Widening Circles: World News of Interest

Here are some key articles of special interest on the topics that we track - organized by category. We hope you find this information useful!

* Peak Oil/Alternative energy

* Health

* Local

* Climate Change

* State of America and the World

Note: You can also find ongoing current news and commentary at our newsblog <www.healthyworld.org/newsblog.html>. We also have helpful information about our core topics and related key issues at <www.healthyworld.org/information.html>


Ethanol Industry Braces for Growing Pains, March 20, 2006, By Brad Foss, AP Business Writer

After Spurt of Good Fortune, Fledgling U.S. Ethanol Industry Anticipates Some Growing Pains

... But there's trouble looming: The ethanol industry might not be ready to satisfy the expected summertime jump in demand. And by crimping the overall supply of motor fuel, this could contribute to a spike in gasoline pump prices at the start of the country's peak driving season.



Senate Group to Unveil Oil-Saving Plan, Nov. 16, 2005, By H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press Writer
Bipartisan Group of Senators to Unveil Oil-Saving Plan

This includes real actual solutions (like alternative energy) and tangible oil use reduction goals. Wow!




Creating Cellulosic Ethanol: Spinning Straw into Fuel, May 2005 eNews Bulletin

This article makes what I think is a key point - that there are other sources than corn and soybeans, and that this can avoid some of the concerns about biofuels. I personally think that biofuels will need to be a key component of our next energy future, and that using waste, starting with ag waste, is a key idea that makes biofuels viable.

The article says (when talking about using straw as the source): "While chemically identical to ethanol produced from corn or soybeans, cellulose ethanol exhibits a net energy content three times higher than corn ethanol and emits a low net level of greenhouse gases. Recent technological developments are not only improving yields but also driving down production cost, bringing us nearer to the day when cellulosic ethanol could replace expensive, imported "black gold" with a sustainable, domestically produced biofuel." Sounds good to me!



Sugar In The Tank, David Adams, 11.16.05, Forbes

This article discusses ethanol-based fuels in cars, current car-maker plans, and a trip by US Senators to Brazil, where drivers can buy "flex-fuel" cars (launced by Volkswagen in March 2003) and can buy either ethanol or ethanol/gas mix, but not just gas.



How GE Captures New Energy Markets
Hydrogen, biofuels, solar, nukes-GE has staked big R&D bets on every energy future.
FORTUNE, November 30, 2005, By Gene Bylinsky

Although it is a bit of boosterism for GE (General Electric), and I don't necessarily agree with all the options, I thought this Fortune article had some interesting info on the current state and thoughts about alternative fuel sources and technology. Even though there's evidence that alternatives won't match all of oil's output, I think they will still be key. As oil gets more expensive and scarce, humans will develop energy sources, and if we don't want nuclear, coal, and deforestation to rule the day, we need to encourage healthier alternatives. And if business can find it profitable to make these, that's good, because they'll do more of it!


Also see article summarizing it at:



Agency sees world demand for oil climbing, By Anthony Deutsch (AP), Nov 7, 2005

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Global energy needs will surge 50 percent by 2030 and prices will rise if capacity is not significantly increased, the International Energy Agency said Monday in its 2005 World Energy Outlook.

Press Democrat's headline for this article (11/8/05 E2) "Energy needs predicted to surge by 50% in 25 yrs. Report says reserves exist but $20 trillion needed to bring them to market"

http://www.newsobserver.com/24hour/business/story/2875009p-11538412c.html [Sorry, this link is gone and I can't find another copy of this article elsewhere]


Fuel costs threaten county's economy, Press Democrat, Oct. 18, 2005, By Kevin McCallum

Analyst says wine, tourism may face consumer spending cuts

"There's a good chance that in the next six months things will look better, but ... there are risks out there that may prove me wrong."



