Global Warming = Kittens and Jellyfish

Posted: August 6th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | 1 Comment »

i fucking hate jellyfish. horrors.

kittens are cool. i hope we don’t have to hunt and eat wild herds of cats one day though.,_heat_related_deaths,_and_now_…_kittens/

sadly, there are no images of kittens battling jellyfish. sigh.

Do Conservatives Hate Their Children?

Posted: August 4th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | 3 Comments »

READ THIS. it’s a conservative talking about the obvious contradiction between denying global warming and all that family values crap they vomit.

As one blogger noted, having more children doesn’t mean that you love your children more. In fact, limiting family size instead of popping out child after child, Dugger-style, without a thought as to how that will effect the rest of the children seems more loving to me.

If this guy isn’t superretarded, how does he get this shit? I dun get it. Does he…BELIEVE…what he’s saying? Weird!!

Local Foods is Officially a Trend. Woot.

Posted: August 4th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | No Comments »

Why the Hype About Local Food May Be More than Just a Trend

By David Bollier, Posted August 4, 2008.

It is tempting to dismiss locally grown food as just another elite fashion, but its merits may mean it will be a long-term phenomenon.

Now that the New York Times has splashed it on the front page (July 22), consider it an official trend: locally grown food is all the rage. It is being avidly sought out by Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the glam crowd in the Hamptons, the merely affluent of Mill Valley, California, and even by the rest of us who live in less celebrated locations with few boldfaced residents.

It is tempting to dismiss locally grown food as just another elite fashion, as many people surely will. But it is also true that wealthy households are often the first to validate broader market trends.

Consider it another chapter in the ongoing dance between the commons and the market. The commons lovingly advances a new ideal — in this case, the ecological virtues, social satisfactions and great taste of locally grown food. And then, after years of hippies, homesteaders and eco-evangelists beating the drum for this new ideal below the radar screen of mainstream culture, entrepreneurs suddenly get hip to what’s going on and swoop in to make money from a grassroots trend.

Some things never change. We are at that special inflection point in the evolution of social attitudes that are mysteriously propelling the rise of a new market niche. Its customers, the aficionados of local food, even have a name — "locavores." There are also novel sorts of new businesses.

As the Times reports, Trevor Paque has made a business in San Francisco planting vegetable gardens for affluent suburbanites who want to eat garden-grown food, but who don’t like to garden. So Trevor does the planting, weeding and harvesting. A company called FruitGuys will deliver boxes of locally grown, sustainably raised or organic fruit to people in San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Soon mega-millionaires like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh will rail against the trendiness of local food. That’s their schtick, after all — to invent elite foils for themselves so that they can cast themselves as Main Street populists. Real Republicans only eat red meat and potatoes, it would seem.

This is just a shell game in the culture wars, however. I am convinced that local food is going to become a steady, long-term growth market. For its taste, cost and eco-friendliness, local food has already become a symbol of social virtue. People are starting to realize that it is not so good for the planet to haul meat from New Zealand, wheat from South Dakota and fruit from Caifornia. Social demand and sheer economics are starting to buoy local growers, and supermarkets are looking for new ways to call attention to their local produce. The trend lines are clear.

The spending of local money for local produce is surely a virtuous cycle for local economies. It is also likely to promote greater personal connections among people locally, stronger commitments to one’s local community, and a more stable and diverse local economy.

Two days after filing the local foods article, Kim Severson, the same Times reporter who wrote about the elite embrace of local foods, had another piece about the upcoming an upcoming festival called Slow Food Nation. The event, to be held in downtown San Francisco over Labor Day weekend, will feature pavilions devoted to foods like pickles, coffee and salami. A quarter-acre patch of the lawn in front of City Hall has been ripped up to grow a garden.

Slow Food Nation is an ambitious attempt by Slow Food USA, the American spinoff of the Italy-born Slow Food movement, to establish itself as a recognized political and cultural force. Organizers hope the festival will be, in the words of Severson, "the Woodstock of food, a profound event where a broad band of people will see that delicious, sustainably produced food can be a prism for social, ecological and political change."

I am sure that certain elements of the Slow Food world will behave like effete connoisseurs and fawn over the local argula and goat cheese. But really, is that so bad? Why shouldn’t people start to express their affection and appreciation for local food? If cultural snobs and the wealthy can embrace a populist trend without coopting it — validating it with their presence and boosting it with their dollars — I say, bring ’em on. Let everyone celebrate the taste of local food — and then move on to the political and economic realities that sustain it.

