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The Guardian (UK): Goldman Sachs boss becomes US treasury secretary
Julian Borger
31.5.2006
· Paulson takes $38m pay cut for political role
· News fails to prevent falls in Dow Jones and dollar

President Bush yesterday nominated the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Henry Paulson, as his new treasury secretary to replace John Snow, whom some Republicans had blamed for failing to convert economic growth into political support.

Announcing the decision, the president said the 60-year-old investment banker had "an ability to explain economic issues in clear terms" and "a reputation for candour and integrity". Mr Paulson also won praise from Democrats and is almost certain to be confirmed by the Senate.

However, yesterday's news failed to prevent a dip in the New York stock market and in the dollar, reversing gains made last week. The dollar suffered its biggest fall against the euro for six weeks, after US consumer confidence figures hit a three-month low. The Dow Jones slid after Wal-Mart disclosed weak sales and oil prices rose. Weakness spread to London where the FTSE 100 fell 2.4% to 5652.

Robert Lenzner, the national editor of Forbes financial magazine, argued that traders were jittery in general and that yesterday's movements were not a reflection on the nomination. "I know Paulson very well. He's an enormously effective, kick-ass, incisive character."

A frequent traveller to China, US political analysts hope his experience may give him an edge when it comes to the fraught negotiations on China's currency, which the US sees as drastically undervalued.

Mr Paulson is also a keen environmentalist who spends much of his free time observing wildlife and is chairman of the board of the Nature Conservancy organisation. Mr Lenzner said he could have an impact on the Bush administration's environmental policy. "Paulson comes in unblemished by Iraq, unblemished by past weakness. He could well be the most effective voice for change," Mr Lenzner said.

Mr Snow, who said yesterday he had "looked forward for some time to returning to private life", was the victim of a whispering campaign. Republican officials had complained that despite strong growth, Americans had no more confidence in Republicans to manage the economy than Democrats.

In brief remarks after being introduced by the president, Mr Paulson said the American economy was an engine of growth for the rest of the world but could not be taken for granted.

Observers were puzzled over why Mr Paulson agreed to take the job, which will involve a pay cut from about $38m (£20m) to just over $100,000, particularly as the Bush administration heads towards the sunset.

Stephen Hess, a former Republican presidential aide and now a political analyst, said: "When you've made all the money you could possibly spend or give away, there is something to be said for having 'treasury secretary' on your resume or your obituary."

The Firm
Known as "the Firm", Goldman Sachs has provided two US treasury secretaries in little over a decade. Founded in 1869 and one of the oldest and most successful banks in the world, it has made a habit of providing future public servants in recent years. Henry Paulson follows his predecessor Robert Rubin, who signed his name on US dollar bills as treasury secretary between 1994 and 1999. Since the bank's flotation in 1999, which made multi-millionaires of its partners, Goldman Sachs alumni have gone on to take leading roles in the US government.

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The New York Times: The Greener Guys

By JAD MOUAWAD

30.5.2006

When Timberland, the outdoor clothing company, studied ways to reduce its carbon emissions four years ago, it weighed several options: building a wind farm in the Dominican Republic, buying power generated by renewable resources and setting up a vast bank of solar panels at one of its distribution centers in Ontario, Calif.

It chose to do all those things, but that was the easy part. When Jeffrey B. Swartz, Timberland's president and chief executive, considered how much carbon dioxide was produced in making leather for the company's famous boots, the answer came as a surprise.

"As it turns out, the vast majority of the greenhouse gases associated with manufacturing leather comes from cows in the field," Mr. Swartz said. "Yes, methane."

While Timberland figures out how to reduce these emissions — it is examining ways to change the feed for cows — the company has already cut its greenhouse gases by 17 percent from their 2002 level and aims to become carbon-neutral by 2010 by offsetting its emissions through renewable or alternative energy sources.

Americans are increasingly recognizing that the effects of carbon emissions on global warming are a serious problem, but there are no rules in the United States regulating heat-trapping gases comparable to those that most other developed countries have adopted under the Kyoto Protocol. Some United States businesses, though, are responding for a variety of reasons anyway: to satisfy customers or shareholders who worry about the environment, to improve their public image or to drive down their energy costs. In addition, some states and local authorities have stepped in to try to curb their contributions to global warming.

For Timberland, while it shares the concerns over global warming, it's mostly a matter of dollars and cents. As Mr. Swartz put it: "What idiot will leave costs on the table? I hope it's our competitors. I get paid to create value."

But reducing carbon emissions is no easy task.

Scientists, economists, environmentalists and a growing rank of business leaders warn that corporate America needs to move more quickly or it will face the consequences: higher energy prices, a potential cost for carbon pollution and, eventually, products that will have trouble competing globally because other countries are reducing emissions.

The United States is responsible for a quarter of all the carbon dioxide sent into the atmosphere each year. It has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty on climate change that went into effect last year for more than three dozen countries in Europe and elsewhere, that set targets and timetables for cutting emissions.

