, scattered across the Yucatan peninsula, vary greatly
in shape and size, but are often quite beautiful
in any case. Some cenotes were apparently used for ritual human sacrifice
by the Mayans, and some, say scientists, contain waterlife which may be helpful in treating cancer
. However, these cenotes and their connected ecosystems may be in danger if the rapid and largely unchecked development
of the Maya Riviera
The Chittagong ship-breaking yards in Bangladesh disassemble half of the world's supertankers. Shipbreaking, though profitable, is not particularly safe
for either the workers in the shipyard
or the surrounding environment
. It does, however, make for some spectacular pictures
. Also, pinpoint the location of the shipyard and explore via satellite with Google Earth
Reflected in the worsened respiratory health
of NYC residents (via the WTC Health Registry
), a federal judge ruled
) former Bush administration EPA chief and NJ governor Christine Todd Whitman
misled New York City residents about air quality after the attacks of 9/11. Whether or not the then-head of the Environmental Protection Agency was pressured by Bush economic policy director Lawrence Lindsey
to "get the financial markets open quickly
" (longer 9/11 commission report
) despite concerns, her PR consulting firm
continues to do greenwashing
for petrochemical corporations with very poor environmental records, including FMC
, responsible for 136 Superfund sites
across the country.
[via mefi projects
] is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit group that aims to deliver one free energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulb to every household in Canada. If successful, the resulting reduction in pollution from energy saved will be the equivalent of taking 66,000 cars off the road.
Smaller than a DVD player - small enough to sit comfortably under the hood of any truck or car - it could be big enough to solve the world's greenhouse gas emission problems, at least for the near future
. In fact, it could make the Kyoto protocol obsolete.
Ecological impact of Space Shuttle launch exhaust.
Aluminum oxide powder, hydrogen chloride, and of course, water vapor, which can form noctilucent clouds
. The environmental impact is supposedly minimal.
US energy bill is held up
by a pro-MTBE provision that bipartisan Senators promised they would not sign into law. Nervous MTBE
manufacturers, in an effort to divest themselves of potential asbestos-like liability lawsuits, have been donating millions
in campaign contributions to the cause, despite peer-reviewed research pointing to lingering questions
(PDF) and utility
are we doing enough to protect the unborn?
where are the demonstrations at the gates of petro-chemical companies?
is a Wiki repository of corporate information. Still in its infancy, it aims to applaud eco-friendly companies
and document the failings of others
. Funded almost entirely by hip-hopper Sage Francis
of Non-Prophets and Anticon fame, it is no surprise
Clear Channel is currently featured on the front page. Hopefully the Wiki format will keep it somewhat balanced as it grows.
looking to raise money for the school band discovers the local TXI cement plant is draining millions from the Texas school system
. This while getting paid burning hazardous waste
in their back yard. When she seeks to right these wrongs she finds that the environmental regulators include lobbyist for TXI
, and their House representative, Joe Barton, cares more about "economic development"
than her kids.
Mercury Connections: The extent and effects of mercury pollution in northeastern North America. a summary of the major findings reported in a series of 21 papers.
Evers, David C. 2005.
BioDiversity Research Institute. Gorham, Maine. 28 pages.
Mercury Connections is a summary of the major findings reported in a series of 21 papers. These papers are published in: Biogeographical patterns of environmental mercury in northeastern North America. 2005. Ecotoxicology. Volume 14, numbers 1 and 2.
The kilometer-high Solar Tower
to be built in Australian outback (previous post
) has finally purchased a site
, and construction may be finished in 2009
. Other towers may be built in China
and the US
The site of the world's first nuclear reactor? Gabon.
