New Standards Developed for “Natural” Cleaning Products

The personal care industry has long demanded stricter standards for products labeled "natural," and in February, the Natural Products Association (NPA), the group representing retailers and manufacturers including Whole Foods and Clorox Co., has released new standards for home-care products. These include household cleaners for bathrooms and kitchen countertops and laundry detergents. Up until now, there has been no definition of the term "natural" within the home-care products industry.

Madeira floods kill at least 40

Portuguese rescue workers using bulldozers searched on Sunday for more bodies under debris after violent floods and mudslides killed at least 40 people on the resort island of Madeira. Authorities flew more rescue teams and military engineers from the mainland to help the Atlantic island where a heavy rainstorm on Saturday unleashed floods and mudslides, washing away bridges, blocking roads with rocks and mud and cutting off parts of the island.

Does Fair Trade Coffee Lift Growers Out of Poverty

Does Fair Trade Coffee Lift Growers Out of Poverty or Simply Ease Our Guilty Conscience? Is the Fair Trade movement just a marketing scheme or does it truly provide a living wage for coffee growers? How many times a day do you consume a food produced by a subsistence farmer on the other side of the world? Whether it's chocolate, coffee, tea, sugar or bananas, most Americans regularly enjoy inexpensive tropical foods, but far fewer actually think about the effects on the people or the environment where those products are grown. The Fair Trade movement represents one attempt to change this by reminding consumers that their lifestyles rely on faraway farmers and laborers and offering them an opportunity to ensure their purchases come from farmers paid a fair price.

Lobsters are dying in Bay of Fundy

Fishermen are furious a pesticide normally used for agriculture ended up in the Bay of Fundy and may have contributed to the death of hundreds of lobsters. Dead lobsters first appeared last November in Grand Manan's Seal Cove, and five days later a fisherman 50 kilometres away in Pocologan found more dead lobsters in his traps. Soon after that discovery, another 816 kilograms of weak or dead lobster were discovered in Deer Island's Fairhaven Harbour.

UN Climate Chief to Step Down

Yvo de Boer, the head of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, has formally announced he'll be leaving the post this July. The decision is widely thought to come from de Boer's deep disappointment with the results of the Copenhagen climate talks, and the nonbinding Accord forged there. An energetic and often "sharp-tongued" man, many fear that whomever is selected as his replacement will lack his audacity and enthusiasm. Here's his statement on why he's leaving:

Australia to Japan – Stop Whaling Now

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set Japan a November deadline to stop Southern Ocean whaling or face an international legal challenge to its yearly cull, launched by his government. Australia preferred to find a diplomatic solution to its standoff with Tokyo over the annual whale cull near Antarctica, Rudd said, but was serious about a threat made two years ago to challenge the hunt in an international court.

Yemen water crisis

Yemeni water trader Mohammed al-Tawwa runs his diesel pumps day and night, but gets less and less from his well in Sanaa, which experts say could become the world's first capital city to run dry. "My well is now 400 meters (1,300 feet) deep and I don't think I can drill any deeper here," said Tawwa, pointing to the meager flow into tanks that supply water trucks and companies.

Is the Copenhagen Accord already dead?

Less than two months after it was hastily drafted to stave off a fiasco, the Copenhagen Accord on climate change is in a bad way, and some are already saying it has no future. The deal was crafted amid chaos by a small group of countries, led by the United States and China, to avert an implosion of the UN's December 7-18 climate summit. Savaged at the time by green activists and poverty campaigners as disappointing, gutless or a betrayal, the Accord is now facing its first test in the political arena -- and many views are caustic.

Evidence of Rapid Sea Rise Found in Coastal Cave in Mediterranean

An examination of mineral deposits in a coastal cave on the Spanish island of Mallorca shows evidence of rapid rises and declines in sea level as the planet warmed and cooled. Reporting in the journal Science, University of Iowa researchers said that studies of the mineral, calcite — deposited by sea water on the inside of a seaside cave, like rings on a bathtub — showed that roughly 81,000 years ago sea levels jumped by more than 6 feet a century during a warm period, and then dropped during a subsequent cooling cycle at a similar rate — 66 feet per 1,000 years.

Richmond Olympic Oval represents green gold for buildings

Gold medals are not handed out for architectural design, but the environmentally friendly speed skating arena built for the Vancouver Olympics is being called a winner by the bladed athletes who will compete there this month. The Richmond Olympic Oval, considered the signature building of the Games, contains salvaged wood damaged by a pine-beetle infestation and has a massive roof shaped like a wave. "We compete in some nice ovals that have been built as Olympic facilities in the past," defending 5,000 meters champion Chad Hedrick of the United States told Reuters. "This one here obviously outdoes all of them. They went big on this.