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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

July 26, 2002

Air Date: July 26, 2002



Green Party Momentum

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The Green Party held its national convention in Philadelphia earlier this month. Party members and candidates for November elections gathered to discuss the party’s role in several key races. Tatsha Robertson of the Boston Globe talks with host Steve Curwood about the political role of the Greens. (07:00)

California Sludge / Ingrid Lobet

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The beaches of Orange County, California have been plagued by closures due to high bacteria levels in the water. Although the source of the contamination is a mystery, officials there have just voted to upgrade the treatment level of its sewage. Living On Earth’s Ingrid Lobet reports. (04:00)

Health Note/CA Cancer Registry / Diane Toomey

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Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a recent survey in California which has found that farm workers are at far greater risk for certain cancers than the general population. (01:15)

Almanac/The Ultimate Disc

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This week, we have facts about Frisbees. It was 45 years ago that Wham-O went on the market, but the Frisbee's roots run back to the 1870s. (01:30)

Oregon Property Rights / John Ryan

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In 2000, Oregon voters passed Measure 7 which some have called the most radical private property rights initiative in the United States. The measure states that government actions that reduce property values deserve full compensation. The measure has been tied up in a lawsuit. But as John Ryan reports, if the Oregon Supreme Court upholds Measure 7, many environmentalists believe the state’s progressive land-use planning regulations will be dismantled. (08:00)


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This week we dip into the Living on Earth mailbag to hear what listeners have to say. (02:00)

In Memoriam / Sy Montgomery

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Living on Earth commentator Sy Montgomery remembers anthropologist Lorna Marshall who died earlier this month at the age of 103. (03:00)

Climate Change Roundup

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New developments in stories we’ve been following recently with a focus this week on climate change. (03:00)

Technology Note/Chicken Chips / Cynthia Graber

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Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on research into using chicken feathers as the base material for computer chips. (01:20)

Bypassing Bycatch / Anna Solomon-Greenbaum

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As fisheries across the nation face closures and cuts that could bring economic disaster, regulators are trying to balance the needs of fishermen and the needs of fish. Others say regulation isn’t the only answer. Some scientists and fishermen in New England are looking instead at fishing gear as a way to solve the problem. Living on Earth’s Anna Solomon-Greenbaum reports. (15:00)

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Show Transcript

HOST: Steve CurwoodREPORTERS: Ingrid Lobet, John Ryan, Anna Solomon-GreenbaumCOMMENTATOR: Sy MontgomeryGUESTS: Tatsha RobertsonUPDATES: Diane Toomey, Cynthia Graber


CURWOOD: From NPR News, this is Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood. The Green Party is gearing up for the Fall elections, with campaigns that focus on corporate irresponsibility. Green candidates may not take a State House or win seats in Congress, but with the public more suspicious than ever of big business, Greens could tip the balance in key races.

ROBERTSON: They love being the underdog. But they also enjoy the fact that people are considering them as strong and, you know, important and you better watch out.

CURWOOD: Also, designing new fishing gear for ocean sustainability. A little stitch here, a little stitch there could help save an industry.

MANFRIDI: I do believe that if we deconstruct the wheel a little bit and make gear a little less efficient or more efficient at catching target species, we can let these guys fish almost as much as they want.

CURWOOD: Those stories and more this week on Living on Earth, coming up right after this.


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Green Party Momentum


CURWOOD: Welcome to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood. In a few months, voters will elect candidates to fill positions from the U.S. Senate to the local school board. Both Republicans and Democrats are vying for control of Congress. But it’s also a busy year for the Greens. The Green Party is running more than 360 candidates for office in 39 states.

Delegates met recently at the National Green Party Convention in Philadelphia. Tatsha Robertson was there, and she joins me now. She’s a national reporter for The Boston Globe. Welcome to Living on Earth, Ms. Robertson.

ROBERTSON: I’m glad to be here.

CURWOOD: Now, let’s look at the candidates they’re going to have this Fall. What Green Party candidates on the ballots do you think will make the biggest difference this year?

ROBERTSON: Well, there’s the big race, of course, in Minnesota which could really make some huge changes in the Senate. Then there is a very interesting race in Massachusetts with Jill Stein who is a doctor. And there is just a number of local candidates. I think, this year, 362 Greens are running in local elections across the country. So, all of those should be pretty interesting.

CURWOOD: Tell me about the Minnesota race.

ROBERTSON: Well this is probably one of the most controversial races in the country. You have Senator Wellstone who is an incumbent.

CURWOOD: A Democrat.

ROBERTSON: And a Democrat. He’s running against Norm Coleman who is a charismatic Republican. He used to be a Democrat. And he’s very popular in Minnesota. The race is extremely tight. Bush wants Coleman to win the seat. He’s visited Minnesota several times. And there’s one Green Party member who’s running. His name is Ed McGaa. And he’s already received about three percent of the vote, not a lot. But in this case, the race is extremely tight.

And if Wellstone loses, that could give the Republicans the one majority vote in the Senate. And that could just resonate in many ways. That could affect the way the Supreme Court choices are decided. And it could give the White House even more power.

CURWOOD: And so, the argument, I suppose, is made by some that the Greens are spoiling here.

ROBERTSON: Exactly. Well, there’s two sort of camps here. First of all, the Greens will openly say that they want their members to run against Democrats in high profile races, mainly because they believe the Democrats have moved too much to the center. So they believe this will force them to really deal with more progressive issues.

