Chronic Wasting Disease is killing wild deer and elk. And it’s slowly spreading to new areas in North America. Right now, tests for the disease are done after the animals are dead, but researchers say they might be getting closer to a test that can be given to live animals. The GLRC’s Christina Shockley reports:
Chronic Wasting Disease is killing wild deer and elk. And it’s slowly spreading to new areas
in North America. Right now, tests for the disease are done after the animals are dead,
but researchers say they might be getting closer to a test that can be given to live animals.
The GLRC’s Christina Shockley reports on what this might mean in the fight against the disease:
Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, causes deer and elk to waste away and die.
The disease is causing hunters and wildlife officials to worry about the
future of the wild deer population. Right now, testing a brain sample from a
dead animal is the sure-fire way to detect the infectious protiens, called prions, that
cause the disease.
Alan Young is a Veterinary Science professor at South Dakota State University.
He’s developing the new test.
“Our ultimate goal is basically to develop a test for infectivity in blood,
by taking a blood sample, and then analyzing for the presence of the infectious prion protein.”
Young says a blood test would let deer and elk farmers know if their herds are
infected before the animals die. He says the research could also lead to a cure for CWD.
Indoor swimming pools might be contributing to increased cases of asthma.
The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports on a new study that makes a connection between chlorinated pools and the risk of asthma:
Indoor swimming pools might be contributing to increased cases of asthma.
The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports on a new study that makes a connection between
chlorinated pools and the risk of asthma:
The study looked at kids who attended indoor chlorinated pools on a regular basis.
They found the more children are exposed to the chlorine fumes, the greater their
risk of asthma.
The study was conducted in Brussels. But, the authors suggest
the results could be duplicated in most wealthy Western nations. In the U.S., as in most
industrialized countries, asthma has become the most common chronic childhood disease.
Children in wealthier countries tend to get asthma at a rate ten times that of children
in other countries.
This is the first study to suggest that breathing the chlorine fumes trapped
in indoor pools might be part of the reason. The study was published online
in Environmental Health Perspectives by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The price of natural gas spiked last fall after Hurricane Katrina knocked out production in the Gulf. But prices have come down substantially since then, and the amount of natural gas in storage is growing. The GLRC’s Erin Toner explains what that could mean for consumers:
The price of natural gas spiked last fall after Hurricane Katrina knocked out production
in the Gulf. But prices have come down substantially since then, and the amount of
natural gas in storage is growing. The GLRC’s Erin Toner explains what that could mean
During the summer, natural gas is put into storage for the coming winter.
Because last winter was relatively warm, the amount of gas in storage has grown
to its highest level since the government began collecting data in 1994.
Jim Kendell is director of the Natural Gas Division at the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
He says the buildup of gas in storage will likely mean lower energy bills this winter:
“Unless we have a really hot summer this summer, or unless we have some more hurricanes.”
Kendell says barring those extremes, consumer prices for natural gas in the winter
shouldn’t rise too much from where they are now, meaning prices could be down 20 percent
over last year.
The EPA recently finalized its mercury reduction plan for coal-burning power plants. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage developing children. Now 16 states are taking the EPA to court, saying the so-called “cap-and-trade” plan doesn’t go far enough. The GLRC’s Gregory Warner reports:
The EPA recently finalized its mercury reduction plan for coal-burning power
plants. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage developing children. Now
16 states are taking the EPA to court saying
the so-called “cap-and-trade” plan doesn’t go far enough. The GLRC’s
Gregory Warner reports:
The coalition of states filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
DC Circuit, challenging the cap-and-trade rule.
Cap-and-trade allows operators of older power plants to swap pollution
credits with newer plants instead of minimizing their own emissions.
EPA regulators say their program will cut mercury pollution by 70 percent over the
next 12 years. The states say mercury is too dangerous for a go-slow
approach. Emily Green is with the Sierra Club:
“Just a little bit can cause major problems for children’s health in
particular, so right now we have the technology to reduce mercury from coal
plants by 90 percent, that’s what we should do.”
In contrast to the EPA rule, more than 20 states have adopted or are moving
to adopt more stringent rules to reduce mercury emissions.
Some Christians take issue with their conservative brothers in faith when it comes to global warming. Commentator Gary Schlueter says he’s a Christian, but he doesn’t see anything wrong with believing in the science that indicates global warming is partly caused by human activity:
Some Christians take issue with their conservative brothers in faith when it
comes to global warming. Commentator Gary Schlueter says he’s a Christian,
but he doesn’t see anything wrong with believing in the science that
indicates global warming is partly caused by human activity:
In Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, we are warned to beware of the two
children under Father Christmas’ long red robe, this boy ignorance and this
girl want, but especially beware of this boy. Race forward a century or so and
we have Reverend Jerry Falwell concluding, “I believe that global warming is a myth.”
