Many low income or minority groups have learned to raise their voices and stand up against the discriminatory locating of hazardous waste sites, polluting factories and other sources of bad air quality and compromised waterways and soils. Pictured: an environmental justice rally in the Rogers-Eubanks community of North Carolina.
Dear EarthTalk: I understand that the “environmental justice” movement seeks to protect the poor and non-white communities from being unfairly targeted to host activities like sewage treatment plants, landfills and polluting factories. Have there been notable victories? -- P. Silver, Peekskill, NY
Some studies show organic foods to be no healthier and only marginally safer with regard to individual exposure to pesticides than non-organic foods. Nonetheless, choosing organic is a wise "better safe than sorry" strategy which also reduces pollution and conserves water and soil quality.
Many of the world’s fisheries are in crisis today due to years of overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, some of the most popular fish -- including cod (pictured here), snapper and tuna, are dangerously depleted yet continue to be overfished.
Dear EarthTalk: I understand that many of the world’s fisheries are on the brink of collapse, “fished out,” to put it bluntly. How did this happen and what is being done about it?-- Mariel LaPlante, New Orleans, LA
When Teflon is exposed to high heat it can release its constituent chemical, PFOA, as a gas. There are no known cases of direct health problems for consumers, but workers producing Teflon are at increased risk for certain cancers, prompting the U.S. government to call for a complete phase-out of Teflon and related products by 2015.
Prior to 2001, New Hampshire utilities built power lines, supplied electricity and simply passed along the cost to consumers. But that all changed a little more than a decade ago as most New England states chose to deregulate, meaning utilities had to sell their power plants, and just be in charge of operating power lines.
Dear EarthTalk: What is “biomass” and why is it controversial as a potential source of energy?-- Edward White, New Bedford, MA
Biomass is plant matter that is burned as a source of energy. Fallen or cut wood that is burned for heat is one primary form of biomass, but another includes plant or animal matter that is converted into biofuels.
Clay Mitchell of Revolution Energy surveys a solar array his company owns and operates at East Kingston Elementary School. Despite cold temperatures, the panels gave off enough heat that the snow had slid right off.