Earth Talk ®

Earth Talk ®

EARTHTALK®: FOOD SCARCITY

March 17, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: What are the main drivers of food scarcity that lead to so much starvation around the world, and how can they be addressed?                          

-- Marjorie Millerton, Provo, UT

Food scarcity is a bigger problem than ever as human population numbers continue to swell, putting additional stress on already fragile food production and distribution systems. And it’s not just happening in far away places: A recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the number of U.S. homes “lacking food security” rose from 4.7 million to 6.7 million in just the last five years.


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EARTHTALK®: ATTRACTING BEES AND BUTTERFLIES TO YOUR GARDEN

March 16, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I’d like to have a garden that encourages bees and butterflies. What’s the best approach?                                                              

-- Robert Miller, Bakersfield, CA

Attracting bees and butterflies to a garden is a noble pursuit indeed, given that we all depend on these species and others (beetles, wasps, flies, hummingbirds, etc.) to pollinate the plants that provide us with so much of our food, shelter and other necessities of life. In fact, increased awareness of the essential role pollinators play in ecosystem maintenance—along with news about rapid declines in bee populations—have led to a proliferation of backyard “pollinator gardens” across the U.S. and beyond.


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EARTHTALK®: ALLERGIES AND UNHEALTHY INDOOR AIR

January 31, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: My family has bad allergies and I’d like to improve our indoor air quality. What are some steps I should take?

-- Marcia Lane, Scranton, PA

Even for those of us without allergies, poor indoor air quality is an often overlooked health issue. Recent research has shown that the air inside some buildings can be more polluted than the outdoor air in the most industrialized of cities. And since many of us spend some 90 percent of our time indoors, cleaning the air where we live and work might be one of the most important things we can do for our health.


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EARTHTALK®: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF NATIONAL WILDLIFE WEEK?

January 31, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: What is the purpose of National Wildlife Week, which I understand will take place in March 2013?

-- Melissa P., Burlington, NJ

National Wildlife Week is a program of the non-profit National Wildlife Federation (NWF) that is designed around teaching and connecting kids to the wonders of wildlife. Each year, the group picks a theme and provides fun and informative educational materials, curriculum and activities for educators and caregivers to use with their kids.


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EARTHTALK®: WHAT IS THE LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE?

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

January 12, 2013 (San Diego)--Dear EarthTalk: What is the Living Building Challenge and how does it differ from the LEED certification program?                                                 -- Jason Marshall, Richmond, VA

Both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Living Building Challenge (LBC) were created with the same goal in mind: to encourage more sustainability and resource conservation in architecture, design, construction and building operations. LEED, a program of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is well known in architecture, building and design circles as the standard for certifying the green attributes of new and retrofitted structures (and even entire neighborhoods).


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EARTHTALK®: IS CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTING THE HEALTH OF RIVERS

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

January 7, 2013 (San Diego)--Dear EarthTalk: How is it that climate change is negatively affecting the health of rivers and, by extension, the quality and availability of fresh water?                  -- Robert Elman, St. Louis, MO

Global warming is no doubt going to cause many kinds of problems (and, indeed, already is), and rivers may well be some of the hardest hit geographical features, given the likelihood of increased droughts, floods and the associated spread of waterborne diseases.


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EARTHTALK®: LINK BETWEEN CHILDHOOD ILLNESSES AND PESTICIDES

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

December 27, 2012 (San Diego)--Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that children are sicker today than they were a generation ago and that pesticides have played a major role?                                             -- Maria Jenkins, Clewiston, FL


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EARTHTALK®: BENEFITS OF PUBLIC TRANSIT

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

December 24, 2012 (San Diego)--Dear EarthTalk: It might seem obvious, but what would be the primary benefits of public transit as an alternative to the private automobile if our country were to make a major commitment to it?                                                        -- James Millerton, Armstrong, PA

The benefits of making a major commitment to building up and efficiently managing a larger and more comprehensive public transit network are many.


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EARTHTALK®: NUTRITION STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL LUNCHES

E - The Environmental Magazine

December 4, 2012 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: What are the new nutrition standards for school lunches that have some students boycotting their cafeterias and discarding the food?                

-- Melissa Makowsky, Trenton, NJ

Indeed, some 31 million American kids participating in the federally supported National School Lunch Program have been getting more whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables in their diets—whether they like it or not. The change is due to new school meal standards unveiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last January, per the order of 2010’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The new standards are based on the Institute of Medicine’s science-based recommendations, and are the first upgrade to nutritional standards for school meals since 1995 when low- and no-fat foods were all the rage.


