Published Sunday, April 27, 2003








 From the Editor: Our choices make ripples around the world

Updates:

Oct. 22, 2004:

'State of Denial' reporter honored

Sept. 3, 2004:

Measure urges agencies to buy California lumber

Dec. 2, 2003:

Unusual effort to aid Canadian forest

Nov. 14, 2003:

Newsprint maker offers deal to end clear-cutting fight

Nov. 3, 2003:

Amazon quagmire: Ecuador natives who say they are reaping the pain of oil development with none of the benefits await a court ruling in their lawsuit over pollution

Oct. 30, 2003:

Testimony ends in oil giant's Ecuador trial

Oct. 25, 2003:

In quiet courtroom, the stakes are high

Oct. 24, 2003:

Anger streams in: Ecuador's Indians trek to town as an oil giant is challenged over its alleged rain forest pollution

Oct. 19, 2003:

Stakes huge in oil giant's Ecuador trial

Oct. 17, 2003:

Tribe faults owner of Bee: It blasts logging done for newsprint used by McClatchy paper

Oct. 5, 2003:

World's other forests feed state's appetite for timber

Sept. 22, 2003:

Trawl quotas aim to keep even keel

Sept. 12, 2003:

Council votes to try rockfish quotas

Aug. 17, 2003:

Grounds for anger: The state is starting to shift the pain of mining gravel and sand

June 19, 2003:

Hot on oil money's trail: Movement wants disclosure of payments to Africa

June 15, 2003:

What others are saying: Juneau Empire

May 22, 2003:

Federal mismanagement blamed for rockfish decline

May 11, 2003:

Ecuadorians bring fight to oil firm's door

May 8, 2003:

Timber firms chafe at rules

May 4, 2003:

New alarm sounded for Canada's forest

May 4, 2003:

Feedback from readers

May 4, 2003:

What others are saying: The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa

April 28, 2003:

Audio: The Bee's Tom Knudson is interviewed on Capital Public Radio
(Aired April 28, 2003)

How do decisions we make in California affect the environment in other parts of the world?

That simple question is the basis for this in-depth project.

And it is clear from months-long research, which took Bee staffers from the headwaters of the Amazon in Ecuador to the boreal forests in northern Canada to the seas off British Columbia, that the answer is just as simple. The impact of our public policy, business and individual decisions is profound.

The decision, for example, not to drill for oil off California's coastline has wide public support, for good reason. It allows California to preserve its wondrously scenic coastal beauty.

But the demand for gasoline continues to increase in the state - California drivers now use 38 million gallons a day. It has to come from somewhere. And so it does, increasingly from debt-ridden countries like Ecuador that have fewer environmental controls, leaving entire villages of indigenous people suffering severe consequences.

There are no simple solutions in a complex, industrialized nation like ours. Demands for goods and services will continue to grow. But are there ways as a nation, as a state, as a business or as individuals that we can lessen our global impacts?

To answer that question, it is fair to start with some introspection.

Newspapers are large consumers of newsprint, a wood product. Indeed, part of this project examines the impact of decisions to cut back on logging in California which, in turn, has had a profound impact on Canada's forests.

The Bee, for example, uses an average of 174 metric tons of newsprint a day, a significant percentage of which is made from recycled fiber. The Bee's parent company, the McClatchy Co., ranks second among California's largest newspaper companies in using partially recycled newsprint. According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, 86 percent of the newsprint the company uses is at least 40 percent recycled fiber.

For this project, we tried to do better. We tried to find paper made partially with rice straw. In 1996, The Bee participated in an experiment to make newsprint using rice straw. The test went well, but the experiment didn't go any further because the cost to produce the paper was too high. There is no leftover rice-straw paper.

We also sought out a manufacturer of paper made with a hemp-like plant known as kenaf, but he said the newsprint project had been put on hold in the fall of 2000.

So the paper on which the newsprint version of this project appears was made last year by Blue Heron Paper Co. in Oregon City, Ore. The Blue Heron paper is 60 percent recycled, with the remainder coming from ground-up wood, mostly hemlock chips left over from lumber mills in the area. The paper, an upgraded stock, costs a little more and is brighter than our normal paper, the result of bleaching. Blue Heron uses hydrogen peroxide, described by the company as environmentally friendly.

Still, as we researched Blue Heron, we found that its environmental record isn't faultless. We found it occasionally uses whole logs to make newsprint. And the company has had brushes with environmental regulators for discharging hot wastewater into the Willamette River, negatively affecting the salmon run.

The difficulty we encountered in trying to reduce our environmental impact for this project points out that there are few easy alternatives to the way we do things, even in a global economy, and many of those alternatives may be prohibitively expensive.

To jump-start our creativity about seeking alternatives, an Oakland think tank, Redefining Progress, has come up with one way for each of us to measure our impact on the world - our own ecological footprint.

It can be calculated in acres on the organization's Web site at www.myfootprint.org. The national average is 24 acres; mine is 34 acres, the product of my wife and me living in a 2,000-square-foot home, driving two cars, rarely using public transportation except to travel often by air, and frequently eating meat. According to the think tank, we would need 7.8 planets if everyone in the world lived as I do. This project has me thinking and changing, bit by bit. We hope you, too, find it provocative.

-- Rick Rodriguez, Executive Editor

On to Prologue










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