EnviroThursday - Spring 2001

Presentations take place at 12 noon, Olin-Rice Room 250

Title Date Type of Presentation Description
"Little Boy Blue, the (mad) Cow's in the (modified) Corn Agriculture as Ecology: The French Lesson" 2/1/01 Speaker:
Timothy Carlson
An update on recent headline events in food security in France and Europe and a survey of "good" and "bad" agricultural practices in France provide the basis for a brief case study of the interface between agriculture and ecology. This interface is sometimes a storm front, sometimes a battleground, and sometimes a marriage of interests, but some interesting questions emerge: To what extent is ecology economics? Why should ecologically-minded folk be in favor of higher food prices? What do new directions being taken in France and Europe say about the human/nature relationship? Is there an opportunity to be seized by Europe in all this? Timothy Carlson is co-director of the IFE Paris program, where he teaches the philosophy of economics.
"The Practice of Environmental Law" 2/8/01 Speaker:
Dick Nowlin
Dick Nowlin is the co-chair of the Lindquist & Vennum Environmental, Land Use and Energy Law Group. He will speak on the opportunities and typical responsibilities in the environmental and land use law area which includes public and private legal practice; city and county planning and management; and environmental consulting and engineering.
"The Mississippi River of Corporate Welfare: How American Taxpayers
Subsidize the Destruction of America's Greatest River"
2/15/01 Speaker:
Dean Rebuffoni
Dean Rebuffoni will speak on how the Army Corps of Engineers and giant agri-business corporations have conspired to expand environmentally-harmful barge traffic at public expense. Dean was an environmental/natural resources reporter for the Star Tribune for 26 years before retiring in 1998. He is currently the Regional Representative of the Mississippi River Protection Program of the Sierra Club.
"Mysteries of the Deep: How Mussels Disperse Themselves in the Swirling Waters of the Mississippi River" 2/22/01 Speaker:
Mark Hove
The most diverse freshwater mussel community in the world lives in the Mississippi River basin. Yet the unusual characteristics and behaviors of these organisms are known to few people. The wide variety of river habitats, isolation of rivers, and evolutionary time have resulted in several interesting life history strategies developing in this faunal group. Mark Hove will discuss newly discovered strategies these animals use to facilitate successful reproduction and dispersal of their young. He will also review how these mollusks help broaden our economy, improve the space program, enhance computers, and offer possible insights to our medical community. His presentation will be followed by a short discussion on how professional societies can better serve students. Mark Hove has been studying aquatic organisms for 20 years at Macalester College, the University of Minnesota, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
"Business Waste Reduction Using the Minnesota Waste Wise Program" 3/1/01 Speaker:
Ellen Telander
Ellen Telander, Director of Technical Assistance at Minnesota Waste Wise, will reveal how businesses are doing their part to reduce solid waste in Minnesota using the Minnesota Waste Wise Program. The Minnesota Waste Wise program was started in 1994 by the Office of Environmental Assistance and the MN Chamber of Commerce to help businesses avoid waste from the landfills and save money in the process. Hear case studies and learn how businesses are accomplishing this feat using creative solutions developed by the Minnesota Waste Wise Program. Learn how college students working for this program as interns are finding solutions to big waste problems across the state.
"The Brain Eater and the Mad Cow Disease" 3/8/01 Video With mad cow disease spreading among humans all over Europe, it is time to know more about the origin, of this and other similar incurable diseases that are threatening people's health around the world. This excellent documentary illustrates the nature of these diseases
"Setting Priorities for Species Conservation: Biological and Economic Consideration" 3/15/01 Speaker:
Steve Polasky
Over the past decade, the conservation of biological diversity has become a central environmental policy concern. While there is general agreement that the conservation of biological diversity is important, it must compete for scarce resources with other worthwhile social and economic goals. For the foreseeable future, resources devoted to conservation will remain limited. Therefore, it will be necessary to set conservation priorities in order to allocate resources where they will do the most good. This presentation will describe a methodology for setting biodiversity conservation priorities and to demonstrate how the methodology can be applied to conservation problems. Steve will outline a decision-making framework for assessing conservation strategies that includes: 1) defining a measure of biological diversity, 2) assessing the economic consequences and the probable biological effects of alternative conservation strategies. Steve Polasky holds the Fesler-Lampert Chair in Ecological/Environmental Economics at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include biodiversity conservation and endangered species policy, integrating ecological and economic analysis, game theoretic analysis of natural resource use, common property resources, and environmental regulation. He is currently serving as a co-editor for the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.
Spring Break 3/22/01 No EnviroThursday
