April begins the peak season for the generation of scrap tires, as many vehicle owners buy new tires in preparation for heavier driving during the summer or to replace snow tires. The number of tires discarded in a year has risen steadily along with the number of cars and trucks and the miles driven; it now stands at about 270 million. The development of potentially longer-lasting tires has done little to stem the increase, largely because many drivers neglect to follow basic maintenance procedures such as rotating and balancing tires and checking the pressure. Disregard for such measures is thought to be especially prevalent among those who lease their cars -- a group whose number is sharply rising. Some good news can be found in another recent trend: the growth of secondary markets for old tires. The rubber from more than 70 percent of this year's scrap tires will be put to new uses -- for example, as fuel for cement kilns and paper-mill boilers.
Arts & Letters
April is National Poetry Month, and the American Poetry & Literacy Project will be handing out free volumes of poetry, including 60,000 copies of a new anthology of travel and adventure poems titled Songs for the Open Road. Some 40,000 copies will be placed in the glove compartments of new Volkswagens -- the largest single effort in the APLP's history. Others will be given away on Amtrak trains, at airports and other travel-related sites, and to Peace Corps volunteers. The APLP was founded in 1993 by the late Joseph Brodsky, the 1991 U.S. poet laureate, and Andrew Carroll, a college student who sought out Brodsky after the latter spoke about the need to make poetry more widely available. It has since given away at least 250,000 books of poetry. This year, as in the past, the group will also give books -- not necessarily Songs -- to people in hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, hotels, subways, and, on April 15 (tax day), post offices.
April 1: Venus, which shines in the west just after sunset all month, lies above fainter Saturn tonight. 2: Mars, which this month is at its brightest since 1990, is near the waning Moon tonight and will be near the almost-full Moon on the 29th. 4: At 2:00 A.M. local time, Daylight Saving Time begins. Set clocks ahead one hour. 18: The crescent Moon, Venus, and the red star Aldebaran lie close together in the western sky this evening. 22: The Lyrid meteor shower peaks early this morning. 30: Full Moon, also known this month as the Fish, Sprouting Grass, or Pink Moon.
Health & Safety
The first National Alcohol Screening Day takes place on April 8. Sponsored by a variety of organizations, ranging from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to the National Interfraternity Conference, the project will offer people in malls, hospitals, schools, and other venues the opportunity to hear a presentation on alcohol problems and to fill out a questionnaire aimed at pinpointing risky drinking. It will give participants concerned about their alcohol consumption referrals to health-care professionals. 23: Many of the nation's highways and pedestrian bottlenecks will have altered surroundings as of today, when a ban against billboard advertisements for tobacco products goes into effect. The ban is part of last year's settlement between 46 states and the leading tobacco companies. Many of the billboards that once touted cigarettes and related products will now host anti-smoking messages, paid for by the industry under the terms of the settlement.