ENN's editors summarize the most compelling environmental and sustainable economy themes of the week. In the news May 23 - 27: Making water from hog waste, coral reefs in jeopardy, President Bush visits EPA headquarters, insights into the mysterious lives of plants, and more.
Top Ten Stories of the Week
Sustainable Economy News Roundup
EarthNews Radio Review
ENN Commentary: Quality Angling Tied to Conservation
The Week's Top Ten
In the news this week: Making water from hog waste, coral reefs in jeopardy, President Bush visits EPA headquarters, insights into the mysterious lives of plants, and more.
1. Making history as the first president to pay a visit to EPA headquarters, President Bush asserted that the agency will "place sound scientific analysis at the heart of all major environmental decisions" at a 15-minute ceremony on Monday.
>> Bush Says New EPA Chief will Put Science at Heart of Environmental Policy
2. Eight brand-new Mexican gray wolf pups offer reason for hope for the future of the endangered species. In an historic breakthrough, a non-surgical artificial insemination technique performed on two wolves yielded a combined total of eight pups at the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center in St. Louis
>> Experts Tout Wolf Breeding Breakthrough
3. What to do with a pen full of hog waste? Give Don Lloyd about six hours and he'll turn it into drinking water. Lloyd developed an amazing system that holds promise as a sustainable alternative to environmentally hazardous hog lagoons.
>> System Unveiled that Changes Hog Waste into Clean Water
4. The drawn-out controversy over the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility has prompted the adoption of temporary storage solutions. On Tuesday the House green-lighted interim storage at a minimum of one federal facility -- likely in Washington state and/or South Carolina -- while the Yucca Mountain facility is still in development.
>> House Calls for Temporary Storage of Nuclear Waste at Federal Sites
5. If you've ever pondered the biology of plants (how do they "know" to stretch toward the sun?), scientists might have a few answers for you. In a discovery likely to accelerate the debate over genetically modified foods, researchers have found that the hormone auxin might be the key to many of the mysteries of plants.
>> How Do Our Gardens Grow? Researchers Find a Clue
6. Coral reefs, the "rainforest of the sea," suffer tremendously when exposed to raw sewage. A study from the U.S. Virgin Islands concludes that sewage pollution is a leading factor in several quick-spreading coral diseases. The study also points out that a mere 10 percent of sewage is treated before its release into Caribbean and Central American waters.
>> Study Says Raw Sewage Killing Coral Reefs
7. On Wednesday the World Bank and the World Wildlife Fund announced that they'll be stepping up the effort to curb the rapid destruction of the forests of the world. "The overall goal of the extension of our alliance is to achieve a 10 percent annual net reduction of global deforestation by 2010," said WWF General director Claude Martin.
>> New Program Aims to Reduce Alarming Destruction of Global Forests by Ten Percent Annually
8. A playful Florida manatee has traveled hundred of miles to put on a show for Texas. Residents of Port Mansfield, located at the southern point of the state, have flocked to the water's edge for a glimpse of the eight-foot-long creature, which seems to be healthy and enjoying the spotlight.
>> Rare Wayward Manatee Entertains Texans as it Frolics
9. The environment lost an ally this month, with the death of Marc Lappe from cancer. An outspoken leader in the movement against biotechnology, Lappe wrote 14 books during his lifetime, and was director of the Gualala, California-based Center for Ethics and Toxics at the time of his death.
>> Environmental Crusader Marc Lappe Dies at 62
10. ENN's forums this week featured fascinating insights from forum members, including news of the impact of rising sea levels on the Netherlands, thoughts about how our national parks are faring when it comes to environmental stewardship, and a viewpoint on fossil fuels versus nuclear power.
>> ENN Forum Review: Our Readers Speak
Sustainable Economy News Roundup, by Paul Geary
This week in our Sustainable Economy section, ENN followed stories about environmental issues affecting varying ecosystems -- and varying cultures and economies -- in North America:
Meanwhile, one developing nation, having emerged from political troubles a decade or so ago, is touting its environment among other things as a selling point:
The race to develop alternative fuels has never been hotter. We're starting to see traction not only in the research and development stage of this emerging industry, but also in the marketing stage, and maybe most importantly, in market acceptance. These three stories that ENN ran illustrate this:
Drivers Lining up for Converted Restaurant Oil to Fuel Vehicles
Hybrid Cars Jump Past Electric Ones
On-Ramp to the Hydrogen Highway
One "old-line" energy industry that has declined -- and to which many environmentalists had said "good riddance" -- is making a comeback. No doubt, its reemergence will be debated:
Their size, power, and footprint mean that large corporations are often at the forefront of environmental degradation or progress. ENN ran several stories this week, some showing positive action -- and some not so good -- about what some of the world's larger corporations are doing for -- or to -- the environment:
Disney in Hot Water over Hong Kong Shark's Fin Soup
ExxonMobil Faces Shareholder Resolutions on Climate Change
General Mills Awards
Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas Documents from DuPont on Teflon Chemical
Solar Power Profitability: BP Solar
Alcoa Recognized at Industrial Energy Technology Conference
We can only hope that more executives of large corporations adopt the ideas that were presented at the latest LOHAS conference. We told you about that here in this story.
And finally, we took you back to the golden age of rock music in this story, about the resurrection of the art -- presented in an environmentally sound manner -- of the record album:
Be sure to check ENN's Sustainable Economy section regularly for the latest in news about business and the environment. Rock on!
