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Environmental journalism pro Andrew Revkin on life after the New York Times, and author Joyce Egginton recounts the Michigan PBB crisis 30 years later

The MSU Knight Center for Environmental Journalism Magazine Spring 2010


Dwindling market limits recycling opportunities for colored glass PAGE 18

PLIGHT OF THE PENAN Deforestation forces a Malaysian indigenous tribe to abandon ancestral lands PAGE 26 BEHIND A PROMISING TECHNOLOGY Consumer products are laden with nanoparticles PAGE 28

Explore the wonders of our world. Nature All Things Considered NOVA Morning Edition National Geographic Documentary Series and Specials and so much more!

For schedule infomation, please visit

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cover dwindling market limits recycling opportunities for colored glass

Glass 18 Green While 23 percent of all glass is recycled, green glass — often used to make wine bottles — frequently winds up in landfills. That’s because dwindling markets limit recycling opportunities in some states.

inside featured sections and stories CORNERING A PRO


Walls 8 Dissolving Environmental journalist Andrew Revkin on

!" The MSU Knight Center for Environmental Journalism Magazine Spring 2010

Vol. 9, No. 1 Copyright 2010

expanding the palette of environmental media

GREAT LAKES Woes 10 Demolition Destruction of former psychiatric hospital raises

Antarctic Wanderlust

EJ (ISSN 1538-5361) provides environmental news and commentary locally, nationally and internationally.

southernmost continent

EJ is produced by Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

22 A booming tourism industry may harm Earth’s And Civil War In Nepal 24 Wildlife Winning Essay of the Ambrose Pattullo Fund for

environmental concerns

Environmental Issues Graduate Fellowship

Jim Detjen executive editor David Poulson editorial adviser Rachael Gleason editor Thomas Hang design editor


Barb Miller editorial assistant


Nearshore Navigators o travel from its source to where it’ll be eaten. Food miles are a relative

20% of the country’s total fossil fuel use goes into the food system, from production to consumption. 12 New technology gives researchers a glimpseRoughly Eating locally could possibly decrease greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the distance food travels. of the of the Penan 26 Plight critical nearshore area of the Great Lakes Deforestation forces a Malaysian indigenous tribe to

d to transport produce and the amount of GHGs emitted during travel.*


traveled for food grown locally and food grown conventionally.

Cold Ones

Foods that are grown conventionally travel significantly farther to reach the market.

14 Great Lakes resources brew great beer 1,726



LOCAL VS CONVENTIONAL WHAT YOU CAN DO abandon ancestral lands" Spread the word, share what you The more steps it takes for food to get to the consumer, the more greenhouse gases are produced and released into the atmosphere.

know with friends and family

" Shop at a local farmers market " Grow your own vegetable garden

CONVENTIONAL PROCESS (Shopping at Supermarket)

1,426 1,811 1,823 1,759


Processing Plant


grown Food Miles Poisoning Michigan 1,815

16 An author revisits the country’s most widespread LOCAL PROCESS






chemical contamination 30 years later

essentially the same locally and conventionally.

Source: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture


" Limit the amount of meat you eat. Meats use a tremendous amount of energy to produce and process " The less packaging you see, the less energy went into producing the food


stance (Miles)


" Consolidate grocery trips by walking, carpooling, biking or taking public transportation.


Locally grown Food Miles

a Promising Technology 28 Behind Consumer products are laden with nanoparticles, but

Local Public Market

The Consumer

scientists are uncertain of their risks


LIFESTYLE an Outdoors-Woman 30 Becoming Outreach program fosters a love of the outdoors in women


Local Eats 20 STRAWBERRIES : 1,830 MILESlowdown The local food system


Creative Environment 32 SPINACH : 1,815 MILESice produce powerful GARLIC : palette 1,811 MILES Art, science,


CREATES COMMUNITIES also departments

Not only do they provide fresh local produce and potentially reduce carbon emissions, farmers markets also have economic benefits. The creation of local farmer markets stimulates the growth of developing urban areas, generates profit and creates jobs.

5 From the director: Learning about food, environment and culture 4 From the editor: The best stories come from experiences in nature



Local farmers markets help to improve land values, revive neighborhoods, and breathe life into underused areas.

People share knowledge, have conversations and improve relationships with local farmers.

6 EJ news: Latest updates from the Knight Center and its alumni

By eating locally, people get tasty, healthy produce while local farmers make profit. Environmental impact is reduced and there’s a restored value in our local communities.


39 Environmental PUBLIC SUPPORT ! numbers you

should know.

Buying produce at farm markets keeps dollars local: Your money goes to people in your community instead of out-of-state agriculture corporations.

Contributors: Sara Coefield, Katie Dalebout, Kimberly Hirai, Andrew Norman, Elisabeth Pernicone, Alice Rossignol, Azira Shaharuddin, Asra Shaik, Hyonhee Shin, Kara Stevens, Carol Thompson, Haley Walker and Yang Zhang Contact information: EJ Magazine 382 Communication Arts Building Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1212 Ph: (517) 432-5155 Fax: (517) 355-7710 E-mail: Web: Subscriptions: E-mail or call us to receive upcoming issues of EJ. Supporters: The Environmental Journalism Program thanks the following organizations for their support: John S. and James L. Knight Foundation MSU College of Comm. Arts and Sciences MSU School of Journalism Advertising: Call (517) 432-1415 for rates. Submissions: To contribute an article, photos or artwork, contact us at the address above. Printed on 25 percent post-consumer waste, 50 percent recycled paper.

1910 - 2010



— Jeff Gillies

Masters Student in Environmental Journalism, Michigan State

Cover photo by David Yeh



Jobs are created, local support helps to keep farmers in business and profits are kept in the community.

Local farms provide a variety of nutritious foods that are tasty, affordable and accessible.

Local Markets help to build community (they’re amazingly social places) and from a health perspective, encourage people to eat fresh, whole foods.

— Dr. Marty Heller

Sustainability Research Fellow, University of Michigan

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Outdoor Living The best stories come from experiences in nature

Rachael Gleason is a first-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at Michigan State University. This is her first year as editor of EJ Magazine.

It wasn’t a typical construction site. But then again, it wasn’t going to be a typical house. I stood in a sea of deformed wooden boards and studied the structure. It seemed to tilt slightly to the left. There wasn’t a flaw in the construction — just the materials. And Dan Phillips likes it that way. The Huntsville, Texas resident builds affordable housing for lowincome families in the area. He uses recycled materials and incorporates sustainable features like rainwater harvesting systems. Bottle caps, bones, egg shells — nothing is off limits to Phillips. A dozen of his houses are scattered throughout Huntsville. Although aesthetically unique, you’d likely miss them if you weren’t paying attention. I spotted Phillips building his first “Bone House” during a stroll nearly two years ago.

The dwelling looks like a tree house — plenty of protection from the elements, yet still a part of nature. He even incorporated recycled cattle bones in some of the design elements. I wrote a feature story on the dance professor-turned-atypical architect for the local newspaper. The experience taught me to get out of the office. Sure, you can find interesting ideas staring at a computer screen. But the best stories come from venturing out of the newsroom with a curious mind. The same goes for life: Sometimes you have to leave the comforts of civilization to learn the most important life lessons.

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I’ve always had a passion for learning about the environment, so I hitched a ride last year with a traveling history and writing class after graduating from Sam Houston State University. We started in Huntsville and explored at least a dozen western states. We spent most of the three-week trip camping in national parks, reading books about the places we visited, writing in travel journals and hiking. The journey wasn’t about sightseeing — it was about participating in nature. Here are some important lessons I learned along the way: ! The world is a scary place sometimes. I nearly fell off a cliff while hiking to Delicate Arch at Arches National Monument. My hiking partner and I misread the trail markers and ended up climbing through the arch instead of approaching it safely from the other side. The experience gave me a much-needed reality check. We tend to think of nature as well-maintained city park. It’s not, and we are still very much at its mercy. ! Plan for the unexpected. It rains in the desert — trust me. We almost lost one of the vans to a ditch during a downpour at Chaco Canyon, N.M. Keeping a vehicle

from losing traction in the mud isn’t easy — we had to run alongside the van to ensure its course. Keep an umbrella and extra pair of boots on hand. You never know when you’ll need them. ! Knowledge is power. I explored many environments on the west, but the visit to the Battle of Little Bighorn National Monument in Montana stands out. Instead of bringing us directly to Gen. Custer’s grave, our environmental history professor told us to look around. The area was covered with large, round hills. He explained how the Indians had the upper hand in battle because of their intimate understanding of the landscape. Getting to know your local environment may not give you battlefield advantage these days, but the awareness may enrich your life. The United States Environmental Protection Agency lets you search a wide variety of environmental information by location on its Web site. Local conservation clubs are also a good resource. But always, the best way to learn about nature is to be in it. !

EPA — Where you live

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The Power of Film Learning about food, environment and culture

Jim Detjen is a professor and director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University.

It was a perfect day for a film festival — cold, overcast and snowy. We were sheltered from the wintry weather inside the theatre of Snyder Hall at Michigan State University. Several dozen students and faculty had just finished watching “Eat Drink Man Woman,” a 1994 film by Taiwanese-American film director Ang Lee. It’s a film that explores the relationships between family members as they cope with tensions between career ambitions and family traditions. An important theme is the role food plays in Chinese culture. During a discussion following the film, Jinsha Li, a sophomore biosystems engineering major from China, teared up as she talked about the movie. “I am an only child and it’s very important for my father, mother and me to eat meals together. It’s only during meal times that we really talk to each other. “This movie made me realize how much I miss my parents and having meals together with them. Food is very important in Chinese culture,” she said. The emotional discussion following the movie showed how powerful a medium film is in sparking discussions and stirring emotions. Films resonate with viewers in a special way by weaving together moving images, stories and music. This early film by Lee, who has made such celebrated films as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2001) and “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), was one of five films shown at the “Food Film Festival” on March 20. The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism worked together with Laurie Thorpe, Wynne Wright, Laura DeLind and others to organize this event. Haley Walker, president of the Environmental Journalism Association, played a critical role in making this event a reality. We showed five films that explored the connections between food, sustainability, culture and

the environment. A variety of organizations, including the Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project and the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Agriculture, supported this effort. This festival marks our center’s second campus-wide film festival. In November 2008 we worked with Susan Woods, Kirsten Khire and others in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences to organize “Green on the Big Screen,” a four-day environmental film festival that showcased more than 30 films. Videos and documentaries are powerful media for informing people about environmental issues and moving them to action. But they are also expensive — especially in an era, which requires high definition cameras and other advanced technologies. We continue to seek grants and donations to support this work. If you’d like to see more documentaries and more film festivals and are willing to support them. please contact me at Detjen@msu. edu.

Here’s what the Knight Center has been involved with in recent months: ! Video instructor Lou D’Aria and his students are working on their fourth documentary, which will be broadcast on WKAR-TV and other Public Broadcasting Service stations later this year. This documentary,“Bad Company,” details the impact that Asian carp and other invasive species are having on the Great Lakes. Associate director Dave Poulson and dedicated environmental journalism students continue to do innovative experiments at Great Lakes Echo, the daily, multi-media environmental news service. If you haven’t seen this yet, go to and subscribe for free. ! In December we published our first calendar, which showcased nature photos taken by students and faculty at the Knight Center. It included quotes about nature and lists of environmentally significant dates. Sales of this calendar were used to support the Environmental Journalism Association, the only student group of its kind in the nation. ! On Feb. 23 we held our fifth workshop for Detroit high school journalism students at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History. This workshop, which has won national awards for educational innovation, has now trained more than 1,000 high school journalists.


! Nine entries from EJ Magazine won awards at the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional journalism contest in Cleveland on April 9. Congratulations go to Rachael Gleason, Andrew Norman, Sarah Coefield, Haley Walker, Alice Rossignol, Elisabeth Pernicone, Emma Ogutu, Yang Zhang and the EJ staff. FREE! ALL INVITED!

FOOD FILM FESTIVAL A day of films about food & food production Saturday, March 20, 2010 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM Snyder Hall Theatre (Room CB20 in the basement level)

Among the films that will be shown are: The Greenhorns Eating Alaska Asparagus Food, Inc Eat Drink Man Woman

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! The Knight Center was one of the first units on campus to receive “green certification” from the Office of Campus Sustainability earlier this year. This means our students, faculty and staff have taken concrete actions to reduce their environmental footprint through increased recycling, reduced energy usage and other efforts. The Knight Center will be recognized by President Lou Anna Simon for this achievement. !

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The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism’s Detroit High School workshop focused on urban agriculture and garbage this year. The topic titles included: Urban Farming = Free Food; Cosmetics and Your Health — The Price of Beauty; and Trash Talk — What You Need to Know About Garbage. Among the speakers were Detroit’s WXYZ anchor and health reporter Carolyn Clifford, Detroit’s WDIV meteorologist Andrew Humphrey and Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley. The Knight Center has taught high school journalists how to cover health, science and the environment for five years. About 150 students from 14 high schools attend daylong workshops to learn the ins and outs of interviewing, reporting and writing from top reporters, health experts and scientists. A highlight from this year’s workshop came during a press conference with Detroit’s emergency and financial manager Robert Bobb, who made news by

NAMES IN THE NEWS JIM DETJEN, Knight Center director, will teach a new Study Abroad course for incoming MSU freshman called “Rebels, Writers & Rugby: The Role of the Irish News Media,” in Cork and Dublin, Ireland from July 26 to Aug. 5, 2010. He also will direct a workshop on covering climate change for Tanzanian and Kenyan journalists in Tanzania from July 7 to 10, 2010. He served as a judge for the national John Oakes environmental journalism award at Columbia University and the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Phil Reed contest for best environmental reporting in the Southeast. He can be reached at MADISON HALL, M.A.‘07, is working on a Ph.D in the fisheries and wildlife department at Michigan State University. Her dissertation is focusing on the impact of abrupt climate change.She continues her part-time business of using a chainsaw to carve bears from large logs. She can be reached at

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announcing the privatization of the city’s bus system. “Bobb was cool in that he let the high school journalism students get the chance to ask the first couple questions before the professional journalists could jump in,” says Knight Center Director Jim Detjen. When the lectures ended, the students returned to their schools and wrote articles about their experiences for their high school newspapers. These articles were entered into a contest judged by MSU faculty. In a tough market for quality journalism, Detjen says the program is more important than ever. “The idea of this is to expose high school journalists in Detroit to the fact that you can still have a career as a health or environmental or weather journalist, or any one of these areas,” Detjen says. —Shawntina Phillips


