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Eight Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's Disease

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Sept. 18 (UPI) — U.S. researchers suggest a causal relationship between Parkinson’s disease and eight pesticides.

The study, published in the Archives of Neurology, looked at eight pesticides with high neurotoxic plausibility and found using these pesticides encountered on the job — versus those not exposed — doubled the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

A three-fold increased risk of Parkinson’s was associated with three individual compounds: the organochloride 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, the herbicide paraquat and the insecticide permethrin.

Dr. Caroline Tanner of the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, Calif., the lead author, and colleagues surveyed 519 individuals with Parkinson’s disease and 511 controls who were the same age and sex and lived in the same location about their occupational history and exposure to toxins, including solvents and pesticides.

“This convergence of epidemiologic and laboratory data from experimental models of Parkinson’s disease lends credence to a causative role of certain pesticides in the neurodegenerative process,” the researchers said in a statement.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Archives, History, Human Health & Wellness, Other0 Comments

The Green Conversation

With video archives already available, and open media in full bloom, the recent GoingGreen 2008 conference in Sausalito can now be viewed for free by anyone. GoingGreen was produced by AlwaysOn, a conference company founded in 2002 by Red Herring founder Tony Perkins, now going into its 7th year of dreaming up and successfully producing terrific, elite events that cater to private sector entrepreneurs and investors. Up until 2007 AlwaysOn had not done an event in the cleantech sector. In early 2007 Perkins asked us, EcoWorld, to design a program for GoingGreen, based on our long-standing status as an online environmental publication aimed at an audience of consumers and businesspeople, with a consistently optimistic editorial position that adheres to free-market, libertarian, technocratic ideals at least as much as collectivist ideals.

There was too much good, too much substance, too many clean technology options presented at GoingGreen in Sausalito last week to summarize here. The panels spanned the gamut of clean technology applications, and some of them were mesmerizing. This conference was a conversation about clean technology – and every company CEO there was creating a clean technology application. But what were the reactions to GoingGreen in the blogosphere?

Like AlwaysOn, the position of EcoWorld is to encourage open media. For example, during the entire GoingGreen conference, there were two large projection screens above the stage, they were about 10′x10′ each, in a relatively small main room that only held about 200 people. One screen showed closeups of the panelists, the other showed whatever comments were being posted by the audience via the internet. Some panelists are not used to this – and more to the point – AlwaysOn has never held events that went into as many controversial areas as GoingGreen goes. Green and clean technology are leading the high-tech world into a hopefully benign if not synergistic collision with two huge forces; the biggest industries on earth, and the environmentalist community.

So here are a few reactions in the blogosphere to GoingGreen: From Stowe Boyd’s influential journal /Ground, in a post entitled “GoingGreen Sounds A Bit Off,” “My sense is that GoingGreen is motivated by some deeply wrongheaded principles, and while they may not be shared by all the speakers, choosing someone like Ed Ring to moderate confirms that Tony Perkins is somewhere to the right of Dick Chaney.”

Stowe did a little checking on EcoWorld and apparently was put off by my use of the term “global warming alarmists,” in the recent post “Is the Earth Warming or Not?” He might have considered more the entirety of this post, where (1) we are reacting to yet another attack by an organization tasked to demonize “deniers” on the internet, and (2) the data in this post regarding climate trends, from the gentleman who had just been attacked, atmospheric scientist Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., which deserve serious reporting and peer review. In any event, we welcome the opportunity to use a more acceptable term than “alarmist.”

On another post on the respected blog EcoLocalizer, in a post entitled “Venture Capital Meets Green Technology at Going Green Conference,” Keith Rockmael writes “What the heck are these guys making up this [the agricultural] Green panel anyway? We might as well had four guys from Monsanto up there uttering the benefits of GMOs and how much benefit they bring farmers. Ceres and Mendel Biotechnology who made the Going Green Top 100 companies have investers/partnerships with, among others, Monsanto. Oops did someone not do their green due diligence homework? Maybe they could add Exxon-Mobil as a top green company for next years conference.”

