Following World War Two, many Americans moved from cities to the suburbs for clean new houses and big lawns. The resulting urban sprawl eventually became a concern in eastern states because of their large populations and small land mass. But sprawl has only recently become an issue in the once land-rich Midwest. This spring, 135 people from Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana took a bus trip to the east coast to get ideas about containing development and protecting farmland. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Julie Grant reports:
Researchers might soon have a vaccine to protect birds from the West Nile virus. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Researchers might soon have a vaccine to protect birds from the West Nile virus. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
The centers for disease control and the U.S. Army are getting help to develop a vaccine for prevention of the mosquito borne West Nile virus. Here in the U.S. in the past couple of years, the virus has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of birds from more than seventy species. Michael Hutchins is with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. He says research into a vaccine ahs been driven by the need to protect birds in zoos.
“The current studies are to develop an injectable vaccine, but the intention is to try to take that and develop an ingestible variety that could be spread on bird feed and would therefore have a hopefully-big impact on wild birds as well.”
Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, the Walt Disney Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Bird Conservancy have all contributed to the project. Hutchins says a vaccine could be developed as soon as the next month or so. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
A sport fish native to the Great Lakes region is famous for its looks and its size, but overfishing and habitat loss have driven its numbers down. Now, some fish experts are helping the coaster brook trout make a comeback. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca Williams reports:
A sport fish native to the Great Lakes region is famous for its looks and its size… but over fishing and habitat loss have driven its numbers down. Now, some fish experts are helping the coaster brook trout make a comeback. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca Williams reports:
Coaster brook trout, or coasters, cruise the near shore waters of Lake Superior most of their lives, and only swim into rivers to spawn. Male coasters turn vibrant red when they’re spawning. And the trout grow much larger than their inland relatives… an 8 pound fish is a trophy.
But coasters are rare, so Trout Unlimited is working with other scientists to boost their numbers. In the last 2 years, biologists have released baby coasters in 4 rivers in the Upper Peninsula.
Bill Deephouse is president of Trout Unlimited’s Copper Country chapter.
“You can’t protect all of these little creatures. So you put… and this certainly isn’t exact… but you put 10,000 fish in, you hope a few thousand of them make it. Maybe a few hundred make it to adulthood.”
The biologists say it may be some time before fishermen will feel one of the reintroduced coasters on the end of their lines. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Rebecca Williams.
In the animal kingdom, a sense of smell is a useful tool. We can tell whether our food is fresh, our clothes are clean… and we might even choose a mate by their scent. Soon, marketers may try to attract your nose to their products. But like too much noise, too many smells may be a turn-off. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Tom Dunkel doesn’t mind that he’ll miss out on this new kind of pollution:
In the animal kingdom, a sense of smell is a useful tool. We can tell whether our food is fresh, our clothes are clean… and we might even choose a mate by their scent. Soon, marketers may try to attract your nose to their products. But like too much noise, too many smells may be a turn-off. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Tom Dunkel doesn’t mind that he’ll miss out on this new kind of pollution.
The nose knows more than we think it does. Studies have shown humans secrete the same chemical scents called “pheromones” that trigger things like aggression and mating in the animal kingdom. What does that mean? Well, it means that by mixing the smells of lavender and pumpkin pie, researchers in Chicago were able to sexually arouse a test group of men… a test group of, apparently, very lonely, embarrassed men. Its private industry’s job is to try and cash in on scientific discoveries. Which explains why a patent has been issued for a little device that attaches to a TV, computer, or stereo. The sole purpose of this little gizmo is to generate odors that enhance what we see and hear on our TVs, computers, and stereos. Yes…. It’s the Dawn of Smell-o-Vision! And it’s only a matter of time until it produces a new, annoying form of environmental pollution.
Someday soon grocers will be spritzing supermarket aisles with chocolate-based fumes…. fumes that fill shoppers with a heroin-like craving for Coco Puffs. Airline industry scientists will discover that the combined smell of fruitcake and varnish make passengers actually want to stand in line for hours at ticket counters. We’ll be begging for flight delays. Some future presidential candidate will get catapulted into office by winning the scratch-n’-sniff-campaign-button vote.
Fortunately, I’m going to miss out on this brave, new, environmentally manipulated world. I’m going to miss out because I’m one of about 3 million Americans who have no sense of smell. People like you…. normal people…. enjoy a symphony of 10,000 different odors. My world of smell is a one-note song: ammonia. Eye-watering, sinus-scorching ammonia…the nasal equivalent of having ears that can only hear blood-curdling screams. As handicaps go, I admit I have a minor one. Ragged men don’t stand on street corners mumbling, “Hey, buddy, can you spare a dollar for a guy who’s never smelled fresh-baked bread?” But being born without a sense of smell has very practical, very anxiety producing implications. I have left chicken pot pies baking in the oven all night long…. cooked them no, incinerated them – until a neighbor stopped by to ask if my kitchen was on fire. Likewise, I can’t tell if I’ve worn a suit two times or 20 times. Imagine sitting in a business meeting, brimming over with earth-shattering, big ideas…but convinced nobody will listen to those Big Ideas because you smell like a high school gym locker.