The Knight Center has $1,000 up for grabs for innovative journalists who alter

RYAN HOLEM, B.A.‘00, works for ENTRIX, an environmental consulting firm in Okemos, Mich. After graduating from MSU, he obtained a master’s degree in toxicology from the University of Georgia. He has written articles for Michigan Outdoor News and Michigan Trout and writes a blog, Ecosportsmen. He can be reached at rholem@ . GUO KAI (KAI KAI), M.A.‘06, is an editorial writer at the 21st Century Business Herald in Guangzhou, China. This newspaper is among the major economic and business newspapers in China. She married in 2009 and her husband teaches international relations at Jinan University in Gungzhou. She can be reached at or or kkgrant@gmail. com . JESSICA KNOBLAUCH, M.A. ’08, works as the communications assistant at Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm in Oakland, Calif. She can be reached at

the way environmental news is communicated. Deadline for EJ Innovator of the Year Award proposals is April 30, 2010. In 1,000 words, the applicant must describe his or her idea for “new technology, journalism techniques or other innovative efforts that advance environmental reporting and the public understanding of environmental issues,” according to the center’s Web site. The contest winner will not only be awarded $1,000 and a fancy plaque, but he or she will also win an all-expensespaid trip to Michigan State University to be a speaker at the School of Journalism’s 100th anniversary celebration. “We honestly don’t know what to expect,” Detjen says. “But environmental journalism needs new innovations so we said ‘lets try this and see what innovations we get.’” The idea for the competition stemmed from a Knight Foundation contest, which looks for innovative journalism proposals and can award up to $5 million to journal-

LAURENE MAINGUY, M.A. ’09, has been working in Vietnam since November 2009 for Jet Set Zero, a travel blog. She is traveling around the world on a minimal budget and reporting about her adventures at .“Our plan is to stay at least three months in each country and work locally to sustain ourselves,” she reports. “In the meantime, we film and photograph what we do. We write posts, edit videos and post photos on our Web site.”You can reach Laurene at or . ALEX NIXON, M.A. ’04, was named the editor of the Kalamazoo Gazette’s Sunday business section in December. In 2009 he won awards from the Michigan AP Editorial Association and the Michigan Press Association for a series of articles he co-wrote with fellow Gazette reporter Jane Parikh on mortgage fraud. He also continues to write his blog, Follow the Money; contributes to KalamaBrew, the Gazette’s blog on Michigan craft brewing; and is working to



Andrew Revkin on expanding the palette of environmental journalism STORY BY KATIE DALEBOUT Photo courtesy Andy Revkin

Andrew Revkin witnesses a climate change demonstration while covering the Copehagen Climate Conference in 2009.


ormer New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin is grappling with a story on cities’ vulnerability to natural disasters when EJ reaches him by phone in his New York office. It’s been three weeks since Haiti endured a devastating earthquake, and though he’s no longer a staff reporter for the Times, Revkin still occasionally writes for the paper’s print edition. “Disasters will happen — it’s not even if, it’s when,” he says. But the environmental journalism veteran faces a difficult task. “I’m hoping I can engage people more meaningfully in understanding that these

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kind of things are not only an ‘Oh, dear, those poor people,’ but a mirror as well,” he says. “It’s what I’m trying to do with this piece. How much of the story actually gets into the paper, that’s the question.” Revkin made a name for himself covering environmental calamities, like Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami, and top climate change policy meetings. He’s also written a handful of books on the Amazon rainforest and global warming. Last year, Revkin joined the ranks of many top newspaper reporters around the country when he took a buyout from the Times. He accepted a senior fellow position at Pace University’s Pace Academy for

Applied Environmental Studies. “Journalism is shrinking as part of an overall landscape of how people communicate, which is unfortunate, but it is just reality,” he says. Revkin continues to write frequently for Dot Earth, a blog that lets him explore climate change, sustainability and natural resources issues. “Being a newspaper reporter was not the end, big dream for me, I like to communicate effectively about things that matter and if that spills over to other realms besides journalism I’m perfectly willing to go into those other arenas,” he says. But as his career path veers into aca-

EJ Magazine: How did you come to cover the environment for the New York Times? Andrew Revkin: “I had been writing about environmental issues in magazines for much of the ’80s and ’90s and then a slot opened up at the Times. There was an opportunity to create a regional environmental beat at the paper. I had a book that was not going in the direction I wanted, so I took the job in 1995. “I started out doing regional coverage of the Valley, New York City water supply and PCBs in the river.” EJ: Did you enjoy your time at the paper? what did you learn there? AR: “Newspaper reporting is great and terrible at the same time — it’s just cycles of intensity. It was a great way to sort of explore the issues that I really care about: climate and biodiversity. I got to go to the Arctic three times and got to have a front row seat at a lot of meetings on climate change and policy. It was kind of a nightmare and a dream at the same time.” EJ: Why did you leave? AR: “It was a combination of factors — I explain some in a post on Dot Earth. I just felt the need to sort of expand my palette into more academia, particularly focusing on the Web as a learning tool. “Ihe paper was trying to get 100 people to leave the staff by offering buyouts, little packages to get people to leave and I took one, so it all kind of coincided.”

EJ: You’re currently working on two books: one aimed at middle school students and the other at adults. How did you pick the topics? AR: “I have done one book already aimed at 12-to-15 year olds called, The North Pole

EJ: What are effective ways for journalists to use the Web to interest a broad audience and educate them on environmental and science issues? AR: “The web gives you the opportunity to use different tools, so you’re not just using text. You can do expository writing. “The blog is a way to engage people that the story will not. I do a ton of video when it makes sense, and it doesn’t always make sense. But when it does, it’s another great way to reach people who may not otherwise spend time to read a print article. “The web gives you more of a palette of methods for communicating. I grew up in magazine journalism mainly, where you’re dealing with imagery as well as print. And I think that taught me the value early on of mixed media. And on the Web, there is even more choice. “I was kind of a Twitter skeptic initially, but I use it a lot now as a way to send out little brief notes. I use it sometimes as just a ‘Hey, look at this, this is interesting.’ But usually I try to synthesize two or three tiny little thoughts in 140 characters.” EJ: How do you interest distracted readers when using less traditional news outlets like Twitter and blogs? AR: “It’s hard. … I think that’s the danger with the Web — it’s so compartmentalized that you miss the mainstream. It’s hard to find the average reader because they’re not looking for you. “There isn’t a front page that’s similar to the reader reading a printed page where they might glance at something in a corner that they might not otherwise think about. I don’t think anyone’s answered that question yet. I just don’t know if there is a good answer, but I guess the answer is a lot of experimentation.” EJ: How is the Internet and dwindling newspaper revenue changing environmental journalism as it moves into other outlets? How have you seen it evolve in

your career? AR: “It is a work in progress — there are so many changes. There was a rhythm to the day, just 10-15 years ago. A story had a beginning, middle and an end. You wrote it, it got published, you moved on the next thing. And now the news cycle has gone away and it’s just one big flow. “Even just today, on Twitter and on blogs, there has been an online debate between George Packer, a New Yorker writer, and Nick Bilton, one of The New York Times’ future media guys, about the importance of synthesis and being reflective versus the importance of being fresh, quick and agile, and using Twitter and that kind of thing. I think they’re both right in the sense that you have to have both somehow. We used to be able to take the audience for granted, and that’s not there anymore at all. “The line between opinion and fact is murkier, and the line between journalism and just simple communication is getting murkier. Even at the Times, I’ve written on the blog about what we call ‘living documents.’ I recently rewrote our global warming topics page — not a story — basically a Wikipedia entry on climate. “The idea is that it becomes dynamic and evolving and it’s the place you go to if you want get the latest thinking on global warming. Reporters will increasingly find themselves doing things like updating a topics page more than just sitting back reporting a feature story.” EJ: How are journalists responsible for educating and informing the public on environmental issues? AR: “There is still an ongoing debate in the newsroom. I have colleagues who swear up and down that the task of the newspaper is not to educate the public: We inform and step back. The education part is another artificial wall that is crumbling. The Times is pushing more into the education arena, specifically, where our content and even newsroom work hours are devoted more to continued on page 35


EJ: What are your current projects? AR: “For years, I’ve been trying to organize a book about the same issues I explore on Dot Earth and that will get into higher gear. At Pace University, I’m going to be a senior fellow for environmental understanding and the goal there is that I’m going to keep writing. I’ll be blogging either at the Times or elsewhere, and writing print pieces either at the Times or elsewhere, and doing research.”

was Here. I think this related to the limits of newspaper reporting. I think I need to try and reach out to all ages in dealing with issues that affect every generation, climate being the ultimate multigenerational issue. So when I had a chance to go to the North Pole and write about climate change and its impacts on the Arctic, I just thought it made a lot of sense to write something for younger people as well. “My other book — if I ever get to it, it’s way overdue — is on disasters. But it’s not just sort of a ‘gee wiz’ book, it’s on resilience on how we live in a world heading toward 9 billion people, many living in marginal situations exposed to environmental risk.”



Visit his blog: Follow him on Twitter:

Uncle Wade on Myspace:

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demia, he hopes to dissolve the walls between education and journalism. Revkin will also spend time performing with his band Uncle Wade and updating his nearly 7,000 Twitter followers. While putting the last touches on his story about vulnerable cities in early February, Revkin gives EJ Magazine the scoop about his career at the New York Times and about the future of journalism.



Destruction of former psychiatric hospital raises environmental concerns STORY BY ELISABETH PERNICONE Photo courtesy Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital



Asbestos is present in building walls, flooring, and insulation. A building is shown with paint crumpling from the walls.


thriving psychiatric hospital once stood on a 414-acre property in southeast Michigan. The facility housed thousands of long-term patients who took advantage of the site’s many amenities, including a movie theater, basketball court and swimming pool. Now the desolate property is littered with “Do Not Trespass” signs. Asbestos fills the floors and crumpling walls of the remaining structures. Lead, arsenic, and other contaminants poison the soil. Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital closed in 2003 as patient numbers dwindled. Subsequent residential development projects fell through because of the increased traffic that would result, leaving the property vacant. While residential housing is not in the foreseen future, it is not ruled out of the question. Now the city plans to transform the area into a nature preserve with a section allocated

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for commercial businesses, but the threat to humans and the environment is still unknown. Demolition of the remaining structures of the hospital may not be done for several years. But many nearby residents have safety concerns. Stephen Danna lives a block away from the former hospital. As he stands by his mailbox, the main building is in clear sight, no more than 500 feet away. “We would be affected the most compared to anyone else,” Danna says. “How is it going to be managed? What will the environmental effects be? We are concerned.”


Northville isn’t the only hospital to scar its surroundings. More than 450,000 contaminated hospitals and industrial properties exist nationwide, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Called

“brownfield” properties, these sites have real or perceived environmental contamination, which deters companies from redeveloping. The agency is currently cleaning up 7,117 sites in the Great Lakes region. Most of the contaminants at Northville are below levels of concern, according to the EPA. But levels of asbestos, arsenic, and benzopyrene would be potentially dangerous if the site was to become a residential area and may pose risks for frequent visitors if the site is turned into a nature preserve, according to an analysis of reports obtained from Northville Township. A confidentiality agreement between Northville Township and McDowell & Associates, the company that tested contaminants on the property, prevented EJ from accessing some documents. The agreement was signed so residents would not misinterpret data, according to McDowell & Associates.

About 15 structures and underground tunnels on the Northville property contain hazardous levels of asbestos. A naturally occurring, heat-resistant mineral with long, thin fibers, asbestos was used heavily in the U.S. after World War II to insulate buildings. The EPA banned most asbestos products in 1989. If it’s not done correctly, its removal could threaten residents near the Northville facility, says Dan Somernaur, business manager of the Asbestos Workers of Regional Local 207, which encompasses workers in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina. He trains and certifies workers to safely remove hazardous materials. “As high as 30 percent of people don’t follow proper protocol, which can send asbestos fibers airborne,” he says. The fibers can travel a quarter-mile away if the wind is blowing. Fibers are 1,200 times thinner than a human hair and cannot be metabolized, according to David Ropeik, author of a book that assesses different risks in the world today. Inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma (a rare tumor in the lining of the lungs) and asbestosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asbestosis is a lung disease that makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the blood. It can take years to feel the effects. “I can put you in a room full of asbestos fibers so you cannot see the other side of the room. You will not get sick today, but you might 15-20 years later,” Somernaur says. Workers must wear respirators and full body suits that are disposed of daily to protect their health and family members at home, says Kurt Thelen, an industrial hygienist for the Michigan Department of Energy Labor and Economic Growth. Government-run asbestos-removal projects often produce unsafe conditions for workers, he says. “There are a multitude of things that can be done wrong,” Thelen says.


High concentrations of arsenic and benzopyrene exist at the 1-mile long railroad tracks on the Northville site, according to 2009 reports conducted by McDowell and Associates. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, often used for commercial applications such as preserving wood. Benzopyrene is an organic compound that may have come from preservative treated lumber for railroad ties and incomplete combustion of coal or diesel fuel, says

Arsenic levels unfit for residential living exist on the site. Doug McDowell, environmental manager of McDowell Associates. Exposure to benzopyrene has caused lung, skin and stomach cancers in laboratory animals, according to the Health Protection Agency, a UK publichealth organization. Though levels of both of these substances are above safe limits on the Northville site, there is no hazard to a one-time visitor, especially since the property will not be developed into residential land, McDowell says. “We are not near any level where any immediate contact would be a threat,” he says. “It is only a threat to skin contact or ingestion by the landfills.” Insects and wildlife are the most at risk, says Beth Venz, environmental quality analyst for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “High arsenic levels may really hurt some of the critters that live on the property or in surface waters,” says Venz, who oversees the project. Only the potential for human harm was considered when deciding the necessary steps to adequately clean the contaminated property, McDowell says. “We don’t have criteria to protect wildlife or animals from surface soil,” he says. Turning the former railroad line into a bike path may be a solution for the benzopyrene problem, McDowell says. Paving over the area of contamination reduces the human threat, says Pamela Howd, a specialist in Michigan’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Compliance Assistance. However, the removal of grasses and vegetation from the property may be harmful if

SCARRED SURROUNDINGS Demolition of contaminated structures at Northville Regional Hospital may not be done for several years. It took officials more than 10 years to begin cleaning up a Piketon, Ohio plant after it was identified as a brownsfield property. The former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant was used to enrich uranium for atomic energy and nuclear weapons. Radioactive contaminants such as beryllium, radiation, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are on the property and in ground water. Like Northville, asbestos is in the buildings. Residents near the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant have raised concerns about respiratory problems, rashes and high cancer rates. However, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concluded that off-site contamination would not be a threat for residents. The United States Protection Agency is currently remediating more than 7,000 sites like the Northville hospital and Piketon plant in the Great Lakes region.


continued on page 35

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Photo by Elisabeth Pernicone




New technology gives researchers a glimpse of the critical nearshore area of the Great Lakes BY SARAH COEFIELD & KIMBERLY HIRAI


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reaching deeper waters. As a result, the nearshore area can be the first to show impacts or degradation. “It’s where the changes to the lakes first appear and when things improve it’s where it’s first to show up as well,” says Jan Ciborowski, a professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. Photo by Kimberly Hirai

ittle is known about the currents, fish or bottom of the nearshore area of the Great Lakes. Now, technology is providing researchers a window into what is one of the most productive yet least studied areas of the Lakes. The nearshore stretches from the beach into about 30 feet of water. Despite its proximity to land, researchers have long focused on more distant waters. Scientists typically study areas far from shore because the data collection is simpler, says John Gannon, a senior scientist with the International Joint Commission, a U.S./ Canadian body that advises the governments on boundary water issues. In the nearshore areas “you can take a sample one minute and 10 minutes later you’re dealing with a different water mass … those kinds of high variability kind of scared them,” he says. New technologies, such as a swimming video camera and an all-terrain robot, are granting researchers their first glimpse of a region critical to the Great Lakes’ health. The nearshore “serves as both a buffer and a link between upland and terrestrial habitats and the open waters, offshore areas of the lake,” says Jim McKenna, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center and Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Sciences. Contaminants and nutrients in the Great Lakes pass through the nearshore before

Researchers on the Lake Guardian prepare to launch the Triaxus. “When the zebra mussels arrive that’s where they seem to be. When we get algal blooms washing up on shore it’s the nearshore that we’re worried about,” Ciborowski says. For researchers investigating Great Lakes phenomena such as the resurging algal blooms, new techniques are providing new tools, Gannon says. “And they’re very excited to apply them.”

