|ApocaDocuments (20) gathered this week:|
Sat, Aug 13, 2011
from The Detroit News:
Algae blooms foul Great Lakes
...Bay City State Recreation Area features a one-mile beach that runs south from its visitors center along Lake Huron's western shore. In reality, you can enjoy about 500 feet of it. Just south of the park's volleyball courts, the white sands turn into what locals call "beach muck" -- a thick layer of washed-up algal growth and detritus that sucks at visitors' feet and makes the area close to impassable... Bay City is hardly the only place where algae has become part of summer life. But it does lie in one of the Great Lakes' hot spots for algal growth -- the Saginaw Bay. There, as well as in western Lake Erie and the Green Bay area of Lake Michigan, the green stuff has gone from being an occasional nuisance to an annual problem over the past decade.
In each of these areas, the trigger is phosphorus. It gets carried off the region's yards, farms and golf courses by storm runoff and moves via streams and rivers to the lakes. It settles on the bottom of the lake bed and, in shallow waters, reacts to penetrating sunlight by generating algae. ...
This phosphorus is sooooo phucking up our phlora and phauna.
Sat, Aug 13, 2011
from Associated Press:
Federal judge throws out Obama drilling rules
A judge on Friday threw out Obama administration rules that sought to slow down expedited environmental review of oil and gas drilling on federal land.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled in favor of a petroleum industry group, the Western Energy Alliance, in its lawsuit against the federal government, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
The ruling reinstates Bush-era expedited oil and gas drilling under provisions called categorical exclusions on federal lands nationwide, Freudenthal said... "Western Energy has demonstrated through its members recognizable injury," she said. "Those injuries are supported by the administrative record." ...
Poor poor put-upon oil and gas companies!
Fri, Aug 12, 2011
from The Coast, Nova Scotia:
The fracking truth
Here's a rundown of the process, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council: First, clear a couple of hectares of land for each natural gas well. Drill down a few hundred (or thousand) metres and slice around underneath the shale, blast in at least nine million litres of water, plenty of sand and a variety of chemicals (many of which are known or possible human carcinogens, air pollutants or cause other chronic health problems) in order to access the gas. Bonuses include heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and radioactive elements. Score for the environment!
Life might just be that easy if it wasn't for annoying Cornell professors like Robert Howarth, who likes to pee on clean-air parades by looking at the "big picture," the impacts of natural gas beyond just how it burns. Howarth found that the harvesting, transport, processing and use of natural gas leaks so much methane (which fudges the climate 72 times worse than carbon dioxide) that you can't really call it significantly greener than coal, and it's worse than oil. That's going only on reported leakages. The reality is worse, "big picture" wise. ...
And your concern is...? I mean really, isn't this normal?
Fri, Aug 12, 2011
from Mother Jones:
The Deal With $8 Eggs
Confronted at her neigborhood market by the spectacle of $8/dozen eggs--which had sold out, no less--Black frets that "that the 'good-food-costs-more' argument is being taken to an extreme that puts at risk the goal of a mass food-reform movement, which is to make good food available to the greatest number of people possible."...
So we have a genuine quandary here: A farmer who's just scraping by while doing the right thing by his land and his birds, charging a price that makes the whole concept of alternative food systems seem hopelessly elitist.
Meanwhile, at my local Walmart in Boone, North Carolina, a dozen eggs will set you back just $1.18. Those 10-cent eggs, of course, are produced in vast, fetid factories, sucking in huge amounts of environmentally ruinous corn and concentrating much more manure than can properly be absorbed into surrounding farmland....
How much of a hidden subsidy does big agribusiness reap from our lax regulatory regime, some of which it pockets in profit and some of which it passes on to consumers in the form of stuff like 10-cent eggs and $2-a-pound pork chops?...
But if you made the giant hog factories deal properly with the vast amount of toxic waste they produce, the price difference reverses. In other words, a Walmart value-pack of pork chops would cost significantly more per pound than the pasture-raised ones that give you sticker shock at the farmers market....