But, on the other hand, some Greens are starting to say, "You know, maybe we should really think about the broader picture. Do we really want to give Republicans more power?" And so, this has caused a lot of Greens to really rethink their strategy.

CURWOOD: Tell me about the Massachusetts race.

ROBERTSON: The Massachusetts race, of course, is the Governor’s race. Mitt Romney, who is the former CEO of the Olympics, is the top contender. He’s a Republican. And, there are several Democrats. But, the star, at least to the Greens, is Jill Stein.

Now, she’s a physician. But Jill Stein also has focused so much energy on healthcare issues. And, the Greens love to hate someone like Mitt Romney. You know, he’s a rich, corporate guy. So, among the Green Party, she was the star at the convention.

CURWOOD: Tatsha, what would you say was the dominant conversation at this convention? What were people talking about in the speaker presentations, as well as the hallways?

ROBERTSON: The dominant conversation would have to be the corporate fallout. Everybody said, "You know, we told you so. We told you so." Even before the whole corporate scandals, the Greens were talking about corporate greed. Ralph Nader focused a lot on corporate issues during the 2000 election. And, this year, they have really focused a lot on corporate responsibilities. And they’re going to use that as an important part of their platform.

CURWOOD: So, what is their strategy going to be going forward?

ROBERTSON: Well, they have a really interesting strategy. And I think it is working. They know that, say, Ralph Nader, a very, very popular person, helped them. But unlike the Reform Party, they’re saying that they don’t want to focus all their attention on this popular figure like Nader. They believe you cannot build a party around one important public figure.

So, what they have decided to do is put all their focus on the local elections. They believe that’s where they can gain recognition. That’s where they can put all their issues out. And that’s how they can become a force in the next few years.

CURWOOD: Walk me through the local candidacies of the Greens. What were some of the races that you heard about that seem especially important to them?

ROBERTSON: So far, there’s like 146 elected officials throughout the country. We’re talking like the mayor of Santa Monica, two City Council members in big cities like Minneapolis, which is extremely important, city councilors in Connecticut. So, nothing that really stands out nationally. But locally, that’s their foundation.

CURWOOD: Now, what do you think the Green Party might have learned from Ralph Nader’s run in 2000? What might they do differently this time around?

ROBERTSON: I think what they learned is that they have to be visible in all fronts. It is important to have that national person to put out the issues. But it’s also important for them to focus a lot on statewide candidates. And, in the past, they said they did not want to use a lot of fundraising money.

But I think, after the 2000 elections, so many candidates have run in different city elections. They realized money is really important to really build this party. So, I think they’re beginning to change on that issue.

CURWOOD: What about the criticism that the Greens were a spoiler in the presidential race?

ROBERTSON: I asked so many people about that. The first thing everyone said is, "You know, Gore should have won, but we don’t think it’s our fault." But they’re so energized by that. They love being the underdog. But they also enjoy the fact that people are considering them as strong and important and you better watch out.

CURWOOD: Now, what are the prospects for a Green presidential candidate in 2004?

ROBERTSON: Well, we did ask Nader that. He had a small press conference. And, a few reporters ask Nader would he run again. And he did not say no. He said he’s considering.

CURWOOD: Tatsha Robertson is a national reporter for The Boston Globe. Ms. Robertson, thanks for taking the time with me today.

ROBERTSON: Enjoyed it. Thank you.


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California Sludge

CURWOOD: It sounds like the environmental dark ages. But just 30 years ago, it was legal for municipalities to pipe raw sewage directly into the ocean. The Clean Water Act now prohibits that practice in most cases.

It’s a little known fact that about three dozen towns and counties nationwide are still allowed to discharge at least some of their human waste water into waterways without taking out the solids and treating the bacteria.

Orange County, California has the biggest Clean Water Act waiver. But, as Living on Earth’s Ingrid Lobet explains, that’s changing.


LOBET: Each day, sun-drenched Orange County pipes enough partially treated sewage into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl one and a half times. It flows out the end of a pipe four and a half miles off Huntington Beach, a major tourist draw.

But a few days ago, at a public meeting that was tense and packed, the County reluctantly voted to step up treatment. It was a cliffhanger to the last vote.


LOBET: The Environmental Protection Agency continues to grant a smaller and smaller number of sewage waivers. It’s usually done when a municipality pleads financial hardship. And that was the case in Orange County where the Sanitation Board argued for years that treating all its sewage for bacteria would be too expensive. Right now, it treats half.

But a few years ago, some residents began to complain that wasn’t acceptable. Sanitation Board member Shirley McCracken.

McCRACKEN: The emails, and the faxes, and the calls were extraordinary.

LOBET: The onslaught was surprising because upgrading sewage treatment is expensive. The current estimates run $270 million over ten years. That works out to $16 a year per homeowner but could be much more for some businesses.

Orange County is known for being fiscally conservative. But Board member Beth Krom says people are increasingly willing to pay to protect what they have.

KROM: I think that we are changing here in Orange County. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that people are paying a greater premium to be a part of this community. When you invest more, you tend to want to protect that investment more. And, being the largest waste water producer west of the Mississippi, it’s not the kind of tagline you want on your company.

LOBET: There might be another reason for the outcome of this vote. Brian Brady is a Sanitation Board member. He says there’s a generation of kids in Orange County who have learned about water quality at school.

