EC7C. 1998–2007 Neighborhood and Global Stewardship

cover for GSS book Ecosystem Change

Staying current for Chapter 7

Articles from 1998–2007

Stay current index page for Chapter 7

{ Ecosystem Change Contents }

2007 December 22. As Cars Hit More Animals on Roads, Toll Rises. By JIM ROBBINS, NY Times. Excerpt: BOZEMAN, Mont. – On a dark highway near Anchorage, Specialist Steven Cavanaugh of the Army, who had survived 300 missions in Iraq, was critically injured in December when his vehicle hit a moose. Specialist Cavanaugh died Dec. 6. …In the early morning darkness in Lincoln, Mont., in October, a pickup slammed into a 830-pound grizzly bear. The driver survived, but the bear was among seven grizzlies – a record for one year – killed by vehicles this year statewide.
Wildlife-related crashes are a growing problem on rural roads around 
the country. The accidents increased 50 percent from 1990 to 2004, 
based on the most recent federal data, according to the Western 
Transportation Institute at Montana State University here.
The basic problem is that rural roads are being traveled by more and 
more people, many of them living in far-flung subdivisions. Each 
year, about 200 people are killed in as many as two million 
wildlife-related crashes at a cost of more than $8 billion, the 
institute estimated in a report prepared for the National Academies 
of Science….The human death toll has risen from 111 in 1995 to around 200 in 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available….Pennsylvania has the most vehicle-wildlife crashes. Drivers there struck nearly 97,000 deer in the last half of 2005 and first half of 2006, according to estimates by State Farm, the insurance company….In recent years, the institute estimates based on insurance 
industry data, the number of crashes ranged from one million to two 
million….The accidents can also take a toll on precarious wildlife 
populations. The report prepared for Congress found that vehicle 
collisions were a major source of mortality for 21 federally 
endangered or threatened species, like the red wolf, kit fox, Key 
deer and Florida panther. “It’s a new and dubious record,” Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, said of the seven grizzlies killed this year on Montana roads. “There are more bears and everybody drives faster, and so roads are more of a problem.”While the accidents are not threatening the bears’ long-term survival, Mr. Servheen said, they do threaten the species’ ability to expand its range….

2007 September 11. 21 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle-Garbage. Americans produce more and more of it every year, when we need to be producing less.
COOP America’s list of 21 recycling strategies you may not yet know about:

1. Appliances: Goodwill accepts working appliances or you can contact the Steel Recycling Institute to recycle them. 800/YES-1-CAN, 

2. Batteries: Rechargeables and single-use: Battery Solutions, 734/467-9110, 

3. Cardboard boxes: Contact local nonprofits and women’s shelters to see if they can use them. Or, offer them up at your local listserv or on If your workplace collects at least 100 boxes or more each month, accepts them for resale.

4. CDs/DVDs/Game Disks: Send scratched music or computer CDs, DVDs, and PlayStation or Nintendo video game disks to AuralTech for refinishing, and they’ll work like new: 888/454-3223,

5. Clothes: Wearable clothes can go to your local Goodwill outlet or shelter. Donate wearable women’s business clothing to Dress for Success, which gives them to low-income women as they search for jobs, 212/532-1922, Offer unwearable clothes and towels to local animal boarding and shelter facilities, which often use them as pet bedding. Consider holding a clothes swap at your office, school, faith congregation or community center. Swap clothes with friends and colleagues, save money on a new fall wardrobe and back-to-school clothes – then donate the rest.

6. Compact fluorescent bulbs: Take them to your local IKEA store for recycling:

7. Compostable bio-plastics: You probably won’t be able to compost these in your home compost bin or pile. Find a municipal composter to take them to at

8. Computers and electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers, local and national, at

9. Exercise videos: Swap them with others at

10. Eyeglasses: Your local Lion’s Club or eye care chain may collect these. Lenses are reground and given to people in need.

11. Foam Packing peanuts: Your local pack-and-ship store will likely accept these for reuse. Or, call the Plastic Loose Fill Producers Council to find a drop-off site: 800/828-2214. For places to drop off foam blocks for recycling, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers, 410/451-8340,

12. Ink/toner cartridges: pays $1/each.

13. Miscellaneous: Get your unwanted items into the hands of people who can use them. Offer them up on your local or listserv, or try giving them away at or giving or selling them at will also help you find a recycler, if possible, when your items have reached the end of their useful lifecycle.

