Will Environment Be on Back Burner?

Some environmentalists are concerned that the terrorist attacks on September 11th will hurt the environmental movement. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports:

Transcript

Some environmentalists are concerned that the terrorist attacks on September
11th will hurt the environmental movement. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports.


Tom Lowe is a professor of environmental management at Ball State University in
Munice, Indiana. He says the reaction to the attacks could lead to bad decisions that would devastate the environment down the road.


“If we continue to spoil the environment, the tragedy of 9-11 is going to be amplified many times by what is going to happen with the environmental impact of global warming and other kinds of problems.”


Lowe says one example is drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge. He says national security interests may push for that now, even though it will be damaging in the long run. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jonathan Ahl.

Green Technology Can Defeat Terrorism

Small-scale on-site power generation technologies help protect the environment. Will they also help to protect us against terrorism? Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Byron Kennard argues that they can:

Transcript

Small-scale on-site power generation technologies help protect the environment. Will they also help to protect us against terrorism? Our commentator Byron Kennard argues that they do.


Like every American, I am mourning the tragic losses that terrorists have inflicted on our nation. But I mourn too because I fear that in the aftermath of these attacks, environmental protection efforts will be sacrificed to the awful necessities of war. I am reminded of a remark Tolstoy once made to a young friend, “You may not be interested in war,” Tolstoy warned,” but war is interested in you.” War’s interest in the young is fully matched by its interest in the environment.


Apart from what the US does to go after bin Laden, we must also pursue peaceful solutions to this challenge. The best of these options is to vastly increase economic opportunity for the world’s poor. After all, it’s their desperation that provides the breeding grounds for fanaticism. As Jessica Stern, author of The Ultimate Terrorists, observes: “Force is not nearly enough. We need to drain the swamps where these young men thrive. We need to devote a much higher priority to health, education, and economic development or new Osamas will continue to arise.”


Economic development will be hard to achieve and will take much time. But in it environmentalists can find some solace. There are environmental ways to develop economies and often these make the most sense for the world’s poor. For example, two billion people in the world have no access to electricity. Providing them electricity for lighting, clean water, refrigeration and health care, and radio and television is perhaps the best single way “to drain the swamps.” The best way to make electricity available to the world’s poor is through on-site generating technologies that are the environment friendly.


These “micro power” devices generate electric power on a small scale close to where it is actually used. They include fuel cells, photovoltaics, micro generators, small wind turbines, and modular biomass systems. For instance, a micro generator the size of a refrigerator can generate 25 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power a village in the developing world.


The environmental approach toward energy sufficiency in developing nations has been to utilize micro credit. That means providing poor people with affordable mini-loans to purchase on-site energy generators, or micro generation. Currently the US leads the world in exporting solar electric, small wind, fuel cells, and modular biomass systems to the developing world. Such exports of energy generation have become a $5 billion per year market, so this environmentally benign strategy is also economically productive. In short, electrifying the poor regions of the world will benefit our people, our planet and the cause of peace.

Keeping Resources Safe From Terrorism

Terrorism prevention experts say the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., are reminders of how vulnerable the U.S. is. However, they say utilities and cities can take simple steps to safeguard natural resources such as forests and water resources against terrorist attacks. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Terrorism prevention experts say the attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. are reminders of how vulnerable the U.S. is. However, they say utilities and cities can take simple steps to safeguard natural resources such as forests and water sources against terrorist attacks. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.


The terrorist attacks prompted alarm across the nation, and even people in areas that will likely never be the targets of terrorism are wondering aloud about their vulnerability.


Peter Beerings is the terrorism prevention coordinator for the city of Indianapolis, and speaks on the subject across the nation. Beering says because the U.S. has such great wealth well beyond its cities, it is vulnerable.


“We have vast expanses of natural resources, forests, parks, things that we consider to be natural treasures are just as easily national targets. But, it is important, I think, to remember that while we are vulnerable by virtue of our size, that this is not particularly something of interest other than to, perhaps, a single issue aggressor.”


