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Alan Durning's Posts

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The Gonad Test

Joel Gallob, who writes for the Newport (Oregon) News, has a fascinating column on Tidepool. It points out the awful time lag between how fishing is regulated and how fish populations change. There's too much fishing when fish populations plummet and too little fishing when populations surge. And he suggests an ingenious mechanism -- involving the gonads of female black rockfish -- for synchronizing fishing with fish numbers. Check it out.

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Our daily oil spills

Most of the points I mentioned on Northwest Environment Watch's blog about the recent devastating oil spill in southern Puget Sound also apply to the Unalaska spill now unfolding in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Here's a recap of the most relevant points, with an addition. Like the death toll in the Middle East and the melting of the Northwest's glaciers, these spills show us the true cost of oil -- which is far higher even than the prices in this year's world oil market. The spilled petroleum is ship fuel, not a product being transported on a tanker. Parts of the …

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Plan B tries again

Plan B, the emergency contraceptive rejected for over-the-counter sales by the FDA in May, has reapplied after limiting sales to those 16 years of age and older. Concern about sales of the contraceptive to young teens was the FDA's putative reason for rejecting Plan B, despite the overwhelming support for the medicine from FDA's scientific panel. Many observers believe that the FDA's director bowed to pressure from the anti-abortion movement and its allies in the Bush administration. But Plan B is likely to slash the number of abortions. As the PI article reports: James Trussell, director of Princeton University's Office …

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Lessons in environmentally friendly living from New York City

In 1975, Ernest Callenbach published a slim book called Ecotopia, in which the Northwest secedes from the United States and establishes itself as an ecological paradise. The text became a counterculture classic, and the term "Ecotopia" entered the lexicon, embodying the American tendency to think of the continent's forested far coast as a land of recycling bins and spotted owls, old-growth purity and environmental correctness. New Ecotopia? But Callenbach was wrong, hindsight shows. On the most important criterion, New York City has a better claim to the title of Ecotopia than does the soggy region stretching north from San Francisco …

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