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    Fri, Mar 6, 2009: from Bloomberg News
    India Failing to Control Open Defecation Blunts Nation’s Growth
    Until May 2007, Meera Devi rose before dawn each day and walked a half mile to a vegetable patch outside the village of Kachpura to find a secluded place. Dodging leering men and stick-wielding farmers and avoiding spots that her neighbors had soiled, the mother of three pulled up her sari and defecated with the Taj Mahal in plain view. With that act, she added to the estimated 100,000 tons of human excrement that Indians leave each day in fields of potatoes, carrots and spinach, on banks that line rivers used for drinking and bathing and along roads jammed with scooters, trucks and pedestrians.... In the shadow of its new suburbs, torrid growth and 300- ­million-plus-strong middle class, India is struggling with a sanitation emergency. From the stream in Devi’s village to the nation’s holiest river, the Ganges, 75 percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated by human and agricultural waste and industrial effluent. Everyone in Indian cities is at risk of consuming human feces, if they’re not already, the Ministry of Urban Development concluded in September.
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    Fri, Mar 6, 2009: from BBC
    'No proof' of bee killer theory
    Scientists say there is no proof that a mysterious disease blamed for the deaths of billions of bees actually exists. For five years, increasing numbers of unexplained bee deaths have been reported worldwide, with US commercial beekeepers suffering the most. The term Colony Collapse Disorder was coined to describe the illness. But many experts now believe that the term is misleading and there is no single, new ailment killing the bees.
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    Fri, Mar 6, 2009: from London Independent
    Revenge of the rainforest
    It covers an area 25 times bigger than Britain, is home to a bewildering concentration of flora and fauna and is often described as the "lungs of the world" for its ability to absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide through its immense photosynthetic network of trees and leaves. The Amazon rainforest is one of the biggest and most important living stores of carbon on the planet through its ability to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into solid carbon, kept locked in the trunks of rainforest trees for centuries. But this massive natural "sink" for carbon cannot be relied on to continue absorbing carbon dioxide in perpetuity, a study shows. Researchers have found that, for a period in 2005, the Amazon rainforest actually slipped into reverse gear and started to emit more carbon than it absorbed. Four years ago, a sudden and intense drought in the Amazonian dry season created the sort of conditions that give climate scientists nightmares. Instead of being a net absorber of about two billion tons of carbon dioxide, the forest became a net producer of the greenhouse gas, to the tune of about three billion tons. The additional quantity of carbon dioxide left in the atmosphere after the drought - some five billion tons - exceeded the annual man-made emissions of Europe and Japan combined. What happened in the dry season of 2005 was a stark reminder of how quickly the factors affecting global warming can change.
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    Fri, Mar 6, 2009: from USA Today
    Obama veers from Bush's environmental course
    Even before George W. Bush can settle into his new house in Dallas, his legacy on the environment is being dismantled by his replacement in the White House. In less than two months, President Obama has put on hold Bush's plans for power-plant pollution, offshore oil drilling, nuclear waste storage and endangered species.
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    Fri, Mar 6, 2009: from Port Elizabeth Herald
    Starvation a likely outcome of climate change in Africa
    The global community is failing to meet the threat of climate change, says the chairman of the international body researching and tracking the climate change phenomena, Dr Rajendra Pachauri. Addressing the National Climate Change Summit here on a video clip, Pachauri, of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said things had gone backwards since the first global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 16 years ago. "Despite that commitment, between 1970 and 2004 emissions rose 70 per cent, and carbon dioxide alone rose 80 percent." ... Focusing on Africa, Pachauri said the prediction for some countries was that, as early as 2020, agricultural yield would drop by up to 50 percent. "In most cases, these are countries where people are already suffering from malnutrition, so this will exacerbate that suffering." Also by 2020, largely as a result of climate change, it is expected that between 75 million and 250 million people across the continent will be suffering from "water stress" -- a shortage of drinkable water.
