Genetically Engineered Tobacco Bio-Sensor to Detect Landmines

Scientists in South Africa are testing a genetically engineered tobacco plant which detects the presence of nitrogen-dioxide, a marker for landmines, to turn red, in the hope that it may eventually be used to clear mine fields in post-conflict zones around the globe. The team is part of a joint initiative of University of Stellenbosch and the Danish biotechnology firm, Aresa, which has developed the “RedDetect” bio-sensor technology in a weed called Thales Cress. The weed changes color from green…

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Walkable Neighborhoods Mean Fitter Residents

(This is another installment in this week’s “Walk This Way” series on walkable neighborhoods in the U.S.) Here’s a shocker (not really): living in a walkable neighborhood reduces your chances of being overweight. It should seem obvious, but a new study from the University of Utah has tracked the connection between walkable neighborhoods and weight statistically. The researchers found that the average guy living in a walkable neighborhood weighed 10 pounds less than his more car-dependent counterpart, while the average…

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Los Angeles Bans Plastic Bags, Limits Styrofoam

Following the lead of our progressive neighbors to the north, San Francisco, the City of Los Angeles has decided to ban plastic bags by 2010. A bit of a disclaimer, though – the ban will be implemented only if the State does not impose a 25 cent fee for each bag requested by a customer. This bill (AB 2058) is coming up for a vote in August. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, putting pressure on lawmakers to…

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California Agriculture With a Twist: ‘Carbon-Capture’ Farming

Scientists in California are setting out to create a new kind of agriculture: farming for carbon capture on degraded land in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The concept works like this: researchers will plant things like cattails and tules (a type of rush that grows in freshwater marshes) in parts of the delta that have been subsiding and giving off greenhouse gases thanks to unsustainable agricultural practices in the area. Over time, the marsh plants will reproduce, die, decompose and…

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EcoTuesday Networking Forum Launches Ambassador Program

Calling all sustainability hounds: EcoTuesday, the sustainable business leaders networking forum, is launching its highly anticipated Ambassador Program. Through the program, people can produce EcoTuesday events in their city and generate income from event sponsorships. Ambassadors are responsible for organizing events, securing venues and speakers each month, and developing relationships with companies that want to sponsor EcoTuesday events. EcoTuesday is currently held on the 4th Tuesday of every month in San Francisco, Marin/North Bay, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis. The…

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Teach India: An Education Strategy for Underprivileged Kids

In India, the press does more than report the daily happenings of the country. It establishes initiaves to steer citizens into taking action. Recognizing that the economic threats of overpopulation, the Times of India newspaper has recently published a series of articles relating to the shortfall of teachers in India. According to the Times of India , the country face a shortage of about 800,000 primary and middle school teachers. Given India’s youthful population, the situation doesn’t look promising: 6.5%…

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O!burger: LA Gets its First Organic Fast Food Burger Place

Move over Pink’s. There is a new fast food joint in town that wants to serve up the next cult hot dog and must have ground patty, but O!burger’s offerings come with a twist. O! goody. Serving up grass fed beef and free range turkey, all of the new burger joint’s menu items are organic and tasty. Grass fed beef makes the meat richer with omega 3, beta carotene, vitamins A & E and CLA, a newly discovered “good” fat,…

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Intersolar North America Coming to San Francisco from July 15th-17th

Starting tomorrow, San Francisco’s Moscone Center will play host to Intersolar North America, the country’s premier exhibition for photovoltaics, solar thermal technology, and solar thermal architecture. The Intersolar conference, which has previously only been held in Europe, will attract 210 solar companies and over 12,000 attendees. Corporate participants will come from every part of the solar energy supply chain—ranging from PV cell manufacturers and components suppliers to service companies and manufacturers of solar thermal applications for heating and cooling. Not…

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Geothermal Energy Will Help Power Anaheim, California

After six years of research, Raser Technologies will deliver geothermal energy to the city of Anaheim, California. The geothermal generator, which is located in Beaver County, Utah, will produce 10 megawatts of energy, or enough to power 9,000 homes. It should be completed by October. Anaheim’s new energy source will put it on the fast track to reaching 20 percent of its total energy needs through renewable energy by 2012. The Raser geothermal model is much more consumer-friendly than previous…

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Would You Like to Read about Problems with Meeting Ethanol Mandates in California?

You may be thinking “Uh, Jeff, why are you asking?  Just write about it!” Yeah, that’s how we’d normally do things here.  I ask for a reason, though: we’re participating in an experiment in “community funded reporting” with, a new journalism initiative in it’s very early stages. is the brainchild of David Cohn, aka DigiDave. The concept: “Spot Us’ is a nonprofit that allows an individual or group to take control of news in their community by sharing…

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The Coal River Mountain Plan: Will West Virginia Go Green or Go Backwards?

The choices we make now will make or break our collective environmental future. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than with the dispute over West Virginia’s Coal River Mountain, one of the last mountains still intact in the Coal River Valley. But the future of the mountain is in jeopardy. A subsidiary of Massey Energy has recently applied for strip mine permits that would destroy 6600 acres of the Coal River Mountain, or almost 10 square miles. Not only…

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Seattle’s Ban on Plastic and Styrofoam

Tuesday saw Seattle residents given the opportunity to voice their opinion on Mayor Greg Nickel’s proposal to ban Styrofoam containers, and impose a fee on plastic and paper bags at the checkout at supermarkets and local stores. And from what is slowly sliding out over the internets, the idea has been met with a warm reception. The proposal was be enacted in a two stage process. Beginning in January of 2009, all foam products would be banned, but restraints and…

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Journey to the Center of Floating Junk Earth

It’s one thing to be appalled by the monstrous accumulation of millions of square miles of plastic waste spinning slowly in the North Pacific gyre. It’s another thing entirely to build an ocean-going vessel out of plastic waste and set out across the sea to call attention to the environmental catastrophe. That’s exactly what two men, one from California and one from Hawaii, are now doing. The two — Marcus Eriksen, a Ph.D., Gulf War vet and director of research…

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A Capitalist Dream: Company Designs and Maintains Organic Garden In Your Backyard

Most environmentally aware Americans would love a personal organic vegetable garden, but how many people actually have the time to cultivate one?. Thanks to a San Francisco-based company called MyFarm, Bay Area denizens can pay a weekly fee to have a backyard garden designed and maintained by professionals. Customers choose between a Personal Installation (just enough food for themselves) and an Owner Member Installation (enough food for MyFarm to sell to other members). Owner members receive a discounted membership. The…

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