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EarthTalk®

by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss


EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: Which are the most fuel-efficient hybrid and/or all-electric cars available to consumers today (just the affordable ones, please!)? -- Jack Madison, Chicago, IL

Given increased environmental awareness, high gas prices and a continually slumping economy, it’s no wonder that more fuel efficient cars are all the rage these days. The best deal going may be Honda’s hybrid, the 42 miles-per-gallon (MPG) Insight ($18,350). Meanwhile, the newest version of
Toyota’s flagship hybrid, the Prius ($23,015), garners an impressive 50 MPG. Other solid choices include Toyota’s 41-MPG Camry hybrid ($25,900), Ford’s 39-MPG Fusion hybrid ($28,700), Lexus’ 42-MPG CT 200h ($29,120) and Lincoln’s 39-MPG MKZ Hybrid ($34,755).

For even greater efficiency and lower sticker prices, consider going electric, whereby you can charge your vehicle at ordinary electric outlets at home or work. Mitsubishi’s new MiEV ($29,125) electric is the most fuel efficient car available to U.S. consumers in the 2012 model year, achieving 112 “MPG-equivalent” (the U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s rating for electric vehicles that swaps in electricity for gas in its calculations) and a 62 mile range per full charge—not bad considering four adults can fit fairly comfortably inside. Another option is Smart’s FourTwo Electric ($28,752), a two-seater with an 87 MPG-equivalent.
And Nissan’s all-electric Leaf ($35,200) achieves 99 MPG efficiency for a range up to 100 miles.


So-called “plug-in” hybrids also allow drivers to charge their vehicles’ electric batteries via common power outlets, but also can use gasoline as needed for a longer range. Though pricey at $39,145, the Chevy Volt may save you money in the long run because it gets a whopping 94 MPG-equivalent in its preferred all-electric mode. An onboard gas generator produces more electricity as the vehicle is driven, extending the car’s range with a full tank of gas to some 375 miles.
Toyota released a plug-in version of its Prius ($32,760) this year, as well. It gets 87 MPG in electric mode (but this will only get you 15 miles without gas assistance) and a respectable 49 MPG in regular hybrid mode.

Another factor to consider when deciding which of these new uber-efficient vehicles may be right for you is the availability of additional incentives. Buyers of a new Volt, MiEV, FourTwo Electric or Leaf, for example, can cash in on a federal tax credit of $7,500—and some states may offer additional incentives—bringing the overall cost of these cars down to within the range of similarly sized traditional car models. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) posts all of the relevant federal tax incentives online at its
Fuel Efficient Vehicle Tax Information Center
website. For state-by-state incentives, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE), a free online resources maintained by the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

Of course, consumers don’t have to go hybrid or electric to enjoy improved fuel efficiency these days. Scion’s iQ ($15,265) and Honda’s CR-Z ($19,545) each get 37 MPG out of sporty little gas-powered internal combustion engines. Kia,
Toyota, Chevrolet, Hyundia and Nissan also make smaller traditional cars that get a respectable 33-34 MPG for sticker prices under $15,000.

CONTACTS: DOE’s
Fuel Efficient Vehicle Tax Information Center, www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxcenter.shtml; DSIRE, www.dsireusa.org; Edmunds’ “Decoding Electric Car MPG,” www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/decoding-electric-car-mpg.html.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: How is it that dams actually hurt rivers? -- Missy Davenport, Boulder, CO

Dams are a symbol of human ingenuity and engineering prowess—controlling the flow of a wild rushing river is no small feat. But in this day and age of environmental awareness, more and more people are questioning whether generating a little hydroelectric power is worth destroying riparian ecosystems from their headwaters in the mountains to their mouths at the ocean and beyond.

According to the non-profit American Rivers, over 1,000 dams across the
U.S. have been removed to date. And the biggest dam removal project in history in now well underway in Olympic National Park in Washington State where two century-old dams along the Elwha River are coming out. But why go to all the trouble and expense of removing dams, especially if they contribute much-needed renewable, pollution-free electricity to our power grids?

The decision usually comes down to a cost/benefit analysis taking into account how much power a given dam generates and how much harm its existence is doing to its host river’s environment. Removing the dams on the
Elwha River
was a no-brainer, given that they produced very little usable electricity and blocked fish passage on one of the region’s premiere salmon rivers. Other cases aren’t so clear cut.