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    Thu, Mar 5, 2009: from New York Times
    Grass-Roots Uprising Against River Dam Challenges Tokyo
    First, the farmers objected to an ambitious dam project proposed by the government, saying they did not need irrigation water from the reservoir. Then the commercial fishermen complained that fish would disappear if the Kawabe River's twisting torrents were blocked. Environmentalists worried about losing the river's scenic gorges. Soon, half of this city's 34,000 residents had signed a petition opposing the $3.6 billion project. In September, this rare grassroots uprising scored an even rarer victory when the governor of Kumamoto prefecture, a mountainous area of southern Japan, formally asked Tokyo to suspend construction. The Construction Ministry agreed, temporarily halting an undertaking that had already relocated a half-dozen small villages, though work on the dam itself had not started. The suspension grabbed national headlines as one of the first times a local governor had succeeded in blocking a megaproject being built by the central government.
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    Thu, Mar 5, 2009: from Reuters
    Arctic summer ice could vanish by 2013: expert
    The Arctic is warming up so quickly that the region's sea ice cover in summer could vanish as early as 2013, decades earlier than some had predicted, a leading polar expert said on Thursday. Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, said recent data on the ice cover "appear to be tracking the most pessimistic of the models", which call for an ice free summer in 2013. The year "2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction. But each year we've been wrong -- each year we're finding that it's a little bit faster than expected," he told Reuters. The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and the sea ice cover shrank to a record low in 2007 before growing slightly in 2008. In 2004 a major international panel forecast the cover could vanish by 2100. Last December, some experts said the summer ice could go in the next 10 or 20 years.
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    Thu, Mar 5, 2009: from LA Weekly
    San Fernando Valley's Galaxy of Chemical Goo
    West Hills resident Bonnie Klea is vivacious and no-nonsense. She won a battle over a rare bladder cancer diagnosed in 1995, and has long suspected the toxins that taint a big piece of land near her home -- land on which, if Los Angeles planners get their way, more building will soon be allowed. "I had surgery and was in the hospital nine times in nine months," Klea says. Of the cancer itself, Klea says, "It’s in the neighborhood. On my little street alone, I have two neighbors who have had bladder cancer." Sixteen cancers have afflicted residents in 15 homes on Klea’s block. A 1990 state health department survey of cancer records showed elevated levels of bladder cancer in west San Fernando Valley census tracts, including tract 1132, where Klea lives. Klea is in a fight that she began 14 years ago, battling Los Angeles city planners and state Department of Toxic Substances Control bureaucrats over a proposed development at "Corporate Pointe at West Hills" in Canoga Park, where a well-known West Valley landmark, the former DeVry University, stands. The expanse of land is riddled with heavy metal, chemical and radiological contamination.
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    Thu, Mar 5, 2009: from Charleston Gazette
    C8 might damage sperm, study says
    CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Men with higher levels of C8 and similar chemicals in their blood have lower sperm counts and fewer normal sperm, according to a new scientific study published this week. The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is believed to be the first to link exposure to perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, to problems with human semen quality. Authors of the study say the findings might "contribute to the otherwise unexplained low semen quality often seen in young men," but added that more research is needed. The study also adds to the growing body of science about the potential dangers of exposure to C8, which also is known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. In January, another study found that women with higher levels of these chemicals in their blood took longer to become pregnant than women with lower levels. Scientists in Demark produced the study, based on blood and semen samples from more than 100 men examined in 2003. The data was collected as part of a program through which such samples are provided when men report for Denmark's military draft. They found that men with high combined levels of PFOA and a related chemical, PFOS, had a median of 6.2 million normal sperm in their ejaculate, compared to 15.5 million normal sperm among men with lower levels of the chemicals.
