A Digest of Reader’s Digest

I’ve done a lot of articles for Reader’s Digest Canada Online recently, so I thought it about time to post the links to those articles.

It beats over 7.5 billion times in your life, so if you want to understand what not to do to your heart check out my article on risky behavior for your heart health. And, if you want to improve another part of your body, go for your brain. I wrote a brainy article that describes a few ways that you can keep all the lights on upstairs.

I’ve also written about a growing number of green communities in Canada. It seems that right across Canada, individual citizens and neighborhoods are finding unique ways to address the myriad of environmental challenges we are facing. Of course, with such nice whether in my part of Canada recently, one of the most popular ways to save the world has been to get out your trusty bicycle. Check out my article on how to pick a good bicycle and all the right accessories to make reducing your carbon footprint a little easier. Maybe even less sweaty, which is always appreciated if you are commuting to work.

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Reducing Your Greenhouse Gases one Burger at a Time

You probably know that California is leading North America on its quest to reduce its greenhouse gases. Their plan is to cut back emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a 15% cut. To do so, they are establishing a cap and trade system for carbon dioxide, which hopefully will fit in nicely with whatever Obama has planned for the nation.

I wrote about their 2020 goals for Environmental Health Perspectives’ most recent issue, and I found it interesting to consider that not only are they a giant in North America, but on a worldwide perspective their economy is around the 8th largest. What they do has big implications.

And, how you eat has big implications too. At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago, I attended and wrote about a great session all about eating a low carbon diet. The article was recently published by Green Living Online, and it really was in stark contrast with a lot that we’ve been hearing about eating locally.

Instead the researchers showed that for meat, the travel emissions for trucking something from California are relatively minor compared to the emissions incurred from producing the meat, especially true for beef where a lot of the emissions come from the actual cow (eg. farts and burps).

And, if you’re wondering how to eat a low carbon diet check out www.eatlowcarbon.org, a website designed to help consumers pick the most climate change friendly foods when they eat out.

Environmental Trade-offs: Those Cute and Curly Light Bulbs

When we moved from the lake to our new house in the country, one of the first things I did was go around and change over every light bulb in the place to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLS). CFLs look like a Dr. Seussian solution to lighting, but in reality they are taking a big bite out of electricity use. They are very energy efficient, and are a perfect example of real world green technology that is here right now.

They do have one drawback, which is the Whoville sized amounts of mercury that makes those cute little puppies tick (or glow as the case may be). I recently wrote an article for Environmental Health Perspectives about efforts to understand the mercury in CFLS and better ways to capture it in case bulbs break.

Long and the curly of it, open a window and leave the room where the CFL breaks. When you come back pick up everything you can and put it in a glass jar (plastic bags leak mercury), plus try to have kids or pregnant women avoid the room.

Cradle to Cradle: Not a Post about Toddlers

The term “cradle to cradle” isn’t quite in popular usage, and McDonough and Braungart aren’t household names, but to people in the green scene these are hotter ideas than any inconvenient truth.

I wrote an article profiling these visionaries, who picture a future where the very idea of waste is abandoned. Forget zero waste. This is waste is food.

Check it out at Green Living Online.

Water and Chemicals Do Mix – But the Results aren’t Pretty

A couple months ago, I covered the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are the largest science society in the world, and publish a scientific journal you may have heard of….SCIENCE.

Oceans were a big topic at this year’s meeting. There was the release of a map showing all the pristine bits of water left in the world (spoiler…there aren’t too many!). And, of course, there were plenty of discussions about overfishing.

But, what I found most interesting were the discussions about chemicals that we use in everyday life, such as birth control or car exhaust, and their impact on the oceans. I got to write a story about the research presented in Boston for Environmental Health Perspectives, and the article was published in April’s issue.

Perhaps the thing I found most scary was that the regulations just don’t exist to catch a lot of these chemicals. And, the regulations we do have are old and don’t consider things like what happens if two chemicals mix.

Tough Life for Penguins

So, not only do they live in the most remote, barren and cold landscape on Earth, but now Antarctica’s Adelie penguins are also being exposed to DDT thanks to climate change.

Yes, in an article of mine for National Geographic News, I discuss research that says that one of the world’s most pristine environments is actually contaminated with DDT from the 1960s. More surprising is that the DDT was frozen in glaciers but is now being released as climate change melts the glaciers.

Maybe there needs to be an educational campaign for penguins, such as “don’t lick the nasty looking snow.” Just a thought.

Greening it up in Southern Ontario

Perhaps you’ve noticed how the green scene has exploded pretty much around the world.  Seems I can’t open a magazine, newspaper or email without someone proclaiming another product or whatever as green.  Green is the new black maybe.

In my small little neck of the woods, I’ve seen some pretty well established green scenes go viral.  The Guelph Organics Fair for instance was usually a place for organic farmers to come and discuss farming techniques with some suppliers and fellow farmers.  Now, it was a hotbed of greenware hocking.  You can check out my article on the greenest new food products at Green Living Online.  

Unfortunately, there is no way that you can do the taste testing that I did unless you make it to Guelph next year or spend some money at your local green grocer.

Another green movement that is expanding rapidly is the push against bottled water.

Don’t get me wrong, these people have nothing against water. They love it. They just dislike the idea of privatizing a basic human resource, and the immense amount of natural resources needed to capture and contain a resource easily available at the turn of a tap.

For more information on how university campuses across Canada are turning the tap on bottled water off, check out my article once again at Green Living Online.

And, finally, to round out the trio of green gone big there is the Green Living Show extravaganza in Toronto, Ontario. Last year they had the former U.S. Vice President turned eco-crusader Al Gore. This year they have the former U.S. President turned AIDS-campaigner and possibly future First Gentlemen Bill Clinton.

Plus, they have a whole bunch of really cool presenters and over 400 exhibitors. If it is green, sustainable, organic, or in any way eco-friendly you can bet it will be at the Green Living show.

And, no, they didn’t pay me to say that.