Nuclear Disarmament, Environmental Cleanup and Other News Items

This installment of an ongoing feature includes news items surveying public attitudes towards nuclear disarmament and the cost of environmental cleanup.

| May/June 1983

  • news items - nuclear disarmament
    Support for nuclear disarmament spans the globe.
    Illustration by Fotolia/nick8889

  • news items - nuclear disarmament

The following news items were drawn from multiple sources.

Nuclear Disarmament Interviews

Last summer 300 independent video producers interviewed over 3,000 people at public places and events and recorded a 60-second-or-less statement on disarmament from each. The 30-plus hours of these tapes — filmed at locations varying from Chicago to Sao Paulo — have been shown on TV marathons, at the Kennedy Center, and in bus terminals. A half-hour version of the survey (showing a variety of opinions) is available for $40 (covering transfer and stock) from Downtown Community Television.

Paying for Environmental Cleanup

In a survey recently conducted by Continental Group, Inc. (a forest products company whose enterprise is regulated by environmental laws), 60% of the 1,300 respondents indicated that they would pay more for products and services in order to clean up the environment. Furthermore, in that same nationwide study, two-thirds of the 263 business executives polled said that they want the environment protected — even if doing so results in a slowdown in economic growth.

Planetary Night Lights

Two NASA scientists are suggesting that in the future, huge solar mirrors (launched by space shuttles and then locked into orbit around the earth) could actually illuminate our nighttime skies — thereby conserving energy and aiding cities stricken with blackouts. According to the proposal, the light from 16 half-mile-wide mirrors would be controlled by computers. However, the effects of such a system on animals and plants have been questioned, and a study has been recommended.

Most Hazardous Woodworking Tool

The table saw holds the dubious honor of being the most dangerous tool a woodworker is likely to have in his or her shop. Preliminary results of a survey by Fine Woodworking magazine show that 44% of all severe hand injuries reported by the woodcrafters occurred at the table saw. Haste, fatigue, and inexperience were the reasons given for most of the mishaps, but a number of the survey's respondents did admit to being injured while trying to get away with what they knew to be hazardous operating techniques.

Gull Breeding Disrupted

Back in 1977, when two California biologists reported that unusual mating practices had been observed among western seagulls on Santa Barbara Island, the phenomenon was attributed to a shortage of male gulls. Now, it appears the birds' behavior may be one more example of man's fumbling hands upsetting the delicate balance of nature. Reports from the University of California show that the pesticide DDT produces "estrogen-like residues," which have rendered some male western gulls incapable of breeding, in turn causing females to sit on unfertilized eggs.

Computer Controlled Irrigation

To qualify for lower electric rates, some farmers have fitted their irrigation systems with automatic cutoff switches that stop the water flow when a signal indicates a local power demand peak. USDA scientists have now developed a program that will allow a computer to intercept that signal, determine which fields can best go without the water, and then send the cutoff cue accordingly. In addition, the computer automatically receives a report on weather conditions from each field every 15 minutes. Finally, the system includes a manual override just in case a farmer decides to irrigate a crop other than the one the computer picks.


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