I repeat, beware this boy, ignorance!
Reverend Falwell, an influential evangelical Christian leader, is not alone among
his contemporaries in preaching that global warming is a myth, or worse: some clerical
leaders say to believe otherwise could jeopardize one’s salvation.
The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, the ISA, is a mixed bag of religious leaders,
scientists and policy experts who, through a dark glass, shine a Biblical light on the
issues of environment and development. According to the ISA, “most U.S. evangelicals do not
back the call for regulating greenhouse emissions.” I repeat, beware this boy!
Recently, a group of more moderate Christian evangelical leaders joined together to
form the Evangelical Climate Initiative. They say global warming is real, that humans are
causing it, and that we need to do something about it. The ISA stands firmly against them.
The question is, why?
Why, in the face of hard warnings on the cover of the conservative Time Magazine with headlines
that read to “be worried. Be very worried” about global warming? Why, when the NASA scientist who
warned us 25 years ago that human activity was changing the Earth’s climate now warns
us we have a decade before we pass the point of no return? Got that? Point of no return.
Ten years! Why, against the growing tide of public and clerical opinion that mankind’s
contribution to global warming must be stopped, do they tell their flock to be like
Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Newman and not to worry?
Are these Mad Magazine evangelicals antagonistic toward science because science brought
us the concept of evolution? Can they be so petty? Or do they see global warming as a way
to fulfill their direst prophecies of gloom and doom? Can they be so proud? Or is it their
sheer greed to gobble up Earth’s resources that brings them smiling sanguinely to the brink of
a disaster so profound the habititability of our entire planet is at risk? Can they be so selfish?
Selfish, proud, petty? Beware this boy!
This Earth is our only real sanctuary, it is a gift of God, how can it be of so
little concern to these anti-Earth evangelicals that they can continue to preach against it,
preach against God’s gift? I conclude, beware this boy, ignorance!
Host tag: Gary Schlueter is a former president of the Virgin Island Conservation
Religious groups are suing local governments across the country for denying permits to build religious buildings. Part of the reason is that many churches are building bigger buildings that take up acres of land. And many of the disputes are between rural neighborhoods, and so-called mega-churches, with buildings over 50 thousand square feet. A federal law limits the power of local governments to say “no” to buildings designed for religious use. The GLRC’s Linda Stephan reports:
Religious groups are suing local governments across the country for denying permits to
build religious buildings. Part of the reason is that many churches are building bigger
buildings that take up acres of land. And many of the disputes are between rural
neighborhoods, and so-called mega-churches, with buildings over 50 thousand square feet.
A federal law limits the power of local governments to say “no” to buildings designed for
religious use. The GLRC’s Linda Stephan reports:
Bay Pointe Community Church prides itself on a contemporary worship style.
(Sound of singing, “Show your power, oh Lord our God, oh Lord our God”)
Members believe it’s their job to reach out to the world, and to the local community.
(Sound of singing, “to Asia and Austrailia, to South America and to the United States.
And to Michigan and Traverse City”)
But some people in the community think the church would be a bad neighbor. Right now,
the church in northern Michigan meets in a high school auditorium. But members have big plans for a
building of their own. It’ll be 58-thousand square-feet. That’s plenty of room for
Sunday school classes, a gym/auditorium, and even space enough to rent out to a
charter school on weekdays.
A year ago local township officials shot down those plans. They said the building’s
“too big,” that it would clash with the area, and that it would cause too much traffic.
Then the church sued, claiming religious discrimination.
The church has some unhappy neighbors in the rural area where it plans to build.
At a public hearing, resident Brian Vos told local officials NOT to back down,
regardless of the lawsuit.
“This isn’t about a church, this is about future development. Heck, Wal-Mart
could come in on East Long Lake. And if they had church on Sunday, you’d have to approve it.”
But, rather than spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending itself in federal
court, the township settled out-of-court. It agreed to let the church build its building,
and even to let it expand to more than 100 thousand square feet within a few years.
Many residents are NOT happy with the deal and they’ve threatened to recall
the entire township board.
There are similar cases across the country. A recent federal law limits the ability of
zoning boards to say “no” to churches and other religious groups who want to build,
or to expand. Jared Leland represents the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The group is bankrolling lawsuits on behalf of churches across the nation. Leland says
the law was created because zoning boards have used bogus arguments to deny permits
to religious groups they don’t like:
“For instance, a Buddhist meditation center was being restricted from existing in a
particular district because they would generate too much ‘noise.’ They
were silent meditation Buddhists. There would absolutely be no noise coming from such.”
