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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(5)
Plague/Virus:(2)
Climate Chaos:(12)
Resource Depletion: (1)
Biology Breach:(13)
Recovery:(7)
This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
contamination  ~ global warming  ~ economic myopia  ~ climate impacts  ~ stupid humans  ~ smart policy  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ overfishing  ~ hunting to extinction  ~ governmental idiocy  ~ corporate malfeasance  



ApocaDocuments (40) gathered this week:
Sun, May 31, 2009
from Cornell University via ScienceDaily:
Blue Whale Discovered Singing In New York Coastal Waters
For the very first time in New York coastal waters, the voices of singing blue whales have been positively identified. Acoustic experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Bioacoustics Research Program (BRP) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) confirmed that the voice of a singing blue whale was tracked about 70 miles off of Long Island and New York City on Jan. 10-11, 2009, as the whale swam slowly from east to west. At the same time, a second blue whale was heard singing offshore in the far distance...."It's just amazing to hear one singing out there on New York's ocean stage only tens of miles from Carnegie Hall and Broadway!" said Christopher Clark, director of Cornell's BRP. "This opens a whole new universe of opportunities for all of us to learn more about and appreciate these species and the vitality of New York's marine environment." ...


Sounds like it's auditioning to me!

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Sun, May 31, 2009
from Salon:
Deadly heat
Climate change is currently killing 300,000 people a year around the world, while seriously impacting the lives of hundreds of millions more, states a controversial new report from the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva. The report, "Human Impact Report: Climate Change -- The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis," predicts that by 2030, approximately 500,000 people will lose their lives to global warming annually. Even today, it charges that 325 million people are seriously affected by climate change, at a total economic cost of $125 billion a year. "Climate change is a silent human crisis. Yet it is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time," said Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, who is now the president of the Global Humanitarian Forum, in a statement. "Already today it causes suffering to hundreds of millions of people, most of whom are not even aware that they are victims of climate change. We need an international agreement to contain climate change and reduce its widespread suffering." ...


Normally we could say, "then get out of the kitchen," but the heat's in the whole house!

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Sun, May 31, 2009
from London Independent:
Leaders called to special climate talks
World leaders are to meet for an unprecedented second summit on climate change this year to try to get agreement on a tough new treaty by December, and may even get together for a third time before the end of the year. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, is to call the world's heads of government to New York in September to "galvanise political will" about what he describes as "the defining issue of our time". And there are plans for another G20 summit to discuss the issue in the autumn. These will follow a meeting of 17 key world leaders convened at the initiative of President Barack Obama immediately after the annual G8 summit in July. Observers cannot remember any similar progression of top-level meetings to address any issue over such a short period of time. ...


So many summits... so little time...

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Sun, May 31, 2009
from Washington Post:
New Virus Spurs Experts to Rethink Definition of Pandemic
Influenza experts are acknowledging that they were almost completely surprised by the way the current swine flu outbreak unfolded, so much so it is forcing the world to rethink what a pandemic is and what pandemic preparedness means. Virtually every assumption made since planning for a pandemic began in earnest after the deadly "bird flu" outbreak of 2004 in Southeast Asia has been contradicted by the six-week history of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1). Although they acknowledged there might be alternative scenarios, nearly every expert assumed that the next pandemic strain would jump from birds to human beings someplace in Asia. They also assumed that, like the H5N1 bird flu virus, which is lethal in 60 percent of people who catch it, the new strain would be recognized immediately and would have to be fought with drastic measures. Instead, the virus emerged in North America, appears to have come from pigs, had spread widely by the time it was noticed, and kills less than 1 percent of the people it infects. ...


We could plan for all this unpredictably by not planning at all!

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Sat, May 30, 2009
from Living on Earth:
Oil on Trial
...Three of the world's biggest oil companies are currently battling environmental human rights lawsuits. The Exxon Mobil case involves Indonesia. The Chevron/Texaco suit is in Ecuador. And the Shell case involves Nigeria. That case is about to go on trial in a New York federal court....Chevron is being sued for 27 billion dollars for polluting the jungle....in Indonesia Exxon Mobile is being sued by some villagers in Ache for human rights violations allegedly committed by soldiers guarding a natural gas plant. ...


