, must be held fully accountable for the environmental damage and that fines and penalties should be used to restore habitats in the Gulf. Meanwhile, in advance of the spill’s fifth anniversary, BP is stepping up its public relations efforts to assure consumers that life is returning to normal in the Gulf.
Categories: Environment, Health

US lobby giants are out to destroy great new food advice

Friends of the Earth - March 31, 2015
I’m hard to surprise. But the recent recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee – which reviews US dietary guidelines every 5 years – gave me a shock. And a sense of shame. The bombshell was not that they had included sustainability alongside nutritional goals in the guidelines; and a sensible recommendation to eat less meat. After all, they are experts, and the evidence that we need to change dietary habits to protect both public and environmental health is overwhelming. My astonishment was how this got through the mighty US food industry lobby that usually
Categories: Environment

Natural Filters: Freshwater Mussels Deployed to Clean Up Polluted Rivers

Yale Environment 360 - March 31, 2015
When rivers and streams become polluted, one of the first casualties is often freshwater mussels, which effectively filter

An Eastern elliptio mussel out pollutants but can also be overcome by them. As a result, freshwater mussel populations worldwide have steadily dwindled. Now, however, conservationists and scientists in the U.S. and Europe are working to re-establish declining or endangered freshwater mussel populations so these mollusks can use their natural filtration abilities to clean up excess nutrients and runoff in waterways. One such program has been established on the U.S.’s Delaware River, where environmentalists and biologists are re-seeding mussel populations in the more polluted sections of the river and in tributary streams.
Read the article.
Categories: Environment, Health

In Africa, Clean Energy Provides a Route to Clean Water

The EnvironmentaList - March 31, 2015
Uganda and South Sudan us solar PV to lower cost of pumping water
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Guest Post: Girl Scout Lauren Prox Shares White House Experience

Girl Scouts of America - March 30, 2015
Guest Post from Lauren Prox, a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, whose project “Reaching New Altitudes” aims to reverse the small percentage of minorities and females participating in the fields of aviation and STEM. Lauren participated in the White House Science Fair last week.
I have had an amazing journey in Girl Scouts. I have met some exceptional women and accomplished things I never dreamed I would do. Going to the White House to share my Gold Award story at the White House Science Fair was one of those - I can’t believe I’m here - moments. I was also very excited to become an inspiration to youth across the nation because I want to show them just how wonderful and full of prospect the field of STEM truly is.
Upon arriving to the White House’s 5th Annual Science Fair, I couldn't wait to see the various projects that students from across the nation were eager to share. Not only did I get to talk about my project with some pretty important people. I saw projects that were as complex as creating a safer, artificial spine for scoliosis patients. I also learned of projects that solved everyday problems that people face. One of these projects was an innovative pill bottle that helps patients remember to take medications. After viewing these projects, I joined the rest of the White House guests and sat in attendance to a speech given by President Obama. He talked about some of his favorite projects including the page-turner that my fellow Girl Scouts, the Super Girls, designed to help people with disabilities read. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the caliber of the projects that my peers presented.
After the Science Fair ended, I attended a round-table discussion hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and his colleagues. While there, I got to talk about my Gold Award Project and my passions for S.T.E.M. I can’t even put into words how amazing I felt when I first entered the room that our discussion was held in. This excitement was due to the fact that my place-card was in between Vice President Biden’s seat and Astronaut Leland Melvin’s seat. Just to be sitting between these two phenomenal leaders in S.T.E.M. was phenomenal. I learned a great deal from them and our other guest speakers as well as my peers.
I hope that I've been able to inspire more girls to consider STEM. I know doing my Gold Award and having a once-in-a-lifetime experience of being part of the White House Science Fair, has inspired me to do more in STEM. This summer, I’m planning on volunteering with my council as a Techbridge volunteer and learning about, and teaching others, about circuitry. . I’ll be able to do workshops very similar to what I did for my Gold Award with girls at camp.
My Girl Scout adventure isn't ending, just growing! 
Categories: Environment

Warming Winters Not Main Cause of Pine Beetle Outbreaks, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - March 30, 2015
Milder winters can't be blamed for the full extent of recent mountain pine beetle outbreaks in the western United States, according

Pine forest affected by mountain pine beetles to a new study by Dartmouth and U.S. Forest Service researchers. Winters have been warming across the western U.S. states for decades, as overall the coldest winter night has warmed by 4 degrees C since 1960. But that warming trend could only be the primary driver of increasing pine beetle outbreaks in regions where winter temperatures have historically killed most of the beetles, such as in the Middle Rockies, eastern Oregon, and northern Colorado, the study says. Warming is unlikely to have played a major role in other regions since winters were rarely cold enough to kill the beetles, according to the study published in the journal Landscape Ecology. Other factors — including changes in the pine beetles' seasonal development patterns and forestry practices that have influenced pine density and age — were likely more important, the authors say.
Categories: Environment, Health

What can businesses do when their trade bodies undermine EU climate policy?

