New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 144

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] ENVIRONMENT[image, unknown]

Pollution Wallchart

The catastrophic effects of acid rain are vividly portrayed in a new large colour wallchart on Pollution published in December 1984 by the World Wildlife Fund. Among the disastrous effects listed are:

. In Sweden, more than 18,000 lakes are acidified, of which 4,000 show grave ecological damage. In 9,000 lakes damage ranges from disturbance of fish life cycles to extinction of more vulnerable species. Most of the pollution comes from foreign sources.

. In West Germany, millions of trees are dying. A third of the country’s forests, covering an area of 2.5 million hectares, is damaged, including almost half of the Black Forest. If pollution continues at present rates most firs and spruce trees in the Black Forest will be dead by the 1990s.

. Poland’s former capital, Cracow, famous for its 13th Century Gothic architecture, is under threat from acid rain. A large steel mill, an aluminium works and heat and power generating plants all emit hazardous chemical, bringing the industrial dust falling on the city to nine times the acceptable national limit. Streets are sprayed with water to keep dust down, but dust deposits contaminated with heavy metals make cultivation of vegetables in an area 15 - 20 Ions from the emitters impossible. Buildings in the city now need restoration every five years.

The wallchart is a highly impressive teaching aid, timely and socially relevant. Other giant full-colour wallcharts in the same series include Population, Energy, Waste, The Importance of Wild Plants and Animals, and Soil. All are available at a bargain price of £1.00 ($2.50) incl. p&p from World Wildlife Fund UK, 11-13 Ockford Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 I QU, UK.

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The 30% Club

Friends of the Earth, UK is pressing government to join the 30 per cent Club. No it’s not a Bahamas tax haven but the group of nations who have pledged a dramatic reduction in the sulphur dioxide emissions from industrial plant in their countrys’ by 1995. And 1995 still allows a good ten years worth of poison into the environment to create acid rain. The Club includes

Canada, the USSR and most European nations.

However the British government’s response to the House of Commons Environment Select Committee in December was a refusal to take the pledge. At a cost of £1.5 billion for the cleansing equipment it is regarded as too expensive. What is not taken into account are the cleaning-up costs of this poison rain on water systems, forests, ancient buildings, crops and peoples’ health. Obviously such a longer term cost/benefit analysis is beyond the capabilities of the New Right.

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[image, unknown] HEALTH[image, unknown]

Popular and profitable

According to experts, the two Hoffman La Roche tranquilisers Valium and Lexotan. have comparable therapeutic value. But there is a difference to Roche. Valium is no longer protected by patent so it is cheap, whereas Lexotan is patented and thus expensive. 100 two-milligram tablets of Valium cost £1.16 ($1.40), 100 1.5 milligram tablets of Lexotan cost £4.75 ($7.00). Despite the considerable difference in price a recent survey by the British Royal Society of General Practioners found Lexotan more popular. The survey was paid for by Roche.

From Daily Mirror, UK 11.10.84.

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Quack Medicine

The US Food and Drug administration is nearing completion of a twenty year project to ensure the countrys’ drugs are effective. More than 3,400 prescription drugs went under the microscope and more than 1,100 were withdrawn from the market for lack of proof of effectiveness. Surprise, surprise, they included many popular and highly profitable drugs used for stomach upsets, obesity and sleep problems.

From The Washington Post, USA, 17.9.84

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[image, unknown] TOBACCO[image, unknown]

Fag end warnings?

The US House of Representatives have just passed legislation to replace the 13-year old warning on cigarette packs and adverts with new details that are far more specific. There are now to be four labels rotated each three months, and they must start appearing within the next year. Each label will begin:

‘Surgeon General’s Warning’. They continue: ‘Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may complicate pregnancy’; ‘Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health’; ‘Smoking by pregnant women may result in fatal injury, premature birth and low birth weight’; ‘Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide’. With all these warnings why do we still put up with the cancer sticks?

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[image, unknown] OVERSEAS AID[image, unknown]

Deutschmarks going home to roost

About 70 per cent of the money which West Germany allocated for overseas aid to developing countries in 1982 was spent with West German companies. The cosy relationship is getting more cosy. The year before only 64 per cent of the deutschmarks allocated stayed for overseas aid in the country. If they want to subsidise their own delicate industries so be it, but they should have the decency not to call this aid.

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[image, unknown] FERTILIZER[image, unknown]

The worm’s turn

‘It may be doubted,’ Charles Darwin wrote, ‘whether there are many animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as have these lowly organised creatures.’ He was talking about the mighty worm.

Today, earthworm breeders in the Philippines are bearing out the value of Darwin’s words. They want to let loose some 5,000 tons of worms to clean up an estimated 5,000 tons of organic garbage thrown out of Manila homes and factories daily. They hope to harvest 1.5 tons of worm waste daily which they will market as high quality organic fertilizer.

And as a useful by-product, Wenceslao Tan, a pioneering Filipino worm expert, claims that live earthworms in warm wine act as an aphrodisiac.

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[image, unknown] NATIONALISM[image, unknown]

American graffiti

Last summer was a perfect run-up for Reagan’s triumphal election. American chauvinism was gorged on the number of gold medals won at the Olympics. And the lack of Socialist bloc competition didn’t detract from the euphoria at all. Indeed some bumper stickers carried the logic to its obvious conclusion, reading ‘Keep the foreigners out of the Olympics’.

From END, Journal of European Nuclear Disarmament, No. 12, 1984

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[image, unknown] POPULATION[image, unknown]

Cutting off their nose

The International Planned Parenthood Federation faces a shortfall of more than $17 million this year to support their worldwide family planning programmes. Last August the antiabortion lobby in Washington DC pushed the US government into threatening that they would no longer fund ‘separate non-governmental organisations which perform or actively promote abortion in other countries.’ IPPF was the target of the threat, and a very significant threat too. For the US is the largest financial supporter of the organisation, providing $1 I million annually plus an additional $4 million in contraceptives.

The cutting of IPPF programmes, the organisation points out, will have the very effect the US policy wants to avoid. Women who cannot get contraceptive services because of the cutbacks will inevitably resort to back-street abortions in increasing numbers.

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Endquote

'Never say you do not care, remember
you are your neighbour's neighbour'

From 'Songs for the Unsung' by Cecil Rajenda

'No woman, idiot, lunatic or criminal shall vote.'
The Election Act of the Dominion of Canada (1886).

'It's not bombing - it's air support.'
US Air Force colonel in Kampuchea, quoted in Life magazine.


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