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Monthly Archives: November 2010

A new study of two commonly used chemicals are causing alarm amongst environmental health advocates.  The first, bisphenol A (BPA) is used in plastic, the linings of tin cans, dental sealants and even receipt paper.  BPA lining in tin cans allows cans to be heated and kill off bacteria without the metal contaminating the food inside.  However, BPA has been linked to cancer, suppression of the immune system and endocrine disruption.  The substance mimics estrogen which poses a high risk specifically to young girls and women for ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and breast cancer.  Last week, the European Union decided to ban BPA from baby bottles starting in 2011 but the U.S. has yet to act legally on this chemical.  
The second chemical tested was triclosan, which is commonly found in antibacterial soap and other household cleaning products.  The study conducted at the University of Michigan compared urine levels of BPA and triclosan with allergy prevalence and antibody levels that indicate proper immune system function.  The study found that people who had elevated levels of BPA or triclosan also had high levels of CMV antibodies.  High levels of CMV antibodies is an indicator that the immune system was not functioning correctly.  The study also found that children under the age of 18 who had high levels of triclosan were more likely to suffer from allergies and hayfever.
Avoiding triclosan does not mean you should stop washing your hands!  Just avoid anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizers that list triclosan, triclocarbon and fragrance on the ingredients listing.  To avoid BPA, check labels to see if  plastic bottles and food containers for "BPA Free."  The Environmental Working Group tested 97 canned food samples and found that nearly half were contaminated with high levels of BPA.  Canned meat, pastas and soups were amongst the worst offenders.  Also, rinse canned fruits and vegetables to reduce the amount of BPA you ingest.
Learn more about how to avoid BPA and triclosan.

The Navajo Nation is rich in coal, sun and wind. The new Navajo president wants to use them all. Ben Shelly is the President-Elect of the Navajo Nation. He talks with host Bruce Gellerman about the future of coal, renewable energy and tribal sovereignty in Navajoland.

Ben Shelly’s campaign website: www.presidentbenshelly.com

navajopH.mp3 4.3 MB

Seeing wildlife in urban areas always captures the imagination of the city.  Wildlife running through 4 lane canyons flash us reminders of what lived here before.  Last night a coyote seen running through downtown Chicago amazed the public… but was no surprise for Chicago's Animal Control.  When contacted, the department said 250 GPS wearing coyotes are being reintroduced to urban Chicago as pest control.  This vestige of a wilder America displaced by years of urban development may become a more common sight and the howl, a more common sound at night in Chicago.

The breaking news story from Chicago Breaking News below.

A coyote loping along the South Loop streets this morning was probably at his job searching out rodents, according to city animal welfare officials.

A video shot last night at 3 AM shows the coyote running down State Street as cars and a moving truck pass by. Brad Block, a supervisor for the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control, said the animal has the run of the Loop to help deal with rats and mice. He said no one has called today to complain.

"He's not a threat…He's not going to pick up your children," Block said. "His job is to deal with all of the nuisance problems, like mice, rats and rabbits."

 

Block said he believes the coyote is one of those fitted with a GPS device to monitor its whereabouts. He said the coyote is pretty timid and stays away from people.

Cook County officials have fitted a few coyotes with GPS as part of an urban coyote project and has allowed them to run wild in Chicago to deal with the rodent population. It was unclear whether this coyote is part of that program. The animal was not captured.

Earlier this year, another coyote was found in a park near the Chicago River and would return there to scavenge for food, he said.

That animal had to be removed because it had become accustomed to people and their handouts. It was eventually taken to a wildlife center.

– Carlos Sadovi

What sort of wildlife lives in your town?

If you're interested in more city wildlife check out this LoE story about a hawk named, Pale Male, living in NYC.

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/11/coyote-in-the-loop-probably-on-rat-patrol.html

McHenry County residents in Illinois received a heavy blow this week as their battle against Philadelphia based chemical plant, Rohm and Haas continues.  McHenry County residents entered 32 separate claims against the chemical plant.  The claims allege that the plant spilled, leaked and dumped highly toxic chemicals such as vinyl chloride into the groundwater and soil for more than five decades and caused many residents to develop brain tumors.

