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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

July 14, 1995

Air Date: July 14, 1995

SEGMENTS

Green Gold

As US governors and auto industry executives debate cleaner cars, Germany and Japan are reaping profits from a host of green technologies developed here in the U-S. Why is America dragging its heels on clean machines, and what is it costing? Host Steve Curwood speaks with Curtis Moore, co-author of the book Green Gold, about the history and consequences of American technology-policy. (06:43)

Living on Earth Profile Series #10: Fred Krupp: Environmental Defender / Amy Eddings

Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund, is the subject of this week's profile. EDF is finding the middle ground between business interests and the environment. Krupp considers himself a leader of "Third Wave" environmental activism. Amy Eddings has this profile. (04:55)

Summertime and the Gardening is Easy / Reese Erlich

In Berkeley, California, citizens have found a way to employ youth and offer them hope for a healthy future — by gardening organically. Reese Ehrlich reports on this effort to educate teens about their food, provide them with work and open the door to self-employment. (05:56)

Scavenging for Fun / Whit Gibbons

Commentator Whit Gibbons offers another way that youth can enjoy the summer, outdoors. He says local scavenger hunts can teach children how to connect with their surroundings. (02:26)

Show Credits and Funders

Show Transcript

Copyright c 1995 by World Media Foundation. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold, or transmitted without the written authority of World Media Foundation.

HOST: Steve Curwood
NEWSCASTER: Lisa Mullins
REPORTERS: Jeff Davies, Miguel Sancho, Amy Eddings, Reese Erlich
GUEST: Curtis Moore
COMMENTATOR: Whit Gibbons

(Theme music intro)

CURWOOD: From National Public Radio, this is Living on Earth.

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: I'm Steve Curwood. In Berkeley, California, some inner city kids are going to work tending community gardens. As the crops grow, so does their pride.

SHABAKA: We're interested in growing more than just healthy vegetables, which in itself is very important. But we're interested in growing basically healthy youth, healthy families and a healthy community.

CURWOOD: Also, is the U. S. losing 100 billion dollars worth of environmental business to foreign competition? One Washington insider thinks so.

MOORE: What's good for America is not necessarily what's good for some of the most powerful industries in America. It doesn't help the coal industry if the United States develops a power plant that squeezes 90 per cent of the energy out of a pound of coal rather than only 33 percent.

CURWOOD: This week on Living on Earth, right after this news.

Environmental News

MULLINS: From Living on Earth, I'm Lisa Mullins.

Arctic sea ice has been melting faster in the last 8 years. That's according to a team of Norwegian scientists who say it could be an early indication of the greenhouse effect. According to data in the latest issue of Nature, nearly 3 and-a-half percent of the Arctic's sea- ice has melted. Earlier studies using similar technology showed that 2 percent of the sea-ice had melted between 1978 and 1987. The study's authors say only continued monitoring can determine if the increased melting is a long-term trend.

The Canadian government has agreed to stop clearcut logging in Clayoquot Sound, site of one of the world's few remaining expanses of old growth temperate rain forest. The Canadian broadcasting corporation's Jeff Davies reports.

DAVIES: It's an issue that has brought world-wide attention to British Columbia. Environmentalists had demanded an end to logging in a wilderness area on the west coast of Vancouver island. It's known as Clayoqout Sound. It's ringed by snow-capped mountains and temperate rain forests. Some of the trees are as much as 800 years old. Two years ago it was the scene of the biggest protest in Canadian history. Thousands demonstrated, more than 800 people were arrested for blocking the logging roads. Since then the logging has continued, but behind the scenes a blue-ribbon panel of scientists was studying the forests of Clayoquot Sound. This spring the panel released a report recommending an end to clearcut logging, at least as it's been practiced in the past. There are to be no more mountainsides shorn of trees, only smaller cuts of up to ten acres. Now the government of British Columbia has endorsed that report. Environmentalists say this could be the end of clearcut logging all over British Columbia. But the government says that is not the plan. The Minister of Forests, Andrew Petter, says this decision reflects the unique qualities of Clayoquot Sound. From British Columbia, this is Jeff Davies for Living on Earth.

