"Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you
by your parents. It was lent to you by
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged
by the way its animals
--Gandhi "The Earth is not dying, it is being murdered
and the people
murdering it have names and addresses"
"It takes a single drop of water to start
But it takes all the drops of water to be still..."
...on the state of the World's Freshwater crisis.
(Source: The United Nations, Division for Sustainable
* ...1.2 billion people lack access to safe water, roughly
on-sixth of the world's population and 2.4 billion or 40 percent
the world's people lack access to adequate sanitation services.
* ...Some 6,000 children die every day from diseases
associated with unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene.
* ...Unsafe water and sanitation cause an estimated 80 percent
of all diseases in the developing world.
* ...Women and girls tend to suffer the most as a result of the
lack of sanitation facilities.
* ...One flush of a Western toilet uses as much water as the
average person in the developing world uses for a whole day's
washing, drinking, cleaning and cooking.
* ...Water use has grown at twice the rate of population during
the past century. The Middle East, North Africa and South Asia
are chronically short of water. In developing countries, as much
as 90 percent of waste water is discharged without treatment.
* ...Overpumping groundwater for drinking water and irrigation
has caused water levels to decline by tens of metres in many
regions, forcing people to use low-quality water for drinking.
* ...Losses of water through leakage, illegal hook-ups and
waste amount to about 50 percent of water for drinking and 60
percent of water for irrigation in developing countries.
* ...Floods affected more than 75 percent of all people
impacted by natural disasters during the 1990s and caused over
33 percent of the total estimated costs of natural disasters.
(Source: Save Our Groundwater, The Water Stewards Network
and Kirkpatrick Sales)
* ...The New Hampshire Legislature has stated that "surface
water and groundwater are an integrated public resource to be
conserved, protected, and managed for the public good." NOT
* ...Less than 1% of the Earth's water is available for human
use; groundwater represents 8%.
* ...97% of the Earth's available freshwater is stored in
reservoirs underground secured in bodies of rock, called
* ...The Ogalla aquifer, the main source of water from South
Dakota to Texas, is being pumped out eight times faster than it
can be restored by nature.
* ...2 billion people depend on groundwater as their primary
supply of drinking water.
* ...Conventional agriculture is primarily responsible for
groundwater depletion and for approx 70 percent of its pollution.
* ...Extracting a large quantity of water on a regular bases
cause a shift in groundwater flows and draw contaminants such
as MtBE, mercury and arsenic into our drinking water.
...On bottled water and water privatization.
(Sources: Save Our Groundwater and The Water Stewards
* ...Access to water is defined as a human right by the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved by the United
Nations in 1948.
* ...The World Trade Organization (WTO) has defined water as
a "good", "service" and "investment".
* ...The WTO rules trump national and international law.
* ...The potential global water market is estimated at $1 trillion.
* ...The World Bank currently has $20 billion in commitments
for water projects.
* ...Water utilities are being bought and sold by big,
international corporations who manage them to make a profit by
raising town water rates. Major players include: Vivendi, Kelda
Group, Suez, RWE/Thames Water Bottled water is a $35 billion
dollar industry worldwide. In 2000, US sales rose 9.3% to 5.7
* ...USA Springs stated publicly that it intends to sell the
it bottles overseas.
* ...Two treaties govern international trade: the North American
Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO)
and they may supercede local and state laws.
* ...Over 90% of the cost of bottled water is in the bottle ,
* ...More than 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to bottle
* ...A quarter of the 89 billion litres of water bottled worldwide
annually are consumed outside their country of origin.
* ...The Global Water Partnership (GWP), the World Water
Council (WWC) and the World Commission on Water (WCW)
were established to soften the public image of the corporate
agenda for water.
* ...In 2000, The 2nd World Water Forum established water as
...On damming and water management projects.
(Source: The Water Stewards Network)
* ...Extensive damage is caused by large damming projects.
The most common problems are siltation, water logging,
salination, and in some cases, induced earthquakes from
abnormal pressure placed on the earth, not to mention
displacement of thousands of people.
* ...The downstream effects of dams include the loss of
fisheries, contaminated water, decreased amounts of water, and
a reduction in the fertility of farmlands and forests due to the
of natural fertilizers and irrigation in seasonal floods.
* ...Dams spread waterborne diseases.
* ...The average large dam today is about 35 years old. Since
average construction periods generally range from 5-10 years,
this indicates a worldwide annual average of some 160-320 new
large dams a year.
* Dams, inter basin transfers, and water withdrawals for
irrigation have fragmented 60% of the world's rivers.
When Texaco quit drilling in Ecuador in 1992 after nearly 30 years,
it left behind what critics describe as an enormous toxic dump
of 1.8 million gallons of spilled crude oil -- almost twice the
size of the Exxon Valdez spill.
But next Tuesday, 30,000 jungle residents of Ecuador and Peru
whose natural surroundings were forever spoiled will finally get
their day in court.
In an unprecedented hearing, a three-judge panel in a remote
Amazon town called Lago Agrio -- or "Sour Lake," in
reference to the oil dump -- will start hearing claims that the
plaintiffs should be paid $1 billion by ChevronTexaco Corp. The
behemoth oil company based in San Ramon inherited the lawsuit
after merging with Texaco in 2001. ChevronTexaco was the Bay Area's
No. 1 firm in revenue earnings last year, taking in $99 billion.
The case is remarkable not only for its endurance -- it has survived
10 years of legal wrangling over the matter of venue alone --
but because a landmark decision by a New York federal court last
August stipulated that any financial penalty imposed on ChevronTexaco
in Ecuador be recognized in the United States.
"It's a major shock for corporations that for the first
time an environmental case is transferred to a foreign country
where a judgment is enforceable in the United States," said
Joseph Kohn, one of the plaintiffs' lead attorneys and a partner
in Kohn, Swift & Graf, a class-action firm based in Philadelphia.
Even so, ChevronTexaco's position is that moving the case to
Ecuador represents a victory for the firm.
"We have maintained all along that the Ecuadoran court system
was the proper venue for this case," said Chris Gidez, a
spokesman for ChevronTexaco, the world's second-largest oil company.
"The plaintiffs fought for years for that not to happen."
The plaintiffs, mostly members of such Amazon tribes as the Cofan,
Secoya and Siona, had struggled to get their case tried in White
Plains, N.Y., the site of Texaco's pre-merger headquarters. They
alleged that Texaco officials made the decision there to save
billions of dollars by dumping contaminated water befouled by
the drilling operation into 350 man-made waste pits rather than
reinjecting this toxic waste back into the earth, as has been
the industry's standard practice.
Kohn, however, argues that a shift in the political climate in
Ecuador could work in his clients' favor.
Ecuador "could come out like Brer Rabbit," he said,
referring to the classic folk tale character who symbolizes victory
of the weak over the powerful. " 'Don't send us to the briar
patch,' but when we get there, we are glad we are there."
The original class-action lawsuit -- Maria Aguinda et al. vs.
Texaco Inc. -- alleges that Texaco dumped nearly 20 billion gallons
of toxic waste into the open pits, estuaries and rivers between
1964 and 1992, exposing residents to cancer-causing pollutants.
It also alleges that Texaco polluted 2.5 million acres of pristine
rain forest along the route of the pipelines and wells. Although
Texaco's entire drilling operation took place in Ecuador, some
of the pollution made its way across the nearby Peruvian border,
contaminating waterways there as well, the lawsuit says.
Gidez says there is no substantiated scientific evidence to support
the plaintiffs' claims that Texaco's operations caused cancer
in Amazon residents. He also says the lawsuit never factored in
oil spills from political sabotage, a 1987 earthquake that destroyed
nearly 25 miles of pipeline, or environmental destruction caused
by a government colonization program that opened up untouched
lands to hundreds of thousands of poor Ecuadoran peasants. He
also points out that ChevronTexaco was a minority partner with
Petroecuador, the state-owned oil company, and spent $40 million
in a three-year cleanup of their Amazon operations between 1995
"At every step of the way, the remediation program was monitored
and certified by the Ministry of Energy and Mines," said
Last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York upheld a 2000
district court decision to dismiss the lawsuit in the United States
for being an inconvenient venue (the legal term is forum non conveniens),
since the plaintiffs live in Ecuador and Peru and sustained their
alleged injuries there, and the court could not easily visit the
Some legal scholars say American multinationals typically use
forum non conveniens to avoid liability in U.S. courts.
"Large corporations want these cases kicked back to developing
nations like Ecuador, where they have an advantage," said
Alejandro Garro, professor of comparative and Latin American law
at Columbia University in New York City. "These countries
don't have a judicial system capable of handling thousands of
plaintiffs and are not known for being efficient or independent.
