Category Archives: uh oh

Fracking Hell: The Untold Story

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEB_Wwe-uBM&feature=related[/youtube]

An original investigative report by Earth Focus and UK’s Ecologist Film Unit looks at the risks of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale. From toxic chemicals in drinking water to unregulated interstate dumping of potentially radioactive waste that experts fear can contaminate water supplies in major population centers including New York City, are the health consequences worth the economic gains? link

WASHINGTON — Oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats.

The chemicals were used by companies during a drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, which involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemical additives into rock formations deep underground. The process, which is being used to tap into large reserves of natural gas around the country, opens fissures in the rock to stimulate the release of oil and gas.

Hydrofracking has attracted increased scrutiny from lawmakers and environmentalists in part because of fears that the chemicals used during the process can contaminate underground sources of drinking water.

Read the rest of the article – >  NYT

WASHINGTON — Oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats.

Questions, additional information or related tips can be sent to urbina@nytimes.com.
Green

A blog about energy and the environment.

The chemicals were used by companies during a drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, which involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemical additives into rock formations deep underground. The process, which is being used to tap into large reserves of natural gas around the country, opens fissures in the rock to stimulate the release of oil and gas.

Hydrofracking has attracted increased scrutiny from lawmakers and environmentalists in part because of fears that the chemicals used during the process can contaminate underground sources of drinking water.

Frogs Going Extinct?

Apparently, it ain’t easy being green.  This has less to do with “green” and more to do with the fact that we unanimously like frogs here at MNP.

It is the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs. Population by population, species by species, amphibians are vanishing off the face of the Earth. Despite international alarm and a decade and a half of scientists scrambling for answers, the steady hemorrhaging of amphibians continues like a leaky faucet that cannot be fixed or a wound that will not heal. Large scale die-offs of frogs around the world have prompted scientists to take desperate measures to try to save those frogs they can, even bathing frogs in Clorox solutions and keeping them in Tupperware boxes under carefully controlled conditions to prevent the spread of a deadly fungus. Will it ever be safe to return the frogs back to the ecosystem from which they were taken? [Original Source]

We’re still following that gyre, and yes, that is a bird full of plastic: “What happened to that disposable Solo cup—the one you used once at a work party—after you tossed it into the garbage? For that matter, what happens to any of the countless plastic products (shopping bags, coffee stirrers, water bottles, etc.) we use and then discard on a daily basis? Of course, conventional plastic doesn’t readily biodegrade; so where is it now? If you live in North America or Asia, there’s a chance that cup is trapped in a broad ocean current, known as a gyre, in the middle of the northern Pacific Ocean along with an untold number of other pieces of litter in what has been named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Read the interview with Gyre photographer Chris Jordan.  Or just check out his work.

NASA on the Solar Shield

Since the beginning of the Space Age the total length of high-voltage power lines crisscrossing North America has increased nearly 10 fold. This has turned power grids into giant antennas for geomagnetically induced currents. With demand for power growing even faster than the grids themselves, modern networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limit—a recipe for trouble, according to the National Academy of Sciences: “The scale and speed of problems that could occur on [these modern grids] have the potential to impact the power system in ways not previously experienced.”

So, basically, ninjas, in an attempt to protect the power grid from a solar storm, NASA is developing tech that could monitor the sun and adjust the grid as necessary to let key components remain un-damaged against powerful electrical surges. Read the article below and click through to find out more!

Every hundred years or so, a solar storm comes along so potent it fills the skies of Earth with blood-red auroras, makes compass needles point in the wrong direction, and sends electric currents coursing through the planet’s topsoil. The most famous such storm, the Carrington Event of 1859, actually shocked telegraph operators and set some of their offices on fire. A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences warns that if such a storm occurred today, we could experience widespread power blackouts with permanent damage to many key transformers.

What’s a utility operator to do?

A new NASA project called “Solar Shield” could help keep the lights on.

“Solar Shield is a new and experimental forecasting system for the North American power grid,” explains project leader Antti Pulkkinen, a Catholic University of America research associate working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe we can zero in on specific transformers and predict which of them are going to be hit hardest by a space weather event.” -> Continue Reading at NASA Science

Since the beginning of the Space Age the total length of high-voltage power lines crisscrossing North America has increased nearly 10 fold. This has turned power grids into giant antennas for geomagnetically induced currents. With demand for power growing even faster than the grids themselves, modern networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limit—a recipe for trouble, according to the National Academy of Sciences: “The scale and speed of problems that could occur on [these modern grids] have the potential to impact the power system in ways not previously experienced.”

North Atlantic Trash Gyre aka TRASH EVERYWHERE!

So before I start I’ll say that I realize that GreenMNP has sat mostly dormant for a few months.  There are a few elements that have contributed to this.  Our Main Ninja, Jessie, has had her hands full pursuing her various real-life interests.  Also, our new format for the site in general is aimed at slower more content-rich material – a slight change from the furious ninja pace you may be used to.

