-1.jpg

National Geographic: The Green Guide

From childhood, we’re told to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Unfortunately more and more Americans drink those eight glasses out of plastic bottles—a convenience that stuffs landfills, clogs waterways and guzzles valuable fossil fuels.

Not only does bottled water contribute to excessive waste, but it costs us a thousand times more than water from our faucet at home, and it is, in fact, no safer or cleaner.

Water aside, the plastic used in both single-use and reusable bottles can pose more of a contamination threat than the water. A safe plastic if used only once, #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) is the most common resin used in disposable bottles. However, as #1 bottles are reused, which they commonly are, they can leach chemicals such as DEHA, a known carcinogen, and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a potential hormone disrupter.

While single-use water bottles should never be used more than once, some reusable water bottles simply shouldn’t be used. The debate continues over the safety of bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone-disrupting chemical known to leach out of the #7 polycarbonate plastic used to make a variety of products.

-2.jpg

Yale University – e360 digest
06.20.08: Extreme Weather Events
Will Plague U.S. in Future, Report Says

A government report, synthesizing more than 100 academic papers, forecasts that as the world warms, the United States will be subject to prolonged droughts, heat waves and more frequent downpours like the recent ones that have left much of the Midwest under water. Issued by the U.S. Climate Science Program, the report forecasts that by mid-century, heat waves that now occur once every 20 years will take place once every three years. Extremely heavy rain storms that now occur once every two decades will occur once every five years, causing major flooding in different regions, according to the report. It also said that the southwestern United States will likely experience more droughts. The full report is available here.

Yale University – e360 digest
06.24.08: Hansen Urges Drastic Action
and Says Energy CEOs Guilty of “High Crimes”

NASA climate scientist James Hansen has told a House committee that the United States must lead the world in swiftly passing “transformative” climate change legislation or face disastrous environmental consequences this century, including a probable sea level rise of at least two meters and mass extinctions. Speaking exactly 20 years after first warning the U.S. Congress of the dangers of global warming, Hansen — director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences — also said that the heads of oil and coal companies who spread doubt about global warming and resist efforts to move to a carbon-free economy “should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.” Hansen called on Congress to approve sweeping climate change legislation in the next year that would include a tax on carbon and would phase out coal-burning power plants by 2025, unless they employ carbon sequestration technology.

-3.jpg
Rain clouds shroud a forest near the western Austrian city of Dornbirn, June 12, 2007. Rising temperatures have forced many plants to creep to higher elevations to survive, researchers reported on Thursday. REUTERS/Miro Kuzmanovic

By Michael Kahn

LONDON, June 27, 2008 (Reuters) — Rising temperatures have forced many plants to creep to higher elevations to survive, researchers reported on Thursday.

More than two-thirds of the plants studied along six West European mountain ranges climbed an average of 29 meters in altitude in each decade since 1905 to better conditions on higher ground, the researchers reported in the journal Science.

“This is the first time it is shown that climate change has applied a significant effect on a large set of forest plant species,” said Jonathan Lenoir, a forest ecologist at AgroParisTech in France, who led the study.

“It helps us understand how ecosystems respond to temperature changes.”

Earlier this week, U.S. researchers warned warming temperatures could turn many of California’s native plants into “plant refugees” looking for more suitable habitats.

They concluded that a warming climate and rainfall changes would force many of the U.S. state’s native plants to range north or to higher elevations or possibly even go extinct in the next 100 years.

The French team’s findings suggest plants at high altitudes face the same or greater impacts from rising temperatures, Lenoir said in a telephone interview.

“Plant species move where it is optimal for them to grow,” Lenoir said. “If you change these optimal conditions, species will move to recover the same conditions.”

Using database on plant species found at specific locations and elevations stretching back to 1905, the researchers showed many plants have steadily crept higher to conditions best suited for survival and growth.

Plants move higher by dispersing their seeds in the wind, which blows them to higher elevations and cooler temperatures similar to their former location, Lenoir said.

The researchers tracked 171 forest plant species during two periods — between 1905 and 1985, and from 1986 to 2005 — along the entire elevation range from sea level to 2,600 meters.

They found that two-thirds of the plants responded to warming temperatures over that time by shifting to higher altitudes.

