Joining Illinois Sierra Club Members in Lake and Northeastern Cook Counties

Winter 2005, Issue #46

In This Issue 

Go To Article February and March Wildlife Programs Go To Article Clean Energy is Health Care: Part II
Go To Article Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Updates Go To Article Christmas Update from the Group Chair
Go To Article Conservation in 2005 Go To Article Sightings, V.10,#1
Go To Article First 2006 Outing: Canoe the Nippersink Go To Article 403 kBPrintable, Portable W&W News
Go To Article Next Issue of W&W News Go To Article Last Issue of W&W News


 
 

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{ Meetings O Outings

Rustle the Leaf


 


Winter Blues Party

Come to Woods & Wetlands’ Winter Potluck Party

Sunday, January 22
3:00 - 7:00 pm
Lake Forest

Come shake the winter blues with your Sierra Club friends.

Join us for some winter cheer and lively conversation at a member’s home.
Please come… we want to see YOU there!

Don't miss this! RSVP today to ww-blues@illinois.sierraclub.org or call Barbara Bell at (847) 367-4253 for directions.

Here's what to bring:

If your last name starts with:

Bring

A-E

fruits & vegetables

F-J

protein

K-P

carbohydrates

Q-T

deserts

U-Z

refreshments


 


February and March Wildlife Programs
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February program:
The Return of Chicago’s Peregrine Falcon
Mary Hennen, Field Museum

At our February 15th meeting, we’ll hear how Chicago has figured in one of the great endangered species success stories, the resurrection of the peregrine falcon, the world’s fastest bird. In 1985, peregrine falcons had been absent for 20 years east of the Mississippi River and those west of the River had dropped to only 39 breeding pairs. The main culprit was DDT, but banning this pesticide and designating the bird “endangered” couldn’t alone bring it back from such small numbers.

So groups were formed, some private and some governmental, to restore this beautiful animal. Birds were bred in captivity and techniques found to introduce them back into the wild. And an interesting fact was discovered: these normally cliff dwelling predators enjoyed the city life! Nests on the edge of a skyscraper or bridge, with untold numbers of pigeons nearby, could make a happy peregrine home.

Through many trials and difficulties, a devoted group of Chicagoland bird lovers established the falcons all along the Lakefront, releasing 46 birds during the first 5 years. Mary Hennen, Field Museum scientist and director of the Museum Peregrine program, has been working with these Chicago birds since 1989 and will tell us the inside story of the falcons’ rise from the ashes.
 

FEBRUARY MEETING
Wednesday, February 15
6:45 pm
Vernon Area Library
300 Olde Half Day Road
Lincolnshire

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March program:
A Journey Through Natural Kenya and Tanzania

Photographer Laurence Stern

Through the lens of award winning photographer Laurence Stern, we will travel through game parks and land reserves. We'll see animals in their natural habitats, from the elephant to the spider, plus flowers, trees, tribesman - and more!

A must see for all nature lovers. An enthusiastic, lively speaker, Laurence will share his memorable trip with us.

 

MARCH MEETING
Thursday, March 23
6:45 pm
Vernon Area Library
300 Olde Half Day Road
Lincolnshire

 

 

See Meetings for a map, and other Group meetings.


Clean Energy is Health Care: Part IIReturn to Top

Evan Craig, Group Chair
... continued from article in Issue #45

Other toxins cause damage to our DNA, upon which we rely to provide the chemical recipes for everything in our bodies. These toxins are called carcinogens, because when our DNA is damaged, our ability to live, heal and reproduce can be compromised. The new cells we produce, if replicated with haywire DNA, form what we call cancer. We have many names for cancer, depending on which organ is affected: prostate cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), and especially in babies, leukemia (bone marrow cancer). When the DNA we pass on to our children is damaged it can cause birth defects if the segments of DNA that control a trait, called genes, are active in the living thing in which they reside. Inactive genes are called “recessive,” and they can be passed on for generations until paired with the same recessive gene from a sexual partner before swinging into action. There are 3000 genetic diseases, and 2500 of them are recessive, so they can lay low for generations while accumulating damage, and pop up to cripple our great grandchildren.