If local food is going to be a victim of identity politics, let it be a politics of localism: "We all live here together, so let’s find the way to support the farmers who are our neighbors." FarmersMarketsFinalSmall2.jpg

5 Reasons to Love $4 Gas

Posted: July 16th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | No Comments »

This had actually occurred to me, even as i try to find an apartment closer to work…

Five Reasons to Love $4 Gas

Foreign Policy. Posted July 16, 2008.

Sure, it’s ruining the global economy and making everyone miserable, but there’s an underappreciated upside to the high price of oil.

1. The mass transit boom

What’s happening: From 2000 to 2005, fewer than 5 percent of Americans used mass transit for their commutes, compared with about 50 percent in Japan and Europe. But that may be changing. More U.S. commuters than ever are taking buses, subways, or light rail to work instead of driving their cars. Americans took nearly 85 million more trips in the first three months of 2008 than they did in the same period in 2007, a recent American Public Transportation Association study found. Ridership in 2007 was the highest in 50 years.

Why it’s happening: It’s not rocket science. For many, a roundtrip bus or metro fare is easier to stomach than gas prices that in some places have climbed to $4.79 per gallon. Three quarters of Americans now believe more money should be spent on developing and improving mass transit systems, and cities are responding. Expansion and renovation projects are in the works for southern California, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Europe, meanwhile, is taking transit to the next level: Paris, which has been updating its light rail network, is installing energy-efficient trains on several Métro lines, while London plans to increase its system’s overall capacity by 50 percent by 2022.

2. Lower obesity rates

What’s happening: Rising gas prices and smaller belt sizes go together, according to Charles Courtemanche of Washington University in St. Louis. His research found that, for every dollar increase in the average real price of gas, overweight and obesity levels in the United States would decline by 16 percent after seven years. His study also attributes the outward expansion of American waistlines between 1979 and 2004 in part to falling prices. Similar research published in the European Journal of Public Health found that European countries with higher gasoline prices tend to have lower rates of obesity.

Why it’s happening: One word: exercise. Bike shops across the United States are reporting record sales, and Britain is even promoting a national "Bike Week" to encourage commuters to ride, not drive, to the office. Not only is two-wheeling a cheaper way to travel, it’s also healthier. Courtemanche’s results show that "the average person walks or bicycles an average of 0.5 times more per week if the price of gas rises by $1." Another factor he identifies is that cost-conscious Americans are choosing to eat at restaurants less frequently. Indeed, a virtuous cycle could be at work: A study published in The Engineering Economist found that Americans today use nearly a billion additional gallons of gasoline each year, compared with 1960, solely because they weigh more.

3. Fewer accidents

What’s happening: This past Memorial Day, normally a time when American drivers swarm the country’s interstates and police expect large numbers of accidents, many states reported that traffic deaths were the lowest in years. For instance, North Carolina saw just five traffic fatalities over Memorial Day weekend, down from 19 in 2007. Ohio experienced its lowest number of accidents in 38 years, and other states reported similar declines.

Why it’s happening: Americans are driving at historic lows, according to a May U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) report, and less driving means fewer accidents. And they may be driving slower and more cautiously, too. Ian Parry, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future, an energy think tank, says that while the effect would be modest, some people "will realize they can drive less aggressively" and conserve gas mileage. According to, a U.S. government Web site, "each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon."

4. Shorter commutes

What’s happening: Worry about rising gas prices has encouraged workers to move closer to their jobs to cut costs and find alternate ways of traveling to work. And for many of those that still drive, less-packed roads are actually producing shorter commutes. While the change is by no means uniform, in some of the most congested areas of southern California, the average commute time has reportedly fallen by 5 or 6 minutes. That could make for a sunnier Los Angeles: a 2006 paper in Science found that people with shorter commute times tend to be happier.

Why it’s happening: Confirming the predictions of experts such as Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, the DOT estimates that since November 2006, cumulative vehicle miles traveled have dropped by 17.3 billion miles. And with fewer cars on the road, as Mankiw forecast in 2006, those still able to afford driving are finding more lanes clear. In Europe, however, the effect has so far been the opposite, as striking truck drivers in Britain, Spain, and France have slowed or shut down entire highways to protest diesel prices.

