The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida on May 18, 1998 · 8
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The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida · 8

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Monday, May 18, 1998
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8
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8 - NATIONWORLD Send comments and Hps through e-mail to: klofttampatrib.com KURT LOFT, Reporter, (813) 259-7570 Sci Tech fax, (813) 259-7676 Monday, May 18, 1998 The Tampa Tribune V TA A new study indicates 1997 was a f banner year for world economic j growth, but it's the environment j that's footing the bill. By KURT LOFT of The Tampa Tribune TAMPA - The people of the world as a whole are getting economically stronger, but the environment in many cases suffers as a result This is the latest good news-bad news report from "Vital Signs 1998," an annual barometer of social and environmental trends by Worldwatch Institute in Washington. "The way we set up our economies, prosperity is coming at the expense of environmental degradation," says Gary Gardner, a senior researcher at Worldwatch. "The challenge is to structure our economies in a way that doesn't destroy the environment" Last year, the global economy expanded at a near record 4 percent pushing incomes higher, with the most significant gains in developing countries. However, environmental indicators are increasingly negative. Global economic growth since 1990 exceeds that during the 10,000 years from the beginning of agriculture until 1950. While the comparison might seem extreme, the current rise in prosperity coincides with an unprecedented consumption of natural resources. Worldwatch notes signs of stress in shrinking forests; falling water tables; eroding soils; dry rivers; rising carbon dioxide levels; an increase in the extinction of plant and animal species; and disappearing wetlands, fisheries and rangelands. The combination of population growth and rising incomes places increasing stress on the natural world, says Lester Brown, president of Worldwatch Institute, which also publishes the annual "State of the World" report "The world has a long way to go," he adds, "to forge a sustainable society." Some trends over the last year outlined in 'Vital Signs" include: New electric generating capacity from wind power sources exceeded that of nuclear power. India produced more wheat than the United States. More than 100 million bicycles were produced, with European countries encouraging their use. Electric bikes increased by 78 percent Carbon emissions totaled 6.3 billion tons, up 100 million tons from 1996. Demand for dietary protein has increased the global fish catch fivefold since 1950. The number of Internet host computers grew by 36 percent Production of photovoltaic solar cells grew by 43 percent Extinction threatens nearly 12 percent of all bird species. '2 a '" r ! : fvi "V ,1' tV;'W Y 'v o h. 1 "Vital We photo More than 100 million bicycles were produced in 1997, with European countries encouraging their use. Electric bikes increased by 78 percent I Signs 1998" notes several recent world trends, including clockwise from upper left: the continuing threat to bird species, the growth of the Internet, strong population growth in Asia and the increased use of wind to produce electricity. Female education is on the rise, with 70 percent of girls of primary school age worldwide attending some form of government-sponsored class. People smoked 5.8 trillion cigarettes, or 1,000 for each of the world's 5.8 billion people. Global water shortages limit efforts to expand food production. 80 million people entered the world, of which 50 million were born in Asia. "Recognizing the limits of natural systems is often attacked as a call for no growth," Brpwn notes. "But the issue is not growth or no growth; the issue is what kind of growth, and where." "Vital Signi 1998" sells for $12 and can be found In select bookstores or by calling 1-800-555-2028 or writing the Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. Star-naming fraud: If you paid hard-earned cash to name a star after a loved one, you might as well invest your money in a black hole. Companies advertising to "officially" name a star after someone who pays a fee fail to say they have no such authority, according to the U.S. Department of Consumer Affairs. This month, the department issued a violation against an Illinois company called the International Star Registry for "engaging in a deceptive trade practice." It sold a number of new star names for up to $100 each. "Star-naming companies fool consumers into thinking that they can become a star by attaching their name to one," says Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jules Polonetsky. "But the star names are nothing more than a listing in the company s own book." The International Astronomical Union is the only recognized star-naming orga nization, and it doesn't sell names. Some nonprofit organizations "register" star names, but they aren't sanctioned by the union or used by professional astronomers. Sign language system: German engineers are working on a new system to translate sign language into spoken language using a sensor-fitted glove capable of recognizing gestures and turning them into digital signals. The team has created a dictionary of about 150 basic sign expressions, according to the German Information Center in New York. Chaotic info: Researchers are learning to control the chaotic fluctuations in light produced by certain types of lasers. The goal is to encode information being transmitted from one laser to another through fiber optic cable so that signals can hide "private" messages transmitted across cable networks. Electronics engineers at Georgia Institute of Technology hope to better understand how information can be recovered from the so-called noisy and irregular communications signals. "We have developed a system that allows us to encode information into chaos, transmit it and then decode it away from the chaos," says researcher Rajarshi Roy. "In an ordinary light signal, the message can immediately be seen. But in our system, digital information is encoded in the chaos, so the message would not be obvious to a person who may intercept it." j Compiled by Kurt Loft r d 'V. Tr,, I Photo from Georgia Tech A Georgia Institute of Technology researcher uses equipment made to test chaotic communication. ...IULI. jlSul '1 - A Li te- V.. - J Li it.- . J k ; rr- t ;r BE Now, there's one convenient stop on the Web for the latest local news, including weather, available around clock from The Tampa Tribune. Get up-to-theffiinute local weather reports thh'gSgLi with Doppler radar ii.,C3r display and data from CCTTtCff the National Weather Service and Newschannel 8. Forecasts and current information for 28 Florida cities as well as a hurri- cane preparedness , " guide also are ia V available. f Tampa TBiunmMralLnli if"

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