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EARTHTALK® BURROWING OWL CONSERVATION NETWORK

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Dear EarthTalk: What is the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network and why is it so important to put so much effort into saving one species?                               -- Ginny Bateman, Portland, OR

November 9, 2012 (California) --  Western burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) are tiny, long-legged members of the owl family, native to the Americas and preferring open landscapes where they can dig new holes or use existing ones (such as abandoned prairie dog, skunk or armadillo homes) to nest and rear their young. Unlike most other owl species, these small but charismatic birds are more often seen out and about during daylight hours, but they are most active and do their primary feeding at night, preferring a diet of small rodents and large insects.


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EARTHTALK®: GROUNDWATER QUALITY

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Dear EarthTalk: What is currently being done in the U.S. to ensure the wise use and safety of our nation’s groundwater?    --Kevin Orr, Baton Rouge, LA

November 5, 2012 (San Diego) -- Keeping fresh water safe and abundant is a challenge for all societies. In the U.S., about half of the country’s drinking water comes from groundwater sources. Many rural areas derive all of their drinking water from groundwater, which also provides 40 percent of the irrigation needs of American farmers. 


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EARTHTALK(R): ARCTIC SUMMER SEA ICE AT LOWEST LEVELS EVER RECORDED

November 3, 2012 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I heard that the Arctic summer sea ice is at its lowest level since we began recording it. What are the implications of all this melting?   -- Jo Shoemaker, Bowie, MD

It is true that on September 16, 2012 the world reached a new low: The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported that the extent of sea ice across the Arctic was at its lowest since satellite record-keeping began in 1979. On that date the sea ice reached its summer minimum, 1.32 million square miles, half of what the average size of summer ice was between 1979 and 2000, and almost 20 percent lower than the previous record minimum of 1.61 million square miles set on Sept. 18, 2007. NSIDC added that, despite especially warm conditions in 2007 being much more favorable for sea ice loss than this year, the thinning of sea ice due to climate change has made the ice more vulnerable to breakup and melting.


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EARTHTALK®: THE FRACKING CONTROVERSY

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

October 28, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) -- Dear EarthTalk: I have heard that fracking is becoming a major environmental issue in the U.S. Which parts of the country are already hosting fracking operations? Are there efforts underway to stop the practice in specific states or across the country?                             ­-- Jim Ross, Toronto, ON


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EARTHTALK®: CANDIDATES ENVIRONMENTAL RECORD AND POSITIONS

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

October 10, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: Given that the presidential election is just around the corner, what can you tell me about each candidate’s environmental track record and positions?          -- Jane Miller, Chicago, IL

Just because the environment is getting short shrift this election season due to our nation’s lingering economic woes doesn’t mean that candidates Obama and Romney can ignore the issue.


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EARTHTALK®: HOW HEALTHY ARE PERFUMES?

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

September 29, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: I’ve always suspected that perfumes and colognes must not be too healthy simply because of the way the smell of most of them bothers me. Am I correct? Is there information available on this issue?                                                        -- Lucinda Barry, Minneapolis, MN


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EARTHTALK®: IS EXTREME WEATHER LINKED TO CLIMATE CHANGE?

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

September 24, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: What is the scientific consensus on all the extreme weather we’ve been having—from monster tornadoes to massive floods and wildfires? Is there a clear connection to climate change? And if so what are we doing to be prepared?                                -- Jason Devine, Summit, PA


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EARTHTALK®: U.S. CONSUMPTION

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

September 18, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: I read that a single child born in the U.S. has a greater effect on the environment than a dozen children born in a developing country? Can you explain why?  -- Josh C., via e-mail


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EARTHTALK®: ECO-FRIENDLY AND NON-TOXIC CAT LITTERS

E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

September 11, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: Which are the most eco-friendly and non-toxic (to people, cats and sanitation systems) cat litters? ­                                                                       -- Sam Barnes, Macon, GA

It makes sense that environmentally enlightened cat owners would want cat litter made from natural products that will not potentially compromise their health or that of their beloved pets. Many mass market cat litters contain significant amounts of silica dust which has been linked to upper respiratory issues in cats and even humans. Likewise, the chemical fragrances in many cat litters can also be toxic to cats.


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EARTHTALK®: SUSTAINABLE FURNITURE OPTIONS

 
E - The Environmental Magazine
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
 
September 1, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- Dear EarthTalk: Are there certain brands or retail stores where sustainable furniture options can be had? And what should I look for when shopping for greener furniture?  -- W. Cary, Trenton, NJ

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EARTHTALK®: CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE

E - The Environmental Magazine 
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss 
 
August 28, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- Dear EarthTalk: I read that CO2 in our atmosphere is now more than 300 parts per million. Doesn’t this mean that we’re too late to avoid the worst impacts of climate change?                                                                                                                          -- Karl Bren, Richmond, VA

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EARTHTALK® HOW EFFICIENT IS RADIANT HEATING?