About 1.7 billion years ago several deposits of uranium in Oklo, Gabon
spontaneously began to undergo nuclear chain reactions fed by small drips of water. These natural breeder reactors ran for almost a million years, producing both intense heat and plutonium byproducts. Aside from the strangeness of naturally occurring reactors
, Oklo provides the only existing case of how highly radioactive waste behaves
over a period of tens of millions of years -- exactly the problem faced by the DOE's Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site
Illinois issues its first ever winter dirty-air alert
today. For the first time ever in the winter, health officials are issuing a dirty-air alert for the midwest. "Even healthy adults and children are cautioned against heavy physical activity outdoors." This is something the Clean Air Act
sought to prevent in 1990. Despite real world warnings like this - there still seems to be constant debate
about how much we should really care about environmental issues such as global warming
and a host of other environmental issues
. Will the new Clear Skies Act
be enough to help?
Cancer, Chemicals and History.
Some of the biggest chemical companies in the US have launched a campaign to discredit two historians who have written a book
about the industry's efforts to conceal links between their products and cancer. Some of the internal documents
referenced in the book can be found at the Chemical Industry Archives
, a site dedicated to exposing the industry's attempts to conceal the dangers of their products. [Via Disinformation.]
It's official. Particulate pollution in the air has decreased the amount of sunlight reaching the earth. How much? A fraction of a percent? Try 10% globally over the past 50 years. Worse yet, global dimming is thought to be counteracting CO2 and its greenhouse effect, lessening the worldwide temperature increase called global warming. Why's that bad? Because, in the coming decades, particulate pollution is expected to level off, while CO2 emissions are expected to rise strongly, multiplying the effects of global warming as we know it. "That means a temperature rise of 10 degrees Celsius by 2100 could be on the cards, giving the UK a climate like that of North Africa, and rendering many parts of the world uninhabitable
." Holy fucking shit! [via kottke]
"Any kind of pollution that hurts the unborn, children, families and the poor—this is contrary to loving your neighbor, which is at the center of ethical teaching." Maybe there's hope for this world after all.
Told you plastic is nasty....
Most of plastic that somehow reached the ocean floats in the North Pacific Gyre
[look at Currents], an exotic name for an area of the Pacific ocean with a surface larger then U.S.A, dreaded by sailors for its lack of winds and called by some World largest Landfill. The people at Algalita Marine Research Foundation
have made this nice video
[Quicktime] showing how tons and tons of tiny plastic particles have been accumulating
in the area for the last 50 years, slowly entering the food chain. Why does that bother us who live thousand of miles away ? Because we're on the top of the food chain
and because that plastic is a sponge of hazardous chemicals.[Via tpl1212's link in
another unrelated story]
In China's newly wealthy cities,
a research boom is starting. In parts of the countryside
, the rivers are black and too toxic to touch.
Body Burden : The pollution in people
"In a study led by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York...researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 91 industrial compounds, pollutants, and other chemicals in the blood and urine of nine volunteers....
Scientists refer to this contamination as a person’s body burden. Of the 167 chemicals found, 76 cause cancer in humans or animals, 94 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 79 cause birth defects or abnormal development. The dangers of exposure to these chemicals in combination has never been studied."
Microscopic fragments of plastic are a "major pollutant", floating in the ocean, settling on seabeds, and washing up onshore - with unknown consequences for marine ecosystems, according to a new study. "We've found this microscopic plastic material at all of the sites we've examined,"
[lead researcher] Dr
Richard C Thompson
[of University of Plymouth, UK] said. "Interestingly, the abundance is reasonably consistent. So, it suggests to us that the problem is really quite ubiquitous."
Buying Up the Right to Pollute.
"Power companies that release more SO2
than their permits allow must attempt to buy more allowances at the auctions, or purchase them at a premium from companies that have allowances to spare. Those that can't gather enough allowances or that go beyond certain emissions limits in a given year face strict fines from the EPA." (from a 4/7 Wired article)
You may have heard of these "allowances" before, but the Acid Rain Retirement Fund
, a non-profit, is doing something about them: *buying* them and simply letting them expire. Search NetworkForGood
for "ARRF" to make a donation. [via our own CTP
's Recursive Irony
Neato Next Generation Truck Stops
IANAT (I am not a trucker), so I had no idea trucks could just plug into truck stops complete with air conditioning, power, internet, satellite TV, etc. And the bonus is that these facilities are environmentally friendly since the truck doesn't have to be left running all night.