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    Wed, Mar 4, 2009: from Wall Street Journal
    U.S. Climate Official Urges Congress To Curb Greenhouse-Gas Emissions
    The top U.S. negotiator of international climate-change agreements urged Congress to pass legislation curbing greenhouse-gas emissions in advance of an international summit this December, saying it would give other countries "a powerful signal" to cut their own emissions. "It's been a long time now that countries have been looking to the U.S. to lead," Todd Stern, President Barack Obama's special envoy for climate change, said in response to questions from audience members after a speech at a conference on global warming. Mr. Stern acknowledged that passage of climate-change legislation before December would be "an extremely tall order," but added that "nothing would give a more powerful signal to other countries than to see a significant, major, mandatory plan" from the U.S. before the start of international talks that are intended to forge a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which committed many industrialized nations to cutting their emissions.
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    Wed, Mar 4, 2009: from Environmental Health News
    Migrating vultures succumb to lead
    An increasingly rare species of vulture that migrates from Mongolia to overwintering grounds in South Korea can pick up enough lead along the way to poison and kill them. Lead poisoning may be the reason a globally threatened species of vulture is frequently found dead in the wild. The vulture is native to Europe and Asia. One large population overwinters in South Korea near the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Researchers examined 20 dead birds found in the area. They analyzed the animals' kidneys, liver and bones for lead and other metals. They found very high levels of lead in these birds. Fourteen individuals had potentially toxic levels in their liver and kidneys.... The results also highlight that wildlife can transport toxic chemicals to new locations where it can then enter different food webs. The authors suggest that the birds may pick up the poisonous lead during their migration by feeding on other animals that are contaminated with the heavy metal. The lead might come from ammunition used for hunting.
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    Wed, Mar 4, 2009: from The Denver Post
    The cold truth about ozone
    Ozone pollution -- considered a summer problem -- is being detected across the West this winter, raising questions about the program to monitor and cut the pollutant. First detected in February 2005 near the oil and gas fields of Pinedale, Wyo., elevated winter ozone is now being found in New Mexico and Utah, according to state data, and could eventually be found in Colorado. "Now that we know to look for it, I think we'll find high levels of winter ozone across the West and the world," said Russell Schnell, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist. Schnell's Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Boulder is probing how ozone -- corrosive gas linked to respiratory problems -- is created in winter. "It is a sign of the rapidly industrializing West," said Vickie Patton, air programs manager for the Environmental Defense Fund. "We are seeing a hallmark Western resource-- healthy, clean air -- vanish."
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    Wed, Mar 4, 2009: from New Scientist
    Inbreeding sabotages rare species' sperm
    It's a triple whammy for male animals on the brink of extinction: not only are there fewer mates around to have sex with, but, to make things worse, their sperm are more likely to carry genetic abnormalities and less likely to be good swimmers, research shows.... The team found that, on average, 48 percent of the sperm of endangered species was abnormal, compared with 30 percent in non-endangered species. In addition, the percentage of the sperm that was motile -- or capable of movement -- was around 10 percent lower in endangered species. Earlier research has shown that both characteristics make a male less likely to produce viable offspring.
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    Wed, Mar 4, 2009: from New Energy Finance, via EurekAlert
    Clean energy investment not on track to avoid climate change
    The world economic crisis has hit investment in clean energy and means its growth is no longer on track for the world to avert the worst impact of climate change, according to leading clean energy and carbon market analysts, New Energy Finance.... Investment in clean energy -- renewables, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage -- increased from $34bn in 2004 to around $150bn in each of 2007 and 2008. New Energy Finance's latest Global Futures report demonstrates that investment needs to reach $500bn per annum by 2020 if CO2 emissions from the world's energy system are to peak before 2020.
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    Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from National Geographic News
    Glacier(less) National Park in 2020
    It's an oft-repeated statistic that the glaciers at Montana's Glacier National Park will disappear by the year 2030. But Daniel Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist who works at Glacier, says the park's namesakes will be gone about ten years ahead of schedule, endangering the region's plants and animals.... The 2020 estimate is based on aerial surveys and photography Fagre and his team have been conducting at Glacier since the early 1980s.
