Hinterland Green

Monday, March 22, 2010

Could Seaweed be the Key to Tackling Obesity? Study Finds it Reduces Fat Uptake

ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010) — Seaweed could hold the key to tackling obesity after it was found it reduces fat uptake by more than 75 per cent, new research has shown.

Now the team at Newcastle University are adding seaweed fiber to bread to see if they can develop foods that help you lose weight while you eat them.

A team of scientists led by Dr. Iain Brownlee and Prof. Jeff Pearson have found that dietary fibre in one of the world's largest commercially-used seaweed could reduce the amount of fat absorbed by the body by around 75 per cent.

The Newcastle University team found that Alginate -- a natural fibre found in sea kelp -- stops the body from absorbing fat better than most anti-obesity treatments currently available over the counter.

To read entire article, CLICK HERE.

Photo credit: Kelp forest off coast of California. (Credit: iStockphoto/Tammy Peluso)

Lawmaker Says Air Pollution Kills 50,000 a Year in the United Kingdom

Bloomberg -- Air pollution from traffic and industry kills as many as 50,000 people in the U.K. every year, and the nation could face fines of as much as $450 million for failing to meet European Union targets, lawmakers said.

London has the worst air quality in the U.K. and the highest levels in Europe of PM10 particles, which are largely released by factories and vehicles, the Environmental Audit Committee said today. Poor air quality cuts the average life expectancy in the U.K. by seven to eight months, it said.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

PepsiCo Inc. Unveils New "Designer Salt" in Bid to Make its Lay's Potato Chips Healthier

Do we really need PepsiCo Inc.'s new "designer salt?" The company plans to start churning out batches of a new secret ingredient in a bid to make its Lay's potato chips healthier. According to the Wall Street Journal, the "designer salt's" crystals are shaped and sized in a way that reduces the amount of sodium consumers ingest when they munch. The company reportedly hopes the powdery salt, which it is still studying and testing with consumers, will cut sodium levels 25% in its Lay's Classic potato chips. The company also said the new salt could help reduce sodium levels even further in seasoned Lay's chips like Sour Cream & Onion and could be used in other products like Cheetos and Quaker bars.
At an investor conference Monday in New York, the company said it is committed to cutting its products' average sodium per serving by 25% by 2015 and saturated fat and added sugar by 15% and 25%, respectively, this decade. The designer salt is one of the latest and most intricate efforts yet by a food company to vault ahead of concerns among government officials about the possible health effects of the widespread use of sodium in processed foods.

Eating too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease. Most Americans consume about twice their recommended limit daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Source: Wall Street Journal
To read the entire article,  CLICK HERE.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Population of Migrating Monarch Butterflies Lowest Ever

 From the Star-Telegram:
Monarch butterflies, hit hard by strong storms at their winter home in Mexico, have dwindled to their lowest population levels in decades as they begin to return to Texas on their springtime flight back to the United States and Canada.

The monarch loss is estimated at 50 to 60 percent and means that the breeding population flying northward is expected to be the smallest since the Mexican overwintering colonies were discovered in 1975, said Chip Taylor, a professor of entomology and director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas.

Report: Most Power Plants Spewing Toxic Mercury

 From McClatchy News:
Many of America's coal-fired power plants lack widely available pollution controls for the highly toxic metal mercury, and mercury emissions recently increased at more than half of the country's 50 largest mercury-emitting power plants, according to a report Wednesday. The nonpartisan Environmental Integrity Project reported that five of the 10 plants with the highest amount of mercury emitted are in Texas. Plants in Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Michigan also are in the top 10.

The report, which used the most recent data available from the Environmental Protection Agency, found that mercury emissions increased at 27 of the top 50 plants from 2007 to 2008. Overall, power plant emissions of mercury decreased 4.7 percent in that timeframe, but that amount was far less than what would be possible with available emissions controls, the report said. Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury pollution, generating more than 40 percent of U.S. emissions. Mercury released into the air settles in rivers and lakes, where it moves through the food chain to the fish that people eat.

Mercury exposure can harm the brain development of infants and children. Each year more than 300,000 babies may have an increased risk of learning disabilities as a result of exposure to mercury before birth, the report said.

U.N. Organization Denies New Protections for Bluefin Tuna, Polar Bears

From McClatchy News:
A U.N. organization that regulates wildlife trade voted Thursday against bans on hunting polar bears threatened by shrinking Arctic ice and on fishing for the Atlantic bluefin tuna, a species that can grow to nearly 1,400 pounds and is prized in Japan for sushi and sashimi.  The U.S. government backed both proposals at a meeting in Doha, Qatar, of the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
U.S. officials argued that polar bears shouldn't be hunted for commercial trade because they already were threatened by melting sea ice caused by global warming. Canada allows a hunt for polar bears for trade in their pelts and other body parts and for trophy hunting.

Tom Strickland, the assistant secretary of the interior for fish, wildlife and parks, said the polar bear proposal was the first time a hunting ban had been sought for an animal threatened by climate change. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that polar bear populations would decline by more than 70 percent in 45 years as ice melts.

