Global Briefs ~ Solar Power Plant to Orbit Earth and much more . . .

 

Coming Together Turning Point in World Interfaith Dialogue An historic letter this year from 138 mainstream Muslim leaders to leaders of the world’s Christian churches is calling for a new era of peace and understanding. It expresses an urgent desire to defuse tensions between two faiths that together account for more than half of the world’s population. In their open letter, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” they state their belief that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.” Representing a global cross-section of all major schools of Islam, these imams, ayatollahs, grand muftis, sheikhs and scholars call for active Muslim-Christian dialogue. The initiative builds on their community’s own 2005 Amman Message of internal tolerance. And, perhaps, a 2007 poll of Muslims in six key countries in which a grassroots majority agree that it’s possible for the two groups to find common ground. All of it provides a significant counterweight to the voices of radical Islam now on the global stage. The Muslim leaders are looking for a meeting of major religious leaders based on common ground. In response, top Christian leaders across denominational lines have welcomed the overture. “The conversation has begun, and emails are flying this way and that,” says Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, head of interfaith relations for the National Council of Churches. Says Dr. John Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington: “They’re saying, ‘Let’s look at our scriptures, and the fact that our two traditions share in a common love of God and neighbor, and then let’s build from that.’ It’s brilliant.” Source: The Christian Science Monitor and GlobeScan poll Green Acres Organic Farming Gains Momentum The U.S. Department of Agriculture now reports that organic farming has been one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture for more than a decade. The United States had less than one million acres of certified organic farmland when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. Since then it’s doubled twice and then some. Meanwhile, organic livestock production has grown even faster. Still, only a small percentage of all U.S. cropland and pastureland is certified organic—about 0.5 percent in each case. So there’s room to grow. The good news is that as of 2005 for the first time ever, all 50 states had certified land. California continues to lead in cropland. Alaska leads in pastureland. Obstacles to converting over to organic practices exist. But more farmers are embracing the concept in order to lower operating costs, conserve nonrenewable resources, capture high-value markets and boost farm income. Total Recall The Recent Plague of Tainted Toys Repeated recalls of children’s toys and accessories from shelves and toy boxes has families wondering what’s next. Which manufacturers can we trust? Now help is here in databases sponsored by the BabyCenter and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Not only are the 3 billion toys sold in America each year cheaply made and environmentally insensitive, they also, as recent recalls of Chinese toys demonstrate, can pose a real threat to our little ones,” writes journalist Lou Bendrick. www.Grist.org reports that one recall alone accounted for a half million children’s toys and accessories that exceeded allowable lead levels. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that more can be expected. In addition to lead paint woes, other causes for recalls include detachable magnets and buttons small enough for tykes to swallow. Thank goodness for the resurgence of quality toys, signaling that it’s time to rethink the whole arena. As an editorial in The New York Times suggests, perhaps our daughters don’t need a talking dump truck or Malibu Barbie beach house. Instead, “Let her flail on a saucepan with a wooden spoon. Give her paper and crayons.” To stay up with recalls check www.CPSC.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html and www.BabyCenter.com/product-recall-finder. Energy High Solar Power Plant to Orbit Earth Capturing sunlight via an orbiting platform and beaming electrical power to Earth has the potential to supply endless energy, help stave off climate change and avoid future conflicts over oil, according to a new study led by the National Security Space Office, Department of Defense. “This is a solution for all mankind,” observed former astronaut Buzz Aldrin at the Washington announcement. Aldrin chairs the spaceflight advocacy group ShareSpace Foundation. The consensus of 170 collaborating experts worldwide estimates that in a single year, satellites in a continuously sunlit orbit could generate an amount of energy nearly equivalent to the total energy available in global oil reserves. Mark Hopkins, senior vice president of the National Space Society, maintains that making this one move could transform the United States into an energy-exporting nation. “It is the largest energy option available to us today…more power potentially than all of the other power sources combined,” says Hopkins. Since the dawn of the Space Age 50 years ago, scientists have dreamed of this day. But technology and cost hurdles stood in the way. Now Charles Miller, director of Space Frontier Foundation, believes that with the proper public and private support, the space-based solar power industry could take off within 10 years. For more see www.NSS.org/settlement/ssp/index.htm. Global Shift Website Helps Us Rethink Our World The mission of the new website Global-MindShift.org supports the fact that to enable a global dialogue is to enable the future of humanity. “We live in a global community, but still think with a tribal mentality,” says its executive director, Kern Beare. This online space is a place where issues may be transcended “by what unites us as a human family.” Begun as a project of the Palo Alto-based Foundation for Global Community, the goal is to help engage 20 percent of the world’s people in conversation about what living in a global community really means. This non-profit harnesses the power of the internet aided by networking tools to help people connect, converse and collaborate. The hoped-for result includes creative solutions to global crises. Pioneering sociologist Dr. Everett Rodgers, author of Diffusion of Innovations, held that when 5 percent of a population adopts a new idea, it becomes embedded in the culture. When 20 percent adopt it, it is “unstoppable.” To join the discussion visit www.Global-MindShift.org. Earth Victory Uganda Saves the Mabira Rainforest The Ugandan government has listened to its people and handed the world a victory in saving 17,540 acres of the local rainforest it had planned to give away to the Mehta Industrial Family that owns Seoul, saving the patch of jungle from destruction by sugarcane. “We have committed ourselves to conserving Mabira Forest,” announced Dr. Ezra Suruma, the country’s finance minister, at a recent state dinner. “There is other land in Uganda suitable for sugarcane growing.” Environmental activists who had rallied a supporting public outcry from 111 countries are ecstatic over the sweet result. It’s the second time this government has heeded the voice of its people to protect forestland. The move will help preserve threatened rare species, contribute watershed to Lake Victoria, supply a crucial buffer against lake pollution from industrial towns and help oxygenate the planet. Sources: The Christian Science Monitor and www.RainForestPortal.org. Red Light Study Finds Lead in Leading Lipsticks Women need to watch what they slick onto their lips. New product research on red lipsticks by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that 20 name-brand lipsticks contain detectable levels of lead. None of them listed lead as an ingredient. Neither does purchase price provide a clue. In fact, researchers report that some less expensive brands, such as Revlon, tested “good,” while L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Christian Dior led with the highest percentages of lead. A full third of the tubes tested exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s protective limit for lead in candy. “The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure,” says Dr. Mark Mitchell, president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice. “Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels.” The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition of women’s public health, labor, environmental health and consumer-rights groups lobbying the beauty industry to phase out harmful chemicals. For brand ratings, search “lipsticks” at the Environmental Working Group’s www.CosmeticDatabase.com. PC Update Greening the Laptop Industry A Greenpeace investigation into hazardous materials in laptop computers confirms that manufacturers have phased out use of some of the most toxic materials this past year. But more has yet to be done. Independent analysis of 18 laptops representing six brands in 14 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas revealed that Europe’s passage of electronics-governing legislation in 2006 has positively influenced the entire industry. Thus, “In theory, by combining components from different machines, the industry could already almost produce the first toxic-free computer,” says Zeina Alhajj of Greenpeace. “The question is which company is going to be the first to go the whole way.” Source: Additional Information: Date: 2007/11/29 12:00:00 US/Pacific