Leland says because of the law, today, a municipality needs a
“compelling government interest” to deny a religious building project.
That’s a serious issue that has to do with health, safety, or security.
He says municipalities are usually worried about how a building will look,
or about parking. And he says that’s not enough:
“For instance, if they say, well, something this large is gonna generate too
much traffic, it’s gonna cause parking concerns in the residential district,
those are not compelling government interests.”
But some say putting a mega-church in an area where the community
wants to preserve farmland or keep sprawl away from greenspace should be enough.
“The question is: What is valuable to Americans?”
Marci Hamilton is an expert on church-state law at Cardozo Law School in New York City.
She argues that residential neighborhoods should have some say about what’s being built
next door, through their local government.
Hamilton says the law that Congress passed, RLUIPA, the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, is an unprecedented Congressional power grab
from local governments. She says people expect local officials to protect their
neighborhoods from problems like traffic, and noise.
Hamilton says since just the threat of a federal court case is often
enough to force a settlement, there’s an incentive for churches to sue
local governments. Even where the case has no merit under RLUIPA:
“What we’re seeing is almost anything appearing on the mega-church campuses.
We have one in Texas that has a McDonald’s on campus. We have a mega-church in
Pennsylvania that has an automobile repair. I think it’s hard to argue that
those largely commercial activities appropriately fall under RLUIPA.”
Hamilton says she believes the Supreme Court will eventually rule
that the law violates state’s rights. But the High Court has yet to hear a
land use case under this law.
Mixed paper (including "junk" mail) gets trucked to recycling facilities
like this one for recycling. First, it's unloaded in big piles, then pulled
up a conveyor belt for sorting. (Photo courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor)
Workers pull out contaminants from the mixed paper as it whizzes by. The paper then falls into a bunker, and is pulled up another big conveyor belt. (Photo courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor)
Finally, a machine packs the paper into giant bales weighing about one ton apiece. If there's a local market for the paper, it might be made into paperboard for products such as cereal boxes... but much of it is sold to companies overseas, particularly in China. (Photo courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor)
If it seems like your mailbox is stuffed with more shiny credit card offers and catalogs than ever before, you’re right. The U.S. Postal Service says the volume of advertising mail outpaced first class mail for the first time last year. The GLRC’s Rebecca Williams reports… city waste managers and environmental groups are concerned that all that mail is going to add up to a lot more waste:
If it seems like your mailbox is stuffed with more shiny credit card offers
and catalogs than ever before, you’re right. The U.S. Postal Service says
the volume of advertising mail outpaced first class mail for the first time
last year. The GLRC’s Rebecca Williams reports… city waste managers and
environmental groups are concerned that all that mail is going to add up to
a lot more waste:
(Sound of squeaky mailbox opening)
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like no one sends me letters anymore.
Which means my mailbox is all coupons and catalogs and pizza ads. That’s
not all bad, but honestly, most of it goes right to the shredder.
(Sound of shredder)
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that’s a pretty common
reaction. The EPA points to one study showing that 44 percent of advertising mail
is thrown away without being opened or read.
And there’s a lot coming in. Last year, marketers and non-profit groups sent
about 101 billion pieces of mail. That’s billion with a “B.”
You might call this junk mail, but people in the business have a more
affectionate name for it: direct mail.
Pat Kachura is with the Direct Marketing Association. She says direct mail
yields a very high return on investment.
“Marketers yield about a 7 dollar return on investment for every dollar
spent on catalog marketing, and about 15, almost 16 dollars return for every
dollar spent on non-catalog direct mail marketing.”
The Association’s annual report says those hefty returns are based on an
average of just 2.7 percent of people responding to the ads they get in the
mail. Last year, that meant more than 600 billion dollars in sales.
So, it’s profitable for marketers to fill up your mailbox.
But critics say there are hidden costs that marketers aren’t paying. Some
of those costs also arrive in your mailbox in the form of a bill from your
city for solid waste disposal or recycling.
(Sound of paper pouring into bunker from conveyor belt)
If your city accepts mixed paper for recycling, your junk mail comes to a
facility like this one where it’s sorted and packaged into giant bales
weighing one ton each.
Bryan Weinert is the solid waste coordinator for the city of Ann Arbor,
“We end up getting about $70 a ton back in the value of the junk mail that’s
recycled. But remember it’s costing the city roughly $125 a ton or so to
pick it up.”
Weinert says his city is lucky because it has double the nation’s average
recycling rate. He says communities that don’t have a recycling program
bear even higher costs to dispose of mixed paper.
In this case, the bales of paper get made into Kellogg’s cereal boxes.
Tom Watson is with the National Waste Prevention Coalition. He says it’s
good when there’s a local market for recycled junk mail, but much of it
actually gets sent overseas.
