The Particle Size Controversy

What size of particle in the air is dangerous Is it the larger ones or the smaller ones Or perhaps it makes no difference. These questions are debated with great ferocity among industrial representatives, the federal government, and environmental groups. Until mid-1997 federal law mandated that the particles with diameters less than 10 micrometers (1 2,500 of an inch, one-seventh the diameter of a human hair) be below a certain threshold amount. Otherwise the air would be considered polluted...

How Can Soil Erosion Be Stopped

The worst farming practices use up eight inches of topsoil (which took 7,000 years to create) in 36 years. The best practices would make that eight inches last 2,224 years. Iowa Department of Soil Conservation When new crops are ready to be planted using conventional agriculture, the remains of last year's crop are plowed into the soil, exposing a bare soil surface. Then the bare soil surface is broken up to make a smooth bed for seeds. Finally, after the seeds are planted the soil between the...

Water Supplies

There is no question that Americans pay little attention to the amount of water they use. It is so cheap in the United States that it is of little concern to most people outside of the decreasing number of grain-growing farmers and those living in a few dryland cities. For most Americans water shortages are only something they hear about in TV stories dealing with northern Africa and the Middle East, and water pollution is a problem centered in Haiti or perhaps somewhere in Southeast Asia....

Energy Efficiency Renewable Energy Regulatory Policy

Do you support, in federal energy legislation, a Renewable Portfolio Standard (aka renewable energy standard) that would require the federal government and the states to ensure that electricity generators provide a portion of their power from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, incremental hydropower, and biomass (e.g., 20 by 2020) _ YES 2. Do you support, in federal energy legislation, a Renewable Fuels Standard for transportation fuels that would require the federal...

Objections and Fears Concerning GM Crops

Tampering with nature always involves risks. A growing number of studies have suggested that GM crops could lead to rapid evolution of pesticide-resistant insects, creation of new plant diseases, weeds that can no longer be controlled, and harm to insects that benefit humankind. Controversial laboratory investigations suggest that physiological changes in humans may result from seemingly innocuous gene manipulations in the food we eat. We may be creating Frankenfoods. A national poll by the Pew...

Air Pollution in the Office

In July 1976, a faulty cooling tower allowed the pathogenic bacterium Legionella to be dispersed through the air-conditioning system in a Philadelphia hotel, causing 182 of the guests there to become ill with Legionnaires' disease. Before the cause of the sickness had been discovered, 29 people had died. This is perhaps the best-known example of how the indoor human environment, where we spend about three-quarters of the 168 hours of each week, can become deadly. In the United States, up to 21...

Incineration

Incineration is potentially a better method of garbage disposal than landfills. It can generate energy while reducing the amount of waste by up to 90 percent in volume and 75 percent in weight. At present, 14-15 percent of our solid waste is dealt with in this way, in about 400 incinerators designed for either municipal nonhazardous waste or for hazardous waste. Those designed for hazardous waste require special devices to remove toxic chemicals from gases produced before they exit the...

Notes

References to pages in Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report refer to the International Edition. Page numbers may be different in the edition for readers in the United States. 1. Bottled Water. The Ecologist, February 2003, p. 46. 2. EPA Says U.S. Economy Depends on Clean Water, CNN.com citation to Nature, June 9, 2000. 3. Liquidating Our Assets. World-Watch, September-October 1997, p. 39. 4. S. Postel, Last Oasts (New York Norton, 1992), 103. 5. N. L. Tomer, Water Conservation Makes...

Water Prices

There are more than 200,000 public water systems in the United States, and Americans greatly underpay in all of them for the water they use. The unrealistically low cost of public water supplies is a serious impediment to water conservation. An average urban family uses about 12,000 gallons per month, costing only about 25. At this ridiculously low price we can refill an 8-ounce glass of water with tap water 2,500 times for less than the cost of a can of soda. At such a low price for municipal...

Water Is There Enough and Is It Drinkable

Some till the soil, a few are kings John L. Ford, Water and Wastewater Engineering Few of us think regularly about water. It seems limitless because it falls from the sky year after year. We turn on the tap and fresh, pure water comes out. Most of us have never known it to be otherwise. But problems that water specialists saw on the horizon many decades ago are now with us. Water shortages are a well-known problem not only in desert areas such as Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque but...

Additional Readings

References to pages in Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News amp World Report refer to the International Edition. Page numbers may be different in the edition for readers in the United States. For a guide to worldwide environmental organizations, see the 2003 Conservation Directory compiled by the National Wildlife Federation and published by Island Press, Washington, D.C. Greenberg, M. R. Is Public Support for Environmental Protection Decreasing An Analysis of U.S. and New Jersey Data. Environmental...

Global Warming and Human Health

It is clear that small changes in the past 10,000 years have had very large ecological effects and they can happen bloody fast. Reid A. Bryson, Wall Street Journal Within the past few years there have been a spate of scary headlines suggesting that a warmer climate may lead to epidemics of malaria, cholera, yellow fever, and other maladies. Typical headline Report says global warming poses threat to public health. Another says Should we fear a global plague Yes disease is the deadliest threat...