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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(1)
Plague/Virus:()
Climate Chaos:(7)
Resource Depletion: ()
Biology Breach:(5)
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This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
health impacts  ~ contamination  ~ weather extremes  ~ global warming  ~ deniers  ~ governmental corruption  ~ governmental idiocy  ~ carbon emissions  ~ nanotechnology  ~ arctic meltdown  ~ unintended consequences  



ApocaDocuments (16) gathered this week:
Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Nobel physicist quits US group over climate stance
Norwegian physicist and Nobel laureate Ivar Giaever has quit a major US physics society due to its stance on global warming, a spokeswoman for the group told AFP Thursday. "I can confirm he has resigned," American Physical Society spokeswoman Tawanda Johnson said, noting that Giaever, 82, sent a letter to that effect to the group's executive director Kate Kirby on Tuesday. "His reason is that he takes issue with APS's stance on climate change." The APS, which is a member organization of 48,000, adopted a national policy statement in 2007 which states: "The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring." ...


Old farts produce the most methane.

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Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from IUPUI:
Carbon Nanoparticles Break Barriers--and That May Not Be Good
A study by researchers from the schools of science and medicine at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis examines the effects of carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) on living cells. This work is among the first to study concentrations of these tiny particles that are low enough to mimic the actual exposure of an ordinary individual...The research, published in the September 2011 issue of the journal Nanotoxicology, focuses on the effect of low concentration CNP exposure on the cells that line the renal nephron, a tubular structure inside the kidney that makes urine. The investigators found the role of the CNPs in this part of the body to be significant and potentially worrisome....["]We found that these minute particles cause leakage in the cellular lining of the renal nephron," said study first author Bonnie Blazer-Yost, Ph.D. ..."Breaching this biological barrier concerns us because things that should be retained in the forming urine can leak back into the blood stream and things in the blood can leak into the urine. Normal biological substances as well as waste products are dangerous if they go where they are not supposed to be," Blazer-Yost said. ...


"Taking a leak" now has a whole new meaning.

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Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from Wired:
Cars don't waste fuel. Drivers waste fuel
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CERT) are developing a new way of boosting fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent without changing a car's powertrain at all. Their secret? Finding ways to change our behavior so we're more attuned to maximizing their mileage while behind the wheel... the researchers at CERT have to find the best way to change driver behavior. That means creating a system that immediately emphasizes the benefits of efficient driving without creating a needless distraction or aggravation. ...


By any and all means, let's hold on to our cars until the bitter dead end.

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Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from Guardian:
US environment agency to delay greenhouse gas proposals
New greenhouse gas regulations for US power plants are unlikely to be proposed by the end of the month, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has admitted. The agency originally aimed at producing initial proposals by 30 September, but EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told news agency Reuters yesterday that the target will not be met. "Greenhouse gases for power plants is first on the docket," she said on the sidelines of an event in San Francisco. "Although we are not going to make the date at the end of the month, we are still working and will be shortly announcing a new schedule." The delay comes after the Obama administration decided to block a tightening of national smog standards, much to the consternation of green groups. ...


Let's wait to address the most important issue on the planet until all the politics are in!

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Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Butterfly numbers fall after coldest summer in two decades
The results of the Big Butterfly Count 2011 revealed that the number of individual butterflies seen by each person counting the insects was down 11 per cent on last year. The common blue saw numbers tumble by 61 per cent in the count, which involved more than 34,000 people across the country recording sightings of 322,000 butterflies. Experts at wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation say they had expected a bumper summer for butterflies after a record-breaking hot, dry spring, but the cold summer with prolonged spells of rain hit the insects.... ''The dismal summer weather, the coldest for 18 years, is undoubtedly to blame, although many butterflies have suffered long-term declines as a result of destruction of their habitats by human activities.''... Butterfly Conservation warns that the last four years have seen butterfly numbers plummet to an all-time low, and that almost half of the 59 British species are now under threat. ...


Maybe that explains all those hurricanes.