But the report also points to a third kind of hog production, pictured left: hoop houses that give hogs plenty of room to roam over beds of straw. Their production costs are only marginally higher than those of factory hog farms under current regulations, and they don't generate massive waste problems or require daily doses of antibiotics. ...
Strangely, even "hog heaven" ends in brutal death.
Fri, Aug 12, 2011
Farmers turn away from organic as sales drop
Farmers across the UK have been deserting organic farming, or holding back on plans to convert their land to more environmentally friendly farming methods, as sales of organic products have fallen in the economic downturn.
Last year, only 51,000 hectares was in "conversion" - the process that farmers need to go through to have their land and practices certified as organic. That is less than half the amount of land that was in conversion in 2009, which itself was down markedly from the recent peak of 158,000Ha in 2007, according to statistics released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Thursday morning.
Far fewer farmers are interested in turning their land to organic production, despite the promise of premium prices for their produce, after a marked fall in sales of organic goods in the past two years as a result of the recession....
"This is very worrying," said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth. "What this points to is that the UK government is doing barely anything to promote organic farming, despite the benefits of it."...
The number of organic producers or processors, including arable and livestock farmers, and food processors, fell by 3.7 percent last year across the UK as a whole, with the number in Scotland falling by 10 percent. ...
See? I told ya that unsustainable agriculture was where the big money was.
Fri, Aug 12, 2011
Somali refugee camps in Kenya swell past 400,000 - in pictures
Images of desperation in Somalia.
If this were happening to nearly half a million white people, would we respond differently?
I suspect so.
And if so, what does that say about our moral compass? That it was hitting "true north"?
Go see the pictures, to remember what the relativistic context really is. ...
"Summertime... and the livin' is eeeasyyy."
Wed, Aug 10, 2011
from American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert:
Paper money worldwide contains bisphenol A
The cash register receipts that people place near paper money in billfolds, purses, and pockets has led to a worldwide contamination of paper money with bisphenol A (BPA) -- a potentially toxic substance found in some plastics, thermal paper and other products. The amounts of BPA on dollars, Euros, rubles, yuans, and other currencies, are higher than in house dust, but human intake from currency is at least 10 times less than those from house dust. That's the conclusion of a new study in the ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Kurunthachalam Kannan and Chunyang Liao point out that manufacturers use BPA to make polycarbonate plastics used in some consumer products, including water bottles, sports equipment, and household electronics. Studies indicate that BPA acts as an endocrine disruptor -- meaning it mimics the action of the sex hormone estrogen. Exposure to BPA has been linked to a variety of health problems. Although a recent study found traces of BPA in U.S. currency, nobody knew until now about BPA in paper money worldwide.
The scientists' analysis of 156 pieces of paper money from 21 countries found that all contained traces of BPA....
"Although high levels of BPA were measured in paper currencies, human exposure through dermal [skin] absorption appears to be minor," the article notes. ...
Just think of it as a regressive tox.
Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Climate change leads to rising subsidence risks in Europe
News reports on climate change have focused on dire predictions of more hurricanes and increasing flooding due to rising sea levels.
But subsidence caused by drought, which has already become a major problem across Europe, will also become much worse due to global warming....
Subsidence is one of the costliest but least known property risks. Unlike a roaring storm, the damage wreaked by subsidence takes years rather than hours, but it can be serious....
A prolonged heatwave may bake the ground, creating fissures that can tear apart the foundations of houses, bridges and factories.
In some parts of Europe, subsidence claims are now the costliest natural hazard, comparable to serious flooding, says Swiss Re in its report "The hidden risks of climate change: An increase in property damage from drought and soil subsidence in Europe". In France, subsidence-related claims have risen by more than 50 percent in the past 20 years, costing the affected regions 340 million euros every year on average. ...
OMG: PermaMoist breakdown! Who would have thought?
Wed, Aug 10, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Colorado Officials Investigating Hydrogen Sulfide Reports At Oil And Gas Drilling Sites
When it comes to oil and gas news, it's hard to beat 'fracking' for a more buzz-worthy topic. Add 'hydrogen sulfide gas' to the headline, though, and and expect eyebrows to rise.
