Several Midwest universities will be part of a controversial
effort to improve the recycling of nuclear waste. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Several Midwest universities will be part of a controversial effort to
improve the recycling of nuclear waste. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Spent nuclear fuel is piling up at many commercial nuclear power plants around the nation.
Scientists know how to re-process and re-use the fuel. but that’s currently not done
in the U.S. nuclear industry.
Michael Corradini is an Engineering Physics Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He says the re-use of nuclear waste can be improved… and he contends this is the moment to do
“And with the need for energy… particularly electrical energy… this is a way to more efficiently
deal with our spent fuel.”
Wisconsin and other Big Ten universities with nuclear engineering programs will team up with
the University of Chicago for a recycling project at the Argonne National Lab in Illinois. But an
anti-nuclear group contends that trying to recycle more nuclear waste makes it more likely some
spent fuel will be made into bombs. The university scientists say safeguards will be taken to
prevent that from happening.
A group called Scientists and Engineers for Change is touring battleground states, campaigning against the Bush Administration.
(Photo by Emanuel Lobeck)
A group of prominent American scientists, including 10 Nobel prize-winners, will bring a campaign against the Bush Administration to key battleground states in the region. The group says the President has misused and marginalized scientific research. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David Sommerstein reports:
A group of prominent American scientists, including 10 Nobel prize-winners,
will bring a campaign against the Bush Administration to key battleground states
in the Great Lakes. The group says the President has misused and marginalized
scientific research. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David Sommerstein reports:
The political advocacy group formed last week is called Scientists and Engineers for
Change. Stanford University professor Douglas Osheroff is a member. He won the Nobel
Prize for physics in 1996. He says the Bush Administration is compromising scientific integrity.
“Having scientists reporting to middle-level bureaucrats who simply don’t have the background
to assess what the scientists are saying and he, of course, has essentially put a gag order
on scientists that are paid by the government directly. They are really not free to say what
Osheroff also says President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s ties to the oil industry have
led them to minimize evidence of climate change.
Members of the Scientists and Engineers for Change will speak in Battleground states
like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania this month.
The group has no direct ties to Senator John Kerry’s campaign. The Bush campaign hasn’t
responded to the group’s claims.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m David Sommerstein.
You’ve probably heard about global warming, maybe also climactic cooling. Scientists have identified another phenomenon called “global dimming.” They say the world is getting darker. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David Sommerstein reports:
You’ve probably heard about global warming, maybe also climactic cooling. Scientists
have identified another phenomenon called “global dimming”. They say the world is
getting darker. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David Sommerstein reports.
In the 1980’s, a handful of researchers noticed a strange trend. Less sunlight was
reaching the earth’s surface than fifty years earlier. The scientific establishment
dismissed the notion as ridiculous. But researcher Michael Roderick of Australia
National University says today, ‘global dimming’ is becoming accepted. He says much
of the northern hemisphere is 10 to 20 percent darker than it used to be.
“Something in the atmosphere is blocking the sunlight from getting through. And that
something is either more clouds or more aerosols, so basically pollution.”
Roderick says the dimming is worst in big cities, but rural areas and even Antarctica also
are getting less sun.
Scientists don’t know what ‘global dimming’ means for people, plants, and animals.
Roderick and geophysicists from around the world are meeting this week in Montreal to
take a first stab at that question.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m David Sommerstein.
Sienna Sue, an alpaca on A.L. Paca Farms. Photo by Doug Caldwell.
There’s an up-and-coming livestock trend in the region. Alpacas are common in the high plains of Peru, Chile and Bolivia, where people have used their fleece for clothes and their dung as fuel for centuries. They haven’t even been in the U.S. 20 years, but their low environmental impact, cold weather tolerance and high-priced fleece make them an increasingly popular choice for farmers. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Skye Rohde reports:
There’s an up-and-coming livestock trend in the Great Lakes region.
common in the high plains of Peru, Chile and Bolivia, where people have
fleece for clothes and their dung as fuel for centuries. They haven’t
even been in the U.S.
20 years, but their low environmental impact, cold weather tolerance
fleece make them an increasingly popular choice for farmers. The Great
Consortium’s Skye Rohde reports:
(ambient sound of barn)
Alpacas stand about five feet from head-to-toe. Fluffier and smaller
than their llama
cousins, they have long thin necks, big eyes and four bottom teeth.
