We're brainstorming right now on our year-end Big Ideas 2008 issue and we want your thoughts: What are the Big Ideas that will change the world in 2008? Send us your epiphanies, articles, photographs, artwork, whatever. -- the bigger and bolder they are, the better.
We'd also like your help in putting together a "Best of 2007" section. Who do you think are the best artists of the year, the greatest journalists who broke the most important stories? The book that really inspired you . . . or the film, the song, the activist, the product, the whistleblower, the environmentalist?
With the election of a new Congress come new opportunities to plan a better way forward on the issues we all care about.
That's why Co-op America is mailing our recent "Climate Solutions" issue of the Co-op America Quarterly to each new and returning member of the 110th Congress. In it, we explore the climate pollution generated by several economic sectors, and propose economic solutions based on the work of Princeton University's Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) -- a plan designed at the speed and scale necessary to curb the climate crisis.
The CMI scientists propose reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by dividing this huge task into smaller, doable segments – or "wedges" – of equal size. They propose 15 wedges, of which we only need to achieve seven to make a difference to the climate.
Co-op America used our own green filters on the CMI analysis, screening out measures that are too dangerous, costly, and slow (like nuclear power plants and "clean" coal), while beefing up those that are safe and cost-effective (like energy efficiency and renewables).
The resulting plan offers 12 "wedges" (listed below) that each would reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons per year by 2054. What's more, the plan is safe, clean, cost-effective, doable with today's technologies, and ambitious enough to meet the climate challenge.
Other steps require real action now from our elected officials, car companies, power companies, and other decision-makers to create real change.
If you have a blog or a personal Web site, post Co-op America's 12 Steps to Curbing Climate Change and help us spread the word. Send a copy of this e-mail to your state, local, and national representatives, and to your friends and family.
Send our complete 12-Steps editorial to your local newspaper for reprinting, or contact us for copies of our "Climate Solutions" Quarterly to share with friends, family, and elected officials.
Here's to real climate solutions,
Alisa Gravitz Executive Director Co-op America
Each of these steps would reduce carbon emissions by at least 1 billion tons per year by 2054. Implementing at least seven of them brings us to the scale necessary to meet the climate challenge, but we have to start now, and move quickly. We have a ten-year window in which we need to be well on the way to achieving these steps.
The good news is that we have the technology and know-how to accomplish all of these steps right now. The best news is that we don't just save the climate with these steps. They bring us real energy security, more jobs, a cleaner environment, real progress on the war against poverty, and a safer world. Let's get started today.
1. Increase fuel economy for the world's 2 billion cars from an average of 30 mpg to 60 mpg. (Current US averages are a woeful 22 mpg.)
2. Cut back on driving. Decrease car travel for 2 billion 30-mpg cars from 10,000 to 5,000 miles per year, through increased use of mass transit, telecommuting, and walking and biking.
3. Increase energy efficiency by one-quarter in existing buildings and appliances. Move to zero-emissions plans for new buildings.
4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero, and double the rate of new tree plantings.
5. Stop soil erosion. Apply "conservation tillage" techniques to cropland at 10 times the current usage. Encourage local, organic agriculture.
6. Increase wind power. Add 3 million 1-megawatt windmills, 75 times the current capacity.
7. Push hard for solar power. Add 3,000 gigawatt-peak solar photovoltaic units, 1,000 times current capacity.
8. Increase efficiency of coal plants from an average of 32 percent efficiency to 60 percent, and shut down plants that don't meet the standard. No net new coal plants; for new plants built, an equal number should close.
9. Replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal with natural gas, a four-fold increase in natural gas usage over current levels — a short-term step until zero-emissions renewable technologies can replace natural gas. 10. Sequester carbon dioxide at existing coal plants. Sequestration involves storing carbon dioxide underground, an unproven technology that may, nonetheless, be better than nothing.
11. Develop zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.
12. Develop biomass as a short-term replacement for fossil fuel until better carbon-free technologies are developed — but only biofuels made from waste, and made without displacing farmland and rainforests.
Greetings! About six years ago, I had the idea of starting a non-profit foundation that could be actively engaged in healing the planet by planting trees with edible parts (fruit trees!). I always loved planting trees and some of the most memorable days of my childhood were spent planting fruit trees. (Some are now over 27 years old!)
This idea eventually became The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF), an international nonprofit charity dedicated to strategically planting fruit trees where the harvest will best serve communities for decades—at places such as homeless shelters, drug rehabs, low-income neighborhoods, schools, Native American reservations, animal sanctuaries, and international hunger relief sites. Harvest from each planting is used as a means to help alleviate hunger, improve health, enrich lives, and inspire volunteers to take action for their environment. Recipients share seedlings and fruits with neighbors so the benefits multiply exponentially!
If you’ll be in the New York City area on Sunday, December 10, please join us for our annual “Chocolate for Charity” fundraiser, featuring complimentary raw chocolate treats, music, live paintings by unbelievable artists, and my presentation about our important work. Please see the event flyer below for details and reserve your spot today! We hope to see you there!
