Monday, October 31, 2005

Global fund utilizing sustainability SRI principles

description of fund

In the 21st century and beyond, bold new thinking is required to transform our society into one that is in balance with nature. Portfolio 21 is a no load global mutual fund for individuals and institutions committed to investing in a sustainable future. We believe that companies using sustainability principles as a core part of their business strategies are positioned to prosper in the future and can be more efficient and profitable today. Portfolio 21 concentrates on companies that have made a commitment to environmental sustainability and have demonstrated this commitment through their business strategies, practices and investments.

"The future belongs to those who understand that doing more with less is compassionate, prosperous, and enduring and thus more intelligent, even competitive." --Paul Hawken

sustainable investment criteria

Portfolio 21 invests in those companies that have shown exceptional leadership in sustainable business practices. Some are changing the landscape of their industries, forcing others to catch up. Others have product lines that are ecologically superior to their competition. In fact, they use ecological principles as a driver for new product design. Others are developing vitally needed technologies to provide cleaner energy sources for the future.

Portfolio 21 companies are chosen using a rigorous screening process. First, the leaders of a company selected for consideration in Portfolio 21 must have made an explicit commitment to sustainable business practices and allocated significant resources to achieve its goals. Then, through a detailed industry profile, we identify the most critical ecological impacts and issues the company and its industry face. Next, the company is scored against criteria tailored to its industry group and is compared with its competition in such areas as the ecological aspects of its product range, the lifecycle impacts of its products and services, relationships with suppliers, investments in sustainable technologies and processes, leadership, resource efficiency, and environmental management.

We exclude companies with significant business activities in tobacco, gambling, nuclear energy, or weapons. We also exclude companies with negative performance in the areas of employee relations, human rights, community involvement, or product safety.

Companies considered for Portfolio 21 must be publicly traded and meet prudent financial requirements. Of particular interest is the composition of a company's earnings. We look most closely at earnings improvements derived from ecologically superior product lines, efficient use and reuse of resources, investments in renewable energy, innovative transportation and distribution strategies, and fair and efficient use of resources with respect to meeting human needs.

The sustainable investment criteria used to evaluate companies for inclusion in Portfolio 21 are described below. In general, the heaviest emphasis is placed on a company's products, services, investments, and leadership although it is important to note that actual weighting of scores varies based on each company and its industry. It is also important to recognize there are no completely sustainable companies in Portfolio 21. We have identified those we believe have the greatest potential and the highest commitment to work toward a sustainable future.

Geothermal Electricity

Geothermal ("earth heat") energy has tremendous potential for producing electricity. About 8,000 megawatts (MW) of geothermal electricity are currently produced around the world, including about 2,800 MW of capacity in the United States. Today's technology produces electricity from hydrothermal (hot water/steam) resources. In the future, we may be able to use the heat of the deep, hot, dry rock formations of Earth's crust, and possibly the even deeper, almost unlimited energy in Earth's magma.

Two basic types of geothermal power plants are used today: steam and binary.

Steam plants use very hot (more than 300° F) steam and hot water resources (as found at The Geysers plants in northern California—the largest geothermal electricity producer in the world). The steam either comes directly from the resource, or the very hot, high-pressure water is depressurized ("flashed") to produce steam. The steam then turns turbines, which drive generators that generate electricity. The only significant emission from these plants is steam (water vapor). Minute amounts of carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, and sulfur are emitted, but almost 50 times less than at traditional, fossil-fuel power plants. Energy produced this way currently costs about 4-6 cents per kWh.

Binary plants use lower-temperature, but much more common, hot water resources (100° F – 300° F). The hot water is passed through a heat exchanger in conjunction with a secondary (hence, "binary plant") fluid with a lower boiling point (usually a hydrocarbon such as isobutane or isopentane). The secondary fluid vaporizes, which turns the turbines, which drive the generators. The remaining secondary fluid is simply recycled through the heat exchanger. The geothermal fluid is condensed and returned to the reservoir. Because binary plants use a self-contained cycle, nothing is emitted. Energy produced by binary plants currently costs about 5 to 8 cents per kWh. Because these lower-temperature reservoirs are far more common, binary plants are the more prevalent.

Although geothermal power plants have many features in common with more traditional power plants, they also pose special challenges: non-condensable gases and minerals in the geothermal fluid, need for a greater amount of heat rejection, use of hydrocarbon fluids, and lack of cool water to cause condensation.

NREL researchers are therefore working on new technologies that will improve heat-exchange efficiency, lower the equipment-damaging effects of the sometimes corrosive geothermal fluid, and improve the plant's condensing capability. This research is making geothermal plants more efficient, thereby bringing down the cost of geothermal electricity. These new technologies can also be applied to conventional power plants.

much more on NREL's website

Background on GE Rice in California

California is currently free of GE crops, with the exception of GE cotton grown in the Central Valley. However, because of the size of California’s agricultural industry and the fact that we produce hundreds of diverse crops, the biotech industry is planning to introduce many new GE crops in the next several years.

The coalition Californians for GE-Free Agriculture has formed to prevent the production of all GE crops in the state. In 2004, the main thrust of our campaign is stopping GE rice. In September 2003, the US Environmental Protection Agency gave final regulatory approval for Bayer’s Liberty Link GE rice. Liberty Link rice is engineered to be tolerant to glufosinate, a broad-spectrum herbicide similar to Monsanto’s Roundup. Liberty Link rice may be available for planting as soon as the 2005 growing season. California produces 20% of all rice grown in the US on about 500,000 acres, and is the nation’s second largest rice producing state. Most of the rice grown in California is a high quality medium grain variety known as CalRose, used in baby food, desserts, beer, breakfast cereal, and also as table rice.

A Sacramento-based company, Ventria BioSciences, has been trying to get approval for a “pharm” variety of rice to be grown in California on a commercial scale. Pharm crops are plants that have been engineered to produce a pharmaceutical drug. Ventria’s pharm rice is genetically engineered with human genes that produce two proteins, lactoferrin and lysozyme. They are used as anti-microbials to manage diarrhea, prevent iron deficiency and treat infections in humans, and for use in poultry rearing facilities. Many consumers and food companies are concerned that these drugs may someday end up in their food as the result of contamination of rice.

Many in the US and around the world are concerned about and are actively opposing GE crops. Mounting evidence is also showing that:
• GE foods are increasing the likelihood of new food allergens or novel toxins being introduced into our food supply.
• GE crops are leading to increased pesticide use and are harming beneficial insects, earthworms and birds.
• GE crops are threatening both conventional and organic farmers as a result of genetic contamination, costing them billions of dollars in lost export markets.
• The use of food crops to produce pharmaceuticals presents a threat to the human food supply due to the impossibility of preventing contamination.

We are working closely with farmers to highlight the dangers that GE crops pose to their economic wellbeing and autonomy, and with consumers to pressure food companies and supermarkets to reject GE foods. We strive to build a strong network that not only rejects genetic engineering but also supports a vision of sustainable agriculture in California.

Action: What you can do

Call your state Representative and Senator and ask their position on GE foods
Let them know you are concerned about this technology and the negative impact it will have on the state’s agriculture. Ask them to support any future legislation preventing GE crops from being grown in the state.
Find contact info for your local officials here

Join our Volunteer Network
Sign up online to receive monthly updates about the campaign, as well as periodic action alerts.

Support sustainable alternatives to GE
Buy organic whenever possible. Organic standards prohibit the use of GE seeds.
Buy local: Visit your local farmers’ market
Support Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Alert! November 19th is the Supermarket Day of Action

What You Can Do

Fair Trade is a people-powered solution to global economic injustice. Here are some ideas for how you and others in your community can work together to promote Fair Trade.

Alert! November 19th is the Supermarket Day of Action

Co-op America and Oxfam America are hosting a Fair Trade Supermarket Day of Action on November 19th, the Saturday before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest grocery shopping days of the year.

On November 19th, we're encouraging people around the country to:
1. Put Fair Trade on their shopping list for Thanksgiving
2. Fill out comment cards at their local supermarket asking for more Fair Trade products
3. Get others in your community involved.

Check out what other resources national organizations and local Fair Trade coalitions have available for the Day of Action.

What You Can Do Year Round

1. Buy Fair Trade products when you shop
Look for the Fair Trade Certified™ label when purchasing coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, and other fresh fruit. When shopping for gifts, housewares, clothing, and other fairly trade crafts, support members of the Fair Trade Federation listed in Co-op America's National Green Pages™

2. Adopt-a-Supermarket
Our Adopt-a-Supermarket campaigns aims to mobilize Fair Trade consumers to build the market for Fair Trade products by getting supermarkets to stock and promote them. Forming an Adoption Team with your friends, school, faith congregation, or community center is a great way to bring people together and promote Fair Trade in your town. Learn more about our Adopt-a-Supermarket Campaign »

3. Educate others
Host a Fair Trade coffee hour to educate your friends, coworkers, or community members. Bring Fair Trade coffee, tea, or chocolate to your next meeting. Bring information about Fair Trade to distribute at your the next community event. Call 1-800-58-GREEN to order free copies of our guide, Guide to Fair Trade. You can also download the guide here.