BRADY: They certainly make us confront ourselves on what we believe in. And, in fact, I was talking at the dinner table with my wife and ten year old. And my ten year old, very interested in this whole thing, and very concerned that I was going to do the right thing, which I think we did.

LOBET: One young face, familiar to local officials, is that of Frank Goldbeck of Newport Harbor High School. He testified at the sewage waiver vote. When we caught up with him, he was breaking up brush as part of an ecosystem restoration project.


LOBET: Asked why he cares about treated sewage discharges, he hikes up his t-shirt, and points to some white spots on his skin.

GOLDBECK: I actually contracted a fungus surfing in Huntington. I still have pigment malfunctions because of this fungus that I contracted. And I could feel it burning while I was in the water.

LOBET: Many people believe that Orange County’s partially treated sewage drifts towards shore, contaminating the beach. Studies have not found that link. But there are frequent beach closures due to bacterial contamination. The source of that pollution has yet to be identified.

It will take several years until all Orange County sewage is fully treated. At that point, the nation’s largest discharger of partially treated waste water will be San Diego. Controversy over that city’s sewage waiver is already brewing. For Living on Earth, I’m Ingrid Lobet in Orange County, California.


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Health Note/CA Cancer Registry

CURWOOD: Coming up, property rights are in the news again, thanks to a referendum in Oregon. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: California farm workers are much more likely to develop certain types of cancer compared to the general population. That’s the finding of a study done by the California Cancer Registry.

Researchers there used the membership list of the United Farm Workers of America, the union that represents the more than 140,000 mainly Latino workers. They compared those names to those found in The California Cancer Registry, a database of almost all cancer diagnoses in the state.

When compared to the California Latino population as a whole, farm workers had an almost 60% greater risk for leukemia, a 63% greater risk for cervical cancer, and close to a 70% greater risk for stomach and uterine cancer.

Researchers don’t know why this is so but say occupational exposure to pesticides may explain some of the findings. Previous studies have found an association between exposure to certain pesticides and elevated risk for leukemia.

On the other hand, the risk of uterine cancer, for instance, may be elevated because farm workers might have fewer hysterectomies. The study also found a lower risk of breast and colon cancer among farm workers. The researchers say, in their follow-up study, they’ll take detailed personal histories from the workers including types of pesticides they were exposed to and for how long. That’s this week’s Health Note. I’m Diane Toomey.


CURWOOD: And you’re listening to Living on Earth.


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Almanac/The Ultimate Disc

CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.


CURWOOD: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Wham-O Frisbee. Forty-five years ago, the official Wham-O Frisbee made its soaring debut onto beaches, parks and campuses across the nation.

The simple instructions of "play catch, invent games" were well-heeded and resulted in some pretty wacky Frisbee sports. Consider Ultimate Frisbee. This hybrid of soccer and football has one team passing the Frisbee down a field to score goals in the end zone, with defenders trying to stop them.

Then there’s Disk Golf, without clubs or holes. But the object is the same: hit your mark in as few tosses as possible. And it’s not just humans that fall to Frisbee fever. Canines also love to play catch with the flyer platters.

It all got its start back in the 1870s when William Russell Frisbie, owner of the Frisbie Pie Company in New Haven, Connecticut, sold pies to hungry students at Yale University. After devouring the pies, the young men would toss around the empty tin saucers yelling, "Frisbie!" to get the receiver’s attention.

The game of Frisbie-ing quickly spread across college campuses and onto California beaches. Flinging a Frisbee may seem pretty easy. But understanding the physics involved takes a big of know-how. There’s aerodynamic lift, along with the Bernoulli Principle, and gyroscopic inertia.

Swedish Frisbee fanatic Christian Sandstrom mastered them all this year in a competition in California when he set the record for an outdoor toss–820 feet. And, for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.


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Oregon Property Rights

CURWOOD: The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that private property shall not be taken by the government without compensation. And for years, advocates of property rights have argued that governments should pay if they impose regulations that diminish the value of private property.

So far, the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t been willing to rule that zoning and other land use restrictions amount to violations of the Fifth Amendment, most recently letting a construction ban stand at Lake Tahoe. But a referendum, passed by voters in Oregon, is once again raising the issue. John Ryan has our report.


HARDIN: We’re headed for the original tunnel that started into the workings of the Opp Mine. And, it goes back in about 3600 feet, and branches off. And there...

RYAN: Frank Hardin stands near the mouth of the abandoned Opp Mine, in the foothills of southwest Oregon’s Siskiyou Mountains. Prospectors struck gold here in 1860. But these days, not much emerges from the mine shaft except cool air and the sound of water dripping from its roof.


RYAN: Undersized fir, alder and madrone trees, draped with lichens, cover the mine property. The trees are stunted because the maze of mine tunnels drains water away from their roots. In 1990, Hardin and his mother-in-law bought the 150-acre property to open a gravel mine.

HARDIN: Well we’ve been making property payments for 12 years on this for $2000 a month, and haven’t got a dime in return yet.

Photo: John Ryan

RYAN: Eight years ago, Jackson County denied Hardin a mining permit in order to keeping mining trucks from hauling gravel through the nearby historic town of Jacksonville. Hardin has been fighting the county, and the town, ever since.

