EarthTalk: Are there any conservation efforts
focused on animal species endemic to islands likely to be
submerged by rising sea levels?
-- H. Wyeth, Anahola, HI
to rising sea levels, land forms that sustain wildlife
may no longer be above water or otherwise suitable
for some species who may be hard pressed to find places
to go. Pictured: a Galapagos penguin, one of thousands
of endemic island species facing likely extinction
unless we can get a handle on greenhouse gas emissions
in short order.
are indeed likely to be the areas hardest hit by our warming
climate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
a group of leading climate scientists from around the world
convened by the United Nations to assess the ongoing risk
of global warming, predicts a global average sea level rise
of between 3.5 and 34.6 inches over the next century. And
the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a coalition
of 42 small island and low-lying coastal countries that
have banded together to lobby United Nations policymakers,
reports that warming-induced sea level rises could threaten
the very existence of some island nations including the
Maldives, Kiribati and parts of the Bahamas.
low-lying nations that do manage to hang onto some land
will contend with not only continuously rising seas and
stronger more frequent storms, but also declines in the
productivity of their agriculture and fisheries. Salt water
intrusion will limit the amount of freshwater available
for crops and in some cases undermine the integrity of the
soil itself. And as coral reefs die off, the abundant marine
life that once congregated around them will disappear.
for wildlife, it’s unclear just how much certain endemic
species will be affected by rising sea levels and other
environmental hazards exacerbated by global warming. Clearly
the biggest threat is habitat loss: Land forms that once
sustained certain animals may no longer be above water or
otherwise suitable for some species. Those fortunate enough
to be on big continents may be able to move away from shore
to neighboring areas that can provide the resources needed
for survival. But animals on islands may be hard pressed
to find places better to go to where they can keep on keeping
IPCC lists a few examples among thousands of endemic island
dwellers facing likely extinction unless we can get a handle
on greenhouse gas emissions in short order: the Tuamotu
sandpiper of Tuamotu Island, the Bristle-thighed Curlew
of French Polynesia, the Manus fantail of Papua New Guinea,
the lorikeet and rail of New Caledonia, the moorhen and
Savai’i of Samoa, the Santo Mountain starling on Espiritu
Santo, penguins in the Galapagos, petrels in Bermuda and
seabird colonies from the Kerguelen, Crozet and outer Hawaiian
islands, among others. The IPCC adds that endemic flora
may fare even worse, which will in turn drive more animal
can be done to stem this rising tide of endemic species
loss? According to the IPCC, the establishment of terrestrial,
marine or coastal reserves has been found to be a “useful
management option.” Results from existing model reserves
on islands across the Caribbean (including Dominica, Bonaire,
the Grenadines and St. Lucia) have shown promise. Groups
including Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation
Society, the Nature Conservancy and others, are working
to create more such reserves in other biodiversity hotspots,
including many non-threatened islands around the globe.
Conservation Society; Nature
EarthTalk: I recently got my car detailed at
a local place and then gasped at the chemical fumes when
I got inside. Are there green detailers out there, or products
that I could use myself to keep my vehicle clean and my
family out of harm’s way?
-- David Berkowitz, Newton, MA
auto detailing employs a range of not-so-eco-friendly
products. But the industry is starting to examine
its environmental footprint and some shops have a
decidedly green bent. There are also now many do-it-yourself
green detailing products and kits out there, easily
found through an Internet search.
© Getty Images
auto detailing has employed a range of not-so-green-friendly
products such as ammonia, volatile organic compounds (VOCs),
nonphenolethoxolates (NPEs), abrasive detergents, and chemical-based
leather, vinyl, fabric and carpet treatments. Inside the
car, they can off-gas harsh airborne pollutants; when washed
down storm drains they can wreak havoc on public water supplies.
while environmental awareness is beginning to crop up among
auto detailing services (online discussion boards are full
of posts from professional detailers sharing their tips
for greener, more effective products and formulations),
finding a green detailing service isn’t very easy
just yet, so doing it yourself might be the only way to
ensure that the environment and your health are spared chemical
insult. There are green detailing products and kits out
there, easily found through an Internet search.
Two leading suppliers
are Laura Klein’s Green Cleaning, and Mean Green.
These companies, among others, specialize in degreasers,
dashboard dressings, tire cleaners, spot removers and other
products made with natural, biodegradable water- and plant-based
substances (including coconut, palm, citrus, corn and soy),
combined and concentrated to be as effective as or better
than their chemical-laden counterparts.
Another way to
be green and clean at the same time is to choose wash and
wax products that don’t contain harsh chemical surfactants—and
as such don’t require water-wasting, polluting rinses.
No-Wet Waterless Concepts and Optimum Polymer Technologies
are two leading manufacturers for such goods.
should be careful not to dump wastewater into nearby storm
drains not intended to carry toxic run-off. Most reputable
car wash businesses go to great lengths to make sure the
water, soaps, oils and other dirt from your car doesn’t
end up polluting groundwater, rivers and streams, and so
should you. If you clean your car in your own driveway or
garage, try to collect any run-off and dispose of it into
a drain or toilet that will send it through the sewage treatment
system, not into the curbside storm run-off drain that may
well lead directly to a local water body or shoreline.
a green detailer may not be easy, you can start by asking
those operators in your region if they currently use environmentally-friendly
products and/or processes. If not, ask them if they would
be amenable to greening up their operations for the sake
of attracting customers like you.
that have already taken the green plunge include: Ecodetail
Services of Sacramento, CA; Car Wash Concepts of Aliso Viejo,
CA; Gia’s Detailing of Long Island, NY; Scott’s
Mobile Auto Detailing of Tarrant County, TX; and Elite Detailing
Service Inc. of Plainfield, IL. These providers share an
interest in environmental protection, use minimal amounts
of water and other resources, and dispose of run-off according
to the stringent standards set forth under the federal Clean
Water and Clean Air acts.
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