A Sunday report in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent presented evidence the toxic gas, which can cause severe respiratory distress and death, has been documented in various concentrations at oil and gas drilling sites in Colorado.
Exposure to the gas at low concentrations can cause headache, dizziness, and upset stomach. At higher concentrations, gas inhalation triggers unconsciousness and death through respiratory paralysis.
A 2006 study titled 'Hydrogen Sulfide, Oil and Gas, and People's Health,' notes hydrogen sulfide develops naturally in conjunction with crude oil and natural gas, with 15 to 25 percent of U.S. gas wells likely 'soured.'...
A report published in July tested nine of the samples and found 22 toxic chemicals, including four carcinogens at levels ranging from 3 to 3,000 times higher than established safety limits.
A sample by the Bucket Brigade contained hydrogen sulfide gas at levels 185 times higher than a threshold set by the EPA as posing long-term health risks to humans. ...
Good jobs! The economy! Shareholder value! Charlie Sheen! Pay no attention to the corporation behind the screen.
Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Russian forests burn for second successive year
Only a year ago Russia was overwhelmed by an exceptional heat wave, triggering hundreds of fires that destroyed thousands of hectares of woodland. Burning peat bogs around Moscow stifled the city in a thick cloud of bitter smoke.
Now, Russia is burning again. Since the beginning of this year more than 1m hectares of forest have gone up in flames, or are still burning, outstripping the disastrous record of 2010. But the affected areas are more sparsely populated and far fewer people have been evacuated.
The far north of Russia is among the areas that have suffered the most. During the last week of July, Arkhangelsk and the Komi republic had temperatures exceeding 35C. More than 80 fire outbreaks were reported.....
Greenpeace claims that the government is playing down the situation. "Official reports indicate 93 hectares of land on fire in the Amur area; in fact it is more like 50,000 hectares, as can be seen from satellite images," says an NGO spokesperson.
The Russian authorities have not so far asked for outside assistance. More than 5,000 fire-fighters have already been deployed, backed by 800 specialist units, some equipped with aircraft. Current, more favourable, weather conditions may make life easier, with temperatures dropping to more usual levels all over Russia. ...
The Russia is coming. The Russia is coming!
Wed, Aug 10, 2011
from Fast Company:
In Drought-Stricken Texas, They're Drinking Water Recycled From Urine
Would you drink recycled urine? Residents of Big Spring, Texas may not have a choice--the local water district is breaking ground this year on a $13 million treatment plant that will direct 2 million gallons per day of thoroughly cleaned sewage back into the regular water system. It's a practical solution for a drought-stricken state that is hunting for water wherever it can.
It's not as if wastewater recycling is a new idea. Texas has, in fact, used reclaimed water for over a century. But generally, the recycled water doesn't go to the tap; it's used in parks, golf courses, outdoor fountains, and more. The state has plenty of indirect sewage recycling plants--one of the newer plants filters wastewater through a wetland before sending it out to the facilities that want this so-called "raw water".
In contrast, the Big Spring plant will use sewage that has already gone through a traditional wastewater treatment plant, clean it out further, and combine it in a pipeline with lake water before sending it out to be used by residents in their sinks, toilets, and showers. This is, according to KDAF-TV, the first plant of its kind in the state--and one of the only plants like it in the country. ...
Big Spring has sprung a leak!
Tue, Aug 9, 2011
New York Times vs. natural gas industry
The fight between The New York Times and the natural gas industry is going nuclear.
A series of critical articles in the paper of record has the natural gas industry fuming as it struggles to persuade the public that hydraulic fracturing is a safe, clean, inexpensive and reliable way of securing the nation's energy supply for decades to come. The stories from reporter Ian Urbina have spurred federal investigators and caused falling stock prices. They've questioned the environmental impacts of gas drilling on drinking water as well as the economic health of the industry, casting doubt on rosy federal projections of gas's future and using anonymous quotes to compare the shale gas boom to Enron and the dot-com stock bubble.