Aw jeez, prices at the pump are gonna go up.

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Sat, May 30, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
BPA industry seeks to polish image
Frustrated at media portrayals of bisphenol A as a dangerous chemical, food-packaging executives and lobbyists for the chemical makers met this week at an exclusive Washington, D.C., club where they hammered out a strategy, including showcasing a pregnant woman to talk about the chemical's benefits....A pregnant woman would be "the holy grail" to serve as a spokeswoman, the memo says. Attendees said they doubted they could find a scientist to serve as a spokesman for BPA....Richard Wiles, executive director of the activist Environmental Working Group, said he was surprised by the content of the memo. "I mean, it seems over the top, even by industry," Wiles said. "I'm amazed in this day and age they'd write this stuff down." He said the document suggests that the chemical industry can't rely on science to sell its product. ...


If only they could have found a pregnant scientist!

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Sat, May 30, 2009
from Associated Press:
Scientists identify new lethal virus in Africa
Scientists have identified a lethal new virus in Africa that causes bleeding like the dreaded Ebola virus. The so-called "Lujo" virus infected five people in Zambia and South Africa last fall. Four of them died, but a fifth survived, perhaps helped by a medicine recommended by the scientists. It's not clear how the first person became infected, but the bug comes from a family of viruses found in rodents, said Dr. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University epidemiologist involved in the discovery. "This one is really, really aggressive" he said of the virus.... The outbreak started in September, when a female travel agent who lives on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia, became ill with a fever-like illness that quickly grew much worse. She was airlifted to Johannesburg, South Africa, where she died. A paramedic in Lusaka who treated her also became sick, was transported to Johannesburg and died. The three others infected were health care workers in Johannesburg. ...


There's nothing quite as exciting as the discovery of a new virus!

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Sat, May 30, 2009
from Associated Press:
GOP belittles Democrats' climate change proposal
...Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, in the GOP's weekly radio and Internet address, said the House's climate bill was "a classic example of unwise government." The address culminated a week of coordinated Republican attacks on the Democratic proposal, which would require the first nationwide reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming... The proposal to cap greenhouse emissions "will cost us dearly in jobs and income and it stands no chance of achieving its objective of a cooler earth" because other nations such as China and India will not have to follow, Daniels said. "The cost for all American taxpayers will be certain, huge, and immediate. Any benefits are extremely uncertain, minuscule, and decades distant," he contended. ...


Then by all means let's just destroy the habitat, together, ASAP!

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Fri, May 29, 2009
from New York Times:
Cigarette Butts: Tiny Trash That Piles Up
...Nationally, cigarette butts account for one-quarter or more of the items tossed onto streets and other roadways, San Francisco and other cities report.... smokers see butts as a more natural kind of trash than, say, a plastic bottle. But they are not biodegradable: they contain plastic filters that enter sewers and storm drains, and get swept into rivers and then out to sea, where they can release toxic chemicals including nicotine, benzene and cadmium. For years, campaigns for heavy per-pack taxes and smoking bans in office buildings, restaurants and bars were driven mainly by health concerns about secondhand smoke, which can lead to lung cancer, emphysema and other diseases. In moving on to butt litter, municipalities are reckoning with the broader environmental consequences of the country's most vilified personal habit. ...


People who don't take care of their butts are asses.

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Fri, May 29, 2009
from The Brisbane Courier-Mail:
Noosa two-headed fish scare widens
CHEMICAL contamination that caused gross deformities to millions of fish larvae may be more widespread in Noosa waterways than first thought. Data from the Department of Primary Industries showing chemical contamination in Cooloothin Creek was released two weeks ago but the State Government has been playing down the find, saying the levels are so low as to be insignificant. However, the scientist who alerted authorities to problems said yesterday that it was likely Kin Kin Creek also was contaminated. The agricultural chemicals carbendazim, atrazine and metolachlor were found near the Sunland Fish Hatchery by the DPI's Noosa Fish Health Taskforce scientists. ...