One of the Environmental Protection Agencies’s newest members uses side-scan sonar to look at the watery depths of Lake Michigan. Fanning its sound waves down to the lake floor, it searches for the returning signals bouncing off the bottom in search of bounty—it found a shipwreck last year. But the Triaxus Towed Undulator does more than treasure hunts. Beneath the water, it glides behind the Lake Guardian, the agency’s research vessel. With its quick data collection, the agency can do in days what would otherwise take a year, says Glenn Warren, team leader for the agency’s environmental monitoring and indicators group in the Great Lakes National Program Office. The Triaxus studies the water and the lake bottom. Its sensors calculate oxygen amounts, test water quality, count plankton, measure chlorophyll and analyze nitrate while viewing the bottom with sonar. The agency purchased the Triaxus in May 2008. It used it to examine parts of Lake Ontario that same year. The agency began study of Lake Michigan last fall. “Next … we’ll do Lake Michigan and at least the U.S. half of Lake Superior,” Warren says. The goal is to provide a general view of nearshore patterns, he says. “Once we get that information we can perhaps develop indicators based on the different sensory information,” he says. “Then

Photo by Sarah Coefield

In the Great Lakes, the area closest to shore is often the least understood.


With researchers hunched over remote controls, operating the Stealth II looks more like playing a video game than doing science. The EPA purchased the underwater vehicle in May 2009. Using a hand control, agency scientists can operate the Stealth II as it hovers at various depths of the Great Lakes’ nearshore. The Stealth II’s camera allows scientists to map the bottom of nearshore areas and better understand habitat types. After some more practice with the equipment, researchers will add the vehicle to their arsenal for studying the Great Lakes, says Glenn Warren, team leader for the Photo courtesy Shark Marine Technologies Inc.

agency’s environmental monitoring and indicators group in the Great Lakes National Program Office. “They want, and we need, habitat mapping in nearshore – both to look at fish populations and how habitat affects fish populations, and also documenting habitat so we know what areas at the bottom are sensitive,” he says. The Stealth II will operate in tandem with the Triaxus, a piece of equipment the agency’s research vessel tows behind it. The Triaxus uses sonar and biological and chemical sensors to characterize water conditions. But sonar alone limits what scientists can see and the Triaxus’ coarse resolution is further complicated by an echo that provides false color of what the Triaxus

is viewing. That’s when the Stealth II comes in. Its high resolution black and white video and low resolution color video will be used to document what the habitat looks like, Warren says. “Once we’ve found structures, rock or whatever’s on the bottom of interest to the habitat folks, we’ll use the Stealth II’s video capabilities to document what’s down there.” In addition to its camera, the Stealth II has sonar to navigate murky waters and a manipulator arm which can pick up fallen tools from the lake bottom or attach additional hooks and gear to other equipment. The research could help scientists like Edward Rutherford, a research fishery biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. “Especially in the nearshore zone, fish are oriented to structure and (many) fish spawn on rocky substrates,” Rutherford says. Once eggs hatch, many young fish swim toward rocky areas on the bottom for protection. Knowing more about the composition of the bottom of Great Lakes in nearshore areas could help with fish population studies, he says. “That will give us a basis for folks understanding where fish might be using these habitats as well as protecting those habitats from development on land near those areas,” Rutherford says. Mapping the bottom can also aid scientists’ understanding of how natural events affect fish populations. “I think this new technology can help us learn a lot more about fishes’ environment because we traditionally have only been able to go out on a particular day or week time frame to sample where fish


The map is a Battleship board without gridlines. Red, yellow and blue squares on online maps mark where research scientists Steven Ruberg and Guy Meadows deploy technosavvy buoys to measure nearshore conditions in the Great Lakes. “The government buoys that are out in Photo by Guy Meadows

Researchers use the Stealth II’s underwater camera to study aquatic habitat.

EPA researchers prepare the Stealth II for underwater exploration.

are,” Rutherford says. “We don’t have a complete understanding of what affects fish in their habitat. So these new technologies will hopefully be able to tell us how much habitat is there as well as sample events like storms or winter periods that really do affect fish that we don’t really know much about.” Research about the lake bottom could also help with rehabilitation of coastal areas in the Great Lakes, says Jim McKenna, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center and Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Sciences. “One of the things that sediment is important for is the type of and extent of submerged aquatic vegetation growth,” he says. Once vegetation growth is mapped based on sediment type, McKenna says they could predict where it might be found. In addition, understanding changes to nearshore areas would help determine which areas could be repaired or restored. Sediment studies would also help researchers understand fish populations present in these areas by matching them to prey types commonly found in the sediment type. Warren believes work will start this summer. Lake Michigan might be the first to see the Stealth II, though Warren expects the research will eventually include all of the Great Lakes.

Researchers position data-collecting buoys in the Great Lakes.


the center of the lake are wonderful, but they don’t tell what’s happening in the coastal zone, and most of the people live and play and work in the coastal zones,” says Meadows, a professor and director of the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratories at the University of Michigan. Ruberg is an observing systems researcher at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes continued on page 36

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Photo courtesy Shark Marine Technologies Inc.

we can start comparing that year to year.” For example, Warren says, if they knew the area where a river entered the lake, they could determine chlorophyll and zooplankton levels at that point within the nearshore area. Those measurements could be compared with past years to see how the river affected the nearshore. The data gaps are real, as is the need to fill them. “The difficulties are that it’s a variable environment, so you can go along the shore and get very different chemical and biological readings for measurements and that has led to people not sampling it very frequently or very well,” he says.


Photo courtesy Lakefront Brewery

Brad Spring, Lakefront Brewery’s packaging supervisor, makes sure the bottling machine is running smoothly.


Great Lakes resources brew great beer STORY BY ANDREW NORMAN


unique blend of climate and tradition make the Great Lakes region the best in the country for beer brewers and drinkers, enthusiasts say. And because it can take up to 12 gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer, proximity to 21 percent of the world’s fresh, surface water doesn’t hurt, either. “There are communities with strong beer drinking traditions from the old country who have settled here,” says John Mallett, production manager at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Mich. “We’re blessed with an abundance of great water, grain, and at one point, hop growing in this region that made

it possible to develop those traditions.” Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Illinois rank 5th through


operated in the eight Great Lakes states last year — 24 more than in 2008. New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan ranked 4th through 8th respectively in beer production in 2009, according to the industry-funded Beer Institute. Together, the Great Lakes states produced more than 1.7 billion gallons of beer in 2009 — almost 27 — Rex Halfpenny , editor of the percent of the country’s total Michigan Beer Guide production. And Great Lakes staters can put them down.

We’ve got that kind of bent, that kind of genetics that say,‘we like beer,’

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10th respectively in number of breweries nationwide, according to 2009 figures from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. More than 550 breweries


Based on total population, regional boozers consumed an average of about 191 pints of beer in 2008, about 17 pints more than

Brewers use an average of 7 to 12 gallons of water to make a single gallon of beer, says Lucy Saunders, the author of several

= 1 Pint (16 oz) of Beer

Lakefront Brewery’s gluten-free New Grist beer gets packaged. In the past, brewers would sometimes clean tanks by filling them with fresh water, then drain them. Now brewers often use automated nozzles to clean tanks, or they do it less often, she says. Others capture and reuse wastewater. “Water is definitely on everybody’s radar,” Saunders says. She expects water rates and surcharges for pre-treating wastewater will increase because of the Great Lakes Compact, federal legislation that restricts large-scale diversions from the Great Lakes basin. Photo courtesy Lakefront Brewery

Lakefront Brewery’s gluten-free New Grist beer gets packaged. books about microbrewing. The United Nations recommends brewers reduce that figure to about 5 gallons. “Some breweries are already honing down to 3 gallons of water to make a gallon of beer,” she says.

Great lakes staters drank an average of 191 pints of beer in 2009

Water-intensive businesses in the Great Lakes have traditionally operated from a sense of abundance, says Saunders, the organizer of the upcoming Great Lakes Water Conservation Workshop for craft brewers in Rochester, N.Y.

“I think that abundance is still going to be there. It’s just going to cost more,” she says. “To save money and be efficient is really a smart business decision.” Not all water is created equal, Mallett says. Mallett, who has brewed craft beer professionally for more than two decades, says brewing culture traditionally developed around specific waters. Hard waters around Burton-on-Trent, England were well-suited for dry, bitter beers, he says. Dublin is famous for stouts because its water has a high pH level — good for producing dark malts. And the soft water in the Czech Republic is great for producing hoppy, golden-colored pilsens. Mallet says the Great Lakes region is “the latitude and longitude that beer drinking is really taking place over in Europe.” Brewers can now easily replicate different water. And Great Lakes water is “great for making different types of beers. It’s easily adjustable. It’s very versatile.” He says the region’s seasons give brewers more opportunity to celebrate the diversity of their beers. “We can make a very wide range of different beers and that really reflects part of the seasonality,” Mallett says. “Oktoberfest wouldn’t taste the same in March.” Halfpenny has written about beer for about 14 years. He expects the Great Lakes drinking trend to continue. “In recessions and depressions, people drink more,” he says. ! Andrew Norman is a second-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at Michigan State University. Contact him at

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Great Lakes Guzzlers

Thomas Hang

the national average, according to the Beer Institute. That assumes every man, woman and child drank. Clearly, some drinkers are picking up the slack. Wisconsin ranks sixth nationally in per-capita beer consumption. “We’ve got that kind of bent, that kind of genetics that say, ‘we like beer,’” says Rex Halfpenny, editor of the Michigan Beer Guide. A strong brewing heritage in cities like Milwaukee, Chicago and Cleveland contributes to that brew-happy DNA, says Russ Klisch, president of Lakefront Brewery Inc., in Milwaukee. “It’s just part of the culture,” Klisch says. “You go to the ballgames, family picnics. Ever since I’ve been a kid, the beer has always been there. You socialize a lot with a beer in your hand.” People in the coldest states, like Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wyoming, drink the most beer per capita, according to the Beer Institute. Halfpenny says the Great Lakes climate facilitates that thirst. “The weather is conducive to staying inside and drinking, whether it’s inside a bar or inside of your house,” he says. Water is by far the most substantial ingredient used in beer making. And the Great Lakes provide a lot of it. “The great thing about the Great Lakes is we’re not super limited with water,” Mallett says. “We’re not facing the restrictions that they do in the high desert.” At least not yet.



An author revisits the country’s most widespread chemical contamination 30 years later BY RACHAEL GLEASON


he accidental poisoning of Michigan dairy cattle in the 1970s sparked the largest chemical contamination in United States history. Nine million residents consumed contaminated meat and milk for a year after a Michigan chemical plant mistakenly added PBB (polybrominated biphenyl) — a toxic fire retardant — to dairy cattle feed, and distributed it to farms throughout the state. In the Poisoning of Michigan — published 30 years ago — investigative reporter and author Joyce Egginton sheds light on the PBB disaster and how federal and state authorities failed to respond. PBBs were banned in 2003, but equally toxic substitutes are still commonly used. The Michigan State University Press reprinted Egginton’s book last August to draw attention to the subject once again. In a phone interview from her home in New York, Egginton discusses the impact of the book 30 years later and how the risk of chemical contamination is a longlasting concern. EJ Magazine: What sparked the story?

Joyce Egginton: “One day I picked up the New York Times and there was, way tucked on an inside page, a very insignificant-looking story placed down the bottom of the page. It talked about the fact that there had been a contamination in Michigan and that it was estimated that everybody in the state had, by this time, drunk contaminated milk and eaten contaminated meat. And I thought, immediately, why isn’t anybody taking more notice of it? So I proposed that I should go out there and write it, and I did.” EJ: What was the immediate impact of the PBB contamination? JE: “What had happened is that the whole quantity of PBB had gotten mixed in cattle feed. It was the biggest cattle feed plant in the state of Michigan and farmers from all over the state ordered their feed from there. With any sort of poison that people are slowing taking, the symptoms started appearing gradually. “At first, it didn’t seem too bad. Then, after a few weeks or months, farmers were saying their cows were aborting and cattle were dying. Cows began looking deformed:

their coats were mangy and their hoofs would overgrow. The farmers did the obvious thing of going to the Department of Agriculture and saying, ‘I’ve got a problem here. Can you help me?’ “The general view presented to them by the Department of Agriculture at that time was well, ‘You must be doing something wrong.’ Because in the early days, the symptoms that the cattle showed could have been put down to bad husbandry or poor feeding methods. Farmers weren’t talking to each other about their troubles. “It was over a year before the state acknowledged that the problem existed. And even then, it didn’t know how to handle it. I’m not saying that in any way blaming the state of Michigan, but simply, this was something so widely outside their experience that there was no way they could know what to do. It’s like a bunch of doctors faced with a brand new disease. They started looking at the diseases they knew rather than looking for something they didn’t know.” EJ: Why was the PBB crisis underreported when it happened? Do you think it’s

A Word with Ed Lorenz

EJ Magazine: How did you get involved in the cleanup of the Michigan PBB crisis? Ed Lorenz: “Apparently, the Environmental Protection Agency has a procedure that says a community can have a community advisory group if there’s a major contamination cleanup in the area. We formed one

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of these back in 1998. We keep getting invited to train people around the country because we’re apparently the biggest and most effective, they say. We’ve met every month since Jan. 1998. About 25 to 30 people come every month year in year out to comment on what the EPA is doing. There’s an awful lot of interest. I became sort of an environmental expert. When I started out it was not my thing. “I was living in Chicago in graduate school when this happened. I vaguely recall watching the news and seeing these cows getting shown in Michigan. It was so dramatic and bizarre. My field wasn’t environmental policy, it was public policy at Alma College. I went to this workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technlogy;

Photo courtesy Ed Lorenz

After the statewide PBB contamination, the chemical plant at fault, owned by a company now called Velsicol Chemical Corp., became a federal Superfund site due to contamination of a nearby river. An Environmental Protection Agency community advisory group was created in response to the cleanup. Ed Lorenz, an instructor at the nearby Alma College, chairs its legal committee.

there were people from all over the world. This guy in the middle of the room interrupted my introduction and said if we wanted to study problems in the American

interviewing farmers. Newspapers don’t give that much time to a story. It took an awful lot of time. It wasn’t easy. Is that why it didn’t get better reported? I often wonder how many stories are easier to report get reported much better because of that.”


