A new study is producing more evidence that there is a direct link between air pollution in big cities and lung damage. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports:
A new study is producing more evidence that there is a direct link between air pollution in big cities and lung damage. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports:
Researchers at the University of Southern California followed more than 100 children through their teen years. They compared those who stayed in Los Angeles with those who left to live in cities with less air pollution. The results show the children that moved away from cities with polluted skies had significantly faster growth in their lungs. Scientists say children with decreased lung capacity are more susceptible to respiratory disease and more likely to have chronic lung problems as adults.
Lead researcher Edward Avol says the study is the latest piece of evidence that proves there is a direct and measurable positive effect in reducing air pollution. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jonathan Ahl.
The Gypsy Moth caterpillar cut a wide-swath of destruction through some midwestern states this year. The caterpillar has been called one of the most destructive hardwood forest insect pests in the U.S. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Natalie Walston reports:
The gypsy moth caterpillar cut a wide-swath of destruction through some Great Lakes states this year. The caterpillar has been called one of the most destructive hardwood forest insect pests in the United States. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Natalie Walston reports.
Agriculture officials in Great Lakes states have tried a variety of chemical methods to stop the spread of the gypsy moth. Still, it’s estimated the gypsy moth caterpillar destroyed a record forty-two thousand acres of trees in Ohio alone this year. The Ohio Department of Agriculture says that number has doubled from last year. Agriculture officials in New York State say the gypsy moth caterpillar feasted on fifty thousand trees this year. That’s compared to twenty-seven thousand last year. But, the state of Michigan got a break. Michigan Department of Natural Resources entomologist, Frank Sapio says the insects died from a virus before they could destroy trees, and he says the DNR released a natural fungus that worked with the virus to kill the caterpillars. Last year, though, the caterpillars were blamed for eating ninety-seven thousand acres of tree leaves in Michigan.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Natalie Walston.
Forestry experts throughout the Midwest have been experimenting with new ways to fight beech bark disease. The disease has already killed millions of beech trees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Ontario and Michigan. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Matt Shafer Powell has more:
Forestry experts throughout the Great Lakes have been experimenting with new ways to fight beech bark disease. The disease has already killed millions of beech trees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Ontario and Michigan. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Matt Shafer Powell has more…
Beech bark disease is actually a deadly tag-team combination of an insect that invades a tree and a fungus that finishes it off. Michigan State University entomologist Deb McCullough is one of several scientists trying to stop the spread of the disease in Michigan…
“What we’re going to see in the forest is gonna be something like Dutch Elm disease, the biggest, oldest beech trees are most vulnerable to this insect and to the disease, and as beech bark disease moves through the state, those are the ones that are going to die out first.”
McCullough says researchers have had some limited success with injecting pesticides into infected trees. And scrubbing the trees with soapy water seems to work too. But she says such methods simply aren’t practical when you’re dealing with the millions of beech trees that inhabit the region’s forests. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Matt Shafer Powell.
Several captive elk in Colorado have tested positive for chronic wasting disease. This fatal neurological ailment attacks an animal’s brain, slowly eating away healthy tissue. Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, has also spread to the wild deer population near the Colorado and Wyoming border. That’s prompted wildlife officials in the Midwest to begin looking for CWD in their wild deer herds. In the second of a two-part series, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Todd Melby visited one such testing site in rural Wisconsin and filed this report:
Several captive elk in Colorado have tested positive for chronic wasting disease. This fatal neurological ailment attacks an animal’s brain, slowly eating away healthy tissue. Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, has also spread to the wild deer population near the Colorado and Wyoming border. That’s prompted wildlife officials in the Great Lakes region to begin looking for CWD in their wild deer herds. Todd Melby of the Great Lakes Radio Consortium visited one such testing site in rural Wisconsin and filed this report.
The opening of the deer-hunting season in Wisconsin is a big day for Pauline Nol. But it’s not because she’s a hunter. Nol is a veterinarian. Instead of wearing a blaze orange vest, Nol sports a blue Dickie jumpsuit. She’ll need it to keep the blood of dead deer from staining her clothes.