Two-headed fish are scary in so very many ways!

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Fri, May 29, 2009
from The Spokesman-Review:
Lead bullets targeted for risk to wildlife, game consumers
The trend toward restrictions on lead bullets for hunting gained velocity recently: •The Department of Interior in March announcement a plan to ban lead ammunition and fishing gear throughout the National Park System by 2011. (Hunting is allowed in some national parks, preserves and monuments to manage wildlife populations.) •A study published in April provided new evidence that humans and wildlife can be exposed to lead ingestion when eating the meat of game killed with lead bullets. Some shooting and hunting groups are taking stand against the trend. ...


Now who woulda thought lead bullets would be risky for wildlife!

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Fri, May 29, 2009
from London Financial Times:
Argentina pressed to ban crop chemical after health concerns
Argentina's government is coming under pressure to ban the chemical used in the world's best-selling herbicide, which has helped turn the country into an important world food exporter in the past decade, after new research found that it might be harmful to human health. A group of environmental lawyers has petitioned the Supreme Court to impose a six-month ban on the sale and use of glyphosate, which is the basis for many herbicides, including the US agribusiness giant Monsanto's Roundup product.... Research by other Argentine scientists and evidence from local campaigners has indicated a high incidence of birth defects and cancers in people living near crop-spraying areas. One study conducted by a doctor, Rodolfo Páramo, in the northern farming province of Santa Fé reported 12 malformations per 250 births, well above the normal rate. ...


Don't die for me, Argentina.

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Fri, May 29, 2009
from The Daily Climate:
Climate change hitting poor in U.S. hardest.
Climate change is disproportionately affecting the poor and minorities in the United States – a "climate gap" that will grow in coming decades unless policymakers intervene, according to a University of California study. Everyone, the researchers say, is already starting to feel the effects of a warming planet, via heat waves, increased air pollution, drought, or more intense storms. But the impacts – on health, economics, and overall quality of life – are far more acute on society's disadvantaged, the researchers found. ...


Isn't this what we call "trickle down"?

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More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Thu, May 28, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
An Inconvenient Truth for Fish
The End of the Line looks to be the biggest environmental film since An Inconvenient Truth.... Charles Clover, a former Daily Telegraph journalist, outlines the threat to the oceans. He makes the assertion that if the fishing industry is not regulated, the world will be out of seafood around 2048. This would result in starvation for 1.2 billion people, as fish is a key part of their diet -- unless you want to survive on jellyfish burgers.... As Mr Clover says, fish is no longer a guilt-free meal: "Trolling (using drag nets along the bottom of the ocean) is like ploughing a field seven times a year." ...


I can still feel a pulse... but it's faint... Regulations! Stat!

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from The Telegram (Canada):
David Suzuki hunts for the real bottom line
Want to know how to make David Suzuki upset? Talk to him about Stephen Harper's approach to environmental conservation. "We're told over and over that the bottom line is the economy, and our own prime minister says we can't afford to do anything about climate change if it jeopardizes the economy. That's absolutely wrong -- it's a lie. What kind of government puts the economy before a global environmental crisis?" Suzuki asked The Telegram in an interview from his Toronto office Tuesday.... Suzuki is also calling on provincial governments to put the planet before politics, including the government of B.C., his home province. Earlier this month, he, along with a half a dozen local mayors and others, wrote an open letter in the Globe and Mail calling for an organized approach to addressing climate change in that province. Among their suggestions was that the provincial government increase the low-income carbon tax-credit at the same rate as price increases on greenhouse gas emissions, and that a portion of carbon-tax revenues be invested in public transit and renewable energy projects. ...


What kind of government? One that is bought and paid for.

