Category Archives: Earth Talk

Earth Day 2014: Greening our Cities

What’s going on with Earth Day this year and how can I get involved? – Christine B., Boston, MA This coming April 22 will mark the 44th annual celebration of Earth Day, and the focus this year will be green cities. “As the world’s population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate Continue Reading »

Global Warming and Our Health

How is it that global warming could cause an increase in health problems and disease epidemics? Do we have any evidence that it is already happening? – Jim Merrill, Provo, UT Global warming isn’t just bad for the environment. There are several ways that it is expected to take a toll on human health. For Continue Reading »

Synthetic Biology

Should those of us who care about our health and the planet be concerned about the new trend in genetic engineering called synthetic biology? – Chrissie Wilkins, Bern, NC “Synthetic biology” (or “synbio”) refers to the design and fabrication of novel biological parts, devices and systems that do not otherwise occur in nature. Many see Continue Reading »

Wind Power’s Bright Future

What is the latest prognosis for wind energy to command a larger piece of the renewable energy pie? – Peter M., Akron, OH Hydroelectric sources of power dwarf other forms of renewable energy, but wind power has been a dominant second for years, and continues to show “hockey stick” growth moving forward. According to the Continue Reading »

A Nuclear Power Resurgence?

I thought Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown would have sealed nuclear power’s fate, but I keep hearing otherwise. Can you enlighten? – Jacob Allen, New York, NY The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster did cause many nations to reconsider their nuclear committments, though many European countries—Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden—had already begun Continue Reading »

America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

What is the Obama administration’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and what does it hope to accomplish? – Doug St. James, New York, NY President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum in April 2010 establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and reconnect Americans to the outdoors. Continue Reading »

Ocean Sprawl

I recently heard the term “ocean sprawl,” which was a new one on me. We all know “sprawl” as it manifests itself above sea level. But in the oceans? Can you enlighten? – Bill Chadwick, Nantucket, MA We are all familiar by now with “urban sprawl”—the uncontrolled spread of urban development into areas beyond the Continue Reading »

Cheaper Natural Gas Lowering Carbon Dioxide Emissions

How can it be that carbon dioxide emissions are the lowest they have been in the United States in 20 years despite the fact that we have no binding federal legislation limiting them? – Jason Johnson, Port Chester, NY Carbon dioxide emissions are indeed lower than at any time since 1994, according to data recently Continue Reading »

Greener Holidays

What are some ideas for being greener this holiday season? – Beth Livingston, Camden, NJ While the holidays are festive and fun, they can take a toll on the environment. All that shopping, decoration, food preparation and travel adds up to more carbon emissions and more waste. But there are ways to minimize our impact Continue Reading »

Navy Sonar Testing in Oceans Impacting Marine Mammals

I understand the Navy is doing sonar testing and training in the oceans and that their activities will likely kill hundreds if not thousands of whales and other marine mammals. What can be done to stop this? – Jackie Bomgardner, Wilton, CT Active sonar is a technology used on ships to aid in navigation, and Continue Reading »

Protecting Private Lands

While working to protect public land from resource extraction and development seems to be the focus of many environmental groups, what is being done to preserve and protect private property—the majority of our land—across the country? – Jim Friedland, Bath, ME Indeed, private property makes up about 60 percent of the total land base across Continue Reading »

Pollution Inside Cars

Can you discuss pollutants in car interior materials, and also pollution inside cars originating from gasoline and diesel exhausts outside the car? – Mervyn Kline, Philadelphia, PA The interior of your car may seem like a safe haven from air pollution, but it may actually be quite the opposite. Chemicals emanating from the steering wheel, Continue Reading »

Reducing Waste in Retail Store Operations

I work for the Gap and know firsthand the amount of waste that’s produced at my store. Can you suggest ways retail stores can reduce waste? And how can I get a conversation started with the people upstairs about recycling and being less wasteful? – Name withheld, via e-mail Waste is an issue for all Continue Reading »

Ecosystem Damage from Beach Resorts

What are the environmental risks associated with beach resorts? – Shine Shoukkathali, via e-mail While they may put up with a lot of stress from wind, waves and weather, beaches and the coastal environments surrounding them are surprisingly fragile. The ecosystems which make up coastal areas have evolved over eons to their current natural states Continue Reading »

Concerns over Essential Oils

What’s the skinny on essential oils? I love them, but a friend told me they are no good for the environment. – Mary M., via e-mail Essential oils are more popular than ever for medicinal and therapeutic purposes as well as in fragrances and flavorings for food and drinks. Typically produced by harvesting and distilling Continue Reading »

Solar Geo-Engineering

What is solar geo-engineering and how can it help stave off global warming? – Jamie Renquist, Salem, OR Solar geo-engineering is a term describing any of various techniques for reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth and its atmosphere. Researchers are exploring the feasibility of utilizing solar geo-engineering to reflect some of the Continue Reading »

Rises in Early Puberty May Have Environmental Roots

Is it true that American kids are going through puberty earlier today than in previous generations, and are there any environmental causes for this? – Paul Chase, Troy, NY Research indicates that indeed Americans girls and boys are going through puberty earlier than ever, though the reasons are unclear. Many believe our widespread exposure to Continue Reading »

A Fierce Green Fire (new film)

What is the new documentary film A Fierce Green Fire about and what does the title refer to? – Gloria Howard, Washington, DC A Fierce Green Fire is a new film documenting the rise of the modern environmental movement from the 1960s through the present day. It premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and Continue Reading »