MULLINS: Despite recent diplomatic tensions between China and the United States, the two countries are maintaining an open-door on environmental cooperation. Chinese and American scientists have agreed to conduct joint research on an ozone hole discovered over the Tibetan Plateau. According to Chinese meteorologists, from June through September ozone levels in the hole are about 11 percent lower than normal. And at a recent environmental conference hosted by Beijing's Tsinghua University, scholars and government officials met with representatives from MIT and 7 international firms from the United States, Switzerland, and Norway to discuss ways of encouraging economic development while protecting the environment.

The area north of New York City is known as "The Lyme Belt" because of the large number of Lyme disease cases reported in the tick infested area. But now a new, sometimes fatal tick-borne disease is showing up there. From New York Miguel Sancho reports.

SANCHO: Herligiosis, also called H-G-E, is transmitted by the bite of the deer tick, the same blood sucking parasite that carries lyme disease. The symptoms are similar but more severe. Victims experience debilitating fevers, nausea and fatigue. Herligiosis strikes quickly and undetectably unlike lyme disease which takes a month to develop and is often pre-emptively diagnosed by a tell-tale rash appearing around the area of the bite. And while lyme disease can be treated with several antibiotics, Herligiosis responds to only one. Treatment must be accurate and swift, because the new disease can be fatal. Of the 60 confirmed cases nationwide, 4 people have died. If that weren't bad enough, doctors say it is possible to contract both lyme disease and Herligiosis from the same bug bite. Hundreds of new cases are expected by the end of tick season this fall. For Living On Earth, I'm Miguel Sancho in New York.

MULLINS: Calling fire "a critical natural process," a federal task force is recommending the use of controlled burning to prevent deadly wildfires like those that plagued western states last summer. This is a major shift from the current policy of putting out most wildfires as soon as possible. The panel says this has resulted in a surplus of underbrush which helps fires to spread. This condition currently affects 20 million-to-30 million acres of public and tribal lands, according to the task force, which is writing new rules to accommodate burning. Environmental activists are hailing the recommendation as a "real step forward," but a timber industry spokesman insists the forests are so far out of balance that salvage logging is the only way to avoid overly destructive wildfires.

Trucks and buses will be putting out less air pollution, thanks to an agreement among engine manufacturers, the EPA and the California Air Resources Board. Engine- makers have committed to cutting nitrogen oxide emissions in half by the year 2004-- that's the equivalent of taking twenty five million trucks and buses off the streets. A spokesman for the Engine Manufacturers Association, says the agreement was hammered out to avoid conflicting regulations for California and the rest of the nation. The makers of passenger vehicles are currently trying to persuade states to adopt a uniform set of emission standards.

That's this week's Living on Earth news. I'm Lisa Mullins.

Back to top

(Theme music return)

Green Gold

CURWOOD: This is Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

Detroit's Big Three auto makers are turning up the heat on California, Massachusetts and New York. They want them to back away from rules that require the companies to have electric cars on the market in 2 years. Detroit says it's worried that technical limitations and high costs will force it to build electric cars that consumers won't want.

But while Detroit says it can't build a good electric car, Volvo, the Swedish company, says it can. They say they will sell one that can be recharged by an on-board gas engine.

Detroit's reluctance is typical of some US business attitudes studied by analyst Curtis Moore. Moore is a veteran of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and author, along with Alan Miller, of the new book Green Gold: Japan, Germany, the United States and the Race for Environmental Technology. Moore and Miller say domestic corporate pressures have left the U.S. lagging behind Europe and Japan in the race for cleaner, more efficient ways of doing business... and that it's costing us billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Ironically, Moore says our competitors are often beating us with technologies originally made in America.

