In the news: October 13, 2006

Insurance industry offers incentives to "go green": The world's second-largest industry, worried about losses related to climate change, offers incentives to 'go green.' Some of the planned incentives:

• Travelers, the giant insurance firm, will offer owners of hybrid cars in California a 10 percent discount. It already offers the discount in 41 other states and has cornered a large share of the market.

• This fall, Fireman's Fund will cut premiums for "green" buildings that save energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases. When it pays off claims, it will direct customers to environmentally friendly products to replace roofs, windows, and water heaters.

• In January, Marsh, the largest insurance broker in the US, will offer a program with Yale University to teach corporate board members about their fiduciary responsibility to manage exposure to climate change.

West outpaces rest of globe in temperature rise: The globe is warming, but the American West is really cooking - hotter and faster on average than the rest of the U.S. and the world. The West is already 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than its average annual temperature, the warmest it has been in the past 400 years.

New study shows dangers of perchlorate: The most definitive study to date on the health effects of perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, has shown the substance is more dangerous than previously thought. The study found that low-level, everyday exposures to perchlorate in drinking water can reduce thyroid function in women, and that even small amounts of exposure to the chemical can create small-to moderate-sized effects on the thyroid.

Senators prod EPA over perchlorate: Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both California Democrats, are demanding that the U.S. EPA issue a health advisory to warn people about perchlorate. This common water contaminant is linked with impaired thyroid function in women.

"The EPA should also establish a drinking-water standard that protects vulnerable pregnant women and children," the senators said in a letter to EPA.

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