You can also give gift memberships in Co-op America to friends and family so they'll get information about Fair Trade year round.

4. Become Part of Co-op America's Fair Trade Alliance
Have your school, workplace, place or worship, or community group work to promote Fair Trade. Co-op America members and friends across the country are getting their communities involved in promoting Fair Trade. You can too. Sign up now.


Household Tips to Keep Your Health and Your Savings Intact

by P.W. McRandle

Whether or not the fierce recent hurricanes have been a result of global warming, the melting arctic ice cap and rising water temperatures most certainly are, and we can expect more devastating storms and coastal flooding as the planet heats up. The main culprits? Greenhouse gases that trap the sun's heat in our atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, nitrous oxides from synthetic fertilizer and methane from cattle and waste dumps. Our transportation and product choices can make the problem worse or make things better. Petroleum-based plastics, synthetic fibers, forest products resulting in deforestation, cosmetics and even the foods we eat can contribute to global warming. We pay for it with more plants allergies as they bloom earlier and in greater numbers, not to mention the spread of tropical diseases like malaria and hantavirus as warming climates create habitats for disease-bearing pests in formerly colder climes.

Products that use less fossil fuel in production are also healthier for us since they don't release petrochemical toxins such as particulates, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. These toxins are a major trigger in asthma and other respiratory illnesses, as well as cancer, heart disease and smaller fetal size. However, more oil exploration will result in destruction of pristine wilderness and more oil spills decimating our already reduced fisheries.

In every room of the house, there are dozens of opportunities to improve our energy use, air quality and health. Now that energy bills are skyrocketing, here are tips from attic to basement, play room to medicine cabinet, that will help keep your family healthy, keep down the greenhouse gases and save a few bucks in the process.


Even while you sleep, you can help reduce the burden on the planet. Northstar Beds, handmade by Amish families, come in organic cotton, organic wool and natural latex, a replenishable rainforest resource. Wool provides fire protection without the use of hazardous flame retardants that have been shown in the breast milk of American women. Unfinished, organic cotton sheets fromNative Organic Cotton keep pesticides out of the earth and with a 240 thread count are comfy as well. For more options, see the Mattresses and Box Springs Product Report and "Sleep Better! On Chemical-Free Bedding."


Before it gets to your dinner table, produce travels an average of 1,500 miles, burning needless gallons of fuel when so much can be bought locally in season. Choosing local and organic fruit and vegetables will also cut out petroleum-derived synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Buy in-season produce and organic grains in bulk to save trips and use your local farmer's market to make sure food travels a shorter distance from the farm to your plate. Sad when the summer's bounty comes to an end? Freezing fresh fruit is an easy way to keep them available when out of season. See "Freezing and Conserving Local Produce" in The Green Guide #110.

Petroleum-based plastics are all over kitchens, from vinyl floor tiles to storage containers and handy wraps. But the phthalates used to soften plastics and vinyl enter the air and our food, affecting the hormones of developing children. Choose phthalate-free, recyclable containers and wraps such as Gladware containers, Tupperware's freezesmart line and Glad Cling Wrap. For phthalate-free kitchen floor tiling, iFloor's cork tiles and Forbo Marmoleum natural linoleum tiles are good choices. For more, see the Flooring and Plastic Containers Product Reports.

By making more home cooked meals using fresh ingredients, you'll be reducing your consumption of unnecessary quantities of sodium, sugars and processing aides. It's also a great way to reduce packaging waste, energy and money.

To cut down your energy bill, pick Energy Star-certified appliances, such as Sun Frost's R-19 Refrigerator, which is 53 percent more energy efficient than conventional models, and Asko's D3531XLFI dish washer, which is a whopping 159 percent more efficient than regular models. That takes a big chunk out of the greenhouse gases produced by powerplants making the energy we use.

For more energy-saving tips, see "Cutting Costs in a Fuel-Scare World."

Thinking yet about the holidays? Consider buying an organic turkey, now available in most supermarkets. And organic wines like Badger Mountain's 2004 Johannesburg Riesling, a great gift, are coming into their own. Certified organic and fair-trade chocolate, which are grown in ways that don't harm the rainforest and return a fair price to the farmer, are also yummy. TryEndangered Species Chocolate Company's chimp mints. For more gift ideas, see The Green Guide's Top Product Picks special year-end buying guide issue, with over 100 healthy, eco-friendly product ideas for your home and family.

Under The Sink

Cleaning supplies and pesticides are major sources of indoor air pollution, releasing chemicals that can provoke respiratory problems and asthma attacks. Choose simpler ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda for your cleaning needs, or choose from among the growing number of safer brands, such as Seventh Generation,Ecover and Dr. Bronner's now available in most major supermarkets.

Keep pests away by sealing all cracks and entry points, cleaning all foods and residues that could attract them and fixing any dripping taps that provide pests with water. Boric acid can help keep down roaches, or try aVictor Insect Monitor pheromone glue trip that to lure them to their doom (but keep both boric acid and glue traps away from pets and children). The Green Guide'sHousehold Cleaning Supplies and Pest Control Product Reports give more tips and product advice.

Laundry Room

Launder clothes on the warm or cold water setting for washing, and always use cold water to rinse clothes. Hang clothes to dry whenever you can either outside or on a rack, such as the collapsable Wall Shelf Drying Rack at Doing all of these will shave up to 9 percent from your energy bill (that's an average of $162 savings annually for a family of four).

When looking for a new clothes washer, choose an Energy Star-certified appliance such as LG Electronics' WM2677HSM, which is a 125 percent more energy efficient than the federal standard.

Living Room

Keep an eye on heating costs by turning down your thermostat, saving yourself 5 percent on heating costs for every degree lower between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. And an Energy Star-rated programmable thermostat such as Honeywell's can save you up to $100 a year. In any case, don't forget to close vents and doors of vacant rooms.

Avoid breathing solvents and chemicals from paint wood finishes by choosing products that have low- or no- "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs). No-VOC paint brands include AFM Safecoat and Old Fashioned Milk Paint, actually made with milk. In wood finishes, Tried and True's Original Wood Finish and Danish Oil are both No-VOC choices. See the Paint and Wood Finishes Product Reports for more products.

Install energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, such as those made by General Electric, Duro-Test Lighting or Phillips. One bulb can save you at least $30 in electric bills over its lifespan and reduce greenhouse gases from power plants. If every U.S. household replaced five bulbs, it would prevent the release of as much greenhouse gas as removing 8 million cars from the road for a year. And those five bulbs would save 50 percent of your annual lighting bill. For more products and information, see the Light Bulb Product Report.

Wall-to-wall carpets are a sink for all the dirt, allergens and pesticides tramped in from out of doors which can easily end up in the mouths of crawling children. And synthetic carpets with petrochemical glues are petroleum-derived and non-recyclable. Consider wood flooring, such as Teragren's durable bamboo, a quickly replenishing grass and, for comfort, try easy-to-clean wool areas rugs from Earth Weave. Or use wood reclaimed from old farms, breweries and factories fromMountain Lumber of Virginia to help conserve trees needed to keep down carbon dioxide levels. For more suggestions and products, see the Carpet and Flooring Product Reports.


Low-flow showerheads from companies like Oxygenicswill not only cut your water usage by 20,000 gallons per year, but they'll save you 10 to 16 percent of your water heating costs.

You can be squeaky clean without antibacterial chemicals such as triclosan in soap or shampoos fragranced with phthalates that may alter hormones. Choose soaps by company's that avoid synthetic chemicals, such as Dr. Bronner's and Aubrey Organics and shampoos byTerressentials and Tom's of Maine.

See the Shampoo Product Report and "Soap and Shampoo: Personal Best."

Consider a new toilet to save water: Low-flow models such as Kohler's Rialto work effectively with a third of the water older toilets use. And stock up on recycled toilet paper and facial tissues from Seventh Generation. Buying these items in bulk saves money.

Personal Care

Sending out the kids in scary makeup for Halloween? Avoid cosmetics with ingredients like carcinogenic formaldehyde or parabens and phthalates, which may affect hormones. Keep away from petroleum-based moisturizers as well. Burt's Bees and Real Purityproduce cosmetics that can scare the neighbors without risking your child's health, and for non-petroleum moisturizers, try Kathy's Family Shea Butter Lotion orMad Gabs Body Oil.

See "Darth Vader, Dora the Explorer...or Dioxins?" and"The Dirty Dozen Ingredients in Personal Care Products."


If you're shopping for a new car, hybrids are a great way to cut down your gas consumption. Among the most fuel-efficient are the Toyota Prius, which gets 60 mpg city/51 hwy or $800 est. annual fuel costs, the HondaCivic Hybrid (47 city/48 hwy, $936 annually), and theFord Escape Hybrid (36 city/31 hwy, $1332 annually).