(sound of medical instruments, followed by background sound of Nol and another vet moving instruments around on a table)
Nol and another veterinarian are arranging medical instruments on a folding table. It’s the kind of portable table you might find in a school cafeteria or church basement. Only today, the table is set up outside, in the parking lot of a Department of Natural Resources building just outside Spooner, a small town in northwestern Wisconsin.
In about a half hour, hunters will be pulling up in their pickup trucks to register deer they’ve shot just this morning. When they do, Nol, who works at the Department of Interior’s National Wildlife Health Center, will ask hunters if she might take a few samples from the carcass. The purpose: To check for chronic wasting disease.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological illness that is part of the same family of diseases as scrapies in sheep, mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. CWD destroys a deer’s brain and is always fatal. Before death, the infected animal seems listless, confused and often stumbles around aimlessly.
There is concern among some people that CWD may be transmittable to humans. Yet many states in the Great Lakes region, such as nearby Minnesota, have just begun testing for CWD in wild deer herds. While it still seems limited to captive herds, officials are worried the disease could spread. Dennis Stauffer is a spokesman for the Minnesota DNR.
“The greatest problem, we think, in terms of not just the animals but in terms of human health is if this gets into the wild population. That would be, I think, very problematic. Because then once it’s no longer just limited to captive animals, then you have a real issue of how in the world do you get to it and eradicate it.”
In Wisconsin, veterinarians like Nol, have been testing dead deer since 1999. So far, the news has been good. No cases of CWD have been detected in the state’s wild deer herds.
(sound from deer testing station: Cars on nearby two-lane highway)
Back at the parking lot, employees are now ready to tag incoming deer. And that’s got Nol busy too. She strolls over to a couple standing next to a dead buck resting its head on the tailgate of a red pickup.
“Who got the deer this morning? That would be you? Congratulations. That’s great, that’s really great. So, we’re doing some sampling for looking at different diseases in the deer herd. So we’re wondering if we could take some samples from your deer?”
The pair agrees and Nol gets busy. The first thing she does is pull the deer’s head beyond the edge of the tailgate. And then she begins slicing through the fur and into the neck.
“What I’m doing is I’m making a cut in the neck just behind the jaw line. And that exposes the base of the brain, the brain stem and those lymph nodes we’re looking for.”
The lymph nodes are tested for bovine tuberculosis, or TB, a disease that’s been found in Michigan’s free-ranging deer herd since 1994. Wisconsin began testing deer for TB in 1996 and has yet to find an incidence of the disease.
The man who shot the deer is Tom Hack of Hartford, Wisconsin. Once the brain stem, lymph nodes and blood samples are analyzed back at Nol’s lab, Hack will be notified of the results.
There’s been no evidence linking CWD to humans. However, the state is testing deer for diseases and I ask Hack if that gives him pause.
“Well, sure. If I’m going to be eating the meat. Yeah, yeah it would worry me.”
“So, are you going to wait until you get the postcard back before you eat the meat?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
A little later, I catch up with Ken Jonas. He’s a wildlife biologist with the state DNR. This morning, he shot a deer himself. And now he’s tagging animals nabbed by other hunters. I ask him if hunters should wait until they receive their postcards back in the mail before eating the meat.
“No. Again, we consider all the deer currently to be safe in the state of Wisconsin. The monitoring is being done to determine if there is a problem at this point in time. We have no detects of either of those diseases in the wild herd.”
The reason for the testing, Jonas says, isn’t to let individual hunters know of a personal health risk, but to see if CWD has found its way into the state’s wild deer herds. For the Great Lake Radio Consortium, I’m Todd Melby in Minneapolis.
Wildlife officials in the Midwest are battling the appearance of a deadly illness found in elk and deer. Called chronic wasting disease, or CWD, this ailment attacks an animal’s brain, slowly eating away healthy tissue. Several captive elk herds in the western U.S. and Canada have been infected with chronic wasting disease. Those herds have now been quarantined, but not before other animals from those herds were sold to farmers in 21 states nationwide, including several in the Midwest. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Todd Melby has this first report of a two-part series:
Wildlife officials in the Midwest are battling the appearance of a deadly illness found in elk and deer. Called chronic wasting disease, or CWD, this ailment attacks an animal’s brain, slowly eating away healthy tissue. Several captive elk herds in the western U.S. and Canada have been infected with chronic wasting disease. Those herds have now been quarantined, but not before other animals from those herds were sold to farmers in 21 states nationwide, including several in the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Todd Melby reports.
Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disorder. That means it affects the nervous system of elk and deer. It’s related to a number of other conditions, including scrapies in sheep and mad cow disease. Humans can also contract something similar — it’s called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
All these conditions are related — and that’s making some health officials nervous. That’s because at least one, mad cow, can be transferred to humans. Dennis Stauffer is a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He says now more and more people are also keeping an eye on CWD.
“It’s been called the mad cow disease of deer. It is certainly similar biologically. There are also some important differences. Unlike mad cow disease, or CWD as we call it, we don’t yet have any evidence it is transmittable to humans. So that particular health risk is not confirmed.”
But that doesn’t stop people from worrying.
In the 1990s, mad cow disease in Great Britain triggered a similar ailment in humans, eventually killing dozens of people. But public health officials downplayed that possibility, leading to less vigilance in eliminating mad cow. Some people now say the same thing is happening here with CWD. Sheldon Rampton is the author of “Mad Cow U.S.A.”
“You are getting the same pattern of reassurances. The same pattern of government authorities and government scientists coming forward and not quite saying there is no danger, but saying they don’t see any evidence of danger. And then saying that in such a way that the public is led to believe that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.”
One of the problems is, little is known about the disease. Kris Petrini is a veterinarian with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.
“We don’t know exactly what the incubation period is. We don’t know the youngest possible time an animal can get infected. The testing itself, right now, the only test we have that we can do is the animal has to be sacrificed and the brain tested.”
The outward signs of CWD aren’t exhibited until death is near. Again, Dennis Stauffer of the Minnesota DNR.
“Well, if you were to see a picture of one of these animals, they would be stumbling around, they would look wasted away. In advance stages, they would look disoriented, they would tend not to fear humans. They would look very, very sick and it would be very obvious that they are sick animals.”
Since learning that 36 elk from CWD-infected herds in Colorado and Canada were imported to Minnesota, state officials have set up a voluntary CWD surveillance program. All herds with exposed animals are participating in the program. Of the elk tested for CWD so far, none have had CWD.
(sound from Spooner, Wisconsin deer testing station: Cars on nearby two-lane highway.)
In neighboring Wisconsin, state officials are aggressively testing for CWD. On the opening weekend of deer hunting season, veterinarians took hundreds of brain samples from dead animals at locations throughout the state. In previous years, such efforts turned up no cases of CWD in the wild deer population, just like Minnesota. Ken Jonas is a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
“Right now, I’m not too concerned. If I were in Colorado or perhaps Wyoming or a state that was near to a chronic infection, I would be very concerned.”
While Kris Petrini, the Minnesota veterinarian, understands CWD hasn’t made it into the wild deer population, she says she wouldn’t be surprised to find it among the captive elk population in the state.
“No, not completely. Not with the number of elk we have and the amount of trading that goes on in the industry, I think it is highly possible that we will find chronic wasting disease.”
Six western states are home to elk herds with CWD infections. Elk farmers in another 15 states — including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — own animals from the original infected herds. So far, tests haven’t turned up any traces of CWD in herds with exposed animals in those states.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Todd Melby in Minneapolis.
"Revisioning the Great Lakes" is an exhibit of student art created through field research at the University of Michigan. Photo by Tamar Charney.
People who study the natural world often do field research. They go to learn about plants, animals, and the ecosystems we live in. But scientists aren’t the only ones who can make use of time spent studying the outdoors. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports:
People who study the natural world often do field research. They go to learn about plants, animals, and the ecosystems we live in. But scientists aren’t the only ones who can make use of time spent studying the outdoors. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports.
A group of students from the University of Michigan have stopped spreading sand on the floor and hanging sticks from a gallery ceiling to watch a video….
(video sound of slosh slosh on the trawl line a bass)
The tape is of a trip they took…to sail, to camp, to hike, to learn about the aquatic life in the great lakes….
(video sound of phylo arthro arthrabida crustratia (fade under))
…And to do some field research. But these students aren’t scientists…. they’re artists. And they are in the process of putting together an art exhibit.
“This exhibit is based on a semesters worth of investigation that art class has been pursuing.”