been covered fairly since then? JE: “Even at that time, although it was this little downpage story in the New York Times, there was nothing in any of the Detroit papers. The Grand Rapids Press started covering it very early, and did a good job. A monthly magazine called the Michigan Farmer did, but nobody else that I could see. At the beginning, it was thought to be the complaints of farmers that couldn’t be substantiated. “It was an enormous story and no one was interested. I’m still, all these years later, amazed that that story has not been more widely told. Here is the biggest recorded contamination alone in this country — one that affected nine million people — and where have you read much about it? “Not long after it happened, there was a story of contamination in a place up in New York state called Love Canal. It was a modern housing estate that had been built on top of an old toxic dump. Everybody had been told the dump was sealed and safe, and it wasn’t. After some years, the toxins from the dump started permeating into people’s homes and there was a high degree of illness, particularly among children. “Now that got a lot of attention — a huge amount of attention. I reported on Love Canal. It was all contained in one place. It was easy to find people to interview because were all living in adjoining streets. They were all activists in the fight against the whole contamination issue. “When you had come to report the Michigan story, what have you got? You got a farmer here, another farmer 50 miles away, another farmer a long drive across the countryside. I drove hundreds of thousands of miles crisscrossing Michigan,

EJ: What were the hurdles to gathering and presenting the material? JE: “I really had to learn how to report differently from the way I had been taught. This is true of any environmental reporting. As a journalist, I had been trained that once you get a story, always check it out with the authorities. Here you get a story that you go to the authorities — the Department of Agriculture and Farm Bureau — and they’re telling you, ‘Oh, look, he’s making a lot of fuss, we know about him. His farming methods aren’t that great.’ “That was a huge obstacle. It was an obstacle for me because I didn’t know about dairy farming. I studied it as hard as I could, and as quickly as I could, but I think it was an obstacle that daunted a great many journalists in the state. I always remember that the head of the Department of Public Health in Michigan saying later, several years later, this was something beyond their comprehension. “He used the phrase: ‘We were mired in a swamp of ignorance.’” EJ: Why reissue the book 30 years later? JE: “This event in Michigan did cause PBB to be outlawed. It’s never been made since. And so there is a general reaction, ‘Well, Thank God.’ It’s caused this trouble — it’s no longer a menace. “Now, one discovers, that what replaced PBB is a great variety of similar chemicals

Joyce Egginton’s 1980 book, republished by Michigan State University Press last year, is available in paperback for $19.95 at


that are used as fire retardants without real testing on the market. They’re not tested on people and many of them aren’t even tested on animals. And they’re terribly widely used. “This country has the highest incidents of these kinds of chemicals being found in people’s bodies. They’re used as fire retardants in practically every home. For example, it’s in the kind of foam rubber that is used in mattresses and armchairs. It’s used in carpets and drapes. “Doing the job it’s said to do is a huge amount of overkill. OK, it’s a fire retardant but it’s poisoning people the whole time. It’s a good example of trying to come up with a preventive before you really find out what dangers the preventive can pose. I thought it’s about time to draw some more attention to that.” continued on page 37

economy, we have to go to this guy’s hometown. It turns out, he knew about Michigan Chemical Corp. and how it was a disaster waiting to happen. I spent the whole time there talking to this guy and he gave me the history of it.” EJ: What impact did the book have 30 years ago? EL: “It spread the news about PBB beyond two places: the community the mistake was made that caused the problem and the diary farming community. The book also spread it beyond Michigan.” EJ: What was the most important lesson learned? EL: “On one hand, it’s that mistakes can be made and no one knows they’re made.

No one was intending to ship the wrong material in the cattle feed system and contaminate the food chain. “Also, agencies don’t always respond properly. There were plenty of warnings that this might happen. There were organizations, institutions, companies and universities that could have prevented this from happening. They didn’t intervene and they made mistakes. The [Michigan] Department of Agriculture took the position that they were going to protect the farmers more than consumers of food. For a few months, it allowed the contaminated animals to be processed, which made the early mistake get worse and worse. “The reason the book is important is because she did a good job of describing all of those errors of organizations that

were set up to protect us as people. It’s important to see that that can happen.” EJ: What led you to write Containing the Michigan PBB Crisis, 1973-1992: Testing the Environmental Policy Process? EL: “It was the 20th anniversary of the mistake. I was teaching in the area where the feed mistake started. Michigan Chemical Corp. was the company that made the contaminant that got into the food chain. As a result of the food contamination mistake, the company closed and lost its tax base. There was sort of a bitterness about the way the process had worked. Plus, there were people who were exposed to the contamination. There was the whole thing about the public health system failing to protect them.” !

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Green glass isn’t as adaptable as clear glass, so manufacturers avoid making it and recyclers avoid taking it.


Dwindling market limits recycling opportunities for colored glass BY HYONHEE SHIN


fter a fine dinner with a glass of wine or beer, where do the green bottles go? The answer is troubling for environmentally conscious consumers. In 2008, Americans threw out more than 12 million tons of glass, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. That’s the same weight as approximately 36 Empire State Buildings. About 23 percent of glass is recycled, but green glass — often used to make wine bottles — frequently winds up in a landfill. That’s because dwindling markets in some states limit recycling opportunities for the green stuff. “Business is driven by profit,” says Bill Gurn, chair of the Michigan Recycling Coalition. “Spending more to reuse recycled material over virgin is just dollars and cents.”

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Americans recycle about one in every five glass beverage containers through local and state recycling programs, according to Northern Illinois University’s Physical Plant Department. “Not just technology development, but demand for glass recycling has grown,” says Kristina Kaar, president of the Illinois Recycling Association. “We’re trying to maximize every possible recyclable in the market.” Recycling in Illinois started at the local level. Now the state operates drop-off and curbside pick-up programs, Kaar says. Other states have laws designed to encourage glass recycling. The Michigan legislature passed a deposit law in 1976 that refunds recycled beer, soft drink and other bottles. Michigan’s 10-cent deposit — the highest in the nation —

requires consumers to pay an extra charge when purchasing beverage containers. This charge is refunded when the container is recycled at a certified redemption center. The Bottle Bill reduced litter from 230 to 45 containers per mile along Michigan roadways in its first year, according to Michigan United Conservation Clubs. Now the state has one of the highest glass container recycling rates in the country at more than 97 percent. But there’s a growing concern about the scope of glass recycling in Michigan. The bottle bill encourages recycling of refundable containers, but wine bottles and other green glass containers are disregarded. “It’s a problem,” says Dave Nyberg, government and public relations manager for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “We are trying to balance between a focus on the deposit law and a focus on statewide

Photo by David Yeh



Nicole Dunn, a resident of East Lansing, Mich., brings her recyclables to the drop-off recycling site run by the city’s Public Works Department once or twice a month, but there’s no bin for her wine bottles. A worker told her to advertise online that she had green bottles, or maybe do an Earth Day project with them. “Why do manufacturers make it, knowing what is going to happen to it?” she says. The market for recycled glass is extremely limited —particularly for green glass, says Michigan State University packaging professor Susan Selke. She says there is no market for green glass in Michigan. “Recycling programs don’t collect green because they don’t have anything to do with it,” she says. The U.S. produces much more clear or brown glass, Selke says. “Therefore, it’s much less likely that there will be an appropriate recycling facility within an economical transport distance for green glass,” she says. If there’s no market nearby, manufacturers would rather produce new products than reuse old glass through the long-distance transportation with high costs, Selke says. Color sorting technology equipment is

Green glass contains shades of brown and metals like iron, chromium and copper. This helps shield the contents from light.

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS Just like paper, glass comes in a variety of colors that are determined by coloring elements added during production and used for recycling in the sorting process: clear, brown and green. Each color has a specific use, according to Earth911, an independent recycling organization in Phoenix, Ariz., that monitors state and local government in all 50 states. ! Clear glass is exactly what it sounds like: transparent. It’s typically used for pasta sauces and some beer and liquor bottles. ! Brown glass is produced by adding nickel, sulfur and carbon. It’s most frequently used for beer bottles to protect beer from light, helping to maintain its fresh taste, according to Earth911. Because of its similar color tone, a small amount of brown glass can help produce green glass and vice versa. ! Green glass contains more shades than any other color, because of metals like iron, chromium or copper. It also helps shield the contents from light, which explains why it’s most commonly used for wine bottles.

extremely expensive, says Kaar of the Illinois Recycling Association. “Has there ever been a global market for glass? I’d say no, because of shipping and recycling costs,” Kaar says. This cost sometimes exceeds that of using raw materials to make glass, says Dave Smith, an environmental specialist for the city of East Lansing. “When this is the case, raw materials are often used instead of recycled materials,” Smith says. Most green glass containers come from out of state, which causes a supply-demand imbalance, says Matt Flechter, recycling and composting coordinator at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment. “Heineken, Molson, Grolsch beers, and Californian, European, Australian and New Zealand wines — we consume far more green glass products than what we produce here,” he says. Colored glass is not as adaptable as clear glass, which saves energy because of a comparatively low melting temperature, Flechter says. “Unless Michigan’s wine industry expands dramatically, it’s unlikely that the majority of green glass will be recycled back into container glass,” he says.



In past decades, the balance between business profit and environmental conservation has been a concern among recyclers. Out-of-state facilities could take on Michigan green glass, says Ray of Texasbased Strategic Materials, Inc. But long-distance transportation is costly, says Paul Jaquet, president of Eagle Enterprises Recycling Inc., an Illinois-based recycling company. “I get 12 dollars per ton by collecting green glass but it costs me 18 dollars just to transport it to its market,” Jaquet says. “This is why green glass has been dropped from many recycling programs. Green glass amounts to only about 10 to 12 percent of our total volume of glass. “We continue to collect it because of its environmental impact.” The benefits of green glass recycling outweigh the costs, says Kerrin O’Brien, executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition. “People and business have paid for waste disposal for years, without much fuss. Why should it be any different for green glass?” she says. “But we’re talking about changing the way we handle and manage waste and the systems surrounding that task. It’s hard to change.” continued on page 37

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Photo by Hyonhee Shin

recycling.” Most recycling programs in the state collect only clear and brown glass because of a lack of market demand for colored glass, Gurn says. “We need to generate markets,” he says. “There is a market for clear and brown glass, but there are only a few opportunities for colored glass through private businesses.” That’s not the case in states like California. Because of its major wine industry, California has an active market for green glass recycling, according to Arthur Boone, president of the Northern California Recycling Association. “Gallo, a glass company in Modesto, Calif., now makes three-color mixed glass that takes up a combination of clear, brown and green recycled glass that come out of materials at a recycling facility,” he says. Green glass recycling markets are strong in Texas, says Carrie Ray, regional supply manager for Strategic Materials, Inc., a Houstonbased recycling company with facilities across the United States, Canada and Mexico. “There’s a container manufacturer in Texas that makes green bottles and green glass which can also be used by fiberglass manufacturers,” she says. “While bottle to bottle recycling is ideal, the fiberglass industry is growing in demand for recycled glass and can use green bottles.”




A food mile is the distance food has to travel from its source to where it’ll be eaten indicator of the amount of energy used to transport produce and the amount of GH


Below is a comparison of the distance traveled for food grown locally and food gro 61


The benefits of choosing a local food system on an individual, a community, and the environment



















1,726 1,846 1,838 1,426 1,811 1,823 1,759 1,815 1,830 1,569


Distance (Miles)


*Assuming that the production methods are essentially the same locally and conventionally.

THE LONG HAUL How far these typical vegetables travel to reach your plate.




2. Hang on it on a wall.


Not only do they provide fresh local produc have economic benefits. The creation of loc generates profit and creates jobs.

LOCAL SUPPORT, GROWING INDUSTRY More and more farmers markets are emerging throughout the United States to meet the needs of people in search of an alternative food system. In a farmers market, food is regionally produced and sold directly to the general public.

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Jobs are created, loc to keep farmers in b are kept in the comm











2009 Source: USDA AMS


Local farmers marke land values, revive n breathe life into unde


6000 Number of Farmer Markets


1. Carefully remove staples from the spread.



Roughly 20% of the country’s total fossil fuel use goes into the food system, from production to consumption. Eating locally could possibly decrease greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the distance food travels.


own conventionally. Foods that are grown conventionally travel significantly farther to reach the market.


The more steps it takes for food to get to the consumer, the more greenhouse gases are produced and released into the atmosphere.

" Spread the word, share what you know with friends and family " Shop at a local farmers market " Grow your own vegetable garden

CONVENTIONAL PROCESS (Shopping at Supermarket) Farm

Processing Plant

Conventionally grown Food Miles


" Consolidate grocery trips by walking, carpooling, biking or taking public transportation.



" The less packaging you see, the less energy went into producing the food

LOCAL PROCESS Source: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

ES : 1,830 MILES



" Limit the amount of meat you eat. Meats use a tremendous amount of energy to produce and process

Local Public Market

The Consumer


Photos: Broccoli/David Monniaux, Carrots/Kander, Strawberries/Walter J. Pilsak, Lettuce/Nuffet, Spniach/Nillerdk, Garlic/Rüdiger Wölk


n. Food miles are a relative HGs emitted during travel.*

Locally grown Food Miles





ce and potentially reduce carbon emissions, farmers markets also cal farmer markets stimulates the growth of developing urban areas,

By eating locally, people get tasty, healthy produce while local farmers make profit. Environmental impact is reduced and there’s a restored value in our local communities.




ets help to improve neighborhoods, and erused areas.

People share knowledge, have conversations and improve relationships with local farmers.

Buying produce at farm markets keeps dollars local: Your money goes to people in your community instead of out-of-state agriculture corporations.

— Jeff Gillies

Masters Student in Environmental Journalism, Michigan State



cal support helps business and profits munity.

Local farms provide a variety of nutritious foods that are tasty, affordable and accessible.

Local Markets help to build community (they’re amazingly social places) and from a health perspective, encourage people to eat fresh, whole foods.

— Dr. Marty Heller

Sustainability Research Fellow, University of Michigan


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WORLD Eco-tourism in Earth’s southernmost continent has boomed in the last decade; impacts are uncertain.

ANTARCTIC WANDERLUST A booming tourism industry may harm Earth’s southernmost continent STORY AND PHOTOS BY ASRA SHAIK


o cell phone. No Internet. Almost no human contact. Just gargantuan mountains, serene glaciers and undulating waters. Antarctica offers an experience unlike anywhere else on Earth. Eco-tourism in the southernmost continent has boomed in the last decade. The number of tourists visiting Antarctica has increased seven-fold since 1992, according to statistics compiled by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, a self-regulating organization that controls much of the continent’s tourism. The region now hosts more than 45,000 tourists a year. Ship cruises, small boat landings ashore and small boat cruises make up

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the majority of Antarctic tourism according to statistics compiled by the association. Trips cost upwards of $5,000 and may include cross-country skiing, climbing and kayaking. But these trips aren’t without consequence. Antarctica, arguably the planet’s last great wilderness, may be vulnerable to its visitors’ impacts. “There haven’t been any studies to date that shows that tourism has an impact on the environment, but that’s a long-term, ongoing debate,” said Steve Wellmeier, executive director of the tour operators association. Concern over eco-tourism on the continent spiked after a small cruise ship sank in 2007.