Fracking sounds like a WMD to me.
Tue, Aug 9, 2011
from International Business Times:
Severe Solar Storms Could Disrupt Earth This Decade: NOAA
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency that focuses on the condition of the oceans and atmosphere, said a severe solar storm could cause global disruptions in GPS systems, power grids, satellite communications, and airline communications. With solar activity expected to peak around 2013, the Sun is entering a particularly active time and big flares like the recent one will likely be common during the next few years... some scientists believe that another such event is now overdue...This is a special problem in the United States and especially a severe threat in the eastern United States as Federal Government studies revealed that this extreme solar activity and emissions may result in complete blackouts for years in several areas of the nation. Moreover, there may also be disruption of power supply for years, or even decades, as geomagnetic currents attracted by the storm could debilitate the transformers. ...
I can't help but take all this climate chaos personally.
Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Tue, Aug 9, 2011
from McClatchy Newspapers:
Officials set to miss latest deadline for rules on ozone
The Obama administration, facing withering criticism from business that onerous environmental rules are behind the stalled economy, looks poised to miss another key deadline for new standards to clean up smog, according to lobbyists and environmentalists.
After agreeing to work with environmentalists who had sued the administration over the standards, the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed issuing rules on low-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, four times since 2010. ...
You are in the Obama Ozone Zone.
Tue, Aug 9, 2011
Arctic Death Spiral: Sea Ice Passes De Facto Tipping Point Thanks to Deniers, Media Blow The Story, Again
The Arctic is all but certain to be virtually ice free within two decades (barring extreme volcanic activity). I'm happy to make bets with any bloggers, like Andy Revkin, who apparently believe otherwise.
The recent scientific literature makes clear that while that death spiral could theoretically be reversed, it would require policies that climate science deniers have successfully demonized, policies many in the traditional media regularly pooh pooh or undercut.
So we have passed a de facto tipping point, "the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development." If that wasn't obvious from observations, then it should have been clear from a December study in Nature widely misunderstood by the media. That study showed sea ice extent crashing by two thirds by the 2030s and then collapsing to near-zero shortly thereafter -- unless we cut GHG emissions about 60 percent to 70 percent almost immediately and have further cuts after that, an implausible assumption the authors never spelled out clearly....
The best recent models show staggeringly high Arctic warming this century if we stay on our current emissions path (see "M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10 deg F -- with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20 deg F"). Cooling ain't in the cards. Quite the reverse. ...
But with three or four percent of the experts thinking differently, there's reason for hope!
Tue, Aug 9, 2011
'Green slime' outbreak blamed on pollution, not just hot weather
Some 83 incidents of algae have been reported to environmental authorities so far this year, starving lakes of oxygen and putting native species at threat.
The highest ever number of annual reported incidents was 226 five years ago, but the Environment Agency said this year was an unusually bad one....
The Environment Agency has issued a warning of further 'potential hazards' in Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire as more outbreaks are expected....
The Government agency blamed the hot weather and the recent drought, which means the algae can grow faster, for the high levels of algae blooms, along with phosphate nutrients from fertilisers used on farms.
Environmentalists pointed out that there have been cool periods and rain this year, and said the outbreak was made much worse than expected because of pollution from farms and sewage works and water companies taking too much water from the streams. ...
Proof positive that Britons are "going green"!
Mon, Aug 8, 2011
Do We Need a Militant Movement to Save the Planet (and Ourselves)?
A new book called Deep Green Resistance, by Aric McBay, Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen, says that we likely won't have enough people interested in saving the planet before we run out of time. So, they're calling for a change in strategy. You may know Jensen from his many books, including Endgame. McBay is the author of Peak Oil Survival: Preparing for Life After Gridcrash, and Keith is the author of The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability. The three longtime activists have teamed up to offer a more radical approach to our environmental crisis....