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Wed, Sep 14, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Coal Industry Backs Boehner
U.S. coal companies have pumped $1.5 million into House Speaker John Boehner's political operation this year, a sign of the industry's beefed-up efforts to fight new and proposed regulations from the Obama administration. The coal industry now ranks as one of the top sources of cash for the Ohio Republican, rivaling such perennial GOP donors as Wall Street and the real-estate industry. A large part of the coal industry's donations came in a single week at the end of June. ...


all that coal money / must be giving Congressman / Boehner a woody

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Wed, Sep 14, 2011
from The Denver Post:
Four oil and gas companies responsible for 350 spills named "outstanding operators" by regulators
As gas and oil drilling accelerates along Colorado's heavily-populated Front Range, state regulators named four companies to be "Outstanding Operators" and lauded them for environmental excellence. But the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulators' records show that those companies are responsible for more than 350 spills since January 2010. One of them, Andarko subsidiary Kerr-McGee, released cancer-causing benzene and other chemicals three times last month in Weld County -- contaminating land and water. The awards given by the COGCC exemplified a collaborative regulatory approach that Colorado relies on to protect its environment with a record-high 45,793 wells and companies drilling about eight more a day. A Denver Post analysis in progress has found that spills are happening at the rate of seven a week - releasing more than 2 million gallons this year of diesel, oil, drilling wastewater and chemicals. ...


If these are the "outstanding operators" I'd hate to run into the "offending operators."

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Wed, Sep 14, 2011
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Chemicals Of Concern
The White House is under pressure from two democratic senators to release a list of chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency says could endanger human health or the environment. This so-called chemicals of concern list would include eight phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and bisphenol A. The chemical industry has attempted to block release of EPA's proposed list over the past year. Congress granted EPA the authority to create such a list in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was signed into law in 1976. But EPA hasn't attempted to use this authority until now. ...


If it endangers human health it endangers the environment -- and vice versa!

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Wed, Sep 14, 2011
from The Daily Climate:
Al Gore is back
He has shared the Nobel Prize, won an Emmy, was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, served as vice president and took the popular vote for the presidency. Few can point to so many achievements as Al Gore, yet few have fallen so flatly with the public they strive to inspire. Five years after An Inconvenient Truth hit the big screen, Gore is back trying to whip up public awareness on climate change with a revised version of his now-famous slide show... some media observers say, is that Al Gore has become the brand: No one else with anything approaching his stature has taken up the climate cause, yet his personality is wooden and his style didactic. ...


Still, he'll be more than a mere tasty morsel in the post-Apocalypse.

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Tue, Sep 13, 2011
from Georgetown University:
High Levels of Carcinogens in Dry-Cleaning, Study Shows
Georgetown researchers have found that perchloroethylene (PCE), a potentially carcinogenic dry cleaning solvent, is retained in dry-cleaned clothes made of polyester, cotton or wool. The levels increase with repeat cleanings, according to the researchers, whose work appeared Aug. 30 online in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry.... "The question is, can the levels of PCE we find be absorbed through the skin or inhaled in quantities large enough to harm people," says Georgetown professor Paul Roepe, who supervised the study. "We don't have the complete answers to those questions, but I think we know enough to suggest that more studies should be done very quickly."... They found that polyester, cotton and wool (but not silk) are most prone to retaining high levels of PCE. "At the end of the day, nobody - I mean nobody - has previously done this simple thing - gone out there to several different drycleaners and tested different types of cloth for retained PCE," says Roepe, also co-director of Georgetown's Center for Infectious Disease. ...


That crisp, fresh look is worth it!

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Tue, Sep 13, 2011
from London Guardian:
Sheffield highlights 'clean jeans' which zap pollutants round their wearers
Jeans which clean up the air around them are being highlighted in Sheffield, as the UK's textile industry continues to show that it is far from dead. Using Lilliput-like nanotechnology, the familiar blue material breaks down pollutants from industry and road traffic with photocatalysts added to the cloth. The system, devised by Sheffield university and the London College of Fashion, follows similar 'smart' applications at Bolton University, which generate electricity through minute solar and movement cells in fabric. Its potential for reducing other more obvious odours, or even overcoming the long-standing aversion of golf clubs to denim clothing, has yet to be explored. ...


The most important thing, however, is its impact on the perceived capaciousness of my derriere.

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Tue, Sep 13, 2011
from London Daily Telegraph:
Mass starvation of dugongs and turtles on Great Barrier Reef
Along hundreds of miles of beaches and on the shore of small islands, the rotting carcasses of green turtles and dugongs have are being washed ashore in alarming numbers - victims, scientists believe, of the after effects of the cyclone and floods that have afflicted this part of Australia in the past year. Now naturalists fear that up to 1,500 dugongs -- a species of sea cows -- and 6,000 turtles along the Reef are likely to die in the coming months because their main food source, sea grass, which grows on the ocean floor, was largely wiped out by the floods and cyclone....Mark Read, a protected species expert at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said turtles and dugongs were the "lawnmowers of the sea" and their losses could have a damaging impact on the overall marine ecology. ...


