Insight News

Oct 09th


(Earth Talk) Isn’t it high time the government put a stop to offshore oil drilling once and for all?

(Earth Talk) Isn’t it high time the government put a stop to offshore oil drilling once and for all? Dear EarthTalk: Given the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last month, isn’t it high time the government put a stop to offshore oil drilling once and for all? Short of banning it altogether, what can be done to prevent explosions, leaks and spills moving forward? -- P. Greanville, Brewster, NY

The explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill rig on April 20 and the resultant oil spill now consuming coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico could not have come at a worse time for President Obama, who only recently renewed a push to expand drilling off the coast of Virginia and other regions of the U.S.

The debate over whether or not to tap offshore oil reserves with dangerous drilling equipment has been raging since extraction methods became feasible in the 1950s. It heated up in 2008 when George W. Bush convinced Congress to lift a 27-year-old moratorium on offshore drilling outside of the already developed western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska. Despite public protests, cash-strapped governments of several coastal states wanted the moratorium lifted given the potential for earning windfall revenues.

(Earth Talk) What is "smart growth?"

(Earth Talk) What is Dear EarthTalk: What is “smart growth” and how does it benefit the environment? And what are the downsides, if any? -- Frank Quinn, Missoula, MT

Originating in the early 1970s when city planners began renovating crumbling inner cities in the face of widespread suburbanization and sprawl, smart growth is now a top buzzword in both municipal policy and environmental circles. Some form of smart growth has likely been implemented where you live or somewhere nearby.

Urban planners subscribing to a smart growth philosophy work to concentrate growth in the center of existing cities and towns to avoid sprawling development in areas otherwise prized for open space. Part of a smart growth effort attempts to minimize automobile traffic and its pollution in urban centers by including stores, residences and schools in neighborhoods, resulting in more walking, bicycle riding and mass transit usage than in a typical suburban environment. Advocates maintain that smart growth initiatives create a unique sense of community and place, give people more transportation, employment and housing choices, and equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development while preserving and enhancing natural beauty, cultural resources and public health.

(Earth Talk) Setting the record straight on what came out of "COP 15"

(Earth Talk) Setting the record straight on what came out of Dear EarthTalk: There have been many contradictory reports (“it was good; it was bad”) about what came out of “COP 15,” the December 2009 international Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen. Can you set the record straight? -- Jay Killian, Brookline, MA

Indeed hopes were high that international negotiators in Copenhagen last December at the 15th Annual Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would be able to hammer out a strong agreement to once and for all take the climate beast by the horns and begin to reign in carbon emissions worldwide. But a new binding formal agreement was not to be, mostly because of conflicting priorities among participating countries.

(Earth Talk) Whats being done to address the threats to the Great Lakes?

(Earth Talk) Whats being done to address the threats to the Great Lakes?Dear EarthTalk: What are the major threats to the Great Lakes in the United States and what’s being done to address them? -- Saul G., Racine, WI

The Great Lakes watershed is a unique and important ecosystem that contains some 95 percent of America’s fresh water surface area, and is a continental hub for birds, fish and other wildlife. According to the National Audubon Society, the Great Lakes provide habitat for some 400 bird species. But it is the region’s exploding human population—now at 42 million—that is causing many environmental problems.

Major threats include toxic and nutrient pollution, the growing presence of non-native invasive species, and the destruction of critical wildlife habitat. In addition, the region’s residents worry that other parts of the country and world facing water shortages will find ways to divert Great Lakes water to quench their far-off thirsts. Also, it remains to be seen what kind of impact global warming will have on the region.

(Earth Talk) Which woods are OK to purchase, and which are not?

(Earth Talk) Which woods are OK to purchase, and which are not?Dear EarthTalk: Which woods are OK to purchase, and which are not, in the interest of preserving forests and not harming those who depend upon them? -- Jon Steiner, Boise, ID

Deforestation continues to be one of the world’s biggest environmental problems, especially in fast developing regions like South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Cutting down large numbers of trees erodes land and silts waterways, displaces native people and wildlife, and releases tons of carbon dioxide (which is stored in living wood fiber) into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Legacy applauds hearing on smokeless tobacco in major league baseball

NNPA Special Commentary

(NNPA) - The  United States House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), recently  brought to light smokeless tobacco use among major league baseball players and how this may influence the health of young fans who idolize these athletes. The first pitch of the 2010 season was thrown last month, making this an ideal time for Congress and Major League Baseball (MLB) to renew its commitment to ending the use of smokeless tobacco products – both on and off the field.

The effects of tobacco have a very significant impact on the African-American community. Twenty-one percent of all adult African-Americans smoke, with the effects of tobacco consumption leading to 45,000 deaths per year.  Further, tobacco use leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer. Cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death in the United States among African-Americans, with an estimated 30 percent of these mortalities resulting from tobacco use.

Eating quality worsens as alcohol intake increases

Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American

(NNPA) - People who drink more are also likely to eat less fruit and consume more calories from a combination of alcoholic beverages and foods high in unhealthy fats and added sugars, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

An article about the study of more than 15,000 adults in the United States is in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. It’s the first study to pinpoint specific dietary components that worsened when imbibing increased.

"Heavy drinking and dietary factors have independently been associated with cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and other chronic health problems," said NIAAA Acting Director Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D. "This finding raises questions about whether the combination of alcohol misuse and poor diet might interact to further increase health risks."

In addition, researchers found that increased alcoholic beverage consumption was associated with a decreased intake of whole grains and milk among men.
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