If consumption of fossil fuels continues at today's pace, the Energy Department predicts that carbon emissions in the United States could rise to more than eight billion tons by 2030 — 38 percent above current levels — as energy use keeps growing.

"This is a huge challenge for American businesses, particularly those trying to compete internationally," said Adam Markham, executive director of Clean Air-Cool Planet, an advocacy group in Portsmouth, N.H. "Most of the rest of the developing world has a legislative mandate to curb emissions, but in the United States, in many cases, there is no real reason for companies to act."

Many analysts predict that the United States will eventually set rules limiting greenhouse emissions. Then, carbon pollution will turn into a cost of doing business.

In Europe, for example, companies that go over their emission limits must buy carbon credits to comply. Under the continent-wide trading system, the cost of a carbon credit reached a high of 30.5 euros for each metric ton, or about $39, last month. (In the last month, prices have dropped by half as many power plants reported much lower emissions than expected.)

But only 86 companies in the United States, accounting for 8 percent of domestic carbon emissions, have enrolled in Climate Leaders, the Environmental Protection Agency's voluntary program to cut emissions. Emissions in the United States have risen 16 percent since 1990, the agency said.

"There is certainly a lot of inertia in the economy, and many companies have their heads in the sand, wishing and hoping that somehow the overwhelming consensus among scientists is going to go away," said Alan Nogee, director of the clean energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Cambridge, Mass. But it's not. And ultimately their shareholders and customers are likely to pay a price. The reality is that carbon regulation is coming inevitably to the United States, as it has to the rest of the world."

Freezing emissions at today's levels will not solve global warming. Experts say that large reductions in global emissions — 50 percent or more by 2050 — are needed to stop carbon concentrations from rising. But reaching that goal requires a major transformation of how economies and businesses operate.

"It's going to change everything we do," said Joseph J. Romm, an analyst at the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, a group that helps businesses lower emissions.

Environmental regulations and energy saving are not new. Since the 1970's and 1980's, when energy saving policies became popular in reaction to high fuel prices, the global economy has made huge strides in efficiency.

But economic activity has grown at the same time, and carbon emissions along with it.

"There is a lot that companies can do, especially in the area of energy efficiency," said Ashok Gupta, an economist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group in New York.

Not surprisingly, the biggest strides have been achieved by corporations with operations outside the United States. I.B.M. and DuPont, for example, have long had programs to curb their energy use. In doing so, they have managed to cut manufacturing costs while decreasing their emissions.

At DuPont, the savings from energy projects has totaled $2 billion over the last decade and a half. I.B.M. saved $115 million since 1998 by avoiding 1.3 million tons of carbon emissions, or the equivalent of taking 51,600 cars off the road, according to the climate change program at the World Wildlife Fund.

Other companies, like 3M, Advanced Micro Devices and the Gap, have pledged voluntary reductions in their emissions. Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, announced a sweeping set of environmental goals last October, including doubling its truck fleet's efficiency and improving energy efficiency at its stores.

Johnson & Johnson decided in the late 1990's to meet the Kyoto requirements globally. From 1990 to 2005, the company reduced carbon emissions by 11.5 percent. Meanwhile, sales grew by 350 percent.

"We have not sacrificed business growth to meet our carbon emissions," said Dennis Canavan, the executive director for worldwide energy management at Johnson & Johnson. "As Kyoto has recognized, the environment only sees the absolute amount of carbon you reduce. Allowing emissions to grow will take us to a bad place."

But some business areas remain averse to change. The transportation sector and utilities account for more than 55 percent of all emissions; they are mainly reluctant to commit to reductions without a federal mandate.

Last month, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held hearings on climate change that led to a few surprises. Some utilities, breaking with their trade group, asked Congress to set mandatory limits on carbon emissions.

Exelon and Duke Energy, the nation's largest utility owners, said they favored a mandatory cap on emissions. As big users of nuclear power, they stand to benefit more than competitors that burn coal. But they also note that firm rules would level the playing field for everyone.

"Customers and shareholders need greater certainty," Ruth G. Shaw, a senior executive at Duke Energy, told the Senate committee. But Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, said it would be impossible to adopt any law this year because of election-year gridlock.

David G. Hawkins, who ran the air pollution program at the Environmental Protection Agency in the Carter administration, said that many utilities were not happy with the current lack of policy.

"At a minimum, the absence of a controlled program creates uncertainty," said Mr. Hawkins, now the director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Local and regional governments have stepped in to fill the gap. California and nine Northeastern states have drawn up plans to limit carbon emissions, and so have many cities.

Automakers have also resisted changing. David Friedman, an auto specialist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the average fuel economy of vehicles in the United States today — about 25 miles a gallon — had dropped by about one mile a gallon in the last 20 years. Most of the improvements in engine efficiency, however, have been lost because Detroit carmakers built larger cars and trucks.

"The automobile industry always feels it is difficult to make changes, whether on safety regulation, on seat belts, on emission standards, on smog and on global warming," Mr. Friedman said. "They always had to be forced to make progress."

