News On The Environment, Organics And Much More From Around The Planet


Free energy tests

DUBLIN, Ireland – Imagine a world with an infinite supply of free energy. An Irish company believes it has come up with the technology that will provide exactly that.

"This technology will replace traditional energy sources. It has the potential to be absolutely huge and change everyone’s life," says Sean McCarthy, chief executive of the Dublin-based company, Steorn.

So confident are the inventors that the company placed an advertisement in The Economist magazine saying: "We have developed a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy. We’re issuing a challenge to the scientific community: test our technology and report your findings to the world."

More than 3,500 scientists have responded to the Steorn Challenge. "We expected a good response because of its potential and its implications for the world," McCarthy says. "The next stage is to go through the applications and select a jury of 12 of the world’s best-qualified scientists, who are prepared to publish their findings, however they turn out."

The new technology is based on the interaction of magnetic fields and it can be applied to virtually everything from mobile telephones, cars and computers, to heating and lighting, public transport, agriculture and industry.

"The limit to this kind of technology is a theoretical limit – a limit imposed by the laws of physics," McCarthy says. "The fundamental challenge is to say: do these laws apply in this instance? If they don’t, then building these products and commercializing them will become just a simple engineering task."

The problem is that Steorn’s claim to have devised a technology that creates free energy represents a significant challenge to our current understanding of the universe. So while engineers and scientists have independently tested it and found it always proven to work, none of them have been prepared to go public. Hence the advertisement.

Steorn’s technology may well be the first to be licensed, but as McCarthy explains, it will not be at all easy. "The commercial battles in this arena are far larger than a company of just 20 people should rationally engage in because we have to fight public opinion, we have to fight the scientific community and we have to fight the energy industry – you couldn’t pick a worse battle ground." –

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E! goes green: The world’s largest producer and distributor of entertainment news and lifestyle-related programming, E! Entertainment Television is expanding its "Play A Part" initiative by partnering with the Environmental Media Association, which unites members of the entertainment industry with environmental causes. E! Networks’ Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications Suzanne Kolb said, "There is perhaps no cause that impacts society more universally than the environment." Debbie Levin, president of the Environmental Media Association, notes: "This is a wonderful opportunity to expose E! Entertainment’s tremendous audience to easy and effective ways to incorporate environmental lifestyle actions into their daily lives." She says that because the public is already looking to E! for pop culture lifestyle cues, the partnership can reach a mass audience "that might not otherwise have the information that has been proven to thwart the progression of global climate change." – Environmental News Service []

Global warming’s effect: The world economy could suffer a $20 trillion hit by century’s end if governments fail to address global warming, according to new report by two American economists. The report warns the figure – equal to 6 to 8 percent of projected global economic output in 2100 – is likely an underestimate because it does not account for the cost of biodiversity loss or of unpredictable events such as extreme weather or the collapse of the Gulf Stream. "The climate system has enormous momentum, as does the economic system that emits so much carbon dioxide," said co-author Frank Ackerman, an economist with Tufts University’s Global Development and the Environment Institute. "We have to start turning off greenhouse gas emissions now in order to avoid catastrophe in decades to come." The authors contend the true costs of climate change are incalculable, but argue that relatively small amounts of money are needed to keep temperatures in check. Action to limit temperature increases to two degrees centigrade could avoid $12 trillion in annual damages at a quarter of the cost, the report said. "The world, as a whole, can just barely, cope with the impacts of the first 2 degrees of warming, but only if there are immediate, large-scale, and creative approaches to international equity and cooperation," the report said. – Environmental News Service []

Poisoning food supply: A new analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that a toxic chemical in rocket fuel has severely contaminated the nation’s food and water supply. Scientists warn that the chemical, known as perchlorate, could cause thyroid deficiency in more than 2.2 million women of childbearing age. This thyroid deficiency could damage the fetus of pregnant women, if left untreated. Perchlorate, the explosive ingredient in solid rocket fuel, has leaked from military bases and defense and aerospace contractors’ plants in at least 22 states, contaminating drinking water for millions of Americans. Despite massive complaints, defense contractors such as Kerr-McGee have done little or nothing to clean up the pollution. Perchlorate has also been widely detected in milk, lettuce, produce and other foods. In an alarming study, the CDC found perchlorate in the urine of every person tested. The OCA has mobilized thousands of organic consumers to pressure the EPA and government officials to begin a massive clean up of perchlorate for over a year. –

2025 goal of 25 percent renewable: Renewable resources could produce 25 percent of the electricity and motor vehicle fuels used in the United States by 2025 at little or no additional cost, finds a RAND Corporation study. Renewable sources currently provide about six percent of all U.S. energy supplies. Using a computer model, RAND researchers assessed the possible impact that a 25 percent renewable energy target for electricity and motor vehicle ground transportation could have on total national energy expenditures and on emissions of local air pollutants and carbon dioxide by the year 2025. They found that if renewable energy production costs decline by at least 20 percent between now and 2025, which is consistent with recent experience, the 25 percent figure can be reached unless long-term oil prices fall far below the range currently projected by the federal Energy Information Administration, EIA. RAND conducted the study at the request of the Energy Future Coalition, a nonpartisan public policy organization in Washington, D.C. In his 2006 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush stated goals for increasing the use of biomass fuels in transportation and curbing oil imports. Without waiting for federal action, 20 states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, have set targets for increasing the use of renewable electricity technologies with renewable energy portfolios that require a percentage of a state’s power to be generated by renewables. – Environmental News Service []

Organics fight cancer: Naturopaths around the world are recommending organic food for detoxification of cancer cells. Although many of the dietary remedies for human ailments have been known for centuries, an increasing number of nutritional scientists have been conducting studies that validate many of these traditional remedies. Here’s a quick rundown of some cancer-fighting foods:

• Eat fresh foods. The live enzymes act as a catalyst for detoxification.

