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close this bookWIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 09, No. 1 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1997, 16 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSPECIAL FOCUS: The World's Forests and Human Health
View the documentPOINT: Modern Timbering Contributes to Forest Fires
View the documentCOUNTERPOINT: Only the Logging Industry Can Save Our Forests
View the documentDid You Know?
View the documentCHERNOBYL UPDATE: Turning Nuclear Swords Into Hazardous Plowshares
View the documentFOOD FOR THOUGHT: A Hopeful Future for the United Nations Under Kofi Annan
View the documentHEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT: Environmental Health Policies: A View From Africa
View the documentGood News
View the documentVoices
View the documentPOINT OF VIEW: Faith and Fear of the Future

Good News

· A fascinating new book on environmental security titled If You Can Keep It: A Constitutional Roadmap to Environmental Security (Westfield, New Jersey: Brass Ring Press, 1996), by Michael Diamond, who is both a lawyer and a poet, has been recently published for the American public. The author argues that the domestic violence clause in Article IV, Section 4 of the US Constitution can be used by American citizens to demand that the federal government protect the population from the harm caused by environmental degradation. The relevant clause from the Constitution reads as follows: "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion: and... against domestic violence." Diamond argues that the current environmental conditions within the United States constitute a "condition of domestic violence." The constitutional discussions are the most exciting part of the book. Unfortunately the examples of environmental degradation cited to illustrate the condition of domestic violence do not provide sufficient evidence to support this very interesting and potentially fruitful viewpoint. One wonders if the clause could have been invoked in specific situations by the victims of, for example, contamination by the Hanford nuclear power plant; or if overdevelopment of a natural resource such as wetlands constitutes a breach of domestic security within a particular state. It appears that the author has taken on an almost impossible task in trying to prove that environmental degradation is so severe that a national condition of domestic violence exists. While this is an important drawback of the book, the basic premise remains engaging and certainly the book is worth reading. (Brass Ring Press, PO Box 2697, Westfield, NJ 07091 or 800-777-8145)

· Small, portable clay cooking stoves can reduce by up to 30 to 40 percent the amount of firewood needed for daily cooking on open fires. The use of these simple and effective devices not only saves time for the rural women who collect the firewood, but also reduces the amount of smoke produced by traditional methods of cooking which in turn reduces the incidence of respiratory and eye problems. The charitable group Intermediate Technology runs a program in Kenya and Sri Lanka to teach potters how to make the clay cooking stoves and trains people in establishing small food processing businesses which includes the sale of foods cooked on the clay stoves.

SOURCE: British Overseas Development, Issue 48, Sept./Oct. 1996

· The Jerusalem initiative is an attempt to develop indicators for monitoring and comparing the well-being of children in more economically advanced societies. The initiative which plans to make its recommendations in 1998, is sponsored by several national organizations including the National Council for the Child (Israel), the European Center for Social Welfare (Austria) and the International Youth Foundation (US). 35 experts from various child-related disciplines met in early 1996 in Jerusalem to begin the difficult task of formulating those indicators using the principles outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Some of the possible indicators are mental well-being, risk behaviors, use of time, residential stability, crime by and against juveniles.

SOURCE: UNICEF, Progress of Nations, 1996

· London's double-decker buses puff out clouds of carbon monoxide and nitrogenoxides, laced with minute particles of unburned fuel and soot from their aging diesel engines. This particulate matter has been blamed for as many as 10,000 deaths a year in Britain. The ideal way to reduce the emissions is a combination of low sulphur diesel fuel and a catalytic particulate-trap fitted to the exhaust pipe. Unfortunately, low-sulphur diesel costs 5 cents more per litre.

However, the solution comes from a Pinmore electronic oil-recycler which has a secondary filter controlled by a microprocessor. This filter consists of a pyramid of stainless-steel discs, the top one heats to 160°C and brings the oil to 120°C. As the oil trickles down, the light fractions evaporate, the oil's minerals stay behind and even an ancient bus can run for 60,000 kilometres without an oil change - six times the normal interval.


Tests run at Leeds University have indicated that emissions of pollutants such as particulates can fall around half in engines fitted with the filter which is going into mass production in China.

SOURCE: Economist, Nov. 23, 1996