Bill McKibben, a resident scholar at Middlebury College in Vermont and the author of "The End of Nature," a book about global warming, said there was no single answer.

"What people don't get is the scale of what needs to be done," he said. "Anybody whose solution includes the phrase 'in 20 years,' hasn't quite caught on to where we are."

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Associated Press: Pollution Market Collapses -- But Without Triggering Concern Among Experts
By Arthur Max

30.5.2006

BONN, Germany — A new commodity burst onto trading markets a year ago, heralded as a key ingredient in the effort to curtail climate-changing greenhouse gases. That item was carbon permits -- the right to pollute -- and it soared from zero to a US$10 billion business.

Then the market crashed.

Carbon prices lost 70 percent of their value in a few days late last month. If it had happened to gold, copper or sugar futures, it might have triggered a world panic.

But no one -- neither the traders nor the people who invented the trading system -- seemed overly concerned. If anything, they were pleased.

"It is evidence that the market forces are working," said Edwin Aalders, of the International Emissions Trading Association, which speaks for more than 100 European companies.

"This is a blessing in disguise," said Stephen Singer, of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, or WWF. It showed that the market is a "sound, economic and effective way to deal with environmental problems."

The collapse came when it was discovered that the European Commission had miscalculated the amount of carbon permits that industry would use or trade. Supply outstripped demand, and when year-end figures of emissions allowances released this month showed a leftover surplus, prices went into free-fall.

By coincidence, the crash happened days before the United Nations convened a session in Bonn of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, where carbon trading was created and enshrined in the landmark Kyoto Protocol that came into force in February 2005.

But it barely caused a stir among the delegates of 189 countries attending, said Janos Pasztor, of the U.N.'s Climate Change Secretariat.

"There's nothing wrong with the system, but obviously there's still some work to do in the EU countries," he said on the sidelines of the conference.

The convention ended Friday with an agreement to continue the Kyoto model for reducing greenhouse gases after the protocol expires in 2012.

The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement among 36 industrial countries to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases that scientists say trap the earth's heat. Many climatologists believe global warming may already be responsible for the growing frequency of hurricanes and floods, and for a variety of natural events like melting glaciers and the bleaching of the oceans' corals.

The Kyoto accord, which the United States rejected, set mandatory targets to cut emissions, with an overall goal of pumping 5 percent less carbon into the atmosphere by 2012 than in 1990. The European Union accepted an 8 percent cut.

In Europe, 10,500 factories were told how many tons of carbon dioxide they could emit, setting limits that -- ideally -- would require them to install new technology or use energy more efficiently.

Since not all industries could adapt quickly, those that couldn't meet their target were allowed to buy permits from those that cut emissions more than required and had a surplus to sell.

A freewheeling market developed, with trading exchanges to facilitate deals among industries with too many or too few units. Companies factored the permits into planning their energy costs.

The system appeared to collapse as the European Commission's first-year figures showed it had allocated too many credits -- 44.1 million metric tons went unused of the allocated 1.83 billion tons, or about 2.4 percent.

"The verified emissions were much lower than expected, and therefore there was this reaction," said Artur Runge-Metzger, chief of the commission's climate unit.

Peter Koster, a trader on the Amsterdam-based European Climate Exchange, said the price of a metric ton of CO2 emissions fell from euro30 (US$38.40) on April 24 to about euro10 (US$12.80) three days later, and hit a low of euro9.30 (US$11.90) on May 12. "There was huge volume and huge volatility," he said.

Prices have since recovered to euro19.10 (US$24.40).

The commission says it not entirely to blame.

As a startup project, the allocations were largely guesswork. The amount of actual emissions also were affected by favorable variables -- a mild winter, good rains in the north that boosted hydroelectricity and the rise in oil prices that were an incentive to save fuel, said Runge-Metzger.

Singer, the environmentalist from WWF, faulted the overallocation of units on the companies, which inflated emissions estimates. The allocations in each country were parceled out by its government, which came under heavy lobbying from the industries to set high ceilings.

"Governments were cheated by the industries. They were given the wrong numbers," Singer said in an interview.

But 2005 is being seen as a pilot phase, and there's time to make corrections, he said. The allocations will be more firmly based on experience when they are apportioned for the crucial period of 2008 to 2012.

The question remains whether the system is helping industry reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or whether companies are just shuffling around money and carbon permits.

Germany claims to have cut emissions by 4 percent, and some progress was made in the Netherlands, Britain, Sweden and France.

"It would be unfair to say nothing has happened," said Singer. But the gains "are dwarfed by the overall business-as-usual emissions" in most of Europe.

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New York Times: 2 Studies Link Global Warming to Greater Power of Hurricanes

By JOHN SCHWARTZ

31.5.2006

Climate researchers at Purdue University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology separately reported new evidence yesterday supporting the idea that global warming is causing stronger hurricanes.



