How to protect yourself from West Nile Virus

Summer brings so much fun, but it’s also the dreaded season of the mosquito, and by that we mean, the Culex mosquito, which transmits West Nile Virus to humans. The virus can be deadly, so squelching the mosquito population and finding an effective repellent is important. Here’s a look at the latest thinking and the ingredients endorsed as effective mosquito repellents.

J.R.’s back and he’s not promoting oil

Solar World AG, one of the largest solar PV manufacturers in the world with factories in California, Oregon and Washington, has scored a dream advocate for its products: J.R. Ewing. Actually, the spokesman is Larry Hagman, who played the oilman on the long-running Dallas series. Hagman reprises his oil baron role in an ad for Bonn-based Solar World, where someone obviously decided the possibilities were too rich to leave untapped.

Mingyang Wind Power opens U.S. office in Dallas

MingyangMingyang Wind Power Industry Group, the third largest wind energy company in China, announced today that it will open a Dallas-based operations office. The new office will be a hub for the global expansion of the company, which is not government owned. Mingyang is backed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, a major shareholder and recently identified as the largest bank in the world.

Green Spas: Healthier practices serve clients and the environment

By Sommer Saadi
Green Right Now

Spa guests, already conscious about the health of their bodies, are starting to choose pampering experiences that keep the well-being of the environment in mind as well.

They still want to be indulged, say spa operators, but some are opting for experiences and products that soothe and improve, without nature-damaging ingredients.

Rona Berg, editor in chief of Organic Beauty magazine, says spa guests now look at what is in the products, where it comes from, who produces it and whether it is sustainable. Some even want to know if the company they’re supporting is giving back to the community.

“Consumer demand for healthier, eco-friendly and organic products isn’t showing any signs of stopping,” Berg says. “We’re undergoing a cultural paradigm shift and organic beauty is definitely one aspect of it.”

Google this: Carbon emissions for your city or town

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

As we drive deeper into our Orwellian future ala Google, where you can practically peer into our uncle’s windows in Toledo via Google Earth, it makes complete sense that we should also be able to track how we’re corrupting the atmosphere.

Thus, today, you can view CO2 emissions, thanks to a new Google Earth application developed by Purdue University researchers and funded by NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Purdue Showalter Trust and Indianapolis-based Knauf Insulation.

The interactive CO2 emissions map will mostly confirm what you already know – that it’s getting thick out there, especially in cities like Los Angeles, plagued by higher than average auto emissions, and Houston, afflicted with bad air from industrial processes like oil refining. This is readily apparent because the chart color codes carbon pollution from different sectors, such as aircraft, on road and off road transportation; commercial and industrial sources; electricity production and residential emissions.

Travelocity guiding tourists to greener destinations

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

The multi-edged issues facing the travel industry as it moves toward becoming more green are not hard to envision. First, there’s that sticky matter of getting there – by jet? by car?

There’s a certain built-in, un-green aspect at the core of tourism.

But that said, there are many ways travelers can be less consumptive and more supportive of eco-friendly practices. They can stay at conservation-minded hotels; places that don’t wash your sheets automatically every day; that serve local food and arrange low-impact tours for guests.

Online travel company Travelocity has taken its first steps toward helping consumers find and patronize greener destinations by launching an eco-friendly directory. The Green Directory aims to help travelers sort the green from the “green washed,” and so far features more than 200 hotels and resorts many of which already claim to be carbon neutral, according to the company.

Greener city buses clear the air, but choices aren’t always clear

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

You’ve heard the saying, “it’s easy being green.” Maybe sometimes. But not always, and not if you’re the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) agency, which finds itself tangling with a green dilemma.

DART, which serves Dallas and 11 other cities in the region, has been planning to replace its aging bus fleet with 537 shiny new buses. It’s a great opportunity to go green with the entire fleet.

But after taking bids this fall and updating the research, the agency members are locked in debate over what type of buses are “cleaner” and which ones make the most sense environmentally and economically. The answer is not readily apparent. Like potential car buyers on the threshold of a dealership showroom, the bus-buying members of DART find themselves puzzling over the new technologies and old perceptions.

Chalk Mountain, between a rock and a nesting place

By Barbara Kessler

Every spring, as sure as the sun warms the cedars and the birds flock back from Mexico, Lee Clauser leads a stealth group of intense adults dressed in khakis and boots to the edge of a wild thicket near his house in north central Texas.

They creep into the brush, quietly unloading their weapons of mass observation.

Putting binoculars to eyes, they look, and listen, for the brilliant Golden-cheeked warbler, and for the reclusive Black-capped vireo. Both songbirds are listed as endangered in the United States, their nesting grounds having been narrowed to a strip of Texas Hill Country that supplies just the right shrubbery and old-growth cedars. The birders, who come from Fort Worth, Dallas, New England, the Pacific Northwest and beyond, know that catching a glimpse of one of these delicate creatures is a rare treat.

“People have come from Europe to see those birds, both species. For birders all over the world, it’s a huge deal,” says Clauser, a retired banker and life-long bird rescue and rehabilitation expert.

Shoo pesky pests without pesky chemicals

By Barbara Kessler

Green pest control might sound like an oxymoron to some green devotees who believe in the “live and let live” mantra, or organic gardeners who appreciate that good pests and bad pests balance each other in nature.

Still, there’s the pest you can live with and the one you can’t. Some pests, like weeds, are simply organisms out of place. Like the nest of ants behind our cabinets. They don’t belong there and their incessant forays across the kitchen counter are not so appetizing. So what to do? Used to be, the answer was to grab a can of Triple Strength Ant Annihilation Spray at the grocery, return home and fire away.

That’s no longer the default solution. As green pest exterminator, Michael Bohdan, owner of The Pest Shop in Plano, Texas, tells us, consumers are getting pickier about how they pickle their pests, and pest companies are providing new, cleaner, less-toxic and more finely crafted products to get rid of invading invertebrates without despoiling our house or the environment. (Bohdan’s also the keeper of the infamous Cockroach Hall of Fame – but you’ll have to view the video to see that story.)