“The unwanted mail, the mixed paper, generally has a very low value, that is often
shipped to China and it comes back to us in the kind of mottled packaging found on
the products that we buy from China. So, it comes full circle but it’s not
very efficient, all the costs of the transportation and recycling.”
Watson says it’d be much more efficient to cut back on all that mail in the
The Direct Marketing Association does offer an opt-out service. The group
says their members aren’t allowed to send any new mailings to people who
sign up. The fastest way to sign up is online, but you have to pay a $5
Tom Watson with the National Waste Prevention Coalition says that charge
might put people off. He says he’d like to see a national Do Not Mail list.
One that isn’t controlled by the industry.
“It’s very common in other countries, you can’t send mail to someone unless
they say in advance, yes I want to receive that mail from you.”
You might expect that the folks at the Direct Marketing Association aren’t
fans of the Do Not Mail list idea, but they’re not the only ones.
“What is our position on that? (laughs) I wouldn’t like that to occur.”
George Hurst is the brand manager of direct mail for the Postal Service.
It’s his job to get direct mailers to send more mail. That’s because it’s
the second largest source of revenue for the Postal Service, in the tens of
billions of dollars.
Hurst says new laws aren’t needed. Instead, he says marketers just need to
know their audiences.
“The ones that don’t do it too well, and just blanket the earth with a message,
God bless ’em, we love the postage. But you gotta know that if you’re
talking to someone who is say, 100 miles away, about coming to your
dry cleaners, you’re probably missing the mark.”
But critics say consumers deserve to have more say over the mail they bring
into their homes. They say marketers make so much money from the mail they
send… that for that small chance you might be interested in a coupon book or
sale notice, you shouldn’t have to pay the cost to throw it away or recycle
Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” is reportedly drawing steady crowds at theatres in many parts of the U.S. But the film about global warming is bringing out both believers and skeptics. The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is reportedly drawing steady
crowds at theaters in many parts of the US. But the film about
global warming is bringing out both believers and skeptics.
The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
An Inconvenient Truth is the kind of movie that seems to provoke
discussion and debate. Liberal and conservative talk shows, bloggers
and pundits are duking it out. Sometimes the debate is within the
same household. Chun Yuan says after seeing the
movie and learning about all the carbon emissions, he’ll keep a closer
eye on his home’s thermostat.
“…Try to be more aware of like adjusting the heater….(laughs) ”
But Yuan’s wife, Yaphen Chen says An Inconvenient Truth
sometimes seems more like a lecture than entertainment. She says the
movie might help Al Gore as much as the environment.
“I think American people adore movie stars, so maybe this will help Al
Gore get elected. (laughs)”
Gore denies he’s trying to use An Inconvenient Truth to revive his
Hazardous waste is being trucked across the border from Mexico and Canada, but the U.S. government has no idea how much. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports:
Hazardous waste is being trucked across the border from Mexico and Canada, but the US
government has no idea how much. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used to try to keep track of how much toxic
waste was trucked across the borders, but three years ago abandoned its own program.
A report in the San Diego Union-Tribune found the work was turned over to a private
contractor, but it was behind the data by two years when that project folded in 2003. The
newspaper reports the EPA now relies on a much smaller program operated by a non-
profit organization. It’s compiling numbers from paper manifests the truckers turn in at
Definitions of hazardous waste differ in Mexico and Canada. And if companies try to
classify toxic material as less than hazardous, then they can pay less for disposal. The
EPA says it plans to standardize a hazardous waste manifest form later this year to better
determine what’s coming in and how much is coming in.
A new report says the Great Lakes are being threatened by toxic algae growth. The blue-green algae is reappearing despite efforts in the 1970’s to combat the problem. The GLRC’s Laleah Fernandez reports:
A new report says the Great Lakes are being threatened by toxic algae
growth. The blue-green algae is reappearing despite efforts in the
1970’s to combat the problem. The GLRC’s Laleah Fernandez reports:
Environmental groups say phosphorus pollution is causing the growth of
blue-green algae, which can kill fish and plants in the lakes. Phosphorus gets in the lakes
when lawn or farm fertilizers run off into waterways and because dishwashing detergent
still contains phosphates.
Hugh McDiarmid is with the Michigan Environmental Council, which released
the report. He says invasive species, such as zebra mussels, also promote
the growth of the toxic algae:
“They filter the water and make it clearer, which would seem on the surface
to be a good thing, but allows sunlight to reach deeper into the water
column and allows algae, therefore, to grow much deeper in the water than it
had before the mussels arrived.”
McDiarmid says shallow lakes such as Lakes Erie and St. Clair are especially
vulnerable because the algae on the bottom of the lakes is closer to sunlight.