HARDIN: They’ve denied us the right to develop our property and to use it for what it was intended for. And the property has no other value. It won’t grow trees. Obviously, the gold is pretty well mined out because they quit mining it 50 years ago. So the main value is the rock.

RYAN: Hardin may finally get the chance to dig up the 18 million tons of gravel beneath his land. In the year 2000, Oregon voters passed Measure 7, the nation’s most sweeping private property rights initiative. The measure declares government actions that reduce property values to be "takings" of private property, deserving full compensation.

As soon as the measure passed, Hardin filed a $50 million claim against Jackson County and Jacksonville.

HARDIN: We’d still prefer to operate the property as what we intended for when we bought it. But if we can’t do that, then we would hope that Measure 7 would force the county to purchase the property at fair market value. And then, we could go do something else.

RYAN: Hardin’s claim is in legal limbo since Measure 7 itself has been tied up in a lawsuit based on technicalities for more than a year. The Oregon Supreme Court is expected to issue a final decision sometime this year.

Photo: John Ryan


RYAN: A mile down the road from the Opp Mine, Mayor Jim Lewis takes me on a walking tour of Jacksonville. More than 80 buildings in this one-grocery store, one-gas station town are on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first town in America to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

LEWIS: Everything on this street, with two exceptions, are from the 1860s or a little thereafter.

RYAN: Tourism drives the economy of this town of century-old inns and Victorian mansions. All traffic from west of town gets funneled onto Jacksonville’s historic Main Street. And most locals feel heavy truck traffic already hurts the town’s tourist appeal.

Currently, one gravel mine sends loads of aggregate rock and gravel rumbling through the heart of town. Lewis says the town opposes any more mines in the area.


LEWIS: There it is right there. That’s an empty load. Because of the trucks that come through here full of aggregate and-- well, they affect the quality of the ambiance here. People are walking around here shopping or whatever. And, in any given five minutes, there’s going to be six, eight of those rigs going one way or the other, people trying to cross the streets, noise, dust, and the potential for further road breakdown.

RYAN: The conflict between Frank Hardin and Jacksonville is not so unusual. Differing visions of how private land should be used spark conflicts all across the country. But with Measure 7, much more is at stake than one gravel mine or one town. The measure would affect almost every law or regulation that might reduce property values.

State officials estimate that claims under the measure could cost Oregon five and a half billion dollars a year. Jacksonville and other local governments in Oregon could face the stark choice of going bankrupt paying claims, or giving up their say in how Oregonians use the land. Mayor Jim Lewis.

LEWIS: It would impose such high economic risk on a city or county, or any other jurisdiction that was involved in land use decisions, that it would basically put them out of business in that field. And that’s not what we need or want in Oregon, I don’t think.

RECORDED ANNOUNCEMENT: Lloyd Center, Northeast 11th Avenue, doors to my right….fades under

RYAN: The results of Oregon’s nearly 30 years of land use planning are clear as day in the state’s largest city. Portland’s compact pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are connected by light rail, bus lines, and bike lanes. With anti-sprawl measures that protect farms and forests at the suburban fringe, the Portland area has become a mecca for urban planners nationwide.

Robert Liberty is Director of Thousand Friends of Oregon, a Portland-based group that advocates for strong land-use planning. He says if Measure 7 goes through, the effects on the state would be devastating.

LIBERTY: It would lead to the effective dismemberment of Oregon land-use planning laws. And that would mean we would eliminate urban growth boundaries that we have around all our cities. We would eliminate protection of farmland. We would be eliminating a lot of laws that help promote affordable housing, and that protect things like dunes along the coast. It’s hard to imagine how much land use regulation could even go on because the measure is retroactive, as well as covering all new regulations.

RYAN: Environmentalists blame a ballot crammed with 26 initiatives for letting Measure 7 slip under voters’ radar screens. But property rights advocates say voters are fed up with over-regulation.

Dave Hunnicutt is legal director of the property rights group Oregonians in Action. Speaking at a conference in Portland, Hunnicutt warned that, even if Measure 7 is struck down by the courts, it’s only a matter of time before the state legislature, or voters themselves, correct, what he sees as, the unfairness of Oregon’s efforts to channel growth away from rural areas.

HUNNICUTT: If we continue on with the same scheme that we have now, whether it’s my organization, or the home builders, or somebody else, somebody is going to come along and blow up the system. And I don’t think that’s in the best interest of any of us.

RYAN: Since last Fall, groups on both sides of the issue have had ballot initiatives waiting in the wings aimed at reviving or revoking Measure 7, in anticipation of the Oregon Supreme Court’s ruling on its legality.

Though the deadline for this November’s ballot passed in early July without a court ruling, both sides are sure to continue the Measure 7 fight into next year. Robert Liberty of Thousand Friends of Oregon says the stakes are high for the rest of the country if Measure 7 becomes law.

LIBERTY: Many other states and regions have looked to Oregon for ideas and leadership on stopping sprawl, replacing it with smart growth. And that example would come apart before their eyes, and would be used as an argument all across the United States why it was impossible to do this. And I think it would set back the smart growth movement by years, if not decades.

RYAN: If Measure 7 takes effect in Oregon, it might also give the property rights movement nationwide a shot in the arm. If "no regulation without compensation" can become the law of the land in Oregon, some say it could happen anywhere. For Living on Earth, I’m John Ryan in Portland, Oregon.