To really save you gas and keep you fit in the bargain, bicycles can't be beat. Giant's Cypress LX and Gary Fisher's Nirvana are perfect for commutes while being sturdy enough to handle a dirt road, but wear a helmet, stick to bicycle paths and obey all traffic laws to keep yourself safe.


Insulating your ceiling can reduce heating costs 5 to 25 percent, saving approximately $180 annually for a family of four. Innotherm's cotton insulation from recycled denim scrap will also have no impact on your indoor air quality, unlike the formaldehyde concerns from fiberglass insulation.


Replace or clean your furnace filters monthly. Making sure the furnace is lubricated and properly adjusted will save another 5 percent on your heating bill.

Home Office

With lead and cadmium circuit boards, lead oxide and barium in monitors, mercury in flat screens, and plastics and flame retardants in casings, circuit boards, and cables, computers pose a big "e-waste" problem at the end of their usefulness. When purchasing a new computer, look for companies with "take back" policies for old machines, such as HP, Dell, NEC, and IBM.

Companies that are taking the toxic substances out of their machines include HP, Dell (with its Optiplex line),Apple and Panasonic.

The Green Guide's Computer Product Report provides more options.

The Play Room

When it's the children's playtime, avoiding phthalate-laden polyvinyl chloride (PVC) vinyl toys is both a better choice for them and for the environment. Stuffed toys made of organic cotton from the Organic Gift Shop, PVC-free Lego bricks, the Beka Starter wooden block set from well-managed maple forests, even sports equipment made with health and the environment in mind are all durable items that will give years of play without years of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Project Impact,affordable and sustainable health care

Project Impact, Inc., founded by David Green, is a non-profit organization dedicated to making medical technology and health care services accessible, affordable, and financially self-sustaining. Part of the International Federation of Impact Foundations, Project Impact focuses its efforts on avoidable disabilities-- most recently those relating to sight and hearing. Disability is often both a cause and consequence of poverty. Project Impact puts the disabled back on their feet and on their way back to economic independence.

Project Impact’s work embodies the economic paradigm of ‘compassionate capitalism’, which emphasizes utilizing production capacity and surplus revenue to serve all economic strata, rich and poor alike, in a way that is both financially self-sustaining and affordable to all members of society. It is philanthropy bypassing the middleman. In this paradigm, profit is the MEANS to an END, not the other way around.

From project concept to project completion, our approach builds off the best techniques of our mentors, partners, and founders. In our methodology we seek from the start to design and implement solutions to problems that will be sustainable based on earned income, and not dependent in future years on donations. Project Impact's core competencies are technology transfer for establishing manufacture of affordable medical products, and development offinancially sustaining healthcare service delivery models.

Harry Potter continues to green the publishing industry

Amsterdam, International — Two major book publishers are helping to save the world’s ancient forests by printing the new French and German editions of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ on ancient forest friendly paper. Both editions will be available in book stores from Saturday.
German publisher ‘Carlsen’ has used a mixture of 40% recycled paper and virgin fibres from well managed forests that have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. French publisher ‘Gallimard’ used 100% recycled paper for the French Canadian edition and made good first steps by printing the French and Belgian editions on paper that on average contain 50% FSC certified virgin fibres.
“Greenpeace applauds these and all other Potter publishers around the world who’ve chosen ancient forest friendly paper. Print runs for Harry Potter books are so huge that this kind of effort really helps save ancient forests,” said Judy Rodrigues of Greenpeace International.

In 2003, Canadian publisher, ‘Raincoast Books’ started greening Harry Potter when it printed ‘Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix’ on 100% recycled paper, and repeated this initiative with ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’. This move helped save over 67,000 trees. Last summer, ‘Bloomsbury’ followed when it printed the UK edition on 30% FSC certified paper, a positive first step. Israel’s ‘Attic and Yediot Ahronot Books’ also plans to print its edition, due out in December, on ancient forest friendly paper.

However, Dutch ‘De Harmonie’ and US publisher ‘Scholastic’ are less progressive. Scholastic even ignored almost 20,000 emails from customers who wanted it to use ancient forest friendly paper.

“It is sadly ironic that Scholastic, a children’s book publisher, refused to use paper not sourced from ancient forests for this wildly popular book. They could have saved 217,475 trees and helped protect our children’s natural heritage instead of fostering its destruction,” she added.

Ancient forests are essential for life on Earth but only 20% remain because they are being destroyed to make paper and other wood products.

The Greenpeace Book Campaign encourages all publishers to use ancient forest friendly paper. It is calling on publishers which are still deciding which paper to use for the latest Harry Potter, such as the Czech Republic publisher ‘Albatros’ and Spanish publisher ‘Editorial Salamandra’, to follow the lead taken by ‘Raincoast Books’, ‘Bloomsbury’, ‘Carlsen‘ and ‘Gallimard’ and save ancient forests by using ancient forest friendly paper.

source: Greenpeace website

Friday, October 28, 2005

Honda Delivers FCX Fuel Cell Vehicle to World’s First Individual Customer

World’s First “Fuel Cell Family” leases hydrogen-powered FCX - the world’s most advanced fuel cell vehicle

- Honda sets advanced-technology and environmental standards by offering first fuel cell powered car to individual customer in Los Angeles
- Zero-emissions FCX is the only fuel cell vehicle certified by the U.S. EPA and CARB for regular commercial use
- Los Angeles-area family are first private citizens to utilize California’s Hydrogen Highway refueling stations

Marking an historic achievement in the evolution of the automobile and the advancement of future transportation technology, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced the lease of its revolutionary FCX, an advanced hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle, to the world’s first individual customers, Jon and Sandy Spallino of Redondo Beach, California. The Spallinos become the world’s first fuel cell family, having signed an agreement to lease a 2005 Honda FCX for a period of two years. Honda is the only automotive manufacturer to certify its fuel cell vehicle for regular daily use and the first to offer its technology to an individual customer. The Spallinos will use the FCX in everyday normal use, including commuting to work to Orange County, trips to school for their children, shopping and household errands.

“American Honda Motor Co. is thrilled to introduce the world’s first full cell family,” said John Mendel, senior vice president, automotive operations, for American Honda. “We’re pleased to be taking this historic step forward in the further advancement of our fuel cell program. Our advanced fuel cell technology has been proven and tested through a successful fleet sales partnership over the last three years. With this announcement, Honda furthers its commitment to the continued advancement of this technology for the benefit of society, with the ultimate goal of achieving large-scale commercialization of fuel cell vehicles.”

California Hydrogen Highway
The Spallino family, living in the Los Angeles area, will be among the first individuals to begin utilizing the first of California’s Hydrogen Highway refueling stations, a statewide infrastructure build out underway to offer hydrogen refueling station access to private individuals. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the state’s commitment to a Hydrogen Highway in April of this year, creating a public and private partnership to build California’s Hydrogen Highway by 2010.

“We applaud the Governor and his administration for their environmental vision and their commitment to keeping California on the cutting edge of new technology development,” said Mendel. “Without this initiative, we could not be taking the steps we are today.”

Honda FCX on the Road
As the next natural step in deployment of Honda fuel cell technology, the lease of the FCX to the Spallino family will be the first of several FCX vehicles to be leased to individual customers over the next year. Honda’s leadership in hydrogen vehicle technology also extends to a fleet of 13 FCX fuel cell vehicles in regular daily use with six public municipal customers in California, New York and Nevada.

“With its outstanding environmental benefits, advanced technology, and safety-tested performance, the FCX is proving every day its viability as the transportation technology of the future,” said Mendel. “The Spallino’s experience with the FCX will provide Honda engineers with real-world driving experience and feedback by an individual family, which will be invaluable as we design future models.”

“I’m looking forward to commuting to work and running the kids around in the FCX,” said Jon Spallino, the first retail customer to lease the FCX. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to lease this car. The FCX drives just like any other vehicle on the road -- without the emissions.”

The Honda FCX is the first and only hydrogen vehicle to ever be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California’s Air Resources Board (CARB). The EPA certified the 2005 FCX as a Tier-2 Bin 1, and CARB certified the FCX as a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV).

The 2005 FCX model is powered by Honda’s originally developed fuel cell stack (Honda FC Stack) with the breakthrough capability to start and operate at sub-freezing temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit, along with increased performance, range and fuel efficiency compared with earlier models. The FCX was the first fuel cell vehicle to be listed in the EPA’s fuel economy guide in 2003. The 2005 FCX carries an EPA city/highway rating of 62/51 miles per gallon and a range of 190 miles.

Commitment to Environmentally Friendly Vehicles
Honda’s extensive history of environmental leadership includes recognition as the “Greenest Automaker” by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in its 2001, 2003 and 2004 rankings of corporate environmental performance with the lowest average emission levels and highest average fuel economy of any automobile manufacturer.

Honda also leads the automotive industry with the most gas-electric hybrid models: the Insight, America’s first hybrid vehicle; the Civic Hybrid, the first truly mainstream hybrid model; and the Accord Hybrid, the world’s first V6-powered hybrid vehicle.