14. Oil: Find Used Motor Oil Hotlines for each state: 202/682-8000,

15. Phones: Donate cell phones: Collective Good will refurbish your phone and sell it to someone in a developing country: 770/856-9021, Call to Protect reprograms cell phones to dial 911 and gives them to domestic violence victims: Recycle single-line phones: Reclamere, 814/386-2927,

16. Sports equipment: Resell or trade it at your local Play It Again Sports outlet, 800/476-9249,

17. “Technotrash”: Easily recycle all of your CDs, jewel cases, DVDs, audio and video tapes, cell phones, pagers, rechargeable and single-use batteries, PDAs, and ink/toner cartridges with GreenDisk’s Technotrash program. For $30, GreenDisk will send you a cardboard box in which you can ship them up to 70 pounds of any of the above. Your fee covers the box as well as shipping and recycling fees. 800/305-GREENDISK,

18. Tennis shoes: Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program turns old shoes into playground and athletic flooring. One World Running will send still-wearable shoes to athletes in need in Africa, Latin America, and Haiti.

19. Toothbrushes and razors: Buy a recycled plastic toothbrush or razor from Recycline, and the company will take it back to be recycled again into plastic lumber. Recycline products are made from used Stonyfield Farms’ yogurt cups. 888/354-7296,

20. Tyvek envelopes: Quantities less than 25: Send to Shirley Cimburke, Tyvek Recycling Specialist, 5401 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Spot 197, Room 231, Richmond, VA 23234. Quantities larger than 25, call 866/33-TYVEK.

21. Stuff you just can’t recycle: When practical, send such items back to the manufacturer and tell them they need to manufacture products that close the waste loop responsibly.
Become a sustainer for Co-op America today.

2007 August 1. In Praise of Tap Water. NY Times. Excerpt: …Americans are increasingly thirsty for what is billed as the healthiest, and often most expensive, water on the grocery shelf. But this country has some of the best public water supplies in the world. Instead of consuming four billion gallons of water a year in individual-sized bottles, we need to start thinking about what all those bottles are doing to the planet’s health. Here are the hard, dry facts: Yes, drinking water is a good thing, far better than buying soft drinks, or liquid candy, as nutritionists like to call it. And almost all municipal water in America is so good that nobody needs to import a single bottle from Italy or France or the Fiji Islands. Meanwhile, if you choose to get your recommended eight glasses a day from bottled water, you could spend up to $1,400 annually. The same amount of tap water would cost about 49 cents.
Next, there’s the environment. Water bottles, like other containers, are made from natural gas and petroleum. The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles are often not included in local redemption plans that accept beer and soda cans. Add in the substantial amount of fuel used in transporting water, which is extremely heavy, and the impact on the environment is anything but refreshing….

2007 April. Build your own rain barrel
See also: http://www.aquabarrel.com, and

2007 March 23. The Window Box Gets Some Tough Competition. By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN. NY Times. Excerpt: CARMEL VALLEY, Calif. – …While others nearby toil over grapes and artichokes, Cooper Scollan spends his days hunched over some 1.7 million baby sedum and other native plants destined for hillocks atop the green roof at the new California Academy of Sciences building, nearing completion in Golden Gate Park. Mr. Scollan, 30, is a green collar worker, responsible for the safety and well-being of what soon will be the largest continuous swatch of vegetation in San Francisco. The academy, designed by the architect Renzo Piano, whom Mr. Scollan has seen only on television, will feature the country’s most technically ambitious eco-roof, the latest example of what is known in highbrow circles as “regenerative” or “living” architecture.
It is a growing movement that originated in Germany and now includes, to name a few, bottlebrush grasses and wild rye atop Chicago City Hall, succulents on the 10-acre roof of Ford’s River Rouge truck plant in Dearborn, Mich., flowering chives and dianthus on the Bronx County building in New York, and, at an office building for the Gap in San Bruno, Calif., a coastal oak savannah landscape. Though green roofs are hardly new – think of the fabled hanging gardens of Babylon – eco-roofs may represent gardening’s next frontier, as cities from Los Angeles to Chicago offer incentives, including fast-tracking development, to builders who forgo drab stretches of concrete in favor of a living roof. The reasons are pure Al Gore: the new California Academy of Sciences roof is expected to reduce storm water run-off by half. That water will then be used, instead of potable water, to flush toilets. The design is also calculated to prevent the release of more than 405,000 pounds of greenhouse gases and substantially reduce the urban “heat island” generated by roads, sidewalks and parking lots….