So, you might be wondering what kind of toxins are carcinogens. Topping the list is dioxin, formed when Chlorine is incinerated in sludge, as the North Shore Sanitary District plans to do in Zion. The EPA has determined that there is no safe level for dioxin, tracks it, but refuses to regulate it.

Also on the list is radioactive waste, which emits high-energy x-rays, and a variety of nuclear particles which wreak havoc with DNA. Dr. Caldicott, anti-nuclear luminary, visited our region last month to explain how radioactive waste is regularly released, and how it enters and affects our bodies.

If Illinois were a country, it would be the third most nuclear in the world. There are 14 nuclear reactors around Chicago, including the closed but still extremely dangerous Zion reactor. When Uranium nuclear fission occurs in a reactor it decays into a cornucopia of 200 new deadly radioactive elements, some of which remain so for thousands of years. As a result, the “spent” fuel produces less heat, but 3 to 30 times more radioactivity. Thousands of tons of it is stored in cooling pools to keep it from overheating, escaping and contaminating our region; and the feeble buildings that cover them are extremely vulnerable. A direct release of high level waste could cause catastrophic death tolls, and leave the region uninhabitable.

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But nuclear waste is routinely released into our environment by nuclear power plants at lower levels without such an attack or accident, in the form of chemically inert radioactive gases like 90Krypton. When it fissions into radioactive 90Strontium our bodies confuse it with Calcium and accumulate it in our bones and in mother’s milk. There it causes leukemia. Another inert Uranium daughter, 137Xenon, decays into radioactive 137Cesium, an imposter for Potassium. It doesn’t bioaccumulate like 90Sr, but damage it causes to DNA while in the body does. NPRI, led by Dr. Caldecott, states that, “In a recent study published in the journal Archives of Environmental Health, researchers found that children living near 14 eastern U.S. nuclear power plants are 12.4% more likely to develop cancer than the U.S. average, and in some counties as much as 26% more.”

So you might think that our elected officials are taking steps to eliminate the production of radioactive waste, and encourage the energy industry to find less dangerous ways to make electricity. Instead, the Bush administration has streamlined the permitting of new nuclear reactors to break the de facto moratorium since Three Mile Island disaster, and is considering extending the operating licenses of reactors with known safety issues. And our own US Rep Mark Kirk voted to reauthorize the Price Anderson Act granting government liability insurance for the nuclear power industry.

By now, if you’re still reading, you’re thinking, “everybody dies of something,” and “this is too big for me to fix.” Or maybe, “I eat organic food and exercise, so I’ll be ok,” or “we need nuclear power to avoid global warming,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. So instead of calling your elected official, you’ll hope that you’re not the one out of every 200 people that will get cancer this year, and go focus on something more fun.

But wait, there are things you can do – after calling your federal representatives – that will make an immediate difference. Start saving energy and money by reducing your energy usage and upgrading your electric appliances to more efficient models: think caulk, insulation, furnace, air conditioner, house fan, washer, drier, fridge, lights. Every kilowatt hour of electricity saved reduces mercury and radioactive emissions. Then think about turning off stuff you’re not using: lights, PCs, heat. These are things that every Sierra Club member can feel proud about doing, so why not be proud as a whole country? It’s time for our government to stop subsidizing dirty power, and start switching to cleaner energy sources.

back to beginning of article in Issue #45

 


Updates on the fight for the Arctic National Wildlife RefugeReturn to Top

Larry Marvet, Conservation Chair
In November, after a furious battle to convince Congress to protect the Arctic Refuge, a small but critical group of Republicans stood together against their Congressional leadership. Rainbow over Coastal PlainThey refused to go along with the budget bill which included Arctic drilling. The AP called it, “…a stunning setback for those who have tried for years to open a coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil development, and a victory for environmentalists who have lobbied hard against the drilling provision.”