Friends of the Earth - March 30, 2015
Ben Fagan-Watson is a Research Fellow at the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) at the University of Westminster and lead researcher of the report 'Lobbying by Trade Associations on EU Climate Policy'. In our latest report Lobbying by Trade Associations on EU Climate Policy researchers from the Policy Studies Institute  investigated how eight big, influential trade associations  - which either represent particular industrial sectors, or claim to represent all business interests in the EU - lobby on EU climate policy. The report revealed that some trade
Categories: Environment

How Long Can Oceans Continue To Absorb Earth’s Excess Heat?

Yale Environment 360 - March 30, 2015
The main reason soaring greenhouse gas emissions have not caused air temperatures to rise more rapidly is that oceans have soaked up much of the heat. But new evidence suggests the oceans’ heat-buffering ability may be weakening. BY CHERYL KATZ
Categories: Environment, Health

Can Lions on a Leash Help Save Endangered Big Cats?

The EnvironmentaList - March 30, 2015
A leading tourism operator in Zambia is planning to suspend its “lion walks,” sparking new debate.
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

What Lies Behind the Recent Surge of Amazon Deforestation

The EnvironmentaList - March 28, 2015
Conversation: Ecologist Philip Fearnside explains what needs to be done to once again bring deforestation under control
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Join me “On the Road”

Girl Scouts of America - March 27, 2015
Welcome to the first installment of “On the Road with Anna”, where we follow Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez.
As I travel around the country, I not only get to meet the most amazing girls and volunteers, but also the council teams who help make Girl Scouts a powerful force for change. I want you to be able to share these experiences with me, so every so often, I’m going to send you updates from the road.
Recently, I got to spend some time with the wonderful team at Girl Scouts Texas Oklahoma Plains. They shared their excitement about how we’re innovating on behalf of girls, and gave me an inside look at how Girl Scouts is helping to propel girls at Fort Worth’s Cesar Chavez Elementary School toward a brighter future.

At the council, I met the amazing Ruth Owen—92 years young and still proud to call herself a Girl Scout volunteer after almost 30 years. If you ask her why she still volunteers several times a week, she has a simple answer.
“There’s just so much that’s good about Girl Scouts. It truly pleases me to get to do this as much as I can.”
Ruth is an amazing woman, someone who has dedicated herself to our Movement, and who has helped develop generations of leaders! 
During my afternoon at Cesar Chavez, I also spent some time with Principal Monica Ordaz, who makes sure that the school’s hallways are filled with banners from the best colleges and universities. Principal Ordaz works every day to inspire her students, many of whom come from neighborhoods where they face big challenges, and to make sure they know that education has the power to take them wherever they want to go in life.
But even the best educators need a little help putting their students on a path to success. For the girls in her school, Ordaz believes in the power of Girl Scouts.
“As an educator, why wouldn’t you partner with the Girl Scouts? We both want girls to step out of their comfort zones and try new things. It’s great opportunity to partner with a community organization, to partner with parents, to make girls feel special—that’s what I want for my girls and what Girl Scouts helps me bring to my school.”
Finally, I learned a new kind of “pattycake” from some of the 50 Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors who participate in Girl Scouts through Cesar Chavez.
Until my next stop…
Categories: Environment

Girl Scouts Celebrated by the White House!

Girl Scouts of America - March 27, 2015
As reported by pretty much every news outlet possible, Girl Scouts rocked the 2015 White House Science Fair. If you missed it, check out this awesome video via Mashable.

