This short series of reports includes news on student state park jobs, mesquite-pod flour, a new variety of giant grain rice, blue lobsters and hot shower pollution.
Student State Park Jobs
This year the nonprofit Student Conservation Association will help about 1,000 volunteers find rewarding three- to 12-week jobs in national and state parks, forests, wilderness regions, wildlife refuges, and other conservation areas. SCA's High School Work Group Program places students 16 to 18 years old in supervised groups of six to 12 participants. Each group spends three to five summer weeks in a remote back country environment completing a work project such as shelter or trail construction, or habitat improvement. At least one week is spent on a backpacking hike or some other exploration activity. The organization's Park, Forest and Resource Assistant (PFRA) Program is open to high school graduates 18 years or older who have been out of high school 12 months or more. Positions, which are available throughout the year, usually involve a 12-week assignment in which the volunteer works individually under the supervision of professionals in such agencies as the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Assistants undertake fieldwork in any of many possible areas, including forest and wildlife management, hydrology, anthropology, geology, archaeology, and biology. You'll have to hurry to apply for 1987's high school student program; application deadline is March 15, 1987. Deadlines for PFRA positions vary, depending on the desired assignment and season. Selection is competitive. For more information and an application form, contact SCA, Inc., Charlestown, NH.
A Department of Energy report on the consequences of rising atmospheric C02 levels paints an unsettling picture. C02 concentrations shot up from 300 parts per million in 1900 to 316 ppm in 1958 and 345 ppm in 1985 . . . and they're still rising. The resulting "greenhouse effect" could produce a 2 degrees Fahrenheit to 4 degrees Fahrenheit temperature increase worldwide by the year 2010, and a 7% to 11% increase in precipitation. The influences these changes will have on sea levels, on agriculture, and on other aspects of our planet and society are anybody's guess: Temperatures as warm as those anticipated have not been experienced on Earth for 100,000 years, and it has been at least 1 million years since atmospheric C02 concentrations exceeded 350 ppm.
If you'd like to know more about the trees and forests in your area, or if you're planning a trip and want information on national, state, and local parks and forests along the way, call the American Forestry Association's free Tree Travel service. It'll give you the names and phone numbers of experts in public agencies who can provide maps, guides, directions to recreation sites, and other helpful information.
About one in every 30 million lobsters in the wild is an oddly 'colored mutant of the familiar brown lobster - either tangerine orange, golden yellow, white, or blue. According to National Wildlife magazine, marine biologist Anthony D' Agostino has discovered that some blue lobsters grow twice as fast and reach sexual maturity in half the time of the ordinary kind. So now he's selectively breeding the best of the blue crustaceans he has collected, hoping to produce a true-blue lobster competitive with Maine's plain specimens. In addition to producing more meat faster, the blue lobsters would have more sales appeal in gourmet markets. (Once cooked, though, all lobsters are created equal . . . blue ones turn red, just like their lackluster cousins.)
With the exception of a few who are selling it to backyard barbecuers as a gourmet grilling fuel, mesquite is considered by most southwesterners as nothing more than a prolific pest tree. But now researchers have found that the weed's seed pods, when dried and processed, produce a high-energy, sweet' tasting flour. In taste tests, crackers and tortillas containing mesquite-pod flour were rat, ed better than those made only with conventional flours. One Mexican company is already marketing food products made from the so-called nuisance plant.
Herbicide Cancer Link
A controlled study of Kansas farm worken indicates that exposure to the common agrill cultural herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, more widely known as 2,4-D, significantly increases the risk of at least one form of cancer: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). Compared to the Kansas white male population as a whole, farmers exposed to the herbicide more than 20 days per year had a six-fold higher risk of NHL, and the risk was eight times greater among workers who actually mixed or applied the chemical. "Sin over 42 million pounds of phenoxyacetic acid herbicides were applied to U.S. farmlands in 1976," concluded the report, "the carcinogenic effects suggested by this study and others have important public health implications." No significantly higher risk of NHL was found among farmers who did not herbicides.
A variety of rice that produces grains the size of peanuts has been developed by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. The grains are two and a half times longer than ordinary Japanese rice, and one and a half times wider. The experimental strain, which will probably be used to feed livestock, isn't perfect yet, though: The grains are so heavy the plants topple under the weight before they can be harvested.
A.D.S., an Israeli manufacturer, has come up with a no-nonsense device to help taxi drivers prevent robberies: an electric hot-seat system. The mechanism delivers a mild but unpleasant jolt that the driver can direct to any of the seats if someone threatens attack. The device can also be left on when the driver is gone. Any would-be thief who sits down behind the wheel will discover that crime doesn't pay in the, uh, end.
Take a Cold Shower
Next time you go to take a hot shower, you might want to opt for a cold one or a bath. Scientists have discovered that hot showers can release vaporized chloroform and trichloroethylene (TCE) into the air, where they can be breathed. The two highly volatile, toxic pollutants are found in many municipal water supplies. According to Julian Andelman of the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, hot (107 degrees Fahrenheit) water dispersed through a shower head liberates 50% of the dissolved chloroform and 80% of the dissolved TCE. Emissions from cold showers, on the other hand, are only half as high, as are those from hot baths, reports Andelman. Short showers also help, he says, since each doubling in shower time quadruples the potential dose of gases. To keep the pollutants out of the rest of your home, Andelman suggests, close the bathroom door when you shower or bathe and exhaust the room air outdoors.
Free Energy Advice
We've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: You're never more than a toll.free number away from helpful information and answers to any questions on saving energy and cutting utility bills. Just call the Department of Energy's Conservation and Renew-able Energy Inquiry and Referral Service (CAREIRS).