People who live or work near McCullom Lake, a village of about 1,038 people, were affected the most.  18 developed malignant brain tumors, 9 contracted benign tumors and one developed liver problems.  Rahm and Haas has offered residents $100,000 to pay for testing of 300 wells starting next month.  The high incidence of brain tumors coupled with the bad economy has made it doubly hard to sell property.  

The judge halted the first set if the 32 cases and sent the jury home.  A key witness' testimony whose report attempted to link the brain tumors and the chemical plant was also shot down by the judge.  The judge has also indicated that he is inclined to either rule as a mistrial or rule in favor of Rahm and Haas.  With the recent decision of the court, McHenry County residents are desperate to find answers for anything.  

McHenry County residents compare their predicament to Erin Brockovich, a legal secretary who exposed a utility company for polluting a small California town.  

Planet Harmony wants to hear your ideas.  What can small towns do when they are in fear of chemical or utility plants polluting their neighborhoods?  Does this town's predicament remind you of another town?  What sort of laws should be in place to protect local residents?  Should communities have to wait decades for scientific evidence to prove that a chemical plant is polluting their water, soil and/or air?

By Alaura Carter
 
 The Florida A&M Green Coalition will host a “Cans for Cash” drive Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m at the Home Depot located on Capital Circle North East in Tallahassee.
“Cans for Cash” is a national city recycling challenge that rewards U.S. cities for recycling aluminum cans.  Donors can bring their cans to Home Depot and volunteers will weigh them.   
“The FAMU Green Coalition uses the money to do various projects that will promote and educate about environmental issues and sustainability throughout campus,” said Kokeeta McLendon, a senior business administration student from Washington, D.C. and president of the FAMU Green Coalition.
Previously, FAMU competed against Florida State University and won the competition, which was formerly called, “Campus CANpaign Challenge.”
“I am excited about it, because I definitely think that the school of journalism is one of the only schools that is constantly exposed to recycling. “ Cans for Cash,” can give every FAMU student the chance to be a part of the initiative. Were hoping there is a good turnout of support and to get a good amount of money for the FAMU Green Coalition, and that we beat FSU,” said event coordinator Shanley Mc Cray, a senior public relations student from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
For those who would like to donate cans, contact the FAMU recycling coordinator Chris Willis at 850-320-4657 or email chris.willis@famu.edu.  If interested in volunteering, contact Shanley McCray at 954-601-6901.
For more information on the project, go to www.cans4cash.com.

At the risk of offending any and everyone I will keep this brief.

You should watch this video. I am very interested in your thoughts and comments.

Representative John Shimkus from Illinois speaks during a hearing for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment last year.

Image Courtesy of Joris Osterhaus (www.joriso.nl/)
 

By Alaura Carter
Although the audience for the Repower America presentation was small, roughly 22 people, the message of climate change was bigger. The slideshow titled, “Clarifying the Science,” was presented by Repower America Nov. 17, in the FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication.
Invited by student leaders from neighboring universities, Florida A&M and Florida State, Repower America was launched in 2008 by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Parent non-profit organization Alliance for Climate Protection launched the Repower America campaign to focus on energy efficiency; clean, renewable and diversified energy sources, according to its website, repoweramerica.org. Repower America focuses on both grassroots and lobbying efforts for climate change. They also organize presentations by The Climate Project, a grassroots organization that falls under the Alliance for Climate Protection.
“It is the actual presentation made by Al Gore…just condensed,” said Adrian Brunori, the Repower America presenter.
The presentation has been presented more than 70,000 times worldwide and has reached an audience of more than 7.3 million people. 
Event coordinator Vincent Evans, a FAMU senior political science/pre-law student from Jacksonville, Fla., said the presentation is a step toward FAMU’s commitment to educate students about environmental issues.
“Tonight’s climate project presentation will give students a front row seat to the global climate change we are facing. I can’t think of a better time to bring Repower America here to the campus of Florida A&M University,” Evans said.
Brunori captivated the audience with an in-depth slide show of the causes and effects of climate change.“Clarifying the Science,” revealed graphic pictures of natural disasters throughout the world, along with charts illustrating projections surrounding the issue of climate change.
Population growth, technology and our way of thinking are the three main causes of climate change, according to the presentation. Issues of water scarcity, deforestation and carbon dioxide levels are projected to be the effects. Refraining from the use of the phrase “global warming,” Brunori said debate still exists among scientists around the issue of climate change. However, the focus should be shifted from whether the earth is dying or not, to solutions such as clean energy and sustainability.
One student said the power point was a grip of reality ready to be released.
“The part that resonates in my mind is the graph that shows what the projected carbon dioxide levels will be during our life time," said Nari Tomlinson, a senior public relations student from Miramar, Fla. “The presentation really changed my outlook on life in the sense that now I realize that even though I am one person, I have an impact on climate crisis.”
When asked why some businesses refrain from using new sources of energy such as solar power, Brunori said that some businesses are just stuck in their ways and don’t realize the reduction of costs with newer sustainable technologies.  
“It’s not that technology is bad…we just need to find sustainable ways,” Brunori said. “It needs to become the normal thing, not the weird thing.”
Brunori said Repower America would like to work with FAMU/FSU again and host community forums.
For more information about Repower America, go to repoweramerica.org.
 