Girl Scouts were represented by “The Supergirls,” a team of six-year old Girl Scout Daisies from Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma who invented a battery-powered page turner for people with arthritis, people who are paralyzed, or “people who have no arms”; and Lauren Prox, a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient whose project “Reaching New Altitudes” aims to reverse the small percentage of minorities and females participating in the fields of aviation and STEM.
The White House even tweeted about it!
But why is this work so important to Girl Scouts? According to Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, girls are aware that gender barriers persist: 57 percent say that if they were to go into a STEM career, they’d “have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously.”
And they’re right. Girls will still have to struggle with inequalities between the sexes. Girl Scouts is committed to doing something about this.
Along the way, our goal is to help millions of highly qualified young women launch and sustain careers in any field that attracts them, overcome barriers that confront them, and enter the ranks of senior leadership and thrive there. It’s what our country needs.
Categories: Environment

Metals Used in High Tech Are Becoming Harder to Find, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - March 27, 2015
Metals critical to newer technologies such as smartphones, infrared optics, and medical imaging will likely become harder


This chart shows the criticality of 62 metals. to obtain in coming decades, according to Yale researchers, and future products need to be designed to make reclaiming and recycling those materials easier. The study, the first to assess future supply risks to all 62 metals on the periodic table, found that many of the metals traditionally used in manufacturing — zinc, copper, aluminum, lead, and others — show no signs of vulnerability. But some metals that have become more common in technology over the last two decades, such as rare earth metals, are available almost entirely as byproducts, the researchers say. "You can't mine specifically for them; they often exist in small quantities and are used for specialty purposes," said Yale scientist Thomas Graedel. "And they don't have any decent substitutes."
Categories: Environment, Health

Three Deaths Near A Sierra Leone Forest Highlight the Problems that Plague Conservation Efforts

The EnvironmentaList - March 27, 2015
Human-animal coexistence issues can be more complicated than just economic and ecological factors
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Pollution May Trigger Heath Problems in Deep-Water Fish, Researchers Say

Yale Environment 360 - March 26, 2015
Fish living in deep waters near continental slopes have tumors, liver pathologies, and other health problems that may be

Microscopic abnormality in a black scabbardfish liver. linked to human-generated pollution, researchers report in the journal Marine Environmental Research. They also describe the first case of a deep-water fish species with an “intersex” condition — a blend of male and female sex organs. In the study, which looked at fish in the Bay of Biscay west of France, researchers found a wide range of degenerative and inflammatory lesions in fish living along the continental slope, which can act as a sink for heavy metal contaminants and organic pollutants such as PCBs and pesticides. The fish that live in these deep waters are often extremely long-lived — some can be 100 years old — which allows them to bioaccumulate such contaminants. However, linking the fishes' physiological changes to pollution is preliminary at this time, the researchers said.
Categories: Environment, Health

Interview: Why This Tea Partyer Is Seeing Green on Solar Energy

Yale Environment 360 - March 26, 2015
Debbie Dooley’s conservative credentials are impeccable. She was one of the founding members of the Tea Party movement and

Debbie Dooley continues to sit on the board of the Tea Party Patriots. But on the issue of solar power, Dooley breaks the mold. To the consternation of some of her fellow conservatives, she has teamed up with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, first in Georgia and now in Florida, to form the Green Tea Coalition. The group is working to get an initiative on the Florida ballot that would allow individuals and businesses to sell power directly to consumers. In an interview with e360, Dooley explains why she supports solar energy campaigns and why she’s willing to go up against conservative organizations when it comes to this issue.
Read the interview.
Categories: Environment, Health

A Bicycle-Powered Food Recovery Initiative That Also Saves Water and Energy

The EnvironmentaList - March 26, 2015
Boulder Food Rescue has saved more than 800,000 pounds of food from being wasted with nearly zero use of fossil fuel or water resources
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Dutch Energy Company Is Heating Homes With Custom-Built Computer Servers

Yale Environment 360 - March 25, 2015
A Dutch energy company is installing radiator-sized computer servers — which infamously generate large amounts of

A radiator-sized computer server installed in a home. waste heat as they churn out data — in residential homes to offset energy costs, company representatives said this week. In the trial program, Rotterdam-based Eneco has equipped a handful of houses with custom-built computer servers designed to heat rooms as the servers process data for a variety of corporate computing clients. Eneco and the company behind the radiator-servers, Nerdalize, expect each one to reduce a home's heating expenses by roughly $440 over the course of a year. Eneco will cover all computing-related energy costs, the company said, but they expect the program to reduce server maintenance costs by up to 55 percent through preventing complications that arise when servers overheat. In summer months, the server-radiators will redirect excess heat outside the home, its designers say.
Categories: Environment, Health
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