Joe Trumpey is a professor of art at the University of Michigan. He also teaches scientific illustration. And for years he’s been taking those students to the dessert, and even the jungle, to learn in the real world — instead of the classroom — about flora and fauna and the cells and structures they draw. Now he’s bringing this same method to a studio art class – to encourage these students to develop a relationship with the ecosystems of the Great Lakes region.
“Like any interpersonal relationship, a friendship, a marriage, anything you need to spend time and communicate with each other and to sit in a studio and think well I can make this all up in my head and its all fine. I’ve seen it in books. I’ve seen the pictures, but it isn’t the same as being out there and feeling the wind and the smell and the elements and everything else that’s associated with a particular environment.”
But they did more than just experience the land. Gerry Mull is a graduate student in Fine Arts and a member of the class.
“We explored a lot of environmental issues around the Great Lakes, talked to sea grant people and people doing different kinds of about ecological problems with the Great Lakes.
It was only after learning about fisheries, the food chain, the history of the Lake Michigan sand dunes, the economic impact of Great Lakes shipping, and the plants and animals here that the students got down to the business of creating art out of what they learned.
Gerry Moll has hung long pieces of what looks like brown grass from the ceiling. 24 big primitive forms that resemble sturgeon hover over sand he’s spread out on the floor. He says he hopes his piece creates a longing in the people that see it for the huge number of these fish that used to swim in this region.
“A kind of longing, a dream, a vision of something better, of more sturgeon in the Great Lakes, of what its like and how important it is to have these other beings in our lives. And a lot of fields do that but I think art does it in a special way.”
What these students are doing falls loosely under the category of ecological art — there’s a number of branches of this field – There are artists who actually restore the environment – creating fish habitats or cleaning up a Brownfield as their art. Then there are artists like Gerry Mull who are trying to rekindle our concern for nature. The University of Michigan is in the process of developing an art curriculum that focuses on the environment. And the University of Michigan isn’t alone. Environmental issues are popping up in arts schools and art classes of all levels. Don Krug is a professor of art education at Ohio State University.
“I think it is being taught more and more in higher education and I think it finds its way into art education in public schools in terms of units of study but there is a growing interest and I think if you look at universities throughout the United States there are more and more programs addressing these issues.”
Krug along with the Getty Museum has even developed on-line curriculum materials to help teachers get their students involved in creating art that draws on environmental and ecological issues. University of Michigan Art Professor Joe Trumpey says it only makes sense that art would be addressing something as fundamental as the health of our planet.
“The environment is something that all of humankind shares. Contemporary North American Society has moved away from family farms and is spending time outdoors. Long term relationships outdoors mean a weekend here and a weekend there I don’t think is the same sort of relationship as we had 100 years ago. So, for me, to build work that highlights that, and maybe make it become more into the central focus of peoples lives and understanding about where their food comes from and the relationship between them, and the animals, the plants, the land and the air becomes very important.”
And for artists to create meaningful art about the natural world, Joe Trumpey says they are going to have to immerse themselves like a scientist in the field. Studying the ecosystems around us through paint, clay, charcoal, and the other tools of the artist. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Tamar Charney.
A new report says cutbacks in the Ontario government have led to a shortfall in monitoring for water pollution. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly has this report:
A new report says cutbacks in the Ontario government have led to a shortfall in monitoring for water pollution. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen
The study was released by the Canadian Institute of Environmental Law and Policy.
It looked at Ontario’s pollution program for surface and groundwater over a five-year period. And it found the number of pollution discharges, spills and leaks doubled between 1994 and 99, while the number of investigations dropped. But ministry spokesman John Steele says things have changed over the last couple of years.
“Our enforcement figures are very, very good right now. I think there are about 200 additional staff of which about 150 are involved in the enforcement.”
Steele says the number of cleanup orders issued to industry increased by more than 300 percent in the last two years. But the study’s authors say the province releases little information about water pollution to the public. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly.