And in Ecuador, there is no power of discovery, which means Chevron-
Texaco doesn't have to turn over any document that it doesn't
But Garro concedes that the new political climate in Ecuador
will place "tremendous pressure on the court." The case
has made front-page news in local newspapers and is a hot political
issue in the impoverished Andean nation.
Ecuador's new leader, President Lucio Gutierrez, is a populist
who co-governs with an indigenous party and has appointed two
Indian leaders to his Cabinet who openly support the plaintiffs.
Foreign Minister Nina Pacari is the first Indian ever to hold
that post in Latin America, and Agricultural Minister Luis Macas
is the former president of a leading indigenous organization.
A delegation of 12 rainforest Indians representing five Amazon
tribes is expected to arrive in the Bay Area sometime this month
to protest at ChevronTexaco headquarters and gas stations, and
seek support at local community centers, schools and churches.
"People have been waiting for nearly 30 years for justice,"
said Leila Salazar, ChevronTexaco campaign organizer for Amazon
Watch, a nonprofit environmental group in Oakland that will sponsor
the delegation's trip. "I don't think an Ecuadoran court
will let it slide easily."
Air, beaches, old-growth redwoods and spawning salmon recognize
no political boundaries. Yet, they are the stakes in an continuing
struggle between California and the federal government that could
shape our environmental future.
Californians enjoy a landscape of unmatched grandeur. As we prepare
to count our blessings on Tuesday, the 33rd annual Earth Day,
we also know first- hand the damage caused by pollution. Our state
ranks second only to Texas -- President Bush's home state -- in
carbon dioxide emissions.
Against this backdrop of great beauty challenged by man, California
has enacted and enforced the nation's toughest environmental protection
laws. Its people repeatedly have supported funds for environmental
causes. These investments have produced dramatic results. Stage
1 smog alerts in the Los Angeles region dropped from 121 in 1977
to zero since 1999. We reduced smog- causing emissions from passenger
vehicles by more than 90 percent.
But we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, our hard-earned
advances, and our environment, now face a clear and present danger.
The threat comes from our federal government, and it cuts across
the spectrum of environmental law. The Bush administration has
deployed an anti-environment arsenal that includes rollbacks of
existing protections, efforts to pre-empt the state's enforcement
authority and exemptions for federal-government polluters. Squarely
in the administration's crosshairs are the resources Californians
hold dear -- our forests, our coastline, our deserts, our rivers
and streams and our wildlife.
It wasn't always this way. In the past 40 years, state and federal
officials have united to safeguard and restore environmental quality.
President Richard Nixon signed into law the Clean Air and Endangered
Species acts. President Ronald Reagan showed respect for California's
environmental policy by declaring that states are best able to
"discern the sentiments of the people and to govern accordingly."
President Bush, however, has discarded his party's better notions
of environmentalism and federalism. And now, protecting our natural
resources and laws from the federal government's actions ranks
as one of our biggest environmental challenges. We are determined
to meet the challenge.
The Bush attack has been well-documented and launched on many
-- attempting to short-circuit state review of offshore oil-drilling
-- allowing the commercial logging of 3,000 truckloads of timber
in the Giant Sequoia National Monument;
-- slashing federal protection of wetlands;
-- reducing industrial air polluters' obligation to install stronger
emission controls when they expand operations;
-- failing to legally defend federally designated wildlife habitats
under the Endangered Species Act; and
-- providing federal agencies wholesale exemptions from cleanup
and protection laws.
One case in particular illustrates how aggressively the Bush
administration has moved to encroach on California's enforcement
of its environmental laws. The federal government long ago granted
California the authority to adopt stricter air quality standards
than federal rules. In line with that authority, the state adopted
a regulation that requires a certain percentage of cars to produce
But automakers sued to block implementation of the mandate. They
contend the rule effectively sets fuel economy standards, a power
reserved exclusively for the federal government. Last year, the
Bush administration filed a friend- of the-court brief supporting
the industry's flawed argument. We are now litigating this case
in federal appeals court.
The administration's action was unprecedented -- and inconsistent
with the president's State of the Union pledge to invest in zero-emission,
hydrogen- fueled vehicle research. New state regulations may render
the case moot. But they will not erase the Bush administration's
anti-environment alliance with industry.
Bush's December 2002 proposal to allow commercial logging, road
building and related activities in the Giant Sequoia National
Monument also warrants special mention. The Bush administration
insists that eliminating 100-year-old Sequoias is needed to prevent
fires. But Giant Sequoias need wildfires to thrive. The slashing,
burning and flattening of 79,000 acres is more tragic and destructive
than any natural fire. We oppose the administration's plan, and
we will defend the Sequoias and our other resources against this
sweeping federal attack.
John Muir wrote of the Sequoia: "No other tree in the world,
as far as I know, has looked down on so many centuries . . . or
opens so many impressive and suggestive views into history."
For the generations of future centuries, will Muir's "big
trees" reveal we stood firm and preserved California as a
Remember Coleridge's bright-eyed, half-crazed Ancient Mariner?
"Water, water, every where,/ Nor any drop to drink,"
he chanted. He was right. We are running out of water.
That's why this week's U.N. World Water Forum (Sunday through
March 22 in Kyoto, Japan) is perhaps the most important international
water conference in history. Our blue planet may be 70 percent
oceans, but you can't drink seawater or use it to irrigate crops.
Nevertheless, drawing on relatively limited amounts of accessible
freshwater, humanity has more than tripled its water use worldwide
-- The Ogallala (underlying the Great Plains) and other key aquifers
in India and China continue unrelenting declines.
-- During the growing season, the entire Colorado River vanishes
into city water systems and farmland furrows before it can empty
into the Gulf of California; for the same reasons China's Yellow
River no longer reaches the sea.
-- In Central Asia, irrigation drawdown of two inflowing rivers
has already caused the Aral Sea to drop 75 percent in volume and
50 percent in area.
-- In Africa, the area of Lake Chad has shrunk by 95 percent
since the 1960s.
-- A two-year drought in sub-Saharan Africa has caused a famine
likely to claim 300,000 lives.
Implications are unsettling: the Global Water Policy Project
forecasts that within 12 years, "nearly 3 billion people,
or 40 percent of projected world population," will live in
water-stressed countries. What then?
In his "History of Warfare," John Keegan notes that
by 3000 B.C., Sumerian cities had begun squabbling over pasturage
and water rights. Five thousand years later, a 1990 Washington
Post article indicated that the Center for Strategic and International
Studies forecast potential "unprecedented upheaval"
and "possible military conflict over water rights in the
future." A 2001 National Intelligence Council report concurred,
warning that international competition for water continues to
grow, jeopardizing supplies to the extent that by 2015 "the
possibility of conflict will increase."
Indeed, violence is already erupting: in February 2000, the populace
of the third largest city in Bolivia rioted in the streets against
police and soldiers -- over water. La guerra del agua, they called
it. An ominous wake-up call from Cochabamba.
Although heavy snowfalls blanketed the eastern United States
this winter, remember that for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
region the preceding winter of 2001-02 was not only warmer than
normal but also one of the driest in recent memory. By early spring,
reservoir levels had plunged, forcing several states to declare
drought emergencies and impose mandatory water restrictions. 2001?
Maine's driest year ever, and from 1987 to 1992 California withered
in drought. The list goes on.
Despite these unmistakable warning signs, silence from Washington
prevails: No national commission on water usage policy; not a
peep concerning proactive regional and national watershed management;
no mandates for community water conservation planning or recycling
Some drastically water-stressed and farsighted local communities
have had to take the initiative. In California, for example, Orange
and Los Angeles counties are routing millions of gallons of recycled
water daily to reinjection wells to recharge local aquifers. San
Diego is studying two potential construction sites, hoping that
by 2006 desalinated seawater will supply 20 percent of the city's
water needs. In Florida, Tampa Bay's new $110- million reverse
osmosis desalination plant is the largest in the Western Hemisphere,
supplying 25 million gallons of freshwater per day.
So there is hope. And the seminal 2003 World Water Development
Report scheduled for release during the World Water Forum addresses
11 crucial "challenge areas" involving competing demands
for shrinking supplies and contains seven case studies (from the
Senegal River basin in Africa to the Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe Ozero
watershed in northeast Europe), protocols for which could serve
as planning templates for water conservation and management initiatives
in other regions of the world.
But if government inaction, nationally and internationally, continues
to impede planning, funding and allocation of technologies to
supplement dwindling global water reserves, it may be too late.
The Ancient Mariner's message could portend payment in untold
Lee Gaillard is an environmental writer who lives in Philadelphia.
Every human being has the right to clean water. In the United
States, water has long been considered a vital resource and thus
managed in the public interest by local governments accountable
to their constituents.
