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USA: Stormy Weather

Environmental News Network
February 16th, 2001

Increasing scientific evidence shows climate change has already started and may be impacting some people more than others. Although scientists predict we will feel the largest impact of global warming in about three decades, extreme weather patterns such as hurricanes, floods and cyclones have increased in recent years. ''The vast majority of the world's climate scientists say the symptoms of climate change are the increased severity of storms, floods, drought and the spread of disease,'' says Josh Karliner, author of The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in an Age of Globalization. Karliner says the people who will be most impacted by climate change are the poor. ''Whether it be Hurricane Mitch in Honduras or the floods that kill thousands of people in Bangladesh or the cyclones in India or Hurricane Floyd that happened a couple of years ago in the United States,'' he says, ''each of these on their own seems like a separate, unconnected event, but when you start putting them together and you start to look at what the scientists are predicting climate change will entail, we're starting to see a pattern that says it's happening.'' Karliner warns that the problem will continue to grow unless we adopt alternatives to the mass amounts of fossil fuels that we consume.

Rubber performance As it ages, rubber degrades due to a variety of factors. including temperature, chemical environment and type of rubber. This degradation results in a loss of elasticity, resistance to abrasion and flexibility, which, in turn, leads to the failure of the rubber product. Such failures can be costly and dangerous. Now, researchers at CSIRO and Monash University have developed a method for evaluating the performance condition of rubber. Nuclear magnetic resonance techniques, which involve placing rubber samples into a magnetic field, are used to determine the life span of rubber products. Eventually a hand-held scanner could be developed, eliminating the need to take samples. This technology will allow consumers to get full life out of rubber products while giving them ample time to replace the products before they fail. The new method should help improve safety and efficiency in many industries.

Collaborative effort A grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts has been used to establish a new conservation organization. The Pew Wilderness Center will collaborate with local, state and national environmental groups to protect publicly-owned parks and wilderness from development that threatens wildlife and habitat. The center is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has offices in Seattle, Washington; Jackson, Wyoming, and Boulder, Colorado. The mission of the Pew Wilderness Center is to engage the public in wilderness issues through education, research and collaboration with federal and state agencies and environmental organizations. The center will publish an annual report titled "The State of the Wild." The center will also work with citizen groups to protect public lands through the National Wilderness Preservation System.

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