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Earth Talk
EarthTalk®
Written by Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 08:04

Dear EarthTalk: How are heating, cooling and electricity produced by

"A utility-grade geothermal energy
plant in Iceland, which derives 26.5
percent of its electricity needs from
the technology. Here in the U.S.,
where geothermal is in its infancy,
the Obama administration has set
aside $750 million for geothermal
development, and Congress has
allocated $129 million to the Department
of Energy for various geothermal programs."

geothermal energy? I don’t understand how it works.       -- Delano Stewart, Wyandanch, NY

The term “geothermal” is derived from the Greek words for Earth (geo) and heat (therme). In essence geothermal energy is power harnessed from the Earth itself. Heat from the Earth’s core, which averages about 6,650 degrees Fahrenheit, emanates out toward the planet’s surface. Heated springs and geysers up to three miles underground can be accessed by special wells that bring the hot water (or steam from it) up to the surface where it can be used directly for heat or indirectly to generate electricity by powering rotating turbines. Since the water under the Earth’s surface is constantly replenished, and the Earth’s core will continue to generate heat indefinitely, geothermal power is ultimately clean and renewable.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 05 October 2009 11:55

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that environmental non-profits have been hit hard by the economic downturn, and has this had an impact on their effectiveness? -- Bridget W., Bainbridge Island, WA

Non-profits of every stripe have been suffering from the economic downturn. In a recent survey of 800 U.S.-based non-profits, 75 percent reported feeling the effects of the downturn, with more than half already experiencing significant cuts in funding from both government and private foundation sources.

According to a recently released report from Civic Enterprises and the Democratic Leadership Council entitled “Quiet Crisis: The Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Nonprofit Sector,” few of these groups have strong reserves to weather the downturn—more than half have less than three months of operating funds on hand, while three-quarters cannot make it six months on existing cash reserves.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 13:37

Dear EarthTalk: As I understand it, hair salons are pretty toxic enterprises on

"Hair salons have long been criti-
cized for the pollution they gener-
ate. Fortunately, while there doesn't
appear to be an industry-wide,
coordinated effort to green up
these operations, eco-friendly
salons are popping up all across the
country, leading the charge by taking
matters into their own hands."

many counts. Are there any efforts underway to green up that industry?   -- Paula Howe, San Francisco, CA

Hair salons have long been criticized for the pollution they generate. Traditional hair dyes and many shampoos contain harmful synthetic chemicals that are routinely used on customers’ scalps—and then washed down the drain where they can accumulate in waterways, soils and even our bloodstreams.

While there doesn’t appear to be an industry-wide, coordinated effort to green up these operations, green-friendly salons are popping up all across the country, leading the charge by taking matters into their own hands. A simple Google search for “green hair salons” followed by your two-letter state abbreviation may well turn up one or several within driving distance.

Not surprisingly, Southern California seems to be ground zero for the green hair salon movement. For example, Beverly Hills’ Shades Hair Studio prides itself on its chemical-free atmosphere. Spurred on by her own health problems related to working with conventional hair dyes, owner Susan Henry—so-called “colorist to the stars”—first created her own line of natural hair colors that contain no harmful ammonia, and then transformed her Shades salon into a model for environmentally friendly hair care.

 
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