If you can’t make it, please consider making a fully tax-deductible donation this holiday season to support our innovative projects. For more information about FTPF or to make an online donation, visit www.ftpf.org or call us toll-free at 877.884.7570. Thank you for helping save the planet, one fruit tree at a time.
David Wolfe, President The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation
LIVE "sex shows" of bulls mounting a simulated cow have become a big attraction at an agricultural exhibition taking place in New Zealand.
The fake 'cow' – a small go-kart with natural cowhide on its roof – was developed by Ambreed New Zealand Ltd to collect semen from bulls more safely and efficiently and improve artificial breeding of cows.
Similar machines are widely used in Europe but have yet to be introduced in New Zealand, where dairy products are its largest export.
The go-kart, driven by a human operator, draws close to a bull and adjusts to the proper height.
The experience can be a little alarming.
"It's quite a daunting feeling when you consider you've got a bull there that weighs a thousand kilograms sitting on top of you and is in quite an aggressive mood," Andrew Medley, production manager at Ambreed, said.
Bull semen is commonly obtained using a rubber device which is put in place manually by two handlers.
This report was published at dailytelegraph.news.com.au
The reality TV gameshow Celebrity Big Brother, in which contestants are trapped together in a house, always garners extensive tabloid attention throughout its duration.
The way in which we treat other animals notably surfaced in this year's edition of the show. A few of the housemates discussed the work they had done campaigning against the use of animals for food and clothing and made vegetarian dishes for their fellow contestants. Yet the bigger story in the newspapers was about one contestant's fur coat and it's seizure by police. The contestant claimed the coat to be made of gorilla fur and the clothing provoked dozens of complaints from people to the Hertfordshire Constabulary, the area that the house is situated in being their policing domain, who subsequently seized the item to test its origin. If the fur is from a gorilla, then the owner may be jailed for breaching the Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species (CITES ).
As gorillas qualify as an endangered species, the trading of their flesh or fur is illegal in the many countries signed up to CITES. But as such, with the exception of humans, trading the body parts of those animals who don't belong to a species considered to be of a low population is legal. If the aforementioned coat is discovered to actually be of a species considered by humans to be plentiful in number then the coat will be returned to the owner and in the eyes of the law no wrong has been committed, despite the taking of the life of one or more fur-bearing individuals. It is the life of the individual being killed for the fur that should be of our concern, not the amount of living members of that one's species.
While residing in the Big Brother house, the owner of the coat defended his fur coat collection, replying to an angered fellow contestant that while he liked animals "I like me better". Yet it is hardly a question of who one likes but is a matter of respecting/valuing sentient life, be it the life of a gorilla, human or fur-bearing animal of a relatively well-populated species.
<> CHICAGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- It's a far piece from the horse-and-buggies of Lancaster County, Pa., to the cars and freeways of Cook County, Ill. <> But thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don't have autism. <> "We have a fairly large practice. We have about 30,000 or 35,000 children that we've taken care of over the years, and I don't think we have a single case of autism in children delivered by us who never received vaccines," said Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, Homefirst's medical director who founded the practice in 1973. Homefirst doctors have delivered more than 15,000 babies at home, and thousands of them have never been vaccinated. <> The few autistic children Homefirst sees were vaccinated before their families became patients, Eisenstein said. "I can think of two or three autistic children who we've delivered their mother's next baby, and we aren't really totally taking care of that child -- they have special care needs. But they bring the younger children to us. I don't have a single case that I can think of that wasn't vaccinated." <> The autism rate in Illinois public schools is 38 per 10,000, according to state Education Department data; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the national rate of autism spectrum disorders at 1 in 166 -- 60 per 10,000. <> "We do have enough of a sample," Eisenstein said. "The numbers are too large to not see it. We would absolutely know. We're all family doctors. If I have a child with autism come in, there's no communication. It's frightening. You can't touch them. It's not something that anyone would miss." <> No one knows what causes autism, but federal health authorities say it isn't childhood immunizations. Some parents and a small minority of doctors and scientists, however, assert vaccines are responsible. <> This column has been looking for autism in never-vaccinated U.S. children in an effort to shed light on the issue. We went to Chicago to meet with Eisenstein at the suggestion of a reader, and we also visited Homefirst's office in northwest suburban Rolling Meadows. Homefirst has four other offices in the Chicago area and a total of six doctors. <> Eisenstein stresses his observations are not scientific. "The trouble is this is just anecdotal in a sense, because what if every autistic child goes somewhere else and (their family) never calls us or they moved out of state?" <> In practice, that's unlikely to account for the pronounced absence of autism, says Eisenstein, who also has a bachelor's degree in statistics, a master's degree in public health and a law degree. <> Homefirst follows state immunization mandates, but Illinois allows religious exemptions if parents object based either on tenets of their faith or specific personal religious views. Homefirst does not exclude or discourage such families. Eisenstein, in fact, is author of the book "Don't Vaccinate Before You Educate!" and is critical of the CDC's vaccination policy in the 1990s, when several new immunizations were added to the schedule, including Hepatitis B as early as the day of birth. Several of