You probably have a computer in your car, on your desk and maybe even in your stove. It seems like there are computers everywhere these days helping with everything from our checking accounts to our turkey roasts. Now researchers want to install computers in another place, where most of us would least expect it – in Old MacDonald’s tractor. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Daniel Grossman has this story:
For years, environmentalists, government workers, and others have been puzzled about why more farmers don’t make use of environmentally friendly land management practices. Now, researchers have found some of the reasons farmers persist in farming the way they do; and why they don’t listen to outside experts. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham has more:
For years, environmentalists, government workers and others have been
puzzled about why more farmers don’t make use of environmentally friendly
land management practices. Now, researchers have found some of the reasons
farmers persist in farming the way they do and why they don’t listen to
outside experts. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
When you walk into Fran and Marilyn’s diner you immediately smell bacon and
coffee. It’s still dark and this is the only storefront open this early in
the morning in Jerseyville, Illinois. Local merchants, blue-collar workers
and farmers meet here to catch up on the local gossip. This is a place where
most people wear jeans and work boots. Belts with big buckles are fitted
with leather holsters to hold pliers or side cutters. No one wears their cap
As farmers ramble in, they eye the guy with the tie and microphone
suspiciously. After asking more than a dozen farmers over a three hour
period to talk, only one was willing to sit down with us.
That’s to be expected according to recent research on the behavior of
farmers. One of the major findings was that farmers don’t trust outsiders
very much. So, we came here to find if that was true.
Clayton Isringhausen farms land just outside of town. He agrees with the
researchers at the University of Illinois who found farmers for the most
part just want to be left alone.
“You know, that’s one of the reasons, probably, a lot of us do farm because we think we can make our own decisions and produce the products the way that we think is the best way to do it and we don’t want anyone trying to tell us anything different.”
Isringhausen says judging from his friends and neighbors, the researchers
were right when they found that farmers don’t trust outsiders… or at least
the organizations they represent… especially if they’re with government
regulators or environmental groups.
“I don’t think farmers distrust them because of the individual. They may distrust them because of who they’re involved with. ”
And the researchers found that distrust extends to just about anyone outside
of the farming community. The researchers say farmers tend to make decisions
based on their own experience, or on the advice of neighbors, or recommendations from the manager of the local grain elevator where they buy
feed, pesticides, and seed. Not because someone in a tie tells them what
they ought to do.
David Wilson is one of the University of Illinois researchers who questioned
hundreds of farmers about how they make decisions.
“Farmers are like many, many other people where they create in their own minds, in their own imaginings, a sense of villains and victims and salvationists to their way of life.”
And Wilson found most farmers see themselves as the victims… and government
agencies that interfere with their lifestyles, such as the Environmental
Protection Agency… as the villains. So when government programs or
environmental groups try to persuade farmers to stop using certain
pesticides that cause pollution problems, or to till the soil differently to
reduce erosion, or to stop using growth enhancing hormones in livestock,
farmers tend to get defensive.
(truck and grain elevator sounds)
Ted Stouffe farms 350 acres and also works at the grain elevator in Shipman,
Illinois. He says some environmental groups seem to be reasonable, but he
thinks others have hidden agendas.
“If they’re truly what they say they are, I have no problem with that. But I think that there’s somebody or something out there is trying to lead – excuse the expression – city people to believe that we’re creating a monster out here. And, whoever that is needs to be stopped, and they really don’t know the issue.”
Getting past that suspicion is difficult. Many environmental groups don’t
make a lot of progress in working with farmers. Chris Campany is with the
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, a coalition of farm
organizations, environmental groups, and others. Campany says the trick is
to find farmers who are good stewards of the land, respected by
environmentalists and by farmers, and work with them to help find common
ground between the groups. He says the next step is getting rid of
pre-conceived notions and asking the important questions.
“Why’s the farmer doing what he or she is doing in the first place? What are they responding to? And what are some examples out there of alternative ways to do things that not only may be more environmentally sound, but may be more economically viable too?”
But the researchers at the University of Illinois found that economic
argument only goes so far. Again, David Wilson…
“Many outsiders have gone into the farming community and said ‘We can change these guys’ practices if we can make an economic appeal to them.’ But, it’s really much more complex than that because farmers don’t just think economically. Farmers think in ways that are highly personal to them.”