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    Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from BusinessGreen
    Research warns two degree rise will halve rainforest 'carbon sink'
    The impact of global warming on tropical rainforests will be so severe that even increases in temperature that are widely regarded as "safe" could raise tree mortality rates to such a level that almost 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. That is the sobering warning contained in new research from a team of Australian scientists, which suggests that even a two degree increase in average global temperatures will see the "carbon sink" effect currently provided by the world's rainforests cut in half.... The researchers calculated that for each degree Celsius global temperatures rise, the rainforests will shrink at such a rate that 24.5 billion tons of carbon is released to the atmosphere. In comparison, man-made emissions of greenhouse gases in 2007 reached a peak of 10 billion tons CO2 equivalent.
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    Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from KSU, via EurekAlert
    Birds in Flint Hills of Kansas, Oklahoma face population decline despite large habitat
    "Because of its size, the Flint Hills is assumed to be a population stronghold for grassland birds," said Kimberly With, a K-State associate professor of biology who led the study. "Mostly this has been based on bird counts, but they can be misleading because they don't show what the region is capable of producing. Birds are very mobile and thus birds could come from elsewhere to give the appearance of a stable population year after year. This is especially true if the region attracts birds because of its size, but birds do not breed successfully once they settle here."... They conducted a two-year study of regional viability of three grassland birds: the dickcissel, grasshopper sparrow and eastern meadowlark. With and her colleagues found that none of these bird species is viable in the 4 million-acre Flint Hills region. They estimated population declines of as much as 29 percent per year during the years studied.
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    Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from Chicago Tribune
    Going green: Entire Swedish city switches to biofuels to become environmentally friendly
    KALMAR, Sweden -- Though a fraction of Chicago's size, this industrial city in southeast Sweden has plenty of similarities with it, including a long, snowy winter and a football team the town's crazy about. One thing is dramatically different about Kalmar, however: It is on the verge of eliminating the use of fossil fuels, for good, and with minimal effect on its standard of living. The city of 60,000—and its surrounding 12-town region, with a quarter-million people—has traded in most of its oil, gas and electric furnaces for community "district heat," produced at plants that burn sawdust and wood waste left by timber companies. Hydropower, nuclear power and windmills now provide more than 90 percent of the region's electricity.... Just as important, the switch from oil and gas is helping slash fuel bills and preserve jobs in a worldwide economic downturn. And despite dramatic drops in fossil fuel consumption, residents say nobody has been forced to give up the car or huddle around the dining table wearing three sweaters to stay warm.
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    Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from Minneapolis Star Tribune
    More lake fish contain former 3M chemical
    A former 3M chemical has been found in fish taken from more metro area lakes, including Cedar, Calhoun and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. The compound, known as PFOS, was measured at levels of concern in 13 of 22 lakes, mostly in bluegills, black crappies and largemouth bass. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) released the data Monday from fish tested in 2008, the agency's third year of checking fish. Pat McCann, research scientist for the Minnesota Department of Health, said that the data are being reviewed and that the department may issue advice about eating fish less often from some of the lakes.
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    Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from Associated Press
    Study: Combining pesticides makes them more deadly for fish
    Common agricultural pesticides that attack the nervous systems of salmon can turn more deadly when they combine with other pesticides, researchers have found. Scientists from the NOAA Fisheries Service and Washington State University were expecting that the harmful effects would add up as they accumulated in the water. They were surprised to find a deadly synergy occurred with some combinations, which made the mix more harmful and at lower levels of exposure than the sum of the parts. The study looked at five common pesticides: diazinon, malathion, chlorpyrifos, carbaryl and carbofuran, all of which suppress an enzyme necessary for nerves to function properly. The findings suggest that the current practice of testing pesticides - one at a time to see how much is needed to kill a fish - fails to show the true risks, especially for fish protected by the Endangered Species Act, the authors concluded in the study published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
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    Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from London Daily Star
    10,000 Could Die in Summer Heatwave
    The Government is said to be "very concerned" that as many as 10,000 lives will be lost as temperatures soar to 40C across the country. Sun stroke, dehydration, air pollution and wildfires all contribute to a rise in deaths during sizzling summers. The highest temperature measured in the UK was 38.5C, recorded in Kent on August 10, 2003. And it could become a regular occurrence in the near future.