2007 February 26. Excellent Packaging and Supply. Wholesaler of biodegradable packaging, utensils and dishes. Products:
SpudWareª – Biodegradable Cutlery made from 80% starch (potato or corn) and 20% soy or other vegetable oil.
BagasseWareª – Paper plates, cups, trays, bowls, and boxes made from plant fibers, either grown or recovered as crop residue: sugar cane, wheat bamboo or rice based pulps.
NatureWorksª PLA – Made from corn, PLA is used to make clear plastic cups, bowls, boxes, straws and can liners. Biodegradable, compostable.
BioBagª – Bags and can liners made from Mater-Bi, derived from cornstarch. Used for T-shirts bags and can liners. Biodegradable, compostable, recyclable and burnable.
Natureflexª – Food films made from renewable wood-pulp. Suitable for wrapping and bagging food. Ovenable, heat sealable, biodegradable, compostable and sustainable.
ecotainerª – Paper hot cups and soup containers made with a PLA lining, making them fully compostable, biodegradable and sustainable

2007 January 2.The Rancher and the Grizzly: A Love Story. By Bruce Barcott Excerpt: People, livestock, and a threatened predator are learning to get along in the new west. As an afternoon rainstorm sweeps down Montana’s Madison Valley,…rancher Todd Graham stands inside a dusty barn and asks his neighbors for help….Graham addresses a veritable cross section of the new West: sheep ranchers, cattlemen, conservation biologists, government officials, retirees, and second-home owners. Seated in folding chairs, they’ve gathered for a Living With Predators workshop jointly organized by the Madison Valley Ranchlands Group (which defends livestock) and Keystone Conservation (which defends animals that want to kill the livestock)…..The Madison Valley today is the crash point of two demographic trends: a hot western housing market and rebounding populations of predators….About 7,000 people live in the valley, and cattle still outnumber them ten to one. But that’s changing. Retirees and second-home owners, eager to claim their slice of Montana heaven, are snapping up 20-acre ranchettes carved out of 1,000-acre working ranches…….Humans aren’t the only creatures attracted to the valley. Yellowstone’s grizzlies, once threatened with extinction, have made a strong recovery….Having reached their population limit within Yellowstone — these bears need plenty of territory to roam, forage, and mate — they are fanning out beyond the park’s boundaries…..As their numbers grow, Yellowstone grizzlies face a crucial test: Can they survive on land owned by ranchers, farmers, and the new wave of retirees, telecommuters, and vacation-home owners?…..One of the largest relatively intact temperate ecosystems on earth, the Yellowstone region hosts perhaps the greatest concentration of large mammals in the contiguous United States, including the nation’s biggest populations of grizzlies outside Alaska. It’s a region marked by concentric circles of wildlife protection.…..A final decision is expected from the Fish and Wildlife Service in early 2007. If the Yellowstone grizzly loses its threatened status, protection of the bear will be turned over to state wildlife agencies….