MOORE: My favorite example is, power plants in Germany are all equipped with a pollution-control device called a scrubber. And it produces something called scrubber sludge, which here in the United States is just dumped out in the back of the power plant or discharged into the river, or something of that sort. It's against the law to do that in Germany. So in Germany, they tweaked the process a bit, and they dry it, and then when construction season arrives, it's pulverized powder mixed with water squirted between sheets of heavy brown craft paper and used to make what we call sheet-rock or wall-board. They literally make homes or offices out of, out of air pollution. But the interesting thing about this process from an American perspective is that this process was first installed in 1974 at the Choya Power Plant in Arizona. The market for it was destroyed in the United States when the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency told utilities that they didn't need to reduce their SO2 emissions, their sulfur dioxide emissions. They could just build tall smokestacks, which they did. And when they did, they created an acid rain problem and a fine particle problem.

CURWOOD: So, your example says that we have more pollution here, we're missing out on a product, and the Germans have grabbed this technology and they're making money out of it.

MOORE: Germany now makes money off of the sheet-rock and off of the technology, and all of those profits would have been in U.S. dollars and not in German deutsche-marks had we kept that technology in development.

CURWOOD: What do estimate this has cost the United States?

MOORE: My personal judgment is that we're looking at probably a current loss of 100 billion dollars a year, and a current loss in jobs of 20,000 jobs, say. I'm very, very concerned about the future because it's one thing to lose the market on ground technologies, add-on technologies, like catalytic converters and power plant scrubbers. It's quite another to lose the market for everything from automobiles to carpet. If you can't make an engine or a Coke can that can sell in Germany or Tokyo, then you can't compete.

CURWOOD: Why did this happen?

MOORE: The price of energy is very low in the United States and that's undercut the market for a lot of these technologies. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that it's low because the market has made it low, and in fact that's not so. The Reagan and Bush administrations on the record negotiated with the Saudis and the Kuwaitis to keep the price of oil low in exchange for providing the Saudis and the Kuwaitis with military goods and military assistance. So this was a conscious, quick pro-quo and it was part of a strategy that was developed by Reagan's first administrator of the Office of Management and Budget, David Stockman.

CURWOOD: Why not have cheap oil? The fact is that we have a fair amount of oil here in this country as well. If we could get it from abroad, if we could have strategic reserves, doesn't that help everyone in this country?

MOORE: What's wrong is oil is not reflecting its true price. It's encouraging the United States to let technologies die and to develop habits that are completely out of step with the rest of the world and completely out of step with the way the world is moving. It's killed the market here for solar photo voltaic cells, wind turbines, fuel cells, advanced, more efficient, and much, much cleaner ways of burning coal.

CURWOOD: Now, why do you think that happened? If you're right it seems like a recipe for disaster and puts us at a competitive disadvantage.

MOORE: First, what's good for America is not necessarily what's good for some of the most powerful industries in America. It doesn't help the oil industry if we develop an automobile that goes twice as far on a gallon of gasoline. That's an automobile that burns only half as much gasoline, right? It doesn't help the coal industry if the United States develops a power plant that squeezes 90 per cent of the energy out of a pound of coal rather than only 33 per cent. Those industries are very, very opposed to these kinds of programs and they're very facile, they're very good at being able to describe their point of view as one which is good for the country. And what the government is supposed to be able to do is to sort out the difference between what industries like that say and what's really true, and our government stopped doing that.

CURWOOD: So this is a big conspiracy of oil, gas, and coal interests?

MOORE: No. No, no. I'm not saying it's a conspiracy. I doubt that 20 of these folks sit down in the same smoke-filled room and conspire to do this, but they do seek what's in their best interest. I spent the better part of 20 years working in or around the Congress of the United States. Money dominates every discussion that's held in Washington. Democracy, at least in Washington has been killed, and it's been killed by money. Money has been worked into the soil of Washington the same way a farmer plows fertilizer and pesticides into the soil of his field. And that makes the things he wants to grow grow, and it makes the things he doesn't want to grow die. And that's happened to Washington.

CURWOOD: So the way to get to economic competitiveness with Japan and Germany, in your view Curtis Moore, is to get money out of politics?

