There is an alarming environmental situation surrounding the popularity of ‘ultra-soft’ toilet paper. In order to obtain the soft, fluffy, quilted texture that has become preferable to many consumers, manufacturers use fiber from standing trees and not recycled material. This disturbs me greatly because it means that toilet paper is made from ancient forests, old growth forests, virgin forests, second growth forests, natural forests, high conservation value forests, temperate forests, tropical and sub-tropical forests and boreal forests. All areas of the planet in great peril of decimation and which will have profound effects on the air quality of the environment.

The New York Times has reported: “Although toilet tissue can be made at similar cost from recycled material, it is the fiber taken from standing trees that help give it that plush feel, and most large manufacturers rely on them… Although brands differ, 25 percent to 50 percent of the pulp used to make toilet paper in this country comes from tree farms in South America and the United States. The rest, environmental groups say, comes mostly from old, second-growth forests that serve as important absorbers of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. In addition, some of the pulp comes from the last virgin North American forests… Greenpeace, the international conservation organization, contends that Kimberly Clark, the maker of two popular brands, Cottonelle and Scott, has gotten as much as 22 percent of its pulp from producers who cut trees in Canadian boreal forests where some trees are 200 years old.”

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I know it’s hard to believe right now, while we’re in what might be the worst winter in many years, but a new report from Britain is warning that 2009 may be the among the top five warmest years on record. According to the studies, it is on track to be exactly that. It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it? We are having all this extreme weather year round now, from devastating floods to slamming hurricanes to multiple tornadoes and now a blizzard winter for the books. Then, they are telling us, we need to gear up for the hottest summer still to come! Ouch.

According to Reuters, the average global temperature for 2009 is expected to be more than 0.4 degrees celsius above the long-term average. This is despite the continued cooling of huge areas of the Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon known as La Nina. I know everybody was breathing a big sigh of relief when we heard that La Nina was back. But now it’s looking like it won’t make a big difference. I think that’s scary.

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Online at Reuters.com, last summer, I saw a report from Mexico City. It is reported that the Mexicans have planted more than 8 million trees as part of a push to correct it’s reputation for environmental indifference. It has become well known that Mexico has been poor in their environmental management, even to the extent of rampant mismanagement and continuously ignoring the rampant illegal logging of trees.

The government uncharacteristically supplied the saplings and large groups of volunteers trekked up and down Mexico wielding shovels and wheelbarrows. They actually planted a 8.3 million trees, according to the environmental ministry.

Illegal logging in Mexico destroys some 64,000 acres (26,000 hectares) of Mexican forest each year, according to government reports, putting Mexico near the top of a U.N. list of nations losing primary forest fastest. Worldwide, environmental activists say the figure is much higher.

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A 25 year study by Welsh scientists has recently concluded and suggests climate change might be hampering the recovery of Earth’s rivers from the effects of acid rainfall.

This research study was conducted by Cardiff University Professor Steve Ormerod and biosciences researcher Isabelle Durance. The effort was undertaken in Wales and studied 14 middle-Wales rivers, involving the assessment of the number and variety of insects present each year in these rivers. The scientists said they also measured concentrations of acid and other aspects of stream chemistry.

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Bluefin Tuna. You know what they are. They are delicious, they cherished, they are expensive. And in huge demand worldwide. The Japanese, in particular, prize them above all other fish for use in sushi and sashimi. But so great is the Japanese demand that it is driving fisherman to pursue catches that go well beyond what scientists consider to be safe limits. In this effort, they are also driving the Bluefin Tuna towards commercial extinction.

It is imperative that we make every effort to save this fish, however, a vital opportunity to pull the bluefin back from the brink was missed when the official body charged with preventing the stock from collapsing agreed to allow catch quotas for 2009 far higher than its own scientists recommended. Does this anger you? It should. Even with a chorus of protests and expressed dismay from conservationists, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas ( ICCAT), meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, endorsed a total allowable catch (TAC) of 22,000 tonnes for next year – while ICCAT’s own scientists had recommended a TAC ranging from 8,500 to 15,000 tonnes per year, warning there were real risks of the fishery collapsing otherwise.

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This is a very cool and fascinating item I found online. Scientists have discovered reef structures off the coast of Brazil’s Bahia state and these structures double the size of the Albrolhos Bank heretofor considered the largest and richest reef system in the Atlantic Ocean.

This reef structure is far more abundant in marine life than any other. Researchers from Conservation International (CI), Federal University of EspÃrito Santo and Federal University of Bahia announced their discovery in a paper presented today at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale.

This is an exciting find for those of us who care about the planet. It is also unusual to find a structure this large that also has so many fish. Previously, the Abrolhos Bank was considered one of the world’s most important reefs because of a high number of marine species found only in Brazil. This includes species of soft corals, mollusks and fish found only in the Abrolhos shelf.

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I thought my readers might like to know about this neat new site that helps people go green. How does it do that? Well, it actually occurs on the idea level, where things are engineered and developed. If you can imagine it, it can be designed with nature in mind. In fact, nature provides the best model for all developing ideas and has been the design that most architects and engineers have copied over time.

This is referred to as “biomimicry” and it works very well. The site is designed with biomimicry in mind, presenting solutions to problems and generating concepts from basic ideas. Innovators throughout the world will find this site extremely useful, putting brilliance at their fingertips when they had to read a million books and study as many models before. Basically designed for Biologists, Architects, Engineers, Chemists and Designers, the site aggregates the entire history of the natural world in one usable design model. Sound incredible? I guess it does. But here it is from their website:

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