5. The alternative fuels craze

What’s happening: More of the world’s fuel is coming from renewable energy sources instead of Middle East oil drums. Global production of biofuels — generally ethanol derived from corn, but also plant oils that produce biodiesel — roughly tripled from 2000 to 2007. Critics of biofuels point to studies indicating that the increasing diversion of cereal crops for biofuel production is driving up food prices around the world. Supporters counter that the answer isn’t to give up on alternatives to gasoline, but to develop "next-generation" biofuels (think: switchgrass and algae) that don’t interfere with the food supply. And without biofuels, "the [oil] prices today that we are experiencing could be much higher," says Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency.

Why it’s happening: Everyone responds to incentives. The U.S. Congress has set a national goal of 36 billion gallons of biofuel production by 2022, and generous subsidies are accordingly in place to make that happen. In Europe, public policy has also led the way. The European Union wants biofuels to constitute 10 percent of the fuel mix by 2020, a target that has come under scrutiny as food prices have risen sharply in recent months.

Reproduced with permission from Foreign Policy Copyright 2008, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

If it’s yellow let it mellow…

Posted: July 16th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | No Comments »

again posting link because there are lots of great imbedded links.

Cheney vs. the truth of climate change

Posted: July 8th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | 1 Comment »

What is it with white men that they want to keep knowledge secret from people? From reproductive health/sex education to climate change, the grip of patriarchy still holds. Will we have to pull all of their fingers off entirely to maintain the free flow of information?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Dick Cheney’s office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, a former EPA official maintains.

When six pages were cut from testimony on climate change and public health by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last October, the White House insisted the changes were made because of reservations raised by White House advisers about the accuracy of the science.

But Jason K. Burnett, until last month the senior adviser on climate change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, says that Cheney’s office was deeply involved in getting nearly half of the CDC’s original draft testimony removed.

"The Council on Environmental Quality and the office of the vice president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony (concerning) … any discussions of the human health consequences of climate change," Burnett has told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The three-page letter, a response to an inquiry by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, the panel’s chairwoman, was obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. Boxer planned a news conference later in the day.

Burnett, 31, a lifelong Democrat who resigned his post last month as associate deputy EPA administrator because of disagreements over the agency’s response to climate change, describes deep political concerns at the White House, including in Cheney’s office, about linking climate change directly to public health or damage to the environment.

Scientists believe manmade pollution is warming the earth and if the process is not reversed it will cause significant climate changes that pose broad public health problems from increases in disease to more injuries from severe weather.

Senate and House committees have been trying for months to get e-mail exchanges and other documents to determine the extent of political influence on government scientists, but have been rebuffed.

The letter by Burnett for the first time suggests that Cheney’s office was deeply involved in downplaying the impacts of climate change as related to public health and welfare, Senate investigators believe.

Cheney’s office also objected last January over congressional testimony by Administrator Johnson that "greenhouse gas emissions harm the environment."

An official in Cheney’s office "called to tell me that his office wanted the language changed" with references to climate change harming the environment deleted, Burnett said. Nevertheless, the phrase was left in Johnson’s testimony.

Cheney’s office and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) worried that if key health officials provided detailed testimony about global warming’s consequences on public health or the environment, it could make it more difficult to avoid regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, Burnett believes.

The EPA currently is examining whether carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, poses a danger to public health and welfare. The Supreme Court has said if it does, it must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Nowhere were these White House concerns more apparent than when CDC Director Julie Gerberding, the head of the government’s premier public health watchdog, testified about climate change and public health before Boxer’s committee last October. The White House deleted six of the original 14 pages of Gerberding’s testimony, including a list of likely public health impacts of global warming.

The White House, at the urging of Cheney’s office, "requested that I work with CDC to remove from the testimony any discussion of the human health consequences of climate change," wrote Burnett.

"CEQ contacted me to argue that I could best keep options open for the (EPA) administrator (on regulating carbon dioxide) if I would convince CDC to delete particular sections of their testimony," Burnett said in the letter to Boxer.

But he said he refused to press CDC on the deletions because he believed the CDC’s draft testimony was "fundamentally accurate."