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from Reuters:
Greenland ice could fuel severe U.S. sea level rise
New York, Boston and other cities on North America's northeast coast could face a rise in sea level this century that would exceed forecasts for the rest of the planet if Greenland's ice sheet keeps melting as fast as it is now, researchers said on Wednesday. Sea levels off the northeast coast of North America could rise by 12 to 20 inches more than other coastal areas if the Greenland glacier-melt continues to accelerate at its present pace, the researchers reported. This is because the current rate of ice-melting in Greenland could send so much fresh water into the salty north Atlantic Ocean that it could change the vast ocean circulation pattern sometimes called the conveyor belt. Scientists call this pattern the meridional overturning circulation. ...


Whateva ya call it, I'm bringing my snorkel!

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Prince Charles says world in 'last chance saloon' to stop climate change
Prince Charles, a long-term environmentalist, said that while global warming is set to cause "the extinction of millions of species and organisms", the majority of people are not willing to take action to prevent temperatures rising. Addressing the Nobel Laureates Symposium at St James's Palace in London, he said: "I don't know about your own experience, but it seems to me that whilst there is now only a mercifully small (if vociferous) number of people who do not accept the science of climate change and who should know better, there are still a great many who fail to recognise the real urgency of the situation.... We know about energy efficiency, renewable energy, and how to reduce deforestation, to name but a few, but we seem strangely reluctant to apply them. I fear that this hesitation will have catastrophic consequences."... ...


The real question: When is last call?

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from New Scientist:
Turbo-evolution shows cod speeding to extinction
Fishing is causing cod to evolve faster than anyone had suspected it could, fisheries scientists in Iceland have discovered. This turbo-evolution may be why the world's biggest cod fishery, the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, crashed in 1992 and has yet to recover. The Icelandic cod fishery, almost the only large cod fishery left anywhere in the world, is about to go the same way unless urgent conservation measures are applied, the scientists warn.... Fisheries are known to exert selective pressure on fish. In some cases this has led to the evolution of smaller fish. This was thought to be a slow process. "Previous workers have concluded that evolutionary changes are only observable on a longer timescale, of decades," Arnason says. "The changes we observe are much more rapid." ... "Man the hunter has become a mechanised techno-beast," the team writes. "Modern fisheries are uncontrolled experiments in evolution." ...


A "mechanized techno-beast"? How dare you question the Borg?

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
Sea-level rise may pose greatest threat to Northeast US, Canada
The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet this century may drive more water than previously thought toward the already threatened coastlines of New York, Boston, Halifax and other cities in the northeastern United States and Canada, according to new research.... They considered three scenarios: the melt rate continuing to increase by 7 percent a year, as has been the case in recent years, or the melt rate slowing down to an increase of either 1 or 3 percent a year. If Greenland's melt rate slows down to a 3 percent annual increase, the study team's computer simulations indicate that the runoff from its ice sheet could alter ocean circulation in a way that would direct about a foot of water toward the northeast coast of North America by 2100. This would be on top of the average global sea level rise expected as a result of global warming. Although the study team did not try to estimate that mean global sea level rise, their simulations indicated that melt from Greenland alone under the 3 percent scenario could raise sea levels by an average of 53 centimeters (21 inches). If the annual increase in the melt rate dropped to 1 percent, the runoff would not raise northeastern sea levels by more than the 8 inches found in the earlier study in Nature Geoscience. But if the melt rate continued at its present 7 percent increase per year through 2050 and then leveled off, the study suggests that the northeast coast could see as much as 51 centimeters (20 inches) of sea level rise above a global average that could be several feet. ...


Red Sox: soggy. Mets: sodden.

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Genetically modified monkeys give birth to designer babies
Genetically modified monkeys that glow in ultraviolet light and pass the trait on to their young have been created by scientists in Japan in controversial research that "raises the stakes" over animals rights. The work paves the way for scientists to breed large populations of primates with genetic faults responsible for incurable human conditions, but could also spark an ethical backlash for introducing harmful genes into the primate population. Researchers hailed the feat as a major step towards understanding the development of inherited diseases, such as Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, from the cradle to the grave. But the work is likely to dismay animal rights groups as it could lead to a rise in the number of primates used in research labs. The work also raises the possibility of genetically modifying humans, although such work is outlawed in most countries, including Britain. ...


