Dear EarthTalk: Isn’t it a waste that we buy water in plastic bottles when it is basically free out of our taps? Even health food stores, which should know better, sell it like crazy. When did Earth’s most abundant and free natural resource become a commercial ‘beverage’? — A. Jacobs, via e-mail Bottled water has…

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Dear EarthTalk: Vice-President Joe Biden just announced a commitment by the Obama administration of $53 billion to high speed rail. Isn’t it about time? Why is the U.S. so far behind other nations in developing environmentally friendly public transportation? — Diane A., Boston, MA There are many reasons why public transit hasn’t taken off in…

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Dear EarthTalk: In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015. How likely is it that we’ll attain that goal? — Jerry Mitlitski, Salem, OR “We can break our dependence on oil…and become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on…

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Dear EarthTalk: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had its 40th anniversary in 2010. How effective has the EPA been and what are its biggest challenges today? — Bill A., Seattle, WA By most accounts the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which turned 40 in December 2009, has been very effective. The first dedicated national environmental…

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Dear EarthTalk: Global population numbers continue to rise, as does the poverty, suffering and environmental degradation that goes with it. Has the U.S., under Obama, increased or at least restored its family planning aid to developing countries that was cut when the Bush Administration first took office?                                                                                                           …

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Dear EarthTalk: A number of federal energy efficiency related tax incentives expired at the end of 2010. Will any such programs remain in force and if not, are there other ways to save money on green upgrades?                                                                                                –– Jen Franklin, Chicago, IL It is true that some federal…

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Dear EarthTalk: What’s being done to “green up” professional sports? I know that the last two Olympic Games both made some effort, but are there others? — Rob Avandic, Chicago, IL The last two Olympics were indeed greener than any before, but environmental awareness isn’t limited to the realm of international amateur competition. In fact,…

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Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that organic tobacco production is booming in the U.S.? And are cigarettes made from organic tobacco any healthier for smokers?             — Nanci R., Petaluma, CA To say business is booming would be an exaggeration, but it is true that many American tobacco farmers are beginning to transition to organic…

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Dear EarthTalk: I saw a TV ad for toilet paper with no cardboard core to save paper. I understand that green groups recently struck a deal with Kimberly-Clark to protect eastern U.S. forests from decimation for, among other things, toilet paper. Can you tell me if any efforts are underway to protect Canada’s boreal forest,…

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Dear EarthTalk: Can you explain what “fracking” is with regard to natural gas exploration and why it is controversial? — Jonas Kern, Bellevue, WA Fracking is shorthand within the oil and gas industry for “hydraulic fracturing,” a process in which drillers blast millions of gallons of water, sand and hazardous chemicals at high-pressure into sub-surface…

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