Burnett, in a telephone interview, said he opposed making the extensive deletions because "it was the right thing to do." He declined to elaborate about White House involvement beyond his July 6 letter to Boxer.

As a Democrat, Burnett, seems to have been an odd choice as a senior policy adviser and key liaison with the White House in Bush administration’s EPA.

Over the last eight years, he has contributed nearly $125,000 to various Democratic politicians, starting with Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Government. He supports Democrat Barack Obama for president.

Burnett caught the attention of Bush administration insiders as a researcher at the Center for Regulatory Study, a joint effort by the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, where he co-authored a number of reports on regulation including one criticizing a ban on using cell phones while driving and another criticizing the EPA regulation of arsenic as too expensive with limited benefits.

Utah’s Ecofriendly 4day work week

Posted: July 3rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | No Comments »

i mean really, seriously. everything about this screams YES!

Not sure whether you would consider this a dream come true or not, depending on the hit your bank will take, but Utah has become the first US state to make it mandatory to take a three day weekend. Their guise is for environmental friendliness, but I think we can all see through that.

Governor Jon Huntsman, a first-term Republican, has introduced the change, which will affect the majority of state employees, in an attempt to reduce the state’s carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, improve customer service and provide workers more flexibility. “The reaction (from the public) has been very much a willingness to give this a go,” he says.

The four day work week is not as uncommon as I first thought, with forms of it popping up all across the US. The USA Today article notes that “The four-day work week is fairly common among city and county governments…” and it continues:

Jacqueline Byers, director of research at the National Association of Counties, says the four-day work week is gaining in popularity among county governments. Marion County, Fla., has a mandatory four-day work week for employees; Oconee County, S.C., and Walworth County, Wis., have it for road work crews, while Will County, Ill., has it for the auditor’s office. Oakland County, Mich., is seeking volunteers for a four-day work week, and Miami-Dade County, Fla., and Suffolk County, N.Y., are moving toward it, she says

It is a rather drastic measure, cutting an entire day out of a work week, but one that is sure to make a big impact. While in the months to come – the new system is set to go into effect on August 4 – I’m sure we’ll see statistics explaining what the cutback has done specifically for the environment, but there is more. Such a measure, already seen to be working throughout smaller counties and cities, is another example of how local and individual changes are having large impacts.

There will obviously be some immediate negative impacts. “One thing that has to be changed is the level of expectation from taxpayers, because they’ve always wanted five-day access,” Byers says. “They have to adjust to offices that are open longer on weekdays, but closed on Fridays.”

In addition, longer work days will create problems for those dealing with public transport and childcare, but the Utah government is looking to have these issues ironed out before the August 4th start date.

In fact, Rex Facer, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University whose research team is studying the four-day work week concept, believes that such a change will have impacts on the work-life balance as well. “More and more young workers are entering the work force,” Facer says. “They’re looking for ways to enhance their work-life balance. Alternative work schedules offer more of this work-life balance than do traditional work schedules.”

So all in all, I can hardly see where this can go wrong!

Hypocritical Vegetarian Post Ahoy

Posted: July 3rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | 1 Comment »

everybody seems to be becoming aware of the fact that meat production contributes more to global warming than cars []. i’ve been meaning to post something showing the environmental impact of giving up meat for a while, but here is a preliminary list of reasons why going veggie is good for the planet (this might just be about beef, i’ll find more and add them)- also please other people add them, i know i’ve seen really good, comprehensive lists with health and environment and animal rights stats.

from alternet today, Is a big hunk of steak worth the water?
[big hunk of steak…eeeewwww. maybe i should start referring to meat as cow carcass etc and rid myself of euphemisms…]

sometimes the kick we need to green our lives is a hard look at the numbers.

Summer is heating up, and all the pools, barbeques, lawn-watering and the like that put our water use under the microscope, even more than it is the rest of the year. But did you know that we all have a "water-footprint"?

Quite similar in concept to the carbon footprint, our water footprints are defined as "the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual, business or nation," by People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. The numbers are staggering.

In the US, our water footprint is 2,500 cubic meters per capita, which translates roughly to 660,430 U.S. gallons per person per year. Compare that to 700 cubic meters per year per capita (184,920 gallons) in China and 1150 cubic meters per year per capita (303,798 gallons) in Japan. That’s a lot of water down the drain at our hands.

