Tuesday, October 30, 2007



Ad Hawk
European Parliament votes to require car ads include warnings on CO2 emissions

The European Parliament recently voted that car ads must include warnings on vehicle CO2 emissions. If the rule successfully negotiates the rest of the European Union legislative process, 20 percent of a car ad would have to warn or educate consumers about the CO2 emitted from the vehicles advertised, as well as their fuel consumption. The 20 percent rule would apply to overall space in a print or internet ad and overall ad time for TV and radio commercials. "As you can imagine, it is not something that we would be particularly happy about," says a spokesperson for an auto industry trade group. Ad companies are also not thrilled since the rule could cut into the $8.6 billion a year that automakers in Western Europe spend on car ads.

Quote of the day

"I can promise you that as president I will have him involved in our administration in a very senior capacity."

-- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, on Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore


Going Ape Short
Nearly one-third of world's primates at risk of extinction, report says

About 29 percent of the world's 394 primate species are at risk of extinction, according to a report by the World Conservation Union. Threats to primates include hunting for primate meat and bones, the trade in wildlife body parts, and habitat destruction mostly from logging and clearing land for agriculture. The report focused on the 25 most-endangered species, of which 11 are from Asia, 11 from Africa, and three from the Americas. "The situation is worst in Asia, where tropical forest destruction and the hunting and trading of monkeys puts many species at terrible risk," said Russell Mittermeier, head of Conservation International, which also helped with the report. "Some of the new species we discover are endangered from the get go. If you find a new species and it's living in an area heavily impacted by habitat destruction and hunting, you recognize it's in trouble."

What You Talkin' 'Bout, Dana?
White House spokesfolks play up health benefits of climate change

Recent Senate testimony on the public-health impacts of climate change by the director of the Centers for Disease Control was watered down because the White House wanted "to focus that testimony on public health benefits," White House spokesperson Dana Perino said last week. She went on to state that U.S. experts are attempting to determine "what are going to be the health benefits and the health concerns of climate change, of which there are many." Asked to elaborate on said benefits, Perino said, "Look, this is an issue where I'm sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when I say this," before implying that climate change will heroically come to the aid of those who "die from cold-related deaths every winter." The next day, White House spokesperson Kristen Hellmer stated, "It is important to consider both health risks and health benefits of climate change. We rely on the best available science to guide our policy decision process."

Sun Rise
Berkeley, Calif., suggests innovative solar scheme

The Berkeley, Calif., city council will soon vote on an innovative scheme to front the cost of solar panels to homeowners, who would pay the city back over 20 years as a property-tax add-on. The amount to be paid back would be roughly what homeowners would save on electric bills by being sun-powered. "This plan could be our most important contribution to fighting global warming," says Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. "We've already seen interest from all over the U.S. People really think this plan can go." What will those crazy hippies think of next?

It's a Fine Day
BP settles three federal investigations

Oil giant BP settled three federal investigations last week. Drumroll please ... In regards to the 2005 Texas refinery explosion that killed 15 workers, BP will admit it is Beyond Guilty to felony charges of violating the Clean Air Act and not enforcing safety standards, and will pay a $50 million fine. In regards to last year's snafu with leaky oil pipelines in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the company will plead guilty to a misdemeanor for violating the Clean Water Act and will pay $20 million in fines. And in regards to allegations that it manipulated the propane market in 2004, BP will pay $303.5 million in fines. Lest you were concerned about the company's financial well-being, rest easy -- BP has at least $1.6 billion set aside to settle lawsuits.

Superior Complex
Canada announces protections for Lake Superior

Canada will protect nearly 4,000 square miles of Lake Superior and its northern shores, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last week. The announcement creates the world's largest freshwater marine protected area; no word on how the shrinkage of Lake Superior will affect that record.

Read more news ...


Here Comes the Son
On solar holiday lights

Q. Dear Umbra,

As the holiday season approaches, I'm trying to figure out how to spread good cheer in home decorations while being sensitive to the environment ... Do you know of a solar panel that has an electrical outlet? I'm thinking that I could charge the panel during the day (here in sunny Southern California) and plug in the lights at night to show our holiday spirit. Has technology caught up to this yet, or do I just have a million-dollar idea?

Ashley Bradley
San Diego, Calif.

A. Dearest Ashley,

Here I am all excited about your solar light show, and then I notice ...

Read the rest of Umbra's answer.

new in Grist: On solar holiday lights

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