The Liberian MS Explorer left a diesel stain three miles wide in the Antarctic waters. Ship groundings result in hull damage and oil spills, which may impact plants and animals, said Ricardo Roura in an e-mail. Roura is a senior adviser for the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, an advocacy organization that promotes conservation and environmental standards for Antarctica. Two ships ran aground and spilled marine gas oil in 2008, according to reports from the 2009 Antarctic Treaty System meeting in Baltimore, M.D. Marine gas oil is commonly using in small passenger ships in the Antarctic tourism industry, Wellmeimer said. It’s a light fuel that, unlike heavy fuels, tends to evaporate

A group of tourists snap pictures of Adelie penguins at Madder Cliffs in Antarctica. met in Baltimore, Md. for a two-week conference that resulted in a pact to limit the size of cruise ships that land on the continent to fewer than 500 passengers and the number of people who can be on the shore at any one time to 100. Antarctica, which is ninth on the New York Times list of “31 places to go in 2010,” has one more season without regulations for fewer passengers. Many of these rules take effect in 2011.


and break apart quickly. It’s also better for the environment, he said. Beginning in 2011, ships fueled by heavier oil grades will not be allowed to sail Antarctic waters, according to a new policy by the International Maritime Organization, an agency that regulates vessels in the Southern Ocean. But ship accidents aren’t the only concern. Everyday activities can lead to the “wear and tear” on the continent, short- or longterm stress to wildlife, and chronic, lowlevel pollution, Roura said. While no studies show that tourism impacts the Antarctic environment, statistics are not kept for passengers littering or disobeying tour operators’ rules. As a result, tourists’ true impacts may not be captured, according to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. “Tourism effects may be direct, indirect, and cumulative, and may result from the normal conduct of the activity,” Roura said. Tourism to the southern continent requires planes and ships and consumes resources, but Antarctic tourism must be put into context in terms of tourism as a whole, Wellmeier said. For example, more than 25 million tourists visit the Caribbean every year, he said. No country owns Antarctica, but it’s regulated by a treaty system comprising 48 countries such as Argentina, Chile, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Antarctica Treaty System was established in 1959 to preserve the continent’s environment, ban military activity and establish it as a scientific preserve. In 2009, countries with Antarctic interests

Passengers on a Zodiac boat tour of the Madder Cliffs head back to the Ocean Nova cruise ship at Neko Harbour. The regulations aim to minimize passengers’ environmental impacts by imposing strict regulations and bio-safety protocols such as boot-cleaning to limit the spread of foreign plants and pathogens. “It is fair to say that there may be some minor impact from the actual presence of these vessels: noise pollution, disturbance, ship strike to whales; however, there are also very strict instructions to ship operators about prevention of pollution and other general behavior,” Jabour said. “Additional regulation such as ships not allowed to discharge waste within 12 nautical miles of the ice edge” has kept the impact of ship cruises on marine life minimal, she said. Industry organizations argue there are benefits to tourism on the continent. Not only does it bring environmental awareness, it also creates advocates for Antarctica and environmentally conscious behavior in general, according to the tour operators association’s Web site. “We do like to believe that we create Antarctic ambassadors for conservation and preservation issues. Over the past six years, IAATO members and their passengers have donated more than $10 million to Antarctica-related causes and preservation and conservation organizations,” Wellmeier said. The tour operators association also helps scientific pursuits on the continent, by providing first-hand reports of high mortality and anomalous events on the continent much more quickly than scientists would be able to because many landing sites are far from scientific facilities, Wellmeier said. The association compiles the statistics used by Oceanites, an independent survey team in Washington D.C. that studies penguin populations in various sites in Antarctica.

Although there are no studies that prove that tourism makes an impact, the potential impact of tourists cannot be ignored, according to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. Because the statistics for when passengers litter or disobey tour operator’s rules are not kept, the potential impact may not be captured. Not everyone abides by rules that are set by tour operators, said Ashleigh Winkelmann, a Michigan State University student who went on the study abroad trip. One of the tour association’s rules is that passengers do not approach animals at a distance closer than 5 meters, about 15 feet, but a passenger doesn’t have to move away from an animal that approaches him on its own accord. “While we were on Half Moon Island, a lady crawled to about a foot away from egg-rearing penguins to take pictures,” Winkelmann said. Other rules include not littering and biosafety protocols to limit tourist impact on the continent. In the case of Half Moon Island, a staff member noticed that the lady was too close and he told her she needed to give the penguins more room for safety, Winkelmann said. Amber Bengtson, another Michigan State University student who went on the study abroad trip, observed tourists breaking the rules many times. “I observed a lady not paying attention to where she was walking once,” Bengtson said. “She almost walked straight into a Weddell seal laying on the beach.” !

Asra Shaik is a third-year undergraduate student in physiology and economics who attended a study abroad trip to Antarctica. She can be reached at

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One-horned rhinoceros were once spotted with regularity in Chitwan National Park, located in southern Nepal.

Photo by Emiel Truijen





he elephant driver bemoaned the shrinking numbers of rhinos, tigers and elephants from Chitwan National Park in the populous southern region of Nepal. We explored the jungle for nearly two hours without a glimpse of a one-horned rhinoceros, a species formerly spotted with regularity. Due to the ongoing 9-year civil war, security forces normally employed to patrol boundaries and prevent poaching were reallocated to fight the homegrown rebel army. The Maoists had been waging a violent and disruptive civil war since 1996. With a rank of 144 on the Human Development Index out of 182 countries, it is not a disruption that Nepal and its fragile environment was equipped to bear. In the absence of park guards local communities encroached farther into the park, and loggers and poachers acted with impunity. As we sat atop the domesticated elephant and rumbled through the forest, it became clear that


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wildlife was indirectly taking a hit as a result of the conflict. The one-horned rhinoceros has a limited range on the Indian subcontinent, which is made up of isolated populations in northern India and southern Nepal. Bardiya National Park and Chitwan National Park host the majority of Nepal’s rhinos, with just more than 400 estimated in the latter, according to government figures. The value of rhino horn has at one point surpassed gold, but it is not the only target of poacher’s sights. The endangered tiger ranges through national parks from western to central parts of southern Nepal. The government of Nepal estimates that Nepal’s total tiger population may now be fewer than 125 adult breeding individuals. The breakdown in enforcement resulting from the conflict as well as increased demand from wealthy Asian countries for tiger parts and skins has placed significant pressure on this small tiger population. Sandwiched between China and India,

recruited family members into the People’s Army. Across the hills and mountains roam a unique assemblage of wildlife: the red panda, snow leopard and ungulates like the Himalayan Tahr, musk deer, and the blue sheep. With rural people fleeing the area the wildlife of the northern hills may have experienced a reprieve from harvest and habitat degradation in some areas. The effects of conflict on Nepal’s environment have not been uniform and they haven’t all been bad. In some hill regions where insecurity has forced emigration, for-


100 mi

Protected Area Boundaries

CHINA Bardia Wildlife Reserve


Chitwan National Park


Civil war has weakened the government’s ability to protect species in the park against poachers. Community members and nongovernment entities are filling the role of diverted park guards. ests have regenerated and wildlife returned. Due to the risk of firearm confiscation or worse, Maoist presence in some remote hilly regions has deterred poachers from treading in search of snow leopard pelts, musk pods or bear bile, extracted from the gall bladder of Asiatic black bears for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Characteristic of other conflicts, Nepal has seen an influx of more sophisticated weaponry, breakdown of rule of law and internal displacement especially of rural people. The Maoists succeeded in one of their main objectives — dissolving Nepal’s 240-year old monarchy. Since the monarchy was abolished in 2008, the transition to a new style of governance has not been a stable one. To the surprise of many observers, legitimate elections in 2008 brought the leader of the Maoist movement to hold the office of Prime Minister of the country. The Maoists have purportedly laid down their arms. Characteristic of many transition periods from conflict to peace, Nepal has undergone a series of constitutions, political leaders and policies since a peace agreement was signed in 2006. Wildlife conservation seems to factor low on the new leaders’ priority list. Nepal is not alone in its position as a developing country with rich biodiversity having to cope with environmental degradation as a result of violent conflict. Some regions, like southern Sudan and Nicaragua’s Miskito Coast, experienced significant recovery of wildlife populations and habitat due to the disruptions of war. But very often, war results in devastating losses to biodiversity, as was the case in places like Mozambique, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cambodia. In the absence of government security, support or stability, park rangers face daunting challenges in protecting a nation’s

wildlife. The substantial risks also convey opportunity: conservation organizations can play a key role in organizing, supporting and equipping local communities and government staff to protect vulnerable wildlife populations. The Zoological Society of London has teamed up with community groups in rural Nepal to assemble a group of anti-poaching guards to protect rhinos in Chitwan and Bardia National Parks. Since the program’s implementation, not a single rhino has been lost to poachers in Bardia. When the onehorned rhino population was close to extinction in the early 1900s, strict anti-hunting laws allowed the population to recover. Six years have passed since my initial search for rhinos in Chitwan National Park. With community members and non-government entities filling the role of diverted park guards, future visitors will potentially have better success in spotting the unique onehorned rhinoceros. ! Kara Stevens is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Contact her at

ABOUT THE ESSAY CONTEST The Ambrose Pattullo Fund for Environmental Issues Graduate Fellowship for Literary Work at Michigan State University recognizes students studying science who have written literary manuscripts that raise public awareness of environmental issues.


For more information, visit:

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Photo by Hans Stieglitz

Poachers target rhinos for their horns — the value of which at one point surpassed gold.


Thomas Hang

two Asian economic powerhouses hosting more than a billion people, Nepal is a transit route for bear bile, medicinal bone, cat skins and live reptiles of the subcontinent to the markets of China. Nepal is a diverse country that hosts subtropical Indomalayan wildlife such as tigers, leopards, one-horned rhinoceros and Asian elephant in its flat, hot, densely populated southern half. Just 60 miles north — roughly the same distance from Lansing to Grand Rapids — lie the sparsely populated upper hills of Nepal at the foot of the Himalayas, a mountain range that hosts eight of the world’s 10 tallest peaks. During the conflict, these hills, usually filled with villagers tending terraced rice fields amid hordes of Western backpackers, became eerily barren due to rural flight and infrequent tourists. The Maoist rebel army thrived in this environment — extorting “donations” from lodges, schools and scattered tourists. The Maoist reach exceeded police power, and the rural populations often neglected by urban-centered development dollars were caught in the middle between an absent national government and a rebel movement that extorted money and forcibly


Photo by Sahabat Alam Malaysia

The Penan, a Malaysian indigenous group, are still fighting to protect their lands against deforestation and a booming oil palm and acacia industry.


Deforestation forces a Malaysian indigenous tribe to abandon ancestral lands STORY BY AZIRA SHAHARUDDIN

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difference between us and them is that their supplies are obtained free from the forest.” The Penan depend on the forests for fruits and vegetables and hunt wild boar, deer and monkeys with poison darts and blowpipes. While hunting and gathering, the Penan practice molong: a concept of conservation ethic and a notion of resource ownership. To molong a resource is to harvest it sustainably, insuring that it will regenerate. The Penan do this with a starch taken from palm stems called sago, which is their main source of food. When the group exploits sago in one place, they move to another sago cluster to allow that source to grow back. This ensures the resource is always available. But all this changed when large-scale logging started in the early 1960s. Sarawak, one of two Malaysian states in Borneo, is rich with natural resources. After Sarawak was admitted to the federation of Malaysia in 1963, the state’s main economic priority became developing its agriculture and forestry sectors. The state got

Photo by Dang Ngo


n 1987, a Malaysian indigenous group built and erected 25 wooden blockades along logging roads to stop trucks from reaching the interiors of Sarawak’s rainforest on Borneo Island. Their fight to stop harvesters from destroying their ancestral lands received international attention. More than 20 years later, the indigenous Penan are still fighting to protect their lands — only this time against a booming oil palm and acacia industry. Only 12 percent of the group still lives in the foothills, mountain areas and forests of Borneo Island, according to recent statistics by the Sarawak State Planning Unit. Most have established permanent homes elsewhere through government resettlement programs. The remaining Penan depend completely on the forest for their livelihood. The forests are the group’s main source of food, income and medicines, wrote Harrison Ngau Laing, environmental activist, lawyer and a former member of parliament, in an e-mail. “In other words, the forest is their supermarkets and their banks,” Laing said. “The

The Penan build wooden blockades to prevent loggers from reashing the interiors of Sarawak’s rainforest on Borneo Island. nearly a third of its gross domestic product from agricultural husbandry, forestry and mining between 1963 and 1973. By the end of the late 1980s, nearly 2.8 million hectares of forests were cleared, according to the Borneo Project, a non-governmental organization based in the United States. That’s an area the size of Hawaii. The impact of logging and establishment of oil palms and acacia plantations on Penan’s land is devastating, Laing said. “The Penan are now cornered by these

activities from all directions that keep pushing and pushing them to only patches of forests,” he said. “Even then, it’s only a matter of time before the remaining patches of primary forests that are left will be logged or cleared out for plantations.” The Penan have lost much of their land. The forests and rivers in their areas are also badly silted and polluted due to loggings and plantation activities. “So, the fish in the rivers have gone. They also have very few areas left where they can hunt, so their meat supply is also fast running out,” Laing said. In the past 10 years, the plantations have moved into the ancestral lands of the Penan, which have since been logged, he said. Unlike logging where the workers just built access roads and cut timbers, workers at the plantations clear-cut the entire forest and whatever vegetation is left on the ancestral land. “So the situation of the Penans is really getting from bad to worse,” Laing said. There are two types of deforestation, said Peter Brosius, an associate professor in the University of Georgia’s Department of Anthropology. One is logging, which has the potential to recover in time. “But with palm oil, the forests are bulldozed to clay. Even though palm oil only affects some few places, it is destined to expand,” Brosius said. Deforestation is devastating. And its impact to the Penan goes beyond subsistence, Brosius added. “Deforestation also alters the landscape. For example, a river which has a name and history is now filled with mosquitoes and

algae,” he said. Brosius, who has been working with the Penan since 1984, could see stark differences between then and now. “Before, tons of games such as boars, monkeys and deer were available. People ate very well and they were very healthy,” he said. “Now, they’re really, really hungry. It’s a very hard time for them now.” Nomadic groups have become smaller, Brosius added. In the 1990s, one group consisted of 34 people with seven to eight families. Now, since the majority of the tribe has settled down, the nomadic groups consist of single, isolated families comprising five to seven people. “Most are elderly, and as soon as they die, it’ll all be over,” Brosius said. Members of the group comment on the changes around them, he said. Most of the grumbles are about their difficulties making a living, but they also notice the destruction of sago pants, river pollution and lack of fish. The Penan are like others in Malaysia, Brosius said. They say things indirectly, in metaphors and “even make jokes in telling or getting across the difficulty they are facing.” Brosius remembers one talking to him, to contrast the life in the forests with life downriver. “He said we don’t bother them, we respect them, why did they bother us?,” Brosius said. Other expressions include: “Here in the forests, you should hear the Buhlwer’s pheasants (an indigenous species to Borneo), rather than chickens,” and “when the wind blows, we should hear the sounds of trees rather than the chainsaw”. One saying expressed the Penan’s respect for the land: “This land is given to us by

Azira Shaharuddin is a second-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at MSU. Contact her at azlyn_911@

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Photo by tajai (Flickr)

The Penan are the last remaining nomadic tribe in Borneo, but government pressure has provoked settlement in some groups.

