Archive for July, 2010

Image Source: red5standingby

Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC, has discovered that many cash register receipts contain levels of Bisphenol-A (BPA) hundreds of times higher than those found in hard plastic water bottles, baby bottles, and canned foods. While EWG cautions that “people ingest 100 percent of any BPA that contaminates the food and beverages they consume” and that “the amount of BPA that enters the body after a person handles a receipt is unknown but likely a fraction of the total BPA on the paper,” the results are still shocking…. Read the full story on TreeHugger

Image Source: Darren Hester

Dear Pablo: I heard a rumor that you can incubate store-bought eggs and actually hatch chicks. Can this be true?

Contrary to common belief, a rooster is not required for hens to produce eggs. With this said, most commercially produced eggs are laid by hens that are isolated in cramped wire cages with no roosters present (sadly, the rooster chicks are sometime sent to their deaths in a shredder or are processed into “chicken flavor”). More and more stores are offering “fertile eggs” or “fertilized eggs” and there is a chance that regular “cage free” hens have access to a rooster. You can also obtain fertile eggs from a local egg farmer or farmers’ market.

So you can obtain fertilized eggs but are they really capable of hatching? One problem is that store-bought eggs are not raised specifically for hatching and that there is no guarantee that any of the eggs are fertilized. The most obvious issue is probably that store-bought eggs are usually refrigerated, which you would think might kill any chances of hatching a chick. So, is there any chance that is is possible?… Read the full story on TreeHugger

A Heat Exchanger. Image Source: Shandchem

Dear Pablo: We had a home energy audit and the auditor suggested that we switch our space and water heating from natural gas to electric to become more sustainable. Why is this?

The changes suggested by your building auditor can indeed be part of a comprehensive strategy to make your home “carbon neutral.” Since the majority of utility-supplied electricity comes from fossil fuel sources and is by no means “carbon neutral” your strategy needs to include a source of renewable energy. While the payback will not be quick and cost savings are not the objective here, this strategy will reduce your household greenhouse gas emissions and will improve the comfort level within your home. As always, energy efficiency improvements such as energy efficient lighting, adding insulation, and sealing leaks should be undertaken first…. Read the full story on TreeHugger

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young

The Associated Press is reporting that 58,000 of Baghdad’s estimated 1.25 million stray dogs have been killed in the last three months. The effort is being seen as necessary in order to combat the increase in attacks by packs of stray dogs, some of which have killed children. According to writer Bushra Juhi, “The surge in strays is ironically linked to what officials say is an improvement in some elements of daily life in Baghdad, a city that for seven years has been struggling to return to normalcy after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.”

Adding to the tragedy of such massive loss of canine life is the manner in which the dogs are killed, by either poisoning or police shooters. Is this a necessary evil in order to get the population under control? Are there any viable alternatives?… Read the full story on TreeHugger

Image Source: kylemac

Dear Pablo: I work for an international organization for development cooperation. In our projects, we frequently receive requests to provide small generators to be used as back up during power outages, which are quite frequent. The problem is that these small generators are very polluting, very noisy, and provide a low quality electric current. I am thinking of providing deep-cycle batteries and inverters instead. Considering that we can find battery recyclers in these countries, I wonder if the global ecologic balance of this option is better than for fuel generators.

In areas where the electric supply is unreliable, a backup source of power can be very important, especially for the refrigeration of vaccines. Generators, running on costly gasoline or diesel, are expensive to operate and contribute to climate change and air pollution. My intuition tells me that batteries would be the better option, but let’s explore both sides…. Read the full story on TreeHugger

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