The mission of a public water system is simple: Deliver safe,
clean and affordable water to you and your family. Public works
projects funded and built our existing water infrastructure, which
has served us well during the last century. But our water infrastructure
is beginning to show signs of age. Pollution, decaying pipes,
depleted aquifers and other problems pose real threats to the
U.S. water supply and communities across the nation are looking
for ways to bring water systems up to safe and modern standards.
Privatizing water systems, however, is not the answer. Private
companies, seeking to extract profits from municipal water systems,
dangle lofty promises in order to gain control of local water
systems. Corporations want people to believe that only they can
efficiently manage water systems.
They seek monopoly contracts to run water systems for generations,
or to expand the outright corporate ownership of water supplies
Yet, from Atlanta to the United Kingdom to Huber Heights, Ohio,
private water providers have charged higher rates, deteriorated
water quality and failed to make assured investments. In fact,
privatization failed so miserably in Atlanta that the city ousted
United Water, only four years into a 20-year contract. Four years
of broken promises and managerial debacles was more than enough.
Residents in many California communities are increasingly concerned
with local water systems falling into the hands of a distant corporation.
In Stockton, where city officials recently voted to privatize
the public water system, citizens are responding by going door-to-door
to collect signatures in an effort to nullify the City Council's
I strongly believe that public control and public administration
of the public's water supply is the only way to guarantee the
universal human right of access to clean water. A grassroots movement
of people is working to protect water from privatization by offering
many alternative solutions to solve the global water crisis. Direct
citizen participation should be encouraged when basic services
such as water are being discussed. I hope that at the World Water
Forum, which begins Sunday in Kyoto, Japan, this international
movement of people will be heard.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, is the ranking member of the
House National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations
Subcommittee. For information on the World Water Forum, see www.world.water-forum3.com.
I thought the earth
remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing around me,
the insects and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.
Averages to rise 8 degrees
by end of century, climate scientist says
Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
Monday, February 17, 2003
Denver -- A leading government climate scientist predicted here
Sunday that average temperatures around the world will rise by
as much as 7 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit before the end of this century
-- a major climate change that could affect widespread crop fertility
and the economies of many industrial nations.
The senior scientist did not take sides
on the current conflict between the United States and the rest
of the industrialized world over mandatory control of so-called
greenhouse gases called for by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which the
Bush administration strongly opposes.
But he did contend it is obvious by now
that corporate leaders of U.S. industries and power plants need
to be making serious efforts to curtail their emissions of the
heat-trapping gases -- principally carbon dioxide -- that are
Warren Washington, chief of the Climate
Change Research Group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research
in Boulder, Colo., offered his long- range forecast here at the
annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science, where climatologists and physicists are discussing
the various computer models they have created to explain past
climate changes and the forecast for the near-term future.
"It's clear," Washington said,
"that we're in the midst of a rapidly changing climate that
has accelerated in the past 25 years." It makes the last
ice age -- an event that ended more than 10,000 years ago -- a
"mere minor perturbation," he said.
In only the past 25 years, he said, global
average temperatures have already risen between a third and eight-tenths
of a degree, and pace is increasing even now, he said.
Scientists have created a wide variety
of computer models in efforts to understand the many factors that
can affect climate, and these can include, for example:
Long-term changes in Earth's orbit around
the sun which can increase or decrease the solar energy that reaches
the planet; major natural events like volcanic eruptions that
can cloud the entire atmosphere with gases and ash for centuries,
and long-lasting forest fires that can rage for years and darken
skies with long-lasting soot.
On the basis of the most recent computer
models by many groups -- including those developed by his own
colleagues at Boulder -- Washington said, "Scientific confidence
in the ability of the models to project future climate has increased."
Recent experiments as well as routine monitoring, he said, "have
found evidence of global climate changes already occurring that
are much larger than can be explained by the climate's natural
Many scientists have been considering efforts
to help rid Earth's atmosphere of carbon dioxide by "sequestering"
the gas as it emerges from the plants that emit it. Some advocate
technologies that would scour the atmosphere and somehow send
the gas deep into the ocean; others believe it could be buried
deep underground -- in whose back yard, they don't say.
"Sequestering the carbon dioxide burden
would slow down the pace of climate change appreciably,"
Washington conceded. "But we also ought to start cutting
back on emissions as a precautionary principle -- because every
time you put a single carbon dioxide molecule into the atmosphere,
it stays there for 900 to 1,000 years or so."
Washington is a 40-year veteran of climate
research, and leads the Boulder team's development of computer
climate models. He is also chairman of the National Science Board
and has been an adviser on climate issues to five presidential
administrations, from Jimmy Carter to President Bush.
Ocean scientists study mysterious
zones near Pacific shore
New research shows marine protection
laws are terribly outdated, they say
Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Denver -- Researchers exploring life along
thousands of miles of the Pacific coast have discovered unexpected
regions where some species grow to maturity and others are either
threatened or surprisingly abundant.
The findings, they say, require major changes
to outdated laws and regulations that for decades have controlled
coastal fisheries despite scant knowledge of the ecological realities
governing life in a zone stretching from a few yards to a few
Marine scientists from four West Coast
universities have joined together to open what some researchers
have termed the "black box" of scientific ignorance
about what lies just off the Pacific coast. They discussed their
work here Saturday during the annual meeting of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science.
"The nation's ocean policies and practices
simply do not reflect current scientific knowledge and concepts
such as the importance of habitat, of interactions among species,
or the overall workings of an ecosystem," said Jane Lubchenko,
a marine biologist at Oregon State University and former president
of the national scientific organization meeting here.
"The principal laws designed to protect
our coastal zones, endangered marine mammals, ocean waters and
fisheries were enacted 30 years ago on a crisis-by-crisis basis,"
Lubchenko said, "and the result is a hodgepodge of policies
and practices that are at striking odds with our current scientific
understanding of ocean ecosystems."
Among the major findings, said Stephen
Palumbi of Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, is that,
rather than extending across the entire Pacific, many species
of fish and marine organisms inhabit small coastal "neighborhoods"
that can be easily managed and protected.
Palumbi and his colleagues have closely
studied one species of barnacle whose newborn larvae have long
been thought to drift hundreds of miles along ocean "highways"
-- currents that may sweep from continent to continent. By studying
the organism's DNA with the tools that make genetic engineering
possible, Palumbi's group found that local populations of barnacles
and larger organisms live within small areas of just 6 to 12 miles.
"If we're going to manage the ocean,
it's really going to be on a neighborhood basis, not as just one
big mix up and down the coast," he said.
Robert Warner, an evolutionary marine biologist
at UC Santa Barbara, and his colleagues have been studying the
localized habitats of fish and marine mammals by tracking the
chemical signals of metals in their growing skeletons as their
larvae and young drift through ocean "neighborhoods."
The Global Positioning System satellite network also helped open
up the "black box" of coastal zones, he said.
UC Santa Cruz researcher Margaret McManus
is learning more precisely than ever how the larvae of rockfish
-- whose many species are increasingly threatened along the coast
-- spend months floating amid the microscopic plankton in previously
undetected thin layers of the sea's upper regions before they
move as young adults into the deeper kelp regions where they mature.
McManus and her colleagues have used acoustic
sensors on the ocean bottom to track the movement of the rockfish
during successive episodes of the El Nino and La Nina weather
patterns, which have a profound effect on the movement of nutrients
in the near-coastal ocean.
Rockfish include some 60 species of fish
-- snapper, sole, flounder and others among them -- and all are
becoming increasingly scarce. Just last October, state officials
banned all fishing throughout 130 square miles around the Channel
Islands and the Santa Barbara coast.
The scientists reporting on their work
Saturday have created a Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies
of Coastal Oceans to continue their research and encourage the
creation of new marine reserves to manage coastal life with policies
based on solid science.
Late addition to spending
bill kills feed requirement for meat
Ness, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, February 14, 2003
That pretty, pink Rosie chicken in your
supermarket's butcher case gets to call itself organic because,
among other things, it eats only organic feed during its life.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif:
"This is another example of a special interest, anti-consumer,
anti- environmental rider attached to a bill without public
discussion," she said. "Organic farmers in California
deserve better, and consumers who depend on the integrity
of organic products deserve to know the truth."
But under a provision slipped into the
huge federal spending bill at the last minute, chickens may be
able to eat anything and still carry an organic label. The same
true for cows, pigs and lambs raised for
their meat -- and consumers would have no way to tell the difference.
The 3,000-page spending bill passed the
House late Thursday after last- ditch Democratic efforts to strip
out the organic provision failed. The Senate also passed the bill
The change is keyed to the supply of organic
chicken feed at not more than twice the cost of nonorganic feed.
"This is a sad day," said Bob
Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research
Foundation in Santa Cruz. He was one of seven people who wrote
the original draft of federal organic food standards and worked
on revisions that took 12 years. They took effect in October.
The provision "puts at risk the term
'organic' across the board," Scowcroft said. "If a single
private company can amend the Organic Food Act in the dead of
night, who's to say that another company won't come along and
do it again, and again?"