According to the Hydropower Reform Coalition (
HRC), a consortium of 150 groups concerned about the impact of dams, degraded water quality is one of the chief concerns. Organic materials from within and outside the river that would normally wash downstream get built up behind dams and start to consume a large amount of oxygen as they decompose. In some cases this triggers algae blooms which, in turn, create oxygen-starved “dead zones” incapable of supporting river life of any kind. Also, water temperatures in dam reservoirs can differ greatly between the surface and depths, further complicating survival for marine life evolved to handle natural temperature cycling. And when dam operators release oxygen-deprived water with unnatural temperatures into the river below, they harm downstream environments as well.


Dammed rivers also lack the natural transport of sediment crucial to maintaining healthy organic riparian channels. Rocks, wood, sand and other natural materials build up at the mouth of the reservoir instead of dispersing through the river’s meandering channel. “Downstream of a dam, the river is starved of its structural materials and cannot provide habitat,” reports HRC.

Fish passage is also a concern. “Most dams don’t simply draw a line in the water; they eliminate habitat in their reservoirs and in the river below,” says HRC. Migratory fish like salmon, which are born upstream and may or may not survive their downstream trip around, over or through a dam, stand an even poorer chance of completing the round trip to spawn. Indeed, wild salmon numbers in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River basin are down some 85 percent since the big dams went in there a half century ago.

While t
he U.S. government has resisted taking down any major hydroelectric dam along the Columbia system, political pressure is mounting. No doubt all concerned parties will be paying close attention to the ecosystem and salmon recovery on the Elwha as it unfolds over the next few decades.


CONTACTS:
American Rivers, www.americanrivers.org; HRC, www.hydroreform.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: Are there health or environmental concerns with LED lightbulbs, which may soon replace compact fluorescents as the green-friendly light bulb of choice? -- Mari-Louise, via e-mail

Indeed, LED (light emitting diode) lighting does seem to be the wave of the future right now, given the mercury content and light quality issues with the current king-of-the-hill of green bulbs, the compact fluorescent (CFL). LEDs use significantly less energy than even CFLs, and do not contain mercury. And they are becoming economically competitive with CFLs at the point of purchase while yielding superior quality lighting and energy bill savings down the line.

But LEDs do have a dark side. A study published in late 2010 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that LEDs contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially dangerous substances. LEDs are touted as the next generation of lighting,” says Oladele Ogunseitan, one of the researchers behind the study and chair of the University of California (UC)-
Irvine’s Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention. “But as we try to find better products that do not deplete energy resources or contribute to global warming, we have to be vigilant [about] toxicity hazards….”

Ogunseitan and other UC-Irvine researchers tested several types of LEDs, including those used as Christmas lights, traffic lights, car headlights and brake lights. What did they find? Some of the worst offenders were low-intensity red LEDs, which were found to contain up to eight times the amount of lead, a known neurotoxin, allowed by
California
state law and which, according to researchers, “exhibit significant cancer and noncancer potentials due to the high content of arsenic and lead.” Meanwhile, white LEDs contain the least lead, but still harbor large amounts of nickel, another heavy metal that causes allergic reactions in as many as one in five of us upon exposure. And the copper found in some LEDs can pose an environmental threat if it accumulates in rivers and lakes where it can poison aquatic life.

Ogunseitan adds that while breaking open a single LED and breathing in its fumes wouldn’t likely cause cancer, our bodies hardly need more toxic substances floating around, as the combined effects could be a disease trigger. If any LEDs break at home, Ogunseitan recommends sweeping them up while wearing gloves and a mask, and disposing of the debris -- and even the broom -- as hazardous waste. Furthermore, crews dispatched to clean up car crashes or broken traffic lights (LEDs are used extensively for automotive and traffic lighting) should wear protective clothing and handle material as hazardous waste. LEDs are currently not considered toxic by law and can be disposed of in regular landfills.

According to Ogunseitan, LED makers could easily reduce the concentrations of heavy metals in their products or even redesign them with truly safer materials, especially if state or federal regulators required them to do so. “Every day we don’t have a law that says you cannot replace an unsafe product with another unsafe product, we’re putting people’s lives at risk,” he concludes. “And it’s a preventable risk.”

Of course, we all need some kind of lighting in our lives and, despite their flaws, LEDs may still be the best choice regarding light quality, energy use and environmental footprint. That said, researchers are busy at work on even newer lighting technologies that could render even today’s green choices obsolete.

CONTACT: UC-Irvine study, www.pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es101052q?prevSearch=irvine%2Bled.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: What is “pesticide drift” and should I be worried about it?

