Green your sunscreen

Summer is here.

As the weather heats up and we head outside it is imperative that we slather on the sunscreen to protect our skin. Before you soak up the sun, ask yourself – how green is my sunscreen?

According to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

  • Three out of 5 would not be acceptable in Europe because they offer poor UVA protection
  • Many still use a form of Vitamin A, a photocarcinogen which may increase the likelihood of skin cancer
  • SPF claims are meaningless – SPF 50 does not protect any more than an SPF 8
  • No federal rules control sunscreen manufacturers.

Given these findings the EWG has ranked sunscreens in an attempt to educate the consumer about how to protect themselves and families.

So before you slather up and head outside this summer check out: to make sure your sunscreen is really green and really measures up to it’s claims.

Happy Summer!



The NY Times posted this article today with information from the FDA about updates to sunscreen regulations- this appears to be a step in the right direction


G8 – Electricity production, the times they are a changin’

Perhaps it’s just human nature to be more reactionary than proactive. Maybe we’ve grown complacent.  Perhaps the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan has been a real wake up call.  Whatever the reason, countries all over the world are finally rethinking  electricity production and making a move from non renewable to renewable.

This has to make us wonder how far do we have to go?

Here’s information about how the G8 countries produce electricity. (these are in no particular order)

United States

Nuclear -20% Coal -45%, Natural gas -23%- Hydroelectric and other renewables make up the rest.


Nuclear – 75% (, Coal, Hydropower, and Natural gas make up the vast majority of the rest.


Lignite (a soft brown coal like substance) – 23.5%, Natural gas – 23%, and Coal -20%  are the big three- wind brings in  a not too shabby 6.5%  and others making up the rest (


Nuclear – 18%,  Natural gas -38.5%, Coal -34%, Oil, wind, hydro and biofuels make up the rest. (


Natural gas (imported)- 50-60%, Coal – 15% Renewables -15-25%


Hydropower – 58%, Coal – 16%, Nuclear- 15%, Natural Gas -6%, Other – 5%


Natural Gas – 48%, Hydropower -18%, Coal – 17%, Nuclear – 15% (


Nuclear-40%, Natural Gas -25%, Coal -20%, Hydropower- 8%, Other – 2%

While nuclear and fossil fuels still dominate, some countries are making headway in renewable energy production like Canada and Russia’s hydropower  along with Germany and Italy’s push for wind.   In the UK however, they have decided to go ahead with even more nuclear productionIt will require a major financial commitment and infrastructure overhaul for any one of these countries to become truly sustainable. Population and resources will be tested. Only time will tell if we are merely reacting to the nuclear disaster in Japan or if we are  interested in real change for the future.

Moving haiku

I have set up another blog devoted solely to my growing haiku/poetry obsession, I feel like I just have to let this current obsession run its course because I am even starting to think in haiku and I want this blog to be devoted to the environmental news and issues I care about.   I hope you will follow me over to

Still not done with haiku

Steady sun shining

Family made strong, renewed

Working together

Updated: American Energy 2011

Listening to NPR the other morning I heard a disturbing story about energy production in the US.  On one hand, given the ongoing disaster in Japan, our country is turning away from nuclear, on the other hand, we are turning towards natural gas.

Hearing this has prompted me to find out more about energy production in the US. Rather than run this as one gigantic post, it will broken into a series, titled   “American Energy 2011.”  The series will begin with look at natural gas.

According to, natural gas is defined as a nonrenewable fossil fuel.  It is produced in 33 states and it is also imported for heating and electricity purposes in the US. It is very accessible to the US population and is the 2nd largest producer of electricity after coal. It is literally everywhere.  There is natural gas  located under  the Marcellus Shale reserves, which runs from Kentucky to upstate New York.

map from

The map above shows drilling/fracking sites or potential sites, and the skulls (they look like black dots) are the sites of “fraccidents.” In producing anything, there are unintended consequences, and in the case of natural gas, I”m going hope that the effects of  fracking are an unintended consequence.  Natural gas is extracted by forcing highly pressured chemically treated water into the ground which frees the gas, here is a link to the staggering amount of chemicals that are used,  This water, which may be radioactive,  is then released and finds its way into local water ways (read drinking water).

There is a  plan in Pennsylvania, the focus of the NPR report,  to add 50% more wells than exist today.  The governor hopes to move quickly on this to create jobs for the residents of his state, he also hopes to make “Pennsylvania the Texas of natural gas.”

The governor of Pennsylvania’s plan to move forward with natural gas production is being held up by regulators who have temporarily barred the creation of new wells pending investigation into the environmental effects of fracking, specifically water contamination.

On April 19th, in LeRoy Township, Bradford County,  Pennsylvania, there was a gas drilling emergency.  Thousands of gallons of fluid spilled onto farmlands and into  Towanda Creek.  Neighbors and authorities, specifically the DEP are monitoring the water as it flows into the Susquehanna.  Chesapeake Energy is the company in charge of the well.

In a Reuters article on  April 26th there was some positive information,

    • Chesapeake, one of Pennsylvania’s biggest shale gas producers, last week suspended all seven of its fracking operations in the state after the incident released thousands of gallons of drilling fluid into the surrounding area.
    • On Monday Chesapeake said it replaced a damaged wellhead and gained control of the well that gushed the fluids.
    • One analyst said the federal government may keep a close eye on fracking operations after Congressional hearings questioned the quality of the oversight.
    • “Enhanced oversight from the federal EPA is to be expected,” Christine Tezak, an energy policy analyst at Robert W. Baird and Co, said in a research note on Tuesday.

The effects of the April 19th episode may be long felt but it seems there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Pennsylvania has requested that the natural gas industry cease and desist from dumping the chemical soup into rivers by May 9th.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a leading industry group announced that its members were committed to halting the practice by the state’s stated goal of May 19.

For more information and to find out what you can do visit:

UPDATE: WGAL has started a series looking at natural gas and its effects. Watch the first episode here :Gas Rush: How Adequate Are Drilling Regulations? Part II – Video – WGAL The Susquehanna Valley.

Haiku #23

Is Earth Day worth it?

Or now just some green washing?

Our actions will show

Since it is National Poetry month and Earth day is in April I have decided to tweet a haiku a day.  Follow me on Twitter @beau9609.  I love haiku because it is easy (that’s not saying I’m good at it) and makes you think about word choice- an important lesson in life and writing!

Haiku #22

Earth day is over,

Will we forget for one year?

Or try everyday.

Since it is National Poetry month and Earth day is in April I have decided to tweet a haiku a day.  Follow me on Twitter @beau9609.  I love haiku because it is easy (that’s not saying I’m good at it) and makes you think about word choice- an important lesson in life and writing!

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