 

E - The Environmental Magazine
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
 
August 30, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- Dear EarthTalk: How energy efficient (and comfortable) is underfloor heating, sometimes known as radiant heating? -- Marcy Dell, Boston, MA

Underfloor radiant heating involves under laying the floor with a hot element or tubing that transfers heat into the room via infrared radiation and convection, obviating the need for forced or blowing air.

 

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EARTHTALK®: REDUCING OUR LIGHT FOOTPRINT

 
E - The Environmental Magazine

Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

 
August 25, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- Dear EarthTalk: Has anyone calculated the energy wasted at night by unnecessary lighting in and around buildings? What can we do to reduce our light footprint?      -- Bill Rehkamp, via e-mail 
 

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EARTHTALK®: MT. ST. HELENS -- A NATIONAL PARK?

 
E - The Environmental Magazine
 
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
 
August 9, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) -- Dear EarthTalk: What ever happened to the idea of turning Mt. St. Helens into a national park?
                                                                                            -- Esther Monaghan, Boston, MA

Mt. St. Helens, one of the less prominent yet massive peaks of Washington State’s Cascade Range, made history on May 18, 1980 by erupting with the force of 500 atomic bombs, devastating 230 square miles of formerly verdant forest and killing 57 people.


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EARTHTALK® E - THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE

 
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
 
August 1, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: I couldn’t believe my ears: “genetically engineered mosquitoes?” Why on Earth would they be created? And I understand there are plans to release them into the wild?
                                                                                      -- Marissa Abingdon, Sumter, SC

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EARTHTALK®: AIR POLLUTION IN NATIONAL PARKS E - THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE

 
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
 
July 26, 2012 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I was appalled by the pollution haze I saw on a recent visit to Acadia National Park in Maine, and was told by a ranger that it was from smokestacks and tailpipes hundreds of miles away. Is anything being done to clear the air in Acadia and other natural areas where people go to breathe fresh air and enjoy distant unobstructed views?                 -- Betty Estason, via e-mail

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EARTHTALK®: EFFICIENT AIR CONDITIONING, E - THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE

 
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

July 24, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- Dear EarthTalk: Has an alternative to air conditioning to keep rooms cool been invented that is significantly cheaper and/or that uses significantly less energy than traditional air conditioning?                                        
                                                     -- Ashutosh Saxena, Allahabad, India

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EARTHTALK®: E - THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE

 
 
By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
 
July 22, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--This week’s topics include:

        1) Meat consumption, health and the environment
        2) Challenging Canada's Prime Minister's efforts to weaken environmental protections
 
Dear EarthTalk: We’ve been hearing for years how producing red meat is bad for the environment while consuming it is bad for our health. How do other types of meat, fish, dairy and vegetable proteins stack up in terms of environmental and health impacts?     -- Julia Saperstein, via e-mail

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EARTHTALK® E - THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE

 
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Dear EarthTalk: Who are the “Clean Air Ambassadors” and what are they trying to accomplish?
                                                                                          -- Brenda Coughlin, Pittsburgh, PA

June 29, 2012  -- Clean Air Ambassadors are everyday folks from across the U.S. who have committed to speaking up for everyone’s right to breathe clean, healthy air. The effort is part of the “50 States United for Healthy Air” campaign, a joint endeavor of Earthjustice, the American Nurses Association, the Hip Hop Caucus, the National Council of Churches and Physicians for Social Responsibility. In the spring of 2011 these Ambassadors—people from all 50 states and every walk of life—convened in Washington, D.C. to ask members of Congress, leaders at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and high-ranking officials in the Obama administration for stronger protections against air pollution.

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EARTHTALK® E - THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE

 
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

June 11, 2012 (
 Norwalk, CT) --  Dear EarthTalk: I own a small business and would like to do what I can to minimize its impact on the environment. Can you help me? -- Jacob Levinson, New York, NY
 
There are many ways to green up any business, large or small—and an added benefit might just be saving money. Just like individuals, businesses can measure their carbon footprints to get a sense of where they are starting from and to get some initial ideas of areas to focus on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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EARTHTALK® E - THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE

 
by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Dear EarthTalk: How do I learn about what pesticides may be on the food I eat?
                                                                                      -- Beatrice Olson, Cleveland, OH

June 3, 2012 -- Along with the rise in the popularity of organic food has come an increased awareness about the dangers lurking on so-called “conventionally produced” (that is, with chemical pesticides and fertilizers) foods.

 


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