Tuhan (God). How do we know that? Think about the river, the fish in the river. When the rain is heavy, the current is so strong that can rollover boulders, fell trees. But, when the river calms back down, the fish is still there.” Brosius remembers his Penan father speaking to him while they were sitting on top of a ridge. His father pointed to another ridge and said “over there, there is a big tree. At the very top of the tree, there is a tiny hole. My father made a hole to collect the honey. That is what I want to say to the timber companies. If you can show me anywhere in the forest one single tree with a tiny hole, I’ll shut up.” The most pressing problem facing the Penan is the continued failure of the government to survey and issue communal titles for their ancestral lands, Laing said. “Alternatively, the government should immediately survey and officially recognize their land. Without title, there is no protection of their rights over their land at all as their rights can be disputed by anyone as what is happening now,” he said. The future prospects of the Penan are mixed, Brosius said. Some Penan are being educated and doing well in exams. “They are going to be the next generation of Penan leaders,” he said. But he’s concerned for the Penan who are marginalized on their own land. “Plus, many still are uneducated and it will make them very difficult to navigate challenges ahead such as problem with timber companies and getting what they want from the government,” Brosius said. Deforestation isn’t the group’s only problem, Laing said. Dams also threaten the Penan way of life. “The state government has also planned to build 12 new hydro-electric dams and these dams will be in the Penan areas. So they will be displaced and resettled in many resettlement areas, where they will end up as plantation workers after that,” he said. Last year, blockades were erected again. In September, the state government agreed to a peace deal with the Penan to stop widespread anti-logging blockades. The peace deal acknowledged the Penan’s right to have their own land. However, in early December, a news report by a local newspaper revealed the deal requires them to leave their ancestral jungle and nomadic lifestyle, and settle down permanently. So far, there is no news yet about the progress of the peace deal. !



Consumer products are laden with nanoparticles, but scientists are uncertain of their risks BY YANG ZHANG By manipulating nanomaterials, scientists have created new medical treatments, found more effective ways to prevent pollution and made things stronger and lighter. Take silver — it’s toxic to fungi and algae and makes for a potent anti-bacterial agent. But only in recent years has nanosilver been widely used as a germ killer in consumer products, according to a 2009 nanosilver report from the Friends of the Earth, an international federation of environmental groups comprising 77 countries. “It has been used as (an) anti-microbial in…many products,” says Ian Illuminato, the health and environment campaigner at the U.S. Friends of the Earth and a co-author of the report.


More than 260 nanosilver products, such as water filters, kitchen appliances and bedding materials, are on the market, according to a 2008 nanosilver legal petition by the International Center for Technology Assessment, a non-profit organization that estimates technological impacts. That accounts for a quarter of the market share. But the potential environmental and health impacts of nanosilver trouble some scientists. Silver nanoparticles from textiles, cleaning products and cosmetics have the potential to enter the water system as common household wastewater. Some particles may remain in surface water and accumulate and deposit into soils, according to Beyond Pesticides, a national environmental organization.

Photo courtesy nanoComposix, Inc., San Diego, California.


here’s more to your cosmetics, food containers and anti-odor socks than meets the eye. These products contain microscopic particles that kill germs and make things cleaner and smell fresher. But scientists are uncertain about the risks of these engineered particles, called nanomaterials, and current regulations on the technology are lax. Neither the manufacturers nor government regulators are required to tell consumers of their presence in a growing number of consumer products. Nanoparticles are currently found in more than a thousand products, from cleaning products to clothes and children’s toys, according to a consumer nanoproducts inventory developed by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, a national nanotechnology think tank. “It’s an exciting technology…But some nanoparticles under certain conditions may harm humans and the environment,” says Karen Chou, an associate professor of environmental toxicology at Michigan State University. That’s because nanoparticles are small: “nano” means one billionth. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick; human hair is 80,000 nanometers wide. Materials that small have different chemical and physical properties, Chou says. Studies show nano-sized particles are more reactive and some are more toxic than their bulk counterparts. But downsizing enables novel applications.

Silver nanoparticles at 60,000x magnification. “We know where nanoparticles go,” Chou says. “Those we use probably go to rivers and soils.” Nearly one third of nanosilver products on the market in September 2007 had the potential to disperse silver nanoparticles into the environment, according to research by Samuel Luoma with the John Muir Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Davis. Once in the environment, these particles can be harmful to aquatic invertebrates at low concentrations. “Based on the lab experiments, small fish, if exposed to certain nanoparticles, may die or become sterile,” Chou says. Studies indicate nanosilver is also toxic to mammalian liver, stem and brain cells. Silver nanoparticles can easily enter Thomas Hang

The Life Cycle of a Nanosilver Particle

A look at how nanoparticles start in consumer products and end in our bodies and the environment

Nanosilvers in the environment

Manufacturers use nanosilver in laundry detergent.

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Wastewater containing the nanoparticles flows into rivers and lakes

Nanosilvers in our bodies

Small aquatic life die or become sterile after absorbing the particles

Manufacturers use nanosilver in cosmetics and beauty products.

Nanosilver kills bacteria, both good and bad.

Particles that seep into people’s bodies can have adverse effects.


Despite the potential threats, the government doesn’t require companies to disclose the presences of nanomaterials in products. And there aren’t any regulations on the books. “The government has been really strug-

Microscopic particles are increasingly found in cleaning products, clothes and children’s toys to kill germs and make things smell fresher. Scientists are uncertain about the risks and current regulations on the technology are lax. gling to work hard to regulate products of nanotechnology,” says Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program in January 2008 to study nanotechnology. But it has no regulatory power. The regulations are strict for new drugs containing nanomaterials, Maynard says. But that’s not the case for personal products, like cosmetics. Manufactures are required to report and register personal products that contain nanosilver, but there is no labeling requirement. “The bare minimum should be that products are labeled to contain nanoparticles so that consumers can be aware and make educated choices when they buy them,” Illuminato says. The Friends of the Earth claims the EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken a “no data, no problem” attitude, which means the product is safe if no evidence shows its harm, even if little research has been done to examine its safety. “They are not taking the health of consumers as the first priority,” Illuminato says. “It’s more like if nobody dies from it yet, then it’s OK, it’s fine.” He recommends a “no data, no market” approach adopted by some European countries. If it cannot be proven that something will not affect human health and the environment, it shouldn’t be on the market, Illuminato says. “The main hurdles, some of the big ones we’ve identified, are uncertainties of the health and safety risks associated with nanotechnology,” Maynard says. But determining potential dangers isn’t easy. Nanoparticles change fast because of their instability and reactivity, Chou says. When

conditions vary, the size of a nanoparticle and its properties are altered. “You have to know the toxicity of each nanoparticle as precisely as possible to regulate it,” she says. And determining toxicity is expensive. Each test costs tens of thousands of dollars, which makes it harder to get data. The Friends of the Earth and some other environmental groups are calling for an immediate moratorium on the commercial nanoproducts, especially those containing nanosilvers, until the technology is proven safe or specific regulation is introduced. “A company wants to invest in nanotechnology, but they don’t know how to make it safe,” Maynard says. “That makes it very hard to develop it.” Still, the industry is growing. Federal funding for nanotechnology has increased from approximately $464 million in 2001 to nearly $1.8 billion in 2009, according to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a program to coordinate federal nanotechnology research and development. The initiative estimates that private industry is investing at least as much as the government. “If you look at the development of technology like this,” Maynard says. “It is very hard to see how it can be successful if we don’t indentify any possible way that can harm and manage them at early stages.” Both Maynard and Chou see nanotechnology as a promising industry. But they hope comprehensive risk assessments and sound regulations will ensure the safety of the field and its future. “A well-characterized toxicology study on nanomaterials will help us assess the risks and make effective regulations,” Chou says. “It is very hard, but not impossible.” ! Yang Zhang is a second-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at MSU. Contact her at zhangy49@

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Carbon nanotubes, found in tennis rackets or golf clubs, and titanium dioxide nanoparticles in sunscreens also threaten the environment and human health. A 2008 study by a team of international scientists showed carbon nanotubes have needle-like fiber shapes similar to asbestos and could potentially cause asbestos-like diseases, such as lung cancer. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles in sunscreens can also damage biological molecules by degrading sunscreen under illumination, according to research by Vicki L. Colvin, a professor in the department of chemistry and chemical and biomolecular engineering at Rice University. Studies suggest nanomaterials can even take lives. After long–term exposure to nanoparticles used in polyacrylic ester paste, seven Chinese workers in a print plant suffered unusual and progressive lung disease. Two of the workers died from their illness, according to a study by China’s Capital University of Medical Science.

Photo by David Hawxhurst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars


Photo courtesy nanoComposix, Inc., San Diego, California.

human cells and cause health problems, according to the Friends of the Earth report. Issued last June, the report highlights the potential risks of nanosilver to human health, especially to children. A 2006 study found that silver nanoparticles in burn dressings can be toxic. After doctors treated a severely burned 17-year-old boy with nanosilver-coated wound dressings the nanoparticles seeped into his body and damaged his liver, according to the study. When the dressings were removed, the boy returned to normal. “It’s definitely coming into contact with humans,” says Ian Illuminato, a health and environment campaigner for the Friends of the Earth. “And it is especially concerning for children who have much more delicate systems they are working with.” Scientists are also concerned about nanosilver killing good bacteria. The majority of bacteria are harmless and some are even beneficial. Bacteria are found on the skin, nose, mouth and in the gut. They help humans digest food, produce vitamins and prevent pathogens from gaining a foothold in the body. “Those nanosilver particles don’t distinguish between good and bad bacteria,” Illuminato says. “They are powerful bacteria killers.”


Betsy Bacon, a Michigan State University student studying art history, draws the bowstring of a recurve bow at a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman archery workshop in February 2010. The program fosters an appreciation of outdoor recreational activities in women.

BECOMING AN OUTDOORS-WOMAN Outreach program fosters a love of the outdoors in women STORY AND PHOTOS BY CAROL THOMPSON


welve women line up, bows in hand. At the chirp of a whistle, they pick up their arrows, draw their bowstrings, and hit their targets with loud thwacks. These budding archers are learning new skills thanks to an outreach program designed to foster a love of outdoor recreational activities in women. More than 20,000 women attend Becoming an Outdoors-Woman activities each year. The program has spread to 43 states, six Canadian provinces and even New Zealand, says Peggy Farrell, director of International

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Women who attend Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops are more aware of conservation and environmental issues.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. The initiative to get more women engaged in the environment originated at a University of Wisconsin Stevens Point academic conference in 1990, when natural resource manage-

ment professors and professionals discussed what kept women from the outdoors. Half of the reasons they came up with had to do with level of education. The professionals established the

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program in 1991 to break down barriers that kept women from participating in things like target shooting and fishing. The program helps women cultivate a greater awareness of conservation issues and a better understanding of resource management practices, Farrell says. In 1995, former Becoming an OutdoorsWoman Director Diane Lueck researched the attitudes and activities of the organization’s participants and found that women who had attended BOW workshops were significantly more aware of conservation and environmental issues. Ten years later, Farrell expanded this research into workshops geared toward female farmers. The goal was to inform them about sustainable land-management practices. Nearly three-quarters of female farmers felt more environmentally aware and better able to manage their land, according to a postworkshop survey. Becoming an Outdoors-Woman activities focus on teaching women skills that will help them enjoy outdoor recreation, like kayaking, hunting and showshoeing, but Farrell makes sure that the content also emphasizes environmental ethics. Participants learn about conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited that focus on habitat protection and how recreation impacts the environment. The workshops are designed for novice skill levels and broken into categories such as hunting and shooting, fishing and a variety of other activities. Classes vary by geographic region, and focus on what women really want to learn. Michigan women want to learn how to

shoot handguns. “Women and handguns right now, they’re really going for it,” says Sue Tabor, the Michigan program’s coordinator. “Some women are thinking about personal protection. An intro class gives them a chance to see if they like handling and shooting a hand-

gun. Some women just love target shooting.” Shooting is so popular in Michigan that Tabor had to increase the price of handgun classes to cover ammunition costs. The program isn’t meant to make a profit — making money is actually discouraged on the national level. The registration fees for workshops and funds from state hunting and fishing license fees pay for the program, so it hasn’t been affected by Michigan’s bad economy. Prices for weekend classes range from $150 to $350, depending on the facilities and classes offered. Some states, like Michigan, offer single classes that cost between $10 and $25. Popular classes include archery, kayaking and fishing. Some workshops are designed to

Carol Thompson is an undergraduate sophomore studying journalism at MSU. Contact her at

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Cara Easterbrook, president of the Michigan State University archery club, demonstrates using a competitive recurve bow at the university’s Demmer Center.

teach women how to handle tasks like backing up a trailer. After a trailer-backing class, women can help their husbands with the vehicles instead of standing aside and watching, Tabor says. “I think BOW probably saves a lot of marriages,” she says. Most of the women involved in Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops are in their 40s. Tabor attributes that to some women’s desires to spend more time with their husbands. When Tabor works at booths to advertise the program, she says a lot of husbands ask about getting their wives involved with the program. Husbands may want their wives to go with them on hunting and fishing trips, but they aren’t always the best teachers, she says. “The women really like the atmosphere of learning with other women,” Tabor says. “We’re kind of our own best cheerleaders. Women have a way of encouraging each other.” When Betsy Bacon, a student of art history at Michigan State University, attended her first archery workshop in February, it was her first time using a bow and arrow. Bacon doesn’t consider herself an “outdoorsy” person. She was nervous until she saw that first arrow fly from the bowstring. “There’s that moment of relief,” Bacon said. “It’s encouraging. Until you try, you don’t know how easy it is.” Bacon felt comfortable and less pressured in the all-female environment. For Tabor, building confidence in women is a huge benefit of the program. As soon as women try new things, especially shooting firearms, the feeling of victory shows on their faces, she says. “Instantly, they’re no longer afraid,” Tabor says. “And they turn around and they look at me and say ‘can I do that again?’ I just know you’re more confident when you try these things.” Becoming an Outdoors-Woman isn’t the only program with a environmental focus geared towards women. The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Women in the Outdoors is a nonprofit conservation and hunting organization that targets women 14 and older. The Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program has found its niche in adult education. “Adult women make sure everybody else is taken care of, and if there’s any time, money or energy left, they do it for themselves,” Farrell says. “The confidence and self-esteem building, and the fact that they do something just for themselves turns out to be something that’s a hallmark of the program.” !


CREATIVE ENVIRONMENT Art, science, ice produce powerful palette STORY BY ALICE ROSSIGNOL Photo by Sam Thompson

The IDEA Shanties use Innovation, Design, Energy and Art to mix art and science.


rtists flock to Medicine Lake each year as it thickens with ice for a fourweekend celebration of art, science and the winter season. Inspired by traditional ice-fishing houses, artists build unique temporary shanties on the frozen Minnesota lake for the Art Shanty Projects festival. The shanties themselves are art, but they also house interactive art and science activities and performances for weekend visitors. “It goes back to the idea of a temporary landscape and where in our region of the world we have these places that we can go out and walk on and there are no buildings,” says David Pitman, co-founder of the project.

