THE FOUL, HOT SUMMER
The environmental news isn't good. With each fishing license purchased in New York comes a warning to eat freshwater fish sparingly because of possible PCB contamination. Garbage and medical waste wash ashore on the coasts of New York and New Jersey, closing scores of beaches. Also, in the waters off the Eastern U.S., an explosive growth of algae has killed great numbers of fish and shellfish. A recently released study by New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation indicates that some 25% of the lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks are too acidic—from acid rain—to support fish. And let us not forget the nation's drought, which is playing havoc not only with agriculture but also with wildlife.
"The planet is telling us we can't treat it this way anymore," Dr. Stephen Joseph, the New York City Commissioner of Health, told The New York Times last week.
We have only ourselves to blame for this midsummer's nightmare. Burning fossil fuels has created many of these environmental ills. Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere traps heat that would normally escape from the earth, creating the ominous greenhouse effect. While this year's drought cannot yet be attributed to the rise in global temperatures associated with the greenhouse effect, the scorching conditions may be a preview of summers to come if the volume of carbon dioxide discharged into the air is not significantly and quickly reduced.
The burning of fossil fuels also emits nitrogen oxides, which are converted to nitric acid, a prime component of acid rain. Nitrogen oxides eventually become nitrates, and nitrates are a potent fertilizer. When they descend on coastal waters already polluted and warmed by hot spells, they may trigger algal blooms, which deprive seawater of oxygen and light, killing fish and fouling the water.
In its nearly eight years in power, the Reagan Administration has maintained that not enough is known about various environmental ills to justify action. Perhaps, in this presidential election year, the message being delivered by the planet will be heard more clearly by the two major parties.
MOVE IT, LADDIE
Foreigners playing at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, this summer are encountering something even more forbidding than the famed Swilcan Burn: a four-hour time limit for 18 holes. About once a week a golfer, usually a North American or a Japanese, is plucked off the Old Course because he's taking too long. "In Scotland, 3� hours is a long time for a four-ball [foursome] to play," says Alec Beveridge, the secretary of the St. Andrews Links Management Committee. "If you left overseas golfers to their own devices, they would like five hours."
Those discomfited by the new restriction include an 82-year-old golfer from Miami, Charles Duke, who complained to his tour operator that he had come 4,000 miles to walk in the footsteps of golf's ancestors, only to be escorted off the course in midround. This could become a sticky business, because nearly 60% of the players on the Old Course are foreigners. "What we notice in many visitors is that they reach the first ball and everyone stops," says Beveridge. "They'll discuss it, and it goes on like this, then the next one, then the next one. By this time, there's a slippage in time."