As Hurricane Season Looms, States Aim to Scare


That claim is the subject of a long-running scientific dispute. And while the new research supports one side, neither the authors nor other climate experts say it is conclusive.

In one new paper, to appear in a coming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, Matthew Huber of the Purdue department of earth and atmospheric sciences and Ryan L. Sriver, a graduate student there, calculate the total damage that could be caused by storms worldwide, using data normally applied to reconciling weather forecast models with observed weather events.

The Purdue scientists found that their results matched earlier work by Kerry A. Emanuel, a hurricane expert at M.I.T. Dr. Emanuel has argued that global warming, specifically the warming of the tropical oceans, is already increasing the power expended by hurricanes.

The approach used by the Purdue researchers, concentrating on what is called reanalysis data, has never been tried for this purpose before, Dr. Huber said in an interview, adding, "We were surprised that it did as well as it did."

In a statement accompanying the release of the study, Dr. Huber said the results were important because the overall measure of cyclone activity, whether through more intense storms or more frequent storms, had doubled with a one-quarter-degree increase in average global temperature.

In the other new study, Dr. Emanuel and Michael E. Mann, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University, compared records of global sea surface temperatures with those of the tropical Atlantic and said the recent strengthening of hurricanes was attributable largely to the rise in ocean surface temperature.

Some researchers say long-term cycles unrelated to global warming are the major cause of hurricane strengthening in recent decades. But Dr. Emanuel and Dr. Mann, whose work is to be published in Eos, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, maintained that the cycles, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, had little if any effect.

In fact, they reported that the most recent cooling cycle could just as well be attributed to the presence of particle pollutants in the atmosphere that block sunlight and, they said, could have temporarily counteracted some of the influence of warming from accumulating greenhouse gases. Dr. Mann said the new findings also suggested that as efforts to cut pollution by particles and aerosols continued to intensify, their cooling effects would diminish while the heating effects of greenhouse gases would remain unconstrained.

As a result, he said, "we could be in for much larger increases in Atlantic sea surface temperatures, and tropical cyclone activities, in the decades ahead." He joked that some might urge an increase in pollution, but called it "a Faustian bargain."

Stanley B. Goldenberg, a meteorologist with the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who has expressed skepticism about any connection between global warming and hurricane intensity, said he had not seen the new papers but had read nothing in other recent research to change his view.

"There's going to be an endless series of articles from this circle that is embracing this new theology built on very flimsy interpretation" of hurricane data, Mr. Goldenberg said. "If global warming is having an effect on hurricanes, I certainly wouldn't base it on the articles I've seen."
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Libération: Loi sur l'eau : une occasion manquée

Par Eliane PATRIARCA


mercredi 31 mai 2006

Ressources. Le texte adopté hier très critiqué par les associations.


L'Assemblée nationale a adopté hier le projet de loi sur l'eau et les milieux aquatiques, qui vise à parvenir d'ici à 2015, comme le demande une directive européenne, à «un bon état écologique des eaux». Les groupes UMP et UDF ont voté pour, les groupes socialiste, communiste et républicain, ainsi que les Verts, contre. Le Sénat, qui avait examiné ce projet de loi en première lecture en avril 2005, en débattra à nouveau fin juin. Le projet prévoit notamment la création d'un Office national de l'eau et des milieux aquatiques, la modification du système de répartition des redevances des agences de l'eau, ainsi que des mesures contre le braconnage et l'abus de pesticides. Un amendement encourage l'installation de systèmes de récupération des eaux pluviales, avec la création d'un crédit d'impôt de 40 % pour les particuliers, pour un plafond de dépenses de 5 000 euros.

Pour les associations de protection de la nature, ce texte est une occasion manquée. «Sous l'influence des lobbies agrochimiques et agricoles, le gouvernement n'a pas voulu taxer les pollutions agricoles par les pesticides et les nitrates à leur juste hauteur, estime François Veillerette, président du MDRGF (Mouvement pour les droits et le respect de générations futures). L'agriculture consomme 75 % des ressources en eau du pays. C'est le plus gros utilisateur de pesticides et l'une des sources les plus importantes de pollution de l'eau. Le texte ne prévoit une contribution de l'agriculture au budget des agences de l'eau qu'à hauteur de 4 % alors que les ménages contribueraient pour 82 % et les industries pour 14 %.»

Même déception à l'association Eaux et rivières de Bretagne : «Les redevances sur les pesticides restent à un niveau ridicule et les engrais azotés, responsables avec les lisiers de la pollution des eaux par les nitrates, ne seront toujours pas taxés. Les consommateurs, pollués-payeurs, sont les grands perdants de cette loi sur l'eau.» Alors que 75 % des rivières françaises sont polluées par les pesticides, comme 57 % des eaux souterraines, ce texte peu ambitieux ne permettra pas, selon ces associations, de retour à un bon état des eaux d'ici à 2015.

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BBC: Migrating birds suffer huge loss

By Rebecca Morelle


25.5.2006

Migratory birds have suffered a dramatic decline in numbers, according to a study.