In April 2005, Honda announced it had begun limited retail sales of its natural gas-powered Civic GX Sedan paired with a revolutionary new home-refueling appliance called Phill. The Civic GX is the cleanest internal combustion vehicle ever certified by the U.S. EPA and, with the introduction of home refueling, has the lowest fuel cost per mile of any new vehicle. The Phill appliance, manufactured and marketed by FuelMaker Corporation, is an affordable home refueling appliance that allows drivers the convenience of refueling their vehicles at home using their existing natural gas supply. Phill is available for lease through 17 authorized Honda Civic GX California dealers.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Orange, Black and Green for Halloween

by Emily Main

Nothing kills a parent's festive Halloween mood like realizing what a nutritional nightmare this holiday can be. After the fun of dressing up and trick-or-treating are over, kids are left with a pile of artificially sweetened candy that wreaks havoc on their health. High fructose corn syrup, Halloween's most pervasive ghoul, is a leading contributor to childhood obesity and is frequently made from genetically modified corn and refined with genetically modified enzymes. And it seems to come with everything, whether in the candy your kids are collecting or the store-bought cider you're serving at home.

Adding to the nutritional headache of Halloween are the environmental and social impacts chocolate can have. Cacao beans grown in full sun are more susceptible to disease than their shade-grown counterparts and therefore require heavy doses of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. The crop's social ills include child slavery, which UNICEF has found abundant on cacao plantations, and low wages paid to farmers because of market deregulation.

All that can make your face turn green. But fear not! There are healthier alternatives for your child—and the environment—that will make you feel green in a good way. Below is a selection of organic, fair-trade and individually wrapped treats that you can hand out to the neighborhood kids, and you may even educate them about the environment in the process. And that's a good trick.


Look for the "Fair Trade Certified" label, which ensures that chocolate farmers were paid a fair price for their crop. Global Exchange sells Fair Trade Certified Gold Coin Trick-Or-Treat Chocolates stamped with fair trade messages wrapped in foil ($6.99/40-piece box). Teach your little ghouls more about fair trade with their Trick Or Treat Kit, which includes the fair-trade chocolate, "Fair Trade is Boo-tiful!" poster and postcards and a recycled trick-or-treat bag decorated with the Fair Trade ghost ($15.99,

Endangered Species' Belgian-chocolate Bug Bites in organic milk or dark chocolate come with educational trading cards (from $23.52/64 bites, available These sell out quickly, so order early.

Betty Lou's Inc. makes organic Chocolate, Almond Butter and Peanut Butter Golden Smackers (from $16.56/24-piece box,

Support the Sierra Club—and small farms—by buying their organic Chocolate Coins ($8.95/10 oz. box) and Peanut Butter Cups, each wrapped in cornstarch-based cellophane. ($7.95/6 oz. box,

Hard Candy
Fortunately, a variety of organic and vegan hard-candy options make it easy to find candy free of animal-based gelatin that may have been derived from animal parts infected with Mad Cow Disease. However, when handing out hard candy, make sure you're only giving it to older kids who won't choke on small pieces. Try these:

Ginger People Candy's individually wrapped Spicy Apple Ginger Chews ($12/2 lb. bag,

Organic Candy Company's Sour Fruit hard candy in cherry, lemon, pineapple and orange ($1.95/3.5 oz. bag,

The Candy Tree's Organic Mixed Fruit Drops ($1.95/10-piece pack); Organic Mixed Fruit Taffy in cherry, lemon, black currant, strawberry and orange ($2.39/2.6 oz bag); Organic Orange Lollipops ($2.35/2.6 oz. pack of 7); and Organic Peppermint Drops ($2.39/14-piece pack) (all available

Sierra Club's Organic Hard Candy in strawberry, lemon, lime and orange ($6.95/8 oz. box,

Let's Do...Organic Classic, Jelly and Super Sour vegan gummy bears ($2.36/4-bag box,

Fruit Snacks
Sneak something fruity into trick-or-treat bags, likeKettle Valley's Real Fruit Snacks in strawberry, grape, sour apple, tropical blend, watermelon and raspberry ($25.44/pack of 48, www. or Stretch Island's Organic Fruit Leather in apple, apricot, grape, raspberry and strawberry ($14.00/30-piece box, Earthbound Farm sells their organic Thompson Seedless Raisins in Minipacks ($2.49/14-0.5 oz. boxes,


Dancing Deer Baking Co.'s preservative-free Giant Mocha Marble Chocolate Bats shortbread cookies come individually wrapped ($19.95/6-piece box). The company also sells their popular Chocolate Tangerine, Maple Oatmeal Raisin and Molasses Clove Cookies in bulk, all individually wrapped ($47.95/case of 32 cookies,

Popcorn/Snack Mix

Robert's American Gourmet makes a variety of vegan, gluten-free and wheat-free snacks to satisfy picky palates. For a truly organic Halloween, hand out their new "Chaos" certified organic snack mix in single-serving packages ($36/case of 24-2 oz. bags,

Snack/Granola Bars

Natural grocery stores offer a wide variety of individually wrapped snack and cereal bars that work perfectly as Halloween handouts. If you can think beyond orange-and-black packaging, you can get pretty creative with your treats.

Try the Puffins Cereal & Milk Bars in Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip by Barbara's Bakery (about $10/15-bar box, or the EnviroKidz Organic Koala Chocolate, Panda Peanut Butter or Cheetah Berry Crispy Rice Bars by Nature's Path (about $4/6-bar box,

New England Natural Bakers' Save The Forest organic trail mix, cereal bars, snack bars and snack packs come in a variety of flavors like chocolate peanut raisin and caramel apple ($4.70/6-bar box,

Kettle Valley's Organic Fruit snack bars come in Okanagan Organic Blend, Rocky Mountain Berry Blend and Fraser Valley Cranberry flavors ($22.50/pack of 30,

Staying in

If you've got younger kids who aren't quite old enough for trick-or-treating or if you'd prefer to spend your Halloween inside far from the madding crowds, here are some party planning suggestions for your buffet table.

Newman's Own offers organic pretzels, chips and microwave Pop's Corn (, but for larger crowds order some ready-made Pop'n Mama organic kettle corn ($23.00/2-20oz. packages, Also, Frito-Lay still makes their Natural Lay's, Ruffles, Cheetos and Tostitos, so set some of those out with Tostitos Organic Salsa (

To satisfy the sweet tooth, Sunspire makes SunDrops chocolate candy, similar to M&M's, in Plain Chocolate and Peanut ($1.19/1.19 oz. bag, Or serve Sierra Club's organic chocolate-covered pretzels ($6.95/5 oz. box,

For your little cookie monsters, buy some Peanut Butter Cats & Chocolate Bats cookies from the Dancing Deer Baking Co. ($24.95/12 oz. box, Your older kids and partygoers might enjoy Allison's Gourmet's organic Pumpkin Spice Cookies ($21.95/dozen,

A Halloween party is a perfect occasion for serving high fructose corn syrup-free, organic apple cider from your local farmer's market. Learn more about buying cider from The Green Guide's Amy Topel: "Apple Cider—The Essence of Fall."

Trick-Or-Treating With a Cause

Use Halloween to teach your kids about helping other kids. UNICEF sponsors a "Trick-Or-Treat for UNICEF" program whereby trick-or-treaters collect change in addition to candy while they're out making their rounds. This year, half of the money raised will go to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts (the other half goes to UNICEF's worldwide aid programs). You can get collection boxes at local Pier 1 Imports and Ikea stores or through their web site,

What is 1% for the planet?

Mission Statement
1% For The Planet is an alliance of businesses committed to leveraging their resources to create a healthier planet. Members recognize their responsibility to and dependence on a healthy environment and donate at least 1% of their annual net revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. The alliance aims to prove that taking environmental responsibility is good for business.

One Percent for the Planet is an alliance of companies that recognize the true cost of doing business and donate 1% of their sales to environmental organizations worldwide. Through our corporate giving, grants and philanthropy, we encourage responsible business and corporate responsibility. Our environmental alliance is designed to help our members become sustainable businesses and our environmental group database aids our membership to make choices with their corporate grants to environmental organizations.

Common abbreviations of our name include: One Percent for the Planet, 1% For the Planet, 1%FTP, 1% FTP. We are active in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan.
Why Join 1% For The Planet

Joining the 1% For The Planet business alliance can be good for your business because it increases visibility in a crowded marketplace. The 1% For The Planet logo lets your customers know of your company’s commitment to ensure a healthy planet now and for the future. It identifies your business as one that recognizes the importance of good environmental stewardship.

Membership can also result in greater customer loyalty and an increased customer base, especially among the growing number of people who recognize and appreciate the importance of environmental responsibility. Your customers, employees and community can take pride and satisfaction in knowing that they support an environmentally responsible company. The 1% For The Planet logo is an emblem of your business’s commitment to a healthy planet.