And if you think we’re too far from Washington or Alaska to make a difference, then consider that our own Congressional delegates, Melissa Bean and Mark Kirk, were key votes for this victory. In fact, Republican Kirk defied his leadership and is one of the famous “moderate Republicans” group that forced drilling off the bill. Black Smoke Emissions at Prudhoe Bay The fact that he stood his ground in this fight is both a testament to his environmental bent and to the voices he heard from us over the days and weeks preceding the vote.

Congress is in a strange state now, hopefully leading to better, more environmentally friendly legislation. Tom Delay, the most powerful House member, has been deflated due to his recent criminal indictment; G.W. Bush is at his lowest (but well deserved) popularity ever; and the deficit, hurricanes and Iraq have roiled and splintered the Republican majority.

The Arctic vote may be the start of good times, but then again, it might not. Keep your eyes on the news and this newsletter—Arctic drilling won’t be dead until March.

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Christmas Update from the Group Chair

One defeat trying to sacrifice America's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the sake of pork barrel spending wasn't enough for the Senior Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens. He didn't get the message from watching his colleagues remove it from the Budget. In an audacious and visible demonstration of brute political will he inserted it into the Defense Appropriations Bill needed to support our troops. He thought the fear of being accused of not supporting the troops would far outweigh concerns about the Refuge. But many Senators were outraged by the contempt he showed for the Senate by artificially coupling the two unrelated issues.

Unfortunately, mangling the rules to inject unrelated content into must-pass legislation is more commonplace in the US House of Representatives. We were disappointed to see our Arctic hero from the US 10th district, US Congressman Mark Kirk, cave in to pressure there and vote for resolution 639. It waived a point of order to allow drilling the Arctic to be bundled with the House's version of the Defense spending legislation. Our Congresswoman from the 8th district, Melissa Bean, voted against 639, but it passed narrowly anyway, 214-201.

In the congressional "I voted for it, but then I voted against it" tradition, Stevens, Kirk and Bean all reversed themselves. Bean voted for the Defense Appropriations Bill (including Arctic Drilling) to support the troops. Kirk, in a meaningless gesture, voted against overwhelming numbers from both parties, and the Bill passed the House. Then it was up to the Senate.

Stevens sputtered and scorned those Senators who turned their backs on pork to form a veto-proof majority and filibuster Arctic drilling out of the Senate's version. But then he joined them to retain the ability to bring it back to life later.

Thanks to IL Senator Dick Durbin for leading the fight, and to IL Senator Barack Obama for closing ranks.

Have a Caribou Holiday!


Join Our Free E-mail Lists! Return to Top

Members are invited to join the W&W group's e-mail lists. On the ALERTS list you will receive infrequent timely posts from the Group Chair (only), primarily on local issues. Some of these appear on this website, and if you subscribe you will learn about them in time to help. The ISSUES list allows you to share in a discussion with other W&Wers. To sign up, just visit each of these websites and click Join :

ALERTS

ISSUES

We do not share e-mail address lists, and you can remove yourself from either list at any time.

 


Conservation in 2005 Return to Top

Larry Marvet, Conservation Chair
Looking back over 2005, we’ve had some tremendous achievements: Costco was blocked from building in Lake Forest on natural lands adjacent to the Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve; and Mark Kirk was convinced to oppose oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thereby effectively ending the latest federal assault on natural Alaska. In both cases, a key factor was our alliance with other like-minded people and groups to bring additional power to our efforts.

The Costco issue brought us together with homeowners, a number of county, state and federal governmental agencies, local businesses, other environmental groups, and even the (first place) Chicago Bears! Also, as we fight (and continue to fight) for the Arctic, we are joined by hard workers at the Alaska Coalition, PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and REP (Republicans for Environmental Protection).

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Both of these accomplishments show that success means opening our arms wider and getting more involvement, both within Sierra Club and outside it. If you like the pro-environmental trend gaining momentum in Lake County, think about how you can get involved, whether writing the occasional letter to a Congressman, attending our monthly General Meetings or joining our Conservation Committee (meeting on the 4th Wednesday of each month). Feel free to call or write me for more information.