This is apropos to Graham’s discussion earlier about knowing what it takes to "make" meat, and learning where it comes from; when you consider that it takes about 1,916 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, it helps contextualize the impact of your meat-eating choices.

Sure, we can all use less, buy less and consume less, which is easy to say and hard to do, but breaking it down and considering these numbers makes one simple food choice — to eat less meat — have much more gravity. I’m not in to guilt-tripping anyone into a greener lifestyle, but I encourage you to ask yourself this: Is having a big hunk of steak really worth almost 2,000 gallons of water? story01.jpg (29.04 K) cow_fart_19sep07_veg_200.jpg

Birth Control and the Planet

Posted: July 3rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | No Comments »

By Gillian Murdoch

BEIJING (Reuters) – We do it about 215 million times a day, so humans need to stop shying away from talking about sex — and the babies it makes — to help avert the global climate crisis, environmentalist and author Robert Engelman says.

With 78 million new homo sapiens arriving every year, the human race urgently needs to address population growth through debate, Engleman says in his new book, "More: Population, Nature and What Women Want".

Engleman, a programme director at Washington’s Worldwatch Institute, spoke to Reuters about how to get the conversation going, and why we need to hurry, but be calm, about it.

Q: Condoms for climate change. Is that what you’re saying?

A: At the risk of oversimplifying, it’s possible to boil it down to say condoms to help prevent further climate change. The book is very much about relations between human numbers and the environment. And it’s very much suggesting that better access to contraception, not just condoms but the whole range, is important in thinking about the environment.

Q: Why is it so hard to talk about this topic?

A: In some ways it is an ultimate taboo. People feel that there is no safe ground — even to bring it up, as an issue, it sounds as though you are telling other people how many children to have, and that is unforgivable as reproduction and having children is so sensitive and so personal.

Q: What are the taboos in this discussion, exactly?

A: Several topics come up that are unpleasant or difficult to deal with, one is abortion, one is immigration, one is racial or ethnic differences in fertility. Mostly northern Caucasian peoples are on average having fewer children than other ethnic groups, or other nationalities. That’s not universally true but there’s a tendency to perceive it that way. So that makes it even more sensitive. You combine sexuality, abortion, immigration and racial and ethnic differences. What sensitive issue haven’t we not thrown into this mix?

Q: You suggest there simply too many humans running around emitting global-warming related carbon to be sustainable?

A: We have succeeded too well at expanding the species into every nook and cranny of the planet. In some ways we are now suffering some of the negative impacts of that very success. We discovered that we could burn coal when we ran out of forest wood. Coal launched an industrial revolution that allowed us to have the larger population we have. On one hand it’s a triumph. On the other hand we wouldn’t be facing a potentially catastrophically changing climate if we hadn’t had to feed and care for an unprecedentedly large human population.

Q: And now we need to slow down?

A: I can’t prove it, I’m not going to predict it, but we could be facing an era when we find that population doesn’t grow forever, and we find that it is a finite planet. Eventually food, disease do have an effect on population by affecting death rates.

At this point, I think we would be well-advised not to keep growing. To have some population decline, not too much, not too long, would be just what the doctor ordered.

Q: You suggest that’s what most women would choose?

A: There’s a term that I think I invented called the demostat, like a thermostat. The idea is that women’s childbearing decisions respond to their environment — when conditions are really bad they tend to have fewer children and then when conditions improve they tend to have more.

I don’t think it’s quite as simple as women just put their finger into the wind and say it’s a good time or a bad time but I think that it’s the best way to think about population; that we’re most likely to arrive at a sustainable population simply by allowing women to make the decision.

Q: Meanwhile, governments worried about having too many, or too few people, should be calm, you say?

A: I call it "Zen and art of population management". Many governments have become fairly successful with this Zen approach — not telling women how many children to have, not taxing children or somehow disincentivising family, but simply making sure women had good health services by which they could make their own decisions about reproduction.

When that happened, women spontaneously grasped it, and fertility rates went down. Not because governments were telling women to have fewer children, but because they were setting up the conditions under which women could achieve the goal they had always had, which was to be able to time their pregnancy.