Species that migrate thousands of miles from Africa to the UK have been the worst hit over the last 30 years.

The researchers say the cause of the decline remains a "mystery", but could be linked to climate change, habitat destruction or pesticide use.

Writing in the journal Biological Conservation, they warn the losses may indicate wider environmental damage.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and BirdLife International study analysed population trends of European breeding birds, including non-migratory birds and those that migrate both short and long distances.

The data spanned three decades, from 1970 to 2000.

"We found that long distant migrants - the ones that go right across the Sahara, like the swallows, flycatchers and warblers - have shown a fairly consistent pattern of decline," said Dr Paul Donald, an author on the paper from the RSPB.

Those that winter in Africa, he said, seem to be the most affected.

The study also compared the long-distant migratory birds with closely related non-migratory birds, but again found in almost every case that the migratory birds faired worse.

Fifty-four percent of the 121 long-distant migratory birds studied suffered plummeting numbers or had even become extinct since 1970.

The roll-call of declining species is long.

"Some fairly iconic species have declined enormously in Europe. There is a very beautiful blue and purple bird called the roller - the population of that bird is crashing all over Eastern Europe," Dr Donald told the BBC News website.

"In the UK, other species that have declined enormously are spotted flycatchers, pied flycatchers, wheatears, wood warblers and tree pipits."



Changing climate

The exact reason for the birds' decline, according to the authors, is a "mystery". But several theories to explain the losses have been put forward, and will now be investigated.

One explanation is tied to the changing conditions in Africa, where the birds winter.

"We know that agriculture has spread; we know there has been a long-term drought in the Sahel; and we know huge amounts of pesticides are used to control locust outbreaks," said Dr Donald.

The swelling size of the Sahara may also be hampering the birds. Migrating birds face longer and longer non-stop flights across the desert.

Climate change has been highlighted as a potential culprit. Warmer springs in Europe are causing some insects to hatch earlier in the year, which means by the time the migratory birds arrive to breed and raise their young they may have missed their much-needed food-source.

"Migrants make up a high proportion of our species of birds, so this is a big conservation issue," said Dr Donald.

"But if you think that these are birds that cover vast areas of the Earth's land-surface - this consistent pattern of decline is indicative that there are some pretty severe environmental changes going on somewhere which might also have an impact on humans."

The authors conclude that urgent action is needed to uncover the cause of the decline.

"There is something about being a migrant that counts against them," said Dr Donald.

"These birds have been slipping away from under our noses for 30 years, and we've never has really noticed it before."
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Inter Press Service: Environment: Something Smells Rotten At Argentine Pulp Mills
by Marcela Valente

26.5.2006


BUENOS AIRES, May 26, 2006 (IPS/GIN) -- Argentine pulp and paper mill companies

are on the defensive as challenges simmer against the construction of two large

pulp mills in neighboring Uruguay.
The approximately 30 factories in the sector produce some 900,000 tons of pulp

annually, based on different technologies and raw materials. The largest and

most questioned mills are located on the Paran River, in the northeast.
Since March, Paraguay has filed suit against Argentina for the alleged lack of

wastewater treatment by the pulp mills Alto Paran , Celulosa Puerto Piray and

Benfide, in the northeastern province of Misiones, on their shared border.
Paraguay says the Argentine companies discharge chemical waste into the Paran ,

but Argentina has yet to respond to the complaint of the neighboring country's

Foreign Ministry.
Alfredo Molinas, environment minister of Paraguay, said on May 12 that his

country will insist that the problem "be resolved through diplomacy, without the

need to escalate to a dispute."
The environmental watchdog group Greenpeace will issue a report at the end of

the month about the paper and pulp industry in Argentina, where, it says, no

company in that sector sets a positive example.
Some pollute the surroundings because they use chlorine in the bleaching

process, "and those that don't use it have problems in treatment of discharge --

in other words, in all cases adjustments have to be made," Juan Carlos

Villalonga, director of Greenpeace-Argentina, told Tierram,rica.


The Argentine Association of Pulp and Paper Producers, which represents more

than 90 percent of the industry, signed an agreement May 10 with the Environment

Secretariat for a clean production program and business competition aimed at

preventing the pollution associated with that industry.


"The Argentine companies are aware of the need to take care of the environment,

and for some time have invested in this, but they have only been isolated

actions. Now we are going to coordinate efforts," association President Rafael

Gaviola told Tierram,rica.


Greenpeace's Villalonga says the agreement is good news. "Now they need to set a

timeline for achieving each of the goals, because that is what pushes the

companies to move: the obligation to comply," he said.
As it stands, the agreement is voluntary and commits the signatories to a series

of objectives. "The idea is to show the companies that instead of throwing away

inputs or generating waste, it would benefit them to be efficient in process

management," Victoria Bel ustegui, clean production coordinator for the

Environment Secretariat, said in a Tierram,rica interview.
Public attention to the local pulp industry increased in the wake of the

conflict surrounding the construction of two paper pulp mills by the Finnish

firm Botnia and the Spanish company ENCE on the Uruguayan side of the border

river shared with Argentina. The biggest protests against the potential

contamination of the Uruguay River have been in the Argentine city of

Gualeguaych£. But the

city's neighbors in Uruguay defend the two plants as a source of jobs. The

factories will produce around 1.5 million tons annually for export.