Related link:
1000 Friends of Oregon
Oregonians in Action">

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CURWOOD: Time for comments from you, our listeners. Linn Norton from Plattsmouth, Nebraska was listening to KIOS when she heard our review of the documentary "Hybrid" about corn farmer, Milford Beeghly. She took issue with our reviewer’s idea that the film might have been less about the invention of hybrid corn, and more about "Midwesterners, isolated by geography and culture, yearning for the comfort of human contact."

"Those of us who do love the solitude of open, empty places are battling desperately to maintain them from becoming more suburban sprawl, strip malls and parking lots," wrote Ms. Norton. "This reporter’s final remarks gave me the impression that he felt open space, which divided people from the masses, was a bad thing. For me, anyway, it left me less interested in the subject, and disoriented by such a judgmental comment."

Rich Weaver heard our interview about the negative effects of antibiotics on plants over WPSU in State College, Pennsylvania. He writes, "I did not hear any discussion on the possibility the antibiotics might be harmful to the beneficial bacteria in the soil. And this might be what’s harming the plants. It seems that nitrogen is processed in the soil by bacteria. And if they cannot do their work, plants will suffer. I suspect that is why manure contaminated with antibiotics would be ineffective."

Your comments on our program are most welcome. You could call our listener line anytime at (800) 218-9988. Or write to us at letters@loe.org. Once again, letters@loe.org. And our postal address is 8 Story Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.

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In Memoriam

MONTGOMERY: Let me tell you a story of something that happened to a friend of mine.

CURWOOD: Living on Earth commentator, Sy Montgomery.

MONTGOMERY: Lorna Marshall was an anthropologist, documenting the lives of the Bushmen of the Kalahari. One day on that vast, thirsty desert, she was pouring some water into a basin, when out of the sky came a huge black swarm of bees, African bees.

African bees can be quite aggressive. Africanized bees are the killer bees we always fear coming to invade the U.S. Attracted by the water, this swarm of killer bees is headed right towards Lorna. So what is she thinking? Not "Get me out of here." She told me many years later that her only thought was this: "Those poor bees. They must be dying of thirst."

Within a few seconds, desperate, thirsty killer bees are landing on Lorna’s hands and arms. Bees are falling into the bowl of water. Now, Lorna has another thought. "The bees are drowning," and she must save them. So she makes little rafts out of sticks for them so they can drink. And she stays with the bees until they’ve had their fill and buzz away.

This was what Lorna was like, for all of her 103 years on this earth, an astonishing, gracious and generous life that spanned three centuries, and ended earlier this month.

Lorna Marshall was best known for the Marshall Expedition, the first to document the lives of the Bushmen of Namibia in the early 1950s. With filmmakers and fellow anthropologists, with her daughter, Elizabeth, and son, John, Lorna and her husband Lawrence traveled three times to the great Kalahari Desert.

For nearly four years, they lived among the sand dunes and the thorns. The Bushmen had few possessions and were often hungry. Most Westerners would have found the conditions unbearably bleak. But all her life, Lorna Marshall saw beauty where others saw barrenness. She saw strength where others might see only scarcity. And when others might feel terror, she saw, instead, an opportunity to help.

Lorna was still writing her observations of the Bushmen when I first met her. She was still young then, in her late 80s. And immediately, I saw why her understanding of her study subjects was so detailed and penetrating. Her curiosity was based on caring. And whether working for civil rights at home, or helping a younger colleague begin a career, or building tiny rafts for thirsty bees, Lorna put her caring to action.

Lorna’s death was as miraculous as her life. On her last night, coyotes came in close to the house and sang. Dogs howled. Barn owls hooted loudly from the woods. With her daughter and companions at her side, Lorna died peacefully the next morning. On the front lawn, doves rose on whirring wings into the air, as if accompanying her spirit.

Lorna Marshall died as she lived, transfixed by this world of beauty, want and wonder. There was no room to fear what lay ahead.


CURWOOD: Commentator Sy Montgomery lives in Hancock, New Hampshire. To learn more about Lorna Marshall and other notable women adventurers, go to www.loe.org, and click on the "Women of Discovery" link.


Related link:
For more information about Lorna Marshall please visit our Women of Discovery page">

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Climate Change Roundup

CURWOOD: You’re listening to NPR’s Living on Earth.


CURWOOD: Time now to follow up on some of the climate change stories we’ve been tracking lately.

The Air Resources Board in California must now figure out how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks.
California became the first state to regulate tailpipe emissions linked to global warming when Governor Gray Davis signed the measure into law July 22nd. At a ceremony to mark the occasion, the governor spoke of resistance to the new law, largely on the part of automakers.

DAVIS: And opponents will say the sky is falling. They said the sky was falling about unleaded gasoline. They said it about the catalytic converter. They even said it about seatbelts and airbags. My friends, the sky is not falling. It’s just getting a lot cleaner. [APPLAUSE]

CURWOOD: California is looking at technologies including variable valve timing, extra gears, low friction oils and tires, as well as hybrid engines. Automakers must meet the new standards by model year 2009.


CURWOOD: The federal government’s lack of nationwide greenhouse gas regulations is frustrating 11 state Attorneys General. This month, the 11, all Democrats, sent a letter to President Bush urging a strong national approach to deal with greenhouse gas emissions. Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran is one of the signers.