Plants at higher altitudes also appear most sensitive to warmer conditions because slight temperature changes at higher altitudes have a bigger impact, he added.

-4.jpg
Water Scarcity: The Real Food Crisis

In the discussion of the global food emergency, one underlying factor is barely mentioned: The world is running out of water. A British science writer, who authored a major book on water resources, here explores the nexus between water over consumption and current food shortages.

by fred pearce

After decades in the doldrums, food prices have been soaring this year, causing more misery for the world’s poor than any credit crunch. The geopolitical shockwaves have spread round the world, with food riots in Haiti, strikes over rice shortages in Bangladesh, tortilla wars in Mexico, and protests over bread prices in Egypt.

The immediate cause is declining grain stocks, which have encouraged speculators, hoarders, and panic-buyers. But what are the underlying trends that have sown the seeds for this perfect food storm?

Biofuels are part of it, clearly. A quarter of U.S. corn is now converted to ethanol, powering vehicles rather than filling stomachs or fattening livestock. And the rising oil prices that encouraged the biofuels boom are also raising food prices by making fertilizer, pesticides, and transport more expensive.

But there is something else going on that has hardly been mentioned, and that some believe is the great slow-burning, and hopelessly underreported, resource crisis of the 21st century: water.

Climate change, overconsumption and the alarmingly inefficient use of this most basic raw material are all to blame. I wrote a book three years ago titled When The Rivers Run Dry. It probed why the Yellow River in China, the Rio Grande and Colorado in the United States, the Nile in Egypt, the Indus in Pakistan, the Amu Darya in Central Asia, and many others are all running on empty. The confident blue lines in a million atlases simply do not tell the truth about rivers sucked dry, for the most part, to irrigate food crops.

We are using these rivers to death. And we are also pumping out underground water reserves almost everywhere in the world. With two-thirds of the water abstracted from nature going to irrigate crops — a figure that rises above 90 percent in many arid countries — water shortages equal food shortages.

Consider the two underlying causes of the current crisis over world food prices: falling supplies from some of the major agricultural regions that supply world markets, and rising demand in booming economies like China and India.

Why falling supplies? Farm yields per hectare have been stagnating in many countries for a while now. The green revolution that caused yields to soar 20 years ago may be faltering. But the immediate trigger, according to most analysts, has been droughts, particularly in Australia, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, but also in some other major suppliers, like Ukraine. Australia’s wheat exports were 60 percent down last year; its rice exports were 90 percent down.

Why rising demand? China has received most of the blame here — its growing wealth is certainly raising demand, especially as richer citizens eat more meat. But China traditionally has always fed itself — what’s different now is that the world’s most populous country is no longer able to produce all its own food.

A few years ago, the American agronomist and environmentalist Lester Brown wrote a book called Who Will Feed China?: Wake Up Call for a Small Planet. It predicted just this. China can no longer feed itself largely because demand is rising sharply at a time when every last drop of water in the north of the country, its major breadbasket, is already taken. The Yellow River, which drains most of the region, now rarely reaches the sea, except for the short monsoon season.

-1.jpg
Fred Pearce
China’s once-great Yellow River often no longer reaches the sea, as much of it is drawn off for power and agriculture.

Some press reports have recently suggested that China is being sucked dry to provide water for the Beijing Olympics. Would that it were so simple. The Olympics will require only trivial amounts of water. China’s water shortages are deep-seated, escalating, and tied to agriculture. Even hugely expensive plans to bring water from the wetter south to the arid north will only provide marginal relief.

The same is true of India, the world’s second most populous country. Forty years ago, India was a basket case. Millions died in famines. The green revolution then turned India into a food exporter. Its neighbor Bangladesh came to rely on India for rice. But Indian food production has stagnated recently, even as demand from richer residents has soared. And the main reason is water.

-2.jpg
Fred Pearce
Even this elaborate hand-dug well in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu is dry, a result of over-pumping the underground aquifers.

With river water fully used, Indian farmers have been trying to increase supplies by tapping underground reserves. In the last 15 years, they have bought a staggering 20 million Yamaha pumps to suck water from beneath their fields. Tushaar Shah, director of the International Water Management Institute’s groundwater research station in Gujarat, estimates those farmers are pumping annually to the surface 100 cubic kilometers more water than the monsoon rains replace. Water tables are plunging, and in many places water supplies are giving out.