By single issue aggressor, Beering means these areas aren’t likely to be the targets for international terrorists, but are occasionally targeted by fanatics for single causes. For example, forest fires have been ignited to protest development near wilderness areas, and an extortionist threatened to poison the water in Phoenix.


A small town about 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis also has been a target of a terrorist group. Dave Rollo sits on the Bloomington, Indiana Environmental Commission. Last year, environmental terrorists repeatedly hit Bloomington, destroying highway construction equipment, burning a house under construction in a sensitive watershed, and spiking trees in a nearby state forest to prevent logging.


“It really brought terrorism home to a small town such as
Bloomington when this sort of activity usually takes place elsewhere. So, I think that public officials, especially, had to rethink many things about how we– how Bloomington has to safeguard the community from these acts.”


Rollo says one thing is certain. Bloomington lost its complacency about the possibility of terrorism. After a period of fear and confusion, the city is now struggling with the proper security measures.


“How does one go about safeguarding a forest from deliberate arson, or how does one go about safeguarding a water supply the size of Lake Monroe which is the largest lake in Indiana. It’s an enormous challenge.”


And it’s a challenge that governments have been unwilling to talk about publicly, at least until now.


Jim Snyder is a researcher at the University of Michigan. At the direction of the President’s commission on critical infrastructure protection, he co-authorized a report on protecting water systems, possibly the most vulnerable target. But instead of getting information to the water purification plants across the nation, the government buried it, fearing that it might cause panic or give radical ideas.


“Some ten years ago we wrote a manual on how to secure water supplies for the EPA, but because they’re always worried about getting that notion into the public eye –which of course now any of these things are in the public eye– but they basically decided not to distribute that manual.”


Snyder says the manual outlined simple things, such as an emergency response plan, locking gates in sensitive areas and securing wells, and having guards on duty at water plants, things that would dissuade vandals or disgruntled employees. However, Snyder says, there’s little to prevent a determined terrorist with the right knowledge from poisoning a water system, undetected with contaminants small enough to fit in a backpack.


“It is certainly possible to put something in the water (which would go) which would be odorless, colorless, tasteless, uh, and not detected. And, your best indication that you have a problem are sick people or dead people.”


The terrorism prevention experts say no one can predict or prevent all acts of terrorism. But cities and utilities can make it more difficult, and that might be enough to dissuade some of these single-issue aggressors. Peter Beering in Indianapolis says natural resources have one more thing going for them.


“The good news is that these are comparatively uninteresting targets to an aggressor. And, as we learned, unfortunately, in New York and in Washington, that certainly there are much higher profile targets that are of much greater interest to people who are upset with the United States.”


Beering adds that should not be an excuse to ignore the risks to natural resources. He recommends every municipality assess its risks and take proper measures to secure its vulnerable areas.

KEEPING RESOURCES SAFE FROM TERRORISM (Short Version)

Terrorism prevention experts who’ve been calling for better security at vulnerable targets now have the public’s attention. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Terrorism prevention experts who’ve been calling for better security at vulnerable targets now have the public’s attention. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.


The experts say although a determined attack by a terrorist probably cannot be stopped. Security measures can be taken that would cause them to look for an easier target. Jim Snyder at the University of Michigan has co-authorized reports on water protection for the defense department. He says natural resources such as community water supplies and forests can and should be better protected.


“There’s lots of security measures that can be taken that are, compared to the value of the asset, is relatively minor expense. So, I suspect, because of this latest incident in New York and Washington, that there probably will be a renewed attention to all kinds of infrastructure.”


Snyder and other terrorism protection experts urge local governments to assess their risks and secure vulnerable areas. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

Sadness on the Peace Train

The terrible events in New York City and Washington have left a legacy of personal tragedies. For Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston, the story of September 11th began as a journey of peace:

Transcript

The terrible events in New York City and Washington D.C. have left a legacy of personal tragedies. For Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator, Suzanne Elston, the story of September 11th, began as a journey of peace.