The Atlantic bluefin tuna is in steep decline as a result of overfishing. Monaco proposed banning the commercial trade until the fish had time to recover to sustainable levels. The vote on bluefin tuna had been expected at the end of the two-week international meeting next week, but Libya called for an immediate vote after discussion about the fish began Thursday. The vote was 68 countries against a ban, 20 in favor and 30 abstaining.
Read entire article: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/03/18/90666/new-protections-denied-for-polar.html#ixzz0irmKYG8t

Sandstorm Hits Northern China, Residents Warned Air Quality "Very Bad for Health"

Beijing's sky took on an orange hue on Saturday as the country experienced its strongest sandstorm this year in northern China. According to media reports, a thin dusting of sand covered Beijing, causing workers and tourists to cover their faces in Tienanmen Square. China's national weather bureau warned that the air quality was "very bad for the health." It cautioned people to cover their mouths when outside and keep doors and windows locked.
China's expanding deserts now cover one-third of the country because of overgrazing, deforestation, urban sprawl and drought. The shifting sands have led to a sharp increase in sandstorms, the grit from which can travel as far as the western United States. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has estimated that the number of sandstorms has jumped sixfold in the last 50 years to two dozen a year.

The latest sandstorm also hit the Chinese regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia and the provinces of Gansu, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hebei, affecting about 250 million people over an area of 312,000 square miles, the state-run New China News Agency reported. As the sandstorm moved southeast, South Korea's national weather agency issued an advisory for Seoul and other parts of the country. Source: LA Times
China experienced it worst recent sandstorm in 2006, when about 300,000 tons of sand were dumped on Beijing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Science Daily: Khirbet Qeiyafa Identified as Biblical 'Neta'im'

 ScienceDaily (Mar. 12, 2010) — Has another mystery in the history of Israel been solved? Prof. Gershon Galil of the Department of Bible Studies at the University of Haifa has identified Khirbet Qeiyafa as "Neta'im," which is mentioned in the book of Chronicles. "The inhabitants of Neta'im were potters who worked in the king's service and inhabited an important administrative center near the border with the Philistines," explains Prof. Galil.

Khirbet Qeiyafa is a provincial town in the Elah Valley region. Archaeological excavations carried out at Khirbet Qeiyafa by a team headed by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel and Mr. Saar Ganor have dated the site to the beginning of the 10th century BCE, namely the time of King David's rule. A Hebrew inscription on a pottery shard found at the site, also dating back to the 10th century, has recently been deciphered by Prof. Galil and indicates the presence of scribes and a high level of culture in the town.

The genealogy of the Tribe of Judah dated to the same period is recorded in 1 Chronicles. The last verse of this genealogy, 1 Chronicles 4:23, mentions two important cites: Gederah and Neta'im, both of which were administrative centers, since they were inhabited by people who work "in the king's service": "These were the potters, the inhabitants of Neta'im and Gederah, they dwelt there in the King's service." Gederah has been identified by A. Alt with Khirbet Ğudraya, near the Elah Valley, but Neta'im, which is mentioned only once in the Bible, remained unidentified.

The article continues: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308095459.htm

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New tool for sustainable policy: big bonus

From NRC Handelsblad:

A new trend amongst Dutch multinationals: some executive remunerations are now based on meeting sustainability targets. But the criteria are not always clear. Paint and chemical producer AkzoNobel was the first to introduce a new system of performance related pay last April, when it announced its executive bonuses would be based on sustainability criteria. The 600 top managers at the company now have to take into consideration whether they have done enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and whether they have developed more innovative, environmentally friendly products than the competition. If they fail to do so, their remuneration is reduced.

Akzo was the first company to openly connect sustainable performance to its bonuses and several Dutch multinationals have already followed suit. Chemical manufacturer DSM, postal company TNT and energy giant Shell all announced they are adopting similar policies.

Is there a green revolution going on concerning rewards for executives? Have managers in the Netherlands all realised that more environmentally and customer friendly policies pay off? And are they trying to push their companies in this direction by not only taking profits into account, but also their contributions to people and planet? Or is this just a convenient way to keep handing out bonuses to managers when economic times are rough? Those who produce less may not meet their profit targets, but they also emit less carbon dioxide.

The article continues:  http://www.nrc.nl/international/Features/article2500556.ece/New_tool_for_sustainable_policy_big_bonus

Solar Industry Learns Lessons in Spanish "The Sun Moves Us" Bust

From the New York Times:

PUERTOLLANO, Spain — Two years ago, this gritty mining city hosted a brief 21st-century gold rush. Long famous for coal, Puertollano discovered another energy source it had overlooked: the relentless, scorching sun.

Armed with generous incentives from the Spanish government to jump-start a national solar energy industry, the city set out to replace its failing coal economy by attracting solar companies, with a campaign slogan: “The Sun Moves Us.”

Soon, Puertollano, home to the Museum of the Mining Industry, had two enormous solar power plants, factories making solar panels and silicon wafers, and clean energy research institutes. Half the solar power installed globally in 2008 was installed in Spain.

Farmers sold land for solar plants. Boutiques opened. And people from all over the world, seeing business opportunities, moved to the city, which had suffered from 20 percent unemployment and a population exodus.

But as low-quality, poorly designed solar plants sprang up on Spain’s plateaus, Spanish officials came to realize that they would have to subsidize many of them indefinitely, and that the industry they had created might never produce efficient green energy on its own.

In September the government abruptly changed course, cutting payments and capping solar construction. Puertollano’s brief boom turned bust. Factories and stores shut, thousands of workers lost jobs, foreign companies and banks abandoned contracts that had already been negotiated.

“We lost the opportunity to be at the vanguard of renewables — we were not only generating electricity, but also a strong economy,” said Joaquín Carlos Hermoso Murillo, Puertollano’s mayor since 2004. “Why are they limiting solar power, when the sun is unlimited?”

Puertollano’s wrenching fall points to the delicate policy calculations needed to stimulate nascent solar industries and create green jobs, and might serve as a cautionary tale for the United States, where a similar exercise is now under way.

The article continues:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/business/energy-environment/09solar.html?ref=earth