Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners

Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

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Release and pardon of killer jeopardises Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Following Hungary’s release and repatriation of convicted Azeri axe-murderer Ramil Safarov, who Azerbaijan subsequently pardoned, Armenia announced it is “ready for war”.

The declaration is in-response to Safarov’s pardon and promotion, despite the Azeri officer having been given a life sentence — with a minimum jail term of 30 years, by Hungarian authorities in 2006. Safarov was found guilty of the 2004 murder of Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest, when both Safarov and Margaryan were attending a NATO Partnership for Peace programme. Safarov killed Margaryan in his sleep with an axe; the attack allegedly stemming from a desire to avenge Azeris killed during the Nagorno-Karabakh War and being mocked by Margaryan and another Armenian.

On his return home, Safarov was met with a hero’s welcome, given a pardon by president Ilham Aliyev, promoted to the rank of major, awarded eight-years of back-pay and given a house. Armenia sees these acts, when it was expected that Safarov would serve out his prison term in Azerbaijan, as highly provocative.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian declared: “We don’t want a war, but if we have to, we will fight and win. We are not afraid of killers, even if they enjoy the protection of the head of state” .

Historically both Armenia and Azerbaijan lay claim to some of the same territories, an issue complicated by the intermingling of ethnic populations so some areas have no clearly demarcated Azeri and Armenian border; these potential sources of conflict remained quiescent whilst both nations were subsumed by greater powers. However, the collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires in the wake of the First World War led to the Armenian–Azerbaijani War. With the demise of the short-lived Armenian-Azerbaijan-Georgia Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, fighting broke out which only ended when the two nations were annexed by the expanding Soviet Union.

With the USSR’s collapse, Armenia and Azerbaijan re-emerged as independent states — as-did old rivalries over territory. Between 1988 and 1994 over thirty thousand people died, and a million were displaced in bitter ethnic fighting between Armenians and Azeris over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh; despite an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe brokered ceasefire, no final armistice has been signed and intermittent violence between them the two states continues. Nagorno-Karabakh remains legally part of Azerbaijan, but under effective Armenian control. On multiple occasions president Ilham Aliyev has stated his willingness to resort to force in order to assert Azeri rule, with oil wealth tipping any local arms race in favour of Azerbaijan.

On Friday, The National Security Council of Armenia decided to break ties with Hungary during an emergency summit, describing the Hungarian actions as a “grave mistake”. In turn, the Azeri ambassador was summoned by Hungary on Monday regarding the breach of Azeri assurances that Safarov would serve out the remainder of his sentence in Azerbaijan.

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Qatari proxy IP address temporarily blocked on Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikipedia blocked editing by a proxy IP address [1] belonging to Internet users in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Qatar for a period of twelve hours due to persistent vandalism originating from the IP.

Only one provider of high-speed Internet access operates in Qatar, and this provider has configured its network such that all its users share the same single IP address. In most cases, a single IP address corresponds to one user or a small group of users in one building or school. Because of this single-address configuration, Wikipedia was not able to implement its usual countervandalism solution, the blocking of individual IPs or user accounts. Wikipedia said that the action was taken after 200 repeated vandalism edits of the articles on sex, the United States, and the birthday of the prophet Muhammad.

A spokesperson for Wikipedia, said: “Qatar has not been banned from Wikipedia. Apparently Qatar basically has only one ISP, and nearly all of its traffic shows as coming from a single IP address.”

Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder, emphasized the temporary nature of the block, saying, “This IP number was temporarily blocked for less than 12 hours, and a block of an entire nation would go absolutely against Wikipedia policy.”

At 21:26 UTC (5:26 p.m. ET) a Wikipedia admin unblocked the IP address with the reason given as: “This IP is the address for the entire nation of Qatar; it should not be blocked.”

Qatar only has around 219,000 Internet users, and much less of that number would actually be affected by the block.

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Judge declares mistrial in Bill Cosby sexual assault case

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On Saturday, Judge Steven O’Niell of Norristown, Pennsylvania declared a mistrial in the trial of U.S. actor Bill Cosby for sexual assault because the jury had become deadlocked, unable to arrive at a unanimous guilty or not guilty verdict. Prosecutors immediately announced plans to retry the case.

Brian McMonagle, one of Cosby’s lawyers, addressed the jury, “We came here looking for an acquittal but like that Rolling Stones song says, ‘You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you need.'”

It would be reasonable, based on the evidence presented, for the jurors to agree that Cosby is a sexual predator and still disagree on a verdict as to the assault of Constand.

The jurors had deliberated for a total of 53 hours, longer than the testimony of all witnesses combined. They had already declared themselves deadlocked Thursday morning, at which time Judge O’Niell told them to return to deliberations and try again. On Friday, they emerged to request copies of previous testimony and phone transcripts.