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    Mon, Mar 2, 2009: from Baltimore Sun
    Indoor air can be risk for kids with asthma
    Parents have long known that the polluted, pollinated air outdoors can bring on asthma attacks in their children. Now it turns out that many asthmatic inner-city kids are under assault inside their homes - where cigarette smoke, dust mites, mold and even cooking smells can make them sicker than car exhaust or ragweed. Researchers are finding a direct link between the air children breathe at home and the asthma attacks that are the source of hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits in the U.S. every year. The latest study, published last month by Johns Hopkins researchers, quantified the increase in asthma symptoms for every increase in air pollution particles inside Baltimore homes. Such findings have begun a movement of health professionals who are going door to door to educate families about the potential dangers of indoor air and helping them clean up their homes. Their goal is to reduce childhood asthma by 50 percent by 2012.
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    Mon, Mar 2, 2009: from Agence France-Presse
    19 dead in Bolivia dengue outbreak, 31,000 affected
    In Bolivia's worst national outbreak in a decade, 19 people have died from dengue fever since January and 31,000 people have been affected, official estimates showed Thursday. Twelve people died from the disease in the tropical eastern region of Santa Cruz, three others died in central Bolivia, two others in the Andean west and one in the capital city of La Paz, according to an official toll cited by ATB television. A Bolivian national died on arriving in neighboring Peru, and Health Minister Ramiro Tapia said that one additional death brought the overall death toll to 19. A total of 30,870 dengue cases have been counted, 71 percent of them in Santa Cruz, -- the region most affected by the outbreak, where authorities have declared a health emergency, Beni, Pando and Cochabamba departments. More than 15,000 troops have been mobilized to assist health teams. Transmitted by the Aedes aegypti, or yellow fever mosquito, dengue is the most widespread tropical disease after malaria. The highly infectious disease causes high fever, headaches and joint pain. Its deadly hemorrhagic variant is much more dangerous than the classic type because it causes violent internal bleeding and swift fluid loss, which can lead to a quick, painful death if not treated in time. Tapia said that 88 confirmed dengue cases were from the hemorrhagic variant.
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    Mon, Mar 2, 2009: from CNN
    Can a 'smart grid' turn us on to energy efficiency?
    ... According to research sponsored by the U.S. Government, improving the efficiency of the national electricity grid by 5 percent would be the equivalent of eliminating the fuel use and carbon emissions of 53 million cars. For years environmentalists have been talking up the idea of a "smart grid" -- an electricity distribution system that uses digital technology to eliminate waste and improve reliability -- as a way of achieving this. Advocates of a "smart grid" also say that it would open up new markets for large and small scale alternative energy producers by decentralizing generation. "It would give consumers the potential to have a much more complex relationship with their energy supplier," says John Loughhead, Executive Director of the United Kingdom Energy Research Center. "Essentially, with a smart grid, traffic goes both ways. If you wanted to install some kind of micro-generation facility in your home, you could use it to sell to the grid and get money back."
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    Mon, Mar 2, 2009: from Guardian (UK)
    China plans 59 reservoirs to collect meltwater from its shrinking glaciers
    China is planning to build 59 reservoirs to collect water from its shrinking glaciers as the cost of climate change hits home in the world's most populous country. The far western province of Xinjiang, home to many of the planet's highest peaks and widest ice fields, will carry out the 10-year engineering project, which aims to catch and store glacier run-off that might otherwise trickle away into the desert. Behind the measure is a concern that millions of people in the region will run out of water once the glaciers in the Tian, Kunlun and Altai mountains disappear. Anxiety has risen along with temperatures that are rapidly diminishing the ice fields. The 3,800-metre Urumqi No1 glacier, the first to be measured in China, has lost more than 20 percent of its volume since 1962, according to the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (Careeri) in Lanzhou.
