IMPORTANT IS THE ENVIRONMENT TO AMERICANS?
March 4, 2012
complaints from neighbors, the Anti-Gravity Relaxation Organization
in Springfield, Mo., has declared that they will try not to hang from
trees where children can see them. You will have to do your own research
to learn about the AGRO Suspension Team, but I will clear up the question
of why this news tidbit appears in a column on ecology and the environment.
trees are obviously an integral part of the environment and gravity
certainly affects ecology (as well as everything else on earth), the
reason I read this enticing morsel on how to unwind is because it was
in a section of USA Today called "Across the USA." A snippet
of news is given for each state, and the section as a whole is an indicator
of what interests Americans. Over a two day period last week, I decided
to see what proportion of "Across the USA" dealt with valid
environmental matters as opposed to stories like the one about people
hanging from trees. Ecology was the clear winner: 24 of the 100 articles
were about environmental issues.
was the only state to have unequivocal environmental news reports on
both days, one about turtle conservation; the other about an endangered
mollusk. The turtle problem is one faced by other southern states with
a lot of turtles that commercial turtle collectors want to capture and
send to China and other Asian countries as food items. People do not
eat the turtles for sustenance. The turtles are high-priced delicacies
that some consumers eat as social status symbols and others because
they believe the turtles have some entirely unproven medicinal value.
A recent investigation uncovered an exporting business that was sending
"about 25 tons of live turtles per week to China and East Asia."
Freshwater turtles of many Asian species are now virtually extinct due
to overharvesting, so commercial collectors have turned to the southeastern
United States, which has more turtles per square mile than anywhere
else in the world. At least for now.
to USA Today, two Alabama herpetologists, Craig Guyer and Jim Godwin,
have provided officials with the documentation needed to establish state
regulations that will protect Alabama's turtles from unrestricted commercial
collecting. I know both Craig and Jim and have great respect for their
knowledge of Alabama's natural resources. The Alabama Conservation Advisory
Board better listen to what they say and put a stop to open-ended turtle
removal from the state. Alabama is already behind Florida, Georgia,
and the Carolinas in its turtle protection process. No turtles on earth
today can withstand the kind of commercial harvesting in progress in
Alabama story involved the snuffbox mussel, which the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service has ruled will officially become an endangered species
this month. The freshwater mussel found in northern Alabama no longer
exists in more than half the streams it once inhabited. The species
serves as a disquieting barometer of stream and river degradation.
USA Today environmental news flashes last week included one from Virginia
on expanding facilities at a National Wildlife Refuge and one from Maine
about the promotion of National Invasive Species week by state agencies.
The introduced, clam-eating green crab is a big problem in coastal Maine.
In Alaska, volunteers with the Alaska Moose Federation are placing hay
bales at feeding stations. The well-meaning public safety effort is
designed to keep moose away from open areas alongside highways where
they tend to seek food during heavy snows. That attraction to highways
has resulted in hundreds of moose-automobile accidents, which is bad
for the moose and for cars, trucks, and drivers. I hope the AMF realizes
that dietary supplements will presumably lead to even more moose next
year. They'd better have plenty of hay ready for the program in 2013.
in USA Today are an indicator of public interest (a not unreasonable
assumption), based on my sampling of stories in "Across the USA,"
the environment is quite important to Americans. In fact, it is apparently
more important than gravity.
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