During their deliberations, the jury asked to review the testimony of alleged victim Andrea Constand, particularly her testimony about the 2004 night the alleged assault took place, which produced over 300 pages of transcripts. Constand claims that, in 2004 when she was working for Temple University, Cosby invited her to his home, where he gave her pills that left her “immobilized” and unable to speak and then touched her breasts and genitals and placed her hand on his exposed genitals. Cosby claims their contact was consensual and that the pills he gave her were ordinary Benadryl, though he has admitted on-record that he gave women quaaludes for sex in the 1970s. Cosby was accused of three charges of aggravated indecent assault, these being assaulting Constand without her consent; whilst she was unconscious; and after using drugs to impair her ability to give consent. On each charge, a guilty verdict could have placed Cosby, now 79, in prison for up to ten years. Many other women have claimed that Cosby assaulted them as well, with specifics ranging from inappropriate touching to rape, but the statute of limitations for many of these complaints has expired, meaning that the crime happened too long ago for the government to legally prosecute Cosby. However, Pennsylvania law does allow for the testimony of such victims in other sexual assault trials, and one of these women, Kelly Johnson, testified in last week’s proceedings.

Constand did file a complaint with police in 2005, and the district attorney at the time, Bruce Castor, decided against charging Cosby. Constand then sued Cosby in civil court and the matter was settled with an undisclosed sum. However, during his deposition for this civil case, Cosby admitted on the record to giving women quaaludes.

When asked why he thought the jury was unable to come to a unanimous verdict in this case, former Philadelphia prosecutor Kevin Harden Junior said that the jurors probably had doubts regarding Constand’s credibility and cited the fact that only one of Cosby’s other accusers had been allowed to testify: “By limiting evidence of other accusers, the Court focused the jury on whether the prosecution presented enough credible evidence to convict Cosby of this particular assault. […] It would be reasonable, based on the evidence presented, for the jurors to agree that Cosby is a sexual predator and still disagree on a verdict as to the assault of Constand.”

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias commented on the prospects for a new trial: “The fact that the case turned substantially on one person’s testimony may have made it difficult to win and the defense counsel made many efforts to undercut her testimony. The retrial happens next, and the prosecution may try to call other accusers.”

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Wikinews interviews Mr. Orange of IWL in Taiwan about wrestling

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pro-wrestling, a sport derived from Greco-Roman freestyle wrestling, is often connected with the idea of sports-entertainment. Popularized by Japanese and American federations (e.g. World Wrestling Entertainment, New Japan Pro Wrestling, etc.) the ongoing events and news are often discussed on the Internet. As such, television programs and other mass media focused on pro-wrestling are commonplace in Japan, America, and Europe.

In Taiwan, fans do not simply watch the TV shows and discuss them via the Internet, but some of them participate in the sport of wrestling through communities from the Internet or colleges. Although a Taiwanese wrestler recently won a world-class pro-wrestling title, due to policies that focused only on promoting key athletic sports like baseball, billiards, basketball, and taekwondo (i.e. those with more possibilities to win a gold medal in the Asian Games or Olympics), governmental officials lost a great opportunity to promote sports like wrestling, which has many potential participants.

What’s the vision of wrestling in Taiwan? How did the communities drive TV spectators and wrestling fans and government officials pay more attention in wrestling? Is wrestling a future key sport in Taiwan? Wikinews Journalist Rico Shen visited the “2008 IWL Spring Festival”, organised by a fan community and interviewed “Mr. Orange”, well-known commentator of WWE TV shows broadcasted by VideoLand Max TV in Taiwan, to prospect the future of wrestling.

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13 pilot whales returning to sea, off Western Australia

Monday, April 4, 2005

Rescuers were today sending a pod of 13 pilot whales back into the ocean at Geographe Bay, near to Busselton, south of Perth, in Western Australia. Six additional members of the pod had died during the stranding, including at least one calf. More than 300 people were watching as the whales set out to sea following a 30 hour rescue effort.

The whales had become stranded early yesterday. Several power boats and a spotter plane were escorting the surviving whales towards Cape Naturalist, in an operation expected to take several hours.

Western Australian State Government Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) officers feared that the whales could become stranded again.

One CALM officer, Neil Taylor, told ABC News dozens of his colleagues and community volunteers had helped the whales survive throughout the night.

“The vet has checked them all and given them some antibiotics yesterday, last thing before dark,” he had told the Australian national broadcaster.

“I think the plan is that the vet will be there again [today] and will give them some vitamins to kick them along before they actually take their swim out to sea.”

