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Umbra on tap water

Umbra, I was wondering where the H2O from the tap comes from, and where it goes to. Beth Swarthmore, Pa. Dearest Beth, It comes from and goes back to the water cycle, which I've been reading a lot about in Richard Scarry's classic work What Do People Do All Day? The book answers the "where it comes from" question, but Scarry doesn't have so much to say about sewage. Lowly Worm does not get to travel through the toilet. Let the knowledge flow. Photo: iStockphoto Tap water is drawn either from surface water, such as lakes and streams, or from …

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Forget-me-<del>not</del>please

Do Not Mail Registry campaign launches

Image: donotmail.org Just about five years after the opening of the Do Not Call Registry, ForestEthics has signed, sealed, and delivered on a campaign for a Do Not Mail Registry, aimed at eliminating that other annoying way marketers try to reach their grubby little hands into our personal lives: junk mail. According to ForestEthics, some 100 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered each year (800+ pieces per household!), and junk mail in the U.S. alone accounts for one-third of all the mail delivered in the world. If those stats don't get you burning to write a strongly worded letter, …

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Concerned about air, world-record holder will not run Olympic marathon

Marathon world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie will not compete in his favored event at the Beijing Olympics this summer over fears that polluted air will damage his health. The Ethiopian runner, who has exercise-induced asthma, will try to qualify for the Games in the 10,000-meter race instead. Other athletes have expressed similar concerns about the breathability of Beijing, but Chinese officials continue to issue assurances that air quality will not be a concern.

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A family-friendly review of six eco-toothpastes

Aiming for greener whites. Photo: iStockphoto When it came time to test out eco-toothpastes for this column, I knew just whom to call: my sister, her husband, and their two boys. As a rule, their household purchasing -- and philosophy -- tends to straddle the eco/non-eco line, and toothpaste is no exception: two of them use a mainstream brand, and two use "green" pastes. I figured all those mouths would yield not only good testing grounds, but unfettered opinions as well. Grist's Picks Dr. Ken's (fluoride), $6.99/6 oz. Desert Essence (fluoride-free), $6.99/7 oz. I whipped up a chart for them …

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Stickin' it to the <del>man</del> car

California vehicles to get global warming stickers

The following post is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- Go shopping in 2009 in California for a new car and you'll notice some new information on the smog index window sticker. Next to the smog score will be a global warming score. The California Air Resources Board is putting the finishing touches on the program. You can see some of the details in the presentation (PDF) from their last meeting. According to CARB, approximately 13 states have thus far adopted the California's Low Emission Vehicle regulations, which requires the smog labels. At least 11 of those …

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Umbra on joining a CSA

Umbra, I have heard mention of community-supported agriculture programs but don't really know what they are. The name sounds very cool, but can you let me in on the specifics? Bryties Redding, Calif. Dearest Bryties, The springtime alarm is sounding, and your question is perfectly timed. Some of you might be experiencing hints of spring right now, some not (like me! I'm in a secret location where the all-time snowfall record is under threat) -- but regardless, it's the time of year for all of us to look into community-supported agriculture possibilities for the growing season. Join a CSA and …

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Who exposes the exposer?

Mainstream journalism on green issues tends to bash do-gooders and give the PTB a pass

The formula is pretty simple: Green is hot right now in U.S. culture, particularly among influencers. Anything that's hot attracts advertising dollars. Media wants to attract those dollars, so it runs green content. (See here for a look at how this is playing out in TV.) However, content that involves complicated or controversial issues of public policy, or that points a finger of blame at corporations or corporatism, or that challenges the assumptions and behaviors of the American consumer, is verboten. No profit-driven media outlet wants to turn people off, or scare them, or get accused of advocating for one …

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Monday linkfest

My browser's getting crowded. Time for a link dump! Yes! magazine has an entire issue devoted to climate change. There's tons to see, with good pieces from Bill McKibben and Peter Barnes, but I particularly liked this hopeful rundown of solutions. It's odd that I love reading about solutions but I don't write about them much. Not sure why that is. Remember how the Bush administration spent 7.5 years battling and thwarting binding carbon emissions treaties and then said, less than a year from the end of Bush's term, that it was open to such a treaty? Good times. Ed …

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Southern Baptist leaders urge action on climate change

Photo: iStockphoto Over 40 prominent Southern Baptist leaders released a statement Monday urging action against climate change, asserting that "the time for timidity regarding God's creation is no more." The declaration is a notable departure from a statement released after the denomination's 2007 annual meeting that questioned human impacts on climate change. "We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues have often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice," the new declaration says. "Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless, and ill-informed. …

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Notable quotable

"I learned that God reveals himself through Scripture and in general through his creation, and when we destroy God's creation, it's similar to ripping pages from the Bible." -- Rev. James Merritt Jonathan Merritt, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention spokesman for the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative and signatory to the just-released Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change

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