Green Acres
Organic Farming Gains Momentum

The U.S. Department of Agriculture now reports that organic farming has been one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture for more than a decade. The United States had less than one million acres of certified organic farmland when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. Since then it’s doubled twice and then some. Meanwhile, organic livestock production has grown even faster.
 Still, only a small percentage of all U.S. cropland and pastureland is certified organic—about 0.5 percent in each case. So there’s room to grow. The good news is that as of 2005 for the first time ever, all 50 states had certified land. California continues to lead in cropland. Alaska leads in pastureland. Obstacles to converting over to organic practices exist. But more farmers are embracing the concept in order to lower operating costs, conserve nonrenewable resources, capture high-value markets and boost farm income.

Total Recall
The Recent Plague of Tainted Toys

Repeated recalls of children’s toys and accessories from shelves and toy boxes has families wondering what’s next. Which manufacturers can we trust? Now help is here in databases sponsored by the BabyCenter and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Not only are the 3 billion toys sold in America each year cheaply made and environmentally insensitive, they also, as recent recalls of Chinese toys demonstrate, can pose a real threat to our little ones,” writes journalist Lou Bendrick.

www.Grist.org reports that one recall alone accounted for a half million children’s toys and accessories that exceeded allowable lead levels. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that more can be expected. In addition to lead paint woes, other causes for recalls include detachable magnets and buttons small enough for tykes to swallow.

Thank goodness for the resurgence of quality toys, signaling that it’s time to rethink the whole arena. As an editorial in The New York Times suggests, perhaps our daughters don’t need a talking dump truck or Malibu Barbie beach house. Instead, “Let her flail on a saucepan with a wooden spoon. Give her paper and crayons.”