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., agreed.
"This is another example of a special
interest, anti-consumer, anti- environmental rider attached to
a bill without public discussion," she said. "Organic
farmers in California deserve better, and consumers who depend
on the integrity of organic products deserve to know the truth."
The rider was added to the spending bill,
reportedly by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, on behalf of Georgia
Republicans seeking to help Fieldale Farms of Baldwin, Ga. Last
year, Fieldale asked the USDA to change the feed requirement,
but the agency refused after public outcry.
At the time, Fieldale Farms complained
about the supply of organic feed. But organic feed producers have
contended that the supply is fine, and that it's the prices that
some farmers don't like.
Changing the law doesn't mean that organic
producers such as Petaluma Poultry would change what they feed
their chickens. "Absolutely not," said partner Dave
Martinelli, who fought against the proposal last year.
"I'm just shocked at this," he
said of the move. "It goes completely against all the principles
that we farm under."
The change would mean his farm would be
competing with chicken farmers who go with cheaper, nonorganic
feed. And consumers who want a chicken -- or meat from any other
type of animal -- raised on organic feed would have no way to
tell them apart. Both would be called organic.
In a letter urging his fellow Senators
to defeat the change, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the new
standards "have been enthusiastically welcomed by consumers"
and that the proposal "would undermine public confidence"
The rider came to light just a day before
the vote, in one paragraph on page 88 of the USDA's appropriation.
And it stirred up an instant storm.
A leader of Oakland's Environmental Working
Group, an advocacy and lobbying organization, warned that much
more than chicken feed was at stake.
"It creates a precedent that other
producers can use to attack the standards -- they can say you
did it for this guy, so do it for me," said Bill Walker,
its vice president. "The principle is something people in
California fought for for a long time, and the principle is what's
WHEN MICHAEL LERNER volunteered to give blood and urine samples
to medical researchers, he figured they'd only find a few chemicals
in his body. After all, Lerner, the president and founder of Commonweal,
a health and environmental research institute in Marin County,
has lived in Bolinas for 20 years, eaten a healthy diet and avoided
exposure to industrial chemicals.
He was wrong. Researchers found his body
polluted with 101 industrial toxins and penetrated by elevated
levels of arsenic and mercury.
Scientists call such contamination a person's
Lerner was one of nine people -- five of
whom live and work in the Bay Areas -- who were tested for 210
chemicals commonly found in consumer products and industrial pollution.
Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the Environmental Working
Group of Oakland and Washington, and Commonweal collaborated on
this innovative study of the body burden.
At press conferences held in San Francisco
and Washington, D.C., last week, researchers revealed these shocking
results: On average, each person had 50 or more chemicals linked
to cancer in humans and lab animals, considered toxic to the brain
and nervous system or known to interfere with the hormone and
reproductive systems. (The Environmental Working Group's Web site
features biographies and toxic profiles for each person as
well as the kind of products that contain such chemicals.)
Lerner was astounded. "Being tested
yourself brings the body burden home in a very personal way."
For years, he has lived with a condition that causes a hand tremor.
Now he suspects why. "Mercury and arsenic both cause tremor,
so I've stopped eating all fish that have high mercury levels."
Lerner's wife, Sharyle Patton -- co-director
of the Collaborative on Health and Environment -- also participated
in the study. To her surprise, the Bolinas resident had as many
toxins as people who have lived in cities. In fact, she had the
highest levels of dioxins and PCBs -- both highly toxic substances
-- of anyone in the test group. "What we learned," says
Patton, "is that we all live in the same chemical neighborhood."
Lerner, who has devoted his life to promoting
the health of people and the planet, hopes that such bio-monitoring
tests will become routine and affordable. "Body burden tests,"
he says, "are the thermometer that gives us our body's chemical
fever. In a prudent world, no household would be without a chemical
thermometer in the medicine cabinet."
But individual tests only provide information;
they don't reduce our contamination. "The truth is,"
Lerner says, "we are unwilling participants in a huge chemical
experiment, which would never be permitted by the FDA if these
chemicals came to us as drugs. But because these chemicals enter
us from industrial and agricultural sources, they are not subject
to testing that would ensure our safety."
The report therefore calls for "the
reform of the Toxics Substance Control Act, under which chemical
companies may put new compounds on the market without any studies
of their effect on people or the environment."
Andrea Martin, founder and former executive
director of the San Francisco's Breast Cancer Fund, strongly supports
the recommendation. Martin is a breast cancer survivor who climbed
Mount Fuji in 2000 with 500 breast cancer survivors and supporters.
More recently, she underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor unrelated
to breast cancer.
Martin, who also gave samples to the Body
Burden project, was stunned by the results. "I was completely
blown away," she told me. "There were 95 toxins,
59 of which were carcinogens."
Martin has never worked with or near chemicals.
But she now wonders whether her formative years may have turned
her into a self-described "walking toxic waste site."
When she grew up in Memphis, she and her
friends loved to get splashed by the streams of insecticide sprayed
by trucks that roamed the neighborhood. Later, she indulged a
passion for water skiing -- in lakes clouded by chemical pollutants.
"Where did I get all these PCBs and
dioxins?" she asks. "I'll probably never know."
In fact, no one is sure how industrial
and synthetic chemical residues -- even long-banned pesticides
such as DDT -- end up in our bodies. But scientists suspect that
chemicals first pollute the air, soil, food and water, then climb
through the food chain and finally accumulate in our blood, fat,
mother's milk, semen and urine.
I asked Martin if she regrets getting tested.
"At first, I was really angry.
But I believe knowledge is power. We're
starting to learn that pollution isn't only in the air, soil and
water; it's also in us."
She also wonders whether her chemical body
burden has caused her cancers. "We'll never know," she
says, "because right now chemical companies don't have to
prove the safety of their products and no government agency has
ever studied the health risks that can be caused by chemical toxins."
That may change. Last week, the Centers
for Disease Control also issued its second report card on the
body burden of chemicals carried by Americans. Using data from
2,500 anonymous donors, the CDC provided further evidence that
chemical residues have polluted the bodies of most of us.
Although no one yet knows what amount of
trace chemicals are harmful for human health, scientists and environmental
health activists worry about the cumulative assault on our health.
No one wants his or her body to be another
pollution site. Still, lobbyists for the chemical industry resist
further regulation. "As a result," says Martin, "we're
living in a toxic stew and they are, quite literally, getting
away with murder."
While we are heartened to see the country's concern and attention
focused on the escalating rates of breast cancer incidence and
mortality in Marin County, we cannot indulge the inclination to
look only in the easy, well- lighted places for answers, such
as known risk factors in this specific demographic group. We are
losing the "war on breast cancer" in no small part because
we have been slow to look anywhere but under the lamppost.
Breast cancer risk in the United States
has nearly tripled in the past 50 years, with 1 in 8 women expected
to face the disease in her lifetime. Known risk factors associated
with affluence and education may contribute to these escalating
rates, but they certainly do not fully explain them. To depend
too heavily on this explanation ignores the fact that breast cancer
rates are increasing across all socioeconomic groups.
Most important, more than half of all breast
cancer cases in the United States remain unexplained by all known
risk factors, including age at menarche and first pregnancy; lack
of breast-feeding; diet and exercise; and genetic risk. The failure
to fully investigate this unexplained majority allows breast cancer
to continue its relentless march into more and more bodies.
To stop the epidemic in its tracks, we
must dedicate our attention to finding something equally as challenging
and elusive as a cure -- we must find the causes. Identifying
the root causes of breast cancer will allow us to prevent the
Breast cancer is one of many diseases and
disorders that have increased dramatically in recent years. Rates
of other cancers, autism, asthma and birth defects are also rising,
causing scientists and advocates to question the effects of industrial
chemicals on our bodies.
Since World War II, more than 85,000 synthetic
chemicals have been introduced into the environment -- but fewer
than 10 percent have been tested for their effects on human health.
What does this have to do with breast cancer?
Many of the chemicals found in our air, water, food and soil are
suspected or known carcinogens. Some take up residence in the
fatty tissues of our breasts and mimic the effects of estrogen
or disrupt the endocrine system in ways we do not fully understand.
New research methods can deepen our understanding
and provide life-saving information. Biomonitoring research measures
"personal pollution" by testing blood, urine and breast
milk for chemicals rather than estimating exposures in the air,
water or workplace. Biomonitoring studies have shown that breast
once the purest food on the planet, has
been contaminated by more than 200 synthetic chemicals.
On Friday, the federal Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention released the most extensive report ever
on Americans' exposure to chemicals. The report gives us quantifiable
evidence that toxic chemicals have invaded our bodies without
our knowledge or consent.