“We are living hand-to-mouth,” says D.P. Singh, president of the All India Grain Exporters Association, who blames water shortages for faltering grain production. Last year India began to import rice, notably from Australia. This year, it stopped supplying its densely populated neighbor Bangladesh, triggering a crisis there too.

-3.jpg
Fred Pearce
Underground water is pumped for irrigation in Bengal, India, a practice that is increasing as surface water dries up.

More and more countries are up against the limits of food production because they are up against the limits of water supply. Most of the Middle East reached this point years ago. In Egypt, where bread riots occurred this spring, the Nile River no longer reaches the sea because all its water is taken for irrigation.

A map of world food trade increasingly looks like a map of the water haves and have-nots, because in recent years the global food trade has become almost a proxy trade in water — or rather, the water needed to grow food. “Virtual water,” some economists call it. The trade has kept the hungry in dry lands fed. But now that system is breaking down, because there are too many buyers and not enough sellers.

According to estimates by UNESCO’s hydrology institute, the world’s largest net supplier of virtual water until recently was Australia. It exported a staggering 70 cubic kilometers of water a year in the form of crops, mainly food. With the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia’s main farming zone, virtually dry for the past two years, that figure has been cut in half.

The largest gross exporter of virtual water is the United States, but its exports have also slumped as corn is diverted to domestic biofuels, and because of continuing drought in the American West.

The current water shortages should not mark an absolute limit to food production around the world. But it should do three things. It should encourage a rethinking of biofuels, which are themselves major water guzzlers. It should prompt an expanding trade in food exported from countries that remain in water surplus, such as Brazil. And it should trigger much greater efforts everywhere to use water more efficiently.

On a trip to Australia in the midst of the 2006 drought, I was staggered to see that farmers even in the most arid areas still irrigate their fields mostly by flooding them. Until the water runs out, that is. Few have adopted much more efficient drip irrigation systems, where water is delivered down pipes and discharged close to roots. And, while many farmers are expert at collecting any rain that falls on their land, they sometimes allow half of that water to evaporate from the surfaces of their farm reservoirs.

For too long, we have seen water as a cheap and unlimited resource. Those days are coming to an end — not just in dry places, but everywhere. For if the current world food crisis shows anything, it is that in an era of global trade in “virtual water,” local water shortages can reverberate throughout the world — creating higher food prices and food shortages everywhere.

-5.jpg
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fred Pearce is a freelance author and journalist based in the UK. He is environment consultant for New Scientist magazine and author of recent books When The Rivers Run Dry and With Speed and Violence (Beacon Press). His next, Confessions of an Eco Sinner, is published in the fall. Fred has traveled to 64 countries reporting on environmental and development issues in the past two decades. He is also a regular public speaker and has presented on his books in all six populated continents in the past year. Next stop, he says: Antarctica.

Four Waterfalls For New York From A Danish Master

“The New York City Waterfalls” is a public art project of four man-made waterfalls rising from New York Harbor, some as high as the Statue of Liberty. Organized by the nonprofit Public Art Fund and the city of New York, it is being billed as the city’s biggest such project since “The Gates,” the $20 million effort by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 2005.

Mr. Elliasson’s waterfall installation was tested for the first time in pre-dawn light on Tuesday, June 24th, two days before the official launch of the exhibit.

Photo: Vincent Laforet for The New York Times
-1.jpg

-2.jpg
The artist Olafur Eliasson’s much-publicized initiative cost $15 million. It will appear from June 26 to Oct. 13 and run from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

City officials and the Public Art Fund say that no city money is being used to pay for the waterfalls, with all of the funds coming from foundations, corporations and private supporters.

Photo: Bernstein Photography/ Courtesy Public Art Fund

By Carol Vogel, June 24, 2008, The New York Times – On an unusually cold and rainy spring afternoon, Olafur Eliasson was huddled under a large umbrella in Lower Manhattan gazing down the East River toward Governors Island.

“You could be in Sweden or Denmark,” he said of the gray, even light. “Fog makes everything more explicit. See how Governors Island fades in the rain?”

It seemed fitting that Mr. Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist who is world-famous for creating his own weather systems, was enveloped in a misty landscape that could well have been of his own making.