Larry Marvet
847-537-2083

 


Sightings: Human Diseases - When Man Abuses Nature Return to Top

by Donald R. Dann
Avian flu, HIV, West Nile virus, Monkey Pox, Ebola, SARS and others, are not frightening words, but deadly human diseases. Interestingly, all are relatively recent arrivals on the world scene. Why? What is happening in nature that is causing previously unknown or otherwise initially benign viruses to turn into human killers?

Ebola – Prior to the mid-1970’s it was unheard of and then severe outbreaks in Sudan and the former Zaire killed approximately 440 people. Ebola infections of humans have been linked to direct contact with animals found dead in the rain forest, including gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, forest antelopes and others.

SARS – It was thought that Asian civet cats were the source of this virus, but most scientists now believe it resides is in bat populations. The prescription is to do everything possible to avoid encroaching upon bat habitats and to resist using bats as food and medicine (as is practiced in some countries).

West Nile Virus – The disease was unknown prior to 1937 when a Ugandan woman was infected. Birds are the unwilling hosts of the virus and if a bird is bitten by a common household mosquito which then infects a human, it can be potentially lethal.

HIV – Over a long period of time viruses evolve to live with their long term hosts since if a virus kills off its host it will also die. For example chimpanzees in West Africa live compatibly with their HIV-like viruses. However, when we butcher them for bushmeat, the virus emerges in a new host, humans. The result has been a devastating global pandemic.

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Avian (Bird) Flu – Some authorities believe that avian influenza has been carried by waterfowl, harmlessly, for hundreds of thousands of years. But in Hong Kong in 1997 it apparently moved from ducks to people, portending the viruses’ capability of “travel at pandemic velocity through a densely urbanized and mostly poor humanity” (Mike Davis, from The Monster at our Door).

Consider the forces that are bringing all these diseases front and center: worldwide travel, densely packed urban slums, especially in the third world, wetland destruction, unsustainable forest clearing, and factory farms where livestock and poultry are raised in overcrowded and oft-times filthy conditions. As we destroy more habitat, stresses on wildlife populations intensify as does human contact with them. When we develop unused land and remove wildlife, we create the conditions in which disease agents search for new hosts, including humans.

Dr. Peter Daszak says, “Anytime you bring multiple species of animals together at high density and mix them with humans (for example, live animal markets), you set the stage for pathogens to jump between species and for an outbreak to occur."

Once we understand that human activities drive disease emergence, through the wildlife trade, global travel, agricultural intensification or expansion into wildlife habitat, we can do more to protect ecosystems and preserve natural biodiversity, thereby limiting the ways in which we bring people, domestic animals and wildlife into closer contact. In this way we can reduce opportunities for these and unknown future diseases to emerge.

Nature is incredibly resilient but these diseases show what happens when we relentlessly abuse it.

 


First 2006 Outing: Canoe the Nippersink Return to Top

Evan Craig, Group Chair
At our November program meeting, To Restore the Nippersink, the first planned outing for 2006 was announced. As we learned at the meeting, the Nippersink is one of the most cherished streams in the region. On Saturday, June 3, we will canoe two previously channelized sections that in 1999 and 2000 were restored to their pre-settlement meandering streambeds.

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We’ll pause to climb up a kame to survey the valley home of the creek, and witness how the meanders have vastly reduced erosion. The quality of the creek’s waters is important in maintaining the profusion of aquatic life, and we'll learn about the role of the creek’s unprotected wetland headwaters.

This is outing requires paddlers to have the ability to accurately turn and position a canoe in moving water, and will begin with a review of stream paddling skills on shore. Trip cost includes canoe rental, reduced if you bring your own. Carpooling encouraged. To sign up, visit the Outings page on our website and submit a questionnaire.

Questions? Contact: Evan Craig or Geno Spain.

 


Printable and Portable W&W News Return to Top

Here's the printed version of this issue of the W&W News in pdf. It's 485 kB and you'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it. If you want to give a copy to a friend who doesn't have internet access, we suggest printing this pdf rather than this web page.

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