And until those outsiders understand that, the researchers say they won’t
have a whole lot of influence with farmers.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
More and more Americans have been taking recycling seriously over the last two decades. So much so that today, the EPA says about 30% of the trash Americans produce in their homes is recycled. And the recycling rate for most Midwest states is near that average, but while the agency expects that number to continue to rise, not everyone thinks more recycling is better for the environment. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brodie takes a look at the economics of recycling:
More and more Americans have been taking recycling seriously over the last two decades. So much so that today, the EPA says about 30 percent of the trash Americans produce in their homes is recycled. And the recycling rate for most Great Lakes states is near that average. But while the agency expects that number to continue to rise, not everyone thinks more recycling is better for the environment. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brodie takes a look at the economics of recycling.
A small bulldozer collects materials that have sprawled out across the floor of this recycling center…. it then pushes the mound up against a wall. The glass and plastic pile up almost to the ceiling of the building … some ten feet in the air. Welcome to the tipping floor, where workers collect and sort recyclables from the Albany, New York area. Joe Gieblehaus is the solid waste manager for the city. He says Albany officials hope to recycle between 30 and 35 percent of the city’s waste…
“The 30 to 35 gives us I guess the best bang for our buck, basically, recycling is a situation of declining marginal returns. If we try to go after another product in the waste stream, it just costs us more money, and more money, and more money and more money. 30 to 35 seems to give us an economic benefit, the best economic benefit available.”
Albany’s recycling target is similar to that put out by the EPA… and is about the limit that one former EPA assistant administrator says is necessary. Doctor J. Winston Porter was instrumental in starting curbside recycling in the United States in the 1980’s…. but now he says people are taking a good thing too far.
“The last few years, I’ve been somewhat concerned that people are, if anything, aiming too high. You know, I set a 25% goal and there’s nothing wrong with going to 30 or 35 or 40% if you can. But I think many states have set goals of like 50% and I think what we’re doing, we’re getting into an area that’s very non-cost effective and may even hurt the environment because you’re in effect trying to use too much energy and too much processing to recycle too much trash.”
One of those states that’s right about at porter’s limit is Wisconsin. Greg Swanson of the state’s department of natural resources says Wisconsin recycles about 40 percent of its waste. He says the state’s laws call for beneficial re-use. That means the state does not want to spend more energy recycling something than it took to make it in the first place. Swanson says that makes decisions about what to recycle and what not to recycle a little easier.
“You’d like to be able to recycle everything that’s recyclable, but you have to keep in mind the political and economic realities of being able to actually do something with it once you collect it.”
Swanson says that end result is crucial for recycling programs to survive. He says Wisconsin has budgeted more than 24 million dollars for recycling programs this year. That money goes to pay for trucks, drivers, and people who sort the recyclables, among other things. If a state or city recycles something, it has to be able to sell it. If the costs of recycling are higher than the profits from selling the materials, the city or state loses money on the deal. But not everybody believes more recycling hurts the economy. Will Ferrety is the executive director of the national recycling coalition. He says the more Americans recycle, the better it is for both the environment…. and the economy.
“At its fundamental basis, recycling is helping us eliminate the notion of waste because if we can turn what would otherwise be a discarded product into a useful product, we’re making for a more efficient system.”
Ferrety says states should try and recycle as much as possible. He says it’s preferable to many of the alternatives.
“When you look at that entire system, and compare that to what I would call a one-way system where we extract resources, make a new product, use them up, and simply throw them away in a landfill, hands down, there’s less energy used, there’s fewer air pollutants, there’s fewer water pollutants that result from that recycling system when compared to that one way system.”
Among Great Lakes states, Minnesota and New York have the highest recycling rates…at more than 40 percent each of their total waste. The EPA says other Great Lakes states recycle between 20 and 29 percent. Albany, New York’s Joe Gieblehaus says even though many officials on the state and local level would like to recycle more…. the green of the environment sometimes has to take a back seat to the green in the wallet. He says the market drives decisions about whether or not to recycle something. He says the city can only recycle materials that can then be sold to offset the cost of collecting them in the first place.
“There are so few end uses to close the loop; it’s hard for us at the beginning of the loop to find a market for this material…a sustainable market for this material.”
Gieblehaus says his trucks collect about 13 thousand tons of recycled materials a year. He says that’s just enough to help keep the environment green…. without putting the city into the red. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Mark Brodie.