Declining World Population Growth, Endangered Elephants and Heart Disease in Japan

News briefs on the declining world population growth, Africa's elephants, portable seawater and heart disease in Japan.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
May/June 1978
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The elephants in Africa could be extinct in five years because of the demand for ivory.
Photo by Fotolia/Duncan Noakes


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Learn the latest news on the declining world population growth, endangered elephants and heart disease in Japan. MOTHER provides these bits and pieces of news from around the world in 1978.

Declining World Population Growth

As of 1978, the latest U.N. statistics show that the rate of growth of the earth's population peaked in 1970 at 1.9 percent per year and has since fallen to 1.7 percent per year (meaning that it will now take 41 years for the world's population to double, instead of the 36 years it would have taken in 1970). That's the good news. The bad news is that if the rate of population increase in developing countries holds steady at its present value of 2.1 percent per year, food production will have to double every 25 years just to keep up with present supply levels, which are manifestly inadequate.

Food Is Wasted

One-fifth of all the food produced in the U.S. is lost or wasted each year, a recent General Accounting Office study says. In 1974 alone — GAO maintains — some 137 million tons of food valued at $31 billion were lost through waste, spoilage, etc. Of this amount, 16 percent was lost at harvest, 20 percent at the food distributor, 7 percent during storage, 2 percent in processing, 1 percent during transport . . . and 53 percent at the dinner table.

Folkwear's "Patterns From the Times Past"

If you like old-timey clothing, you'll love this. As with their other garment patterns (there are several), Folkwear's new Prairie Dress and Victorian Shirt — $4.50 and $3.50 respectively — are works of art that must be seen to be appreciated. (We can hardly wait to see what the other designs in Folkwear's new Patterns From Times Past series are going to look like!) For more information, contact your fabric store.

Michigan Sues Chemical Corporation, Farm Bureau Services

The State of Michigan has announced it will sue Velsicol Chemical Corporation and Farm Bureau Services, Inc. for $119 million to cover costs incurred by the state in destroying some 2,000,000 PBB-contaminated farm animals over a five-year period. (In 1973, Velsicol mistakenly shipped PBB's — polybrominated biphenyls, a deadly fire-retardant chemical — to Farm Bureau Services in place of a feed additive. Farm Bureau then sold PBB-tainted feed to farmers.) Velsicol and Farm Bureau have reportedly settled 700 PBB-related claims since 1973, at a cost of nearly $40 million. More than 100 suits now await trial.

Africa's Elephants May be Extinct Within Five Years

That's the latest word from Kenya-based wildlife expert Dr. Ian Douglas-Hamilton, who points out that the elephant population is declining rapidly in all but four African countries (Somalia, Rwanda, Botswana, and South Africa). The reason for the decline: Overhunting spurred by the worldwide demand for ivory. Douglas-Hamilton estimates that in 1976, an amount of ivory equivalent to between 100,000 and 400,000 elephants left the Dark Continent. Only about 1.3 million elephants remain.

A Limit to Motorcycle Noise?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed motorcycle noise standards that would mandate a five-decibel reduction in street-bike engine noise by 1985. (Dirt bikes would be required to achieve a two-to-nine decibel sound reduction over the same period.) With the exception of mopeds — which are already quiet enough to meet the proposed standards — only 5 percent of motorcycles now being made live up to the EPA's 1985 noise specifications.

Wineries, Breweries, and Dairies Can All Go Into the Atomic Bomb Business

An internal memo from Oak Ridge National Laboratory asserts this. Memo author D.E. Ferguson claims that any country wanting to produce its own weapons-grade plutonium can do so within six months' time by converting existing facilities (namely, wineries and/or breweries and/or dairies) into "quick and dirty" reprocessing plants. The U.S. General Accounting Office says it is studying the memo.

Smugglers, Planes Often End Up "Busted"

Planes loaded with as much as $100,000 in illicit drugs are crashing between the U. S. and South America at the rate of eight a month, according to Justice Department figures cited in the January 15, 1978 Aviation Consumer. In one recent two-year period, some 203 plane crashes involving 76 fatalities (and the seizure of more than 30 tons of drugs, mostly marijuana) were tallied.

More World News

20TH Century-Fox Will Reintroduce "STAR WARS" This Summer, with the aid of a massive TV ad campaign. Look for the prime-time blitz to begin July 19.

Despite an average price near year's end of $57,700, the Commerce Department says that no less than 820,000 New Single-Family Homes Were Sold in the U.S. in 1977, the most sold in any year since 1963, the first year that such records were kept.

Allied Water Corporation of San Francisco claims it has developed The First Truly Portable Seawater Desalting Apparatus. The 85-pound, $4,700 machine is powered by electricity and produces 200 gallons of fresh water a day from ocean brine.

"We like the airplane," Major Gen. Charles F. Kuyk Jr. says of the mammoth Lockheed C-5, but "having the wings fall off at 8,000 hours is a problem." Thus, the Air Force will spend 1.3 Billion to Put New Wings on all 77 Existing C-5 Cargo Planes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that in 1978 there will be Only 2.68 Million Farms Left in America , the smallest number since about 1870.

Louisiana residents have been warned not to eat armadillos, since some 50 armadillos with leprosy have been found in the state during the past two years.

Western Eating Habits are Causing More Heart Disease in Japan, according to Dr. Haruo Nakamura of Jikei Medical University, who points out that since the days of the American occupation, the number of Japanese dying from heart-related problems has quadrupled.

Urban Food Production, Pest Control, Gray Water Use, Wind Power, and Dry Toilets are just a few of the many topics discussed in the Farallones Institute's latest Annual Report. Check it out!


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