We must continue to broaden our scope of
research, but we have enough evidence linking breast cancer with
environmental toxins to compel action now. We must take precautionary
measures -- both personally and in public health policy -- to
reduce exposure to harmful pollutants.
We do a great disservice to all women in
the grip of this devastating disease, and all who live in fear
of it, to be satisfied with any explanation that does not fully
explain what is causing breast cancer and what can be done to
The high incidence rates in the Bay Area
command attention, but the staggering number of women suffering
from breast cancer will not remain unique to Marin County and
should not be dismissed as a problem for Marin alone. These numbers
sound the alarm for the rest of the country, and demand a different
approach if we are to halt the rising tide of this devastating
Jeanne Rizzo is the executive director
of the Breast Cancer Fund (www.breastcancerfund.org),
a national, nonprofit breast cancer prevention organization
based in San Francisco.
Why is Marin County's breast cancer rate the highest in the nation?
The theories are seemingly endless. Many
blame environmental factors. However, rates are not as high in
neighboring Bay Area counties. Some say it's due to socioeconomic
factors. Marin women tend to be older and more affluent and therefore
are more likely to get regular annual exams and mammograms, leading
to a higher diagnosis rate. Others fault lifestyle choices such
as delaying childbirth or drinking alcohol often.
No matter what the causes, we must find
Research toward finding a cure for breast
cancer or lung cancer or testicular cancer or any cancer benefits
all people battling this deadly disease. But finding a cure means
money -- money from the federal government, the state, business
and private donors. This money fuels invaluable cancer research
projects. We cannot afford to eliminate any of the funding sources.
Moreover, all funding sources need to work together to optimize
our chances of finding a cure through cancer research.
One important funding source at the state
level is the Cancer Research Section of the California Department
of Health Services. Established in 1998, the Cancer Research Program
provides state funds for cancer research with an emphasis on gender-specific
cancers. So far, the program has funded two cycles of awards,
which have granted more than $86 million to 182 cancer research
These projects include clinical research,
epidemiology, biological studies and prevention of specific cancers.
For example, researchers from the University of California at
San Francisco have received more than $900,000 through the Cancer
Research Program for specific studies on ovarian cancer. The program
has also obtained $2.5 million in state spending to establish
the Translational Cancer Research Technology Transfer Program,
which facilitates the transfer of recent laboratory and clinical
advances to the public.
Because Marin County has the highest breast
cancer rate in the state and nation, the California Legislature
recognized that it is the best place to study all aspects of the
disease. So, the Legislature appropriated $500,000 to be distributed
by the Cancer Research Program specifically for the Marin County
Health Department to do community-based breast cancer research.
The data from this research will be available for use on a statewide
Despite last year's extremely difficult
budget year, California's 2002-03 budget contained further funding
for these vital cancer projects. Specifically,
the 2002-03 budget preserved $12.5 million
allocated to the Cancer Research Program. Because of this year's
enormous budget shortfall, however, all government-funded programs
face deep cuts in the coming budget year. In fact, Gov. Gray Davis
has proposed eliminating state-funded cancer research for the
I am extremely disappointed by the governor's
decision, and I will do all that I can to restore and fund cancer
research -- for Marin County and all of California -- in the upcoming
Joe Nation is a state Assembly member representing
Marin and Sonoma counties. He chairs the Assembly Select Committee
on Cancer Detection, Prevention and Research.
The Bush administration's
assault on the environment
Sunday, January 19, 2003
On the last
day of 2002, the Bush administration issued a ruling designed
to undermine the "dolphin safe" tuna label. It was a
fitting end to a year in which the administration repeatedly and
relentlessly attacked the environment. Now it seems that no one
is immune from these attacks -- not even the dolphin, whom we
have protected for the past 12 years under a program popular with
consumers and fishermen alike.
In all my years in public life, dating
back more than 20 years, I have never seen an administration more
hostile to our environment. At every turn, it has sacrificed our
environment on the altar of special interests. In doing so, it
has endangered our people and our planet.
The Bush administration's war on the environment
comes at a time when we need environmental protection more than
-- Asthma is now the leading cause of hospital
admissions for children.
-- Toxic waste threatens 1 in 4 Americans,
including more than 10 million children, who live within four
miles of a toxic waste dump and are at risk for numerous health
-- Lead poisoning affects nearly a million
children under age 5 in this country.
-- Chemical compounds continue to threaten
chronic exposure as their number and quantity increase. Since
1975, at least 75,000 new chemical compounds have been released
into the environment through consumer and industrial products,
many without basic toxicological testing.
Protecting our environment has long been
a basic American value embraced by Republican and Democratic administrations
alike. Early in the country's history, statutes were passed protecting
wildlife and forest resources. A Democrat, Harry Truman, signed
the Clean Water Act. Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, first set
aside for protection the land now known as the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge. It was a Republican, Richard Nixon, who signed
into law the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the
Endangered Species Act. Another Republican, George H. W. Bush,
signed the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments into law. And a Democrat,
Jimmy Carter, signed the Superfund law.
One hundred years ago, Republican President
Theodore Roosevelt said, "The nation behaves well if it treats
the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the
next generation increased, and not impaired, in value."
Unfortunately, President Bush does not
subscribe to Roosevelt's sentiment and does not share the values
of past presidents from both parties. Instead of protecting our
natural resources, he allows them to be squandered. Instead of
protecting our environment, he offers plans and prescriptions
to plunder it. Since his first day in office, Jan. 20, 2001, Bush
has worked to roll back more than 200 laws and regulations that
protect our public health and environment.
One of his first initiatives was a failed
attempt to keep the level of arsenic in drinking water at high
levels that were established in 1942, before arsenic was a known
Soon afterward, the president did an abrupt
about-face on his campaign promise to address climate change,
withdrawing from an international treaty and refusing to take
concrete steps to address the issue.
He proposed to deny Medicaid testing of
poor children for lead poisoning, then withdrew the plan after
public outcry. But he stacked the expert panel on lead poisoning
with industry representatives.
Bush has vigorously pursued oil drilling
in some of America's most pristine places, targeting the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge despite evidence that drilling would
devastate the landscape and the native people's way of life for
a pittance of oil. He is also in favor of drilling along California's
Bush has opened 58 million acres of public
forests to roads, logging and other forms of destruction and is
now working at further weakening forest protections, especially
those that benefit wildlife.
The administration is supporting a Department
of Defense request for sweeping exemptions from environmental
and public health laws, despite absolutely no evidence that any
further exemptions are needed for national security.
The president has abandoned the principle
of "polluter pays" and shifted the cost of cleaning
up Superfund sites -- the nation's most toxic areas -- from the
polluters to the taxpayers. In some cases, he has halted funding
for cleanups altogether. He is the first president in more than
25 years not to support a tax on polluters to pay for Superfund-site
Right after the 2002 elections, Bush moved
forward with the most sweeping rollback of the Clean Air Act in
its 30-year history in order to allow the oldest, dirtiest industrial
facilities to increase pollution.
And when individual states exercise the
constitutional right to protect their citizens, the president
has intervened in order to protect corporate special interests.
In California, the administration fought in court against California's
right to protect its coast from offshore oil and gas drilling.
Most recently, Bush joined the auto industry in court to argue
against California's right to clean up its air and decrease auto
After two years, it is clear that Bush
has a consistent and systematic environmental policy: to sacrifice
the health of our families and every natural resource -- including
grasslands, wetlands, forests, oceans, rivers, parks and wildlife
-- in favor of special interests. In doing so he has turned his
back on California values and American values.
Barbara Boxer, who has represented California in the U.S. Senate
since 1993, is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee and chaired the Superfund, Toxics, Risk and Waste Management
Subcommittee in the last Congress.
Chronicle staff and news services
Sunday, January 19, 2003
Background: On Dec. 31, the National
Marine Fisheries Service ruled that imported tuna caught with
huge nets that encircle dolphins can be sold to Americans as
"dolphin safe," as long as onboard observers certify
that no dolphins were killed or injured.
The change would primarily affect tuna from Mexico, a major
exporter that has been kept out of the U.S. market for more
than a decade because its tuna boats drop nets on dolphins.
Dolphins swim above schools of tuna and were dying in the hundreds
of thousands each year before U.S. conservation groups led a
campaign to change fishing practices.
Court action: Earth Island Institute
and other conservation organizations had planned to ask a federal
judge in San Francisco for a temporary restraining order against
the new rule. But early this month, the Bush administration
agreed to retain the former standards until a hearing could
be held on a preliminary injunction in March. But until a federal
judge approves this agreement, the new rule stands.
Legislation: Sen. Barbara Boxer,
D-Calif., has introduced the Truth in Tuna Labeling Act of 2003,
which would strengthen a 1990 law that then-Rep. Boxer co-sponsored
with Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and Sen. Joseph Biden,
D-Del., to ensure that tuna fishing will not result in the killing,
serious injury or intentional chasing and harassing of dolphins.