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Pitman and Peter Haakon Thompson established the project in 2003 after seeing potential in the short-lived land of a frozen lake as artist’s canvas. Ice shanties have been used for generations as temporary shelter solutions for seasonal environments, but not as art. The Art Shanty Projects takes advantage of this traditional structure for unconventional uses. Artists decorate and house activities in the shanties — details most fisherman could care less about. But living on thin ice, as an artist or as a fisherman, yields little difference. Activities that ensure survival take priority — even over art. It’s amazing how much time everything

takes, Pitman says. Artists who choose to live in their shanties must continually ensure that they are dry, warm, hydrated and fed. “Everybody has these visions that you’ll have all this free time, and then when you’re out there, you get bogged down in the details,” he says.


To sort out less survival-oriented details, Medicine Lake, about 10 miles west of Minneapolis, seems ideal. Unlike municipal lakes inside Twin City limits, structures can be left up over night. Plus, building regulations for frozen lakes are more lenient — making the land-


It goes back to the idea of a temporary landscape and where in our region of the world we have these places that we can go out and walk on and there are no buildings, — David Pitman, co-founder of the Art Shanty Projects

Photo by Joseph Rand

scape a flexible space for creative souls. “The space isn’t used and hasn’t been used as art. It’s totally unique,” says Caitlin Hargarten, this year’s director. The project had 20 individually themed shanties built by more than 100 artists early this year. Considering the lake’s small size — about 1.5 square miles — Hargarten thinks the festival has reached its maximum capacity. “We don’t need to get any bigger,” she says. The goal now is to increase quality rather than the number of participants. “As popularity grows it allows … the caliber of the project to grow. We’ll get better I hope,” Hargarten says. But even though the number of artists may not grow the amount of visitors might. This year, thousands of people visited the ice each weekend of the festival. “It’s allowing people, encouraging people from the Twin Cities to get out of their houses and also interact with art in a totally new and strange way,” says Joseph Rand, a member of the team that created IDEA Shanty. IDEA stands for Innovation, Design, Energy and Art. None of the eight-member

A shut-off mechanism was also designed and installed because of Medicine Lake’s potential to be a violently windy environment. But building a working turbine from scratch wasn’t easy. “That’s been a challenge. I think for those of us that built the wind turbine it was such an amazing and challenging process every step of the way,” Rand says. Another obstacle was the small budget. The Art Shanty Projects is funded by grants, sponsors and donors — enough to hopefully cover the artists’ expenses, Hargarten says. Money is tight this year. Each shanty team received about $400 to realize their vision. But money doesn’t seem to be the motivation.

PROJECT BRINGS TOGETHER COMMUNITY The IDEA Shanty wind turbine powers science experiments. team considers themselves professional visual artists, but the idea of combining art with science appeals to them. “We are all interested in science and art so we wanted to play with that intersect,” Rand says. They teamed up with the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Design Team youth program for the project this year. That program stems from the IDEA cooperative — a partnership between the museum and St. Paul public schools that engages students in engineering and technology. Eighth and ninth graders painted the shanty and helped with its science activities — experiments with batteries, magnets and circuits.

“The most satisfying aspect of the project is the sense of a community that it brings, not only within the artists, but people coming from all over — people who live around the lake to the hipsters in their cowboy boots,” Hargarten says. The project takes care to respect Medicine Lake and its surrounding community. To be moved easily, all shanties are built on runners, and when the ice melts they are placed on blocks to avoid getting stuck. “We try to be very conscious of the community by not leaving anything behind,” Hargarten says. The event’s high traffic draws some complaints, but most people enjoy the creative environment, she says. “The majority of the community really loves the project and keep coming out year after year,” Hargarten says. !


To power these experiments, the IDEA team built a wind turbine from do-ityourself plans.

Alice Rossignol is a first-year graduate student in the Environmental Journalism program. She can be reached a

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Photo by Joseph Rand

Photo by Sam Thompson

Photo by Sam Thompson

The IDEA Shanties use Innovation, Design, Energy and Art to mix art and science.


Photo by Sarah Gilbert

New study from the Produce Safety Project shows Americans spend $152 billion on foodborne illnesses a year and $39 billion on produce-related illnesses.


Americans face high medical costs, economic losses when food causes sickness STORY BY HALEY WALKER


mericans spend $152 billion on foodborne illnesses each year, according to a new study. That’s more than what the federal government paid to bail American International Group out of debt. It’s more than what the U.S. Senate recently approved to bring tax credits to businesses and individuals. And it is the price tag for medical and “pain and suffering costs” created by food that makes you sick, according to the Produce Safety Project, a food safety organization and affiliate of the Pew Charitable Trusts at Georgetown University. The United States Agriculture Department previously set estimates between $6.9 billion and $35 billion. But that didn’t include costs such as loss of wages, productivity and quality of life, according to Robert Scharff, former Food and Drug Administration economist and the report’s author. “This estimate had not been done in a complete way before,” he said. “You must look past just medical costs.” There are approximately 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three hundred thousand of those are hospitalizations and 5,000 are deaths.

“People often don’t think of foodborne illnesses as a big problem,” Scharff said. “We have these outbreaks every once in a while, but many of the illnesses that occur, don’t get picked up by the media, even when people die from them.” The average individual spends $1,085 on an illness, according to the study.


Cost and number of cases vary between states. California ranked highest for number of cases and total cost – $18 billion for more than 9 million cases. Texas, New York and Florida followed respectively. Great Lake states Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan were also ranked in the top 10 for total cost and number of cases. “To some extent, there is a regional aspect to the prevalence of pathogens in the environment and the choice of foods people eat,” Scharff said. “There are also differences in respect to medical costs, and labor costs are going to play a part as well.” Michigan and Indiana fell in the $1,100 to $1,200 bracket for total cost per individual case, while Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio fell into the $1,200 to $1,300 bracket. Individual

cases in New York and Pennsylvania cost more than $1,300 in total. “It costs different amounts to get medical care in different parts of the country,” Scharff said. “Also, the selection of cases is going to affect the total value. For example, salmonella is a more expensive disease than norovirus, so if you have a lot of salmonella cases, you are going to have a higher cost per case.” New Jersey had the highest medical cost per case of foodborne illness at $162, including hospitalizations, drugs and doctors visits. Montana had the lowest at $78 in medical costs per case. “We suspected the cost would be relatively high,” said Jim O’Hara, director of the Product Safety Project. “Foodborne illness is more than just an upset stomach.”



Twenty-seven different pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, parasites and unknown agents were examined in the study. The greatest number of cases was attributed to unknown pathogens. Norwalk, Camplyobacter, Salmonella and E-coli were also responsible for a large number of cases across the U.S. “The USDA had looked at a number of continued on page 38

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Dissolving Walls: Continued from page 9 thinking about how Times’ knowledge and archives can play a bigger roles in classrooms. “The walls are dissolving in ways, that I think, frankly are good. But they’re distressing for conventional journalists who, when news breaks, want go to the paper and then go home. I think that’s becoming an endangered model.” EJ: What advice do you have for students preparing for a career in environmental journalism? AR: “There will forever be a thirst among people to understand what’s going on with the connection with the human relationship with the environment and with each other. So there will always be a demand for reliable analysis and description. “The way for an emerging or young communicator to go at is to get as much of a skill set as possible in storytelling — whether it’s using Java or graphics, [which are] things that I wish I had more skills in. As well as knowing how to handle a video camera — always having one with you, so when that weird thing happens, you’re ready. Also, being able to conduct a cogent interview and the traditional things like not being afraid to ask a stupid question and not being too quick to assume that just because global warming is a hot story that the story is global warming. They’re under-

lying issues, and being able to step back from something like global warming and think critically and not look at something for just what it’s labeled but rather for what it really is. “I think in this arena, this century and this time, the best chance of succeeding as a communicator of environmental informa-

covered powerfully by many. The underlying issues are harder to get into the conventional media of ‘why in the world is Haiti so poor’ and ‘why is there this enormous vulnerability?’ Those things are harder than covering the wonderful stories of the baby pulled from the wreckage. The key, again, still is how do you build coverage that also illustrates that we live in a time when unprecedented, large, urban poor populations are exposed to hazard and what is or isn’t being done to limit that exposure?”

“The web gives you more of a palette of methods for communicating. I was kind of a Twitter skeptic initially, but I use it a lot now as a way to send out little brief notes.” — Andrew Revkin tion is to be as willing to put something on YouTube as much as into a magazine or to think about how something you’re writing on could turn into someone’s curriculum.” EJ: What environmental and social effects do you think the Haiti tragedy will have on the world? AR: “I would like to think it will be seen as a wake up call — that there is extraordinary vulnerability in developing countries. Whether we can sustain interest is another thing. People have a really bad habit of tuning in and tuning out. “Haiti was an easy place to get to, since it was right in our backyard, so I think it was

EJ: Can you tell EJ readers about your folk band, Uncle Wade? AR: “It’s semi-dormant, but it’s four working, semiprofessional musicians and me. And we just love playing together. We do rootsy, twangy, blues-country-folk stuff. It can be loud and Grateful Deadish or soft and string bandy, depending on our mood. “It’s a great release for me from journalism. I’ve been involved in music since high school. I was a musician before I was a journalist. I’m really over due to record an album. I’m a songwriter and I’ve just for years had no time, so I’m hoping to have at least a little time. Everyone needs to have something like that, a mix.” ! Katie Dalebout is a second-year undergraduate student studying journalism at MSU. Contact her at

Demolition Woes: Continued from page 11 the township does not properly dispose of these plants. Grasses and willows have the ability to absorb contaminants in soil and can easily re-contaminate this property if it’s left there to decay, Howd says.


The property was sold in 2005 to Schostak Brothers and Co. of Livonia, Mich. The development company planned to develop the land into a commercial and residential area called Highwood. The development would have included multiple single-family homes and a senior citizen community. But Northville Township rejected the plan. “We felt it was too large of a project,” says Don Weaver, Northville’s director of public services. “The addition of these residential areas would increase the flow of traffic and require more schools.” Residents agreed.

Northville citizens voted to buy the majority of the property for about $23 million. Schostak Brothers and Co. will develop the remainder of the property. It will likely take several years to raise the estimated $19 million to clean up the site. Federal brownfield laws require work to begin within 10 years. The township will save several million dollars by doing the remediation only to a level necessary for passive recreational use. University of Michigan architectural students will design plans for the property. “Our goal is to develop this as a park, but if someone found a use for some of the buildings then we may consider it,’ Weaver says. “There will always be some residual contamination,” he says. ! Elisabeth Pernicone is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying journalism at MSU. Contact her at

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Nearshore Navigators: Continued from page 13

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while the rest monitor nearshore conditions for weeks at a time. The buoys are designed to study interactions between Milwaukee Harbor and Lake Michigan and radio data back to one of two shore stations. From there, the data reaches the water institute via the Internet. Public access to online buoy data is in the works. Meanwhile, Ruberg is looking forward to the day when robots can take over for humans. “In the long term, what I would like is a mobile buoy that you don’t have a big expensive boat to deploy,” Ruberg says. “You can tell it to go to a location and just sit there and provide observations…many many years from now, that might be what we see.”


When the water is too shallow for a boat and too dangerous for a person, it’s time to send in a robot researcher. At least, that’s what Tom Consi hopes Photo by Tom Consi

Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor. Buoys are these scientists’ toy soldiers, strategically positioned to relay nearshore conditions to Web sites. The race to provide real-time data about Great Lakes nearshore weather and water conditions is one both scientists have worked on for five years. The goal, Meadows says, is to compile a long-term data set. By characterizing typical conditions, the scientists will be better equipped to predict changes to the ecosystem and water quality. The scientists’ buoys differ in form more than function. Their equipment measures anything from wave direction and height, air temperature and pressure, windspeed, humidity, water temperature and algae. “We’re essentially providing observations from the surface of the water to the bottom,” Ruberg says. While Meadow’s buoys are primarily in Grand Traverse Bay and Little Traverse Bay, Ruberg’s fleet spreads across Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie. Most are powered by solar panels and chained to a weight. Meadows’ buoys use cell phones to report information to his Web site every six minutes and to the U.S. Government’s National Data Buoy Center, which provides information from buoys around the world. But buoy wars don’t come without risk of casualties. Ice and winter storms prevent the teams from leaving their buoys out to study lake conditions during the cold months. “The winter season is when the most severe storms are and some of the greatest changes that the lake undergoes are during winter when all that heat that’s been stored up all summer long has dissipated,” Meadows says. Ice sheets could also move buoys, causing them to take on water. “Biofouling” – the buildup of algae or microbial organisms on buoys and sensors, lightning storms and boat traffic also threaten the technology. Risks aside, a shot at good data drives scientists to join the buoy arms race. “You can get long-term continuous day and night data sets which are pretty much impossible to obtain by conventional means of humans going out into the lake on a boat,” says Tom Consi, an associate scientist at the Great Lakes Water Institute in Milwaukee. “You just don’t have access to a boat 24 hours a day and a person able to do that kind of sampling or measuring.” Consi has seven buoys in his Great Lakes Urban Coastal Observing System fleet. Two of the buoys can study chemical, biological and physical lake processes for up to a year

This rover collects data in areas too shallow for boats and too dangerous for people. will be the mindset when he launches the remote operated vehicle he’s worked on for the past year. “People need fundamental data in the surf zone, and our robot’s designed to go out and get it,” he says. Consi is an associate scientist at the Great Lakes Water Institute in Milwaukee. He and a small team of engineering students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee spent the past year developing a robot that can drive underwater and collect data about the nearshore ecosystem. Nicknamed “LMAR” for Lake Michigan Amphibious Robot, the robot stands about one foot tall and is about three feet square. The battery-powered robot follows commands from an onshore laptop. A radio antennae sticking up out of the water like a miniature mast transmits instructions to the onboard computer. When it’s ready to go, the robot drives straight into the water like a six-wheeled all-

terrain vehicle. LMAR can only go about six feet below the surface before losing radio contact, but that’s deep enough to get into trouble. “It’s a violent area,” Consi says. “So that makes it a challenging area to design a machine that can survive against the crashing waves.” The shifting sand adds another complication, he says. Many of the test runs last summer ended with his students dragging the robot out of the water. “Basically you have it run in the water, watch it break, figure out what broke and then fix it or change the design,” Consi says. That design evolution led to a robot with an increasingly reliable platform – a necessary first step to create an instrument that can withstand nearshore conditions and collect data. While there are other remotely operated vehicles exploring the Great Lakes – NOAA and the USGS each have one, as do a few other laboratories in the region – Consi’s will be unique in its ability to drive along the nearshore bottom and collect measurements and samples for an extended duration. “My vehicle is more of a turtle. It can carry a lot more power and a lot more (instruments and samples). So it can go out and take lots of measurements,” he says. When it is complete, probably sometime this spring, the robot will measure water conditions and collect samples for laboratory analysis. Most of Consi’s sampling goals for LMAR are basic: temperature, pH, conductivity. But access to that data will be a big step for many scientists. “In the underwater world, access is so limited. If you can reliably get simple information … reliably at any time of the year, that’s good stuff,” he says. Consi hopes his robot will fill critical knowledge gaps about the Great Lakes nearshore. “It’s an incubator region for the ecosystem and it’s also just a portal for pollution into the lake, so it’s a key choke point,” he says. “And also because it’s so turbulent, it’s more of a challenge to understand and to model.” Ultimately, Consi knows he will have to demonstrate the usefulness of his robot before it catches on in the scientific community, but he isn’t too worried. “Who doesn’t like robots?” ! Sarah Coefield is a second-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at MSU. Contact her at sarahcofield@ Kimberly Hirai is a first-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at MSU. Contact her at hiraikim@

