Mother Jones on lead-filled lipstick Maggie Severns reports on the elevated lead levels found in store-bought lipstick — and the regulations that might address it. "Shouldn't the FDA do a better job curbing lead and metal content in lipstick? In short, yes. Though the agency regulates how much of these substances can be in pigment, strangely, it hasn't specified how much metal overall is allowed in the tube of lipstick." One problem, though: "The FDA itself doesn't even test the dozens of dyes used in cosmetics or set the maximum amounts of metals in them; it outsourced that job years ago to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, an organization established in 1976 by a cosmetics-industry-aligned trade and lobbying group."
USA Today on how the military could go green "Today's military is tethered to a gas pump," writes Jim Michaels. "The amount of fuel used per individual soldier has skyrocketed in recent years because of an increased use of aircraft and armored vehicles. In Afghanistan, that dependency has meant long and costly supply lines that are vulnerable to attack and limit the reach of American forces." He continues: "The Pentagon increasingly sees this energy dependence as a military weakness and is trying to reduce it. The Navy is attempting to transition to biofuels for its ships and planes, and the Army and Marine Corps are exploring a host of initiatives, including using solar energy to power radio batteries."
The Atlantic Cities on the future of public roads Are public-private partnerships the best way to manage public roads? Eric Jaffe considers the upside of a recent deal in Colorado: "On paper, everyone seems to have made out well. The state gets money up front, the investors get a share of the toll revenue, and commuters get an upgraded corridor 20 years ahead of schedule." Among the downsides — including severely limiting non-compete clauses — the worst may be the most intangible: "Seeing roads as individual profitable projects distracts from their role as part of the greater public network — capable of influencing everything from transport equity to urban density to environmental sustainability."
MIT Technology Review on how much oil we have We're finding more and more oil, reports Kevin Bullis. "The U.S. Geological Survey keeps increasing its estimate for the amount of oil under North Dakota. In 2008, the organization estimated that oil deposits in part of the Williston Basin—an area that includes parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana—had 3.65 billion barrels of oil yet to be discovered. That was 25 times higher than its previous estimate ... now it’s increased its estimate by a similar amount, raising it 3.75 billion barrels to 7.4 billion barrels." Which provides an important lesson: "Those who think we should stop using fossil fuels should stop hoping that we’ll run out. We won't. .... To reduce the use of fossil fuels, the focus should be on developing ... alternatives."
National Geographic on Pakistan's energy crisis Muhammad Makki reports on the coal boom occurring in the Thar Desert, and its impact on the people who live there: "The Thari people endure, draped in their dark red textiles ambling across the monotonous desert, with visible hope in their weary eyes that coal development might lift them out of destitution. Certainly, the development of coal reserves will contribute significantly to the economy but will be accompanied by severe environmental and social impacts that need to be adequately addressed. ... [since] the residents of Tharparkar do not have the resources nor the proclivity to engage in violent resistance it is incumbent upon development interests to protect the community’s social order."