Would that make jellyfish "the weed whackers of the sea"?

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Mon, Sep 12, 2011
from Mongabay, and others:
Northwest Passage open as sea ice falls to lowest cover ever recorded
Arctic sea ice cover fell to its lowest level on record, report researchers from the University of Bremen.... Heygster said this year's mark is "most probably" the lowest Arctic sea ice extent "since the last climate optimum about 8,000 years ago." He added that the record could be extended if sea ice continues to melt in coming weeks. Sea ice is no longer melting from the surface; instead if it melting from underneath due to warmer water below.... Melting of sea ice opened the Northwest Passage to navigation again this summer. The ice retreat has set off a scramble between Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark, Sweden and Norway which are all seeking to claim rights to the Arctic's rich mineral and gas deposits.... Predictions range widely, but many experts expect the Arctic to be free of sea ice entirely within a few decades. By almost all standards, however, sea ice is disappearing faster than expected, partly a consequence of a positive feedback loop triggered by retreating ice. ...


Some days, saying "I told you so" doesn't help. At all.

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Mon, Sep 12, 2011
from BBC:
Supercomputer predicts revolution
Feeding a supercomputer with news stories could help predict major world events, according to US research. A study, based on millions of articles, charted deteriorating national sentiment ahead of the recent revolutions in Libya and Egypt. While the analysis was carried out retrospectively, scientists say the same processes could be used to anticipate upcoming conflict. The system also picked up early clues about Osama Bin Laden's location. Kalev Leetaru, from the University of Illinois' Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Science, presented his findings in the journal First Monday. ...


I wonder what it would predict with our news feed?

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Mon, Sep 12, 2011
from Guardian:
US counts the cost of nine months of unprecedented weather extremes
As deadly fires continue to burn across bone-dry Texas and eight inches of rain from tropical storm Lee falls on New Orleans, the US is beginning to count the cost of nine months of unprecedented weather extremes. Ever since a massive blizzard causing $2bn of damage paralysed cities from Chicago to the north-east in January, nearly every month has been marked by a $1b+-weather catastrophe. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration (Noaa), there have been 10 major disasters already this year, leaving more than 700 people dead and property damage of over $35bn. In the past 31 years the mainland states have suffered 99 weather-related disasters where overall damages and economic costs were over $1bn. This year has seen three times as many than as usual. NOAA will release its August data next week but Summer 2011 is expected to be the warmest on record. Chris Burt, author and leading weather historian, has complied a list of more than 40 cities and towns that have experienced record temperatures this year. "So many heat records of various types have been shattered this past summer that it is impossible to quantify them," he said. "Not since the great heat waves of 1934 and 1936 has the US seen so many heat-related records broken as occurred this summer. ...


The rain is pain and plainly ain't explained.

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Mon, Sep 12, 2011
from RealClimate:
The unnoticed melt
A rainy summer might be one reason for an apparent lack of public attention with respect to the ongoing sea-ice loss. Another reason, however, is possibly the fact that we scientists have failed to make sufficiently clear that a major loss of sea ice during the early summer months is climatologically more important than a record minimum in September.... Because of its high albedo (reflectivity), sea ice reflects most of the incoming sunlight and helps to keep the Arctic cold throughout summer. The relative importance of this cooling is largest when days are long and the input of solar radiation is at its maximum, which happens at the beginning of summer. If, like this year, sea-ice extent becomes very low already at that time, solar radiation is efficiently absorbed throughout all summer by the unusually large areas of open water within the Arctic Ocean.... This feedback loop, which is often referred to as the ice-albedo feedback, also delays the formation of new sea ice in autumn because of the accompanying surplus in oceanic heat storage.... ... [T]he loss of Arctic sea ice can still be slowed down and eventually stopped if an efficient reduction of CO2 emissions were to become reality soon. Last week, however, it became obvious once more how unlikely such scenario is: On 30th August, Exxon announced a deal with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. As part of this deal, Exxon will invest more than US$2 billion to support Rosneft in the exploitation of oil reserves in the Kara Sea, which is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. One requirement for the success of this deal: a further retreat of Arctic sea ice. Given that climate model simulations indeed all project such further retreat of Arctic sea ice, it seems that at least to some degree, managers of big oil companies have started to make business decisions based on climate-model simulations. That may be good news. Or not. ...


Mila Kunis won this year's Guy's Choice "Holy Grail of Hot" Award. She's hot, but not Holy Grail hot.

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