-- Nicole Kehoe, Burlington, VT

If you live near a big farm or an otherwise frequently manicured landscape, “pesticide drift”—drifting spray and dust from pesticide applications—could be an issue for you and yours. Indeed, pesticide drift is an insidious threat to human health as well as to wildlife and ecosystems in and around agricultural and even residential areas where harsh chemicals are used to ward off pests. The biggest risk from pesticide drift is to those living, working or attending school near larger farms which employ elevated spraying equipment or crop duster planes to apply chemicals to crops and fields. Children are especially vulnerable to these airborne pesticides, given that their young bodies are still growing and developing.

“When pesticides are sprayed they can drift and settle on playgrounds, porches, laundry, toys, pools, furniture and more,” reports the non-profit Pesticide Action Network (PAN). “Some of the most toxic pesticides in use in the U.S. today are also the most drift prone, and yet this common route of exposure remains largely invisible.”

“Even the most careful, responsible pesticide sprayer cannot control what happens to pesticide droplets once they are released from his plane or tractor,” the group adds. “And when conditions are right, these droplets can end up settling on someone’s yard, on another farmer’s crops, or on the skin of someone who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.” PAN cites research showing that upwards of 95 percent of applied pesticides miss their target, reaching nearby people and wildlife, waterways, soil and air instead. Besides this “spray drift,” PAN also warns of so-called “volatilization drift”—whereby pesticides evaporate into the air from off of crops or out of the soil for up to several days following an application.

Thanks in large part to advocacy by PAN and other groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made strides in protecting more of us against pesticide drift. In late 2009 the agency rolled out new guidelines directing pesticide manufacturers to include labeling on their products indicating how to minimize off-target spray and dust drift. Any spray pesticides manufactured or labeled as of January 2012 and for sale in the
U.S.
must display the warning on its label: “Do not apply this product in a manner that results in spray (or dust) drift that harms people or any other non-target organisms or sites.”

The EPA is also conducting and monitoring new research on the science of pesticide drift to better understand how it works so regulations can be tailored to mitigate its impact. The agency’s Drift Reduction Technology Project is working with three leading universities to test a wide range of nozzles, hoods, shields and other aids to minimize drift during ground and aerial applications of pesticides.

Even though spray pesticides are now labeled and 28 states have drift spray regulations on their books, pesticide drift continues to be a problem wherever crops are grown. If pesticide drift is an issue where you live, work, study or play, contact PAN. The group can send out a “Drift Catcher”—a device that collects air samples which can then be analyzed for pesticides. “It enables farmworkers and community members to document and draw attention to otherwise invisible chemical exposures,” says PAN.

CONTACTS: PAN, www.panna.org; EPA, ww.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/spraydrift.htm.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard that many air fresheners contain toxic chemicals. Are there any green-friendly, non-toxic air fresheners out there, or how can I make my own? -- Jenny Rae, Bolton, MA

?It is true that some air fresheners on the market today make use of harsh chemicals to eliminate or overpower odors. “Many air fresheners contain nerve-deadening chemicals that coat your nasal passages and temporarily block your sense of smell,” reports National Geographic’s The Green Guide. Some of the most offensive ingredients—volatile organic compounds (VOCs), benzene and formaldehyde—can cause headaches and nausea and aggravate asthma, and have been linked to neurological damage and cancer.

Perhaps even more worrisome, though, are dispersants known as phthalates that cause hormonal and reproductive issues, birth defects and developmental disorders. A 2007 review by the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 12 out of 14 widely available air fresheners contained phthalates. Some of the air fresheners that tested positive for phthalates were labeled as “all-natural” or “unscented.” Two of the worst offenders analyzed by NRDC were sold at Walgreens stores under that company’s own generic label. As a result, Walgreens removed the products from its shelves, and the manufacturer which made them reformulated their product line without phthalates.

Given such problems with air fresheners, many of us are looking for non-toxic alternatives. Of course, first and foremost would be opening a window or two, as nothing beats good old fresh air for shooing away offensive odors. But sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate for leaving windows and doors open. The website greenhome.com suggests filling a small spray bottle with a mixture of four teaspoons baking soda and four cups of water and then spraying the solution in a fine mist to neutralizer odors. Similarly, The Green Guide suggests mixing a few drops of an organic essential oil (lemon, orange and lavender are popular choices) with distilled or purified water and spraying with a mister.