Chemical Industry and your Reproductive Future

Posted: June 26th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Environment | No Comments »

not good…not good…i’m glad someone is finally looking into this…i’m posting the first page and you can go to the article for the rest

Low Sperm Counts and Deformed Penises: The Chemical Industry Has a Hold on Your Reproductive Future

By Joshua Zaffos, Colorado Springs Independent. Posted June 26, 2008.

I am half the man my father is.

This disturbing fortune came to me about five years ago, but not from an odd relative or a sadistic girlfriend. Instead, this dinner-table diagnosis came from Theo (short for Theodora) Colborn, an internationally known scientist who has helped develop the field of research exploring how chemical compounds interfere with the hormones that guide human development.

Known as endocrine disruption, chemicals found in computer screens and car seats, shower curtains and shampoo, plastic water bottles and prophylactics are skewing our odds against cancers and causing developmental delays and reproductive roadblocks, including declining sperm counts.

So, when Colborn informed me of my inferior manhood, I took consolation in the fact that she was indicting my entire generation — and her own — for loading our natural environment, our workplaces and our homes with tens of thousands of chemical compounds without really having a clue about what we’re doing. Our Stolen Future, the book Colborn co-authored in 1996, first delivered this bad news to the general public.

More than a decade later, scientists are still conducting experiments and measuring results, from cramped basement labs at universities to expansive high-country lakes in the wilderness. The hypotheses generally aren’t questions of whether chemicals are pervading and persisting in the environment, but rather how severely they are stunting our development and health. The federal government has investigated these questions with timidity, if not contempt, operating a regulatory system practically beholden to the chemical industry.

With half of my manhood at stake and hopes for a better assessment in the future, I’m wondering how we can heed the warning signs and reverse our chemical course.

A day in my half-life

For years, I started off each day drinking coffee out of a metallic cup, likely coated with bisphenol-A, a chemical commonly used to line plastic bottles and other food and beverage cans and containers. Anyone who has lugged around a Nalgene bottle made of polycarbonate plastic, trying to save the Earth one paper cup at a time, has gotten his or her share of bisphenol-A, which leaches from containers into liquids to enter our bodies. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control study detected bisphenol-A in 93 percent of all Americans.

Inside us, bisphenol-A mimics estrogen, plugging into hormone receptors; this is endocrine disruption. In pregnant or breastfeeding mothers and young and prepubescent children, it can have critical impacts, rewiring our developmental profiles and opening up our risks for cancers and physical and behavioral abnormalities. Lab tests suggest that chronic, low-dose exposure to bisphenol-A — like drinking out of a coated cup or polycarbonate bottle daily — may cause women to have greater chances of breast cancer and polycystic ovary syndrome, a leading cause of infertility, and men to have increased odds of prostate cancer and reduced sperm counts.

That’s a lot to think about during the day’s first cup of coffee or sip of water. Now I try to stick to ceramic mugs and glasses.

As my body starts to properly caffeinate in the mornings, I usually sit in front of a laptop and do whatever it is writers do to put off writing — checking e-mails and boxscores — until I’m warmed up. As a computer warms up, particles inside start to fly and some catch a ride on dust. For years, I breathed in polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) from my laptop.

These compounds are flame-retardants, nearly universally used in couch cushions, televisions, cars and carpets. PBDEs have similar chemical structures to thyroid hormones, and, according to lab tests, they can lower our bodies’ production of the real thing.

Over time, thyroid-hormone deficiencies can hurt metabolism. Hypothyroidism causes fatigue, depression, anxiety, hair loss and a waning libido. Women with low thyroid-hormone counts are five times more likely to have children with IQs that qualify them as mildly retarded, according to one study. A 2005 experiment found that a single low dose of a common PDBE given to rats in utero resulted in a class of hyperactive rodents with persistent low sperm counts.

Contemplating my future as a fat, bald, sad, edgy, dull and dim-witted bachelor isn’t necessarily cause for perilous concern. Still, a generation’s lacking aesthetics and sex drive is a wicked trade-off for the low combustion factors of our workspaces, living rooms and vehicles.

On the mornings when words don’t flow from my fingertips, I know it’s time to take a shower, an effective and healthy distraction. I used to have a vinyl shower curtain and wash with whatever shampoo was cheapest from the supermarket. Both those products generally contain phthalates (pronounced "tha-lates"), compounds that add flexibility and plasticity to fragrances and cosmetics and almost anything made out of vinyl, including children’s toys and IV bags.