Although association chief Gaviola affirms that the Argentine mills invested

some $35 million between 2001 and 2006 "in environmental improvements alone,"

there are 12 companies involved in disputes. One is Alto Paran , which produces

350,000 tons of pulp paste each year.


"The technology that Alto Paran uses is the same that Botnia will use," said

Gaviola, in reference to the "elemental chlorine free" (ECF) technology.

Nevertheless, the residents in the area argue that the Misiones Ministry of

Ecology does not provide reports on tests of the Paran River.


In the late 1990s, Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against Celulosa Argentina,

located downstream on the same river, in the eastern province of Santa Fe, for

pollution since 1929. "The lawsuit was not successful," said Villalonga.
Greenpeace and the Ecologist Workshop of Rosario provided water samples with

contaminants -- many of them persistent pollutants -- associated with the use of

chlorine. Celulosa Argentina denies using the chemical in its production, but

will not say what it does use. Santa Fe residents say they have been requesting

information from the company, which floods the area with a strong odor of rotten

eggs.
The paper company Papelera del Tucum n, in the northeastern Argentine province

of the same name, was the only one whose executives were indicted, following a

report from provincial authorities in early 2003.


In March, government regulations were tightened in Buenos Aires province, where

preventative shutdowns were carried out against Papelera Massuh and Papelera

Baradero for failures in treatment of wastewater discharge.
"The pulp paste companies have challenges, as do other sectors where we are

pursuing clean production processes. Some are improving a great deal, while

others need consulting in order to advance," said ministry official Bel ustegui.
"Everyone has to improve in one key sector, which is the use of water," she

said.


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Le Monde: Une délicate démoustication partielle de la Camargue va être menée pour la première fois

Hervé Morin

29.05.06
Lutter contre les moustiques est un travail de Sisyphe. Depuis bientôt un demi-siècle, l'Entente interdépartementale pour la démoustication du littoral méditerranéen (EID), créée en 1958, en fait l'expérience. Chaque année, elle traite en moyenne, des Bouches-du-Rhône aux Pyrénées-Orientales en passant par le Gard, l'Hérault et l'Aude, quelque 30 000 hectares de zones marécageuses, 7 000 km de fossés et 74 000 gîtes urbains. Avec jusqu'ici une exception, la Camargue. Mais, pour la première fois, il a été demandé à l'EID, par le conseil général des Bouches-du-Rhône, de procéder à une démoustication partielle et expérimentale de cette zone préservée, paradis des diptères. Une conséquence de l'épisode exceptionnel de pullulation d'Aedes caspius, en septembre 2005.

La zone considérée concerne Salin-de-Giraud/Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône. Elle exclut la réserve de 30 000 hectares qui constitue le coeur de la Camargue. C'est au vu des résultats de cette première campagne, financée à hauteur de 1 million d'euros, qu'il sera décidé d'étendre ou non les traitements. "Les premiers traitements larvicides n'interviendront pas avant la fin de l'été, prévient Michel Babinot, directeur opérationnel de l'EID. Il faudra auparavant déterminer les zones d'éclosion potentielles."

Le produit utilisé sera le Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), qui persiste moins longtemps dans l'environnement que les molécules organophosphorées, moins chères, mais responsables de dégâts collatéraux sur les insectes, les poissons et les oiseaux. Brigitte Poulin, de la Tour de Valat, une fondation privée spécialisée dans la conservation, sera chargée d'une étude d'impact. "Le Bti est une matière vivante, dont on connaît très peu l'effet à long terme sur ces écosystèmes", note-t-elle.

Cette campagne expérimentale ne réjouit pas Mylène Weill, de l'Institut des sciences de l'évolution de Montpellier : "Pourquoi prendre le risque de faire apparaître des moustiques mutants, résistants aux insecticides, alors qu'il est indispensable de conserver des zones avec des populations d'insectes sensibles ?", demande-t-elle. Partout sur la planète en effet, les populations de moustiques résistants aux insecticides se multiplient, illustrant, tout comme la course de vitesse entre bactéries et antibiotiques, une "loi" de l'évolution : sur de grandes populations soumises à une pression de sélection - en l'occurrence, les pesticides -, les chances qu'apparaissent des individus mutants capables d'y survivre sont multipliées.

Un des rares moyens de lutter contre les souches résistantes est de les "diluer" dans des populations de moustiques sensibles. La résistance implique en effet souvent un coût métabolique pour les insectes, dont les capacités reproductives, par exemple, peuvent être diminuées. Dans un environnement non traité, la compétition pour la survie tourne donc à l'avantage des souches sensibles. Encore faut-il que de tels réservoirs subsistent, et c'est ce qui est prévu en Camargue.