He had traveled straight from the airport to Pier 35 on the East River after flying in from his home and studio in Berlin. He has been a familiar presence at the site for the last several months, having visited every two weeks to check on the progress of his “New York City Waterfalls.”

His much-publicized $15 million initiative is to create four waterfalls ranging from 90 to 120 feet in height that will appear from June 26 to Oct. 13 and run from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to the waterfall at Pier 35, just north of the Manhattan Bridge, there will be one in Brooklyn at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, another between Piers 4 and 5 near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and a fourth on the north shore of Governors Island.

Organized by the nonprofit Public Art Fund and the city of New York, it is being billed as the city’s biggest public art project since “The Gates,” the $20 million effort by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude in which 7,500 gates festooned with saffron-colored fabric panels were positioned along Central Park’s pathways for 16 days in 2005.

It is also Mr. Eliasson’s first public art project in New York. When he proposed the idea to the Public Art Fund, Susan K. Freedman, the organization’s president, decided that such an undertaking could be accomplished only with the city’s heft behind it. “It was too ambitious,” she said. “This has been two intense years of getting permits and making sure it was environmentally safe.”

Altogether, at least 108 people have been involved, including engineers, scientists, divers, scientists, riggers and environmentalists.

As has often been the case with arts projects, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s office was eager to be involved. “The mayor is always looking for new ways to showcase New York,” said First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris. She added that several city and state agencies also played a role. “There’s never been a manual for how to put waterfalls in the East River,” she explained.

Ms. Harris said she hoped this multiborough project would attract visitors, just as “The Gates” generated an estimated $254 million in economic activity for the city. Hotels are offering special waterfall packages. Tourist agencies are planning bicycle and boat tours. The Circle Line Downtown will be running special waterfall excursions, too, some of them free, with an audio introduction by Mr. Eliasson.

City officials and the Public Art Fund say that no city money is being used to pay for the waterfalls, with all of the funds coming from foundations, corporations and private supporters.

The spot where Mr. Eliasson paused on that recent rainy day, an esplanade frequented by joggers and dog walkers as well as tourists visiting Lower Manhattan, holds a particular fascination for him. “From here you can see all four sites at once,” he said.

An intense man with a small frame and rumpled brown hair, the artist, 41, in flawless English, tried to explain the mechanics of his project. All that was visible that afternoon were several steel scaffolding constructions on the shoreline by Pier 35, floating black devices to prevent boats and fish from interfering with underwater filters.

A cage beneath the river’s surface pumps water through a pipe running upward along the scaffolding, shooting it through a trough at the top and then down the other side to frothy effect.

Mr. Eliasson said he purposely left the scaffolding highly visible. “Scaffolding is not an unfamiliar structure in New York,” he said. “You see it on every construction site in the city. I want people to know that this is both a natural phenomenon and a cultural one.”

He said he designed the scaffolding to match the scale of the surrounding buildings so it would blend into the urban landscape. Once the waterfalls are turned on, their sound will meld with the other sounds of the city.

Mr. Eliasson is an old hand at creating ephemeral atmospheres. Perhaps his best known is “The Weather Project,” an installation in 2003 inside the cavernous Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London. That consisted of a giant sun created from hundreds of light bulbs placed at the top of one wall, a mirrored ceiling and a mist machine. Over six months, it attracted more than two million visitors.

Given that much of New York City is surrounded by water, the idea of creating waterfalls seemed obvious to Mr. Eliasson, who suggests that New Yorkers are not as strongly connected to their waterfronts as urban Europeans are.

Throughout history, he said, New Yorkers “have always taken water for granted.” He added: “Now people can engage in something as epic as a waterfall, see the wind and feel its gravity. You realize that the East River is not just static.”

These are not Mr. Eliasson’s first waterfalls. In 2005, for instance, he fashioned a 20-foot-tall waterfall in a small garden on the campus of Dundee University in Scotland. At the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens, he created a reverse waterfall in 1998, devising pumps and a basin that sent the water traveling uphill. That project is on view through June 30 as part of “Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson,” a midcareer retrospective and two-part exhibition at P.S. 1 and the Museum of Modern Art.

Artists throughout history have found romance in waterfalls, of course. In the United States, Hudson River School painters like Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church and Asher B. Durand all included them in their landscapes.