In addition to the satisfaction of knowing you are doing the right thing, membership in the 1% For The Planet business alliance provides many other benefits. It identifies environmentally committed companies to each other and creates opportunities for collective marketing and information sharing on best environmental practices. The collective achievement of 1% For The Planet members will be recognized at Milestone Celebrations, in newsletters, interviews, and media events. 1% For The Planet actively promotes our business membership at every opportunity, and because our membership is linked by the 1% For The Planet mark, as our membership grows and the 1% For The Planet logo becomes ubiquitous, your audience of potential customers and supporters also grows.

It’s a simple, elegant concept that is good for business, good for those who are working to safeguard our environment, and ultimately, good for the Earth

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Take Action to Protect the Arctic Refuge Now

You can still help to stop Arctic Drilling.

At Patagonia, we are deeply saddened by the widespread destruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We are also deeply concerned about the health and welfare of the people and the environment in the Gulf Coast area. Tragedies like this affect everyone. Currently, high prices at the gas tank are tough on all of us. But drilling in the Arctic is not the answer to this situation. We cannot drill our way to lower prices and long term energy independence.

Now is the time to make sure that our members of Congress know that preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a high priority for America.

Across the country, citizen activists are contacting members of Congress and organizing events to raise the profile of the upcoming budget reconciliation vote — a vote which could lead to extensive oil drilling in one of America's last untouched frontiers. Lend your voice to the fight. Send a message to your senator saying that you oppose any language in the budget reconciliation bill that would open up the Refuge to drilling.

Sign up to join!

Solar Water Heating

Solar water heating is one of the most common uses of solar energy. Solar hot water collectors heat water for washing, showers, and other domestic uses. Over 100,000 of them have been installed in the United States.

In a solar hot water system, collector tubes inside an insulated box absorb the sun's heat and transfer the heat to water or another liquid flowing through the tubes. In areas where freezing is not a threat, the system can be an "open loop" where the water flowing through the tubes is heated directly for use. In colder areas the system is a "closed loop." Antifreeze liquid is heated before transferring its heat to the water by way of a heat exchanger. When you need hot water inside the house, the system draws on this heated water for your use.

Passive solar water heating is even simpler. There are two types of systems. The simplest is called a "batch water heater." The unit is located on the roof or on the ground near the house so that sun striking the collector goes directly into the storage tanks, where it heats the water. The hot water then flows downward into the home.

The other type of passive system is a "Thermosphon" unit, in which a storage tank is located on the roof above the collectors. As the water in the collectors is heated and becomes lighter, it naturally rises into the tank above it. The heavier cold water sinks to the lowest point in the system, which is the collector.

One easy way to figure out whether a solar water-heating system might be right for you is to use the US Department of Energy‚s Solar Benefits Model ( The model uses a Microsoft Excel 97 spreadsheet to help you estimate the economic benefits of installing a solar water-heating system in a new home.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Wesleyan student unveils car that runs on alternative fuel

At an environmental forum Wednesday, a Wesleyan student answered a city initiative with her own clean energy invention: a car that runs on vegetable oil.

Mayor Domenique Thornton and Councilman Ron Klattenberg announced Wednesday that the city’s energy task force will hoist a solar panel on the existing Middletown High School roof. The photovoltaic unit, a gift of the Connecticut Clean Energy Options in reward for local residents who chose a clean energy option on their energy bill, will be mounted on the high school by late November, said Klattenberg.

He hopes solar energy will help the city deal with an inevitable increase in its $1.57 million of energy costs as fuel prices soar. The mayor praised educational aspects. "It will be an opportunity to teach environmental education to our children," she said.

At a Connecticut League of Conservation Voters forum at the Davenport Center at Wesleyan University, senior Laura Goldhamer got the chance to educate others about an initiative of her own.

The Denver native has hand-crafted an engine that turns used cooking oil into effective transportation. She gets the vegetable oil from Typhoon restaurant on Main Street, where friendly staff collect a supply for her after a week’s worth of noodles and egg rolls pass through. She pours it into a 65-gallon tank in her vehicle -- a 15-passenger short bus.

Goldhamer said the car still needs a bit of diesel fuel -- enough to run the engine until the vegetable oil is hot enough to move smoothly through tubes and be used as fuel. It only takes about five minutes of diesel usage, she said, until the van is up and running.

But Goldhamer says her work has only begun. "I’m trying to start a bio-diesel co-op for other people who have diesel cars," said Goldham. She said she already has a processor that turns used cooking oil into bio-diesel, a fuel source that can be used in any regular diesel engine. The processor is bike-powered, she said.

Goldham forsees a future with a network of Middletown restaurants all donating used vegetable grease, and a co-op who would collectively process the oil.

Local activist George Frick, who helped her build the huge fuel tank for her van, sees a future for the van as a vessel for social initiatives. "It’s the answer," he said, not only to cut down on greenhouse gas emission but to provide services to underprivileged youth.

Frick, who is involved in several local initiatives, including helping teenagers build a skate park in town, hopes he and Goldham can turn the cooking-oil-powered van into a youth services bus. He wants to use it to take underprivileged kids canoeing on the river. Frick and Goldham mingled with a crowd of about 40 politicians, activists, and students. "We have to create a community," said Frick, "to replace the one we have problems with."

Laura Goldhamer hopes to get the collective going by the end of this school year, and invites interested parties to email her at

©The Middletown Press 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

What is Ethanol?

Fuel ethanol is a high-octane alcohol produced from the fermentation of sugar or converted starch, usually from a grain feedstock such as corn or wheat. Ethanol may also be derived from cellulosic materials such as forestry waste (e.g. wood waste) and agricultural crop residues, or derived chemically from ethylene or ethane.

Fuel ethanol is typically used as an additive to gasoline, blended at a 5% concentration with gasoline (E5) or a 10% concentration (E10).

Pure ethanol or high ethanol concentrations, such as 85% ethanol blended with 15% gasoline (E85), require modifications to the engine.

I heat my house by burning corn

As I write this, it is fall in New England. If you burn wood, you are probably well along with the annual chores of chopping, splitting, and stacking. Back in the spring, you had your chimney cleaned of creosote buildup (or if you have no fear of heights, you climbed up on the roof to do the job yourself). Around that time, you might have walked the woodlot picking the right trees to drop for your next year’s winter wood supply, and then the song of the chain saw was heard in the land. In the absence of a woodlot, you consulted the newspaper or a wood-burning neighbor to find seasoned firewood for sale at the best price. Any woodstove owner knows this routine well. It seems a fair exchange for the fire that warms your home during the coldest, darkest months of winter.

Or is it? Even you, who secretly believe your stove is the best woodburner of them all, have occasional misgivings. There was that October two years ago when an early sleet storm froze the uncovered woodpile into one great ice cube. How long was it before you could get to that wood? Or the cold night in February when the green logs bubbled and steamed inside the firebox, giving off the meager warmth of a lighted match. The farmer who delivered your wood swore that it had been drying at least two years. It seems he meant two months. And what about the worst scenario: that time when black ooze spilled down along the chimney, a warning of an impending fire. You’ve only had that kind of creosote buildup once, but it gave you chills no fire can warm.

With all your reservations, you have remained loyal to wood heat. After all, the other options do not stand up in comparison. Electric heat is incredibly expensive, and oil is not far behind. Natural gas would be nice, but it is not piped in to where you live, and bottled gas is more expensive than wood. A kerosene space heater that warms only its immediate area is not a consideration. You continue to stoke up the fire.

Still, thoughts rankle. There is the interminable nuisance of cleaning out the ashes. For every bucket that is carried outside, a fine dust remains in the air and on surfaces inside the house. Spiders build slovenly webs that capture this dust, giving certain corners in the living room an Addams Family look. Far more unsettling is the fact that any friend or relative who has emphysema, allergies, or asthma does not feel totally comfortable visiting in your home for any length of time.

Less vital, yet still annoying, are the problems of dry air and static electricity. No amount of boiling water on top of the stove brings the humidity up to a healthy 30-40%. Your skin is constantly dry. Some of your furniture shows signs of coming unglued. The dining room table wobbles dangerously. If you own a computer, you must remind yourself to touch the anti-static pad before you put your hands on the keyboard. To forget could mean wiping out the memory.

Heating with corn

For all of these grievances, big and small, there is apparently no ready answer. Until now. In the past ten years, there has been a revival of a heating method so obviously efficient that it is remarkable how few people know of it: using corn for fuel. A corn stove does not burn stalks or left-over cobs. It burns kernels, less than a handful at a time. No, the corn doesn’t snap, crackle, or pop. (One of the things people ask is whether the corn pops as it burns.) Corn contains oil and ethanol, which burn cleaner than other fuels, and more cheaply, too. Once you learn how valuable this reasonably priced source of fuel is, you have to wonder why someone in the government has not caught on to the idea of using corn for more of America’s energy needs. Given the current political climate in DC, maybe you don’t wonder at all (but more about that later).

Corn stoves have been used in the South and Southwest since 1969, when the stove was invented by Carroll Buckner of Arden, NC. The most famous demonstration of the stove was in the Oval Office, installed during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Even that, as grand a promotion as one could ask for, was evidently not enough to create a rush of orders nationally.

