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Sierra Club Insider

August 21, 2007: In This Edition of the Insider

  • Protect Yourself From Mercury in Your Fish
  • Cut Through the Biofuel Hype
  • Sierra Club Supports Gulf Coast Recovery
  • Happiness is a Leaky Tent
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    Which Fish Are Safest for Pregnant Mothers?
    PregnantLaura Pugliese of Miami got her hair tested for mercury several years ago, and then postponed her pregnancy when she found her levels were well above what the EPA considers safe. Mercury pollution comes primarily from coal-fired power plants and falls to earth in rain, and then accumulates in fish. Laura stopped eating albacore tuna, her mercury levels went down, and last December, gave birth to healthy baby girl named Alexa.

    CNN's Greg Hunter tells Laura's story and then ends his report touting low-mercury fish at the Chelsea Fish Market in New York. You can learn more about mercury here, as well as order a mercury hair testing kit from the Sierra Club for the non-profit rate of $25.



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    All Biofuels Aren't Created Equal
    BiofuelBiofuels can be made from nearly any organic material, but corn, which is the source of 95 percent of U.S. ethanol, would reduce global warming emissions only about 15 percent on average compared to gasoline. Cellulosic ethanol, made from switchgrass, slash, and agricultural byproducts, could cut emissions by more than 90 percent. But it's not commercially available. And then there's sugarcane ethanol, which is booming in Brazil, soybean biodiesel, and cooking grease biodiesel, even biodiesel made from algae -- all with their various pros and cons.

    Want help separating the wheat from the chaff? Check out "Bio-hope, Bio-hype" in the most recent issue of Sierra, complete with a useful chart comparing six different biofuels.

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    Who's Cuter? Leonardo or Nanu?
    If there's one question more important than how we address global warming, perhaps it's whether Leonardo DiCaprio, narrator and executive producer of 11th Hour, is cuter than Nanu, the polar bear cub that steals the show in the Arctic Tale.

    Take your pick: For a broad and substantive exploration of global warming and other environmental challenges (and a few glimpses of Leo), see 11th Hour. For something more warm and fuzzy, go to Arctic Tale, which focuses on one of the species that is already literally feeling the heat from global warming.

    For great green content on the small screen, check out these two public TV series that the Sierra Club is proud to support: Building Green shows homeowners just how easy, cost-effective, and healthy it is to go green, while dispelling the myth that an environmentally conscious lifestyle means doing without. Emmy Award winning Natural Heroes is about to launch its third season of global stories of ordinary citizens finding ways to protect the planet.

    A Day of Protest, Prayer, and Possibility for Gulf Coast Recovery
    Vietnamese Landfill ProtestOn August 29, the 2-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Sierra Club and a host of other community groups are taking to the streets for a "Day of Presence" in support of Gulf Coast recovery, and to draw attention to the lack of progress in rebuilding.

    A quarter of a million people are still displaced from the hurricane, unable to return because they have no homes, jobs, or the means to rebuild. Meanwhile Katrina cleanup has generated tons of debris, much of it being sent to landfills in low-income neighborhoods.

    The Sierra Club is working with residents of the largely Vietnamese Village de L'est section of East New Orleans to force the closure of a landfill for Katrina debris. The Club and its partners are also pushing to incorporate more green building techniques into the recovery effort.

    Our Favorite Reader Stories -- and a Great Offer
    CampingSierra Club Books' just-wrapped Piece-of-Paradise Sweepstakes was a huge hit, with many hundreds of Insider readers submitting stories about their own piece of paradise in the outdoors. 

    Read some of our editors' favorite submissions -- AND get a great offer on the book that inspired the sweepstakes.



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    New International Outings
    In 2008, we'll take you "off the beaten trek" to Bhutan, we'll mingle with the locals in Papua New Guinea, and we'll sample Belgium's flavorful export at the triennial hop festival.

    See all 2008 Sierra Club Outings.


    Green sea turtle hatchlings 

    Hawaii's Next Top Models
    Hawaii’s Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, established in 2006 by President George W. Bush (no, that's not a typo) are home to extraordinary sea creatures rarely seen by humans.

    Photographers Susan Middleton and David Liittschwager accompanied researchers to the usually off-limits Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and photographed loose-limbed turtle hatchlings, neon-colored angelfish, fluff-ball tropic bird chicks, and more in Archipelago: Portraits of Life in the World's Most Remote Island Sanctuary.

    You can see excerpts of their haunting images in the most recent Sierra magazine. 



    Keep Your Children Safe From Lead Toys
    After a child in Minnesota died as a result of eating a pendant containing lead on a pair of Reebok shoes last year, the Sierra Club petitioned both EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging preventative action. The Commission and now the EPA have taken steps to ban lead in toy jewelry, but Mattel's second recall of lead-painted toys in as many weeks highlights how much work remains to be done.

    The Sierra Club has taken the lead on keeping our children safe from toxic toys and is calling on the Commission to spell out ways to ensure quality control so we can prevent the production of lead children's toys instead of just recalling them.

    You can find out more about the Mattel recall here and find tips for parents to keep kids safe here.  

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