OTHER VOICES

The Asian carp are coming

Posted Aug. 09, 2011, at 9:38 p.m.

For those still doubting that the monstrous Asian carp is a serious threat to the Great Lakes, consider this recent news: tests have found seven different instances of Asian carp DNA beyond the electric barriers meant to keep the fish out of Lake Michigan.

The evidence was found in the Chicago Area Waterway System that connects the Mississippi River basin to the big lakes. The samples were taken June 23 in Lake Calumet, just six miles from Lake Michigan.

The finding is just the latest that the carp are knocking on the door of the nation’s most treasured freshwater system. Since 2009 85 different tests have confirmed the presence of the Asian carp in waters that threaten the delicate ecosystem of the lakes.

The threat of Asian carp has been known since the 1990s. The response has been too slow, given how quickly the fish propagate and the serious threat they pose to the Great Lakes fishing industry.

The carp grow to be as big as four feet long and 100 pounds, breed prodigiously and dominate the parts of the Mississippi River and Chicago waterways where they’ve established themselves after floods in the early 1990s broke them out of fish ponds.

The carp pose a serious threat, likely a greater threat than other damaging invasive species that have entered the Great Lakes in the last century.

The new DNA evidence follows another report from scientists. The paper, published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, concluded that no additional study was needed before enacting the most sensible and sure Asian carp solution. That solution is to physically separate the Mississippi River basin from Lake Michigan.

The carp are coming. The time to stop them is now.

The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press (Aug. 3)

EU plan helps control emissions

The world’s leaders should have reached a deal long ago to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In the absence of such a deal, the European Union’s plan to regulate the carbon emissions of all airplanes that land or take off from European airports is a reasonable attempt to address an urgent problem.

Aviation amounts to about 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, a share projected to rise quickly as air traffic surges. The European Union wants to cut these emissions by 3 percent next year compared with a 2004-2006 base line, using a cap-and-trade scheme that would force airlines to buy permits to cover emissions that exceed their target.

Starting next year, any airline flying in or out of a European airport would need permits for emissions for the entire flight. The International Air Transport Association estimates that the average fare on flights in and out of Europe would rise by $21 to $45, or 2.2 percent to 4.6 percent.

The plan faces enormous opposition: China has threatened a trade war. India has protested. And the Air Transport Association of America, the airline lobby, has blasted the scheme as a costly and illegal invasion of sovereignty because it charges American carriers for carbon emitted in American airspace. The group has filed a lawsuit to stop the rules before the European Court of Justice.

The Obama administration has objected, and a bill barring American airlines from participating in the scheme has bipartisan support in the House.

The European scheme is no more intrusive on foreign sovereignty than, say, the tax the United States levies on travelers who enter or leave the country.

The European Union’s plan is a much needed first step to controlling a growing source of dangerous emissions. It may even encourage nations to work toward something broader.

The New York Times (Aug.4)

 

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