Another all-natural way to get rid of nasty smells is by wrapping cloves and cinnamon in cheesecloth and boiling them in water. Yet another consists of leaving herbal bouquets standing in open dishes where the fragrance can dissipate throughout a room. And don't underestimate the air-cleansing power of houseplants, which can improve indoor air quality by filtering toxins out of the air. Mother Nature Network reports that aloe vera plants can filter benzene and formaldehyde out of the air, that spider plants are known for their ability to take xylene and carbon monoxide out of the indoor environment, and that gerber daisies excel at removing the trichloroethylene that may come home with your dry cleaning.

Greenhome.com also sells a variety of non-toxic air fresheners for those less inclined to making their own. EcoDiscoveries AirZyme makes use of natural enzymes to eliminate smoke, pet or other smells with a few sprays. Other options include The Natural’s Air Freshener & Deodorizer and Tru Melange’s Beeswax and Soy candles.

CONTACTS: The Green Guide, http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/green-guide; Greenhome.com, www.greenhome.com; Mother Nature Network, www.mnn.com.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: What are “catch shares” as a strategy for rescuing fish populations that are on the brink? -- Peter Parmalee, New Orleans, LA

The term “Catch shares”—also called Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPs)—refers to a fisheries management technique whereby individual fishermen, cooperatives or fishing communities are guaranteed a certain percentage of the overall “Total Allowable Catch” (TAC) for a certain fish species (or “fish stock”) in a given area. Catch shares are typically implemented to protect established fishermen’s livelihoods during efforts to scale back commercial harvesting of overfished species.

Fishermen are usually allowed to buy and sell shares in order to maximize their profit,” reports the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a leading green group that has worked extensively with fishermen and the six regional fishery management councils on aligning business and conservation goals. “This helps drive the fishery to an efficient level and rewards innovative fishermen who can lower costs and deliver a quality product that will fetch a good price on the market.” Also, EDF points out that under a catch shares system, fishermen have a real investment in sustainability: If the population of the species goes up in subsequent years, the amount of fish guaranteed to each fisherman increases accordingly.

“With a secure share of the catch…incentives change from spurring fishermen to capture the most fish they can, to spurring them to maximize the value of their share instead,” reports EDF. By eliminating this race-to-the-finish mentality, fishermen can more effectively plan their trips, deliver fish according to market demands and stay ashore when conditions are unsafe. They can also fish more carefully, deploy their gear more selectively and take greater pains to avoid fishing in sensitive habitats.

“Fishing more carefully also leads to less gear lost at sea that has become known as ‘ghost gear’ because it often continues to kill fish and other marine creatures,” reports EDF. “In the Alaska halibut fishery, ghost gear was reduced more than 80 percent after catch shares were implemented.”


Another benefit of catch shares is reduced “bycatch”—non-targeted fish, dolphins, turtles and other marine species that get unintentionally caught in fishing nets and gear and which are subsequently discarded dead or dying back into the ocean. “Under catch shares, fishermen can take their time to improve their fishing methods, particularly targeting high-value species and minimizing interaction with species that are restricted or have lower limits,” says EDF. “In catch share fisheries, wasteful discards plummeted from pre-catch-share rates, down an average of about 40 percent.”

First used in
Australia, New Zealand and Iceland in the 1970s, catch shares are now a fixture in fisheries management around the world, including in the United States. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the first U.S. Catch Share program was implemented in 1990 in the Mid-Atlantic Surf Clam and Ocean Quahog Fishery, but now over a dozen are in effect across the country and several more are under consideration. As of 2010 the NOAA has been actively promoting the implementation of new LAPP programs in U.S. waters, and lends expertise on design, management and monitoring of catch shares under each of the nation’s six regional fisheries management councils.

CONTACTS: EDF, www.edf.org; NOAA, www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/domes_fish/catchshare.


EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: Why is Greenpeace upset with some leading tech companies for so-called “dirty cloud computing?” Can you explain? -- Jeremy Wilkins,
Waco, TX

Leading tech companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are now offering unprecedented amounts of data storage and access to “apps” on huge Internet-connected servers, saving consumers and businesses the hassle of installing and running programs and storing information on their own local computers.

This emerging trend, dubbed “cloud computing,” means that these providers have had to scale up their power consumption considerably, as they are increasingly responsible for providing more and more of the computing horsepower required by the world’s two billion Internet users. No doubt, sharing such resources on centralized servers is more efficient than every individual and business running their own versions separately. In fact, the research firm Verdantix estimates that companies off-loading data and services to cloud servers could save $12 billion off their energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 million metric tons within the next decade. But for the greenhouse gas savings to be realized, the companies offering cloud computing services need to make the right energy choices.