 
Picture provided by The Famuan, Florida A&M University school newspaper
Location: FAMU's School of Journalism & Graphic Communication

The Supreme Court of Michigan is considering a highly politicized case that may possibly open the doors for ordinary citizens to sue their state government for permitting activities that are damaging to the environment.  Jim Olson is representing a group of anglers who wish to sue the state of Michigan for allowing Merit Energy to dump millions of gallons of oil field waste into a tributary of the Au Sable River.  The group is suing the state and Merit Energy under the grounds of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act which was passed in 1970.
This is not the first environmental justice case that Jim Olson has taken on.  In 2007, he also represented a citizens group who wanted to sue Nestle Corporation in Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation vs. Nestle which was another highly politicized case.  The law suit attempted to stop Nestle from draining a local watershed to use in its Ice Mountain water bottling plant in Mecosta County.  The court ruled 4-3 that in order for citizens to sue under MEPA, they would have to prove that they were personally damaged by the environmental degradation.  Environmental advocates across the state were outraged at the outcome of this ruling and the small window of time given for legal recourse.
Living on Earth has also covered this story on the radio.

Members from the FAMU Student Government Association invited representatives from The Climate Project to present, “Clarify the Science,” Nov. 16 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication Lecture Hall.
 The Climate Project United States is the American branch of Nobel Laureate and former Vice President Al Gore 's climate change leadership program founded in June 2006, according to climateproject.org. The program falls under the Alliance for Climate Protection with a mission to inform the public of climate change and present solutions.
 “Tonight’s climate project presentation will give students a front row seat to the global climate change we are facing,” said FAMU student and event coordinator Vincent Evans, a senior political science student from Jacksonville, Fla.
 Trained by former U.S Vice President Al Gore, Mike Wallander, a TCP presenter, will show the world-renowned slideshow to FAMU students.
 The organization has delivered more than 70,000 presentations worldwide and has reached an audience of more than 7.3 million people.
 Check back for updates/follow-up on the FAMU group.
 For more information, go to www.theclimateprojectus.org
 FAMUPH@gmail.com
 

Members from the FAMU Student Government Association invited representatives from The Climate Project to present, “Clarify the Science,” Nov. 16, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication Lecture Hall.
 The Climate Project United States is the American branch of Nobel Laureate and former Vice President Al Gore 's climate change leadership program founded in June 2006, according to climateproject.org. The program falls under the Alliance for Climate Protection with a mission to inform the public of climate change and present solutions.
 “Tonight’s climate project presentation will give students a front row seat to the global climate change we are facing,” said FAMU student and Repower America Campus Coordinator Vincent Evans, 22, a senior political science/pre-law student from Jacksonville, Fla.
 Trained by former U.S Vice President Al Gore, Mike Wallander, a TCP presenter, will show the world-renowned slideshow to FAMU students.
 The organization has delivered more than 70,000 presentations worldwide and has reached an audience of more than 7.3 million people.
 Check back for updates/follow-up on the FAMU group.
 FAMUPH@gmail.com