[GRRN] [earthsystems.org News] September 27, 2000

From: Shay Mitchell (shay@earthsystems.org)
Date: Wed Sep 27 2000 - 22:27:09 EDT

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    earthsystems.org news Volume 2 Issue 38

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    Though ozone-depleting chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons are beginning to
    fade from the atmosphere, there's no telling when the ozone layer will begin
    to recover, NOAA scientists say. "We should expect to be able to detect
    recovery in most regions of the world within the next 15 to 45 years," said
    Weatherhead. "That's based on full compliance with the Montreal Protocol and
    its amendments and no other complicating factors such as major volcanic
    eruptions or enhanced stratospheric cooling." Most developed countries have
    adopted the treaty, but many developing countries have not complied for
    economic reasons. Most scientists agree that the ozone layer will fully
    recover only if all countries adopt the protocol and stop producing
    ozone-depleting substances.



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    The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday in favor of a $7.8
    billion plan to restore the Florida Everglades over the next 30 to 40
    years, the largest environmental restoration undertaking in history.
    The bill calls for a massive construction project by the U.S. Army
    Corps of Engineers to restore the water flow through the
    300-mile-long ecosystem -- which, ironically, has been devastated by
    decades of flood control efforts by none other than the U.S. Army
    Corps of Engineers. The measure has backing from the White House,
    enviros, agricultural interests, the sugar industry, and Florida Gov.
    Jeb Bush (R). The bill now heads to the House, where supporters hope
    they can get it through before this year's legislative session winds
    up on Oct. 6.

    straight to the source: Miami Herald, Frank Davies, 09.26.00


    straight to the source: Salt Lake Deseret News, Associated Press, H. Josef Hebert, 09.26.00


    Kraft Foods announced a nationwide recall on Friday of Taco
    Bell-brand taco shells found to contain small amounts of a
    genetically modified corn variety not approved for human consumption
    because it may cause allergies. The corn, known as StarLink, has
    been approved as animal feed, but in an effort to reassure the
    public, the manufacturer of the corn, Aventis Corp., announced today
    that it will suspend sales of the variety unless the U.S. EPA
    approves its use in human food. The recall is likely to put pressure
    on the biotech industry and the government to more tightly regulate
    genetically modified crops. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) is
    sponsoring a bill that would require stricter safety testing and
    mandatory labeling. But some experts are saying that accurate
    labeling would be difficult, since it is hard to keep genetically
    modified crops from contaminating and being mixed with other crops.
    Meanwhile, enviros are criticizing a new preliminary report released
    by the U.S. EPA that claims genetically modified corn is unlikely to
    pose a serious threat to monarch butterflies, despite recent
    high-profile studies that have found pollen from the corn plants can
    kill monarch caterpillars.

    straight to the source: New York Times, Andrew Pollack, 09.23.00


    straight to the source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Associated Press,
    Philip Brasher, 09.26.00


    straight to the source: New York Times, Andrew Pollack, 09.26.00


    straight to the source: New York Times, Carol Kaesuk Yoon, 09.26.00


    Senate leaders yesterday blocked a proposal to reform the U.S. Army
    Corps of Engineers by requiring independent reviews of its projects,
    and instead got behind a plan to have the National Academy of
    Sciences assess whether or not the Corps's own review process is
    actually flawed. A recent series in the Washington Post examined a
    number of cases in which Corps officials tampered with internal
    reviews and gave short shrift to environmental concerns in order to
    justify water projects supported by powerful politicians. After
    yesterday's deal making, Scott Faber of American Rivers said,
    "Despite overwhelming evidence of abuse in Corps studies, senators
    would rather protect their cozy relationships with the Corps than
    protect taxpayers or the environment." This spring, the White House
    issued a draft order that would have forced the Corps to adopt higher
    environmental standards, but withdrew it a week later under fire from
    Senate Republicans. The administration says it is now considering
    reviving the order.

    straight to the source: Washington Post, Michael Grunwald, 09.22.00


    straight to the source: Washington Post, Michael Grunwald, 09.10.00


    Federal officials announced yesterday that thousands of environmental
    safety tests performed at Superfund locations and other hazardous
    waste sites around the U.S. between 1994 and 1997 will have to be
    repeated because a testing company falsified results. Federal
    prosecutors are planning criminal indictments against 13 former
    employees of Intertek Testing Services, formerly the second-largest
    tester in the U.S. of toxic materials. An Intertek unit in Texas is
    suspected of falsifying data on some 59,000 projects involving more
    than 100,000 different tests conducted on samples of soil,
    groundwater, and other materials taken from potentially toxic sites.
    The massive fraud case means that some sites believed to be safe
    could actually contain carcinogens and other dangerous pollutants,
    though the feds said that none of the sites retested so far has been
    found to pose health hazards.

    straight to the source: New York Times, Richard A. Oppel Jr., 09.22.00

    (EARTHSYSTEMS.ORG NOTE: How long and how mant taxpayers $$ will this mess take to
    clean up?)