Greenpeace has been tracking sustainability among tech companies for over a decade, and recently released a report, “How Green is Your Cloud?” assessing the green footprint of the move to cloud computing. According to the analysis, some of the major players (Google, Facebook and Yahoo) have gone to great lengths to ensure that significant amounts of the power they need come from clean, green sources like wind and solar. But Greenpeace chastises others (Apple, Amazon and Microsoft) for relying on so-called “dirtier” sources of power, such as coal and nuclear, to run their huge data centers.

“When people around the world share their music or photos on the cloud, they want to know that the cloud is powered by clean, safe energy,” says Gary Cook, a Senior Policy Analyst with Greenpeace. “Yet highly innovative and profitable companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are building data centers powered by coal and acting like their customers won’t know or won't care. They’re wrong.”

Greenpeace’s report evaluates 14 major tech firms and the electricity supply chains in use across more than 80 different data centers that power cloud-based services. Some of the largest data centers are in buildings so big they are visible from space and use as much power as 250,000 European homes. If the cloud were its own country, says Greenpeace, it would rank 5th in the world in electricity consumption.

Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook are beginning to lead the sector down a clean energy pathway through innovations in energy efficiency, prioritizing renewable energy access when siting their data centers, and demanding better energy options from utilities and government decision-makers,” reports Greenpeace. But unfortunately the majority of the industry is not marching in step. As such, Greenpeace is calling on all tech companies with cloud services to develop siting policies based on access to clean energy sources, invest in or directly purchase renewable energy, be transparent about their energy usage, share innovative solutions so the sector as a whole can improve, and demand that governments and utilities increase the percentage of clean, green power available on the grid.


CONTACTS: Verdantix, www.verdantix.com; Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: I understand there is to be another Earth
Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, 20 years since the last one was held in the same city. What’s on the agenda this time?

-- Janet Grayson, Albuquerque, NM

According to the United Nations, the so-called “Rio+20 Conference”—officially the UN Conference on Sustainable Development—is a new attempt in a new millennium to “lay the foundations of a world of prosperity, peace and sustainability.” The event will take place June 20-22, the 20th anniversary of 1992’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)—the “Rio Earth Summit”—and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

The main agenda items will be reviewing the progress and difficulties associated with moving towards sustainability, assessing responses to the newly emerging challenges faced by our societies, and strengthening political commitments to sustainable development. Underlying themes include finding ways to leverage the green economy to foster sustainable development and poverty eradication, and setting up an effective institutional framework for future global sustainable development initiatives. Delegates from the 200+ nations and thousands of private and nonprofit sector attendees will focus on sustainable cities, decent jobs, food security and sustainable agriculture, energy, oceans, and disaster readiness.

To the World Resources Institute (WRI), a Washington, DC-based think tank devoted to sustainability issues, Rio+20 is important as it forces the world’s nations to “review progress on and reaffirm a global commitment to the policies designed to foster economic growth that is both inclusive and respects the planet’s limited carrying capacity.” WRI adds that amid a global recession, a widening gap between rich and poor and heightened competition for energy, food and other natural resources, the conference couldn’t be timelier but “unfortunately, no clear vision for Rio+20 has emerged, and expectations...remain low.”

But conference participants are busy preparing. The Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future (SFSF), a network of non-governmental participants, is busy developing the Global Transition 2012 Initiative, which will lay out specific recommendations culled from organizations and thought leaders around the world.

“A goal of the initiative is to achieve an outcome from Rio+20 that catalyses a ‘Global Transition’ to an economy that maximizes well-being, operates within environmental limits and is capable of coping and adapting to global environmental change,” reports the SFSF. “The Global Transition 2012 initiative will propose focused and accessible goals, targets and policy interventions that will chart a clear route towards the greening of the global economy, and the achievement of social and economic justice.”

Rio+20 participants hope this event will be remembered as an historic occasion when nations of the world aligned behind the cause of staving off global environmental catastrophe. But the more likely outcome is a few non-binding agreements that will soon be forgotten by constituents, the media and even many of the participating countries. Not since 1987’s Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals have nations of the world been able to come together in a significant way to address specific environmental ills. And without any binding agreements already on the table, Rio+20 doesn’t look to dazzle either.

CONTACTS: UNCSD, www.uncsd2012.org; SFSF, www.stakeholderforum.org; WRI, www.wri.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


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