Records show that over the past 50 years the average amount of sunlight reaching the ground has gone down by almost 3% a decade. "It's an extraordinary thing that for some reason this hasn't penetrated even into the thinking of the people looking at global climate change. It's actually quite a big deal and I think you'll see a lot more people referring to it."
The Bush administration's conservation policy:
'protecting the nation's environment', or you know, 'not'
? [more inside]
Get the facts on local U.S. pollution. This environmental pollution tracking site is a must-see if you're worried about your hometown. The site has maps of the United States
that show levels of various pollutants and a community area where you can enter your zip code
and to get a list of all the environmental issues in your neighborhood.
EPA misled public on 9/11 pollution
"In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, the White House instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to give the public misleading information, telling New Yorkers it was safe to breathe when reliable information on air quality was not available."
Large-scale marijuana cultivation in National Parks and forests.
"[Growers] are killing wildlife, diverting streams, introducing nonnative plants, creating fire and pollution hazards, and bringing the specter of violence. For the moment, we are failing both parts of our mission, and that is tragic."
This is not a new problem
. "The reasons are obvious: the land is fertile, remote and free. There's no risk of forfeiture, plantations are difficult to trace, and growers have land agents outmanned, outspent and outgunned."
BodyBurden: the pollution in people. "Researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 91 industrial compounds, pollutants, and other chemicals in the blood and urine of nine volunteers, with a total of 167 chemicals found in the group. Like most of us, the people tested do not work with chemicals on the job and do not live near an industrial facility. Scientists refer to this contamination as a person’s body burden. Of the 167 chemicals found, 76 cause cancer in humans or animals, 94 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 79 cause birth defects or abnormal development. The dangers of exposure to these chemicals in combination has never been studied."
This was also the subject of a PBS program by Bill Moyers, Trade Secrets
. Moyers himself was found to have 84 chemicals in his blood and urine
. [Via This Modern World
The General Motors EV1 electric car
is soon to be a museum piece: "As California retreats from its strict pollution regulation, GM is taking the cars off the road when leases expire because it can no longer supply parts to repair them"
, according to this article
. CARB (the California Air Resources Board
) has proposed pushing back its Zero Emissions Vehicle timetable another two years [PDF link]
, to 2005. Is the success of the hybrid vehicle
killing progress on the all-electric vehicle?
According to toxicologists, pollution is good for you in small doses
. Pardon my pedantism, but isn't the term "pollution" synonymous with "too much"?
Canada's forgotten weapons of mass destruction.
Shortly after the end of World War II, the Canadian navy began to dispose of its surplus chemical weapons by dumping them off the shore of Atlantic Canada. Large quantities of chemical agents, including mustard gas, were loaded onto barges and scuttled at undisclosed locations.
Over 50 years later, some of these military dumpsites have become lost due to poor record keeping. With increasing offshore oil exploration and a commercially successful shellfish industry, there's a possibility that these forgotten chemical agents could return
to the coasts of "Canada's Ocean Playground".
Loosening clean air rules...
This from the guy hailing from the smoggiest state around
. Is this really who should be making such a decision? Things don't look so good
now, so why loosen the rules? Do we want one of these?
"This is a site about the hazards of indoor pollution, largely created by the synthetic and organic chemicals that are a part of our daily lives. It might sound like a place you want to stay away from, but really it’s a place intended to help you make informed decisions about the places and spaces in which you live."
As the Alberta government ratchets up its campaign against the Kyoto Protocol
(and the Canadian government's support thereof), two environmental groups release a report that argues that Canadians could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent
and save $30 billion a year in the process by 2030 (PDFs of the report summary
and full report
). And, if reducing emissions starts at home, you can apparently cut your own energy bills and emissions in half
simply by stopping leaks and drafts in your house.
The State of the Nation's Ecosystems -
According to a report commissioned five years ago by President Clinton and finally completed and released
, the United States may have no streams left that are free from chemical contamination, and about one-fifth of animal species and one-sixth of plant types are at risk of extinction.
