biggestweek2014cover
MedDirCover
HousingHeaderSmall
EMBCCover 

 linkedinfacebooktwitter

WTOLLogo1

Home Opinions/Columns Earth Talk
Earth Talk
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 08 February 2010 11:42

From Dear EarthTalk: Short of massive efforts to build a public transportation

earthtalktraffic

Here in the U.S., road congestion now causes
commuters to spend an average of a full work
week each year sitting in traffic. Pictured:
Traffic going in and out of New York City."
Image credit to "Antonio García Rodríguez,
courtesy Flickr."

infrastructure, which doesn’t appear likely anytime soon, what is being done to address traffic congestion, which is reaching absurd levels almost everywhere?    -- John Daniels, Baltimore, MD

Traffic congestion has gotten way out of hand—and not just in developed countries anymore: Traffic jams and smog plague dozens of cities in China and in many other parts of the developing world. Here in the U.S., road congestion now causes commuters to spend an average of a full work week each year sitting in traffic, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. While alternative modes of getting around are available, most of us still opt for our cars for the sake of convenience, comfort and privacy.

The most promising technique for reducing city traffic is called congestion pricing, whereby cities charge a toll on entering certain parts of town at certain times of day. The theory goes that, if the toll is high enough, some drivers will cancel their trips or opt for the bus or rails. And it seems to be working: The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reports that Singapore, London, Stockholm and the three largest cities in Norway have reduced traffic and pollution in downtown areas thanks to congestion pricing.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to push for congestion pricing to ease traffic in Manhattan. The latest proposal—rejected by the State Legislature in 2008—called for an $8 toll to enter Manhattan between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., with monies funding public transit maintenance and expansion.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 01 February 2010 10:53

Dear EarthTalk: What are the environmental implications of all the food we

earthtalkfoodwaste

"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
Food Loss Project, Americans throw away more than
25 percent -­ some 25.9 million tons -­ of all the food we
produce for domestic sale and consumption."
Image credit to "Patrick Michael Mcleon, courtesy Flickr."

throw away here in the United States?       -- Mike Schiller, Cambridge, MA

Food waste is a huge issue in America, especially in light of the growing divide between the profligate rich and the hungry poor. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Loss Project, we throw away more than 25 percent—some 25.9 million tons—of all the food we produce for domestic sale and consumption. A 2004 University of Arizona study pegs the figure at closer to 50 percent, finding that Americans squander some $43 billion annually on wasted food. Lead researcher Timothy Jones reported that on average, U.S. households waste 14 percent of their food purchases. He estimates that a family of four tosses out $590 per year in meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products alone.

Once this food gets to the landfill, it then generates methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide in trapping heat within our atmosphere. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, landfills account for 34 percent of all methane emissions in the U.S.—meaning that the sandwich you made and then didn’t eat yesterday is increasing your personal—and our collective—carbon footprint.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 25 January 2010 15:19

Dear EarthTalk: What are the primary environmental concerns in the aftermath of the big earthquake in Haiti?        -- Frank Dover, Portland, OR

As would be the case after any natural disaster, water-borne illness could run rampant and chemicals and oil could leak out of damaged storage facilities as a result of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that ripped apart Haiti on January 12. Surprisingly, no large industrial spills have been found during initial post-quake rescue efforts, but of course the focus has been on saving human lives and restoring civil order.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the biggest

earthtalkhaiti

Even before the earthquake Haiti had major
environmental and economic problems. Intensive
logging beginning in the 1950s has reduced Haiti’s
forest cover from 60 percent to less than two
percent today. This lack of trees causes huge soil
erosion problems, threatening both food and clean
water sources for throngs of hungry and thirsty
people. The earthquake has only exacerbated problems
in this country of 9.7 million people that is the poorest
in the Western hemisphere."
Credit this image to "Remi Kaupp, Wikipedia."

issue is the building waste; some 40 to 50 percent of the buildings fell in Port-au-Prince and nearby towns. “Thousands of buildings suddenly become debris and this overwhelms the capacity of waste management,” says UNEP’s Muralee Thummarukudy, who is directing efforts to collect the waste for use in reconstruction projects.

Even before the quake Haiti had major environmental problems. Intensive logging beginning in the 1950s reduced Haiti’s forest cover from 60 percent to less than two percent today. This lack of trees causes huge soil erosion problems, threatening both food and clean water sources for throngs of hungry and thirsty people. “If you have forest cover, when heavy rain takes place it doesn’t erode the land,” UNEP’s Asif Zaidi reports. “It doesn’t result in flash floods.” He adds that, due to its lack of forest cover, Haiti suffers much more during hurricanes than does the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Compounding these ecological insults is Haiti’s fast growing population, now 9.7 million and growing by 2.5 percent per year. This has pushed millions of Haitians into marginal areas like floodplains and on land that could otherwise be used profitably. “Most fertile land areas are often used for slums, while hillsides and steep landscapes are used for agriculture,” reports USAID’s Beth Cypser. The resulting sanitation problems have stepped up cases of dysentery, malaria and drug-resistant tuberculosis among Haiti’s poverty-stricken population. Trash-filled beaches, smelly waterways, swarms of dead fish and tons of floating debris stand testament to Haiti’s water pollution problems—now exacerbated by the earthquake.

 
<< Start < Prev 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 Next > End >>

Page 73 of 86

Polls

If you found a penny on the floor, would you pick it up?
 

The Current Weather for Millbury, OH USA

Login




Log in