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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

News Follow-up

Air Date: Week of December 14, 2001

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New developments in stories we’ve been tracking recently.

Transcript

[THEME MUSIC]

CURWOOD: Time now to follow up on some of the news stories we have been tracking lately. Awhile back we took a look at the islands of the South Pacific, including the tiny nation of Tuvalu. Each year, Tuvalu's 1,100 or so residents have had to battle an increasing number of devastating tropical storms. Now the island's leaders say the waters around Tuvalu have reached such heights that inhabitants will soon have to abandon their island.

Part of the problem may be a regional shift in sea levels. And Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, says human induced global warming must also share the blame.

BROWN: Tuvalu is something like the canary in the coal mine. Never has a country been forced to, in fact, abandon its homeland because of the actions of others.

CURWOOD: Tuvaluans are consulting with officials in nearby New Zealand as to whether New Zealand can accept 1,500 of the islanders during the next 10 years.

[MUSIC]

CURWOOD: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has declared that breaching dams along the Snake River in Washington State is not necessary for the restoration of salmon populations. Lonnie Mettler, Project Manager for the Army Corps study on the Snake River dams, looked at four alternatives to bring back salmon, including tearing down the dams.

METTLER: Dam breaching could make some improvements. But nobody was able to say that dam breaching itself would bring back those fish.

CURWOOD: Mr. Mettler says economics also played a part in the decision. He says it would have cost the government about a billion dollars to breach the four Snake River dams.

[MUSIC]

CURWOOD: On the wind and energy front, there's a study out that contends Scotland alone has 23 percent of Europe's total potential wind and wave power. That's enough to supply its own needs and also help out the rest of the United Kingdom. According to Ross Finnie, Scotland's Environment Minister, wind and wave power currently comprise only 10 percent of Scotland's renewable energy sources.

FINNIE: Our target is to take that to at least 18 percent by the year 2010. And indeed, we're now beginning to think as to whether we could not take that higher.

CURWOOD: Talks are currently underway to construct one of Europe's largest wind farms in Southwest Scotland. When up and running at full capacity, the 70-turbine facility will produce enough electricity to power 60,000 homes.

[THEME MUSIC]

CURWOOD: Finally, a Miami man faces federal charges for allegedly smuggling 44 melodious birds into the country from Havana, Cuba. The birds were songbird finches, worth $350 apiece on the pet market. Pet smuggling isn't a rarity in Miami, but this particular method was. When a suspicious customs agent stopped to question the man, he found all 44 birds wrapped in small cardboard tubes, strapped to his legs. And that's this week's follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.

 

 

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