I’ve never been to New York City. So when we got an invitation to visit the Big Apple and participate in a children’s peace festival, we jumped at the chance. My husband Brian and two of our kids, Peter and Sarah, were going to be part of a church service marking the opening of the 56th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Sarah was going to carry the Canadian flag and Peter was going to give a reading. The kids were wired and so were we.


Our plan was to leave Toronto Tuesday morning by train. The daylong trip would take us to New York City. We’d have all day Wednesday to do touristy things before the service on Thursday. We’d even managed to get tickets to a Broadway play. It all sounded so exciting that I couldn’t believe that it was actually going to happen.


We’d been on the train for about an hour when we first heard the news. Our traveling companions were 18 members of the Toronto Children’s Peace Theatre, also en route to the peace festival. The director of the company received a cell phone call that gave us sketchy details of the initial attack on the World Trade Center.


At first I refused to believe it. Here we were heading for an international children’s peace festival.


It felt like we were on the voyage of the damned. We continued on our journey, barreling down the tracks to a destination that we knew we would never reach. We heard rumors – the border was closed, there was shooting in the streets. People with cell phones were frantically trying to get a hold of somebody they knew who could give us an update.


The children from the theatre group were particularly upset. For most of them it was their first time away from home, and they were scared. As we discussed the latest details that we’d heard, one of the kids started to throw-up.


We moved to another car and tried to explain to a group of university students from England that they wouldn’t be flying home the next day from New York. As the news continued to filter in, we soon realized that they wouldn’t be flying home from anywhere. An elderly couple at the back of the car sat in stony silence. Their daughter worked at the World Trade Center and they were frozen in fear.


The conductor was stuck like a moose in headlights. Most of the passengers still didn’t know what was going on. My husband finally took him aside and explained that he had to make an announcement. People needed to make arrangements, to talk to their families. But he was just a kid and as scared as the rest of us. He wanted to wait until he had something official from Amtrak’s head office.


Finally, at 11:00 a.m., he made a formal announcement. The border was closed and we all would be disembarking at Niagara Falls. It was Tuesday evening by the time we got home and saw the horrific images of what had happened.


It wasn’t until then, when we were safe and home and together that we had a shocking revelation. The first stop on our sightseeing trip was going to be the World Trade Center. For the sake of a mere 24 hours we could have been buried at the bottom of that rubble like so many others.


Our great journey of peace ended with many prayers. We prayed for the victims and their families, we prayed for peace. Finally, we gave a prayer of thanks that we’d all made it home safely. After witnessing Tuesday’s horror – that was a gift beyond measure.

Coast Guard Steps Up Security

The heightened security following last week’s terrorist attacks is extending to the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports:

Transcript

The heightened security following (Tuesday’s/last weeks) terrorist attacks is extending to the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports:


The U-S Coast Guard is increasing patrols, and closely monitoring every ship that is navigating the Great Lakes. It is also adding patrols to the St. Lawrence Seaway and the St. Mary’s River.


There are no specific new regulations in place, but the Coast Guard is evaluating each vessel on a case-by-case basis. The Guard also has the authority to restrict any movement or remove ships from ports.


The Coast Guard is also increasing security at its own ports, and has restricted access to all Coast Guard Buildings and vessels.


The Secretary of Transportation gave the increased authority to the Coast Guard shortly after the attacks. There is no timetable for how long the heightened security measures will be in place. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jonathan Ahl.

A New Threat to Agriculture?

The gulf war highlighted the fact that biological weapons are a real
and serious threat to human health. But only recently has a related
danger come to light: That is, the possibility of bioterrorists
targeting plants and animals and affecting the food supply. As the
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Wendy Nelson reports, plant pathologists
gathered in Montreal this month (August) to talk about protecting
agriculture from bioterrorism:

Weapons of Mass Destruction – Part 1

After the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Congress approved funding to help cities prepare to defend against acts of terrorism. The Nunn-Lugar-Domenici legislation (also known as The Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996) brings together various federal agencies, such as the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services, the FBI, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Over the last year, they’ve been visiting the most populated cities to train local emergency responders in dealing with nuclear, biological, and chemical terrorism. In part one of a two part series, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Julie Grant Cooper reports: