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Earth Talk
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 17 May 2010 09:42

Dear EarthTalk: I heard that Walmart is having a bigger positive impact on the

earthtalkwalmart
"Many environmental and community advocates consider
Walmart’s pro-green efforts as too little too late or
insignificant in relation to the company's larger social impact."
Credit this image to "Colin, courtesy Flickr."

environment than any other U.S. institution. What are they doing along these lines?  -- R. Schlansker, Beaverton, OR

Walmart has indeed been working to clean up its image in recent years, and many environmentalists are pleased with the company’s commitment to reduce its massive carbon footprint. Many, however, view the company’s initiatives with skepticism, especially considering its overall impact on communities.

What’s noteworthy on the environmental front is not so much the significant energy and emissions the company is reducing at its stores and distribution centers and in its vehicles, but the ripple effect that its new carbon-cutting policies are having on the entire supply chain. This March, Walmart CEO Mike Duke announced a new goal of eliminating 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its global supply chain—the equivalent of taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year—by the end of 2015.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 17 May 2010 09:20

Dear EarthTalk: I understand there’s an issue with the herbicide atrazine

showing up in dangerous quantities in drinking water, mostly throughout the central U.S. Why is this happening and what’s being done about it?       
-- Marcus Gerde, Spokane, WA

Atrazine is an herbicide that is widely used across the U.S. and elsewhere to control both broadleaf and grassy weeds in large-scale agricultural operations growing corn, sorghum, sugar cane and other foods. While its use is credited with increasing agricultural yields by as much as six percent, there is a dark side. The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that atrazine exposure has been shown to impair the reproductive systems of amphibians and mammals, and has been linked to cancer in both laboratory animals and humans. Male frogs exposed to minute doses of atrazine can develop female sex characteristics, including hermaphroditism and the presence of eggs in the testes. Researchers suspect that these effects are amplified when atrazine and other harmful agricultural chemicals are employed together.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 03 May 2010 15:03

Dear EarthTalk: Given the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last month, isn’t it

high time the government put a stop to offshore oil drilling once and for all? Short of banning it altogether, what can be done to prevent explosions, leaks and spills moving forward? --¬ P. Greanville, Brewster, NY

The explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill rig on April 20 and the resultant oil spill now consuming coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico could not have come at a worse time for President Obama, who only recently renewed a push to expand drilling off the coast of Virginia and other regions of the U.S.

The debate over whether or not to tap offshore oil reserves with dangerous drilling equipment has been raging since extraction methods became feasible in the 1950s. It heated up in 2008 when George W. Bush convinced Congress to lift a 27-year-old moratorium on offshore drilling outside of the already developed western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska. Despite public protests, cash-strapped governments of several coastal states wanted the moratorium lifted given the potential for earning windfall revenues.

 
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