EarthTalk

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Wind energy commands a larger piece of the renewable energy pie

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

Hydroelectric sources of power dwarf other forms of renewable energy, but wind power has been a dominant second for years, and continues to show “hockey stick” growth moving forward. According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), global cumulative installed wind capacity — the total amount of wind power available — has grown fifty-fold in less than two decades, from just 6,100 megawatts (MW) in 1996 to 318,137 MW in 2013. And the future looks brighter still. Analysts from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predict that wind will account for the largest share — 30 percent — of new renewables added to the global power grid by 2030. That new renewables are expected to account for as much as 70 percent of all new power sources over the next 20 years means that wind is poised to become a major player on the global energy scene. Continue Reading →

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Resources that help kids understand environmental problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

Kids today may be more eco-savvy than we were at their age, but complex topics like global warming may still mystify them. Luckily there are many resources available to help parents teach their kids how to understand the issues and become better stewards for the planet. A great place to start is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” website. The site is divided into sections (Learn the Basics, See the Impacts, Think like a Scientist and Be Part of the Solution) so kids can get just the right amount of detail without feeling overwhelmed. One feature of the site is a virtual trip around the world to see the effects of climate change in different regions. Continue Reading →

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Is earlier puberty in today’s American kids linked to environmental issues?

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers 

 

Research indicates that indeed Americans girls and boys are going through puberty earlier than ever, though the reasons are unclear. Many believe our widespread exposure to synthetic chemicals is at least partly to blame, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why our bodies react in certain ways to various environmental stimuli. Researchers first noticed the earlier onset of puberty in the late 1990s, and recent studies confirm the mysterious public health trend. A 2012 analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that American girls exposed to high levels of common household chemicals had their first periods seven months earlier than those with lower exposures. “This study adds to the growing body of scientific research that exposure to environmental chemicals may be associated with early puberty,” says Danielle Buttke, a researcher at CDC and lead author on the study. Continue Reading →

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Why environmentalists are upset about the Monsanto Protection Act

 

 

 

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers 

 

The so-called Monsanto Protection Act is actually a provision (officially known as Section 735) within a recently passed congressional spending bill, H.R. 933, which exempts biotech companies from litigation in regard to the making, selling and distribution of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and plants. President Obama signed the bill and its controversial rider into law in March 2013 much to the dismay of environmentalists. It means that Monsanto and other companies that supply the majority of the nation’s crop seeds can continue to produce GE products regardless of any potential court orders stating otherwise. Opponents of GE foods believe that giving such companies a free reign over the production of such potentially dangerous organisms regardless of judicial challenge is a bad idea, especially given how little we still know about the biological and ecological implications of widespread use of GE crops. Today more than 90 percent of the corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and canola planted in the U.S. is derived from seeds genetically engineered by Monsanto and other companies to resist pests and thus increase yields. Continue Reading →

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