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July 31, 2008

Hoover Dam

Posted: 11:09 AM ET

Wow! The Hoover Dam visit was spectacular! During our 9:40 a.m. ET appearance on CNN.com Live, we showed how HUGE this thing is..

cody.hoover

Hoover Dam's 726 feet are testing my nerves during the CNN.com broadcast.

According to the dam's Web site, it's constructed with enough concrete to pave a 16-foot wide highway from New York City to San Francisco. We spoke with two professors from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Tom Piechota and Bill Smith, who explained critical water-conservation issues and whether hydroelectric power can fit into the nation's future energy plans.

Next, we hit the road to Arizona's Grand Canyon, where we plan to check out the skywalk, a glass platform that juts out beyond the canyon rim and hangs about 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. Should be quite a view.

More to come...

- Cody

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Filed under: environment • Road trip


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Dean   July 31st, 2008 12:05 pm ET

Interesting. So...what are you doing that other average vacationers are doing? Ho-Hummm.


Debbie Corrente   July 31st, 2008 1:28 pm ET

There are of course good intentions in researching the possible usage of Bio-fuels as alternative energy, but are we aware of where bio-fuels are coming from, and the impact it is having on our environment?

There are other sources of alternative energies we can use without making such sacrifices to our planet. I have enclosed an article from "The Observer". I hope it give you more insight and more thought before making the decision to use bio-fuels.

Article
" The Orang Utan, one of man's closest and most enigmatic cousins, could be virtually extinct within five years after it was discovered that the animal's rain forest habitat is being destroyed even more rapidly than had been predicted.

A United Nations report has found that illegal logging and fires have been overtaken as the primary cause of deforestation by a huge expansion of oil palm plantations, which are racing to meet soaring demand from Western food manufacturers and the European Union's zeal for biofuels.

Palm oil is seen by critics as a cautionary tale about good intentions. As a vegetable oil it can enhance a healthy diet, and as a biofuel it can reduce carbon emissions which contribute to climate change. Yet it transpires that humans' pursuit of an ethical lifestyle could inadvertently mean a death sentence for one of the great apes.

The paradox was brought to world attention by Friends of the Earth, whose ongoing campaign for producers, manufacturers and retailers to commit to sustainable palm oil was recognized at last week's Observer Food Monthly awards with the honor for best ethical contribution to the industry.

The UN's environment programme report, 'The Last Stand of the Orang Utan: State of Emergency', says natural rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia are being cleared so rapidly that up to 98 per cent may be destroyed by 2022, and the lowland forest strongholds of orang utans much sooner, unless urgent action is taken. This is a full decade earlier than the previous report estimated when it was published five years ago. Overall the loss of orang utan habitat is happening 30 per cent more rapidly than had previously been thought.

Responding to the findings, the Borneo Orang Utan Survival Foundation UK, a charity which works to rescue, rehabilitate and release the animals into protected forest, warned that at the current rate of deforestation by the palm oil industry, orang utans in the wild could be close to extinction by 2012.

Sir David Attenborough, the broadcaster and naturalist, told The Observer: 'Every bit of the rainforest that is knocked down is less space for orangs. They have been reduced very seriously in the past decade. Western governments and companies need to be proactive.'

Satellite images reveal that illegal logging is now taking place in 37 out of 41 national parks in Indonesia and is probably still on the increase. The report says: 'At current rates of intrusions, it is likely that some parks may become severely degraded in as little as three to five years, that is by 2012.'

The UN also highlights the growing threat posed by palm oil harvesting, noting that large areas of Indonesian and Malaysian forest have been cleared to make way for plantations. As consumer awareness about healthy eating and ethical shopping grows, palm oil is an increasingly popular alternative to trans fatty acids – more closely associated with heart disease – and is found in one in 10 supermarket products including margarine, baked goods and sweets, as well as detergents and lipsticks.

There has been much soul searching among environmentalists because palm oil is also in demand for biofuels, seen as one of the best ways of reducing dependence on fossil fuels and so combating global warming. Palm oil is currently considered the most productive source of biodiesel fuel, and Indonesia and Malaysia account for 83 per cent of its global production.

Since 2003 the European Union has been among the chief culprits. Its biofuels progress report earlier this year specified Indonesia among the list of countries for cheap biofuel production, prompting Greenpeace to warn: 'Booming EU demand for biofuels could kill Indonesian forests.' Britain imports one million tonnes every year, double what it did in 1995.

But the new UN report warns: 'Today, the rapid increase in [oil palm] plantation acreage is one of the greatest threats to orang utans and the forests on which they depend. In Malaysia and Indonesia, it is now the primary cause of permanent rainforest loss. The huge demand for this versatile product makes it very difficult to curb the spread of plantations.'

Displaced from their rainforest habitat, the orang utans struggle to survive in the oil palm plantations and are regarded as an agricultural pest. Mindful of the potential loss in profits, farmers have carried out a vicious extermination programme.

Michelle Desilets, director of the Borneo Orang Utan Survival Foundation UK, said: 'They are left hungry so they go in search of food in the plantations and destroy the plants. They become easy targets. Some plantation owners put a bounty of $10 or $20 on the head of orangutans, which is worth a few weeks' salary for the workers.