I long ago accepted the fact that my nose can’t distinguish a rose from road kill. But after all these years – not being able to smell has suddenly developed a bright side: No company is going to manipulate my environment. I am totally immune to Smell-o-Vision. Better yet: No matter what those wacky, test-group scientists do, I will never, ever, get sexually aroused by a piece of pumpkin pie.
A lot of things found in and around the Great Lakes can be bought and sold – from drinking water to lakefront property. Still, some features of the lakes – like its ecosystem – are not for sale. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jim Meadows reports… a new study tries to measure the value of something many consider priceless:
A lot of things found in and around the Great Lakes can be bought and sold, from drinking water to lakefront property. Still, some features of the lakes — like its ecosystem — are not for sale. The Great Lakes Consortium’s Jim Meadows reports a new study tries to measure the value of something many consider priceless.
The Lake Michigan Federation says there’s no commodity price for healthy fish and birds living around Lake Michigan — but that people are willing to pay to preserve them. A study prepared for the Federation at the University of Illinois at Chicago estimates how much people would pay — the so-called “natural capital” value of the southern Lake Michigan shoreline. Anna Cooper, who worked on the study, says their numbers could play a role in future decisions about the lake. Just one example she gives is the decision in Chicago to close a small airport along the lakeshore. Meigs would be closed, and the land used for other purposes.
“You know, if it could be shown that having that area as a natural preserve or changing it back into a wetland or something like that, if that could be shown to be basically cost-effective, that people … would value those species and that habitat more than they would value that land put to another use.”
The study estimates Chicago area residents are willing to pay 117 to 197 dollars per household to preserve the lakeshore ecosystem – for a total natural capital value of roughly three to five billion dollars per year, but it’s only an estimate. The Lake Michigan Federation’s Joel Brammeier says they couldn’t afford to do an actual survey of residents — so they extrapolated.
“In this study, we employed a technique called benefits transfer, which is the transferring of data from one study with a similar species and situation to a new region, in this case the Chicago region.”
Still, Brammeier says their study is a good conservative estimate of how much Chicagoans value the lakeshore ecosystem, and he believes other parts of the Great Lakes would also benefit from a valuation of their natural capital. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jim Meadows.
Ten whooping crane chicks that may go on a historic flight through part of the Midwest this fall are about to start flying lessons. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Ten whooping crane chicks that may go on a historic flight through part of the Midwest this fall are about to start flying lessons. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports.
Public and private sector wildlife experts are trying to set up the first migrating flock of whooping cranes in the Eastern U.S. the plan is to have the birds learn their migration route this October by following ultra-light aircraft from Wisconsin to Florida. Ten two-month old whooping crane chicks have just finished the first step of the experiment at a federal wildlife center in Maryland. Joan Guilfoyle of the u-s fish and wildlife service says the chicks went through ground school.
“Right from coming out of the egg they were exposed to sounds of ultra light engines, being able to see people in costumes disguised as adult whoopers, so they would begin to associate their care and protection with those two things.”
Now the crane chicks have been brought by private plane to
Wisconsin, where ultra light pilots wearing crane costumes will give the birds flying lessons. Many of the same people worked on a test migration with smaller but more plentiful sandhill cranes last year. Guilfoyle says there are some behavioral differences between sandhills and whoopers.
“One of them is sandhills tend to migrate in groups more than whoopers…so we will learn the right number to group…may be all ten of them together or they may end up in two groups.”
A century ago, it’s believed about one thousand whooping cranes roamed parts of North America. Today, the species is endangered. The only remaining migrating flock of whoopers numbers about one hundred and seventy five. That flock spends its summers in Canada, before heading to Texas for the winter. If the human-assisted migration in Wisconsin is successful this fall, scientists hope to continue the reintroduction. And they say they could have as many as 25 breeding pairs of whooping cranes living in the Wisconsin to Florida flock within the next ten years.” For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Chuck Quirmbach in Milwaukee.
Polluted sediments sit at the bottom of rivers and lakes across the Great Lakes region. They can affect water quality, wildlife and human health. More than 40 highly contaminated areas in the region have been identified by the EPA’s Great Lakes Office. But so far, only about half of those sites have been cleaned up. This summer, dredging is taking place in at least three of those hot spots, all on rivers. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports on the challenges of cleaning up a river bottom:
People have been secretly dumping old appliances almost as long as companies have made them. Too often, clean-up crews find old stoves, water heaters, and even refrigerators that people have thrown away improperly. Even the threat of big fines has not stopped the practice. So now, some Great Lakes states are beginning to set up programs to accept the old appliances. They’ve found it’s more effective than having to pick them up out of roadside ditches. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
People have been secretly dumping old appliances almost as long as companies have made them. Too often, clean-up crews find old stoves, water heaters, and even refrigerators that people have thrown away improperly. Even the threat of big fines has not stopped the practice. So now, some Great Lakes states are beginning to set up programs to accept the old appliances. They’ve found it’s more effective than having to pick them up out of roadside ditches. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
It might be against the law to dump an old refrigerator or washing machine, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people each year from doing just that. And the reasons are simple, it’s hard to find a place that will take them, and those that do take them often charge a fee.