I won't be impressed until they make GM humans who are immune to RoundUp™

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Wed, May 27, 2009
from Cape Cod Times:
Study links strandings to pollution
Cape Cod is one of the top areas in the world for marine mammal strandings. The animals are sometimes loaded with parasites or are sick. But, despite a long history of pollution in our coastal waters, the toll pollution takes on sea creatures has been harder to establish. In a study, recently published in the journal Environmental Pollution, Eric Montie, a University of South Florida scientist who did most of his research while a doctoral student at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, found high levels of man-made chemicals in the brains and fluid surrounding the brains of marine mammals. Scientists have known for a while that dangerous compounds like the pesticide DDT, the insulating material PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) and the flame retardant PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) accumulate in the fatty tissue of mammals, particularly top-of-the-food-chain predators that eat chemical-laden prey....Montie tested for the presence of 170 chemicals in brain and cerebrospinal fluid he'd collected from the stranded animals. He found exceptionally high levels of both the widely used flame retardant PBDE and a form of PCB. ...


And here we thought they were just looking for hamburgers & fries!

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Wed, May 27, 2009
from London Times:
Mobile phones to be banned in French primary schools to limit health risks
Mobile telephones are to be banned from French primary schools, and operators must offer handsets that allow only text messages, under government measures to reduce the health risk to children. Companies will also be required to supply phones that work only with headsets, to limit the danger to the brain from electromagnetic radiation, Rosalyne Bachelot, the Health Minister, said. The measures, which emerged from a six-week review of mobile phone and wi-fi radiation, have been attacked as inadequate by campaigners who accuse the State of playing down dangers from phones and transmitter masts. The campaign groups, which walked out on the government consultation on Monday, wanted a ban on mobile use by children under 14 and drastic measures to limit the power and location of masts. ...


And I suppose they don't want the carrier pigeons to poop on the little buggers' heads, either.

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Wed, May 27, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
China puts its faith in solar power with huge renewable energy investment
China is the world's leading manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) panels, which turn sunlight into electricity. But 95 percent of these are exported. While solar thermal power, in which sunlight heats water, is in widespread use, the central government and the five major utilities have deemed PV power too expensive, particularly compared with coal, which generates electricity for between an eighth and a tenth of the cost. But the global economic crisis and increasing concerns about climate change and energy security have prompted a change in attitudes. Since last year, a glut in supply of PV panels has pushed prices down by more than 30 percent, cutting profits of domestic manufacturers such as Suntech. To support them and widen the country's energy base, the plan is expected to include the biggest ever boost for solar power, along with extra spending and policy support for nuclear, wind and biomass power. By 2020, the government is committed to raising the share of renewable energy (excluding hydroelectric power) in the energy mix to 6 percent, from the current 1.5 percent. ...


Can they make photovoltaics as cheap as their crappy microwaves?

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Wed, May 27, 2009
from SciDev.net:
Change to Ecuador's GM laws 'could allow suicide seeds'
Moves by Ecuador's president to veto legislation covering genetically modified organisms could let controversial 'terminator' seeds into the country, campaigning groups claim. Ecuador bans the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops but for more than a decade it has allowed imports of transgenic materials -- particularly soybean and corn. There are no clear regulations about planting GM crops for research.... Terminator or 'suicide' seeds are modified so they can't reproduce in the second generation. The Convention on Biological Diversity has had a moratorium on them since 2000. Supporters say they stop farmers using seeds they haven't paid for and that their genes cannot spread to conventional crops, unlike other GM seeds. But critics say that terminator seeds will make poor farmers dependent on big companies for seeds. ...


Ecuador's "rights of nature" seems in conflict with suicidal tendencies.