CURRAN: This is a serious problem. And it cannot, in my judgment, be dealt with on a state-by-state basis. California is doing something, I’m happy to say. Massachusetts has done something. And New Hampshire has done something. But, you can’t have a hodgepodge from state to state to state. It’s got to be a national policy.

CURWOOD: The AGs recommend mandatory federal carbon emissions caps to give industry a uniform standard.


CURWOOD: Some young Americans are also trying to catch the attention of President Bush on the issue of climate change. SustainUS is an organization that will represent United States youth at the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The group has placed a bet that it can reduce its collective carbon emissions 20,000 tons by the end of July. Anyone under 26 can logon to a website to pledge personal changes like eating one less beef meal per week or drying laundry on a clothes line. Monika Kumar is a SustainUS member who says, so far, President Bush hasn’t placed his bet.

KUMAR: So far, it’s not a good response (laugh). Like we have not heard anything from him at all. We feel that he’s not taking the youth seriously, and he does not take the environment seriously.

CURWOOD: The bet says that if the youth win, President Bush will take five young SustainUS representatives to the World Summit. And if SustainUS loses, its members will help Mr. Bush reduce his own emissions by carting him around in a bicycle rickshaw for a week.

And that’s this week’s follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.


Related link:
Visit SustainUS and take the pledge!">

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Technology Note/Chicken Chips

CURWOOD: Just ahead, designing fishing nets that let a lot of them get away. First, this Environmental Tech Note from Cynthia Graber.


GRABER: Computers are getting smaller and faster at breakneck speed. And some folks in the computer-making business say we may soon reach the end of this exponential change unless there’s a new breakthrough in design or material.

Well, one scientist at the University of Delaware thinks that breakthrough may come on the wings of a chicken. When the Tyson Chicken Company offered to give renewable resources engineer, Richard Wool, two billion pounds a year of feathers it pulls off its birds, he got an idea.

He knew that silicon, the medium used in making computer chips, is one of the limiting factors to the speed at which information can travel. He also knew that information travels faster through air than through silicon. And finally, he knew that the fibers of little chicken hairs are hollow.

So, Wool made a series of small circuit plates out of compressed chicken feathers and sent and electric signal across them. He found that the chicken feathers carried the signal at about twice the speed of silicon. This research is just beginning. And Wool says it could be years, if ever, before computers can be made from feathers. But, he says, if his preliminary research holds up, our electronic gear of the future could be lighter, faster and fluffier. That’s this week’s Technology Note. I’m Cynthia Graber.


CURWOOD: And you’re listening to Living on Earth.


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Bypassing Bycatch

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood. Congress is in the middle of rewriting the law that governs America’s fisheries. And those fisheries continue to be in turmoil. From the Pacific Coast to New England and the Gulf of Mexico, citizens, scientists and regulators are struggling with declining fish populations and a declining fishing industry. In some cases, it’s a problem of over-fishing; in others, a concern for endangered species.

Over the past decade, many fishing grounds have closed. Many fishing boats tied up, perhaps for good. The traditional response to these problems involve fishing limits. When, where and what quantity of fish may be caught. Now, the industry is looking at how fish are taken to see if gear can be modified to keep stocks healthy, and boats in business. Living on Earth’s Anna Solomon-Greenbaum reports from off the coast of Massachusetts.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Twelve miles east of Gloucester, Massachusetts, the small green fishing boat, Dolores Louise, is the only vessel as far as the eye can see. On her deck, Joe Scola and Vin Manfridi stand ankle-deep in flounder.


SCOLA: What do you need? What do you need?

MANFRIDI: No, I think it’s okay.

SCOLA: Are you sure? I don’t want to lose anything, have to go dredging for it.

Joe and Vin are trying to attach a camera to one of Joe’s new nets. Even with a couple of fingers half missing, Joe deftly threads the twine. He pulls it tight, knots it off. But he’s impatient. The boat’s burning fuel, and his nets on deck, catching nothing.

SCOLA: Hey, come on, work like an animal, will ya?

MANFRIDI: All I gotta do, Joe, is clip that off, I just need some,

SCOLA: What do you need? Speak to me. Is this your first time?

MANFRIDI: Yes, it is.

SCOLA: Okay, you’re doing a good job, let’s throw it overboard.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Joe and Vin are having one of the most amicable tiffs I’ve ever witnessed between a fisherman and scientist in the New England Fishery. Joe fishes out of Gloucester. Vin works for the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries.


SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: And the reason the Dolores Louise is the only boat out here is that these fishing grounds are closed to help stocks recover from a near collapse in the early 1990s. Joe and Vin have an experimental permit to test fishing nets they hope will reduce the need for closures by solving one of the Fishery’s major problems, bycatch.


SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Bycatch is trash fish, like skate and dogfish that get caught in nets, but won’t get bought at market. Bycatch is also fish like cod, fish so popular, they’re strictly managed to protect them from over-fishing. Here on Stellwagen Bank, if Joe and Vin net more than 400 pounds of cod while fishing for flounder, they have to toss the excess or bycatch back into the sea. By then, most of the cod are dead.

SCOLA: Okay, we’re gonna press record and then go out and take care of the rest.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Joe’s experimental net and the camera are heading toward the ocean bottom. Vin is a little nervous.