1. Ozone Hole Closing
2. Kyoto Protocol to Take Effect Soon
1) OZONE HOLE
In September, the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organization announced that the hole in the ozone is
closing. It should fully recover by 2050 if current trends continue.
At its peak, the hole was three times the size of Australia. A
global ban on CFCs under the Montreal Protocol of the 1990's has
helped reduce CFC usage to the point where their levels in the
atmosphere have begun to fall. Scientists say that the closing
of the hole demonstrates how well global environmental protocols
work, which could help gain more support for the Kyoto Protocol. http://www.aig.asn.au/ozone_hole_closing.htm
This is a short interview with one of the
Australian scientists who helped conduct the research on the ozone
hole. You can either read the transcript or listen to it using
Media Player. http://www.abc.net.au/am/s678136.htm
3) KYOTO PROTOCOL TO TAKE EFFECT SOON
The Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emmissions will take effect
when it is ratified by enough countries to total 55 percent of
emissions covered by the treaty. More than 95 countries have ratified
it so far. The U.S. and Australia have been the only countries
to reject any possibility of ratifying the treaty.
The U.S. refusal to ratify has been viewed
as particularly damaging since the U.S. is accountable for a whopping
25% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The U.S. refusal
thus meant that in order to come into effect, the Kyoto Protocol
had to be ratified by almost every other country.
Scientists say 40 million facing starvation
may be first human victims of climate change
Washington Post Tuesday, January 7, 2003
Lesotho -- The crops here in the rugged mountains of Lesotho are
failing because the rain came much too early. And much too late.
There were hailstorms and tornadoes, too.
Then an early frost killed most of the maize sprouts that had
survived the earlier bizarre weather.
Now this tiny kingdom of subsistence farmers
tucked into southeastern South Africa is in the midst of a famine;
the World Food Program estimates nearly one-third of Lesotho's
2.1 million people will need emergency handouts this year.
Village elders like Makhabasha Ntaote,
the 70-year-old matriarch of a huge and hungry extended family,
believe something has gone haywire in the cosmos. The weather
patterns, they say, no longer form patterns.
"Frost in the summertime!" Ntaote
marveled. "We never used to see weather like this. We don't
know what to expect anymore from the skies. I think God is angry
at us, but I don't know why."
Many scientists say Ntaote, along with
nearly 40 million other Africans at risk of starvation, may be
among the first human victims of global climate change.
The scientists are wary of attributing
any specific weather event to general warming trends, and they
are careful to note that the causes of the famine stalking the
continent include not only erratic weather but war, intractable
poverty, corrupt governance and the AIDS epidemic.
Still, climate experts say the "extreme
weather events" that have plagued countries like Lesotho
in recent years are remarkably consistent with predictions for
a warmer world.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change has forecast that Africa will be particularly vulnerable
to the water shortages, disease outbreaks and food crises that
are expected to be intensified by global warming, and the experts
warn that a 30-year drought in the Sahel region that has scorched
fields in Chad, Mali, Gambia and Mauritania could be a harbinger
of other disasters.
The International Red Cross has documented
steady increases in weather- related disasters in Africa and around
the world, and most experts say the risks will increase with time.
"In short," said Jay Lawrimore,
chief of the climate monitoring branch for the National Oceanographic
and Atmospheric Administration, "the prospect of climate
change for Africa is not good."
Cynthia Rosenzweig, a NASA research scientist
who studies the impact of climate change on food security, said
there was already strong evidence of a warming trend in Africa,
far beyond the well-publicized melting of Mount Kilimanjaro's
glaciers in Tanzania.
"It's an amazing thing for a scientist:
The things we've been predicting for years are starting to happen
now," Rosenzweig said. "It's already having real effects
on vulnerable people. And the predictions get even worse."
Lesotho is almost entirely dependent on
rain-fed subsistence farming; it has virtually no irrigation.
And most of the South African mining jobs that once provided livelihoods
for its people have disappeared. With the world's fourth-highest
AIDS rate, Lesotho is not well positioned to absorb shocks to
its system. And for two straight years, the rudest shocks have
come from the weather.
"We've all seen a great change in
the weather," said Teboho Maskane, as he loaded maize donated
by the World Food Program onto his donkey. "Our farms do
not give us food anymore."
A recent U.N. report found that average
farm yields in Lesotho have declined by more than two-thirds since
the 1970s. Soil erosion is spreading fast, and soil fertility
is deteriorating even faster.
"Agriculture in Lesotho faces a catastrophic
future," the report warned. "Crop production is declining
alarmingly and could cease altogether over large tracts of the
country if steps are not taken."
The most egregious meteorological problems
began after the planting season at the end of 2001, when torrential
rains washed away many seeds. Then came a dry period just when
the remaining crops needed rain to grow, ruining the harvest --
which falls in May, during autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
The rain finally arrived in June and July, too early to be of
use for planting, then stopped well before the traditional rainy
season. After it finally rained, in late October, and farmers
began to plant, a summer frost killed most of their crops.
That was before three hailstorms.
"We're trying to figure out what's
going on," said Joalane Mphethi of the Lesotho Meteorological
Service. "The timing is all wrong. It's somehow shifted.
Stanford, Texas teams
see northward shift, earlier development
Usha Lee McFarling
Los Angeles Times Thursday, January 2, 2003
over the past century has forced a global movement of animals
and plants northward, and it has sped up such perennial spring
activities as flowering and egg hatching across the globe -- two
signals that the Earth and its denizens are dramatically responding
to a minute shift in temperature, studies from Stanford University
and the University of Texas at Austin conclude.
One study shows that animals have shifted
northward an average of almost 4 miles per decade. Another shows
that animals are migrating, hatching eggs and bearing young an
average of five days sooner than they did decades ago, when the
average global temperature was 1 degree cooler.
That 1 degree, according to the studies,
has left "climatic fingerprints" --pushing
dozens of butterfly and songbird species into new territories,
prompting birds and frogs to lay eggs earlier, and causing tree
lines to march up mountain slopes.
In some cases, the shifts have been dramatic.
The common murre, an Arctic seabird, breeds 24 days earlier than
it did decades ago. And some checker-spot butterflies shifted
their range northward by almost 60 miles in the past century.
Although many individual shifts in timing
and range have been reported by field biologists, the studies
published in today's issue of Nature are the first to establish
that a variety of organisms in myriad habitats are responding
in similar ways to climatic change.
"There is a consistent signal,"
said biologist Terry Root, a senior fellow at Stanford's Institute
for International Studies and lead author of one report. "Animals
and plants are being strongly affected by the warming of the globe."
Root said she was surprised that the two
studies, conducted independently, were able to detect the effect.
She said she thought the increased temperature was too small to
cause widespread change.
TEMPERATURE'S IMPACT 'A SHOCK'
Root also said she expected that any damaging effects of climatic
change would be unnoticeable amid the enormous habitat destruction
in modern times caused by development, pollution and other human
"It was really quite a shock, given
such a small temperature change," she said.
Many scientists have debated whether plants
and wildlife have been widely affected by climatic change. Some
scientists have argued that no widespread response has occurred
and that a few examples of animals changing the timing of their
migration or reproduction have been used by environmental groups
to overstate the dangers of global warming.
The new studies try to override such criticism
by analyzing thousands of reports of biological change in animals
and plants and correlating them with climatic change. The reports
are based on studies of wildlife found in North America and the
"People said there wasn't a quantitative
analysis, and it was just storytelling," said University
of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan, who led the other study.
"This is the first hard-core, quantitative analysis."
LARGER EFFECT IN STANFORD STUDY
In the Stanford study, researchers reviewed scientific studies
that involved more than 1,400 plant and animal species. Root and
five colleagues determined that about 80 percent of those species
had undergone range or behavioral changes probably caused by global
They found, for example, that the earlier
arrival of spring weather had shifted events such as egg-laying,
the end of hibernation and flower blooming ahead about five days
per decade for temperate-zone species.
Parmesan worked with a colleague to review
studies that tracked about 1,700 species. While about half of
the species showed no changes in behavior or range shifts, the
changes seen in the other half clearly pointed to global warming
as the culprit, she said.
In an analysis of 172 species of plants,
birds, butterflies and amphibians, Parmesan found that spring
events such as egg-laying or flower-blooming advanced 2.3 days
on average each decade.
Her analysis of studies of 99 species of
birds, butterflies and alpine herbs in North America and Europe
found these species' ranges had shifted northward an average of
about 3.8 miles per decade.
The changes are not necessarily bad for
all species. The earlier hatching of eggs gives some bird species
a chance to lay two clutches of eggs per summer instead of one,
Root said. Many plants have a longer growing season.
But the scientists are concerned that warming
will harm some species, particularly those already at risk. The
extinction of the golden toad from the cloud forests of Costa
Rica has been linked by some scientists to heat stress, Root said.