Only private companies are eligible for the GoingGreen 100, but we did try to get Exxon-Mobil to attend this year; their top executives were all booked up. And we are looking for people who are inventing or implementing clean technology applications, not the “sustainability outreach manager” that the mega-corporations tend to still try to shuffle out to any “green” conference. So when big companies present at GoingGreen, it will be so we can take a look at their technology, whether it is desalination or water reuse or microbial processes or any other fascinating innovation.

Why the negative tone to these two reports? If EcoWorld wants to publish material prepared by “global warming deniers,” it is a matter of open media principle. Our goal as well is to always respect divergent points of view. Isn’t that a good thing? If a global warming “alarmist” has something valuable to contribute to the conversation then we encourage their comments. As for plant genomics, why the selectivity? Scientists are genetically engineering everything today, from human chromosomes to enzymes that eat waste and excrete fuel. Why is the plant genomics conversation taboo? As a conversation about technology, GoingGreen was a great success, but we also need a conversation about the conversation.

Credibility is earned from examining the content of an argument, not by denying the right to argue or even converse. Why is global warming skepticism – whatever that is supposed to mean – sufficient reason to excommunicate an environmentalist from the fold? Because we value a continued conversation on topics ranging from global warming to genomics to “smart growth” somehow means we don’t agree on any other environmentalist values? Isn’t such dogmatic dismissal of a heretic the same behavior as the clerics of old? Isn’t to declare the scientific explanations for any phenomenon as beyond debate to deny the conversation that defines science? How is this indictment any different from that famous line, “you’re either with us or your with the terrorists?” And what of the conversation among journalists – the decorum, the dialogue? Is journalism green, yellow, red, blue, or truly transchromatic?

The conversation about what is clean and green and what we ought to do about that as a people is long and nuanced, as is the conversation about climate trends and what we ought to do about them. Our goal isn’t to fight fire with fire; nor will we ever waver from our committment to open media. But with open media comes responsibilities similar to those we hold as citizens of a democracy; to be civil, to recognize complexity, to rely on intellectually honest arguments, to avoid certainty, to encourage debate, to commit to earning credibility. It is too bad when all credibility often requires is an opinion, a judgement, instead of due diligence. Perhaps we are all guilty of this at times.

An example of a journalist who did provide a service, instead of a sermon, while covering GoingGreen 2008, is the diligent Katie Fehrenbacher, writing for the excellent website earth2tech, who in her post “How to Invest in Clean Abundant Water” has rendered a professional report on Christopher Gasson’s (Editor-in-Chief of Global Water Intelligence) introductory remarks before he moderated GoingGreen’s water panel. And here are Gasson’s seven areas of innovation in water that investors should be interested in funding – if you’re still with me, courtesy of a blogger who saw some of GoingGreen’s technological content, rather than framing the ideological context, and furthered a conversation worth having:

Christopher Gasson’s Seven Water Innovations 2008
1 Scalable solar desalination
2 Cheap clean water for agriculture
3 Lower energy salt separation
4 Value In Wastewater
5 Sludge Management
6 Real-time water quality monitoring
7 Distribution solutions for drinking and wastewater

(Pavo cristatus)

Posted in Archives, Engineering, Other, People, Policy, Law, & Government, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar0 Comments

ESS Compliance Software

There is an inevitable conflict between economic growth and environmental protection, and balancing these necessities is never easy. But as environmental regulations continue to increase in scope and degree, there are also new and improved tools for companies to use to monitor and report their performance.

For 15 years, ESS (Environmental Support Solutions), based in Tempe, Arizona, with offices all over the US as well as in China and Canada, has pioneered offering automated and integrated solutions to, among other things, environmental compliance. In recent years, as software has migrated online and become more powerful and affordable, ESS has attracted the attention of very large companies who are still using cumbersome legacy systems to manage their environmental compliance. These systems are often hard to migrate onto an online platform, they are harder to update as regulations evolve, and they are very hard to integrate. ESS has become a must-have solution for these large companies that are using aging, disconnected systems to manage more environmental regulations than ever.