Approximately the Speed of Light

A few months back we brought you a post about the supposed “North Pacific Trash Gyre.”  Basically, what this refers to is a swirling mass of trash in our ocean that is definitely not beneficial for marine life – or non-marine life, for that matter.

In a dramatic second round of the petroleum wars,  the same organization that discovered the NPTG has found another site of destruction: the North Atlantic.  This news was broken by Anna Cummings and Marcus Eriksen, both researchers for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Of course, skeptics will immediately argue (and could be right) that you don’t see this garbage and therefore it doesn’t exist.  The problem, according to the researchers, is that most of the trash is located below the surface.  Before we get into the specifics of the Gyre, we’ll show you some random pics of trash in the ocean to get you riled up:

Garbage in the North Pacific (subject matter of our last post)

Researches originally found the trash gyres by doing what’s called “trawling.”  This, more or less, involves dragging giant nets that collect water and particulate matter and later analyzing what comes up.  The researchers in question were quite horrified when they found that PPM (parts per million) levels of plastic were particularly elevated.


an example of trawling

Clearly it’s a ridiculous proposition that there’s no trash in the ocean, especially given that we live on a planet where so many people use products that incorporate non bio-degradable elements every day.  Plastic, which is an oil-based substance, may be the most ubiquitous, if not the most nefarious of all of these pollutants.  While chemicals like mercury cause immediate and measurable damage to biological organisms, plastic tends to break down into particulates that could be harmful to living things in the long run (if you use your common sense).

The SEA Organization, which sponsors semesters at SEA, allowing undergraduates to participate in marine research, has also carried out several studies that seem to confirm the high abundance of the plastic contaminant in our water:

For more than 20 years SEA has been carefully measuring the abundance of plastic marine debris in the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea on the sailing oceanographic research vessels SSVs Westward and Corwith Cramer, and also in the North and South Pacific since the arrival of the SSV Robert C. Seamans in 2001.

More than 6150 surface net tows have been carried out from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean Islands, collecting 64,000+ plastic pieces that have been handpicked from net samples. On cruises from Hawaii to the west coast of the U.S. samples have been collected in the much-popularized “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.

a fish with a piece of plastic embedded in stomach

The effects the buildup of plastic in our oceans, in the bodies of marine animals, and ultimately the larger mammals (read: humans) that ingest them are still largely unknown.  Additionally, like so many of the last century’s environmental hot topics, how concerned one should be could depend on who you ask.  Left wing environmental organizations put out studies that are frequently contradicted by studies funded by the businesses with the most stake in the matter.  Though the results of these contradictory studies may often be correct, because of the political push and pull and the nature of science itself, we will most likely remain in a dubious position of indecision until the effects are rampant or the threat disappears.  I know I don’t sound like an optimist right now, but reality bites.

WTF is a Gyre??

A “gyre“, in oceanographic terms, is a rotating set of currents that basically swirl in a circle.  The currents are caused by such factors as wind currents, the shapes of land masses, ocean temperatures, the shape of the sea floor,  um, and God.  The trash gyres came to be known as such because of the currents that swirl in a circular fashion and tend to cause trash (and other solids) to concentrate in certain places.  While out trawling the oceans for plastic, researchers noticed that the concentrations of plastic are higher in certain areas than in others.

the five major ocean gyres

Like I said before, it can be hard to see these gyres because the plastic being measured is often times in the form of particles that are super-small.  That is not to say that there’s not blatantly tons of junk floating around in these very same places.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right spot.

What do you guys think of this situation?  As of right now there exists no reliable method in which to clean the ocean, and there’s a fat chance there ever will be.  In my opinion, this is a much more tangible problem than carbon in the atmosphere.  Maybe the government should try regulating product packaging to reduce this problem, given that a great many alternatives exist to plastic.

the trash has invaded

If you’ve ever seen the Industry commercials, you know that plastic is a wonderful substance that has greatly advanced our society.  Its subsequent breakdown in our oceans, however, may be our downfall.

SOC Surfrider Foundation Commercial: “Plastic Has No Place Here” from Ryan Fitzgerald on Vimeo.

Here’s a video from Algalita:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJvifVrGi8o[/youtube]

MNP is well aware that “gyre” is also, amongst other things, what slithy toves do in the wabe.

and sweeter.

no-weed.jpg

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — National forests and parks — long popular with Mexican marijuana-growing cartels — have become home to some of the most polluted pockets of wilderness in America because of the toxic chemicals needed to eke lucrative harvests from rocky mountainsides, federal officials said.

The grow sites have taken hold from the West Coast’s Cascade Mountains, as well as on federal lands in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Seven hundred grow sites were discovered on U.S. Forest Service land in California alone in 2007 and 2008 — and authorities say the 1,800-square-mile Sequoia National Forest is the hardest hit.

Weed and bug sprays, some long banned in the U.S., have been smuggled to the marijuana farms. Plant growth hormones have been dumped into streams, and the water has then been diverted for miles in PVC pipes.

