[GRRN] [earthsystems.org News] September 7, 2000

From: Shay Mitchell (shay@earthsystems.org)
Date: Thu Sep 07 2000 - 15:25:07 EDT

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    A study published today in Science found that the planting of
    genetically engineered sugar beets could cause a dramatic decline in
    England's already waning skylark population. The British researchers
    argue that sugar beets engineered to be resistant to herbicides will
    allow farmers to use more powerful sprays to wipe out weeds, possibly
    leading to a 90 percent reduction in the weed that produces seeds
    crucial to the skylark's diet. The study is likely to find a
    concerned audience in England, where the skylark has been celebrated
    in poetry and suspicion of genetically engineered foods is already
    high. Some American scientists, however, questioned the study's
    reliance on computer models rather than field research.

    straight to the source: London Guardian, Tim Radford, 09.01.00


    straight to the source: BBC News, 08.31.00


    straight to the source: MSNBC, Associated Press, 09.01.00


    Reduced logging on national forests does not seem to be a cause for
    wildfires in the West, says the bipartisan Congressional Research
    Service. In a study requested by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the
    service found that if anything, heavy logging in the past may be
    partially to blame for creating forests more prone to catching fire
    by removing big trees that act as fire retardants and leaving behind
    smaller trees and brush that are much more flammable. Over the last
    month, Republicans in Congress and Texas Gov. George W. Bush have
    said that reduced logging levels under the Clinton administration
    have been a cause of rampant wildfires this year. The administration
    next week is slated to release a plan recommending that controlled
    burns and thinning be used to manage the 40 million acres of federal
    forest most at risk of wildfire. Some enviros are wary that major
    forest cuts could be billed as thinning projects in order to boost
    logging levels for timber companies.

    straight to the source: New York Times, Timothy Egan, 09.01.00


    straight to the source: San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, Associated Press, John Hughes, 09.01.00


    In a ruling that could have serious implications for the environment,
    an independent NAFTA tribunal decided on Wednesday that Mexico must
    pay a California company $16.7 million in damages because municipal
    authorities prevented the company from opening a hazardous waste
    treatment plant in the state of San Luis Potosi. Mexico is appealing
    the decision, arguing that it violates the constitutional powers of
    municipal governments. Mexican officials say the company, Metalclad,
    bought a dump under the condition that it would clean up hazwaste
    pollution in the area, but the company changed its plans and tried to
    expand the dump. Michelle Swenarchuk of the Canadian Environmental
    Law Association said the decision confirms some environmentalists'

    fears that NAFTA and the environment are at odds. Swenarchuk said,
    "This case is a terrible example of how necessary environmental
    controls can become near impossible for local communities."

    straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, James S. Smith, 09.01.00


    straight to the source: Toronto Globe and Mail, Heather Scoffield, 09.01.00


    To highlight its unhappiness with Japan's decision to expand whale
    hunting in the North Pacific, the U.S. said yesterday that it will
    boycott two international environmental meetings being hosted over
    the next two weeks in Japan, cancel a meeting between U.S. and
    Japanese fisheries officials, and oppose the choice of Japan as the
    location for a meeting next year of the International Whaling
    Commission. The U.S. said it is also considering economic sanctions
    against Japan. In addition to expanding its hunt of minke whales,
    Japan said earlier this year that it will hunt sperm and Bryde's
    whales for the first time in 13 years. The country contends that its
    hunts are conducted for scientific research and thus do not violate
    an international moratorium on commercial whaling.

    straight to the source: Washington Post, John Lancaster, 08.31.00


    straight to the source: San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, Associated Press, 08.31.00


    Automakers avoided $10.2 billion in taxes on 1999 models of SUVs,
    pick-up trucks, vans, and minivans because of a loophole in the law
    establishing fuel-efficiency standards, says Friends of the Earth.
    Automakers are required to pay a tax on gas-guzzling passenger cars
    that don't meet fuel-efficiency standards, but light-duty trucks are
    currently exempt from the tax. The environmental group is calling
    for an end to the exemption. A spokesperson for the Alliance of Auto
    Manufacturers said the report exaggerates the size of the
    hypothetical tax and asserted that competition would lead to more
    efficient vehicles over time.

    straight to the source: Seattle Times, Associated Press, Curt Anderson, 08.31.00


    Global warming could dramatically change a third of the world's plant
    and animal habitat and drive some species to extinction by 2100,
    according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund. The report says
    that areas in the high northern latitudes, such as northern Russia,
    Scandinavia, and Canada, are likely to be hardest hit, with as much
    as 70 percent of their habitat adversely affected. In the U.S., most
    of the northern spruce and fir forests of New England and New York
    state could be lost. Adam Markham, one of the report's authors,
    said, "In some places, plants would need to be able to move 10 times
    faster than they did during the last ice age merely to survive." The
    predictions are based on the assumption that the amount of carbon

    dioxide in the atmosphere will double from pre-industrial levels by

    straight to the source: BBC News, Alex Kirby, 08.30.00 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_901000/901147.stm

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    (more on the puddle story!)
    North Pole is Melting -- Well, It's More Complicated Than That
    "The North Pole is melting" declared the lead story in The New York Times two
    weeks ago. In a story that surprised readers across the nation, the Times
    reported that "an ice-free patch of ocean about a mile wide has opened at the
    very top of the world, something that has presumably never before been seen
    by humans. . . . "The last time scientists can be certain the pole was awash
    in water was more than 50 million years ago." The paper characterized the
    observation, made by scientists and tourists on a July trip to the Pole
    aboard a Russian icebreaker, as evidence of global warming's relentless
    acceleration in the Arctic. Not exactly, the paper admitted a week later.

    (9-4-00) From Anchorage Daily News


    Many Workers Saying Timeout to Overtime
    Even as millions of U.S. workers celebrate economic good times this Labor Day
    weekend, many are complaining about mandatory, or forced, overtime. Federal
    law requires companies to pay hourly employees extra if they work more than
    40 hours a week. But nothing except union contracts can stop the companies
    from ordering workers to stay late or come in on weekends and from firing
    them if they don't. Managers and employees have fought over the appropriate
    length of the workweek since the U.S. labor movement began in the 19th
    century, but recent workplace changes have created new frictions. Facing a
    tight labor market and the intense competitive pressure of the
    round-the-clock economy, it's no surprise that companies are trying to
    squeeze as much as they can from their employees. What's new is that workers,
    including the ever-growing number of women on the job, are beginning to balk.

    (9-4-00) From the Washington Post


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