The effect of improved labor-management relations at a former Motorola factory, the use of red reflectors as an animal deterrent, and a White House report on resource depletion were among the stories this magazine was covering in brief in 1980.
A White House study released in 1980 painted a grim picture on resource depletion, projecting extinction for 20% of the world's species, a 33% increase in deforestation, and a higher incidence of drought and floods throughout the world by 2000.
LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS: Within two years after Motorola, Inc. sold its unprofitable Franklin Park, Illinois television plant to a Japanese firm—which uses virtually the same American work force—the number of sets being turned out jumped from 1,000 to 8,000 per day ... while the defect rate dropped from 60% to 1%. The success is credited to the quality of the relationship between management and personnel.
NATURE KNOWS BEST: The forest industry contends that the use of herbicide sprays will increase future forest growth, allowing harvesters to cut more timber today! However, a 1978 study indicates that killing off young alder trees by spraying actually leads to reduced Douglas fir yields, since the leaves of the red alder provide the evergreens with fertilizer, and its roots support nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
MICKEY MOUSE AGAINST HEALTH FOOD! Walt Disney Educational Media Company has prepared four film strips that supposedly attack the health food industry. For example, one of the strips (called "Is Natural Healthy?") is said to refer to health food "faddists" as being people who are overly concerned about chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and food additives!
ANIMAL DETERRENT: It's been found that pairs of special reflectors—placed 10 to 20 yards apart—frighten animals away from roads (when hit by car lights, the disks give the appearance of red eyes glowing in the dark). The devices have brought about an 80% reduction in collisions with animals on Austrian highways ... and the Animal Welfare League is encouraging their use in this country, to save both animal and human lives.
A POLITICAL MACHINE: Omaha, Nebraska's mayor, Al Veys, decided to "personalize" his campaign with "canned" telephone messages. However, the mayor's computerized machine failed to cut off at 9:00 p.m. as programmed, and all through the night prospective voters were awakened by telephone calls, and the words, "Hello there, I'm Al Veys, and I'd like you to ...."
THE WHITE HOUSE "GLOBAL 2000" RESOURCE DEPLETION STUDY—which has been called everything from "very conservative" to "positively optimistic"—concludes that by the time today's baby graduates from college, he or she will face a world where one fifth of all now-existing species have become extinct, one third of the world's trees will have been cut down, much of today's farmland will be desert, and both floods and droughts will be more common throughout the world!
THE GREAT AMERICAN MONUMENT: By state order, a vault will be constructed to hold toxic wastes illegally dumped by Hooker Chemical Company in Montague, Michigan. The structure will encompass an area larger than 13 football fields, extend 800 feet on each side, rise 50 feet in the air, and go down another 20 feet underground. (Future archaeological excavators may be in for a few unpleasant surprises!)
AN EPIDEMIOLOGIST'S NIGHTMARE: Scientists investigating the potential effects of Agent Orange have found that some Vietnam veterans are heavily contaminated with up to a dozen chemicals, including PCB and DDT. Although the toxic potential for some of these substances is well known, no one has studied their combined effects.
WE'VE SAID SO ALL ALONG , but now a University of Tennessee study has concluded that high-voltage transmission lines do cause damage to trees and vegetation and could present biological hazards to humans living near the towers. (Tobacco and tomato plants, as well as hemlock and pine trees, were found to be particularly sensitive to the high-voltage discharge.)
WHY THEY DON'T "DO IT" IN THE RHODE! The Rhode Island Supreme Court has upheld that state's fornication law, ruling that sex between consenting unmarried adults doesn't fall within the people's right to privacy. In another strange decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a person who aids and abets in a federal crime can be prosecuted, even after the principal suspect has been acquitted of charges.
AN INSULATION DISASTER: After many families became ill as a result of the urea formaldehyde insulation in their homes, the state of Massachusetts ruled that manufacturers must pay to remove the urea foam (which, aside from being toxic, may also be a cancer-causing agent) from any dwelling where a physician has found that the material presents a health hazard. Since removal costs are estimated at approximately $20,000 a house, the ruling could bankrupt some large foam manufacturers ... and thousands of small contractors, as well.
SYNCHRONIZE YOUR WATCHES! Intersonics Corporation has taken out a patent on a woman's wristwatch that gauges "pregnancy potential" by measuring the negative-positive polarity of the currents flowing through the body .... The U.S. Department of Agriculture has worked out a way to make non-instant BROWN RICE THAT COOKS IN 15 MINUTES, and has made the process available to private enterprise without charge .... The public drinking water in 200 New England communities contains up to 30 TIMES THE SAFE LEVEL OF TETRACHLOROETHYLENE (TCE), a result—apparently—of the solvent used to apply a plastic coating to water mains installed since 1968 .... CHAINSAW SAFETY FEATURES—such as guards, chain brakes, and designs that prevent binding and kickback from occurring—have been ordered by the government, and will add about $30 to the retail cost of saws.