Here in New England where people are likely to mistrust ideas that come “from away,” the corn stove might look to some like a southerner’s gimmick to use up waste corn. Northerners might also think that any stove used in the South will not really do the job in their cold climate. They would be wrong about that.

In the last few years, corn stoves have been showing up for demonstration at county fairs all over New England. You might have seen one and passed on by, thinking it was just one more wood stove. The only difference, at first glance, is that the fire burning in the glass window is tiny compared to a wood fire. Small as it is, it is capable of producing 60,000 BTUs or more. A lot of heat.

Living with a corn stove

Pour a 50-pound bag of corn into the hopper, light the fire, and go about your business. Unlike the wood stove, after the initial lighting, you do not have to keep an eye on it, poke it, or refill it every hour or so. It burns for at least 24 hours. After filling the hopper of your corn stove, you can go away overnight in the winter without fear of the pipes freezing. To a person who is accustomed to burning wood, that is a luxury.

No more chopping or splitting. No more stacking. No messy ashes. There is no danger of fire, no smoke, no poisonous effluent released into the air, and a minimal amount of dust settles inside the house. For every bag of corn you burn there is a small “clinker” left in the stove to poke out to the side of the fire box. Later, when it is cool, you crumble the clinker and add it to your compost or save it to sprinkle it on your lawn in the spring. The corn stove is safe to touch on its exterior surfaces. Only the door and its window would cause a burn if touched.

The corn stove does not have to use air from inside the house for combustion, although frequently it is hooked up to an available chimney. Instead, it can draw air for combustion from outside, thus alleviating the usual dryness that afflicts homes heated with wood.

There is no need to clean the chimney each year. In fact, you do not need a chimney. A corn stove can be situated free standing and without a hearth next to an outside wall. A dryer-like vent is all that is required.

Unless you have a woodlot, corn costs less to burn than all of the other fuels except for natural gas. A renewable resource, corn can be replaced in three months’ time. Compare that to 30 years replacement time for trees, and 3000 years for oil, and you have one of America’s largest and least expensive resources. Yet corn is actually stockpiled by our government, while it struggles endlessly with the politics and the cost of importing oil from other countries. The search for more sources of coal, oil, and other fuels here in our own land is conducted at great expense to taxpayers, while corn and ethanol are, for the most part, ignored.

There may be other, more personal reasons why Americans have not yet begun to use corn for heat. New Englanders, for instance, are loyal to what warms their nest. They discuss wood stoves with the same fervor they ordinarily save for their cars and trucks. Models are important. Form and function are fascinating. Economy in terms of cords burned is as important as gas burned in miles per gallon. Although we New Englanders are not pioneers when it comes to trying new-fangled gadgets, we reverted to wood burning quickly enough when oil prices skyrocketed a few years ago. Wood after all is a time-honored fuel.

Will corn catch on?

So when will we catch on to corn? Soon. At least 500 stoves have been purchased each year over the past three winters in Maine and another 700 in New Hampshire. Vermont is the slowest to acknowledge the advantages of corn heat. As the yarn goes, a Vermonter will not buy an item unless it is recommended by a Vermont native, preferably a neighbor or friend who already has one. That makes it a challenging market to break into.

Changing from one source of fuel to another can be expensive. Not everyone can afford to abandon a current source of fuel, even if corn is cheaper and cleaner. (I paid about $2000 for my corn stove. I’ve heard there will soon be a model available for half that.) Still, those who are tired of paying high fuel bills owe it to themselves to check on prices and do some figuring:

1. Research into actual heating costs in four northeastern U.S. cities found shelled corn fuel to have the lowest cost-per-unit of effective heat over nine other “traditional” heating fuels, from oil to wood pellets. (I got this information from the distributor who sold me my corn stove.)

2. It takes 2.2 bushels of corn to produce one million BTUs of heat, at an average cost of $8.79. Producing that much heat by burning wood costs, on average, $22.07. (You can use other oil-bearing grains, too.)

3. Heat from wood stoves can’t be controlled as well, so there is some waste of heat. Corn stoves are designed to feed the burn unit automatically with the exact amount of fuel required to produce heat at a pre-set temperature. There’s no waste. And corn stoves are much more efficient than wood stoves, so you get more heat from the fuel.

The downside

For those heating with wood, there are two advantages that corn cannot offer. One is radiant heat. I have heated with both wood and corn for years. Members of our family often stand near the woodstove for the comfort it offers (a habit so ingrained that they are apt to do it even in summer, when the fire is not burning). A corn stove, however, does not raditate that kind of immediate warmth. You can’t cook on it, either. Although it can be every bit as attractive to look at as a wood stove, it is not hot to the touch, so the heat from within must be forced out by an electric blower.

The second advantage of wood heat is for emergency power outages. A corn stove needs electricity to operate the auger and to blow the heat into the room. When people purchase a corn stove, they often save their old wood stove as a standby for those occasions when the power fails and for the incredible sub-zero nights when extra heat is needed. Corn stove distributors also offer a 24-hour battery backup in case of outages, but that costs an extra $300 or more to install, and the battery, of course, has to be re-charged.

A corn stove doesn’t need a chimney:
it’s vented through the wall.

If you cherish silence in your home, the hum of the corn stove’s motor may be a temporary annoyance. I live in rural Maine, and I had always heated with wood. The mechanical sounds of the corn stove, like the fan on my computer, seemed an intrusion at first. I had forgotten how quickly I became deaf to the sound of furnaces in other houses, as well as the refrigerator and the water heater in my own home.

In addition, like any other appliance or piece of equipment, corn stoves have little idiosyncrasies you learn to live with. You will need to experiment for a few weeks (or longer) to feel comfortable running the stove. Starting up the fire is not that much different from starting a wood stove. You can use paraffin blocks, twigs, or wood chips. Once started, the stove regulates itself. At first, you will need to watch for signs that the corn has actually caught and that the auger is dropping the right amount of corn into the fire box.

With wood, it is a given that there is some dirt and other residue attached to the bark. Corn, on the other hand, should not be dirty. If a piece of stalk, for instance, gets twisted and caught inside the auger, that slows down the fire and can cause the fire to go out. Sometimes there is a buildup of corn in the fire box, and then when more corn drops down, the fire is smothered. There are similar inconveniences with a wood fire, but on a different scale.

Use a good grade of corn

Buying corn from a farmer or a feed supply store means insisting on clean, dry fuel. Ask about the grade of corn for sale. The higher the quality of the corn, the hotter it will burn. Any grade corn can be burned, but the corn that supplies the most energy as animal feed also burns the hottest. Most suppliers are beginning to understand that there is a growing market for fuel corn. Those who do are glad to supply clean, high quality corn at a good price.

When thinking of storage for corn, think small. You can store two tons of corn in 50-pound bags in one corner of your garage (about six feet high, six feet wide, and two feet deep). That is the usual amount delivered at one time and is enough to heat your house for two or three months.

The corn stoves of today are much more efficient than the one invented in 1969. Even five years ago there were no thermostats for them. Today, thermostats are an option. Five years ago there were probably only two stove models available. There are at least six now. One early model, the one owned by the author, could be mistaken for a clothes dryer.

Occasionally, because our stove is attached to the chimney, on a day when we turn the corn stove down low, we notice the faint but sweet perfume of cooking corn in the air outside. This is in conspicuous contrast to the smoke billowing from a neighbor’s chimney. Our corn stove, homely as it is, has won our allegiance hands down.

(Judith Monroe lives on a Maine mountain at the edge of a 600 acre wood. She buys her corn from a farmer in a nearby town and burns wood from her own land. She writes poetry and fiction, and is the author of two books about life on a Maine island where she lives in the summer.)

original article by Judith W. Monroe

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fair trade through coffee

It's time for the University of Washington to wake up and smell the Certified Fair Trade coffee. Seattle has the second-highest number of coffee shops per capita (2.2 shops per 10,000 people) in the US, and the UW has over 20 of these coffee hot spots on its campus alone. This means that within walking distance of class, UW students have the ability to affect social change through their daily cup o' joe.

Certified Fair Trade coffee encourages consumers to "look outside the cup", so to speak. It indicates a commitment to paying workers a fair price for the beans they grow, and recognizes that in many cases the livelihood of the community from which the beans came is dependent on the purchase of that cup of coffee. This is especially important since coffee is grown in the tropical and sub-tropical belt around the equator. This area includes countries facing the most severe economic development challenges. For example, in Guatemala where about 75 percent of the population is below the poverty line, more than 7 percent of the population is dependent on coffee for livelihood.

This summer, I had the opportunity to see first hand the importance of purchasing Certified Fair Trade coffee. I traveled with a group of 18 other UW students and one amazing UW professor through rural western Guatemala as part of a CHID Department Exploration Seminar. A portion of this trip was spent visiting Finca San Jeronimo, a conventional trade coffee farm.