MANFRIDI: This is the first time I’ve actually deployed the whole system on my own. I’ve helped out with it a lot. But I’ve never been the chief operating scientist, I guess you could say.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Joe and Vin wade through the fish, and scurry into the pilot house. They fix their eyes on a small black and white monitor that’s attached by a long cable to the camera on the net they’ve just dropped. That gives them a view of the ocean bottom.

MANFRIDI: There’s a flounder. There he goes into the sweep. See that flounder trying to get away.

SCOLA: He ain’t going to make it. I’m going forward--

MANFRIDI: Joe, this net is amazingly low. I’m surprised this net actually caught cod at all.

SCOLA: It does sometimes when they’re down on the bottom feeding. That’s the only time you get them.

MANFRIDI: This is what it’s all about. I’m happy that we got this footage. Let it roll, baby.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Vin hopes the tape will prove that Joe’s experimental net can help reduce unintentional cod catch. The design is simple. The mouth of a typical net measures about ten feet from top to bottom, where it drags along the seabed.

Joe has sewn his net much smaller so the top sits only three feet off the bottom. The idea is to scoop up the bottom fish, like flounder, which spend their time on the ocean floor, and avoid the cod, which generally swim up higher. To Vin, the goal is ambitious.

MANFRIDI: I do believe that if we deconstruct the wheel a little bit and make gear a little less efficient or more efficient at catching target species, we can let these guys fish almost as much as they want.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: The notion of trying to avoid cod in the waters off New England seems almost farcical. Once, these were the richest cod grounds in the world. There was so much cod, they named a cape after the long white fish, and hung a wooden replica of it in the State House in Boston.

But the 20th century brought engines and big boats, then faster engines and bigger boats. By the 1950s, floating fish factories from Spain, Portugal and Russia were sweeping the ocean floor of everything in their path.

The U.S. government kicked out the foreign fleets in ’77. Then it subsidized its own fleets to get bigger and faster and more efficient. Sonar, computers, even spotter planes were used to track fish down.

By the earlier 1990s, codfish were growing scarce. Regulators closed many fishing grounds. Tough limits were set on days at sea, and fish size, and net size. And many boats were tied up at dock, losing money.


GLASS: This is quite a unique cod end.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Chris Glass is working to get the boats out to sea again. Chris makes fishing gear at the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences on Cape Cod Bay. From a tall pile of green mesh, he pulls out his latest design.

GLASS: And, you’ll see in a minute, when I lay it out, why it’s different from other nets.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: A standard net is made of a diamond-shaped mesh which shuts tight as it pulls up fish.

GLASS: What we’ve been doing is experimenting with this very new netting, which is called hexagonal mesh, which you can see, when it goes under strain, it doesn’t close up. The meshes remain open which allows fish to escape even when there’s a lot of fish in the net.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Chris says his new mesh design is yielding good results.

GLASS: We’ve been reducing cod by catch by up to 70% in some cases.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Chris thinks fishermen will try experimental nets if it means a stronger fishery in the long-run. He tells the story of one group of fishermen he met up in Portland, Maine.

GLASS: We got there, and there were five or six trucks sitting on the pier. And it transpired that these were fishermen from all over Maine who had heard that we were going to be there, and starting a research program. And they got out of their trucks, and they started looking at this design. And they asked questions. And five hours later, most of them were still there helping to rig the net even though they weren’t part of the program. That was a truly fantastic day for me.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: But not all fishermen are convinced that new nets will save them.

MARCIANO: We can modify our gear. And there’s a point to what we can do. But again, where are we going to go with this?

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: On Rose’s Wharf in Gloucester, Dave Marciano is getting ready to fish for grey sole. He’ll be out for at least a few days. He’s only allowed about 80 for the whole year. If he could, he’d fish a lot more. Like most Gloucester fishermen, Dave says the fish are back in numbers sufficient to ease up on restrictions.

He doesn’t believe scientists who say he must be patient and let the stocks recover. He’s also skeptical that new nets, like the ones Chris Glass and Joe Scola are designing, will truly benefit fishermen. For starters, he says it’s an insult to the entire profession to make gear that’s purposefully inefficient.

MARCIANO: Where I see this going is, somehow, we’re supposed to devise a net that, in spite of the fact that we have an ocean full of fish, I can still throw it in the water and catch no fish. Is this what we want?

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Dave thinks there could actually be an adverse environmental impact using nets that catch fewer fish.

MARCIANO: If you’re going to go out there and fish with inefficient gear, it’s going to take longer to get the trip done. So if you have habitat concerns, or bottom concerns, you would want the boat to go out, fish as efficiently as possible, catch its fish, and come home. That’s less impact on the environment overall.


SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: But if you follow the coast south from Gloucester, and then east out the length of Cape Code to the end of its curved tip, you’ll meet a man who made gear modification work for both fish and for fishermen.

RIVAS: My name is Luis Rivas. I’m a fisherman from Provincetown, or in Provincetown. I come from Portugal.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Twenty-five years ago, Luis Rivas left Portugal to work on German factory trawlers. Then he came to the States. Now, he owns two small boats of his own. A few years ago, the Whiting Fishery here was shut down because fishermen were bycatching too much flounder and lobsters.

So, with the help of state scientists, Luis designed a net with a raised foot rope that targeted whiting that swim above the ocean floor and avoided the bottom-dwellers. The net reduced bycatch to five percent. And the Whiting Fishery was reopened. Then, Luis turned his attention to cod. He won a grant to design two new nets.