2007 Winter. Elephant Crackup? By Charles Siebert. Population Connection – The Reporter. Excerpt: All across Africa, India and parts of Southeast Asia, from within and around whatever patches and corridors of their natural habitat remain, elephants have been striking out, destroying villages and crops, attacking and killing human beings. In fact, these attacks have become so commonplace that a new statistical category, known as Human-Elephant Conflict, or H.E.C., was created by elephant researchers in the mid-1990’s to monitor the problem. In the Indian state of Jharkhand near the western border of Bangladesh, 300 people were killed by elephants between 2000 and 2004. In the past 12 years, elephants have killed 605 people in Assam, a state in north- eastern India, 239 of them since 2001; 265 elephants have died in that same period, the majority of them as a result of retaliation by angry villagers, who have used everything from poison-tipped arrows to laced food to exact their revenge. In Africa, reports of human-elephant conflicts appear almost daily,from Zambia to Tanzania, from Uganda to Sierra Leone, where 300 villagers evacuated their homes last year because of unprovoked elephant attacks…. “Everybody pretty much agrees that the relationship between elephants and people has dramatically changed,” Bradshaw told me recently. “What we are seeing today is extraordinary. Where for centuries humans and elephants lived in relatively peaceful coexistence, there is now hostility and violence. Now, I use the term ‘violence’ because of the intentionality associated with it, both in the aggression of humans and, at times, the recently observed behavior of elephants.” …now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture. It has long been apparent that every large, land-based animal on this planet is ultimately fighting a losing battle with humankind.


12 December 2006. NASA ICE IMAGES AID STUDY OF PACIFIC WALRUS ARCTIC HABITATS. NASA Earth Observatory News. – NASA recently collaborated with the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the usefulness of satellite imagery for studying the effect of climate change on the Pacific walrus ice habitat in Alaska.

24 September 2006. Rare Woodpecker Sends a Town Running for Its Chain Saws. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Excerpt: BOILING SPRING LAKES, N.C., Sept. 23 (AP) – Over the past six months, landowners here have been clear-cutting thousands of trees to keep them from becoming homes for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The chain saws started in February, when the federal Fish and Wildlife Service put Boiling Spring Lakes on notice that rapid development threatened to squeeze out the woodpecker. The agency issued a map marking 15 active woodpecker “clusters,” and announced it was working on a new one that could potentially designate whole neighborhoods of this town in southeastern North Carolina as protected habitat, subject to more-stringent building restrictions. Hoping to beat the mapmakers, landowners swarmed City Hall to apply for lot-clearing permits. Treeless land, after all, would not need to be set aside for woodpeckers. Since February, the city has issued 368 logging permits, a vast majority without accompanying building permits.
…The red-cockaded woodpecker was once abundant in the vast longleaf pine forests that stretched from New Jersey to Florida, but now numbers as few as 15,000. …In a quirk of history, human activity has made this town of about 4,100 almost irresistible to the bird. Long before there was a town, locals carved V-shaped notches in the pines, collecting the sap in buckets to make turpentine. These wounds allowed fungus to infiltrate the tree’s core, making it easier for the woodpecker to excavate its nest hole and probe for the beetles, spiders and wood-boring insects it prefers. “And, voilˆ! You have a perfect woodpecker habitat,” said Dan Bell, project director for the Nature Conservancy in nearby Wilmington….

21 February 2006. EPA Library Budget Would Be Cut by 80 Percent –
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to drastically reduce the FY07 budget for its network of libraries-from $2.5 million to $500,000-leading to the closure of the headquarters library and deep cuts and possible closures at six of ten regional libraries, layoffs of up to one-third of professional contract employees, and the end of its online catalog. Internal EPA documents dated November 2005 were leaked to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and released on the organization’s web site February 10. They detail that with such closures, the online catalog won’t be maintained, and the remaining libraries “would not be able to function” without the catalog. On the same day, EPA spokesperson Eryn Witcher told the Associated Press that materials would still be available, saying that EPA would streamline physical collections by making them available online. PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, however, told Library Journal that prior to 1990, EPA materials only exist in hard copy format, and that the agency has no budget for digitization. ….see also the library services web sites and notice from February on the OMBWatch web site


March 2005. Garden Mosaics, by Anne Marie Kennedy and Marianne E. Krasny, in Science Teacher magazine. A science education program that combines intergenerational learning, community action, and learning about different cultures. Youth learn from elder gardeners, who share their planting practices and cultural backgrounds, and from our science resources posted online. Resources for conducting inquiry-based activities in community youth programs and classrooms. National online databases focusing on community gardens, gardeners, urban weeds, and community action. Youth and adults are invited to contribute to the databases. [Access to this article is restricted to NSTA members–NSTA membership number required. Garden Mosaics website 


August 2004. Pest Control without Risks. Union of Concerned Scientists. There are … many effective, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly pest control options for the home gardener. The easiest and most straightforward is to prevent pests from getting into your garden in the first place. Choose plants (such as catnip and marigolds) that repel certain pests, or others (such as sweet alyssum and dill) that attract pest-eating insects. Ask your neighborhood garden shop which plants work best against the local pest population. And, since pests and disease thrive in decayed plant matter, it also helps to keep your garden tidy….. 