SunOpta Signs Steam Explosion Equipment Contract for a Wheat Straw to Ethanol Plant
Press Release, August 8, 2005

SunOpta Inc. signed a contract (worth 4.7 million Euros ($7.1M Cdn)) to supply its patented steam explosion equipment and process technology to Abener Energia S.A. of Seville, Spain, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abengoa S.A., for the first commercial production facility in the world to convert wheat straw into ethanol. This facility, which is scheduled to be operational in the fall of 2006, will be built in Babilafuente (Salamanca), Spain and is located adjacent to an existing cereal grain to ethanol plant operated by Abengoa. Abengoa is the largest ethanol producer in Europe and the second largest in the world.

SunOpta is recognized as the world leader in the preparation, pretreatment, steam explosion and extraction of value added compounds from plant biomass material.



Fueling Fears, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 22, 2005, By Harold Brubaker

High crude oil prices - near $60 a barrel this week - are fueling debate about how much of nature's economic elixir is left on the planet.



Town to turn stinking hog manure into power, Sept. 13, 2005, Reuters


A creative and offbeat example of how a whole (very small) town is thinking creatively about the alternative energy sources literally in their backyard. Where else can this approach be applied? What other creative ways can we use resources we already have in our communities.

The local organic Straus dairy is using methane gas from their farm to power their farm. For more information, see www.strausfamilycreamery.com/?title=greenhouse%20gases

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PROZAC BACKLASH: Trouble in Prozac Nation
Fortune, November 15, 2005, By David Stipp

"Wonder drugs of the 1990s, Prozac and its kin have been prescribed to tens of millions of people. But a growing backlash may portend the end of an era."


Some of the real problems with these anti-depressant pharmaceuticals is finally coming to light. How often are people depressed by real problems in this world? Instead of trying to just stay happy, perhaps the real solution might be to address those problems. Perhaps, at times, the real solution for depression is action!

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Fuel costs threaten county's economy, Press Democrat, Oct. 18, 2005, By Kevin McCallum

Analyst says wine, tourism may face consumer spending cuts

"There's a good chance that in the next six months things will look better, but ... there are risks out there that may prove me wrong."

... Two of the three foundations of Sonoma County's economy - wine and tourism - rely upon robust consumer spending, and if energy prices continue to take a larger bite out of people's budgets, trouble could lie ahead for those sectors.



Farm Fresh: Children learn to grow, cook, and eat seasonal foods from their own school garden, Nov. 10 2004, Press Democrat, Diane Peterson

Includes inspiration and information about local places and projects.



For more about local Farm to School programs, see



Sonoma County rejects GMO ban, November 8, 2005, By Bleys W. Rose, Press Democrat

Sadly Measure M, Sonoma County's GE-Free Initiative, did not pass. For more information about the Measure, including about the opponent's misinformation, see our information page.

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Washington to be sued over global warming, By Andrew Buncombe in Washington, Published: 26 August 2005


"In a landmark judgment, a court in California has allowed a coalition of environmental groups to sue the US government over global warming - the first time a court has recognized the potentially disastrous impact of climate change." Two groups and four U.S. cities are suing "two federal development agencies that provide billions of dollars in loans to fund projects overseas. Some of the projects are power plants that emit greenhouse gases while others include pipeline projects that allow the transfer of oil....The lawsuit was brought by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, along with the cities of Boulder, Colorado, and the Californian cities of Oakland, Santa Monica and Arcata. In the filing the cities argued that the impact of global warming - including rising sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures - would have a negative impact on their communities.

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Very inspiring and informative speakers offering refreshing perspectives on the state of our shared work for the environment, saner politics, and healthier communities.

I especially commend the incredible speech by Robert F. Kennedy, jr. His writing and speaking offer a compelling combination of clear sight, essential facts, and moving feelings and experiences, so that through his eyes we can see what is and be inspired to join together to create what we want to be. He's also deft at avoiding mental traps that don't serve the larger cause - for instance, false separations between Democrats and Republicans. He says he's committed to being non-partisan, just describing what he sees, and that Americans of both parties share certain core values. Polls show, he says, that they're just getting vastly different information. I highly recommend hearing and reading anything he writes. www.sierrasummit2005.org/sierrasummit/coverage/r050.asp

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