Everywhere you look these days you see someone going “green”. Car makers are developing solar powered cars, people are practicing water conservation and recycling services are common place in many states. Everyone seems eager to do their part. But it is true that some cities are moving faster than others and there are areas where recycling is still not offered and people everywhere who haven’t even thought about it. But the cities and peoples who have gone above and beyond in “going green” deserve some recognition.

In my search online to discover which cities rate highest, I saw that everyone from Treehugger to MSN, from Mother Nature Network to Move have done a rating of their own, based on available data. What I did was obtain data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Green Building Council and the National Geographic Society’s “Green Guide” to compile my own. These findings are varied in some ways but overall pretty consistant. You will see each of these cities somewhere on everyone’s list. My list is based on everyone’s research of each cities’ resource conservation, waste emissions, public transportation use, recycling habits, number of eco friendly buildings and overall green space offered to determine which one goes where on the scale of 1 to 10. However, you could not go wrong by moving to any one of these lovely places, as they are definitely way ahead of the rest of us.

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I can recall the economists, bureaucrats and investors rejoicing loudly and proudly when the Commerce Department announced that U.S. exports were rising overall, as much as $28.8 billion higher than the year before. But what the department made less noise about and even failed to mention in many instances, was the rising tide of imports, which were up as much or more, around $26.4 billion between the year 2007 and 2008.

I also read an article explaining that the nation’s seaports, airports, railways and highways were still faced with moving an additional $40 billion worth of stuff in and out across our borders, on top of the $330 billion worth of stuff that’s already going in and out each month. These figures omit the increases in the import cost that comes from rising oil prices, which is a huge factor.

But imports of consumer and industrial goods continue to dominate over exports in our trade balance. This is what is called a “trade deficit”. We make and export far less than we import and consume and this has had a huge impact on our economy and current inability to pull ourselves out of the recession. And the need for imports just keeps rising as our capacity to manufacture those items keeps disappearing. The hauling, sorting and delivering of all these foreign-made goods has evolved into a fast-growing, high-tech, high-profit industry. On that end, those that profit from this business are hard pressed to slow it down or correct the imbalance and this is also a huge part of our current picture.

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As I’ve reported before in this blog, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as a rule, allows companies to keep new information about chemicals they use in their products a secret from the public. This includes compounds and additives that have been shown to cause cancer, respiratory problems and immune reactions. This boils down to a conspiracy of sorts, whereby the EPA and the companies they protect lie to the American people.

In a recent investigation, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper examined more than 2,000 filings in the EPA’s registry of dangerous chemicals for the past three years. In more than half the cases, the EPA was shown to have agreed to keep the chemical name a secret. In hundreds of other cases, it allowed the company filing the report to keep its name and address confidential.

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This is something you need to know. I realize that they say it’s not dangerous, that the levels in each vitamin is small, but lead builds up in your system over time. Your body does not dispose of it and it ends up in your brain and other muscle tissues. We freak out when it’s in paint or children’s toys, but can you imagine you and your kids taking it in small doses every single day.. and thinking your doing your body right at the same time? This is the ultimate betrayal.

I’m a little behind the eight ball on this one, it seems they made this discovery about a year ago and somehow I missed it. But in survey data released by the FDA in August 2008, of the 324 multivitamin-mineral products available over the internet tested, only FOUR vitamins failed to show the presence of lead. All others contained trace amounts which, as I already said, the FDA does not consider dangerous. I must repeat, however, that lead is a heavy metal that builds up in our systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges parents to prevent lead exposure to children by identifying, controlling and removing hazards safely.

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According to reports I have read, the USDA is seeking approval for a massive experiment, which involves genetically engineered trees. This experiment, to be conducted by the company ArborGen will conduct 29 field trials of Eucaplytus trees which will be genetically engineered to be “cold tolerant”. Why we need Eucalyptus trees on this scale and in the areas where it is cold is a mystery to me. However, this project is close to being greenlighted. Not only will it cost a bundle but I am unsure of it’s safety. They will literally be using nature like a laboratory, testing more than a half million trees, or “frankentrees”.

Scientists across the U.S. are voicing concerns over this proposal including:
-The USDA has failed to create an Environmental Impact Statement to assess potential negative issues related to the proposed field trials.
-The spread of the these plants into the wild through seeds and plant matter is highly likely, making them an invasive threat. The impact of their invasive growth on native ecosystems are unknown.. Eucalyptus trees are not native to the US.
.-One of the experimental GE tree varieties is already known to be a host for cryptococcus gatti , a fatal fungal pathogen whose spores cause meningitis in people and animals.

The USDA is currently taking public comments on whether or not the company ArborGen should be allowed to conduct 29 field trials of genetically engineered “cold tolerant” eucalyptus trees in the U.S. Comments are being accepted by the USDA until July 6, 2009. Go HERE to register your comments. Or go directly here to sign a petition to stop this trial from being considered.

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According to a fantastic investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) has kept data about potentially dangerous chemicals secret.. The newspaper said its analysis of more than 2,000 EPA dangerous chemical filings over the past three years found that the agency allowed the names of chemicals added to consumer products to remain undisclosed in more than half those cases. As well, in hundreds of the registered reports, both the company and its address remained confidential.

In its mission to protect human health and the environment, the EPA is supposed to act as a clearinghouse for information about hazardous chemicals. It is not a protectionist agency and it should not be invested in trade secret keeping or other patent and copyright protection activities. Therefor, there is no excuse for keeping these chemicals secret except to protect specific companies from public backlash. Their first duty is to the consumer, not the producer.

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Both France and Germany have called for a deal on a new EU climate agreement to be reached at a Brussels summit coming up shortly. This raises the heat on eastern European countries to come to the table. Frances’ President, Nicolas Sarkozy, spoke with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel by phone within a day of his meeting with the leaders of nine eastern European countries. The meeting had been called to address their objections to the plan to to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The French President issued a statement to the effect, “They confirmed their shared desire to see that an agreement is reached at the European Council on the energy and climate package.” This statement voices a new hope that these smaller and still developing countries will be able to come to terms with an agreement soon. EU leaders will be holding a summit this Thursday and Friday, December 10th and 11th, in Gdansk, Poland, with the hopes of agreeing on a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions a whopping 20% by the year 2020. They hope to set new targets for developing forms of renewable energy and switching to more efficient uses of energy.

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