Insight News

Tuesday
Jul 29th

Health

(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.
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(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.
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(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.
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(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.
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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.
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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.

Americans want pizza, burgers & nuggets pulled from school menus, poll finds

Nearly two-thirds of parents of school-age children describe local school food as “poor” or “only fair”

A majority of Americans believe nutrition in local school meals falls far short of what children need, a new survey finds. And the foods people most associate with school meals – pizza, chicken nuggets and hamburgers – are the same foods they believe should be cut drastically from school menus.

The survey reports near-universal agreement that childhood obesity is a problem or crisis, and  improving the health of American children requires communities to prioritize access in schools to fresh produce and exercise.

The survey was commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and released last week at the Foundation’s 10th annual Food & Community Networking Meeting, held this year in Chandler, AZ.

Food & Community is the premier gathering of the good food movement, drawing 650 activists, reformers, researchers and public health officials to explore topics such as farm-to-school projects and eradicating “food deserts.” The survey was conducted in April among 801 adults from all regions of the country.
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