    Old-growth forests are much better at removing carbon dioxide from

    the air than plantations of new forests, concludes a new study
    published today in the journal Science. In negotiations over an
    international treaty on climate change, the U.S., along with Canada
    and Russia, is proposing to meet as much as half of its greenhouse
    gas reduction requirements by using carbon sinks like forest
    plantations to sequester CO2 from the air, instead of putting more
    limits on the burning of fossil fuels and thereby preventing CO2 from
    being released in the first place. But the study throws to the wind
    the assumption that old-growth forests are in a state of decay and
    release as much CO2 as they capture. The study authors say that the
    treaty needs to establish protections for old-growth forests or else
    some countries could be tempted to cut down old-growth forests and
    then plant new trees on the deforested land, getting credit for
    reducing CO2 when they would actually be making the situation worse.

    straight to the source: New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin, 09.22.00


    (EARTHSYSTEMS.ORG NOTE: For years the logging companies have said
    they're doing us all a favor as young trees are better than old trees. Science
    magazine is the 'real thing' so it's past time to use electronic forms of
    communication, declare war on waste and buy recycled paper).

    Millions of people in more than 800 cities in 30 countries are
    participating in a car-free day today, according to Margot
    Wallstroem, environment commissioner for the European Union. The day
    -- marked throughout Europe and in other spots from Buenos Aires to
    Tel Aviv -- is aimed at raising awareness about pollution and traffic
    congestion, particularly as high gasoline prices have people's
    attention. Participating in the first car-free day in Bangkok, Thai
    Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and several of the country's cabinet
    ministers walked, biked, or took public transit to work today. Chuan
    said that if the car-free day proved popular, it might be extended to
    weekends on a trial basis. Still, this latest car-free campaign
    hasn't made as much of a splash in Europe as intended.

    straight to the source: BBC News, 09.22.00


    straight to the source: Bangkok Post, 09.22.00


    straight to the source: San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, Associated Press, Constant Brand, 09.22.00


    (EARTHSYSTEMS.ORG NOTE: Meanwhile, in America, we continue to ask for bigger cars
    and more roads. If Americans drove, on average, 5 miles a day less, we could
    reduce oil use up to 10%)

    As the world population rises, particularly in many poor, developing
    countries, water shortages could become a severe problem, writes
    Lester Brown. Water tables are already falling on every continent,
    thanks in large part to powerful pumping technology developed in the
    last 50 years, which allows humans to deplete aquifers faster than
    they can be replenished by precipitation. Water shortages could turn
    into food shortages, since it takes roughly 1,000 tons of water to
    produce one ton of grain, and far more water to produce meat. Brown
    argues that governments can work to avert catastrophe by limiting
    population growth and raising the price of water to encourage
    efficient use.

    read it in Grist Magazine: The world is running low on H2O -- by Lester R. Brown

    (EARTHSYSTEMS.ORG NOTE: Raising price worked great for gas and cigarettes didn't
    it? More seriously, as we have predicted previously, Water is the issue that
    will push the world to more serious conservation efforts)

    This fall National Park Service officials are expected to ask all
    park superintendents to come up with plans for limiting noise in
    national parks and protecting the "soundscape," or the natural sounds
    unique to each area. "All of a sudden, places that look the same as
    100 to 200 years ago don't sound like they did," said Wes Henry of
    the NPS, who is leading a federal effort to restore quiet to parks.
    Helicopters, airplanes, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, and car
    alarms can all destroy the peace and tranquility that many park
    visitors seek. Over the past year, the NPS has restricted or banned
    snowmobiles and personal watercraft like Jetskis in some parks and
    national seashores, in part because of the noise they make and in
    part because they pollute and disturb wildlife.

    straight to the source: USA Today, Traci Watson, 09.21.00


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