the vaccines -- HepB included -- contained a mercury-based preservative that has since been phased out of most childhood vaccines in the United States. <> Medical practices with Homefirst's approach to immunizations are rare. "Because of that, we tend to attract families that have questions about that issue," said Dr. Paul Schattauer, who has been with Homefirst for 20 years and treats "at least" 100 children a week. <> Schattauer seconded Eisenstein's observations. "All I know is in my practice I don't see autism. There is no striking 1-in-166," he said. <> Earlier this year we reported the same phenomenon in the mostly unvaccinated Amish. CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding told us the Amish "have genetic connectivity that would make them different from populations that are in other sectors of the United States." Gerberding said, however, studies "could and should be done" in more representative unvaccinated groups -- if they could be found and their autism rate documented. <> Chicago is America's prototypical "City of Big Shoulders," to quote Carl Sandburg, and Homefirst's mostly middle-class families seem fairly representative. A substantial number are conservative Christians who home-school their children. They are mostly white, but the Homefirst practice also includes black and Hispanic families and non-home-schooling Jews, Catholics and Muslims. <> They tend to be better educated, follow healthier diets and breast-feed their children much longer than the norm -- half of Homefirst's mothers are still breast-feeding at two years. Also, because Homefirst relies less on prescription drugs including antibiotics as a first line of treatment, these children have less exposure to other medicines, not just vaccines. <> Schattauer, interviewed at the Rolling Meadows office, said his caseload is too limited to draw conclusions about a possible link between vaccines and autism. "With these numbers you'd have a hard time proving or disproving anything," he said. "You can only get a feeling about it. <> "In no way would I be an advocate to stand up and say we need to look at vaccines, because I don't have the science to say that," Schattauer said. "But I don't think the science is there to say that it's not." <> Schattauer said Homefirst's patients also have significantly less childhood asthma and juvenile diabetes compared to national rates. An office manager who has been with Homefirst for 17 years said she is aware of only one case of severe asthma in an unvaccinated child. <> "Sometimes you feel frustrated because you feel like you've got a pretty big secret," Schattauer said. He argues for more research on all those disorders, independent of political or business pressures. <> The asthma rate among Homefirst patients is so low it was noticed by the Blue Cross group with which Homefirst is affiliated, according to Eisenstein. <> "In the alternative-medicine network which Homefirst is part of, there are virtually no cases of childhood asthma, in contrast to the overall Blue Cross rate of childhood asthma which is approximately 10 percent," he said. "At first I thought it was because they (Homefirst's children) were breast-fed, but even among the breast-fed we've had asthma. We have virtually no asthma if you're breast-fed and not vaccinated." <> Because the diagnosis of asthma is based on emergency-room visits and hospital admissions, Eisenstein said, Homefirst's low rate is hard to dispute. "It's quantifiable -- the definition is not reliant on the doctor's perception of asthma." <> Several studies have found a risk of asthma from vaccination; others have not. Studies that include never-vaccinated children generally find little or no asthma in that group. <> Earlier this year Florida pediatrician Dr. Jeff Bradstreet said there is virtually no autism in home-schooling families who decline to vaccinate for religious reasons -- lending credence to Eisenstein's observations. <> "It's largely non-existent," said Bradstreet, who treats children with autism from around the country. "It's an extremely rare event." <> Bradstreet has a son whose autism he attributes to a vaccine reaction at 15 months. His daughter has been home-schooled, he describes himself as a "Christian family physician," and he knows many of the leaders in the home-school movement. <> "There was this whole subculture of folks who went into home-schooling so they would never have to vaccinate their kids," he said. "There's this whole cadre who were never vaccinated for religious reasons." <> In that subset, he said, "unless they were massively exposed to mercury through lots of amalgams (mercury dental fillings in the mother) and/or big-time fish eating, I've not had a single case." <> Federal health authorities and mainstream medical groups emphatically dismiss any link between autism and vaccines, including the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. Last year a panel of the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies, said there is no evidence of such a link, and funding should henceforth go to "promising" research. <> Thimerosal, which is 49.6 percent ethyl mercury by weight, was phased out of most U.S. childhood immunizations beginning in 1999, but the CDC recommends flu shots for pregnant women and last year began recommending them for children 6 to 23 months old. Most of those shots contain thimerosal. <> Thimerosal-preserved vaccines are currently being injected into millions of children in developing countries around the world. "My mandate ... is to make sure at the end of the day that 100,000,000 are immunized ... this year, next year and for many years to come ... and that will have to be with thimerosal-containing vaccines," said John Clements of the World Health Organization at a June 2000 meeting called by the CDC. <> That meeting was held to review data that thimerosal might be linked with autism and other neurological problems. But in 2004 the Institute of Medicine panel said evidence against a link is so strong that health authorities, "whether in the United States or other countries, should not include autism as a potential risk" when formulating immunization policies. <> But where is the simple, straightforward study of autism in never-vaccinated U.S. children? Based on our admittedly anecdotal and limited reporting among the Amish, the home-schooled and now Chicago's Homefirst, that may prove to be a significant omission. <> --
This ongoing series on the roots and rise of autism welcomes comment. E-mail: dolmsted[at]upi.com
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