Insight News

Wednesday
Nov 26th

Health

Bottled water: a ridiculous waste?

Bottled water: a ridiculous waste?Dear EarthTalk: Isn’t it a waste that we buy water in plastic bottles when it is basically free out of our taps? Even health food stores, which should know better, sell it like crazy. When did Earth’s most abundant and free natural resource become a commercial ‘beverage’? -- A. Jacobs, via e-mail

Bottled water has been a big-selling commercial beverage around the world since the late 1980s. According to the Worldwatch Institute, global bottled water consumption has more than quadrupled since 1990. Today Americans consume over 30 billion liters of water out of some 50 billion (mostly plastic) bottles every year. The Beverage Marketing Association reports that in 2008 bottled water comprised over 28 percent of the U.S. liquid refreshment beverage market. The only bottled drinks Americans consume more of are carbonated sodas like Coke and Pepsi.
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Who do you belong to?

This month is Black History Month--or as a friend of mine says, for those of us who write or speak on Black issues, “Negro Employment Month.”   But in all seriousness, all the awareness and marketing aside, I’m not sure how much Black history is actually read, taught or learned during this month, or any other month.  That’s too bad, because knowing Black history is critically important for the health and wellbeing of Black people and contributes to a more robust and rounded understanding of the American experience for all her citizens.  If we don't know where we come from, how can we determine where we want to go, or know, once we arrive, that it is not the same place that we left?
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National HIV/Aids strategy: Leveraging the private sector

When President Obama released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in July 2010, he said, “The Federal government can’t do this alone, nor should it.  Success will require the commitment of governments at all levels, businesses, faith communities, philanthropy, the scientific and medical communities, educational institutions, people living with HIV, and others.”

Clearly, success at achieving our aggressive goals in the Strategy depends not only on Federal leadership, but new investments and new partnerships from all parts society.  We know that some of our biggest successes in fighting HIV/AIDS have come about because of private sector initiatives, and we’ve called on businesses and foundations to provide that next level of leadership by stepping up their efforts in a few targeted areas.  We want to hear about your successful partnerships and new ideas for working together.
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26 years since the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India: Are chemical plants any safer today?

26 years since the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India: Are chemical plants any safer today?Dear EarthTalk: December 2010 marked the 26th anniversary of the infamous Bhopal disaster in India when chemical company Union Carbide leaked deadly gases, killing thousands of people. What safeguards are in place today to prevent incidents like this? -- Charlene Colchester, via e-mail

Bhopal should have been a wake up call, but it is unclear whether chemical plants around the world are any safer a quarter century after the December 1984 disaster—during which some 40 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide (now part of Dow Chemical), killing 2,259 people immediately and causing lifelong health problems and premature death for tens of thousands more.
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Coming to America: high speed rail

Coming to America: high speed railDear EarthTalk: Vice-President Joe Biden just announced a commitment by the Obama administration of $53 billion to high speed rail. Isn’t it about time? Why is the U.S. so far behind other nations in developing environmentally friendly public transportation? -- Diane A., Boston, MA

There are many reasons why public transit hasn’t taken off in the U.S. as it has in parts of Asia, Europe and elsewhere. For one, ever since the Model T first rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line, Americans have had a love affair with cars. Also, a successful plot by General Motors and several partner companies in the 1930 and 1940s bought up and shut down rail transit lines across 45 American cities, replacing them with bus routes driven on GM buses. Meanwhile, the U.S. government embarked on a plan to link the nation’s metro areas via interstate highways, further encouraging car travel. The sexy new car designs of the 1950s then drove the final nail in the coffin, relegating public transportation to an afterthought.
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Participation in a Medical Clinical Trial - One Man’s Story

For Marvin Jackson, getting advanced treatment for prostate cancer was a matter of life and death.  Jackson (not his real name) was just 52-years-old when the sore shoulder he had been nursing for months turned out to be prostate cancer that had metastasized to his bones.  “I really wasn’t having any symptoms except for my shoulder, which kept getting more and more sore,” he said, describing the pain that eventually got him to visit a doctor.  “The doctor and I thought it was a golf injury or at worst arthritis. He was just as surprised as I was.” 
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American Cancer Society Recognizes Firm for Cancer-fighting Efforts

A stroll through the campuses of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota in Eagan and Virginia, Minnesota (Blue Cross) show they are designed to improve the health—and in turn, reduce cancer risk for its 3500 employees.

The facilities feature a tobacco-free campus and/or; walking meetings and paths; healthy cafeterias and vending machines—often at discounted prices; onsite fitness centers with reduced rate fitness classes and personal trainers; an employee-led Wellness Council to seek new ways to improve employee health; and onsite doctor visits via webcams.
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