Each day 200 species go extinct, Jensen writes in the preface. And if you can't wrap your head around that number, how about "90 percent of the large fish in the ocean are gone, there is ten times as much plastic as phytoplankton in the oceans, 97 percent of native forests are destroyed, 98 percent of native grasslands are destroyed..." and Jensen continues with the bad news from there....
And so how do we save the world (and along with it ourselves)? Well, naturally we take down industrial civilization, they say....
"Every cell in my body wants there to be a voluntary transition to a sustainable way of living, but I'm not going to base the future of the planet on that anymore than I am going to base it on unicorns jumping over the moon and farting pixie dust. It is just not going to happen. Those in power are insatiable. They are insane. They care more for increasing power and making money than life on the planet. I can't bear to live in a world being murdered, and I can't understand how anyone who even remotely considers themselves a living being can not oppose this with every bit of energy that they have, through whatever means are necessary to save life on the planet. I don't understand why it is even controversial to talk about dismantling industrial civilization when it has shown itself for 6,000 years to be destroying the planet and to be systemically committing genocide. I mean this is not even a new idea."
A strong eco-militancy may be the best defense.
Mon, Aug 8, 2011
from Earth Institute:
Have We Crossed the 9 Planetary Boundaries?
Just what is a safe operating space for human civilization?
Twenty-eight scientists from around the world defined a "safe planetary operating space" circumscribed by 9 planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to thrive and develop. The 2009 report by the group led by Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, examined the non-negotiable planetary conditions that humanity needs to respect and maintain in order to avoid catastrophic environmental changes....
While scientists have warned of specific environmental tipping points in the past, the 9 planetary boundaries concept looks at the global system as a whole and how separate biophysical processes interact. One of the report authors, Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, likened man's ignorance of the planetary gestalt to driving full speed at night over a mesa without lights or a map. We know the cliffs are out there, but we don't know where. The 9 planetary boundaries are an attempt to create that much needed map....
Human beings have already crossed the boundaries for climate change, biodiversity loss, and interference with the nitrogen cycle; and we are fast approaching the boundaries for freshwater use, land use changes, ocean acidification, and interference with the global phosphorus cycle. ...
There must be some judge we can bribe.
Mon, Aug 8, 2011
USDA Hides Damning Report Of Antibiotic Abuse on Factory Farms
We've covered before the horrible consequences of constantly given factory farm animals antibiotics so they don't get sick in the sickening conditions we make them live. And recently the USDA commissioned a report reviewing the current research on antibiotics, antibiotic resistant infections and farm animals. The report was pretty damning of current industry practices, as Tom Philpott summarizes over at Mother Jones.
Perhaps even more disturbing, though, is that the document has since disappeared from the USDA website, apparently after the findings upset industry, and the report's author seems to have been prevented from talking to media.
Have no fear, there's a cached version: A Focus on Antimicrobial Resistance....
Modern agriculture will collapse without sustained, massive, prophylactic abuse of antibiotics!
Mon, Aug 8, 2011
Oklahoma and Texas droughts significantly worsened after governors asked citizens to pray for rain
Yes, in a mere two weeks, another 30 percent of [Oklahoma] went into extreme or exceptional drought! Now the entire state is under severe drought or worse.
For some reason, science-denying southern Republican governors keep returning to one particular ineffectual 'adaptation' strategy: "Texas Drought Now Far, Far Worse Than When Gov. Rick Perry Issued Proclamation Calling on All Texans to Pray for Rain" (7/15/11)....
Of course, we don't really have any short-term strategies to address extreme weather. In the longer term, prayer would appear to be a non-optimal approach, given Texas's and Oklahoma's experience.
"The percent of contiguous U.S. land area experiencing exceptional drought in July reached the highest levels in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, an official at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said."
Sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions, however, would seem our best hope of sharply reducing the prospects that the Southwest becomes a permanent dust bowl. It also has the benefit of science underpinning it....
[Take a look at this amazing animation of the last 12 weeks, by the US Drought Monitor: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/12_week.gif -- 'Doc M] ...
Perhaps those prayers were aimed at Gaia's mean little brother, God.
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