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Wed, May 27, 2009
from University of Warwick, via EurekAlert:
Research suggests we are genetically programmed to care about climate change
Dr Peter Sozou suggests that individuals may have an innate tendency to care about the long-term future of their communities, over timescales much longer than an individual's lifespan. This in turn may help to explain people's wish to take action over long-term environmental problems.... Dr Sozou said: 'This analysis shows that the social discount rate is generally lower than the private discount rate. An individual's valuation of a future benefit to herself is governed by the probability that she will still be alive in future. But she may value future benefits to her community over a timescale considerably longer than her own lifespan. 'Evolution is driven by competition. Caring about the future of your community makes evolutionary sense to the extent that future members of your community are likely to be your relatives.' ...


I wish our genetics would hurry up then.

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from Times Online (UK):
Steven Chu: paint the world white to fight global warming
The Nobel prize-winning physicist appointed by President Obama as US Energy Secretary wants to change the colour of roofs, roads and pavements so they reflect more of the Sun's light and heat to combat global warming, he said today.... By lightening all paved surfaces and roofs to the colour of cement, it would be possible to reduce carbon emissions by as much as taking all the world's cars off the roads for 11 years, he said.... Pale surfaces reflect up to 80 per cent of the sunlight that falls on them, compared to about 20 per cent for dark ones, which is why roofs and walls in hot countries are often whitewashed. An increase in the number of pale surfaces would help contain climate change both by reflecting more solar radiation into space and by reducing the amount of energy needed to keep buildings cool by air-conditioning.... Professor Chu said: "There's a friend of mine, a colleague of mine, Art Rosenfeld, who's pushing very hard for a geo-engineering we all believe will be completely benign, and that's when you have a flat-top roof building, make it white. ...


That's so reasonable it just... might... work!

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We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Tue, May 26, 2009
from BusinessWeek:
The Great Ethanol Scam
First, the primary job of the Environmental Protection Agency is, dare it be said, to protect our environment. Yet using ethanol actually creates more smog than using regular gas, and the EPA's own attorneys had to admit that fact in front of the justices presiding over the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1995 (API v. EPA). Second, truly independent studies on ethanol, such as those written by Tad Patzek of Berkeley and David Pimentel of Cornell, show that ethanol is a net energy loser. Other studies suggest there is a small net energy gain from it. Third, all fuels laced with ethanol reduce the vehicle's fuel efficiency, and the E85 blend drops gas mileage between 30 percent and 40 percent, depending on whether you use the EPA's fuel mileage standards (fueleconomy.gov) or those of the Dept. of Energy. ...


I just want to forget ethanol's sorrows.

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from London Daily Mail:
...Could you be gargling your way to cancer?
...are mouthwashes as effective, or as healthy, as they seem? Earlier this month, one well-known manufacturer was forced to recall thousands of bottles after they were found to have 'microbiological problems' that could cause chest infections. While investigations revealed this was related to a production rather than ingredient problem, it came hot on the heels of another, more worrying, revelation - that some mouthwashes may increase the risk of oral cancer. According to a report published in January in the Dental Journal of Australia, there was 'sufficient evidence' linking breath-freshening products containing alcohol with a higher risk of the disease. Not only does alcohol seem to make the mouth's cells more vulnerable to cancer-causing agents, explained Professor Michael McCullough from Melbourne University, but 'its first breakdown product is acetaldehyde, a known human carcinogen'. ...


As long as my breath is minty fresh I don't think I care!

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Bad news, and good news, in our emptying oceans
Global study finds dramatic drops in marine life over the centuries, but it also finds hope that some depleted populations can recover... Today, there are 85 to 90 per cent fewer fish and marine mammals than there once were, said Poul Holm, professor of environmental history at Trinity College Dublin and the global chair of the History of Marine Animal Populations project. "We can now confirm this is a global picture, fairly consistent in the developed and developing world," he said. He is chairing a conference in Vancouver this week where paleontologists, archeologists, historians, ecologists and other researchers will present their individual findings and start to synthesize them for a report that will be published next year. ...


Bad news = species collapse in ocean takes the planet with it; good news = less swimming accidents.