23 July 2004. Berkeley: Urban farmers produce nearly all their food with a sustainable garden in their backyard. By John Fall for San Francisco Chronicle. There is nothing unusual about sitting down to a nice salad for lunch during the summer. What makes the salads prepared by Jim Montgomery and Mateo Rutherford different is that almost every component has been grown, raised or made in their West Berkeley backyard — the purple endive, the lettuce, the tomatoes, the carrots, the green beans and even the feta cheese. [Posted on Ecology Center website]


26 August 2003. Press Release: Federal Court Restricts Global Deployment of Navy Sonar. NRDC 

The Volunteer Monitor Project–The National Newsletter of Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring. Some good resources that include how to work with schools in volunteer monitoring programs – some that are interdisciplinary.

November-December 2003. NRDC. An Open Letter About Whales and High-Intensity Sonar, by Kenneth Balxom.

Washington Post story
…The LFA (Low Frequency Active) sonar system would have blasted hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean habitat with noise so intense it can maim, deafen and even kill whales.


8 August 2002. PHYTOPLANKTON IN NORTHERN OCEANS HAVE DECLINED FROM 1980s LEVELS — A check up of the Earth’s planetary health reveals that the lowest rung in the ocean food chain is shrinking. For the past 20 years (early 1980s to present), phytoplankton concentrations declined as much as 30 percent in northern oceans. Scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say warmer ocean temperatures and low winds may be depriving the tiny ocean plants of necessary nutrients. However, they still do not know if the loss of phytoplankton is a long-term trend or a climate oscillation. Goddard Space Flight Center. 

31 July 2002. SeaWiFS — The Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS), aboard the OrbView-2 satellite, has given researchers an unprecedented view of the biological engine that drives life on Earth. Levels of phytoplankton, single celled plant organisms that form the base of the oceanic food chain, can explode in events called bloom. Other organisms can bloom as well, such as algae. SeaWiFS home page

22 July 2002. Showdown in the Ro Grande — Exotic water plants such as the hyacinths and hydrilla have been taking over large sections of the Rio Grande river. 

22 July 2002. Muddy Mayan mystery made clearer by researchers working in the bajos — Findings in Belize and Guatamela show how Maya drastically changed local environments (AAAS EurekAlert). See also 31-Jul-2002 The prehistory of neotropical lowland forests

15 July 2002. Urbanization’s Aftermath — Using satellite images of city lights at night, [a group of researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center led by biologist and remote sensing specialist Marc Imhoff] constructed a map of the urbanized areas of the United States. They then retrieved vegetation density readings of present day American cities as well as simulated readings of the landscapes that pre-dated these cities. By combining the vegetation data with the urbanization maps, Imhoff was able to calculate the effects of urbanization on many types of ecosystems across the country.

9 July 2002. Hunting Dangerous Algae from Space

9 January 2002. U.S. ECOLOGY DRAMATICALLY ALTERED BY FERTILIZERS AND ACID RAIN — A NASA-funded study of ancient and unpolluted South American forests promises to upend longstanding beliefs about ecosystems and the effects of pollution in the Northern Hemisphere. The study, published in the Jan. 24 issue of Nature, focused on nitrogen, a plant nutrient that plays a critical role in maintaining everything from the health of local waterways to the global climate. The study finds high levels of inorganic nitrogen in the United States, long thought to be the natural mainstay of the ecosystem, are really the result of acid rain and agricultural fertilizers. The authors argue that the ecosystems of South America, with their preponderance of organic nitrogen, are a window into the past, showing that U.S. ecosystems were very different before the industrial revolution. NASA-GSFC RELEASE NO: 02-023


16 October 1998. Trading Away the West. Seattle Times.