MOORE: It may sound absolutely crazy, but it's absolutely true. And the way to do that is simply say that members of Congress can't accept campaign contributions and other people can't give campaign contributions.

CURWOOD: Thank you very much. Curtis Moore is author of Green Gold: Japan, Germany, the Unites States, and the Race for Environmental Technology. His co-author is Allen Miller.

Back to top

(Music up and under)

Living on Earth Profile Series #10: Fred Krupp: Environmental Defender

CURWOOD: One environmental advocacy organization that's put a lot of pressure on businesses to make changes has been the Environmental Defense Fund in New York. The organization was born in 1967 out of a lawsuit to ban DDT, and it also went to court to get lead out of gasoline. But since Fred Krupp became executive director in 1984, the EDF has often headed to the boardroom rather than the courtroom to win changes that help both the environment and business. As part of our ongoing series on 25 important people related to environmental change, Amy Eddings has this profile of Fred Krupp.

(Sound of ocean waves)

EDDINGS: To many environmentalists, this is the sound of environmental policy at work -- clean, clear water. To Fred Krupp, this is the sound of environmental policy at work.

(Sounds of busy trading, discussion)

The sound of commodities traders. Krupp and his team of scientists, economist and lawyers at the Environmental Defense Fund in New York create what they call market-based solutions to environmental problems. Krupp thinks of the approach as the "Third Wave" in a changing environmental movement.

KRUPP: The First Wave of environmentalism started with Teddy Roosevelt deciding that we needed to protect some of the special places out West. And then, in the 60s, one of the most powerful voices of this century, Rachel Carson, wrote a book called Silent Spring. She alerted Americans to the notion that really the entire food web was at risk. And many laws were passed in the Second Wave of environmentalism to stop the worst abuses to the environment. The Third Wave of environmentalism, then, speaks to the idea that sometimes, it's possible for environmentalists and corporations to work out solutions to problems without even the need for government regulations.

EDDINGS: Last year, for instance, EDF helped convince the Walt Disney Corporation to relocate a theme park originally planned for a site in the historic Virginia countryside, where it would have brought traffic and pollution. It also brought together 5 large corporations, including the publishers of Time magazine to buy 1 billion dollars worth of recycled paper each year and help jump-start nationwide demand for the product. And in 1990, in a highly-publicized joint effort with McDonald's, EDF persuaded the fast food giant to stop using polystyrene foam containers for its hamburgers. Together, they came up with a solid waste reduction plan that includes composting food waste and wrapping hamburgers in paper. Bob Langert, McDonald's Director for Environmental Affairs says EDF helped the company meet environmental and business needs.

LANGERT: We changed from a white, bleached carry-out bag to a brown, recycled content bag. That is such a dramatic improvement for the environment, yet we're still delivering the same quality to our customers and we're actually saving money. And I thought the EDF was very effective in using that strategy with us.

EDDINGS: Krupp has cast his net even wider to include government regulators in EDF's collaborations, and in 1990, the effort resulted in a landmark acid rain amendment to the Clean Air Act. The law mandates a 50 percent reduction in emissions of sulfur dioxide, the pollutant that causes acid rain. But EDF helped develop an innovative measure that gave industries freedom to find the cheapest way to meet the new standards. It also gave industries, says Krupp, economic incentives to exceed them.

KRUPP: Some have said, why should environmentalists worry about the costs? Because when we're able to create incentives to develop new technologies, we're able to reduce not only the costs, but also the political costs, the political resistance to going further, faster, and gaining ambitious environmental results that we so much need.

EDDINGS: Although Krupp's philosophy has found supporters in Congress and the business world, it's been met with skepticism by some environmentalists who think EDF may be too closely allied to corporate interests. Krupp disagrees.

KRUPP: To develop win-win solutions does not mean compromising on their goals. Often it does mean being flexible on the means.

