World’s 10 Worst Pollution Spots
The world’s 10 most polluted places threaten the health of more than 10 million people
in eight countries, according to a report released today by a U.S. environmental
action group. Three of the most polluted sites are in Russia, the report said, with
the remaining seven located in China, Dominican Republic, India, Kyrgyzstan, Peru,
Ukraine and Zambia. The report was released by the Blacksmith Institute and compiled
by a team of international environment and health experts. "A key criterion
in the selection process was the nature of the pollutant," said Richard Fuller,
director of Blacksmith Institute. "The biggest culprits are heavy metals –
such as lead, chromium and mercury – and long-lasting chemicals – such as the ‘persistent
organic pollutants.’ That’s because a particular concern of all these cases is the
accumulating and long lasting burden building up in the environment and in the bodies
of the people most directly affected." With the exception of Chernobyl, the
Ukranian site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, most of the locations on the
list are little-known – even in their own countries. The most-polluted sites primarily
affect communities deep in poverty, the report said, but there are potential remedies.
– Environmental News Service [www.ens-newswire.com]

Truth About Responsible Investments
Corporations are increasingly confusing potential investors with phrases like "corporate
social responsibility," "sustainability," "green business"
and "socially responsible investing." But rarely do these terms accurately
reflect the corporation’s true business ethics. Greenwashing has become one of the
most successful modern-day marketing arts, whereby corporations tout themselves as
practitioners of sustainability while actually practicing business-as-usual. Although
incredibly popular among green consumers seeking to make ethical investments, the
international SRI (socially responsible investing) mutual fund industry has fallen
prey to a variety of greenwashing tactics, leaving the SRI market littered with corrupt
corporations dressed up in earth-friendly costumes. Paul Hawken’s Natural Capital
Institute provides an in-depth analysis of the problems in the SRI market and has
begun to publish an online database to help consumers identify which SRIs and mutual
funds truly promote health, justice, and sustainability. Read more at www.naturalcapital.org/Projects.html
– Organic Consumers Association [www.organicconsumers.org]

$13m For Solar Projects
U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman recently announced more than $13 million in funding
for solar technologies. The funding is part of the administration’s Solar America
Initiative and will support the development of more efficient solar panels, known
as photovoltaic devices. The initiative aims to make solar power cost competitive
with conventional electricity sources by 2015, by developing materials that convert
sunlight directly to electricity. The money will support a number of projects that
will create and operate a national working group to manage solar codes and standards
and help to accelerate the adoption of solar technology at the local level by engaging
city governments and users of electricity. – Environmental News Service [www.ens-newswire.com]

Eco Podcast
Green Planet Films has announced a new bi-monthly podcast focusing on environmental
films. Called Greenstream – your source for eco film news – the podcast was created
by Green Planet Films, a non-profit environmental DVD distributor, to address the
growing demand for information pertaining to environmental films, online eco channels
and film festivals. Segments include eco film news, a featured DVD, wildlife and
environmental film festival updates, and an interview with selected guests related
to these films and supporting services. With the popular releases of An Inconvenient
Truth, and documentaries such as Who Killed the Electric Car? and The Real Dirt on
Farmer John, founder Suzanne Harle says people who are concerned for their future
and the health of the planet are turning to environmental films as a way to educate
themselves and others on the pressing issues of today – such as peak oil and energy,
global warming, clean water, urban sprawl and GMO food. – World-Wire [www.world-wire.com]

Fast-food Chains Going Organic
While most fast-food chains still generate billions in profits selling junk food,
at least two national chains are starting to show how convenience food can be nutritious
and sustainably and humanely produced. Chipotle touts its "Food With Integrity"
philosophy, offering naturally raised pork, free-range chicken and a sprinkling of
organic ingredients in its Mexican menu, while the Panera fast-food chain serves
only all-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, as well as organic kids’ meals. A recent
CIBC World Markets report indicates the two chains are growing at rates well above
the national average for fast-food restaurants and attributes that success to the
fact that consumers are increasingly choosing to spend their dollars on healthier
and more ethically produced foods. – Organic Consumers Association [www.organicconsumers.org]

Plug-in Hybrids
AutoNation became the first major car dealer to join Plug-In Partners, calling on
automakers to manufacture plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and make them
available to American customers. PHEVs are hybrid vehicles that dramatically reduce
our dependence on oil by plugging into the grid to recharge. PHEVs achieve up to
100 mpg and offer customers a real-world solution to high gas costs, poor air quality,
climate change and over-reliance on oil. AutoNation is linking to Plug-In Partners’
website where customers can place "soft orders" for PHEVs. For three years,
the Jumpstart Ford Campaign has been enlisting the support of Ford dealers to help
persuade Ford Motor Company to stop pushing gas-guzzling cars, trucks and SUVs. Following
a series of grassroots activities that included local dealer "adoptions,"
a speakers’ tour, letter writing campaigns, public demonstrations and an educational
dialogue, AutoNation became the largest dealership group in the country to actively
help break America’s oil addiction. Of the 20 million barrels of oil consumed in
the United States each day, 70 percent is used for transportation. For more information,
visit www.jumpstartford.com or www.autonation.com.

Senator Requests Aspartame Ban
A New Mexico State Senator is calling on the Bush Administration to ban the artificial
sweetener aspartame. Now present in more than 6,000 consumer products, aspartame
has been repeatedly found to have ill health effects ranging from neurodegenerative
diseases to brain tumors to birth defects. Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino and members
of the New Mexico Legislative Health and Human Services Committee filed a letter
with the President’s office, requesting he call on the FDA commissioner’s office
to rescind the approval of aspartame, which has been the source of more health effect
complaints to the FDA than any other chemical on the market. – Organic Consumers
Association [www.organicconsumers.org]

Factory Farmed Salmon
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
makes a convincing case that salmon farms are killing off wild salmon. The study
found that salmon farms are massive breeding grounds for parasites known as sea lice.
The parasites then concentrate in rivers and streams and kill the young salmon who
do not have scales to protect themselves. Most salmon farms are located in Canada,
where 280 salmon farms produce about 96,000 tons of salmon each year. About 70 percent
goes U.S. consumers. The study, which confirms previous findings, is the most comprehensive
to date. – Organic Consumers Association [www.organicconsumers.org]

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