It got to be more of a problem in the 1980’s. Several states banned large appliances from landfills because they took up too much space. So, homeowners were left to their own devices to get rid of them. Then at about the same time, an increase in cheap imported steel forced down the price being paid for scrap metal. So anymore, fewer scavengers are making fewer rounds to pick up old appliances. That’s because much of the time, it just doesn’t pay. But, the few times when prices do get high enough, some of the scavengers will even pull appliances out of illegal dumping grounds to cart off and sell to steel recyclers. Greg Crawford is with the Steel Recycling Institute. He says the scrap metal market can have a great affect on where old appliances end up.
“That happens routinely year in and year out as the prices cyclically go up and down. And it is money. It is the scrap value of the iron and steel in the appliances that encourages the peddler trade to make these collection runs and then bring the appliances back into the scrap dealers.”
Besides looking horrible, dumping can also damage the environment. Many old appliances such as refrigerators, deep freezes and air conditioners contain coolant gases such as CFC’s that damage the ozone layer. If those gases aren’t captured, they’ll eventually leak out of the appliances. That’s why some governments are trying to come up with new ways to the problem of appliance disposal. Arley Owens is with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He says Ohio is helping to lead an effort to make sure unwanted appliances are disposed of properly.
“We basically had to ask the question ‘Do you want to collect the appliances that people may illegally dump?’ Because in some cases when you don’t have enough money in your budget to buy food or to make ends meet for that particular month, there’s no way you’re going to take an appliance half-way across the county and then be charged a fee for the drop off and then the evacuation of the CFCs, which could run as much as anywhere from 30 to 40 to 75 dollars depending on the location.”
In Ohio, Owens says, each year the state gives each county’s solid waste management district a thousand dollars to publicize a drop-off period in the spring. Then, working with steel recyclers, they remove the CFC’s and send those old appliances to Ohio’s steel mills to be melted down for new products. But, most states don’t have such a program. In some cases, appliance stores will dispose of the old equipment for little or no cost when they deliver a new replacement. But, many of the large retail chains don’t. So those customers are on their own.
Some solid waste experts say that should change. Dana Duxbury-Fox has been a consultant on solid waste issues. She says someone should be responsible for making sure every big appliance will be recycled properly.
“And in my ideal world the manufacturer has that responsibility. If they made it –and particularly with products that have hazardous constituents– if they put those into the marketplace, they should be responsible for keeping it out of it.”
She suggests there should be a deposit on appliances, or a fixed cost included in the price that would pay for recycling services at the end of the life of the appliance. But those kinds of programs are hard to sell to lawmakers. That’s because despite the very real problem o illegal dumping. Big appliances are already being recycled at a higher rate than most steel products. In fact, according to the steel recycling institute, the recycling rate for big appliances increased from forty-one percent in 1990 to eighty-four percent last year. But still that leaves the question of where sixteen out of every hundred appliances end up. Greg Crawford with the Steel Recycling Institute says adding a fee or deposit probably wouldn’t be helpful.
“It would have the effect, really, of being a very expensive add on system that would perhaps get the incremental appliances, but it would be at a very high cost. It would not be the same efficient system that’s already in place, not withstanding the exception of improper dumping that some people erroneously choose to do.”
But, for many areas, especially rural areas’ dumping remains a problem because no one has offered a practical and inexpensive alternative. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
A disease that’s destroying trees is spreading through parts of the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
A disease that’s destroying trees is spreading through parts of the Great Lakes Region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
Beech bark disease has been damaging beech trees in eastern Canada and New England for a century. The disease has been creeping westward across the upper sections of U.S. since then. Last year Beech bark disease was discovered in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The disease is caused by two pests. First an insect called the wooly beech scale attacks the tree and open wounds. Then a fungus enters the bark, killing the trees. Often the beech trees are knocked over by high winds because of the damage done to them. Not all beech trees succumb to the disease. Scientists are now studying trees that appear resistant to beech bark disease, and they’re also looking for natural predators of the scale insect or the fungus that damages beeches. In the meantime, forest officials are cutting down beeches damaged by the disease. Before the trees fall down on someone unexpectedly.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
New ethanol plants are under construction since the White House has mandated that California use ethanol to replace MTBE as an additive to reduce smog. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham has more:
New ethanol plants are under construction since the White House has mandated that California use ethanol to replace MTBE as an additive to reduce smog. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
Farmers in the Midwest have seen depressed prices for corn in recent years. That’s why they were thrilled to hear the demand for ethanol might double because California will be required to use corn-based ethanol to replace the now banned MTBE. The requirement came despite the fact that technical staff at the EPA found California could have cleaner air without ethanol. Frank O’Donnell is with the environmental group, Clean Air Trust.
“The Bush administration came in and made a totally political decision to discard the technical information of the EPA’s best scientists and said, essentially, California had to use an ethanol mandate.”
The Clean Air Trust says the Bush Administration was under pressure by Archer Daniels Midland’s lobby engine. ADM produces more than half the ethanol used in the U.S. and was a major contributor to the Bush Campaign. The EPA’s administrator, Christine Whitman, says the decision was simply about enforcing the Clean Air Act. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.