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    Mon, Mar 2, 2009: from Mongabay
    Time to give up on Tasmanian tiger, says DNA expert
    The Tasmanian tiger, or Thylacine, has captured the imagination of cryptozoologists ever since the last known individual died in the 1936 in the Hobart Zoo, which closed the next year.... Austin's lab has examined numerous dropping believed to be from the Tasmanian tiger only to find that most belong to the Tasmanian devil. This continued lack of success for Austin means there is little to no hope of discovering a living Tasmanian tiger.... According to a Tasmanian newspaper, The Mercury, Austin is also doubtful of efforts to clone a Tasmanian tiger. He believes that DNA fragments of the animal are too broken to create a complete genome, and even if a Tasmanian tiger could be cloned, it would only provide the world with a single individual which couldn't reproduce. The millions of dollars it would take to clone a Tasmanian tiger would be better spent on conservation efforts for the hundreds of threatened species including several in Tasmania, according to Austin.
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    Mon, Mar 2, 2009: from The Canadian Press
    Large fish going hungry as supplies of smaller species dwindle: report
    HALIFAX, N.S. -- Dolphins, sharks and other large marine species around the world are going hungry as they seek out dwindling supplies of the small, overlooked species they feed on, according to a new study that says overfishing is draining their food sources. In a report released Monday, scientists with the international conservation group Oceana said they found several species were emaciated, reproducing slowly and declining in numbers in part because their food sources are being fished out. "This is the first time that we're seeing a worldwide trend that more and more large animals are going hungry," Margot Stiles, a marine biologist at Oceana and the author of the report, said from Washington, D.C. "It's definitely starting to be a pattern."
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    Sun, Mar 1, 2009: from PressTV (Iran)
    Persian Gulf faces possible environmental crisis
    The Persian Gulf has been polluted by more than 5,000 cubic meters of toxic industrial waste including heavy metals. The waste material from Mobin Petrochemical Company, located in Assaluyeh in southern Iran, has been discharged into the Persian Gulf without being treated, Iran's Environmental News Agency reported. The news report added that the petrochemical company's waste materials are toxic and replete with hazardous industrial materials.... According to the latest studies, the level of the pollution in The Persian Gulf as a semi-closed sea is 47 times more than the open seas and the water in eastern coast of the area contains more pollutants.
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    Sun, Mar 1, 2009: from Tribune Democrat (PA)
    Pollution pinches Chesapeake crabs
    The blue crab population is at an all-time low, and two factors are to blame: Pollution and overfishing. There are six sub-basins of the 444-mile Susquehanna that feed the bay. Acid-mine drainage is blamed for pollution from this region, while farm runoff is the main culprit to the east. There is less crab food, less crab habitat and too much catching of fish the crabs feed on. In 2007, watermen suffered the worst crab harvest since Chesapeake Bay recordkeeping began in 1945. Last year was even worse in Virginia, and only slightly better in Maryland, causing more than $640 million in losses, reports show.
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    Sun, Mar 1, 2009: from Guardian (UK)
    American taste for soft toilet paper 'worse than driving Hummers'
    The tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country's love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public's insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom. "This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council.... More than 98 percent of the toilet roll sold in America comes from virgin forests, said Hershkowitz. In Europe and Latin America, up to 40 percent of toilet paper comes from recycled products. Greenpeace this week launched a cut-out-and-keep ecological ranking of toilet paper products.... Those brands, which put quilting and pockets of air between several layers of paper, are especially damaging to the environment.
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