Mais cette solution risque de ne pas suffire car certains mutants commencent à s'arranger pour cumuler résistance et bonne forme... Il faut donc imaginer d'autres produits. Michel Babinot note en effet que le renforcement de la réglementation européenne risque de restreindre encore l'éventail des molécules disponibles. "Le problème, c'est que les entreprises privées n'investissent pas dans ce secteur, en raison des coûts élevés des procédures de mise sur le marché", déplore Mylène Weill. Son laboratoire a breveté plusieurs molécules actives, dont il convient encore d'affiner les propriétés insecticides. Pour elle, les gouvernements devraient prendre en charge ce type de développement.

Mais aussi s'entendre pour mettre en place une gestion mondialisée de la lutte antimoustiques. "La gestion conduite par l'EID est précieuse. Mais elle peut être mise en péril par l'arrivée de souches résistantes sélectionnées en raison de mauvaises pratiques d'autres pays", prévient-elle. Sans parler des migrations de populations, peut-être liées au réchauffement climatique, comme celles d'Aedes albopictus, le vecteur du chikungunya dans l'océan Indien, qui a colonisé l'Italie et est apparu récemment dans les Alpes-Maritimes.
La politique hasardeuse de la Tunisie a favorisé la résistance des insectes

La Tunisie représente un cas d'école de ce qu'il ne faudrait pas faire en matière de lutte antimoustique. Dans ce pays, chaque ville étant libre d'utiliser les produits de son choix, des souches résistantes aux insecticides n'ont pas tardé à apparaître. Ainsi, le chlorpyriphos, produit le moins cher, devrait désormais être utilisé à des concentrations 10 000 fois plus élevées que celles prescrites, pour tuer les mutants résistants. Afin de lutter contre ces insectes, Tunis s'est tourné vers une toxine bactérienne réputée plus "biologique", issue de Bacillus sphericus. "En deux ou trois ans, 100 % des populations de moustiques étaient résistantes", assure Mylène Weill, de l'Institut des sciences de l'évolution de Montpellier, qui a réalisé une mission d'évaluation en Tunisie.


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La Razon (Argentina): Lanzan una botella de plástico biodegradable

30.5.2006

Es para envasar agua mineral. Está fabricada en base a maíz y en apenas 12 semanas se descompone por completo.

Una marca de agua mineral lanzó en Gran Bretaña la primera botella de plástico completamente biodegradable, elaborada a partir del maíz, con la particularidad de que se descompone completamente en 12 semanas, y se puede reciclar para obtener abono casero.

El lanzamiento es sumamente importante desde el punto de vista ecológico, ya que el plástico es una sustancia que tarda hasta milenios (según el tipo) hasta degradarse. Y, si se opta por incinerarlo, origina emisiones de carbono, que contribuyen al cambio climático, y otros contaminantes atmosféricos muy peligrosos para la salud y el medio ambiente.

Hay que tener en cuenta, que todos los plásticos se fabrican a partir del petróleo. Por ello al consumir plásticos, además de colaborar al agotamiento de un recurso no renovable, potenciamos la enorme contaminación que origina la obtención y transporte del petróleo y su transformación en plástico.

La organización ecologista Earth Policy Institute de Estados Unidos, subraya que el consumo de agua mineral es 10.000 veces más perjudicial para el medio ambiente que el de agua corriente, debido a la contaminación asociada al proceso de extracción, embotellado y transporte.

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The Independent (UK): Botanist turns matchmaker to save the wild asparagus

By Steve Connor

31 May 2006


Wanted: matchmaker for the delicate task of introducing a lonely female to the opposite sex. Agility with tweezers and magnifying glass an advantage.

One of the most unusual jobs in Britain has gone to a botanist at an environmental research centre who will attempt later this week to facilitate sex between wild asparagus plants.

Bryan Edwards has agreed to take on the onerous responsibility of bringing flowers from the nearest male asparagus plants in Cornwall to a single female living 125 miles away on the Dorset coast.

His job is to ensure that healthy, mature pollen within the flowers of the male plants is transferred to the sexual organs of the female flowers in the hope of successful fertilisation.

If the sex act goes to plan then the female asparagus in Dorset ­ the only wild member of the species outside Cornwall and south Wales ­ will set fruit in September with the hope of spreading her seeds further afield.

"I haven't done this sort of thing before but I'm not that nervous. There was a pilot project done last year on hand pollination with some success," said Mr Edwards, a biological surveyor at the Dorset Environmental Research Centre.

Mr Edwards will snip stems from about six male plants at two National Trust sites in Cornwall to use as pollen donors to the lonely female growing near a cliff edge on the Portland coast.

"You need to choose flowers that are fully open and which are full of mature pollen. I'll be transporting the flowers in a vase with water," Mr Edwards said.

"It's not hopefully going to take too long by car. This is the safest way of doing it without damaging the plant," he said.