'Workers don't usually have guns: the orang utans that get shot are the lucky ones. We've seen them beaten to death with wood sticks or iron bars, doused in petrol and set on fire, trussed up in nets or tied up with wire which cuts through their flesh. Often a mother is killed and eaten while its baby is sold on or kept as a pet. In the local plantations where we're working, the managers have now agreed not to offer the bonus. But there's still a macho thing about bringing down an adult male.'

The foundation's struggle to save the animals will be shown in the series Orang Utan Diary starting on BBC2 on 2 April. Desilets said that the palm oil industry was now a severe threat to orang utans' very existence. 'The plantations are huge, the size of a county in England: you can drive for two hours and you're still in one. In the UK, when a product says "vegetable oil" it might mean palm oil, so you're not aware that you might be party to this killing. We put the functional survival of orang utans in the wild at no more than five years. There will always be some remote pockets but the population will be too small to reproduce and in one or two generations it will die out. When the last orang utan dies I will give up all hope in humanity. But for the time being we still have hope.'

Campaigners will move up a gear this week. Hardi Baktiantoro, director of Indonesia's Centre for Orang Utan Protection, has flown to Britain to work with the group Nature Alert to push for greater accountability. He said: 'With my own hands I have rescued countless baby orang utans orphaned by palm oil companies. With my eyes I have witnessed these same companies extinguish all natural life where pristine rainforests once stood. The situation is so desperate in Indonesia that I have come to Great Britain to ask for help with introducing Orang Utan Friendly palm oil into food and other household products.'

After a year of hard campaigning, including demonstrations outside stores, Friends of the Earth persuaded Tesco and other supermarkets to work with producers and manufacturers on a scheme for certifying sustainable palm oil which should include labelling products so consumers can be sure they are not buying from a source which harms orang utans.

Supermarkets said they were trying to tackle the issue although they have been criticised for moving too slowly. A spokesman for Tesco said: 'We are deeply concerned about the loss of rainforest – and the orang utans it supports – and believe that we can make a real contribution to work on this important area. It is a complex problem.'

Sean Sutcliffe, chief executive of the Biofuels Corporation, the biggest biofuels company in the UK, said: 'The existing deforestation is driven by demand from food and cosmetics. Palm oil should be part of the solution: the key is to make sure that standards are put in place.'

People of the forest

· Their name is derived from the Malay words 'orang hutan', which literally mean 'person of the forest'.

· The orang utan is one of man's closest relatives in the animal kingdom, sharing 96.4 per cent of our DNA.

· Orang utans are the biggest tree-dwelling animals in the world. Adult males stand four and a half feet tall and weigh 130 to 200 pounds.

· The wild population is thought to be 40-50,000, half the number that existed 20 years ago.

· They spend most of their time alone once they reach maturity."


Gene   July 31st, 2008 2:16 pm ET

One of the biggest problems with dams is silt build up. Ask how they handle that, and associated costs, etc.


mel   July 31st, 2008 2:30 pm ET

I have a solution to our energy crisis. (at least to a good percentage of the crisis for now). I have been trying and contacting some of enrgy producers of this country, and no bobdy is listening. It will be the most economical, environmentaly sound and safe system of producing energy without going nuclear, or use any fossil fuel. Nor would it need wind or any type of hydralic support system. I need to discuss this with someone and relay the message. Apprantly everyone is happy with the way they are. After all worse comes to worst they just raise the rates and no one can even ask why? Because the answer is on the side of enrgy producers right now. If anyone is intrested let me know.


Ham   July 31st, 2008 3:45 pm ET

I love the Hoover Dam... it means I'm out of Arizona and getting close to Vegas BABY!


bob   July 31st, 2008 3:59 pm ET

dean, would the hoover dam tour be more interesting to you if you discovered that one of the men who were killed while building the dam was possibly related to you?


S Callahan   July 31st, 2008 5:32 pm ET

Glad you're having a blast Cody....

I think I read somewhere that Hoover Dam was built when there were very little jobs around so this was a big boast in USA. Perhaps for 2008 and onward..infrastructer of the electric grid would be the next area of workf (fare) to put people to work..just a thought


Franko   July 31st, 2008 11:06 pm ET

Could have a giant Hoover algae pond, right behind the dam
Strain out the algae, just before it enters the turbines
Algae diesel, algae fries, algae burgers,algae beer, I am turning Green.


Jerry Maple   August 1st, 2008 2:34 pm ET

So, how's construction going on the bridge for the dam bypass road? That's pretty amazing what they're doing there. Not as amazing as building the dam, but still some pretty serious construction work hundreds of feet off the ground.


Ella Walker   May 11th, 2010 9:40 pm ET

A healthy diet will always be composed of high fiber frutis and veggies, low sugar, low carb and rich in protein."*'


Zoe Murphy   July 11th, 2010 8:25 am ET

nowadays, we are seeing some water shortage and water conservation is even more necessary'~`


Lola Allen   September 29th, 2010 4:20 pm ET

there is always a need for water conservation specially these days where natural reources are scarce`~'


Arthritis Treatments    October 14th, 2010 4:13 am ET

we must also conserve water even if we have lots of them':`


Remanufactured Ink :   October 25th, 2010 3:32 pm ET

water conservation is really needed nowadays because of the growing population.~'


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