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President George W. Bush may be talking the talk about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, but Swedes are prepared to walk the walk'and then some.

Follow the Leader

President George W. Bush may be talking the talk about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, but Swedes are prepared to walk the walk and then some.

Sweden's prime minister, Goran Persson, has committed to a program to end Sweden's dependency on all fossil fuels not just foreign oil by 2020. In their ambitious program, Sweden will reach its target by "boosting research on alternative fuels, giving financial incentives to people switching to green alternatives, and increasing the annual electricity production from renewable sources," such as wind and water power.

Sweden is already a leader in environmental stewardship, with only 35 percent of energy consumption coming from oil, down from 77 percent in 1970. Sales of cars that run on alternative fuel almost doubled in Sweden over the past year, and a new law passed by parliament in December makes it mandatory for major gas stations to offer at least one alternative fuel at its pumps, all signs that Sweden is well poised to walk the renewable energy walk.

New Homes for Some Gentle Giants

Readers of alive may remember our article "Gentle Giants" (March 2006) and may have despaired at the plight of chimpanzees being used in biomedical laboratories
for medical research.

Encouraging news comes from Ohio State University, which recently announced it will be closing its chimpanzee research program. They plan to send their nine remaining chimps to a refuge in Texas, where the university will fund construction of a facility to house the chimps and pay for medical exams, shipping, and an endowment for their future support.

Robert McGrath, senior vice president for research at the university, added that "for the past several years many institutions across the country have been reassessing their practice of maintaining
chimpanzees for research. The US Air Force, National Institutes of Health, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration have all begun retiring their chimpanzees to primate sanctuaries."

We can only hope this is a continuing trend.

Pooch Power

San Francisco will initiate a unique program this summer to harness the energy in man's best friends' biowaste. Yes, we mean doggy doo.

In a pilot program, dog owners at Duboce Park, one of the city's busiest pet parks, will be asked to drop their pooch's poop into a "methane digester." The bacteria inside the
digester "chew" the waste to create methane. The plan is to turn this methane into fuel
for gas stoves, heaters, turbines, or anything else powered by natural gas.

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