• Cabbage speeds up metabolism of estrogen and is useful in colon cancer.

• Beet juice has cancer-fighting properties, as it is rich in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, iron, copper, Vitamin B1, B2, B6 niacin.

• Citrus fruit juices, like lemon, orange and grapefruit, are used by naturopaths as anti-cancer compounds.

• Studies also show spinach, lettuce and broccoli juice act as antioxidants.

• While, wheat bran decreases estrogens in blood, wheat grass juice repairs damaged cells in leukemia patients. –

One billion trees: A new global campaign to plant one billion trees in 2007 was launched at the recent UN climate conference, backed by the woman who won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for planting trees – Kenya’s Assistant Environment Minister Wangari Maathai. Professor Maathai said the "Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign" encourages people to "take small but practical steps to combat what is probably the key challenge of the 21st century." Trees absorb the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, but widespread deforestation in Kenya and across the world has allowed more CO2 to remain in the atmosphere. Planting trees is expected to help absorb the blanket of CO2 that is holding the Sun’s heat close to the planet. The tree campaign, coordinated by the United Nations Environment Program, is backed also by Prince Albert of Monaco, who called Maathai’s reforestation efforts "inspirational." – Environmental News Service []

Mexico bans GE corn: Mexico again has passed a law banning genetically engineered corn from being planted in the country. The law is designed to protect native varieties of corn from being contaminated by biotech varieties. The Monsanto corporation, the biggest global seller of genetically engineered corn, vows it will reverse this law when president-elect Felipe Calderon takes office. Monsanto claims Mexico’s 59 varieties of corn, many of which have been grown for thousands of years, will not be at risk of contamination if genetically engineered varieties are approved. –

Texas $10B wind energy deal: Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry recently announced a $10 billion public-private initiative to expand wind energy. Texas has abundant wind energy, particularly in West Texas and along the gulf cost. In 2001 Texas added more wind power capacity than all other states combined, and earlier this summer Texas surpassed California as the nation’s leader in wind generation capacity. The deal is expected to add 10,000 megawatts of wind power, enough to power 2.4 million homes. Perry said that private companies have agreed to the capital investments in wind energy generation while the Public Utility Commission (PUC) directs the construction of additional transmission lines to capture and deliver the power. "I am proud of our state’s commitment to renewable energy production," Perry said. "We are on the leading edge of developing renewable sources of energy and a more diversified energy economy which is key to keeping costs down." For every 1,000 megawatts generated by new wind sources, Texas will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by six million tons over the next 20 years, said Perry, who also touted the economic benefits. "This is a monumental investment that will make our air cleaner and our people healthier," Perry said. – Environmental News Service []

Seafood consumption unsustainable: To sustain present levels of seafood consumption, humans would need more than 2.5 times the area of all the Earth’s oceans, according to "The Fishprint of Nations 2006," a new study based on the idea of the human ecological footprint. Like the ecological footprint, the fishprint measures the amount of ocean area needed to sustain the consumption patterns of individual nations and the human population as a whole. The report, issued by three diverse organizations – Redefining Progress, the Ocean Project, and the Center for Sustainable Economy – estimates that humans are overfishing by roughly 157 percent. It finds that 91 countries, including the United States, overfished their biological capacity in 2003. Bill Mott is director of the Ocean Project based in Providence, Rhode Island, a network of aquariums, zoos, museums, and conservation organizations working to protect oceans. "Scientific evidence underscores that the world’s ocean is essential to human survival and also under direct and increasing threat from human actions," said Mott. "The trends may seem dire, but we still have the opportunity to leave a more abundant and healthier ocean for our grandchildren. Every person on Earth is connected to the ocean, no matter where they live." – Environmental News Service []

Flouridated water danger: On November 9, the American Dental Association (ADA) finally admitted that fluoride levels in common tap water could be dangerous for infants. The ADA recommended that fluoridated water should not be mixed into concentrated formula or foods intended for babies. The ADA’s announcement comes on the heels of a National Research Council report that revealed fluoridation’s adverse effects to the thyroid gland, diabetics, kidney patients, high water drinkers and others. The Centers for Disease Control has added to the debate with a new report showing that fluoride absorbs into enamel topically. However, adverse effects occur upon ingestion. –

Air pollution deaths: Air pollution in cities across the world is causing some two million premature deaths every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently said, urging nations to adopt stricter air pollution standards. The international health agency’s new air quality guidelines call for nations to reduce the impact of air pollution by substantially cutting levels of particulate matter, ozone and sulfur dioxide. "By reducing air pollution levels, we can help countries to reduce the global burden of disease from respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer which they otherwise would be facing," said Maria Neira, WHO director of public health and the environment. "Moreover, action to reduce the direct impact of air pollution will also cut emissions of gases which contribute to climate change and provide other health benefits." WHO cautioned that for some cities meeting the targets would require cutting current pollution levels more than three fold. The organization noted that many countries don’t have any air pollution standards. Existing standards vary greatly, WHO said, and most fail to ensure sufficient protection of human health. Produced mainly by the burning of fossil fuels, particulate matter has been increasingly linked to respiratory illness and heart disease. – Environmental News Service []

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