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May Bike Month - A Great Time For Beginners to Peddle Their Way to Better Health

May is a great time to start up an exercise plan that includes getting outdoors. It’s the first full month of spring. The weather is warming up, but not quite hot yet, and it’s American Bike Month.

For those who have never been on a bike, consider this - it’s a low cost financial investment compared to a gym membership, and the health benefits are huge. Besides the obvious benefit of losing weight, cycling also helps improve:

  • back pain
  • knee joints
  • the heart and cardiovascular system
  • muscle tone in the lower body (legs, thighs, hips, and buttocks)

Improving back pain might sound surprising to some, but according to Cycling and Health - a website of the Center for Health of the German Sports Academy of Cologne - increasing circulation can have three main benefits:

  • The large muscles in the back strengthen and develop.
  • Increased blood flow strengthens the disks in the spinal column.
  • Cycling also helps stabilize the position of the disks in the spine in relation to each other.
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Countries Hedging Emissions Reduction Promises As Climate Leaders Shift Positions

The fallout from Copenhagen’s disastrous Climate Change Conference continues. Countries are now formally sending the United Nations their hedged promises to limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, new meetings are being planned for the Spring, and there are plenty of climate leaders changing jobs.

All are hedging their promises to some extent, with the largest and most powerful among them being the United States, European Union, China, and India.

Source: http://blogs.fortlewis.edu/greenfreedom/2009/11/04/copenhagen-protocol

Among the developed countries, the U.S. plans to work to reduce emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020, “in conformity with anticipated U.S. energy and climate legislation,” according to the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change.

The European Union, as part of its own formal statement to the U.N., said that, “As part of a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012, the EU reiterates its conditional offer to move to a 30 percent reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission(s) reductions and that developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities.”

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New Russian River Water Limits May Leave California Growers in the Freeze

Researchers document brown bear/people interactions on the Russian River. Photo by T. DeBruyn, National Park Service.

After a number of unseasonable cold snaps during last year’s growing season, and the pressure put on the California river systems to accommodate crop frost protection measures, the California State Water Resource Control Board has drafted a new preliminary proposed regulation that would severely limit growers access to the Russian River stream system during annual growing periods.

The regulation proposes that any diversion of water from the Russian River stream system, including the pumping of closely connected groundwater for purposes of frost protection between March 15 and June 1 must be under a board approved water demand management program.

It also proposes that any management program ensure that “cumulative diversion rates” don’t result in reductions in stream flow to the point that they endanger anadromous fish, which migrate from salt water to spawn in fresh water, as such as salmon.

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Ozone Rebuilding: The EPA Orders Chemical Substitutions in 'Select' Household Appliances

One of the biggest concern to our planet is the destroying of the ozone layer. It’s crucial property is the ability to absorb ultraviolet rays at high altitudes (the stratosphere) from reaching the Earth’s surface, where excessive UV levels can have a destructive affect on living things.

“For people, excessive UV exposure spells out increased risk of cancer and cataracts,” according to research from the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium.

Graphic courtesy of www.eduspace.esa.int.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agrees and says that, “Less protection from UV light will, over time, lead to higher skin cancer and cataracts rates and crop damage. The U.S., in cooperation with 190 other countries, is phasing out the production of ozone-depleting substances in an effort to safeguard the ozone layer.”

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As International Pressure Mounts, Obama Sets U.S. Emissions Reduction Target for 2020

Graphic courtesy of webwombat.com.

Possibly resulting from ongoing criticisms from the international community, most notably from members of the European Union, the United States has finally set an emissions reduction target for 2020.

The White House has both confirmed that President Barack Obama will be attending United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on Dec. 9, and that the U.S. will work to reduce emissions to “17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020.”

While hopes for a large-scale binding climate change agreement in Copenhagen seen to be fading with the U.S. Congress having yet to pass a climate bill, and other major industrialized countries refusing to make firm commitments of their own, there is a bright spot in that attention is being drawn to the issue, and smaller scale partnerships are beginning to take shape.

Last week, Obama and India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh agreed to launch a Clean Energy and Climate Initiative. It will include cooperation between the two countries in the areas of “wind and solar energy, second generation bio-fuels, unconventional gas, energy efficiency, and clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and storage.”

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