“Viewers will be seeing something they know from a picture, but now they will be experiencing them as a physical thing,” Mr. Eliasson said.

Unlike the much-trumpeted opening of “The Gates,” the artist said, he expects no official celebratory fanfare when the waterfalls are finally up and running.

“It’s important to be very straightforward and not to overamplify or overmystify things,” Mr. Eliasson said. “The waterfalls will just be turned on in the morning, and that’s it.”

“New York City Waterfalls” will run between June 26 and Oct. 13 at Pier 35; at the eastern foot of the Brooklyn Bridge; between Piers 4 and 5 near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade; and on the north shore of Governors Island.

-3.jpg

With the support of Puritan minister, Cotton Mather, Zabdiel Boylston began the first smallpox vaccinations in the American colonies.

Born March 9, 1676, Muddy River Hamlet [now Brookline], Mass. [U.S.]
died March 1, 1766, Brookline, he was the physician who introduced smallpox inoculation into the American colonies. Inoculation consisted of collecting a small quantity of pustular material from a smallpox victim and introducing it into the arm of one who had not had the disease. The result was usually a mild case that conferred lifelong protection.

During the Boston smallpox epidemic of 1721, Boylston was urged to begin inoculations of the virus by the minister, Cotton Mather, who had heard reports from Europe of their use in Turkey. Boylston responded enthusiastically, beginning with his own family and eventually inoculating about 250 people. The practice was so bitterly opposed by other physicians, the clergy, and much of the populace that Boylston’s life was threatened and he was forced to perform his work in great secrecy.

Of those inoculated by Boylston, only six died of smallpox—a much lower mortality rate than expected during an epidemic. Boylston traveled to London in 1724 and was elected to the Royal Society in 1726. His account of the Boston epidemic is a model of clarity.

The Beauty and Power of Water
City partners with University and local developers to explore alternative water supply


The City of Guelph has partnered with the University of Guelph School of Engineering, Reid’s Heritage Group, Evolve Builders Group Inc, the Ontario Centres of Excellence and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to study the feasibility and design of rainwater harvesting systems.

Project partners explain the study seeks to “build capacity” for large-scale rainwater harvesting systems in Guelph and across Canada, which means to identify and overcome barriers to adopting this technology and facilitating the transfer of information among researchers, home builders, policy makers and the public. Though rainwater harvesting has been studied elsewhere, the Guelph project is among the first to involve so many key stakeholders.

“This project aims to make large-scale rainwater harvesting a viable, alternative water source in Ontario and across Canada,” says University of Guelph engineering professor and project lead, Khosrow Farahbakhsh. “This is a truly collaborative effort that involves academics, municipalities, policy makers, developers, the public, and providers of the technology to work together to overcome barriers.”

“The City is pleased to be involved in such an important project that uses the expertise of the university and other partners and will have widespread implications on water management,” says Mayor Farbridge. “Water management is a key focus in Guelph and we must look at creative ways to make the best use of our local resources.”

The Guelph project began in December 2005 and includes the installation and monitoring of several rainwater harvesting systems in Guelph and surrounding communities, as well as a water quality testing program for these sites. The start of another crucial phase of the project took place today when Reid’s Heritage Group broke ground on its first home to feature a residential rainwater harvesting system. The house will be built on Goodwin Drive in Westminster Woods.

The residential rainwater harvesting system was designed by two graduate students from the University of Guelph School of Engineering, in collaboration with a local supplier of rainwater harvesting technology. Rainwater that lands on the home’s fibreglass roof will be collected in roof gutters and downspouts and diverted to a filtration device before it is carried to a 6,500 litre underground cistern. The stored water will be pressurized and piped into the home to supply water to three toilets, the washing machine, and the dishwasher. The collected rainwater will also supply water to an underground irrigation system. This would account for over 50% of water consumption in a typical home. The home will be unique in that it will feature a dedicated hot water system to provide rainwater for the washing machine and the dishwasher.

“While rainwater harvesting is a long-standing concept, it has new value in today’s environmentally sound building industry,” says Andy Oding, Product Development Manager at Reid’s Heritage Group. “The goal of this project is to identify both the cost and natural resource savings that can be realized by applying a safe, economical system in a community scale project.”