And chicks of the jewel-colored quetzal bird in the same forest
are now being preyed upon by toucans that moved to higher elevations
in the forest as temperatures warmed, she said.
ECOSYSTEMS OUT OF SYNC
Ecosystems also could be at risk, she added, if insects mature
too late to pollinate plants that now flower sooner. The earlier
migration of wood warblers is leaving behind spruce trees full
of spruce budworm caterpillars, which devastate the trees and
leave the timber damaged.
"If we've had so much change with
just 1 degree, think of how much we will have with 10 degrees,"
she said, referring to a U.N. panel's prediction that average
global temperatures could rise as much as 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit
over the next century. "In my opinion, we're sitting at the
edge of a mass extinction."
Alastair Fitter, a professor of biology
at the University of York who has documented the trend toward
earlier-blooming flowers in Britain, said: "These papers
are the conclusive evidence that the natural world is already
responding in a big way to climate change, even though that change
has only just got going, and there is a lot more to come."
Such worst-case scenarios underestimate
the ability of biological entities to adapt, some experts say.
In a report written for the George C. Marshall Institute, Lenny
Bernstein, an expert on the social and economic effects of climatic
change, said some "marginal species" would become extinct.
Bernstein, added, however, that plants
and animals had always faced climatic changes and that they often
had survived. Future human intervention could help increase survival
rates, he said.
9 states file suit over relaxation
of clean air rules
Refineries can expand
without adding anti-smog equipment
Washington Post Wednesday, January 1, 2003
Washington -- Nine Northeastern states
from Maine to Maryland filed suit Tuesday challenging the Bush
administration's decision to relax national industrial pollution
restrictions for the first time since enactment of the Clean Air
Act in 1970.
The attorneys general of those states charged
that the administration's rule-making far exceeded its legislative
authority under the Clean Air Act and would undermine state efforts
to adopt stricter protections.
The legal challenge, filed in the U.S.
Court of Appeals in Washington, came as the Environmental Protection
Agency formally issued final revisions to the so-called New Source
Review clean air enforcement rules that would effectively preclude
future government legal action in all but the most flagrant cases
Under the new rules, which go into effect
in March, refineries, manufacturers and some utilities will be
presented with a series of new ground rules for upgrading or expanding
their plants -- and likely increasing their emissions -- without
the threat of lawsuits and without having to add costly anti-pollution
equipment now required by law to control smog, acid rain and soot.
Older coal-fired power plants would have far more leeway to perform
"routine maintenance" and improvements without triggering
legal actions under a separate proposed rule that officials hope
to put into effect by late 2003.
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said
recently that the changes would encourage plant improvements and
"actually reduce dangerous emissions."
But the coalition of New England and mid-Atlantic
state officials -- led by New York's Democratic attorney general,
Elliot Spitzer -- charged that the administration rule-making
would neutralize one of the few effective tools for combating
industrial pollution and result in dirtier air.
"The Bush administration has taken
an action that will bring more acid rain, more
smog, more asthma, and more respiratory disease to millions of
Americans, " Spitzer said. "This action by the Bush
administration is a betrayal of the right of Americans to breathe
clean, healthy air."
Northeastern states are particularly concerned
by the rules changes because they blame much of their air pollution
on coal-fired power plants and other industrial sites in the Midwest
that spew smog and acid rain-forming pollution into westerly winds.
"It seems that the Bush administration's
New Year's resolution is to appease the energy industry by sacrificing
the lives of people in the Northeast," Connecticut Democratic
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.
Other states that joined in the suit include
Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island
Bush administration officials suggested
that the suit filed by the state officials -- the majority of
whom are Democrats -- was politically motivated to try to embarrass
President Bush and predicted that the new clean air enforcement
rules would withstand any legal challenge. The EPA has said that
the changes would eliminate "perverse" effects that
kept antiquated plants from being modernized because of concerns
about triggering legal action under the Clean Air Act.
"There was a need to make changes
in the rules to keep up with how business has changed over the
past 25 years," said William Harnett, director of the EPA's
New Source Review enforcement program. "The rules we just
went final on are things consistent with the law passed by Congress
. . . and will lead to greater environmental benefit."
Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability
Coordinating Council, an alliance of utilities, said the Northeastern
attorneys general would better serve their states by supporting
an updating and clarification of federal clean air enforcement
rules, instead of "marching off to the courthouse" to
score some political points with their constituents.
He also suggested that the plaintiffs were
engaging in a regional rivalry with Midwestern utilities that
produce cheaper energy than plants in the Northeast.
STATES GET DIRTY OVER CLEAN AIR ACT
The Environmental Protection Agency on
Tuesday issued changes to the Clean Air Act. Nine states are filing
suits in response: New York, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont. The states
charge that the changes violate federal law by allowing companies
to pollute more without having to install new emission controls.
Key elements of clean air rules issued by the EPA:
-- Companies are given greater flexibility
to modernize or expand without having to install new pollution
controls, although the changes may lead to greater air emissions.
-- Plants with installed state-of-the-art
pollution controls are assured exemption from having to install
more effective equipment even if they expand operations.
-- Plants with numerous pollution sources
may increase pollution from some sources as long as overall, plant-wide
air emissions are not increased.
-- Companies are given greater leeway in
calculating pollution to reduce the likelihood that new pollution
controls will be required.
that ruptured Nov. 13 off the coast of Spain had passed in May
a rigorous safety review by one of the most respected private
ship- inspection companies in the world -- the American Bureau
of Shipping, based in Houston.
And as recently as three years ago, the
Bahamian-flagged ship was a frequent visitor to U.S. ports, logging
at least 33 visits to harbors from Portland, Maine, to Galveston,
Texas, in the decade between 1989 and 1999.
Today, the 26-year-old Prestige, which
has coated more than 180 miles of shoreline with oil and now threatens
to ooze a remaining oil cargo almost double that spilled by the
Exxon Valdez, would be banned from onshore U.S. ports because
of its age and design. But every year, hundreds of similarly aging,
single-hulled oil tankers operating under foreign flags pass through
Bay Area ports. And every failure in such vessels heightens concern
about the seaworthiness of the rest.
Just two years ago, the single-hulled oil
tanker Neptune Dorado got as far as the Tosco refinery in Rodeo
in such bad shape that it could easily have exploded. But the
Coast Guard spotted the key problem, and the tanker was safely
unloaded and repaired.
As tough as U.S. oil shipping laws became
after the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, the breakup of the Prestige
further proves that the safety of any nation's ports can depend
largely on decisions made in distant foreign lands.
Well over half the nearly 700 tankers pulling
into San Francisco Bay each year are foreign-flagged ships, including
dozens of aging, single-hulled ships.
While American ports have tightened inspection
programs, and some older ships like the Prestige have been banned,
the first line of defense against catastrophic spills still rests
with an international community of ship owners and private inspection
companies responsible for keeping oil tankers shipshape.
Tankers in the U.S. merchant fleet, which
are inspected by the Coast Guard, adhere to some of the strictest
regulations in the world. But U.S. ships now make up as little
as 3 percent of the world tanker fleet, and account for less than
half the tanker visits to San Francisco Bay.
Shippers have sought to reduce their costs
by using vessels based in foreign nations where the rules are
often less stringent. Critics call the more lax of these states
"flags of convenience."
"If we simply banned those ships from
landing here, that would force a shift by the industry itself
to register in countries that actually enforce environmental health
and labor standards," said Russell Long, executive director
of Bluewater Network in San Francisco.
The Prestige, managed by a Greek company
for an owner registered in Liberia,
flying under the flag of the Bahamas and
chartered by a Russian oil trader based in Switzerland, sailed
out of the Baltic Sea and was headed for Singapore earlier this
month when it ruptured near Spain's northwest coast.
PRESTIGE CAME TO U.S.
Only several years earlier, the Prestige was often seen docking
in, among other locations, New York; Baltimore; Philadelphia;
New Orleans; Galveston, Texas; Houston; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard records show no visits to California, and no U.S.
arrivals since 1999. The Prestige would now be eligible to visit
only deepwater U.S. ports more than 60 miles offshore.
But its younger cousins are traveling here
still -- a generation of single- hulled tankers being allowed
to serve out their second or third decade before an international
conversion to double-hulled tankers takes full effect in 2015.
Among those ships was the Neptune Dorado,
which sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge in October 2000. On
the decrepit tanker, run by a Greek crew for a Liberian operator
under the flag of Singapore, fuel and volatile gases had seeped
into ballast tanks unequipped to hold them. One stray spark could
have ignited an oil-fed explosion.
"Obviously we were lucky that an extremely
dangerous and damaging accident was avoided," said Warner
Chabot of the Center for Marine Conservation in San Francisco.
