Article

Nuts!

For the first time, scientists believe they have found an instance of climate change causing a species to alter its genetic makeup — not just its behavior. To date, species changes stemming from climate change have all been behavioral, such as animals shifting their migration patterns. But after studying the DNA and mating habits of red squirrels in the Yukon for 10 years, scientists at the University of Alberta, Canada, have found that the squirrels give birth three weeks earlier in the year, corresponding to the earlier arrival of spring. More important, the scientists found that the change is partially …

Kodak Moments

Environmentalists have many tools for looking after Momma Earth — and now, in remote villages in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan, one of them is a Kodak camera. Through a project designed and funded by the Nature Conservancy, about 100 people in the region have been given cameras and training to help them take photos documenting how three minority groups — Naxi, Yi, and Tibetan — relate to their environment. To that end, the project participants take pictures of everything from illegal logging activity to trends in footwear; each photo is accompanied with a description of what the photographer …

Whatlands?

In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers standard to determine which of the nations’ bodies of water deserve protection, calling it overly broad. But the high court didn’t say what the standard should be, an issue the corps has been struggling to resolve ever since. Now, the dilemma has come home to roost in Seabrook, Texas, where the Port of Houston wants to build a mammoth container port. When the Army Corps evaluated the project prior to the Supreme Court decision, it estimated that more than 100 acres of wetlands would be lost; …

Owl’s Not Well

In a blow to environmentalists, the California spotted owl has been denied protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. According to the U.S. Fish and Wild Service, there is not enough evidence that the owl’s habitat is sufficiently threatened to merit listing — even though the agency acknowledged that a U.S. Forest Service plan to increase logging in the Sierra Nevadas could compromise the bird’s habitat. Enviros said yesterday’s decision by the USFWS represented the sixth time in as many weeks that the agency had denied a species endangered status. (Five of the six rejected species, including the owl, live …

The Marshall Plan

Jesse Lichtenstein reviews The People’s Forests by Robert Marshall

At 3:30 in the morning, on July 15, 1932, 31-year-old Bob Marshall started walking. His goal: to see how many peaks in the Adirondack Mountains he could scale in one day. At 1 p.m., he met up with Herb Clark, an old family friend, at the summit of Mount Marcy, the highest mountain in the range. Clark was with a young architect named Paul Schaefer. More than 30 years later, looking back on the encounter, Schaefer could vividly recall his impression that Marshall's eyes "reflected a great joy for living."

Gaza Stripped

As if the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians weren’t producing enough problems, the U.N. now says the clash is creating a big environmental mess in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A study conducted by the U.N. Environment Programme over the last five months documented increasing water pollution, loss of natural vegetation, indiscriminate waste dumping, and the razing of forestland. Some of the troubles — such as asbestos contamination released when Palestinian houses were bulldozed by the Israeli Army — were directly related to the escalated conflict that broke out in September 2000 and still rages today. An U.N. report …

Kerrying the Weight of the World

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a presidential hopeful, took a swipe at George W. Bush yesterday by blasting the president’s environmental record. “Almost as soon as this administration took office, they invited in the chief lobbyists to rewrite the very laws that were intended to protect our land, our water, and our air,” charged Kerry. He criticized Bush for abandoning the Kyoto treaty on climate change, weakening the Superfund toxic-cleanup program, and trying to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling, among numerous other moves. Kerry was particularly derisive of Bush’s oil-dependent energy policy, …

Antoinette Gomez, Sustainable South Bronx

Antoinette Gomez is an environmental consultant working with Sustainable South Bronx, a grassroots environmental justice organization. She is also a fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program. Monday, 10 Feb 2003 BRONX, N.Y. My day begins in my home office (one benefit of being a consultant) with follow-up calls on two projects. In January I began working on an ecological restoration curricula for Sustainable South Bronx, a grassroots environmental justice organization housed in the Hunt’s Point community. The South Bronx has historically been associated with urban blight. While conditions are improving, the area is still plagued by environmental racism. Parts of …

Chutes and Bladders

Kids who romp around on wooden structures in playgrounds could face a higher risk of contracting lung or bladder cancer than those who don’t come into contact with the equipment, the head of the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Friday. Nearly all wooden playground equipment in the U.S. has been treated with the pesticide chromated copper arsenate, which can leave arsenic residue on kids’ hands — and, kids being kids, the residue can too easily end up in their mouths. The agency is considering a ban on the arsenic-based preservative in playground equipment; consumer groups petitioned for such …