"Restoring Alaska" 3/29/01 Video This video looks at the 10-year restoration process following the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It explores the legacy of this tragedy and its lingering effects on wildlife and people in the region, as well as efforts to see that it never happens again. Join researchers to investigate why only 2 of 28 injured species have recovered after 10 years. What will be the legacy of this environmental disaster for the people of Prince William Sound? Restoring Alaska is a story of survival and hope, told by the people whose lives were forever changed just after midnight on March 24, 1989.
"Life on an Organic Mushroom Farm: MULCH’s Trip to Sweden Creek Farm" 4/5/01 Speakers:
Lia Babitch and Sara Miller
Sweden Creek Farm is a small, certified-organic family farm deep within the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. The farm produces log-grown Shiitake mushrooms, gourmet herbs, and edible flowers for market sales, as well as fruits and vegetables for the owners’ consumption. It is one of only a few farms left in the country that still produces Shiitake in the organic, log-grown method. Over Spring Break, several MULCH (Macalester’s own organic farming organization) members had the opportunity to experience life on this working and successful farm. The presentation will give a synopsis of the process of organic, log-grown Shiitake production, as well as offer interesting information about small, family farm life in general. Lia Babitch grew up on a Camphill community/biodynamic farm in Pennsylvania, and Sara Miller grew up on Sweden Creek Farm in Arkansas. Both are Macalester Seniors and MULCH managers.
"Compliance with Environmental Protection Laws and the Effectiveness of Government Monitoring and Enforcement" 4/12/01 Speaker:
Dietrich Earnhart
Dietrich Earnhart will examine the interaction between environmental regulators and the regulated community of water polluters involving compliance with emission limits and the monitoring and enforcement of these limits. Prof. Earnhart is an assistant professor at the University of Kansas with a joint appointment in the Economics Department and the Environmental Studies Program.
"Why do Genetic Engineers and Environmental Groups Fight?" 4/19/01 Distinguished
Speaker:
Philip Regal
The biotechnology industry has long argued that the world's problems can only be solved through investment in and political dedication to high-tech research. The industry chose not to incorporate the multifactorial perspectives of environmentalists on world problems but to compete with them for political attention and funding. This generated a history of bitter fights in various venues such as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, and at subsequent Biodiversity Convention meetings. Growing mistrust at the personal level led in turn to intensive study of biotech science by groups to which this had been a new issue. Concerns that dangers had been downplayed began to spread among diverse international environmental groups. Have the conflicts been a tragic diversion of the energies of environmental groups from saving endangered species, etc? Have the conflicts had an entirely unfavorable impact on biotechnology? Philip Regal is Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. He is internationally recognized as a leading scientific expert on biotechnology risks and the history of the development of biotechnology policies. He has been a scientific consultant to governments and their agencies, biotech corporations, and scientific and citizen's organizations. He was a scientific consultant at many of the Biodiversity Convention meetings and thus an eye witness to events that he will discuss. His scientific contributions have included biomechanics, evolutionary theory, physiological ecology, tropical ecology, and human ecology and its relationship to intellectual history. He is the author of The Anatomy of Judgment.
"The Trials and Tribulations of Field Study in Trinidad and Tobago: Whales, Dolphins, and Blind Cave Fish (or lack thereof)" 4/26/01 Speaker:
Ruth E. Baker
Ruth Baker will discuss the methods and challenges in her recent field work with Dr. Aldemaro Romero in Trinidad this past March. Their purposes in this excursion were (1) to conduct a marine mammal survey (but they saw no marine mammals), (2) to examine primary documents and interview fishermen on historical whale exploitation (without being tried for treason), and (3) to catch and experiment with blind cave fish (which were no longer blind). She will also use this discussion as a guide, to give advice on how to interpret Al’s spatial associations, suffer the rigors of shoddy field accommodations, and damage two rental vehicles in less than a week.

Ruth E. Baker is a December 2000 Macalester graduate. While studying at Macalester, she was an anthropology major and (almost) an environmental studies double, with a biology minor. She will be attending Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies next fall, working towards a Masters of Environmental Management. Her presentation will be illustrated with slides and videos and she will carry a machete she bought in Port-of-Spain in case someone asks her any tough questions.
"For Richer or For Poorer: The History of the Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area" 5/3/01 Speaker:
Kelly Paulson
The Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area (Ordway) is a 278-acre natural preserve on the Mississippi River about 25 minutes south of campus. Ordway contains several rare plant species and native community types. Macalester College has owned Ordway since 1967, and since then the history of the area has been a place for education, research, a tool for outreach, and sometimes a source of debate and frustration. This history is closely tied with that of the people associated with Ordway as well as with the evolution of Macalester College during these years. As we must know the history before we move into the future, suggestions for Ordway's future will also be discussed. The presenter will be Kelly Paulson, a senior Environmental Studies major and Biology core from River Falls, WI. She has been investigating the history of Ordway through the archives and interviews for a year and a half.