Insight News

Wednesday
Apr 23rd

Health

Home Solar Energy

Home Solar EnergyDear EarthTalk: Is it now feasible to provide all of a home’s energy needs—including air conditioning—with solar power alone? If so, why hasn’t solar caught on more, particularly in U.S. “Sun Belt” states from southern California east to Florida? -- Tim Douglas, Burlington, VT

It has been possible for years if not decades to provide all of a home’s energy needs with solar power. The technology is here and is only getting more efficient and less obtrusive every day. The only real stumbling block is cost: Solar systems capable of meeting all of an average U.S. home’s energy needs start at around $25,000. Given how inexpensive the grid-based power we now get all across the country remains—and, bear in mind that many utilities are working more and more renewable energy sources, like wind power, into their mix—going solar alone just doesn’t pencil out economically for most people.
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Green Investing Resources

Green Investing ResourcesDear EarthTalk: What are some good resources out there for learning about investments that help the environment? -- Rob Johnson, Sherman Oaks, CA

The best green investing resources are available online, many for free. One good place to start is the Green Money Journal, which features a wide range of informative and free articles to help the individual investor make sense of the panoply of choices available when it comes to investing with the Earth in mind. Publisher Cliff Feigenbaum, also co-author of the book, Investing With Your Values (New Society, 2000), has been running the publication, first in print and now online, since 1992, and makes sure that each quarterly issue is chock full of tips and strategies for making a statement while making a buck.
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After five years, a Farmers Market in North Minneapolis

 After five years, a Farmers Market in North MinneapolisWhile some Minneapolis neighborhoods enjoy a bountiful supply of healthy foods, many others do not. The Minneapolis Urban League and the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) are bringing the Mini Farmers Market Project, and with it fresh fruits and vegetables, into the heart of North Minneapolis Particularly in the North Minneapolis neighborhoods, where the rates of obesity and malnutrition are disproportionately higher than the rest of the area.  For the past five years, the Minneapolis Urban League has been developing a strategy to get healthier food options to the community, and the IATP’s Mini Farmer’s Market project is the perfect vehicle for getting the right food in the right hands.
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NorthPoint Health &Wellness campus to become smoke-free, effective November 18

Continuing decades of support for healthier environments, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution last week making the north Minneapolis NorthPoint Health & Wellness (“NorthPoint”) campus smoke-free.

“This is an extremely positive step for not only our employees, but for the children and families who visit the clinic regularly. As a public health authority, this is the County leading by example,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein.

NorthPoint's Community Board of Directors passed a resolution earlier this year in support of a smoke-free campus and requested approval from the County Board.
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Genetically modified foods

Genetically modified foodsDear EarthTalk: As far as I know, genetically modified foods are not required to be labeled so. Why is this? Don’t we have a right to know what our food is made of? -- Rebecca Webster, via e-mail

Unbeknownst to most Americans, a majority of the processed foods available in grocery stores today are derived from genetically modified (GM) sources—whereby genes have been taken from one species and insert into another to obtain specific traits or characteristics. Given how new GM technology is—scientists first began tinkering with it in the 1970s but only recently began utilizing it on a wide scale across the food sector—the jury is still out as to whether such products can cause health or environmental problems.
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Privatizing water resources

Privatizing water resourcesDear EarthTalk: Is it true that some countries have turned over public water supplies to private companies, effectively denying local communities much-needed access? -- J. Johnson, Lancaster, PA

Water is such an important part of life that it has long been regarded as a public good worth entrusting only to public entities. But given the mixed track record of municipal, regional and national governments to properly manage water resources, outsourcing to private companies is becoming more common. But critics of such privatization point out that the end result for consumers is not always so positive.
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The worldwide plant extinction crisis

The worldwide plant extinction crisisDear EarthTalk: When we talk about “endangered species” we usually think of animal species, but someone recently told me that there was a worldwide crisis pertaining to the extinction of plants. Can you enlighten? -- Max Blanchard, East Islip, NY

We may not realize it, but the health of the plant kingdom is crucial to the health of the planet and the animal life (which includes humans) it supports. “Through photosynthesis, plants provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat and are thus the foundation of most life on Earth,” reports the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based nonprofit dedicated to securing the future for endangered plants and animals throughout the world.
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