This short series of reports includes news on a heated bird perch for an injured eagle, tree climbing techniques, pesticide rain, a snow-removal system and luring insects into traps.
Bald eagles keep their feet warm in cold weather by pumping their wings—just as chilled people sometimes run in place to circulate blood to their extremities. So last winter, when veterinarians had to amputate the right wing of a critically injured bald eagle, they feared that when the bird recovered and was placed in a cage outdoors its feet might freeze. Fortunately, students from Colorado Mountain College's solar retrofit program came to the rescue: They equipped the bird's cage with an air-heating solar col-lector and a small earth-thermal storage system. The system's return air duct, a four-inch-diameter PVC pipe that rises from the earth, also serves as a solar-heated perch-a low-temperature foot warmer that keeps the eagle's talons comfortably toasty.
Climbing trees may become a bona fide sport, thanks to Peter Jenkins, a professional tree trimmer in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the years, so many people asked Jenkins to teach them his tree-climbing techniques—which approximate those of rock climbing—that he decided to form an organization to promote the pastime. Today, Tree Climbers International has more than 200 members. The organization, which is open to anyone, holds training sessions in Atlanta and conducts field trips to champion trees in various parts of the country. Jenkins is quick to point out that because climbers use only ropes, no damage is done to the trees. For more information on the group, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Tree Climbers International, Atlanta, GA.
Environmentalists have long been concerned over the pesticides and fertilizers that rain-water washes from fields into lakes and streams. Now, however, researchers have discovered that part of the problem may be the rain itself. In a study of rainwater in Indiana and Ohio during spring and summer, scientists found traces of 11 herbicides and insecticides in samples of precipitation. The chemicals were found in relatively low levels and only in rain that fell during the six weeks immediately after farmers reported applying the pesticides (the substances break down relatively quickly). Still, their presence indicates yet another contributing form of in-direct or "nonpoint" chemical pollution.
An experimental snow-removal system in Toyama, Japan, uses bacteria in place of plows to keep pavement clear. Microbes are added to a mixture of sawdust and rice bran and chaff, which ferments and gives off heat—enough to warm water to a temperature of 69 degrees Celsius. The heated water is then circulated through a series of pipes installed beneath the pavement, melting any snow on the roadway. The system is expensive to install, say officials, but over the long run its low operation and maintenance costs make it more economical than other snow-removal methods.
Government documents reveal more than 23,000 mishaps at nuclear power plants since the Three Mile Island incident in 1979, says a report from Public Citizen's Critical MI Energy Project. There were at least 3,000 mishaps at the nation's 100 operating reactors in 1986 alone—including an accident the Surry-2 reactor in Gravel Neck, Virgin that killed four workers . . . and an incident described as "the worst nuclear waste storage accident ever" at the Hatch nuclear react in Georgia, where 141,000 gallons of radioactive water leaked out of the system. Meanwhile, scientists in Sweden and We Germany have predicted that, worldwide there is a 70% likelihood of another Chernobyl-scale accident within five and a half years . . . and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the chance of a major nuclear accident occurring in this count within the next 20 years is as high as 45%. "We must reevaluate our national energy policies and begin the orderly phaseout of nuclear power," says Ken Bossong, Director of the Critical Mass Energy Project. Copies of CMEP's study, which is based on hundreds of government documents, are available for $1.50 each from Public Citizen, Washington, DC.
Luring insect pests into traps by baiting them with natural attractants known as pheromones—in particular, sex pheromones—is a relatively new development in agricultural pest control. But scientists recently discovered that the ploy is nothing new to the bola spider (Mastophora bisaccata). Researchers report they've found that bola spide produce and release three compounds that are identical to the make-up of some female moth sex pheromones. "As the moth is drawn to what it thinks is the flame of passion," says a report in Science News, "the spider flicks its sticky, bolas-like webbing . . . and reels in the moth for a decidedly nonsexual meal."
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