Drive on air.
A new engine design that not only runs on air, but cleans it too.
"If the Department of Energy has its way, the nation's nuclear garbage could end up in everyday items like bicycles, frying pans, and baby strollers." The East Tennessee Technology Park
, was once known as "the K-25 site. Its mission: to produce highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons." Now, efforts are being made to recycle
some of the irradiated scrap metal into unlabeled household objects. On the plus side, any radioactive metal that finds its way into your kitchenware won't be headed for Yucca Mountain
Brown Cloud threatens SE Asia
Having flown into Mumbai a couple of times over the past years, and to Singapore once, I thought I saw this, but passed it up to gunk on the windows. Turned out it was gunk in the sky.
The Sky Trust would sell a gradually diminishing number of carbon emission permits to the approximately 2,000 oil, gas and coal companies that bring fossil fuels into the U.S. economy. With the income from these sales, the Sky Trust would pay equal yearly dividends to every American.
An interesting idea, but it seems like any group that plans to ask congress for a charter so they can control the sky would need to think things out a little more. Would auto manufacturers be charged for the emissions made by the vehicles they produce? Would the private citizens who buy them? And what is to stop any corporation from simply, say, opening shop in another country to avoid the hassles.
But, the largest question in my mind was, who actually expects the current government to do anything that would place environmental matters
- Ronald Bailey insists that Rachel Carson's campaign against DDT in "Silent Spring" is filled with bad science and has resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths due to increased malaria rates. The US Government has also considered
removing the ban on DDT, as has Roger Bate in the Wall Street Journal
Toxic sludge is good for fish!
Who says so?
It makes them flee the polluted area and escape fishermen.
That is the basis for the permit issued to the Army Corps of Engineers
to dump 200,000 tonnes of sludge in the Potomac. Link from WSJ's Best of the Web
Swimming the Columbia River - lengthwise.
What have you been up to for the past week? How about the next 6 months? If you're Christopher Swain, the answer is "swimming - and lots of it". Swain plans swim the 1,243 miles of the Columbia River
from headwaters to the Pacific over about 180 days. The further downriver he goes, the riskier it gets - aside from the rapids and ocean freighters that await him, he'll be in waters contaminated by atomic waste, PCBs and other toxins - which is the point of the swim, to raise awareness and support for river protection. "I learned that tasting every mile of a river is a great way to build the credibility to speak on its behalf"
Very high level of PCBs in whale raises alarms.
"The orca found dead on the Olympic Peninsula earlier this year carried a level of contaminants that was among the highest -- if not the highest -- ever measured in killer whales, laboratory tests show".
If that is the case with free ranging whales then I shudder to think what similar measurements on city dwelling humans will reveal. Does anyone know of similar contaminant research on humans? (via Baloney.com
Power Company Buys Entire Village
American Electric Power is buying the Gallia County village of Cheshire, Ohio for $20 million after years of complaints from residents about pollution from AEP's massive Gen. James M. Gavin power plant, located along the Ohio River on the edge of the village.
Two months ago federal health experts reported that blue sulfuric clouds from the Gavin plant endangered the village last summer, particularly residents suffering from asthma. I'm not sure what to think about such an odd plan.
"I think the town just had enough of the company's experimentation," said Dale Heydlauff, AEP's senior vice president for environmental affairs.
Note: Registration required to read full story
"a huge victory for breathers"
of course industry "experts" beg to differ: "EPA tends to overstate health concerns," said Dan Riedinger, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute.
As if one really need another reason
to hate the Bush Administration. I mean, who needs clean air if some of GWB's oil buddies can make some more money?
Plot to undermine global pollution controls revealed
"A secret group of developed nations conspired to limit the effectiveness of the UN's first conference on the environment, held in Stockholm in 1972. "
Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution.
Short version: PCBs, small Alabama town, Monsanto knew about problems, told no one, and ignored warnings. Neal Stephenson fans will find the descriptions of the toxic effects of PCBs eerily familiar