Rat poison has been sprinkled over the landscape to keep animals away from tender plants. And many sites are strewn with the carcasses of deer and bears poached by workers during the five-month growing season that is now ending.

.::Read the rest at -> AP Website

Well, isn’t that just the sweetest thing you ever heard…? Fortunately, I’m sure there are one or two simple solutions to this problem.  Thanks to Jen for the link.

The Alaska Women Reject Palin Rally

nopalin1.jpg
nopalin2.jpg
nopalin3.jpg

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage.  The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators).  This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state.  I was absolutely stunned.  The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by.

Thanks to my sis for passing along the good news.

.:: For more photos & a first hand account of the rally –> check Mudflats

foto av dagen 09.17.08

ike16.jpg

In its brief lifespan of only 13 days, Hurricane Ike wreaked great deal of havoc. Affecting several countries including Cuba, Haiti, and the United States, Ike is blamed for approximately 114 deaths (74 in Haiti alone), and damages that are still being tallied, with estimates topping $10 billion. Many shoreline communities of Galveston, Texas were wiped from the map by the winds, storm surge and the walls of debris pushed along by Ike – though Galveston was spared the level of disaster it suffered in 1900. (28 photos total)

.:: Ike’s wrath –> a photo series

9.11.08 a day of many things

peace911.jpg

[image via amivectio.com]
I woke up early this morning to a mandatory evacuation of the county i am staying in here in TX, Jefferson County.  Hurricane Ike is on his way.  Now, intuition would tell you that a mandatory evacutation is just that, mandatory.  Apparently, not so.  After hearing about the evacuation, I went into work, a fairly large construction site, where the construction crews were hard at work securing the site for hurricane conditions.  Many of the folks on site i talked to were planning to evacuate north toward Dallas, or east toward Louisiana, or even west into Houston (where the storm is expected to hit directly), but a lot of the guys i talked to from the area are planning to ‘hunker down’ as they call it and brave the storm.  As it turns out, I am hunkering down as well (at least until I hear further word from my boss).  Needless to say, I have been glued to all the weather websites, my favorite of which is weatherunderground.com.  Just in the past hour Ike has been forecast to downgrade to a Cat 2 when it hits the coast.  Here are some images:

ikeforecast.gif

ike_surge.gif

The above image shows potential maximum storm surges.  For reference, Jefferson County is right there on the TX/LA boarder in the orange 24′ potential storm surge area.  the weather channel is telling me to expect a 10-20′ surge.  i have been told that the sea walls in this area hold until the surge surpasses 14′.  So yeah, I am starting to get nervous.

The red areas, which will see the highest surge, happen to be right in the Baytown area, where Exxon-Mobile has their largest oil refinery which, if you look it up on google maps, is the size of a small city.

ike_sat.jpg

Meanwhile, in happier news, i was shocked this evening to open an email from the ninjas over at amivectio (friends of the revolution) and find my face front & center (ok, bottom left) in the message.  amivectio is the blog-child of Hector Estrada, founder & creative mind behind Triko, a dope street-wear collection for ‘progressive and eclectic individuals’ that embraces environmentally friendly practices [we are big fans & have covered Triko here … I still have my fingers crossed for some ladies threads].

jpamivectio.jpg

Several months ago Triko sent out a quick survey to their mailing list that I responded to, and this is the result:

Name: Jessie P.

What do you currently do for a living?
chemical engineer & part time ninja (green.myninjaplease.com)

Where are you originally from?
new england & tucson AZ, i can never decide which

How would you describe your style?
comfortable but with flavor

What inspires you in your daily pursuit of Life?
good people working for good things. bad people making us work a little harder

How do you feel about the environment?
it teaches us, we waste it away. in the end, it will have the upper hand

Do you prefer shopping online or in person?
in person. i have to be able to feel the textiles & see the colors. besides, fit is always tricky

Do you believe in extraterrestrials?
i believe it is ignorant to think we are the only beings in this massive universe

What books are you currently reading?
GRUB: ideas for an urban organic kitchen, by Anna Lappé & Bryant Terry; Oil!, by Upton Sinclair

What’s your favorite sound of nature?
a horse neighing in recognition

What does success mean to you?
making steps toward something you believe in

Many thanks to amivectio for calling me a friend of the revolution!

A few words on amivectio from the source:

Our new blog: friends.amivectio.com is clean and simple.  We’ll be covering progressive people and lifestyles with features on art, world affairs, music, friends, events, our daily grind, and of course fashion, style, and design.  If you submitted an “Art of Life” entry, these will now be feature at friends.amivectio.com, under the “friends of the revolution” category.  Please stop by our community blog and leave us a comment.  Enjoy!

In summation:
.:: for peace –> stop war

.:: for safety –> track Ike & get the hell out of dodge

.:: for fly earf-friendly street-wear –> check Triko, amivectio & become a friend of the revolution