Student State Park Jobs, Blue Lobsters and Hot Shower Pollution

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ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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.

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.

C02Woes

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.

Tree Travel

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.

Lobster Blues

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.)

Mesquite Dough

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.

Giant Rice

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.

Shocking Solution

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).

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368