Bits and Pieces: Appalachian Trail, Wasted Resources, Nuclear Weapons and More

Short tidbits of news on the environment, politics and social issues.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
November/December 1976

Millions of people hike the Appalachian Trail each year.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/ NATALIYA HORA
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Who's giving whom a break today?  According to a report in Nutrition Action, a McDonald's Restaurants franchise owner has moved his entire operation right into the Benton High School cafeteria in Benton, Arkansas . . . and has managed to build a booming business by replacing fruits, vegetables, and "other unpopular foods" with Cokes, shakes, fries, and Big Macs. The owner is quoted as saying that "We've had no complaints from parents except for one mother, who said she wished we wouldn't serve McDonald's food at lunch because that's what she likes to feed her child at dinner."

Folks who raise rabbits, chickens, or other small livestock may be interested in a new 13-page booklet entitled "Accounting for the Homestead". The publication—which explains and illustrates a simple method for keeping accurate cost-versus-production records—is available for $2.00 from the Institute for Tomorrow, 4900 Vulcan Ave., El Paso, Tex. 79904.

The President's Council on Environmental Quality has reported that up to 90 percent of all cancer in humans is caused by environmental factors, many of which are man-made. Despite that fact, however, most of the $800 million doled out every year by the National Cancer Institute is spent in pursuit of a virus . . . the existence of which remains unconfirmed after decades of study. Critics of the so-called "war on cancer"-including Dr. James Watson, a Nobel prizewinning biochemist-charge that "the American public is being sold a nasty bill of goods", and that much of the money involved is used just to "perpetuate pre-existing programs". They're also quick to point out that the cancer cure rate has increased by "only about 1 percent" since the 1950's . . . .

Just exactly how much does "The Wasteful Society" waste? Well, according to the National Association of Recycling Industries' 1975 figures, the story goes something like this: enough aluminum to build 18,700 jumbo jets, enough paper to save 765 million trees, enough steel and iron to build 80 million cars . . . and tens of millions of tons of copper, lead, zinc, textiles, and other perfectly recyclable materials. And yet, municipal officials all across the country are scratching their heads and wondering what to do with all the "trash" that's filling their cities' landfills.

Mahegnay Souamin of Bombay, India has discovered a new—although somewhat questionable—technique fog recycling automobiles. According to the Zodiac News Service, the Indian fakir has managed to eat an entire Chevrolet by dismantling the car, cutting it into tiny pieces, and then swallowing a few tidbits each day.

The Appalachian Trail is being "loved to death" according to Paul C. Pritchard, executive director of the Appalachian Trail Conference. In 1968, approximately 600,000 men and women walked portions of the Maine-to-Georgiapathway, but—this year—the number is expected to jump to over 4 million. At some points, says Pritchard, hikers pass each other every 20 seconds. Meanwhile, other less "famous" trails go virtually unused,

Looking for a way to find and finance a homestead all in one fell swoop? Then you might take a tip from Mr. and Mrs. John Klein who have renovated an old school bus and now operate a kind of "budget travel service" from Cincinnati to San Francisco. The Kleins make one four-day trip every month during the spring and summer and—each time—carry 17 to 20 passengers who pay just $59 apiece for the one-way ride. The cash goes toward the couple's future homestead . . . which they have plenty of time to search for on their way back to Ohio.

"Wasted people" as well as people's waste are recycled as a result of Newark, New Jersey's "Project Resource". The two-year program has put approximately 150 so-called "unemployable" former convicts to work collecting old newspapers (which are then sold to recycling centers). Officials say that—before the project—approximately $430,000 worth of paper was tossed away into city landfills every year. Now, however, much of the "waste" is profitably retrieved . . . and the ex-prisoners gain on-the-job experience which prepares them for other employment.

A poignant reminder of man's foolish and irreversible ways is served up in A Passing In Cincinnati, a booklet which tells the tragic story of "Martha"—the last passenger pigeon on earth—whose death in 1914 marked the end of "the most impressive species of bird that man has known". Published by the Department of the interior as part of its "Bicentennial historical vignettes" series, the book is available for 65¢ from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. Ask for stock number 024-000-00824-0.

19 countries are now capable of producing nuclear weapons, and—according to a report issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research institute—the number will in all likelihood grow to thirty by 1980. The Institute's studies also show that—in 1975 alone—the nations of the world spent $280 billion on weaponry. And half of all the arms sold that year, says SIPRI, went to the Middle East . . . "the most militarized region in the world".


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