Pack animals with
their own pecking orders, they communicate by humming.
(sound of alpacas humming)
Bob and Ellen Chamberlain have eight animals at River Bend Alpacas,
their farm in
Croghan, New York. They’ve done a lot of research into alpacas, but
it’s a side business
for them right now. He teaches physics at the local school and she
substitute teaches, in
addition to raising three kids.
Ellen Chamberlain coos at Jambalaya, one of the three original alpacas,
who took a year
to warm up to her.
She scratches Cyrus’ neck as he leans into her shoulder. She kisses
Valentine, whose cria
– or baby alpaca – should be born any day.
“People say they have bad breath, but I don’t think so.”
Skye Rohde, to Bob Chamberlain: “Do you agree?”
Bob Chamberlain, laughing, “Bad breath.”
Ellen Chamberlain: “Oh, Cyrus, you’ve got a bug bite on your eye
Breeders and owners love alpacas’ curiosity and easygoing
personalities. They say it
doesn’t cost much more to care for an alpaca than a dog. An acre of
land can easily
support seven to 10 of them, and alpacas’ hooves are padded, so they
don’t dig up the
ground as much as other livestock.
Marilyn Otteson is a veterinarian who treats alpacas in Auburn, New
“They’re easy to take care of. They don’t require a lot of special
things in the way of
feed, for instance. And right now, this time of year, a lot of them
are out on pasture.
They get supplemented with a small amount of grain. They’re also very
neat animals. As
a group, they usually choose one or two spots in the barn or outside to
use as their dung
pile, they call it. You worm them periodically. You trim their nails
and watch their
teeth, and that’s about it.”
There are around 45,000 alpacas in the U.S. right now. Ohio has more
alpaca farms than
any other state, and there are more than 800 farms in the Great Lakes
Right now, alpaca owners make most of their money selling animals to
other owners and
breeders. A pregnant female sells for around $15,000. A stud male
goes for between $15
Alpacas are shorn every spring. Their fleece – said to be warmer than
wool and as soft as
cashmere – sells for 3 to 5 dollars per ounce. Some owners sell it to
the Alpaca Fiber
Cooperative of North America. Others spin it into yarn themselves to
knit hats and
Skeptics say alpaca farming is still a bit of a risky proposition
because it’s so new. They
worry that fleece prices may fall if production exceeds demand. They
say with three
million alpacas worldwide, the U.S. can’t compete with South American
countries in a
Duncan Hilchey, of Cornell University’s Department of Rural Sociology,
buyers must keep tabs on the market for alternative livestock products
into the business.
“It’s possible to get those prices. But in a very narrow market, you
know, if it’s a niche,
suddenly you get a lot of people producing the product and the value
goes down –
dramatically – and it’s not profitable at all.”
This isn’t the first time exotic livestock have become popular, but in
the past they’ve
fizzled. Hilchey says the ostrich and emu fads failed because owners
didn’t promote the
animals’ meat, feathers and oil enough to shift from a breeders’ market
to a viable
Alpaca owners say the industry is still growing, since alpacas have
only been in the U.S.
since 1984. They like the relaxing lifestyle and collaboration that
come with raising
But Ellen Chamberlain says the learning curve has been sort of steep.
“It was just a real learning experience for me. Because I had had dogs
and cats and that
sort of thing, but never any major kind of livestock before, and
certainly had never filled
a syringe, let alone given a shot to anybody. Maybe my dad once with
his insulin, but
besides that… so that was all really new.”
And the Chamberlains say they’ve had a little “bad luck” – although
they’ve been hoping
for females, five of the six crias born to their alpacas have been
males. They say they
don’t want more than 20 animals – the most their pastures can hold.
Only now are they
ready to sell their alpacas.
Sorting fleeces in her barn, Ellen Chamberlain says even with the risk,
she’s excited about
“I think everybody knows that the future success of this whole thing is
in learning and
growing and that. And the more people you get involved in it with, and
the stronger it’s going to be.”
The next big challenge for the Chamberlains might be shearing the
next spring, something Ellen has a little experience doing. But first
they’ll focus on
taking care of their three new crias.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Skye Rohde.