Once in Dorset, Mr Edwards will gently introduce or "kiss" the male flowers to the females in the hope of transferring pollen from the male stamens to the female stigma.

Lucy Cordrey, a conservationist with the National Trust, which is overseeing the project, said that some of the fruit from the union would be taken and grown in pots with the possibility of reintroducing them into the wild after two years of domestic cultivation.

"It's a rare plant and the 28 recorded populations of it in Britain are on their most northerly distribution range in Europe," Ms Cordrey said.

The Dorset female is the single surviving member of a Portland population that was once far more extensive. The plant was first recorded in the area in 1782.

However, local naturalists lost track of the Portland asparagus after a torpedo factory was built on their habitat in 1885. The plant made a reappearance near an old railway in 1951 but was lost again in 1961, only to be found rediscovered in 1997.

Wild asparagus, Asparagus prostratus, is related to the domestic variety but unlike its cousin it tastes bitter. It grows underground rhizomes or tubers and dies back to the soil each winter, with its shoots re-emerging in spring. It is conceivable that the sole remaining female is the direct descendant of the original 19th-century population, in effect making it more than 100 years old, Ms Cordrey said.

In addition to vegetative reproduction using its rhizomes, the plant can engage in sex so long as there are male and female plants within a close-enough vicinity to allow insects to act as natural pollinators.

"The National Trust plays a vital role in the conservation of wild asparagus as it owns and manages much of the coast where they grow," Ms Cordrey said.

"If all goes well on the day, these rare plants should hopefully be on the road to recovery in this part of the country," she added.

Dr Tim Rich, a botanist at the National Museum of Wales, said: "These fantastic plants are usually pollinated by bees ­ but lack of insects, cold, wet and windy weather, and distance can all put pay to pollination. We're here to give them a helping hand. From here on it's up to the plants themselves."

Wanted: matchmaker for the delicate task of introducing a lonely female to the opposite sex. Agility with tweezers and magnifying glass an advantage.

One of the most unusual jobs in Britain has gone to a botanist at an environmental research centre who will attempt later this week to facilitate sex between wild asparagus plants.

Bryan Edwards has agreed to take on the onerous responsibility of bringing flowers from the nearest male asparagus plants in Cornwall to a single female living 125 miles away on the Dorset coast.

His job is to ensure that healthy, mature pollen within the flowers of the male plants is transferred to the sexual organs of the female flowers in the hope of successful fertilisation.

If the sex act goes to plan then the female asparagus in Dorset ­ the only wild member of the species outside Cornwall and south Wales ­ will set fruit in September with the hope of spreading her seeds further afield.

"I haven't done this sort of thing before but I'm not that nervous. There was a pilot project done last year on hand pollination with some success," said Mr Edwards, a biological surveyor at the Dorset Environmental Research Centre.

Mr Edwards will snip stems from about six male plants at two National Trust sites in Cornwall to use as pollen donors to the lonely female growing near a cliff edge on the Portland coast.

"You need to choose flowers that are fully open and which are full of mature pollen. I'll be transporting the flowers in a vase with water," Mr Edwards said.

"It's not hopefully going to take too long by car. This is the safest way of doing it without damaging the plant," he said.

Once in Dorset, Mr Edwards will gently introduce or "kiss" the male flowers to the females in the hope of transferring pollen from the male stamens to the female stigma.

Lucy Cordrey, a conservationist with the National Trust, which is overseeing the project, said that some of the fruit from the union would be taken and grown in pots with the possibility of reintroducing them into the wild after two years of domestic cultivation.

"It's a rare plant and the 28 recorded populations of it in Britain are on their most northerly distribution range in Europe," Ms Cordrey said.

The Dorset female is the single surviving member of a Portland population that was once far more extensive. The plant was first recorded in the area in 1782.

However, local naturalists lost track of the Portland asparagus after a torpedo factory was built on their habitat in 1885. The plant made a reappearance near an old railway in 1951 but was lost again in 1961, only to be found rediscovered in 1997.

Wild asparagus, Asparagus prostratus, is related to the domestic variety but unlike its cousin it tastes bitter. It grows underground rhizomes or tubers and dies back to the soil each winter, with its shoots re-emerging in spring. It is conceivable that the sole remaining female is the direct descendant of the original 19th-century population, in effect making it more than 100 years old, Ms Cordrey said. In addition to vegetative reproduction using its rhizomes, the plant can engage in sex so long as there are male and female plants within a close-enough vicinity to allow insects to act as natural pollinators.

"The National Trust plays a vital role in the conservation of wild asparagus as it owns and manages much of the coast where they grow," Ms Cordrey said.

"If all goes well on the day, these rare plants should hopefully be on the road to recovery in this part of the country," she added. Dr Tim Rich, a botanist at the National Museum of Wales, said: "These fantastic plants are usually pollinated by bees ­ but lack of insects, cold, wet and windy weather, and distance can all put pay to pollination. We're here to give them a helping hand. From here on it's up to the plants themselves."


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