Grist staff

The Kindest Cut

Companies Show that Cutting Emissions Can Improve Performance President Bush and many Republicans in Congress complain that restricting emissions of carbon dioxide would hobble the U.S. economy, but a growing number of companies are showing that cutting emissions can help the bottom line and they are pursuing reductions far greater than the voluntary ones proposed by Bush. Large aluminum producer Alcoa, for example, has cut its CO2 emission by more than 23.5 percent from 1990 levels, while at the same time increasing production. “We’ve had triple wins so far,” said Alcoa’s Randy Overbey. “It’s helped our labor productivity, the environment, …

The Few, the Proud, the Exempt

Defense Bill Will Exempt Military from Species-Protection Laws The U.S. military may be having trouble achieving its goals in Iraq, but at least it’s getting what it wants on Capitol Hill: exemptions from key environmental laws. President Bush today is scheduled to sign a $401 billion defense authorization bill that includes provisions exempting the military from components of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. After the bill becomes law, the Navy will be able to make broader use of low-frequency sonar, despite the fact that it is believed to cause serious harm to whales, dolphins, …

A breakdown of the Senate vote to end debate on the energy bill

A massive energy bill backed by the Bush administration stalled out in the Senate this morning, when its supporters failed to garner the necessary 60 votes to end debate on the legislation. Only 57 senators voted to halt debate; 40 voted to keep it going. Those in favor of the bill, which has already been passed by the House, say it would increase and diversify energy sources and help some farmers by encouraging the use of corn-based ethanol fuel. Opponents call it an expensive, environmentally unfriendly grab bag for special interests. Find out how your senators voted on the bill …

How many international environmental treaties can one administration sabotage?

From just about anywhere you are on the planet, the city of Punta Arenas, Chile, is very, very far away. Perched on the banks of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas is bounded on the north by the ice fields of Patagonia, a place that the combined forces of nature and the outdoor-gear industry have made synonymous with all things rugged and remote. To the south, on the other side of the strait, the Western Hemisphere peters off into the fractured islands of Tierra del Fuego; beyond that lies the Antarctic. And then there is another, newer landmark: For a …

Make your Thanksgiving and holiday meals go easy on the Earth

Sharpen your knives and hone your appetite — it’s that time of year again. Every fall, we stuff ourselves at Thanksgiving, take a quick break, then fill up again over the winter holidays, sometimes gorging at event after event to accommodate multiple sets of family and friends. But environmentalists, beware: The industry set up to sate this orgy of consumption is none too kind to animals or the environment. Eat, drink, and be green. Take that staple of Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey. We’ve bred turkeys for superior breast meat for so long that they now literally have trouble standing upright, …

The Non-Peace Non-Dividend

U.K. Cuts Funds for Amazon Protection to Pay for Operations in Iraq In the latest evidence that war is bad for the environment, biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest stands to suffer because of the conflict in Iraq. Sounds a bit roundabout, but the reason is simple: money. Straining to come up with almost $900 million for rebuilding Iraq, the British government is poised to slash funding for an internationally backed program that helps indigenous communities in Brazil’s Amazon combat illegal logging and take up sustainable forestry. At least one Labor Party member of parliament is protesting the diversion of conservation …

Readers stump for their candidates of choice, and more

  Re: Go, Wes, Young Man Dear Editor: Many of us are concerned that Wesley Clark lacks an understanding of environmental issues. Aside from all the nice things Clark has to say about urinating turtles, he has virtually nothing serious to contribute on the topic Equally troubling is his support of former President Reagan, who was a great impediment to environmental progress in this country (James Watt, anyone?) — not to mention all the complimentary things he’s had to say about the current Bush administration (er, that is until he “switched” parties in order to run for president). In a …

It’s What’s on the Outside That Counts

Cadbury to Use Biodegradable Packaging for Chocolates Earth-loving chocoholics, take heart: British chocolate giant Cadbury Schweppes announced yesterday that it will begin using biodegradable candy trays that look like plastic but dissolve in water. At first, the new packaging will only be available in Australia, but the company is talking about using the technology more widely in the future. The biodegradable material, developed by Plantic Technologies Ltd. in Australia, is made of a water-soluble cornstarch polymer and is said to be comparable or superior to petrochemical plastic products.

I’m on the Hunt, I’m After You

Bush Angers Hunters and Anglers by Promoting Resource Extraction The Bush administration is ticking off many traditionally Republican hunters and anglers with its plans to encourage logging and oil and gas drilling in natural areas throughout the Western U.S. Last week, 450 U.S. gun clubs sent a petition to the U.S. Forest Service objecting to plans to remove protections from the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, which contains prime habitat for big game and salmon. And many hunters in Montana are irate about administration plans to encourage gas drilling in the Rocky Mountain Front, which is home to bears, …

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