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John Constable painting location mystery solved after 195 years

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The mystery of the location of a viewpoint used by English painter John Constable has been solved, after nearly 200 years. The Stour Valley and Dedham Church was painted in Suffolk, England, between 1814 and 1815, but changes to the landscape meant that the spot he chose was not known, despite the best efforts of historians and art experts.

Now the puzzle has been answered. Martin Atkinson, who works for the National Trust as property manager for East Suffolk, used clues from the painting and looked at old maps to track down the viewpoint. Trees had grown, a hedgerow had been planted and boundaries had moved or disappeared, but Atkinson eventually worked out where Constable had stood. He said, “When I discovered that I had worked out the location where Constable painted this particular masterpiece, I couldn’t believe it. All the pieces of the jigsaw finally fitted together.”

Atkinson used an 1817 map of East Bergholt, where Constable grew up, as a reference point, but found that the view would have changed not long after the painting was completed. “The foreground didn’t fit at all, it was quite unusual as we know Constable painted it in the open air so he would have been standing in the scene. The hedgerow in his work no longer exists and there’s another hedgerow that runs across the scene today which wasn’t there. When you stand on the road on which he would have stood, and use the oak tree as a reference point, you see the same view. It’s great to see where an old master stood – and be inspired by the same view,” he said.

Suffolk, where Constable painted many of his finest paintings, is often called “Constable country”. Most, but not all, of the locations that Constable depicted are known. The picture is now housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Dixie Chicks, Blige, Underwood big Grammy winners

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Dixie Chicks won the award album in the song of Not Ready To Make Nice. Finally overcame controversy to dominate the 2007 Grammy Awards on Sunday night, winning five statuettes including the two coveted awards for Record and Song of the Year (for “Not Ready To Make Nice”). The country/rock trio, led by Martie Maguire, often criticized for their political views, also won for their album Taking the Long Way.

Mary J. Blige, who went into the Grammies with the most nominations, ended up winning three, while American Idol winner Carrie Underwood won two, including Best New Artist and for her song “Jesus Take The Wheel“. With completion of the “big three” music awards (which includes the American Music Awards held in November, and the Billboard Music Awards held in December), Blige and Underwood were the only two artists to sweep all three major awards this season.

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News briefs:August 02, 2010

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UN Report: Earth ecosystem in peril

Thursday, March 31, 2005A report Tuesday from a United Nations-backed project, consulting more than 1,300 scientists from 95 countries, and written over the last four years, warns that 60 percent of the basics of life on Earth — water, food, timber, clean air — are currently being used in ways which degrade them. Furthermore, fisheries and fresh water use-patterns are unsustainable, and getting worse.

“The harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years,” according to a press release from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), a massive four-year study begun in 2001.

“We’ve had many reports on environmental degradation, but for the first time we’re now able to draw connections between ecosystem services and human well-being,” Cristian Samper, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington and a chief architect of the study, told the Christian Science Monitor.

The project’s Synthesis Report, first in a series of eleven documents and published yesterday, explains the objective: “to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and to establish the scientific basis for actions needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and their contributions to human well-being.”

It then goes on to report on four main findings:

  • Changes over the last 50 years to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel, have effected substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.
  • Net gains in human well-being and economic development are offset by growing costs, in the form ecosystem degradation, the possibility of abrupt and unpredictable ecosystem changes, and worsened poverty for some groups. Unless addressed, these problems will substantially diminish the benefits that future generations obtain from ecosystems.
  • Ecosystem degradation could grow significantly worse over the next 50 years, presenting a barrier to meeting UN Millennium Development Goals.
  • The challenge of reversing the degradation while meeting increasing ecological demands can be partially met under some scenarios, but only with significant changes in policies, institutions and practices — changes that are not currently under way.

Walter Reid, the study’s director, speaking at yesterday’s London launch of the report said it shows that over the last 50 years “humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable time in human history.”

“This has resulted in substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth,” he said.

It is unclear what this will mean to future generations or the possible emergence of new diseases, absence of fresh water and the continuing decline of fisheries and completely unpredictable weather.

With half of the urban populations of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean suffering from several diseases associated with these problems, the death toll is reaching 1.7 million people a year. Entire species of mammals, birds and amphibians are disappearing from the planet at nearly 1,000 times the natural rate, according to the study. Oxygen-depleted coastal waters and rivers result from overuse of nitrogen fertilizer – an effect known as “nutrient loading” which leads to continuing biodiversity loss.

With the United States’ non-participation in the Kyoto Treaty, former U.S. Senator Timothy Wirth, president of this U.N. Foundation, says “U.S. leadership is critical in providing much-needed expertise, technological capabilities and ingenuity to restore ecosystems.

“We can take steps at home to reduce our nation’s adverse impact on the global environment.”

“At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning,” said the 45-member board.

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