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from Washington Post:
In Ecuador, an Unusual Carbon-Credit Plan to Leave Oil Untapped
QUITO, Ecuador -- Beneath the tropical jungles of northeastern Ecuador lies a vast pool of oil, representing one-fifth of the small Andean country's petroleum reserves and potentially billions of dollars in revenue. Directly above that pool, the Yasuni National Park is home to a diversity of wildlife that is among the richest on the planet, Ecuadoran and U.S. biologists say. Faced with these two treasures, Ecuador is pursuing an unusual plan to reap the oil profits without actually drilling for oil. The idea envisions wealthy countries effectively paying Ecuador to leave its oil -- and the carbon dioxide that would result from using it -- in the ground. Environmentalists hail the proposal as a potentially precedent-setting approach to conservation in developing countries. ...


Don't drill, baby, don't drill!

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from Denver KUSA-TV:
Contamination concerns rise out of gas wells
..."We're starting to see complaints by people that live in the area," said Geoffrey Thyne, a professor at Colorado School of Mines. For years, Thyne has been studying the technique often used to remove gas from the ground. It's called hydraulic fracturing, or fracing (pronounced "fracking"), and it involves injecting chemical-filled fluid thousands of feet below the surface, which expands existing fractures in the rock and allows gas to rise. Allegations are now popping up across the country that fracing is contaminating groundwater and causing illnesses and environmental problems. But Thyne says no one can prove a link because no one outside the oil and gas companies knows what chemicals are going into the ground. "Without that knowledge, then there's always going to be some ambiguity or lack of positive assignment of responsibility," Thyne said. The oil and gas industry won the right to keep their chemical mixture secret in 2005, when the government exempted fracing from the Safe Drinking Water Act. ...


What's really freaky about fracing is the freakin' fibbing going on!

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from Associated Press:
Consumer group pushes J&J on chemicals in shampoo
A coalition of health, environmental and consumer groups is demanding that health products giant Johnson & Johnson remove tiny amounts of two chemicals suspected of causing cancer from its Johnson's Baby Shampoo and other products. In a letter sent late Friday by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to J&J's chief executive, William Weldon, the seven-year-old group asks the company by the end of August to reformulate its personal care products so that they are free of 1,4-dioxane and any preservatives that release formaldehyde. The letter was signed by nearly 50 groups representing about 1.7 million members, from the Environmental Working Group and Friends of the Earth to the American Nurses Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Johnson & Johnson spokesman Bill Price said, "The trace levels of certain compounds that were noted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth. Many regulatory agencies around the world consider these trace levels safe." ...


Plus, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from ABC News:
From Oct 27, 2006: Senators to Exxon: Stop the Denial
ExxonMobil should stop funding groups that have spread the idea that global warming is a myth and that try to influence policymakers to adopt that view, two senators said today in a letter to the oil company. In their letter to ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., appealed to Exxon's sense of corporate responsibility, asking the company to "come clean about its past denial activities." The two senators called on ExxonMobil to "end any further financial assistance" to groups "whose public advocacy has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth."... Since 1990, the report said, the company has spent more than $19 million funding groups that promote their views through publications and Web sites that are not peer reviewed by the scientific community. ...


"Corporate responsibility"? But what about their responsibilities to the stockholders?

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from London Guardian:
Climate change summit hijacked by biggest polluters, critics claim
A vital meeting in Copenhagen this weekend that will help shape the agenda for the most important climate change talks since the Kyoto protocol has been hijacked by some of the biggest polluters in the world, critics claimed today. Among those attending the World Business Summit on Climate Change is Shell, which has just been named by environmentalists on the basis of new research as "the most carbon-intensive oil company in the world". There is concern that the big energy companies will be pushing carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a way of keeping the oil-based economy running....Six of the companies involved in the summit have been nominated for Climate Greenwash Awards because of their failure to live up to their PR spin on tackling climate change. ...


You mean the foxes are watching the foxhouse AGAIN?