EarthNews Radio Review, by Paul Geary
This week EarthNews Radio covered topics ranging from water to art to astronomy to hemp -- a full gamut of science, business, and environment news.
Host Jerry Kay introduced us to an organization that is at the intersection of art, environmental activism, and the Internet:
On the science front, EarthNews Radio listeners learned about environmental indicators from the scientists at California Academy of Sciences -- and one indicator is frogs! Another indicator -- that we're using too much water -- is that rivers are drying up, according to the author of the book "Water Follies."
And, we learned about the new moon from one of EarthNews Radio's regular guests, the compelling Bing Quock of the Morrison Planetarium:
We were told about the precarious existence of one of the Earth's most beautiful animals: the cheetah. Jerry Kay talked to Dr. Laurie Marker, founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund:
On the business end, we learned about companies that make, grow, market, and sell natural, organic, and environmentally friendly products, from the proprietors themselves:
Be sure to visit EarthNews Radio's home here at ENN, where you can hear more of Jerry Kay's interviews with interesting environmentalists and scientists. You can find it at www.enn.com/enn_radio_main.html.
Quality Angling Tied to Conservation -- An ENN Commentary
by Dr. Mamie Parker, USFWS
The faintest early light spatters through the trees on the lake shore. Onthe water, an angler plies closer, quietly, barely cutting the water to thelow click and hum of a trolling motor. Deftly delivered, a top-water lurelands over a submerged log; the concentric rings fade back to glass. Theangler waits in hope to outwit the object of affection. Anglers epitomizeeternal optimists; they cast hope. Over 40 million Americans callthemselves anglers and their hopes and passions for the outdoors power anenormous economic engine, spending over $41 billion a year.
National Fishing and Boating Week (June 4-12, 2005) is a reminder to methat stewardship is important - being good stewards of our families, andour natural resources. You can steward your family by spending qualitytime with them in a boat or under a creekside tree, as my mother did withme. Our time together created keepsakes of the heart that I carry with mestill. Her stewardship planted a conservation ethic in me - seeds thatgrew into a career as a fishery biologist - and I remain an ardent angler.This special week reminds me that without conservation, quality anglingwouldn't be possible.
Fisheries conservation in the U.S. dates back 134 years to when PresidentGrant created the U.S. Fish Commission, the forerunner of the agency I helplead, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service). The Service's FisheriesProgram that I oversee had its beginnings essentially in the SmithsonianInstitution with its Secretary, Spencer Baird, a consummate scientistconcerned about the decline of fisheries. Baird and fellow scientistsencouraged the Congress to create the Fish Commission; in 1871, PresidentGrant agreed it was necessary.
Today's Fisheries Program has evolved through time, always seeking toemploy leading-edge science and technology. The Service today employs fishhealth pathologists, geneticists, veterinary doctors, and contaminantspecialists. Fish biologists trained in hydrology and watershed managementand other natural sciences know the vagaries of habitat conservation. Ourscientists know how to manage habitats and culture sport fishes and fishesso rare and imperiled, they would otherwise squarely stare extinction inthe face.
Conserving fishes and their habitats has everything to do with people.People and fish need clean water. A habitat intact is the first protectionin fisheries conservation. Ben Franklin's adage about an ounce ofprevention couldn't ring more true in habitat conservation. Franklin alsosaid that "necessity never struck a bargain," and it is simply a necessityto conserve habitats that people and fish rely upon - for the benefit ofboth.
The Service has made huge strides in habitat and species conservation inrecent years. Working in concert with our conservation partners - statesfish and game agencies, tribes, and conservation groups - importantfisheries have rebounded. Witness the greenback cutthroat trout inColorado, the Gila trout in New Mexico and Arizona, lake trout in the GreatLakes, paddlefish through the Heartland, and striped bass along theAtlantic Coast. In some cases, these fishes have returned from the brinkof extinction to the point of contributing to regional economies withfollowings of ardent anglers - anglers who in many cases invested sweatequity in habitat conservation. These conservation successes underscorethat my agency does not work alone.
Though today's Fisheries Program is well into its second century, timedoesn't distance us from conservation problems. Then as now, scientistsare challenged to find answers to conservation problems. Nearly 50 of the70 National Fish Hatcheries presently work with imperiled species - and notonly fish - but turtles, mussels, rare aquatic plants. Hatcheries havebeen critical in past conservation successes. Whirling disease andlargemouth bass virus, insidious ailments, could threaten the well being ofnative trouts and important warm water sport fisheries. Invasive species,like Asian carp march up the Mississippi River and tributaries, breedingprofusely, threatening to monopolize the nutrients needed by other animals.The round goby invasion in the Great Lakes could damage smallmouth bass andwalleye fishing and affect human health. Contaminants that degrade habitatcontinue to demand serious attention. Urbanization and poor land usepractices degrade lakes and streams.
As the American population grows, the demand, and the very need for naturewill increase. And this underscores the need to conserve habitats. In thelong term, habitat conservation and ensuring the well being of aquaticspecies in general will benefit people.
Healthy fish and healthy habitats mean healthy people and a healthyeconomy. In the end, that means better fishing. When that top-water lurehits the glassy water, the concentric rings ripple through the economy,through tills and treasuries, contributing to the quality of life even forpeople who have no inclination to venture lakeside.
Dr. Parker is the Assistant Director for Fisheries and Habitat Conservationin the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Photo: A woman carries a jar of water on her head in Pakistan. Photo credit: Â© 1993 CCP, Courtesy of Photoshare.