Poisoning Michigan: Continued from page 17 EJ: How would you have approached this book in 2010? JE: “In some ways, it would be easier to cover because there’s more knowledge in place. When they tried to settle this one by a lawsuit on behalf of the farmers there was no such thing as environmental law. Now, there’s more protection for the public. But the more protection is coming at the same time as the more exposure. The one is never catching up with the other.” ! Rachael Gleason is a first-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at Michigan State University. Contact her at


Circle of Fire: The Tragic Story of a Parent’s Worst Nightmare Come True (1996) Circle of Fire: Murder and Betrayal in the “Swiss Nanny” Case (1994) Too Beautiful a Day to Die (1992) Day of Fury: The Story of the Tragic Shootings That Forever Changed the Village of Winnetka (1991) ! From Cradle to Grave: The Short Lives and Strange Deaths of Marybeth Tinning’s Nine Children (1990) ! Bitter Harvest (1980)

Green Glass: Continued from page 19 Photo by David Yeh

O’Brien suggests taking the right action to accelerate recycling. “We’re trying to establish a culture of responsibility or the ‘triple bottom line’ where success is not just measured in financial terms but in sustainable practices that don’t cause harm to people or earth,” she says. “Helping businesses see this benefit is the real task.” Building market demand for green glass is crucial, says Chris Newman, who works in the Materials Management Branch at the EPA’s Region 5 office, which serves Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. “There needs to be sufficient market demand for this material to make it economical to either ship it farther distances to a glass furnace, or for someone to start a furnace locally to consume the glass that is generated,” he says. A 2004 law prohibiting landfills of green glass deposit containers required the Michigan Department of Environment Quality, currently the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, to provide a report that addresses problems of green glass recycling. The department’s Green Glass Task Force suggested methods to expand green glass recycling, including market development through loans and grants, tax incentives for manufacturers and extending the deposit law to additional green glass containers. “It’s quite possible to recycle green glass. In fact, a number of years ago, at least one glass plant ran on 100 percent recycled content for a period of several days,” says Selke at Michigan State’s packaging department. There are a lot of states that do better than

plastic wasn’t even developed at that time,” she says. “But we made plastic the most profitable out of the recycling program. That’s why we need to promote funding.”


Michigan does, she says. “In many parts of the state we don’t have good opportunities for recycling,” Selke says. “We don’t have enough education to convince people that this is an important thing to do. There are many different things that can be done in communities to increase recycling.” Local and federal government funding is important to enhance recycling programs, says Amy Spray, a resource policy specialist for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “In the 1970s, aluminum was the most convenient material to make products, and

So if recyclers don’t want it, where does all the green glass end up? Tim Whaley, founder of Texas-based EnviroGLAS, crafts counter tops, decorative wall mosaics and even beverage coasters out of the stuff. A newspaper article sparked Whaley’s interest in landfill-bound glass nearly eight years ago. Now his company ships hard surface materials containing recycled glass to clients all over the world. But green glass isn’t the most popular color requested, Whaley says. That’s due to seasonal issues and the allure of blue, brown and clear glass. “In summer, there’s more green glass because people tend to use more beverage containers,” he says. “But in other seasons, green glass isn’t predominantly used as much as other colors so the production is slow.” Still, Whaley has used green glass in many projects at Michigan State University. Whaley, an alumnus of the university, donated a conference table to the recycling center featuring a Spartan ‘S’ set in recycled green and clear glass in honor of the university’s colors: green and white. “Green glass needs to be promoted as a usable resource, and clearly it is,” he says. !

Hyonhee Shin is a first-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at Michigan State University. Contact her at

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Foodborne Illnesses Cost Billions: Continued from page 34 pathogens, but their most notable studies only examined around seven types,” Scharff said. The study also found that $39 billion of the $152 billion were attributed to producerelated illnesses. Great Lake states Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan were ranked 5th through 8th consecutively for total amount spent on produce related illnesses nationwide. California, Texas, New York and Florida were the highest in this category. “One highlight of this report is how big the produce problem is, compared to the overall problem,” Scharff said. “I think it is bigger than a lot of people in the past, would have thought.” The three most contaminated foods in the U.S. are strawberries, bell peppers and spinach, according to the Environmental Working Group. The 2006 E-coli outbreak that eventually affected hundreds began with spinach. “We want to encourage people to be eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” O’Hara said. “But these kinds of events scare people away and damage is done to consumer confidence.”

More than 19 million foodborne illnesses a year are attributed to produce, according to the study. “Why is E-coli showing up in lettuce, when lettuce is not a natural host for E-coli, sick animals are,” said Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety in Washington D.C. “We also shouldn’t be seeing salmonella in tomatoes or peppers.”


The Food and Drug Administration is establishing food safety standards for the growing, harvesting and packaging of produce, according to The Produce Safety Project. No safety standards exist. Through the bill H.R. 2749 Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, regulatory powers to the Food and Drug Administration over food safety would increase. The legislation calls for an increase in FDA inspections of food processing plants, expanding the administration’s authority for mandatory recall of products, and creating produce safety standards. The bill has been passed in the House

Specialized master’s degree in environmental journalism

and is waiting for approval from the Senate. “I think the $152 billion overall cost, with the $39 billion cost for illnesses related to produce give us a sense that maybe this problem is even bigger than we thought,” O’Hara said. “These numbers may help the general public have a better sense of the problem and have policy makers in Washington and state capitals appreciate the scope of the problem.” Hanson said foodborne illnesses are not something society should have to worry about. “When you go to the grocery store or McDonalds or anywhere else you eat, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether you are going to die from it,” he said. “Ronald Regan had a wonderful saying, he said it about the Soviet Union, but I would say it about food services: yes we should trust that they are handling food safety, but we need to verify that they are doing it. !

Haley Walker is a first-year graduate student studying environmental journalism at Michigan State University. Contact her at


“The Knight Center reconnected me with the world of journalism and reconfirmed my belief that world-class environmental reporting can and will change the world.” - Karessa Weir (Class of 2005), Journalism teacher Spring Arbor University and Jackson Community College

• The School of Journalism at MSU is one of the nation’s largest, oldest and best journalism schools. It is ranked among the top 10 programs by the Gourman Report.

• This new program includes courses in environmental reporting, science and policy, and requires an internship in science or environmental journalism.

Application deadline: October 1 for spring semester and February 1 for fall semester. For information see Contact the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, Room 382, Communication Arts and Sciences Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich. 48824-1212. Phone: 517-353-9479 or 517-432-1415. Web:


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$152 78 $1,085

Billion dollars spent on food-related illnesses in the United States each year. (Produce Safety Project: March 3, 2010)


Foot methane bubbles created by millions of gallons of decomposing cow manure at Union Go Dairy Farm in Indiana. Much to the chagrin of his neighbors, the farm’s owner Tony Goltstein plans on popping the manure bubbles with a knife. (Wall Street Journal: March 25, 2010)

Percent of methan emissions came from individual or groups of animals in 2007. Animal digestion, decomposition of wastes in landfills and manure management are the largest sources of emissions in the United States. (Environmental Protection Agency emissions data: 2007)

Million cases reported annually.

19 1 140 100

Dollars spent by the Average American on healthcare and losses in the workplace because of foodborne-related illnesses.

Percent of the world’s coral reefs that are dead. Another 15 percent could be gone in the next 20 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Time Magazine: March 25, 2010)


Billion people in Asia that depend on the reefs for food and economic subsistence.

Square miles off limits to fishing near Dry Tortugas National Park, a group of islands 70 miles off the coast of Florida, to protect coral reefs.

Gallons of water used by the average American each day.

5 3.7


Gallons of water used by the world’s poorest each day.

Miles walked on average by women in developing countries to find water. (National Geographic: April 2010)

Square miles of Arctic sea glaciers that have melted in the last 30 years. (Environmental Defense Fund, Feb. 2007)


Billion dollars allocated by the United States government for faster passenger train systems.

220 800

Year that Glacier National Park in Montana will have no glaciers left, according to the United States Geological Survey predications.

Mile-per-hour high-speed rail from Chicago to St. Louis expected to make public transportation in the Midwest more convenient.

Tons of greenhouse gas emissions expected to be reduced by the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail project, according to its application for federal funds. (Great Lakes Echo: Nov.2009)

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School of Journalism 382 Communication Arts Building Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1212

A magazine of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University


EJ WINNERS Society of Professional Journalists — Mark of Excellence EJ Magazine Second Place, Best Student Magazine

Haley Walker First place, Non-Fiction Magazine Article, “Food Not Waste: Three Decades at the Center of a Movement”

Andrew Norman Second Place, Non-Fiction Magazine Article, “When Grass Isn’t Green: Marijuana farms on public lands aren’t kind to the environment”


Andrew Norman, Rachel Carson Award for Outstanding Graduate Student in Environmental Journalism Haley Walker, Knight Center Service Award Hyonshee Shin & Alice Rossignol, Donald F. and Katherine K. Dahlstrom Scholarship in Environmental Journalism Haley Walker, Dr. Mickie L. Edwardson Endowed Scholarship in Environmental Journalism in Memory of James Lawrence Fly

Kimberly Hirai & Kristen Decker, Michael A. and Sandra S. Clark Scholarship in Environmental Journalism Heather Lockwood (2009), Jeff Gillies, and Sarah Coefield, and Andrew Norman (2010), Don Caldwell Memorial Scholarship in Environmental Journalism Andrew Norman & Sarah Coefield, Len Barnes AAA of Michigan Award Rachael Gleason, Susan Goldberg Scholarship Alice Rossignol, Gordon Sabine Scholarship

ists with unique ideas. Applicants must e-mail or mail their entries by April 30. The winner will be chosen over the summer of 2010. For more information on the contest and to find the entry form visit —Shawntina Phillips


Pictures of giant Asian carp hovering over the Supreme Court, jumping over the Mackinac Bridge and attacking children on the beach are just a few new additions to the regional news Web site Great Lakes Echo. The Knight Center launched the site about a year ago to cover environmental issues in the Great Lakes region. The staff redesigned Great Lakes Echo in late February to allow for more reader interaction. The “Carp Bomb” section allows readers to contribute manipulated pictures of carp doing unusual things. “This is very interactive and it’s very funny,” Echo Editor David Poulson says. “But at the same time, we try to use it to illustrate the issue that’s going on and link to various stories.” In addition to cunning carp creations, the new site features short videos and a daily staff blog — Catch of the Day — which allows reporters to expand on their reporting process and write about topics they find interesting. The redesign has increased traffic, not

only directly to the Web site, but through other mediums as well, Poulson said. “We’re distributing in more ways. The Facebook presence is beginning to pick up. People are catching us through Twitter,” he says. Poulson says people come to the site because its regional approach to news coverage is different from anything else out there. “It’s sort of a wacky experiment where we’re looking at a watershed as a community,” he says. —Shawntina Phillips


The Knight Center’s fourth environmental documentary, Bad Company, examines the environmental and economic effects of terrestrial and aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes region. The documentary also looks at the history of the Great Lakes basin and shows how human interaction can create devastating effects on the surrounding ecosystems. While the hour-long is still in production, a short preview will air in April. Instructor Lou D’Aria hopes the film will be completed in late summer. Michigan State University Broadcasting Service WKAR will broadcast it in late summer or early fall. The documentary will also be made available to any Public Broadcasting Service stations that are interested. “We are hoping that it will see air on many of the PBS stations in states that share the Great Lakes’ shores,” D’Aria says.

expand his reach through social media. He can be reached at

environmental news Web site Great Lakes Echo. She can be reached at

HYONHEE SHIN, B.A. ’09, is a first year’s master’s degree student in the environmental journalism program at MSU. She is from Seoul, South Korea. During the summer of 2010 she is planning to work with an Arizona-based environmental journalist who will be working in Korea and Japan on a project dealing with carbon sequestration.

KARLYN (DUNCAN) HAAS, M.A.‘99, has moved back to Michigan after spending the past decade in Arizona. She and her husband Brian and their oneyear old daughter Emi can be reached at 227 E. 10th St., Traverse City, MI 49864. Karlyn says,“We bought a house in an older downtown neighborhood and are six blocks from the bay and within walking distance of just about everything.” Her phone number is 928308-6676 and her e-mail address is karlyn_haas@

She will help the journalist conduct research and translate. She can be reached at hyonheeshin@ GERI ALUMIT ZELDES, assistant professor of journalism, won the 2010 “excellence in advancing global competency” award in the All University Excellence in Diversity recognition competition. She can be reached at RACHAEL GLEASON, EJ editor and first-year master’s student in environmental journalism, won the Susan Goldberg scholarship. Rachael reports for the

ALICE ROSSIGNOL, a first-year master’s student in environmental journalism, will study mountain ecology in India during the summer of 2010. She can be reached at ANDREW NORMAN graduates with a master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in environmenal reporting in May 2010. He can be reached at


The Environmental Journalism Association at Michigan State University is the only student environmental journalism association in the country. The organization provides students interested in environmental journalism opportunities to build professional experiences, acquire knowledge and network with professors and reporters. This year, the students in the organization hosted and participated in a variety of activities. Students created an environmental calendar with nature photography from students and professors and important environmental dates late last semester. The calendar was sold as a fundraiser for the organization and the Knight Center. Other activities throughout the year included frequent editing nights, where students of the organizations met on Sunday nights to edit each other’s news stories. Additionally, the members had a picnic in the park in the spring. Haley Walker, president of EJA, has been involved in hosting a campus wide student question and answer session with food author Michael Pollan. Walker and doctoral candidate Lissy Goralnik met and introduced him during the event. Walker is looking forward to leading the organization again this fall. She hopes to plan a camping field trip to Nordhouse Dunes and hold a video-editing workshop. Contect her at Visit the EJA blog at http://msueja.wordpress. com. !

SARAH COEFIELD graduates with a master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in environmenal reporting in May 2010. She can be reached at DAVID POULSON, Knight Center associate director, lectured on Environmental News Reporting of Bioregional Communities at a conference of scientists and journalists sponsored by the Rivers Institute at Hanover College in Louisville, Ky. He also spoke on innovative methods for creating online environmental news communities at a conference sponsored by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism in Washington D.C. He can be reached at THOMAS HANG graduates with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications with an emphasis in design in May 2010. He has been the design editor for EJ Magazine since Spring 2009. He can be reached at

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