EDDINGS: The Environmental Defense Fund under Fred Krupp has not abandoned the "sue 'em and stop 'em" approach, and may even have to rely upon it more. If environmental regulations are rolled back, Krupp thinks there may be no incentive for business to cooperate in Third Wave fashion, but he's optimistic. Fred Krupp believes more people will see the logic of market-based environmental solutions, and hear the future the same way he does with this kind of environment (sounds of commodity traders) preserving this one (sounds of ocean waves). For Living On Earth, this is Amy Eddings in New York.

Back to top

CURWOOD: What do you think business should do for the environment? Give us a call on our listener comment line, at 1-800-218-9988. That's 1-800-218-9988. Or you can write to us at Living on Earth. . . Box 639, Cambridge, Mass., 02238. That's Living on Earth. . . Box 639, Cambridge, Mass., 02238. Our Internet address is LOE @ NPR.ORG. That's LOE @ NPR.ORG. Transcripts and tapes are 10 dollars.

Summertime and the Gardening is Easy

(The song 'Summertime' is played on saxophone)

CURWOOD: Summertime. When the living is not so easy for kids in the inner-cities of the U.S. Sure, some are rich enough or lucky enough to get out to the countryside or the beach and get a break from the heat and bad air, but too many just hang out on a street corner, bored and broke, and convenient to any trouble that wants to cozy up to them.

One answer to the problem, of course, is jobs. And some people in Berkeley, California are running a summer jobs program that goes beyond the typical leaf raking and trash pickup details that are usually offered to youth. These jobs are in community gardens, where teenagers at risk of getting caught up in crime learn practical skills while producing vegetables for local elderly residents and small neighborhood enterprises. Reese Erlich has our story.

(Sounds of people digging and talking)

ERLICH: A group of 8 African American teens dressed in oversized varsity jackets and carrying beepers hang along Sixth Street in Berkeley. It's a blustery day. But Sepha Banjo, 15, stands her ground, her golden hoop earrings and nose stud shining against the dim morning light. her beeper suddenly goes off. But it's just a friend staying in touch. Banjo picks up a hoe and starts working the soil. Banjo is one of the teens hired with city money to work for Berkeley's Intergenerational-Strong Roots Garden project.

BANJO: I think this program will keep a lot of youth out of trouble if they just join because a lot of youth be out there doing a lot violence. But if they become interested in things like gardening or other things, I think, you know, it'll be better for them.

ERLICH: Gardening has become a potent tool in community organizing, according to Shyaam Shabaka, who coordinates the program.

SHABAKA: We're interested in growing more than just healthy vegetables, which in itself is very important. But we're interested in growing basically healthy youth, healthy families and a healthy community. And a garden is just one aspect of that.

ERLICH: The teens earn 5 dollars an hour tending the gardens. The vegetables are given away to seniors, but there are also plans to sell them at farmers markets. Shabaka says the gardening program helps fight crime, poverty and unemployment among Berkeley young people.

SHABAKA: Youth are able to produce vegetables which they can, in turn, market, which will, in turn, create income for them. And that goes back into their project. Also, it provides them with opportunities to further their education. They learn skills, they learn teamwork. And it also takes a lot of idle time off their hands.

(Restaurant sounds, customers and music)

ERLICH: At the other end of Berkeley, diners at the posh Chez Panisse restaurant eat squab and drink buttery chardonnays. A fixed price dinner here costs 65 dollars. But this gourmet ghetto is hoping to forge an organic connection with the African American one in West Berkeley.

WATERS: We buy a lot of our fruits and vegetables from the farmers' markets in Berkeley, and...

ERLICH: Downstairs in the kitchen, owner Alice Waters tastes some wine-glazed sauce. She says Chez Panisse wants to take the teen gardening concept one step further. She's working with a Berkeley Junior High School to develop classes in organic gardening and food preparation. She also hopes to change the fast-food orientation of today's teens.

WATERS: We have an idea to change the curriculum at the school so that we can incorporate a working garden and actually connect that garden with the school lunch program, where the children would bake the bread and prepare the food and then serve it to each other, and sit down for lunch. And we hope that in the process of doing this they will learn the values of taking care of the land, taking care of each other, responsibility to the community. The very basic things of how to nourish themselves.