Dow Chemical Co. has over 200 US facilities.

At their annual “ESS-Expo” held earlier this month in Phoenix, ESS recognized the achievements of some of their top customers who have saved significant time and money by adopting ESS solutions.

Their stories are illustrative of how state of the art information technology such as the software ESS offers can enable companies to manage and report on more environmental regulations than ever, for less money than before.

The Dow Chemical Company, for example, one of the world’s leading producers of plastics, chemicals, and agricultural products, with 46,000 employees operating in more than 175 countries, needed to replace multiple legacy environmental reporting systems with a single robust reporting system across 200 U.S. facilities. The new system had to be interoperable with existing corporate enterprise systems. They chose ESS products to monitor and report on their emissions, chemical inventory, waste streams and water quality, and over a three year period implemented a full transition.

The result was they preserved their license to operate in 200 facilities at 35 manufacturing sites, and have already eliminated over $2 million in redundant legacy reporting systems, with additional savings to come. The new system improved reporting efficiency and accuracy by allowing all the US sites to use a common reporting process.

Other large companies were recognized by ESS for implementing ESS solutions that resulted in similar savings across the enterprise. For example, in 2007, Alcoa Inc. – the world’s leading aluminum manufacturer – selected ESS’ Essential Suite software to serve as its unified platform for sustainability management throughout the company’s global operations. That decision was based in part on the company’s 2006 success using one module, Essential Air, to save over $100,000 on Title V compliance at its Tennessee Operations Location, the biggest aluminum production facility in North America. This software greatly streamlines the process of identifying and tracking compliance requirements, auditable work processes and associated compliance activities. Employees can also use the software to track deviations from compliance task requirements so corrective actions can be managed within the same system.

Before the company implemented the new ESS modules, compliance requirements and tasks were tracked via written audit reports, whereas the ESS products make their completion tracking data, recurring task and e-mail notifications, and accurate, up-to-date reports easily accessible within seconds.

Delta Airlines operates at over 100 US airports.

Another large company who has benefit from ESS software is Delta Airlines, who flies to more destinations around the world – 481 locations in 105 countries – than any other air carrier.

Delta’s previous environmental management information system (EMIS) had performance issues – entering a simple piece of data would often take 10 or 15 minutes – but upgrading it to the company’s new server platform was not cost effective.

Delta operates hundreds of airplanes worldwide and each of them is rebuilt every five years at the company’s Technical Operations Center in Atlanta. Aircraft maintenance and rebuilding uses many hazardous chemicals. Delta’s corporate headquarters team in Atlanta also needs to assure environmental compliance at 100 airports across the United States where the airline operates. The Delta team at each airport location, or “outstation”, is responsible for tracking hazardous chemicals and hazardous waste, filing reports to regulatory agencies and other duties.

By transitioning from legacy software solutions (and even manual systems) to ESS software, Delta is able to maintain its commitment to environmental compliance while reducing the time spent on paper processes and employee management. Data storage is permanent and readily accessed; no longer left in fragile paper files or archives. As a result, the immediate exchange of information has allowed Delta’s EMIS to be much less vulnerable to employee turnover and data loss.

We can debate to what extent environmental regulations are going to need to spread further into every aspect of our industry and infrastructure. But it is undeniable there are vital areas where we need to maintain and improve the quality of our land, air and water. As we continue to make progress towards building a sustainable civilization, ESS software helps the biggest industries on earth manage these challenges in an efficient and accurate manner. ESS is another example of how the information revolution is enabling the green revolution.

Posted in Archives, Art, Chemicals, Hazardous Waste, Infrastructure, Other, Science, Space, & Technology1 Comment

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