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Great Lakes Article:

When the Miners’ Canaries Fall

Local Environmental News by Craig Minowa
05/05/2002

To learn more about local environmental organizations, issues and events, go to www.eagle-ecosource.org

 

But there are times, when those that love the bay,
Fly from all sorrowing far, far away;
A sudden glow comes on them, nought they see
In water, earth, or air, but poesy.

Lured by the innocent dimples. To sweet rest
Shall the dear babe, upon its mother's breast,
Be lulled with songs of mine. Fair world, adieu!
Thy dales, and hills, are fading from my view.

John Keats

 

Miners’ Canaries Fall

Despite oodles of research, the recent outbreak of mutated frogs in MN,WI and around the world hasn’t been clearly pegged to any single cause. But new research from the University of California at Berkely has the scientific community stunned. The study found that Atrazine, one of the most common pesticides on the market, causes mutations in frogs at levels 30 times LESS than what the EPA allows in our water. In other words, our environment is literally soaked in a chemicals that are causing animals to mutate..

According to Stanley I. Dodson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison this discovery is "the most important paper in environmental toxicology in decades.” When asked whether humans should be worried about the fact that this toxic pesticide is in our water and food, Dodsen said "It's like a canary in the mine shaft sort of thing," Miners used to bring canaries with them into mine shafts. If the birds died, the miners knew the toxic gases in the shaft had reached dangerous levels, and they would evacuate. In this case, the frogs are serving as a clear indicator that the pesticides and other pollutants in our rivers, lakes and tap water is reaching dangerous levels, as well.

Is anyone paying attention?

 

Eco-Facts of the Week

More than a quarter million American children ages one through five ingest a combination of 20 different pesticides every day. More than 1 million preschoolers eat at least 15 pesticides on a given day. Overall, 20 million American children five and under eat an average of eight pesticides every day. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, over 5,000 of today's pre-schoolers will get cancer sometime during their lives SOLELY BECAUSE of the pesticides in foods they consume until age six.

 

 

Eco-Quote of the Week

"For in the end, we will save only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."

Senegal

 

Going Organic--Local Enviro-Group Kicks Corporate Heiny

After a year long campaign, Little Marais’ own Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has brought a major global corporation to its knees. OCA began pressuring Starbucks to live up to its self-toted environmental image back in March of 2001. Starbucks ranks among the top purchasers of rBGH milk, a hormone laden milk that has been banned in every industrialized country but the US.

OCA and its supporters held hundreds of rallies at Starbucks around the world (include several rallies here in Duluth) to educate customers about rBGH and Fair Trade coffee, a product that guarantees the family farms a fair price for their crops. While Starbucks CEO, Orin Smith, has been making record profits, many of the Central American farmers who grow his beans can’t afford to buy a cup of their own coffee from one of his stores.

Bowing to consumer pressure, Starbucks is now initiating a program to support Fair Trade coffees. Starbucks also claims it is attempting to secure a reliable source of rBGH-free milk and will provide an organic milk alternative for an extra fee, upon request. Ronnie Cummins, Director of OCA, says the organization has been targeting Starbucks because it’s small enough to impact but big enough to cause a major ripple-effect in the industry.

Just so you know, World Fair Trade Day is May 4th. If you’d like to get involved contact connie@organicconsumers.org or 320-384-7764. Also, next time you’re at Starbucks, ask for Fair Trade coffee with organic milk. Or better yet, support a local business that never needed this consumer pressure in the first place. Browsers N’Etc. Café on East Superior St. provides a wide variety of organic and Fair Trade coffees. 726-0530.

 

SOUL Keeps Fighting

      As you may or may not know, MN Power (Allete) is working mighty hard to begin building a massive powerline that would pipe electricity from North Dakota/Canada down to the Chicago/Milwaukee area. The Arrowhead-Weston powerline would cut through private homeowner property in WI, as well as destroying hundreds of acres of wilderness.

Well, homeowners in Marathon County, WI are refusing to grant access to their property for surveying and soil borings. To support this decision, these spirited folk are referencing legal documents that clearly show that they need not provide access to their property until all permits have been received, which they have not. In response, the Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) is taking these homeowners to court. Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL) is the local organization that has been fighting this powerline from the start. In a recent press release SOUL stated, “Apparently out of frustration they (WPS) choose to bully five landowners into granting the desired access or force them hire an attorney and defend themselves in the court system.” To get involved, contact SOUL at 1-800-270-8455 or go to www.wakeupwisconsin.com

 

Buying Green

Minnesota paper company, Boise Cascade Corporation, recently announced they’re now offering a new 100% postconsumer recycled office paper. The paper, labeled “Aspen (TM) 100” is manufactured at a pulp and paper mill in International Falls, and is processed-chlorine free. Mainstream papers are bleached with chlorine, which creates dioxins, a known human carcinogen. The news of providing a recycled paper product out of Northern MN is refreshing, given recent reports that Great Lakes forests are among the most heavily logged in the US. You can purchase this locally made product through the Green Mercantile in Duluth. 209 E. Superior St. 722-1771.

 

Upcoming Local Eco-Events

Saturday,May 4- WORLD FAIR TRADE DAY: Educational rallies will be held around the world to spread the word about the environmental,economic and social benefits of Fair Trade products. For more info, contact connie@organicconsumers.org or 320-384-7764.

 

Wednesday, May 8 (7pm)- Blue Vinyl at the Norshor Theater 211 E. Superior St. Donations are suggested from those who attend this new, provocative, environmental film. A review in the Washington Post says "Frightening and funny! Blue Vinyl has left audiences lingering in the hallways for hours to debate and question." The film follows the lifecycle of vinyl from Long Island, NY, to Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to a vinyl community in Venice, Italy, to the heart of your very own home. Along the way, learn how much our reliance on vinyl (a.k.a. PVC plastic) could be costing communities, workers, children, our health and the environment. Official Selection Sundance 2002 Film Festival ** Excellence in Cinematography ** Sponsored by the Institute for a Sustainable Future

 

Thursday,May 9 (7-9pm)- CASE STUDIES IN SUSTAINABLE LIVING: Mary and Joseph Routh of Ways of Wisdom have been working on a research project that has focused on describing the sustainable lifestyles of five different families in Northeast Minnesota. They will present an overview of the research project and a summary of their findings at this program. Refreshments will be served. Free. Cina Hall Room 202 at UMD (1123 University Drive, Duluth).

 

Thursday,May 9 (7pm)- Butterflies of the Northland with Larry Weber at Peace UCC (1015 E. 11th St., Duluth) Free. Larry Weber, author of "Butterflies of the North Woods" and "Backyard Almanac" will present an evening of butterflies at the joint meeting of the  Duluth Audubon Society and co-hosted by Hartley Nature Center.Larry's amazing close up photographs of butterflies, moths and skippers will dazzle you as well will the life histories of these beuatiful 'flying flowers.'Call Hartley Nature Center at 724-6735 for more information.

 

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