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House receives failing marks from environmental group

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In its 2011 National Environmental Scorecard, the League of Conservation Voters labeled the first session of the 112th Congress in the House of Representatives as “the most anti-environmental session in [its] history.”

The League rates every member of Congress on how they voted on environmental bills and legislation over the past Congressional session, basing this year’s rankings on 11 Senate votes and 35 votes in the House, a sample from the more than 200 votes on environmental-related issues put before its 435 members.

[Full report for the LCV National Environmental 2011 Scorecard]

For states, the highest marks went to Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, all ranking among the top House and Senate scores. At the other end of the spectrum, Kansas ranked among the least environmentally-active legislators in both the Senate and the House.

Sisters' polyhouse guarantees fresh produce, no matter the season

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It's winter coat weather in northwest Ohio, but Sr. Jeremias Stinson's tomatoes are doing just fine. So are her broccoli, dill, beets, cabbage, lettuce, spinach and carrots.

Stinson's veggies are thriving because they live inside a warm snug plastic greenhouse -- a polyhouse. The polyhouse makes it possible for Stinson and her food-growing colleague, Sr. Grace Ellen Urban, to maintain a year-round garden.

For the last three years, their all-seasons bounty has gone to the Helping Hands of St. Louis Parish soup kitchen to provide nutritious soups, stews and salads for hungry people living on Toledo's northeast side. Since 1992, Stinson and Urban, Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, have maintained a 4,500-square-foot garden and an apple orchard to help support St. Louis' daily meal ministry.

The dream of adding on a year-round operation began germinating in their hearts a little more than four years ago.

Republican presidential candidates given 'Climate B.S. of the Year Award'

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The Pacific Institute, a progressive think tank in Seattle, has given the Republican presidential candidates bad marks for their views on climate change. In fact, the institute is awarding them "The Climate B.S. (Bad Science) of the Year Award," reports Anne Roan Thomas, a doctoral candidate at the Catholic University of America.

Thomas' article appeared on the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good's website Wednesday. She contrasts Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney's "disheartening" difference of opinion with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' strong statements that global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures.

"It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family ... and our responsibility to those who come after us," reads a USCCB statement from 2001.

Debunking the weekend's global warming reports

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Over the weekend, climate change deniers likely felt a renewed vigor as two articles ran in big-name newspapers calling claims of global warming unfounded.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed article co-signed by 16 scientists who stated evidence of global warming is lacking over the past decade and that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Across the pond, the Sunday edition of the UK's Daily Mail ran an article by David Rose who stated recent data from the Met Office - the National Weather Service for the UK - shows no global warming in the past 15 years.

The fallout from both articles was predictable in the comments sections, as deniers lauded the news and believers cried "false!" But the articles spurred response among prominent environmental writers, as well as the Met Office.

Greenpeace, Catholic Coalition bring good news on the environment

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Greenpeace International and the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change are reporting good news on the environmental front.

Greenpeace's ongoing campaign to stop rainforest destruction in Indonesia has prompted Kroger, the giant grocery store chain, to stop carrying Paseo paper products, manufactured by Asia Pulp and Paper, on its shelves. These throwaway tissue products are made from wood fiber from pulpwood plantations that encroach on rainforests in Indonesia and destroy the habitat of the remaining 400 Sumatran tigers. Kroger discontinued carrying the Paseo line after 50,000 activists contacted the company asking them to stop being a part of rainforest destruction.

Next on Greenpeace's list is Kmart. For further information on how to help convince Kmart to follow in Kroger's footsteps, go to the Greenpeace website.

Olympic commissioner steps down from post, stands up for Bhopal

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A commissioner with the sustainability watchdog group for the London 2012 Olympic Games has stepped down from her post due to the sponsorship by a company associated with the 1984 Bhopal plant disaster in India.

Meredith Alexander, one of 12 commissioners with the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, announced her resignation Wednesday in protest of Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of a wrap of London’s Olympic Stadium. In December Dow sought to appease protesters by removing corporate branding from the wrap, but opposition remained.

Obama addresses 'all-of-the-above' American energy

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In last night’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama dedicated around six and a half minutes of his 65-minute speech to energy and environmental issues. (You can view the entire speech here; the energy discussion begins at the 27:25 mark. Here's a transcript, as well.)

The president covered a wide spectrum – from oil to alternatives – of proposals likely to both encourage and irritate fossil fuel supporters and clean energy advocates alike.

God can always be found in the natural world

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When Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr joined the order in 1961, he learned that no one in the community was allowed to cut down a tree unless the provincial gave his permission to do so.

This tradition was a "little bit of Francis that lasted 800 years," Rohr said, writing in his daily meditation website last week. Rohr is founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M.

As the seesaw "we win-you lose" conflict between corporations and environmentalists continues and our poor planet grows sicker by the day, the priest's recent columns are especially timely. They present us with a concise overview tracing how we divorced ourselves from the natural world, and with it, part of our souls.

For meat industry, anti-trust efforts in corporate control collapse

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In 2008 the Federal Farm Bill instructed the Department of Agriculture to write rules for competition in the meat industry. This directive was to complete the details lacking in the 80-plus-year-old legislation on competition in the meat industry from the Theodore Roosevelt era. That legislation was to be enhanced with detailed directions on contracts, anti-trust policies and mandates requiring greater justice in meat production, processing and distribution.

The rules were to be developed by a small administrative unit of the United States Department of Agriculture: The Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyard Administration. J. Dudley Butler, who had a career as a plaintiff’s attorney challenging poultry companies’ control of the poultry industry, was brought in to direct the effort. This was a conscious effort by the Obama administration to tame the meat industry and challenge its control by a few corporations.

Forging a partnership where the poor really matter

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For Saul of Tarsus, it was traveling the road to Damascus. For John Barrie, it was a trip to Ecuador in 2004.

John, a well-known and successful green architect and industrial designer, was looking out of the window of a bus.

"I do solar design," John said. Looking out at the homes, "I realized that if you rearranged the materials [wall and windows] you could make buildings that were much more comfortable in which to live. You could be comfortable during hot days and cold nights.

"My training put me in a position where I could do something. No one was designing things for poor people. I can do this."

Thus was born the Appropriate Technology Collaborative.

Appropriate Technology Collaborative's mission and history
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The Appropriate Technology Collaborative mission is to create "new sustainable technologies that promote economic growth and improve the quality of life for low income people worldwide."
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February 27- March 12, 2015

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