Once completed, the Westminster Woods home will serve as a show home and will allow university researchers to monitor the rainwater harvesting system’s performance and water quality. The house will offer residents a chance to learn about rainwater harvesting in the home, and potential home buyers will get to experience what it would be like to have a built-in rainwater harvesting system.
With the construction of Reid’s Heritage Group’s home underway the next steps in the project include collaboration on the construction of additional demonstration sites, an expanded water quality monitoring program, the development of design tools for end-users, and ongoing policy and economic analysis.

The home is also one of Canada’s first LEED–H (Gold) registered projects. Alternative energy sources, advanced building techniques, and sustainable materials will be showcased throughout the home alongside the rainwater harvesting system.

Rainwater harvesting is gaining popularity in Ontario as it provides an alternative water source and can help reduce peak water demands on the municipal system. The Guelph project partners are working to bring rainwater harvesting into the mainstream so that the benefits can be realized in Guelph and across the country.

June 2008 – TOKYO (Reuters Life!) – Tired of petrol prices rising daily at the pump? A Japanese company has invented an electric-powered, and environmentally friendly, car that it says runs solely on water.

Genepax unveiled the car in the western city of Osaka on Thursday, saying that a liter (2.1 pints) of any kind of water—rain, river or sea—was all you needed to get the engine going for about an hour at a speed of 80 km (50 miles).

‘The car will continue to run as long as you have a bottle of water to top up from time to time,’ Genepax CEO Kiyoshi Hirasawa told local broadcaster TV Tokyo.

‘It does not require you to build up an infrastructure to recharge your batteries, which is usually the case for most electric cars,’ he added.

Once the water is poured into the tank at the back of the car, the a generator breaks it down and uses it to create electrical power, TV Tokyo said.

Whether the car makes it into showrooms remains to be seen. Genepax said it had just applied for a patent and is hoping to collaborate with Japanese auto manufacturers in the future.

Most big automakers, meanwhile, are working on fuel-cell cars that run on hydrogen and emit—not consume—water.

(Writing by Chika Osaka; Editing by Miral Fahmy and Chang-Ran Kim)

-1.jpg

Please visit us at Booth 1261 at the Annual DIA Meeting in Boston. In addition to our full-service CRO capabilities, we will feature our paperless eClinical trial web-based toolbox including:

1. Target e*CRF® Version 1 with Batch Edit Checks
2. Target Document® – Paperless Trial Master File (TMF)
3. Target e*CTMS™ – Project Management Made Easy
4. Target Newsletter® – One Click Clinical Trial Information
5. Target e*CTR™ – eClinical Trial Record – Coming Soon

For more information about Target Health or any of our software tools for clinical research, please contact Dr. Jules T. Mitchel or Ms. Joyce Hays.

Big Apple ‘Waterfalls’ Installed in East River of Manhattan

This Thursday, June 26, 2008, four mammoth waterfalls will spring into existence, freestanding cataracts roaring down into the East River and New York Harbor in a multimillion-dollar engineering feat designed by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.

“Here in New York, water is everywhere. We take the water for granted,” Eliasson said in an interview. “I want to suggest – now, it’s not about the land, now it’s about what’s between the land.”

“The New York City Waterfalls” is the city’s largest public art project since 2005, when artists Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, adorned 23 miles of Central Park’s paths with thousands of saffron drapes. The artificial cascades will be up through Oct. 13.

Eliasson, 41, creates indoor weather systems that incorporate elements like temperature, moisture, aroma and light. He’s best known for his 2003 tour de force, “The Weather Project,” which drew about 2 million people to London’s Tate Modern to see a glowing sun “rise” in a gallery – an effect he created by using a mist machine, mirrors and hundreds of light bulbs.

For this project, since there are no cliffs for water to pour over, metal scaffolds provide the framework for each waterfall. A system of pumps carries water up to a trough, where it will be released in a frothy cascade – about 35,000 gallons every minute for all four falls.

The falls will be turned on every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and illuminated after sunset.

They will roar off Governors Island in the harbor and into the East River at the Brooklyn base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Pier 35 near the Manhattan Bridge and off the Brooklyn Promenade. The highest will stand 120 feet tall, or almost the height of the Statue of Liberty, minus its pedestal.