RIVAS: To try, you know, the best that I can for avoiding the codfish because these closures all because of codfish.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Luis set to work on his nets, both with altered tops to let cod escape. The results have been impressive. One day, he used a traditional net for one haul and caught 20,000 pounds of cod. Then he rigged the experimental net. When it came up, Luis still had a good load of flounder, but only 200 pounds of cod.

RIVAS: No more close. It is enough. No more cut days at sea. It’s enough. I no want to be a hero--but what I want is sea let me go fishing. I can use this net. Let me go. That’s it.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Luis says his nets may reduce his overall catch. But what he catches, he can keep. He tries to explain this to other fishermen. Some are interested. Others aren’t. Ultimately, Luis says, very few will ever try his nets unless they’re required by law. But fishery managers say they’re not ready to take that step.

David Sissenwine directs the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He says new gear can help stocks recover, but it won’t solve the problem.

SISSENWINE: The problem is that there aren’t a lot of other species in which you could increase the catch. But if we develop new gear which allows more fishing without catching cod, but more catch of the other stocks, then we’ll have the same problem in those other stocks.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Sissenwine says the main problem is simple: too many boats and too few fish.


SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Back on the Dolores Louise, Joe Scola is hauling up his experimental net. Yard after yard of green mesh winds back onto the winch. Finally, Vin Manfridi’s camera appears. He cuts it free.

MANFRIDI: It looks really good. No damage to anything whatsoever.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Then the winches roll again.


SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: It’s a tense moment just before the catch comes into view. Then, it’s up. The bag is straining with flapping, shining fish. Joe reaches a hand under the net. He grabs on and pulls. A mass of fish hits the deck. It’s a good catch, about 2000 pounds, and mostly flounder like they wanted, and not very many cod.

But Joe’s boat is only one of a handful the state has the staff and money to work with on their gear. And Massachusetts is one of the most advanced states in fishing gear research. Elsewhere, fishermen have taken it into their own hands to modify their nets and traps.

Long-lined fishermen, from Alaska to Hawaii, created devices to ward off sea birds like endangered albatross that were getting snagged on their hooks. In the Gulf of Mexico where the government imposed turtle exclusion devices, shrimp fishermen came up with their own design, one that would keep more shrimp while still allowing the turtles to escape.

Despite the success stories, Vin Manfridi says the conservation engineering gang, as it’s called, has a hard time getting respect.

MANFRIDI: I think that it’s difficult to get the faith that is required from not only the legislature, but from the National Marine Fishery Service itself. I have a feeling--and I’ve been at many meetings--and I am kind of convinced that, at this point, they still view us as sort of a juvenile project. And, that’s not the case.

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Making such innovation mainstream will require a change in attitude at the top. Congress is now working on the next major fisheries law. One provision would offer $10 million a year in grants to fishermen and scientists to do gear research, not only to reduce bycatch, but also to reduce the gear’s impact on the seabed.


SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Whether or not the gear money makes it into the final bill, you can be sure someone, somewhere, out at sea will be fine-tuning their nets, mesh by mesh, knot by knot, until they can convince others it’s all worthwhile. For Living on Earth, I’m Anna Solomon-Greenbaum on the Dolores Louise.


Related link:

Reporter Anna Solomon-Greenbaum talks about the story behind her fishing story.


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CURWOOD: And for this week, that’s Living on Earth. Next week, recent medical breakthroughs in gene therapy offer the promise of cures for many diseases, including HIV-AIDS and cancer. Proponents say gene manipulation could help make our bodies stronger and better. But others warn that there’s a dark side to this science.

FEMALE: I’ve gotten several calls from groups who want to explore the possibility of using genetic engineering to create soldiers who are going to be less effected by toxins like Agent Orange, or using genetic information about people for bio-warfare, in fact, to be able to create an anthrax that hones on to a genetic code so that you can target certain ethnic groups.

CURWOOD: It’s the debate over gene therapy, as our series "Generation Next: Remaking the Human Race" continues next time, on Living on Earth.


CURWOOD: We leave you this week with some underwater wonder. Researcher Les Gilbert had the luck to be in the right place at the right time to capture these rare sounds of a walrus in the waters off Round Island, Alaska. Listen closely, and you might find our assumptions about animal intelligence and communication a bit too simplistic.


CURWOOD: Living on Earth is produced by The World Media Foundation in cooperation with Harvard University. You can find us at www.loe.org. Our staff includes Jennifer Chu, Maggie Villiger, Jessica Penney, Chris Engles and Al Avery, along with Julie O’Neill, Susan Shepherd and Carly Ferguson. Special thanks to Ernie Silver.

We had help this week from Jamie McEvoy, Max Morange and Emma Uwodukunda. Allison Dean composed our themes. Environmental SoundArt courtesy of EarthEar.

Our technical director is Dennis Foley. Ingrid Lobet heads our western bureau. Diane Toomey is our science editor. Eileen Bolinsky is our senior editor. And Chris Ballman is the senior producer of Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood. Thanks for listening.

ANNOUNCER 1: Funding for Living on Earth comes from The World Media Foundation Environmental Information Fund. Major contributors include The Educational Foundation of America for coverage of energy and climate change, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, supporting efforts to better understand environmental change, The Ford Foundation for reporting on U.S. environment and development issues, and The Oak Foundation, supporting coverage of marine issues.

ANNOUCER 2: This is NPR, National Public Radio.


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