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from Associated Press:
Renowned climber warns Everest facing climate damage
A Sherpa from Nepal who holds the world's record for scaling Mount Everest said Monday the planet's highest peak was littered with trash and warned that its glaciers were melting because of global warming. Appa, who like most Sherpas goes by only one name, scaled the peak last week not to draw attention to his own amazing feat -- he has now climbed Everest a record 19 times -- but to the impact that global warming is having on the majestic site. Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, creating lakes whose walls could burst and flood villages below. Melting ice and snow also make the routes for mountaineers less stable and more difficult to follow. "We have only one Everest, we need to clean it, protect it," said Appa, who flew back to Katmandu on Monday after reached the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) summit last Thursday for the 19th time. ...


Everest, the poster child for beleaguered peaks.

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from Sandusky Register:
Latta: Energy bill could destroy Ohio jobs
Global warming is billed as one of the most dire problems facing the Earth. But will the burden of fixing it fall unfairly upon residents and businesses in Ohio? U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, is trying to sound the alarm. He warns a new bill making its way through the House will destroy jobs in Ohio and increase the costs of energy for almost everyone -- all in the name of reducing greenhouse gases. "If you use coal, you're whacked," said Latta, whose district includes Huron County. He notes in Ohio, unlike states such as California where "green" legislation is popular, everyone depends on electricity produced by coal plants. ...


Poor widdle buckeyes...

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from London Times:
The Living Seas
...It is man's predatory overfishing that has emptied the seas, a relentless destruction that has gathered pace in the past century and brought much marine life to the brink of extinction. A conference that opens in Vancouver tomorrow will present a Census of Marine Life, which has reconstructed from old ship logs, tax accounts, legal documents and even mounted trophies the vast populations of fish and marine mammals that once populated the oceans of the world. Before 1800, the sea between Australia and New Zealand supported around 27,000 right whales -- roughly 30 times the population of today. But rampant whaling so decimated the population that by 1925 only an estimated 25 were left. ...


Gonna be one fun buncha folks at THIS conference.

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from London Times:
Manta rays next on restaurant menus as shark populations plummet
Conservationists fear a falling shark population is prompting Asian chefs to look for manta and devil rays to help meet the voracious demand for shark fin soup. Found in coastal waters throughout the world, rays present an easy target as they swim slowly near the surface with their huge wings. So far, they have escaped commercial exploitation and have been hunted only by small numbers of subsistence fishermen, who traditionally catch them using harpoons.... Until now, getting caught in nets intended for other fish has been the biggest threat to rays, listed as "near threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. ...


Manta rays will now officially be listed as "near screwed."

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from Associated Press:
Amazon hit by climate chaos of floods, drought
SAO PAULO -- Across the Amazon basin, river dwellers are adding new floors to their stilt houses, trying to stay above rising floodwaters that have killed 44 people and left 376,000 homeless. Flooding is common in the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness, but this year the waters rose higher and stayed longer than they have in decades, leaving fruit trees entirely submerged. Only four years ago, the same communities suffered an unprecedented drought that ruined crops and left mounds of river fish flapping and rotting in the mud. Experts suspect global warming may be driving wild climate swings that appear to be punishing the Amazon with increasing frequency. It's "the $1 million dollar question," says Carlos Nobre, a climatologist with Brazil's National Institute for Space Research. ...


Hey, if it's only a million bucks let's have a bake sale!

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from Associated Press:
Study says businesses can create clean energy jobs
COPENHAGEN -- Business leaders vowed Monday to help world governments set a price on carbon, establishing a market that governments can use to cut greenhouse gases. "I think we can craft some pretty clear direction," said Tony Hayward, the chief executive officer of BP PLC. That approach requires governments to join a new U.N.-administered treaty for regulating greenhouse gases that proponents hope to hammer out by December... The predictions came at a global business summit where corporate leaders are focusing on how to help politicians negotiate a new global climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto treaty that expires in 2012. ...


Businesses and politicians working together? Now all we need is common po' folks to join in!

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