[GRRN] [earthsystems.org News] December 14, 1999

Shay Mitchell (shay@earthsystems.org)
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 14:00:54 -0500

earthsystems.org news Issue 21
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What's new at earthsystems.org

Holiday Greetings

earthsystems.org has prepared a special holiday message for you.
It includes a review of our past year.


Issue of the Week

The Removal of US Hydroelectric Dams: Environmental groups are praising the
growing trend toward removing hydroelectric dams, but is it harming our
energy infrastructure?


Poll of the Week

Is the practice of removing hydroelectric dams an environmentally positive or negative


>From GIST:


Enviro and labor groups across the country are increasingly joining forces,
most recently at the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, to fight
against globalization and the consolidation of economic power. In the past
year, for example, Maine forest workers and enviros together protested the
effects of NAFTA on the North Woods; blue-collar workers in Wyoming and
enviros called attention to mining safety concerns and the low wages of workers in
resort towns; and fishers in the Northwest have endorsed calls to breach dams
to save salmon. Several hundred enviro and labor groups have signed the
Houston Principles, which include such statements as "the drive for short-term
profits without regard for long-term sustainability hurts working people,
communities, and the earth." Still, significant differences remain between
the two interests, especially over issues like logging in national forests,
where labor believes stronger environmental restrictions would cost jobs.

straight to the source: Christian Science Monitor, Todd Wilkinson, 12.13.99



Drinking water and sewage facilities are threatened by the Y2K computer bug,
and lax oversight by the feds and industry are to blame, according to a
reported released by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for
Y2K & Society. The report authors, based on surveys conducted by such groups
as the American Water Works Association, expressed "serious doubts" that
55,000 drinking water utilities and 16,000 publicly owned wastewater facilities in
the U.S. would be prepared for the New Year. Although government and industry
reps agreed with the report findings that every household in the country should
stock up on water for the first few months of 2000, they said the situation is
far from dire. Don Meyer, a spokesperson for the Senate Y2K committee: "We
are very concerned about wastewater preparedness. However, we disagree that
drinking water is in a crisis."

straight to the source: USA Today, M.J. Zuckerman, 12.10.99


straight to the report: Center for Y2K & Society



Crowding into a special congressional committee hearing, enviros in Brazil
last night temporarily fought off last-minute legislation that would have made deep
cutbacks in protections of the Amazon rainforest. The cutbacks favored by
rich landowners, logging companies, and the country's agriculture minister would
reduce the amount of the rainforest currently under protection from 80 percent
to 50 percent, and the amount of protected rainforest outside of the Amazon
from 50 percent to 20 percent. The changes would make way for cattle-grazing
pastures and eucalyptus and pine plantations. A vote has now been postponed
until next year, but Analuce Freitas of the World Wildlife Fund in Brazil says
the battle is still an uphill one: "The problem is nobody in Brazil cares
about the rainforests."

straight to the source: Boston Globe, Nicole Veash, 12.08.99



Monsanto last week helped pay for a pro-genetically modified foods
demonstration in Washington, D.C., by some 100 members of a Baptist church,
according to one of the rally organizers. The demonstration was part of a new
campaign by the company to work behind the scenes to get church members, union
workers, and the elderly to speak in favor of GM foods. Last week, the church
members, carrying signs that read "Biotech saves children's lives" and
"Biotech equals jobs," marched around a group of anti-biotech advocates dressed as
giant monarch butterflies. The anti-biotech butterfly folks claim that some of the
supporters of GM foods told them that Monsanto had paid people $25 a head to
take part in the demonstration, while an organizer of the demonstration said
Monsanto only covered the cost of transportation and lunch (surely not an
organic one!). A spokeswoman for Monsanto acknowledged that it had contracted
with PR firm Burson Marstellar to reach out to GM supporters, but said that
paying people to demonstrate would violate the company's ethics policy and
that the company plans to investigate the charge.

straight to the source: New York Times, Melody Petersen, 12.08.99



All that talk of "smart growth" aside, the rate at which the nation's
privately held farmland, forests, and wetlands are being lost to development has more
than doubled since 1992, according to a study released yesterday by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture. Almost 16 million acres of land were converted to
development over the five-year period between 1992 and 1997, compared to 13.9
million acres over the entire decade from 1982 to 1992. Texas, Pennsylvania,
Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina have seen the most land converted to
development since 1992. With the report's release, VP Al Gore took the

opportunity to remind voters that he doesn't much like the effects of
development: "Too much of our precious open space is being gobbled up by
sprawl." Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R) is trying to please both
Republicans and Democrats with a smart-growth program -- but so far to no

straight to the source: San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, Associated Press,
Philip Brasher, 12.07.99


straight to the source: New York Times, William K. Stevens, 12.07.99


straight to the source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Diane Mastrull, 12.07.99


read it only in Grist Magazine: Northeast GOP governors race to be green (and
veep up with George W.) -- in our Muckraker column

To subscribe to THE DAILY GIST, send an email to grist@gristmagazine.com with
the word "subscribe" in the subject line, or click here,


>From tidepool.org


How the Internet Can Save the Earth

Shop online and save the Earth. That is the holiday message offered by Dr.
Joseph Romm and the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions. Speaking today in
Washington, Romm pointed to a number of ways in which increasing use of the
Internet is saving energy and resources, and helping to slow the impact of
global warming. His report, released today, details how computers are
revolutionizing the U.S. economy. (12.13.99) From ENS

Socially Responsible Shopping

This holiday season, many time-crunched Americans are shopping with a cause in
mind, says a new study. Strategic-marketing firm Cone Inc., in Boston, reports
that 68 percent of American shoppers polled will purchase a product in which a
percentage of the price is donated to a cause. That's up 33 percent from 1997.
This type of shopping ranks second among the most popular ways of giving. The
others according to Cone: donating personal belongings (82 percent), writing a
check (53 percent), volunteering (41 percent), and attending a fund-raiser (31
percent). (12.13.99) From the Christian Science Monitor.

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