(Sounds of digging and people talking)

ERLICH: That program is still in the planning stage. For the time being, Water's sentiment may sound a little touchy-feely to the African American youth in West Berkeley who have more down-to-earth concerns. Student Sepha Banjo is most interested in the extra cash gardening brings in. She and her parents have already set up a going concern.

BANJO: Me and my family are starting a garden in our backyard. You know, 'cause we need to make a little more money. So we're going to start a garden. You know, we're growing a lot of fruit now.

ERLICH: For 16 year old Ernest Carrol, community gardening has opened up whole new horizons. He's used to working the land, having grown up on his grandparents' small farm in Mississippi. Next visit home, he plans to take back some of the lessons from Berkeley.

CARROL: When I go back, I'd tell them farming organically would be a lot easier because the pesticides get into the plants and everything, and can damage the food. There are some insects that you need to have like the earthworm and the beetle and everything. Plus the food tastes better because it's organic.

ERLICH: Berkeley's Intergeneration Strong Roots Project recently expanded from 2 to 4 garden sites. But it faces a major problem in getting and keeping enough land. All of the land is on loan from private owners or non-profits who often want it back after a few years. Now a group of activists is pushing Berkeley to turn over vacant city land to be used permanently for community gardens. For Living On Earth, I'm Reese Erlich in Berkeley, California.

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Scavenging for Fun

CURWOOD: If you have children around this summer, commentator Whit Gibbons has some advice for you.

GIBBONS: One beetle. A green leaf with points on the edges. Something that lives in the water. A bird with red on its head. An animal with more than six legs. Sound like a recipe for the bubbling cauldron in Macbeth? It's a recipe, of sorts, but not for witches. It's for making children more aware of their environment by spending more time outdoors. I call it an Ecology Scavenger Hunt. To complete the scavenger hunt, one has to find different living things and then read and write something about them.

Many of today's children spend too much time indoors. Television and computers make it easy to do. And indeed these can be useful learning tools. But the living world is outside, and that's where children should be encouraged to spend as much time as they can.

The idea of an ecology scavenger hunt is to catch or see each item on the list. In the front or back yard, the park, or the nearest woods. An additional requirement is to read something about the plant or animal, and write a meaningful statement.

More species of beetles live on earth than any other group of animals. So anyone can find a beetle, and a lot has been written about them. What kind of tree or shrub did the pointy-edged leaf come from? Does a tree lose its leaves in winter? The reading might be about why some trees are evergreen and some are not.

Take children to any body of water and they will have plenty of living things to see. You might be amazed at just how much life is there, even if it's not all moving or some has to be seen with a microscope. For the bird, look at a field-guide to find out which ones would qualify. Lots of woodpeckers have red on their heads, as do ruby-crowned kinglets and turkey vultures. And anyone can identify a cardinal.

Finally, what has more than six legs? Millipedes, centipedes, and spiders, to name a few. Look for them under rocks, logs or tree bark. My list for an ecology scavenger hunt is only an example. Make up your own list, for your area. It will keep children, and maybe a few adults, outdoors -- a place everyone ought to become more familiar with.

CURWOOD: The comments of Whit Gibbons, an ecologist at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. He comes to us from member station WUGA in Athens, Georgia.

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CURWOOD: Living on Earth is directed by Deborah Stavro. Our staff includes Peter Thomson, George Homsy, Kim Motylewski, Constantine Von Hoffman, Jan Nunley and Julia Madeson. We had help from Susan Sheperd, Liz Lempert, Bob Emro, David Dunlap, and Jessika Bella-Mura. Our WBUR engineers are Kieth Shields and Mark Navin. Special thanks to Jane Pipik and Jeff Martini. Our theme music was composed by Michael Aharon.

Living On Earth is a project of the World Media Foundation, and recorded at WBUR, Boston and Harvard University. I'm Steve Curwood, executive producer.

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