At this farm, the workers lived in small shacks with dirt floors and no running water or electricity. Oftentimes, up to 20 people would live in the one-room houses and food was so scarce that the humble meal of beans, eggs and rolls we shared with them was seen as a luxury. There are 67 children between the 25 families who live at Finca San Jeronimo. Despite the fact that school only costs about $40 per year, the majority of these children are unable to attend because their families can barely afford to feed them.

And all this boils down to the price we are willing to pay for a cup of coffee. The average $3 latte delivers less than $0.02 back to the farmers on non-Fair Trade farms. Make that a Certified Fair Trade latte, and the farmers in the cooperative are able to earn 3 to 5 times more than they would receive by selling their coffee through conventional mechanisms. For a campus that consumes about 50,000 pounds of coffee a year, this means that we have the ability to affect social change on a global level simply by opting to buy Certified Fair Trade coffee.

So how do you like your social justice? I like mine with sugar and cream.

Friday, October 21, 2005

NREL Supports Development of World's Largest Solar Electric Power Plant Project in 14 Years

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have collaborated with Solargenix Energy on the solar collector technology to be used in the development of Nevada Solar One, a 64-megawatt (MW) Solar Thermal Electric Generating Plant in Boulder City, Nev.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to support Solargenix with this groundbreaking achievement," said Mark Mehos, program manager for NREL's Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) program. "Given today's natural gas prices combined with tax incentives offered in the recently passed energy bill, utilities and investors are showing a lot of interest in the development of large-scale concentrating solar power plants. This is the first in line of a string of new large-scale domestic and international CSP projects."

Solargenix recently announced the approval of amendments to their Power Purchase Agreements with Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada (PUCN). This approval by the PUCN will allow Solargenix to complete the development of Nevada Solar One, the largest solar electric power plant to be built globally in the past 14 years and the third largest solar power plant in the world. This project will make Nevada one of the largest generators of solar energy in the United States.

"We are most appreciative of all of the efforts by the many participants that helped make Nevada's Renewal Energy Portfolio standard possible, including the PUCN, Governor Guinn, the Nevada State Legislature, the Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection, Nevada Power Company, Sierra Pacific Power Company, the Nevada Development Authority and all of the citizens of Boulder City," said Solargenix CEO John Myles. Myles also explained that "many people are not familiar with concentrating solar thermal technology or its proven track record and capability to play a significant role in addressing many of the most important energy issues that confront America and the rest of the world."

According to published information from DOE through its national laboratories, the parabolic trough technology used in this plant represents one of the major renewable energy success stories of the past two decades and has a near-term potential to compete directly with conventional fossil fuel powered technologies.

In addition, DOE has issued a report that identifies suitable land and solar resources in Nevada that could produce more than 600,000 megawatts (MW) of power generation using concentrating solar technologies. Currently, Nevada's electricity consumption is less than 3 percent of this resource capacity. The same report claims that the economic benefits far exceed the cost to develop this clean renewable energy source.

The Boulder City plant located in the El Dorado Valley is scheduled to begin production of electricity in early 2007. Solargenix Energy, headquartered in North Carolina, established its western U. S. base of operations in Las Vegas, Nev., five years ago. Solargenix has collaborated with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and NREL on a series of solar research, design and development projects that have resulted in measurable success. Additionally, Solargenix has been recognized by DOE as a leading company in the development of solar thermal energy technology and related projects.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.

Genetically Engineered Food

The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the21st Century. Already, this noveltechnology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novelcreations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, "super" pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 45 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as is 85 percent of soybeans. It has been estimated that 70-75 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves--from soda to soup, crackers to condiments--contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture could lead touncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as "new animal drugs."

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has had serious consequences for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineeredfoods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government's negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

"the future of food"

There is a revolution happening in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America -- a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat.

THE FUTURE OF FOOD offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.

From the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada to the fields of Oaxaca, Mexico, this film gives a voice to farmers whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively impacted by this new technology. The health implications, government policies and push towards globalization are all part of the reason why many people are alarmed by the introduction of genetically altered crops into our food supply.

Shot on location in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, THE FUTURE OF FOOD examines the complex web of market and political forces that are changing what we eat as huge multinational corporations seek to control the world's food system. The film also explores alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture, placing organic and sustainable agriculture as real solutions to the farm crisis today.

To get more information about GMOs and how to get involved in various campaigns:
Center for food safety
The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
Organic Seed Alliance
Rethinking School Lunch
Say No to GMOs!
Union of Concerned Scientists
Consumers' Union
Genetic Engineering Action Network

Schwarzenegger solar plan for California

The Schwarzenegger Administration is working to protect and restore California's air, water, and landscapes with the following initiatives:

Cut Air Pollution Statewide by Up to 50%
Restore Independence From Foreign Oil.
Breathing clean and healthy air is a right of all Californians, especially our children, whose health suffers disproportionately when our air is polluted. The future health of California's environment and economy depend on our taking action now.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that as Governor, he will:
Solve California's Electrical Energy Crisis.

An unreliable energy system discourages businesses from locating or even remaining in California, resulting in lost jobs and state revenues, I will take action to prevent brownouts or blackouts, such as those experienced during the Davis Administration in California and this year on the East Coast. Almost one third of California's entire in-state generation base is over 40 years old. I will immediately lay the groundwork to expand the state's power supplies, with special emphasis on clean, renewable sources, through the following steps:

Promote Solar and Renewables. Increase California's use of solar power in cooperation with developers, the Building Industry Association, labor, community organizations, and bi-partisan state legislators to provide incentives for new homes built in California to include solar photovoltaics (PV). The goal of this program would be that, starting in 2005, 50% of new homes would include solar PV. As Governor I will also support the extension of tax credits for businesses and commercial establishments which install on-grid solar photovoltaic and other renewable generation systems.

Increase Renewable Energy. As Governor, I will fully endorse California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires that 20% of the state's total power supplies be generated from renewable sources by 2017. My Administration will also direct the California Energy Commission to define incentives and implement strategies that will target achievement of the 20% standard a full seven years early - - by 2010 - - and set the state on course to derive 33% of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

In the press release, Schwarzenegger also unveiled his Million Homes Plan, a program to encourage installation of solar panel systems in one million homes over the next 13 years.

The Million Homes Plan is aimed at helping the environment, offering homebuyers more choices, saving them and all ratepayers money, and contributing to a more stable energy market.

The press release from the Governor's office says the program will establish California as a world leader in solar technology, create new jobs, and encourage new manufacturing within the state. It will mean substantial savings for the state during peak demand periods. Stable market The plan will contribute to a more diversified energy portfolio for California. More sources mean more stability.

The program is projected to save California 2700 Megawatts of peaking power, and offset more than 50 million tons of CO2, the annual equivalent emission of 400,000 vehicles.

The Adminsitration says that the plan will provide significant long-term savings for homeowners. For a homebuyer who finances the system as part of a new home mortgage, their electricity savings could actually be more than the system's portion of their regular mortgage payment. Incentives for existing home owners will be available through the CEC. It also allows additional incentives for solar systems on affordable housing.

For the next several years, the plan is fully funded by existing sources. It does not allow any new charges to come out of ratepayers' pockets without a review by the Public Utilities Commission and approval by the legislature.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) will initially offer homeowners incentives for both new and retrofit applications. Starting in 2008, home builders will offer solar panels as one of the options for new homes in California. This will apply to every subdivision with 25 homes or more. The same way they receive savings and cost estimates for major appliances, buyers will be presented with an estimate of the costs and savings that come with installing a home solar system. Customers who install the system will pay a time-of-use rate, increasing their savings further. Customers will sell back excess electricity to the electrical utility at retail prices. The program includes investor-owned and municipal utilities.

While the Governor's Plan is substantially different from that proposed by the California EPA in recent weeks, industry reaction, to date, suggests this is a positive first step toward sustaining the important Californian residential solar photovoltaic market segment.

Many of the detailed elements of the plan are still being worked by the Californian Solar Energy Industries Association in co-operation with the Governor's office and the California Legislature. These will define the funding implications of the plan and the criteria for the qualification of PV systems.

Alliance to Save Energy Launches Web-Based Index Of State Energy-Efficiency Policies

Washington, D.C., October 3 – Today the Alliance to Save Energy’s online searchable State Energy Efficiency Policy Index went live. This comprehensive index allows policy makers, state officials, advocates, and citizens to search easily for energy-efficiency laws, by state or by policy topic. Many new energy-efficiency policy initiatives are tested at the state level, so this educational resource will help disseminate and share such policies among states and allow them to learn from each other.

With hundreds of energy efficiency laws documented in the index, this resource shows that states are leading the way to an energy-efficient future – but the benefits of energy efficiency are far from fully tapped! The Alliance will continue to update the index so that users can find the most recent information quickly and easily.

The index is organized by policy issue: appliance standards, building codes, greenhouse gas emission cap & trade programs, energy-efficiency funds, public benefits funds, tax incentives, transportation initiatives, and other legislation. The index also allows users to click on an interactive map of the United States to download a full listing of energy-efficiency laws on the book in each state.