Despite its history, the 17-year-old Neptune
Dorado is still eligible to come back if it files the required
papers and assurances. But the tanker, now renamed the Golden
Gate, would be a top Coast Guard priority for boarding.
FLAGS OF CONVENIENCE
In the wake of the Prestige catastrophe, a chorus of European
officials is calling for an acceleration of the single-hull phase-out,
and Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson declared that
ships sailing under flags of convenience should be banned from
international trade -- raising an outcry of industry protest.
Many smaller nations that do business as
flag states have no government maritime safety agency like the
U.S. Coast Guard, but contract instead with one of the private
inspection companies called classification societies to monitor
the regulatory compliance of ships under their jurisdiction.
Some of those societies have dubious reputations,
but the Prestige was monitored by one of the largest and most
reputable -- ABS, which was founded in 1862.
ABS Vice President Stewart Wade said the
Prestige's failure does not mean that the international tanker
surveillance system is flawed, or that the useful life of scores
of ships should be shortened. Maintenance is the primary safeguard
for a ship of any age, he said, and the Prestige had undergone
comprehensive inspections and reinforcement in May 2001, with
a follow-up ABS inspection in May 2002.
"As the vessel gets older, the extent
and stringency of those special surveys becomes greater,"
Alaa Mansour, chairman of UC Berkeley's
graduate program in ocean engineering, agreed that ship maintenance
is the paramount safeguard. But he said age itself is a risk factor.
Tankers can develop hundreds of small cracks that are hard to
detect but can open like a zipper if the ship hits heavy weather
-- or if inexperienced operators fail to balance cargo loads.
And the polyglot crews of many foreign flagships can hamper good
operations, he said: "Sometimes they can't communicate with
Wade said investigations so far have not
determined the cause of the Prestige's initial rupture. But he
said the damage could have been minimized if Spanish officials
had allowed the tanker to be unloaded in calm port waters rather
than sent out into heaving seas, where the ship fractured and
"In the real world, ships of all types
will end up getting damaged," Wade said. "The question
is what to do then."
The work of the Houston classification
society is so respected that the Coast Guard contracts out some
of its own safety monitoring work to ABS, said Commander Steven
Boyle, executive officer of the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office-San
"I wouldn't use the Prestige as a
broad brush to paint ABS' performance," Boyle said. "But
this may cause them to become somewhat introspective."
NOT ALL SHIPS ARE BOARDED
The reputation of a classification society plays a big role in
the Coast Guard's system for detecting problem vessels. Boyle
has only eight inspectors to check over 3,000 ships of all types
entering port each year, so his office has to set priorities for
boarding -- even with oil tankers. If a reputable group like ABS
vouches for a vessel, it takes lower priority, unless there are
other factors such as a bad prior record for the ship or its flag
The Neptune Dorado had also been certified
by two of the most respected classification societies -- Det Norske
Veritas and Lloyd's Register. Fortunately, it was boarded on its
visit to San Francisco Bay in 2000 because it hadn't been in a
U.S. port for more than a year. Inspectors immediately noticed
serious problems -- leaking sewage and engine fuel. But the most
dangerous defect -- the contaminated ballast tanks -- was detected
when the ship was unloading in inland waters at Rodeo.
Of the worldwide oil and chemical tanker
fleet, Wade said, 5,243 are still single-hulled, and only 2,077
have double hulls. Yet the vast majority of voyages go well, he
"What's perhaps lost as well is the
really incredible safety record of the industry -- 99.9996 percent
of all oil transported by sea is delivered safely, " Wade
said. "But what each of these high-profile incidents make
clear is that the 0.0004 percent failure rate, which would be
the envy of most industries, is unacceptable."
"This has been made clear to us by
the governments as well as the outraged citizens of those areas
magistrate ordered the government Monday to shut down a seismic
research project that fires high-decibel air guns into the waters
off Baja California, saying the sound waves may have killed two
U.S. Magistrate James Larson sided with
conservationists in issuing a temporary restraining order against
the federally funded testing, saying research by the Navy has
found that "sound levels this high could cause serious tissue
damage to marine mammals."
The ruling represents a victory for environmental
groups that have accused the government of endangering underwater
life through stepped-up sonic testing, including a military sonar
The National Science Foundation, which
owned the vessel and funded the project, should now realize that
it has to follow federal environmental laws for such research
in the future, said Brendan Cummings, lawyer for the Center for
The government argued Monday that the environmental
laws should not apply to a project conducted in Mexican waters,
with the consent of the Mexican government.
But Larson -- noting that the U.S. government
owned the research boat and planned the project -- said it was
subject to laws requiring public disclosure and assessment of
likely environmental affects, consideration of alternatives and
restrictions on activities that harm marine mammals. The project
must be suspended until those studies are conducted, he said.
National Science Foundation spokesman Curt
Suplee said the agency has decided not to appeal and instead has
halted the 6-week-old research voyage a week before it was scheduled
"We're losing a lot of genuinely valuable
science," he said. "They're studying how the earth plates
are moving beneath the Gulf of California and how they might be
tied to earth movement in California, including the San Andreas
The vessel, operated by a Columbia University
laboratory under a $1.6 million science foundation grant, has
been firing an array of high-powered air guns at the sea floor
every 20 seconds to map a fault in the earth's crust.
When two beaked whales beached and died
on an island in the Gulf of California late last month, scientists
who spotted them said they also saw the research vessel nearby.
The underwater testing was halted for a week but resumed after
the government agency said there was no evidence it had harmed
the whales, whose carcasses were not autopsied.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Coda, the
government's lawyer, said Monday the vessel was at least 50 miles
away, too far to have caused any effect. "There's no way
these whales would have felt or heard these air guns," he
But Cummings, the environmental group's
lawyer, said scientists at a government conference this month
found a likely connection between the sonic testing and the deaths.
Larson also cited congressional testimony
by Navy officials after 16 whales beached and died two years ago
in waters off the Bahamas, where the Navy was conducting sonar
testing. A government report, based on examinations of some of
the carcasses, eventually found that the sound waves were the
likely cause of death.
"The Navy was trying to convince a
congressional committee that sonar was safe but air-gun blasting
might not be," the magistrate said. "The government's
own research seems to indicate that air-gun blasting is potentially
In 1854, the "Great White Chief" in
Washington made an offer for a large area
of Indian land and promised a "reservation" for the Native
Chief Seattle's reply, published here in full, has been described
as the most
beautiful and profound statement ever made on the environment.
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea
is strange to us.
If we do not own the freshness of the air
and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my
people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist
in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in
the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through
the trees carries the memories of the red man.
The white mans dead forget the country
of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never
forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man.
We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers
are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are
our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body
heat of the pony, and man - all belong to the same family.
So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends
word that he wishes to buy our land, he asked much of us. The Great
Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live
comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his
children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it
will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.
This shining water that moves in the streams
and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If
we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must
teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection
in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in
the life of my people, the waters murmur the voice of my fathers
The rivers are our brothers, the quench our
thirst, the rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we
sell you our land, you must remember and teach your children, that
the rivers are our brothers, and yours; and you must henceforth
give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
We know that that the white man does not
understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the
next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from
the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his
enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his
fathers graves behind, and he does not care. His fathers
grave and his childrens birthright are forgotten. He treats
his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky as things to be
bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads, his appetite
will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.
I do not know. Our ways are different from
your ways, the sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red
man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does
There is no quiet place in the white mans
cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the
rustle of an insects wings. But perhaps it is because I am
savage and do not understand. The clatter only seems to insult the
ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely
cry of the whip poor will or the arguments of the frogs around a
pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian
prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond,
and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by a mid-day rain, or
scented with the pinon pine.
The air is precious to the red man, for all
things share the same breath - the beast, the tree the man, they
all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice
the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb
to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that
the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all
the life it supports, the wind that gave our grandfather his first
breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land,
you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white
man can go to taste the wind that it sweetened by the meadows
So we will consider your offer to buy our
land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition: the white
man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.
I am savage and I do not understand any other
way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie,
left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am savage
and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important
than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without the beasts? If all the
beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit.
For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things
You must teach your children that the ground
beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that
they will respect the land, till your children that the earth is
rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have
taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls
the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground
they spit upon themselves.
This we know: the earth does not belong to
man; man belongs to the earth, this we know. All things are connected
like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. Man did
not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever
he does to the web, the does to himself.
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks
with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny....
We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which
the white man may one day discover - our God is the same God. You
may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but
you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for
the red man and the white, this earth is precious to Him, and to
harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. The white too
shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your
bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
But in your perishing you will shine brightly,
fired by the strength of the god who brought you to this land and
for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over
the red man, that destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand
when the buffaloes are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed,
the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men and
the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the
thicket? Gone, is the eagle? Gone the end of living and the beginning
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