After the media spotlight has moved on, a toxic legacy continues to haunt New Orleans. Will the state and federal government get serious about protecting the city?
In the Ecuadorian rainforest, Chevron is charged as a major environmental polluter. The company denies responsibility, but big oil has left a significant legacy.
Susan Cowsill, a singer-songwriter (and member of the famous 1960s singing family) says the culture of New Orleans is a big part of her music. But it was with some trepidation that she and her family recently returned home after a nomadic post-Katrina existence in Austin and Houston. "I want to believe what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is saying, that it is safe," she says.
It’s business as usual in New Orleans, as cleanup contracts go to politically connected construction companies.
The poor African-American community of Diamond, long in the shadow of a Shell chemical plant, is hit with a new challenge by Katrina.
Bring Kathy’s Family products into your home, and you can read about the colorful Swanson family on the fantastic product packaging as you wash your hair or soothe those chapped lips. The Swansons are a large Minnesota farming family, and their stories are told on the products that were inspired by them. As Kathy herself explains, "The products are a lot like us: honest, trustworthy and down to Earth. They’re made with ingredients that anyone can pronounce and they don’t have anything extra because they only use what they need."
For financial, political and environmental reasons—including the fact that we may soon reach the peak of oil production, after which fossil fuels will get increasingly expensive—Americans are trying out biodiesel, both in their vehicles and (mainly in the Northeast) for home heating.
Every so often we need to interrupt our regular lives and go off and live in a tent. I don’t say this for the usual benefits associated with camping—the simpler living and getting close to the outdoors, though those things go far in renewing our perspective. More importantly, we need to spend time away from home, constructing a shelter at night, taking it down in the morning and moving on, because that gets us close to a truth we usually deny. We are merely passing through this life.
The one-two punch doled out by Katrina and then Hurricane Rita literally wiped out thousands of promising small businesses—and the jobs that went with them—all the way from Texas to Alabama. Several socially responsible community investment projects are helping shoulder the daunting burden of getting the local economy back on its feet.
Biomimicry is the concept of looking at natural systems to solve such problems as keeping cool in the heat, recycling toxic wastes or self cleaning. This new science doesn’t involve taking any part from an existing animal or plant, but instead mimicking the means by which the problem has been solved over millennia. Unlike typical human solutions to natural problems, "biomimetics" copy natural designs, which by nature are usually non-polluting and use minimal energy.
If “fat” has become a dirty word in your nutritional arsenal, you should know that all fats are not the same. Some may be harmful, but others are helpful—even necessary—for proper functioning of our bodies. The key is choosing the right fats.
Consumption of sweeteners in the U.S. has risen from 113 per person per year in 1996 to 142 pounds per year in 2004. What’s wrong with sugar (and artificial sweeteners) anyway, and what’s it doing to our health?
The cases against Florida Power and Light (FP&L) brought by two families whose sons have rare cancers were dismissed without trial in January, nearly three years since filing (see “The Nuke Next Door,” Currents, May/June 2004). U.S. District Judge James Cohn, a Bush appointee known for denying paper voting receipts in Florida and for giving […]
Mira Engler, associate professor at Iowa State University, says, “Waste should be brought closer to our lives and our landscape.” Her 2004 book Designing America’s Waste Landscapes (Johns Hopkins University Press) suggests ways to make garbage dumps and sewage plants architecturally more prominent and dignified, as well as more accessible to citizens. She challenges designers to plan waste landscapes as integral and essential parts of community life.
A growing number of smart, ambitious people are rejecting the lure of lucrative careers for the promise of a simpler agrarian lifestyle. Many of those in the new crop of young farmers boast the kinds of diplomas typically found in Silicon Valley cubicles, Wall Street suites or Hollywood editing rooms. But instead of pursuing fast-paced careers, these members of the so-called "best and the brightest" class are choosing to spend their days weeding carrots and building compost.
The rapid growth of “car sharing” companies—five have sprouted up in the U.S. since 2000—do more than fill a growing niche market. Car sharing also reflects a green business trend called “product service systems” (PSS), otherwise known by its more ungainly iteration, “servicizing.” Morph a product into a service, so the logic goes, and you reduce the ecological footprint of the product itself.
After spending four years connecting dozens of dots, two Oregon State University professors published a study crediting Yellowstone Park’s reintroduced wolves with unilaterally beginning a dramatic restoration of the ailing Lamar River valley. And the implications, like the wolves themselves, have spread beyond the borders of Yellowstone to other regions of the Pacific Northwest, where splinter packs are eventually expected to take up residence.
In 1998, Ted Smith and Bill Moomaw held a conference at Boston’s Tufts University to develop the idea of starting a regional organization to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Northeast. Clean Air-Cool Planet emerged.
One of the world’s most prized ecological zones will soon become a showcase for renewable energy in remote locations. Early this year, crews are expected to break ground on a wind farm on San Cristobal, the largest of four inhabitable islands in the Galapagos Archipelago.
The news that Espitas, a restaurant in Dresden, Germany, has lines around the block for its maggot ice cream and maggot salad was no surprise to entomologist Marc Kenis from Switzerland’s CABI Bioscience, a nonprofit group that works on sustainable agriculture projects. Kenis has been sweating over ways to help keep caterpillars on the African menu, especially during the hungry months when food is scarce.
Cape Wind Associates’ plans to build a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts have been met with heavy opposition (see “Catching the Wind,” cover story, January/February 2005). Offshore wind projects received a boost from the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which gave the Department of the Interior the authority to grant leases […]
Although the International Whaling Commission has authorized a global moratorium on the sale of whale products since 1982, this has not stopped Japanese fleets from continuing to kill whales (under the banner of “science”) and sell the meat and byproducts on the market (see “The Whale Killer,” Currents, January/February 2003). In late December, two Greenpeace ships came upon a Japanese “research” convoy in the Southern Ocean that was hunting for whales. The Southern Ocean is an Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, which is supposed to be protected from commercial whaling.
Because it is surrounded by oceans, many Australians have wondered for years if desalinization could provide fresh water to the country’s growing population. But desalinization is an energy-intensive process and has thus far proven prohibitively expensive. Now, two Australian companies have joined forces to test a unique desalinization plant that is run on wave energy.
Some environmentalists, and many animal rights advocates, believe zoos are inherently inhumane; others argue that if zoos use kind practices, they’re valuable to society and help preserve wildlife. But in the case of the Chiang Mai Night Safari in northern Thailand, there’s been widespread outrage from many observers. A persistent issue has been where and how the animals were obtained.
When Kanye West quipped on national television last September, as an astonished Mike Meyers looked on, that George Bush "doesn’t care about black people," he was only partly right. George Bush doesn’t care about white people, either. In fact, George Bush only cares about rich people.