Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

The brightest piece of news I have to report this week is that it's no longer legal to use the pesticide chlorpyrifos - a particularly nasty organophosphate with a high degree of ecotoxicity - to treat residential insect infestations. What I like best about this is that it will restrict chlorpyrifos use by agencies like the New York Housing Authority, which has typically sprayed huge amounts of it in low-income public housing, despite evidence of its persistence on rugs and soft toys (among other things).

In Hawaii, plans are underway to build the world's largest solar-powered community:

The Army Hawaii initiative represents a big step forward in the cost-effectiveness of the technology; it's the first time a grid-connected project has been able to be profitable enough to install PV solar panels without subsidies. Currently, 93 percent of Hawaii's electrical power comes from burning oil, all of which is imported. The new solar power will save approximately 18,000 barrels of oil each year.
Another nice detail:
[N]o old appliance, door or window will be sent to a landfill before first being offered to the low-income residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
LA Weekly lists some less obvious sources of alternative energy. Here's my favorite:
New Zealand adventurer Peter Bethune is president and CEO of a biofuels-only speedboat race called Earthrace, and he’s developed a process that uses human fat collected via liposuction to power his own vessel. Bethune’s own lean love handles produced only 100 milliliters of fuel, so he is looking for a well-fed crew to donate their thigh, belly or bum blubber to the cause.
Perhaps our supersized population will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Hell, if we tapped the 101st Fightin' Keyboarders, we could probably achieve energy independence within six months.

The notion of using one national blight to remedy another brings us to an interesting new UCLA paper. It describes twelve diseases that can prevent or mitigate others, and discusses the possibility of finding new treatments by researching the mechanisms involved:
Stiehm proposed that new evidence can be found for using certain viruses to treat diseases such as HIV, which do not respond to other medications.

"There have been several studies indicating that HIV patients co-infected with a virus related to Hepatitis C, called GB virus C, have less severe HIV disease and improved survival," Stiehm said.

Stiehm got the idea for his historical review from cases he saw while a pediatric resident at Babies Hospital in New York City. One case was a kidney disease patient with nephrosis who was unresponsive to medications but went into remission after contracting measles.
And speaking of obesity, the University of Michigan has suspended its business dealings with the Coca-Cola company, thanks to unrelenting pressure from student activists:
The decision, effective January 1, suspends 13 contracts with Coca-Cola worth $1.4 million annually because the company has not agreed to protocols for a third-party review of labor practices in Colombia and has not developed protocols for reviewing environmental concerns in India.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is under further criminal investigation. My prediction: They'll be found guilty.

Last but not least, I think I may have found a new favorite site: Polar Inertia.

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