They will be visible from the Brooklyn and Manhattan waterfronts and from the pedestrian and bike lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“My work is … about the relationship between the waterfalls, the journey around this part of town and the spectator,” Eliasson said. “I want people to see something which is personal. I want them to see themselves, essentially. I’m not offended when people say ‘This is not art.'”

“Waterfalls,” which overlaps with the last days of a retrospective of Eliasson’s work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, is expected to generate at least $55 million in economic activity for the city.

“The project promises to make a big splash in our local economy by attracting thousands of sightseers to town, who will then spend money in our restaurants, hotels and stores,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Hotels are advertising special packages and tourist agencies are offering bicycle and boat excursions.

More than 5 million people saw “Gates,” including about 1.5 million out-of-town visitors, pumping about $254 million into the economy.

The $15.5 million cost of “Waterfalls” was raised by the Public Art Fund, a private not-for-profit organization. Individuals, foundations and corporations – including Bloomberg’s own media company, Bloomberg LP – donated $13.5 million, and a state agency picked up the rest of the tab.

It’s not the first time Eliasson has experimented with water. In his 1993 “Beauty,” he produced a rainbow in a Danish gallery by projecting light across a fine mist of water. And for a work called “Green River” in 2000, he poured nontoxic green dye into a river in Stockholm.

Children were included in the planning plans for “Waterfalls.” The Public Art Fund collaborated with the city’s Department of Education to assemble study guides for teachers taking their classes to see the displays.

“Children tend to see things very different than grown-ups,” Eliasson said, explaining that while adults might see a static landscape in a waterfall, a child may see it as vital and changing.

Regardless of age, Eliasson said the goal of his project was to take spectators beyond the two-dimensional postcard image of the New York skyline.

“New York is sort of the icon of the modern city. … It’s a city everybody has a view on,” he said. “There’s something quite challenging about trying to, let’s say, shake the image that people have of this city.”

Study: Chimps Calm Each Other With Hugs, Kisses

-1.jpgJune 16, 2008, Forbes.com – For most folks, a nice hug and some sympathy can help a bit after we get pushed around. Turns out, chimpanzees use hugs and kisses the same way. And it works. Researchers studying people’s closest genetic relatives found that stress was reduced in chimps that were victims of aggression if a third chimp stepped in to offer consolation.

“Consolation usually took the form of a kiss or embrace,” said Dr. Orlaith N. Fraser of the Research Center in Evolutionary Anthropology and Paleoecology at Liverpool John Moores University in England.

“This is particularly interesting,” she said, because this behavior is rarely seen other than after a conflict.

“If a kiss was used, the consoler would press his or her open mouth against the recipient’s body, usually on the top of the head or their back. An embrace consisted of the consoler wrapping one or both arms around the recipient.”

The result was a reduction of stress behavior such as scratching or self-grooming by the victim of aggression, Fraser and colleagues report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Frans de Waal of the Yerkes Primate Center at Emory University in Atlanta said the study is important because it shows the relationship between consolation and stress reduction. Previous researchers have claimed that consolation had no effect on stress, said de Waal, who was not part of Fraser’s research team.

“This study removes doubt that consolation really does what the term suggests: provide relief to distressed parties after conflict. The evidence is compelling and makes it likely that consolation behavior is an expression of empathy,” de Waal said.

De Waal suggested that this evidence of empathy in apes is “perhaps equivalent to what in human children is called ‘sympathetic concern.'”

That behavior in children includes touching and hugging of distressed family members and “is in fact identical to that of apes, and so the comparison is not far-fetched,” he said.

While chimps show this empathy, monkeys do not, he added.

There is also suggestive evidence of such behavior in large-brained birds and dogs, said Fraser, but it has not yet been shown that it reduces stress levels in those animals.

Previous research on conflict among chimps concentrated on cases where there is reconciliation between victim and aggressor, with little attention to intervention by a third party.

Fraser and colleagues studied a group of chimps at the Chester Zoo in England from January 2005 to September 2006, recording instances of aggression such as a bite, hit, rush, trample, chase or threat.

The results show that “chimpanzees calm distressed recipients of aggression by consoling them with a friendly gesture,” Fraser said.

Consolation was most likely to occur between chimpanzees who already had valuable relationships, she added.

The research was supported by the Leakey Trust.

Next Page →