To stay up with recalls check www.CPSC.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html and www.BabyCenter.com/product-recall-finder.
Energy High
Solar Power Plant to Orbit Earth

Capturing sunlight via an orbiting platform and beaming electrical power to Earth has the potential to supply endless energy, help stave off climate change and avoid future conflicts over oil, according to a new study led by the National Security Space Office, Department of Defense. 

“This is a solution for all mankind,” observed former astronaut Buzz Aldrin at the Washington announcement. Aldrin chairs the spaceflight advocacy group ShareSpace Foundation.

The consensus of 170 collaborating experts worldwide estimates that in a single year, satellites in a continuously sunlit orbit could generate an amount of energy nearly equivalent to the total energy available in global oil reserves. Mark Hopkins, senior vice president of the National Space Society, maintains that making this one move could transform the United States into an energy-exporting nation. “It is the largest energy option available to us today…more power potentially than all of the other power sources combined,” says Hopkins.

Since the dawn of the Space Age 50 years ago, scientists have dreamed of this day. But technology and cost hurdles stood in the way. Now Charles Miller, director of Space Frontier Foundation, believes that with the proper public and private support, the space-based solar power industry could take off within 10 years.

For more see www.NSS.org/settlement/ssp/index.htm.

Global Shift
Website Helps Us Rethink Our World

The mission of the new website Global-MindShift.org supports the fact that to enable a global dialogue is to enable the future of humanity. “We live in a global community, but still think with a tribal mentality,” says its executive director, Kern Beare. This online space is a place where issues may be transcended “by what unites us as a human family.”

Begun as a project of the Palo Alto-based Foundation for Global Community, the goal is to help engage 20 percent of the world’s people in conversation about what living in a global community really means. This non-profit harnesses the power of the internet aided by networking tools to help people connect, converse and collaborate. The hoped-for result includes creative solutions to global crises.

Pioneering sociologist Dr. Everett Rodgers, author of Diffusion of Innovations, held that when 5 percent of a population adopts a new idea, it becomes embedded in the culture. When 20 percent adopt it, it is “unstoppable.”

To join the discussion visit www.Global-MindShift.org.

Earth Victory
Uganda Saves the Mabira Rainforest

The Ugandan government has listened to its people and handed the world a victory in saving 17,540 acres of the local rainforest it had planned to give away to the Mehta Industrial Family that owns Seoul, saving the patch of jungle from destruction by sugarcane. “We have committed ourselves to conserving Mabira Forest,” announced Dr. Ezra Suruma, the country’s finance minister, at a recent state dinner. “There is other land in Uganda suitable for sugarcane growing.”

Environmental activists who had rallied a supporting public outcry from 111 countries are ecstatic over the sweet result. It’s the second time this government has heeded the voice of its people to protect forestland. The move will help preserve threatened rare species, contribute watershed to Lake Victoria, supply a crucial buffer against lake pollution from industrial towns and help oxygenate the planet.

Sources: The Christian Science Monitor and www.RainForestPortal.org.

Red Light
Study Finds Lead in Leading Lipsticks

Women need to watch what they slick onto their lips. New product research on red lipsticks by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that 20 name-brand lipsticks contain detectable levels of lead. None of them listed lead as an ingredient. Neither does purchase price provide a clue.

In fact, researchers report that some less expensive brands, such as Revlon, tested “good,” while L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Christian Dior led with the highest percentages of lead. A full third of the tubes tested exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s protective limit for lead in candy.

“The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure,” says Dr. Mark Mitchell, president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice. “Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition of women’s public health, labor, environmental health and consumer-rights groups lobbying the beauty industry to phase out harmful chemicals.

For brand ratings, search “lipsticks” at the Environmental Working Group’s www.CosmeticDatabase.com.
PC Update
Greening the Laptop Industry

A Greenpeace investigation into hazardous materials in laptop computers confirms that manufacturers have phased out use of some of the most toxic materials this past year. But more has yet to be done.

Independent analysis of 18 laptops representing six brands in 14 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas revealed that Europe’s passage of electronics-governing legislation in 2006 has positively influenced the entire industry.

Thus, “In theory, by combining components from different machines, the industry could already almost produce the first toxic-free computer,” says Zeina Alhajj of Greenpeace. “The question is which company is going to be the first to go the whole way.”

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