“Paired with our monthly electronic State Energy Efficiency Policy Bulletin, which tracks pending legislative and regulatory action in the states, the Alliance is the ‘one-stop’ shop for information on state energy-efficiency policies,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. “The Alliance stands ready to help states fill in the gaps on their state energy-efficiency policy checklists.”

Click here to access the index.
View the latest State Energy Efficiency Policy Bulletin

Wind farm given environmental green light

A $230 million dollar wind farm project proposed for Tasmania's north-east has received environmental approval from the Federal Government.
The Musselroe wind farm will supply enough power for 50,000 homes and is a joint venture project between Hydro Tasmania and a Chinese company, CLP Power Asia.
Commercial agreements are now being completed for the purchase of wind turbines and other equipment.
The wind farm is expected to create 100 jobs during the three-year construction period.
The manager of Tasmanian Wind Development, Gustavo Bodini, says it will have about 40 wind turbines.
"Musselroe will be the largest single wind farm in Tasmania," he said.
"As you know we're developing Studland Bay wind farm which is adjacent to the Woolnorth wind farm.
"Although the combined output from those two wind farms will be slightly higher than Musselroe as a single entity, Musselroe is the largest."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Blackspot shoes

The Unswoosher features everything that made the Blackspot Sneaker great – it's made in a safe, comfortable union factory with environmentally sound, all-vegetarian materials, including 100% organic hemp uppers. But for the boot we’ve been able to take things even farther with soles made from reclaimed used tires. They look pretty wicked, and it’s a great way to take a bite out of an over-abundant waste material. Order online, or stop by a local Blackspot retailer to try them on in person.

Who We Are
The Blackspot Anticorporation and the Blackspot Shoes
venture are projects of Adbusters Media Foundation.
CEO: Kalle Lasn
Creative Director: Mike Simons
Producer: Paul Shoebridge
Marketing Manager: Sharon Cohen
Campaign Coordinator: Leigh Ratcliff
Production Manager: Robin Webb
Designer: John Fluevog
Website Designer: Mihai Wilson
Advertising Agency: PowerShift
Hemp Supplier: Ecolution

Our Mission
Our mission is to establish a worldwide consumer cooperative and to reassert consumer sovereignty over capitalism. We hope this blackspot sneaker venture is the beginning of a new era in ethical, worker-friendly, environmentally friendly production in the shoe industry.

The Shoes
The classic Blackspot Sneaker and v2.0: The Unswoosher are both designed by John Fluevog, known for his cutting edge innovativeness and flair. The shoes comply with vegan standards, and are being monitored by Robin Webb of Vegetarian Shoes in the UK. Robin is an industry leader dedicated to the production of ethical footwear. Blackspots are sold only in independently owned retail stores worldwide.

We're using 100% organic hemp, which is processed with natural methods such as water retting, eliminating the need to use chemicals. The Blackspot Sneaker has a rubber sole and a toe cap that is 70% biodegradable, whereas The Unswoosher has a sole made from recovered car tires. We're not currently using water-based glues, as they lack permanence so shoe longevity suffers. The white anti-logo and the red splotches are hand-painted, and the soles are stitched, glued and embedded for extra durability.

The Profits
Yes, Blackspot Shoes is a for-profit venture — we wouldn't have it
any other way. (View the cost breakdown for v2.0: The Unswoosher.) Profits let us do what the shoe has always promised. For round one, we'll launch our TV campaign, and if any network refuses to sell us airtime, we'll haul them into court. Then, if this recycled-tire, organic-hemp Unshwoosher really takes off as a new kind of cool in the sneaker industry, we'll use every penny of profit on kick-ass social campaigns and anti-corporate marketing. The best part is that it'll be up to the shareholders of The Blackspot Anticorporation to brainstorm and decide on how we do it. Do we go after McDonald's with spots on the Food Network? Do we target ExxonMobil with full-page ads in The New York Times? Or maybe we launch an anti-trust lawsuit against Viacom, or we put our money into Blackspot startups in other industries, like those featured on .

The Factory
The Blackspot Shoes factory is located in a rural region of Portugal called Felgueiras, an area steeped in 400 years of shoe-making tradition. The factory has been owned and operated by the same family for three generations. The owners have a reputation for being excellent employers. Although many of the employees in the factory have cars, others are often seen walking home through vineyards and olive groves, waving to bosses and neighbors as they pass. Felgueiras is a friendly place. There is almost no crime. Many who live there have lived there all their lives.

Factory machinery is new and updated. The work pace is good, as is air quality. The premises are big, wide, well lit. Sound level compliance is strictly enforced. Music is audible wherever you go. A model factory, according to the head union rep, with a near-perfect safety record. All safety equipment is available and checked.

The work day is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with 1 1/2 hours for lunch (no coffee breaks). Overtime is not compulsory, and is generously paid. (Usually only the more senior workers, such as designers and samplers, will work overtime). The first hour of overtime is remunerated at time and a half, then time plus 75% thereafter.

Portugal has a national medical plan for all its citizens. A doctor visits the factory twice a week, and workers are entitled to unlimited free consultations.

The minimum wage in Portugal is 365 Euros per month. Workers in this factory earn between 420 and 700 Euros per month, depending on their job and seniority. In addition to basic salary, workers receive 25 paid days off and two extra months of pay per year, which works out to 35% above minimum wage.

The Union
Union dues are 1% of the members' salaries, and about 40% of the workers are registered. Not everyone chooses to belong to the union, as they don't see any need for it. The union gets involved in wage negotiations where necessary, and provides workers with legal representation when required, but is mostly there to provide protection from unfair dismissals. However, no-one has ever been unfairly dismissed in this factory, according to the workers we spoke with in private.

The workers told us that this factory is one of the best in Portugal. They also told us that the only factories in Portugal that are 100% union are those under foreign ownership, where workers feel more vulnerable than they do working for local or community based employers.

We met with employees who belong to the union; we met with workers who liaison between employees and the union (shop stewards); we met with union staff and staff of the government-run umbrella organization that administers the union. All meetings were in private. All the people we interviewed were unequivocal in their praise of the factory. A high degree of transparency was evident.
If you'd like to know more, contact us at The Blackspot Anticorporation.

Amazon rainforest vanishing at twice rate of previous estimates

·6,000 sq miles lost a year as valuable trees removed
·Selective logging causing 25% greenhouse gas boost

The Amazonian rainforest is being destroyed at double the rate of all previous estimates, according to research published today in the journal Science. The destruction is leaving the forest more prone to fires and allowing more carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere, according to scientists.

A new analysis of satellite images of the Brazilian part of the Amazon basin, which forms part of the largest contiguous rainforest on Earth, shows that on average 15,500 sq km (6,000 square miles) of forest is being cut down by selective logging each year. This is besides a similar amount clear-cut annually for cattle grazing or farming.

Conservationists have been able to monitor large clear-cut areas using satellite images. But the extent of selective logging, where individual trees of high value, such as mahogany, are felled and smuggled out of the forest, had been unclear, the effects being masked from satellites by the forest's dense canopy.

"People have been monitoring large-scale deforestation in the Amazon with satellites for more than two decades, but selective logging has been mostly invisible until now," said Gregory Asner, of the Carnegie Institution, Washington. He tackled the problem by developing an analytical method named the Carnegie Landsat Analysis System, which allows each pixel of an image to be scrutinised for the amount of forest left to determine the overall ratio of forested to deforested land.

Natalino Silva, of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, said: "We can now see what's happening from the top of the forest all the way to the soil. We have a whole new picture of the Amazon region and selective logging."

The analysis revealed some surprising facts. "We discovered that annually an area about the size of Connecticut is disturbed this way," said Professor Asner. "Selective logging negatively impacts many plants and animals and increases erosion and fires. Additionally, up to 25% more carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere each year - above that from deforestation - from the decomposition [of plant material] that the loggers leave behind. Timber harvests are much more widespread than previously thought."

Using images of the Amazon basin taken from 1999 to 2002, Prof Asner studied the five states that account for 90% of deforestation. The extent of selective logging was found to be between 4,685 and 7,973 square miles each year.

Michael Keller, of the US Forest Service, who was the co-author of the research, said: "We expected to see large areas of logging, but the extent to which logging penetrates deep into the frontier is much more dramatic than we anticipated."

A large mahogany tree can fetch hundreds of dollars at the sawmill, making it a tempting target. "People go in and remove just the merchantable species from the forest," said Prof Asner. "Mahogany is the one everybody knows about, but in the Amazon there are at least 35 marketable hardwood species, and the damage that occurs from taking out just a few trees at a time is enormous."

About 400m tonnes of carbon enter the atmosphere every year because of traditional deforestation in the Amazon, and Prof Asner estimates that an additional 100m tonnes of carbon occurs through selective logging. "When a tree trunk is removed, the crown, wood debris and vines are left behind to decompose, releasing carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere," he said.

A thinned canopy also makes the forest more dry and prone to fire. "On average, for every tree removed, up to 30 more can be severely damaged by the timber harvesting operation itself," said Prof Asner.