|WIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 07, No. 4 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1995, 16 p.)|
· United States' foreign policy makers are assessing environmental factors in furthering their understanding of the causes of war and in developing their ability to identify places where war might occur. The US government is examining potentially destabilizing factors like famine and drought which advanced the strains of tribal conflict in Somalia; rapid population growth and density which played a significant role in the war in Rwanda; the spread of the Sahara desert; and the rapid growth of water hyacinths in Lake Victoria. Water hyacinths are beautiful, but proliferate so fast that they can choke the lake which provides 120,000 tons of fish annually to Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Though there is some disagreement among intelligence gathering officials, the trend is clear that US forming policy has adopted a greener face,
SOURCE: New York Times, Oct. 9,
· As examples of sustainable development projects that enable women to become better managers of natural resources, the United Nations identifies three projects in developing countries. A project begun in 1988 in Ghana, enables women farmers to replant trees closer to their homes, in woodlots, alleys, farms and along streams. Women, therefore, spend less time traveling to collect firewood. The project has enhanced soil fertility and is expected to reduce the need for fertilizer. In Indonesia, a group of rural women began a community awareness program to improve sanitation and health. Their activities included radio broadcasts which attracted large audiences. Members of the targeted community installed latrines and enhanced drinking water quality as a result of the women's efforts. A group of women in Honduras trained other men and women to protect forests and soil by building wood-conserving stoves, planting trees in deforested areas and building outdoor lined sinks. Soil erosion was cut in half and water quality was improved.
SOURCE: Women and the Environment
Fact Sheet, 1995. UN Department of Public Information.
· Three scientists received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their research explaining how earth's stratospheric ozone layer forms and decomposes. The scientists are Paul Crutzen, a Dutch scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany; Mario Molina of M.I.T. in Boston, Massachusetts, USA; and F. Sherwood Rowland of the University of California at Irvine, USA. Crutzen's 1970 research demonstrated that nitrogen oxides react with ozone to speed up its depletion. This important finding led to research on the effect of nitrogen oxide spewing supersonic transport planes on the protective ozone layer. Molina and Rowland proposed in 1974 that chlorofluorocarbons (CFS's) could change into ozone depleting compounds in the stratosphere. Stratospheric ozone depletion leads to increased incidences of skin cancers, cataracts, and immune system diseases.
SOURCE: Science News, Vol. 148, No.
17, Oct. 21, 1995.
· The government of Czechoslovakia in cooperation with three American energy companies and the Danish government will construct a natural gas cogeneration plant outside the Czech city of Decin, near the German border. The plant is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Decin by 6,000 tons annually, eliminate sulfur dioxide contaminants and ash production. A series of illnesses in Decin, problems in pregnancy and premature deaths have been associated with severe air pollution, according to studies by the Center for Clean Air Policy in Washington, D.C.
SOURCE: The Earth Times, Sept.
· Zimbabwe is one of the few African countries that have embarked on projects to exploit the sun to provide energy in rural areas. The Government, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in 1993 launched a nine-million dollar five year Global Environmental Facility (GEF) solar energy pilot project which will see 10,000 to 20,000 solar-installations mounted in rural homes, schools and hospitals by 1998. Currently seventy-five percent of Sub-Saharan Africa's populations has no access to electricity. Energy sources are taken directly from the surrounding environment, and that usually means cutting down trees in regions that already suffer severe environmental degradation. With energy consumptions relatively low in rural areas, it is considered economically unwise to extend electricity supply to them. However, Sub-Saharan Africa's population is expected to double within the next 35 years - most of it in rural areas.
SOURCE: UNESCO Sources, #69,
Nuclear Plant Halted
Under intense international pressure the Slovak Republic suspended its application for a 127$ million loan to finish building the Soviet-designed Mochovce nuclear power plant. The move ended a bid by Electricite de France to complete the reactors and convinced Ukrainian officials to abandon their demand that the G-7 nations finance completion of three of their own partially-constructed Soviet designed reactors in order to shut down Chernobyl.
The decision to pull back from the Mochovce project was provoked by strong pressure from European, environmental groups, which are concerned about the dangers of having additional Soviet-designed nuclear plants operating within a few hundred kilometers of west European borders. Although nuclear vendors claim that they will be able to do a cost-effective retrofit of Soviet plants with Western safely systems, severe technical and safety problems have been identified. These concerns have been expressed in resolutions of the European Parliament and the government of Austria, which sits just a short distance from the Slovak border.
In addition to opening an opportunity to develop a sustainable energy system in Slovakia that will replace the antiquated one of the past, the Mochovce campaign set a number of significant precedents, For the first time, public hearings were held in neighboring countries to discuss the potential transnational consequences of an accident, and both the economic analysis of the plant's viability and the safety assessment for the project were made publicly available for comment, For the first time, the citizens of Slovakia have to opportunity to participate in decision-making about an energy project that will shape their futures.
"We won the first battle, stopping more uneconomic and unsafe nuclear power development, commented David Schwarzbach of the Washington, D.C.-based Natural Resources Defense Council. "The next, tougher step is to actually build a viable sustainable alternative. Winning this first fight doesn't mean walking away."
SOURCE: World Watch, Volume 9,
Fewer, Healthier Children
Female literacy and fertility, and mean years of schooling of women and under 5 mortality rates
SOURCE: UNESCO Sources, February 1995