Category Archives: dirty business

On-going BP Oil Spill Effects

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VVyPiV5xdY[/youtube]

The best piece of professional journalism I’ve read on this issue in a long time comes, not surprisingly, from Al Jazeera:

New Orleans, LA - “The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. “And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants. (read the entire article)

The Cost of Coal

Yesterday, Jess noted a new paper in the American Economic Review: “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy.” Brad Johnson has a longer summary here. I want to emphasize the paper’s conclusions and make a few related points. But mostly I want to beg everyone: spread this around. Coal’s net economic effects on the U.S. are poorly understood, to say the least, and this paper’s findings are stunning.

Once you strip away the econ jargon, the paper finds that electricity from coal imposes more damages on the U.S. economy than the electricity is worth. That’s right: Coal-fired power is a net value-subtracting industry. A parasite, you might say. A gigantic, blood-sucking parasite that’s enriching a few executives and shareholders at the public’s expense. #read the story

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.

Drug Use Among U.S. Livestock

Um, despite the headline, our pigs have not started using cocaine.  So, recently the FDA released its first ever report detailing the amounts of antibiotics used for livestock, which are staggering.  Now, I don’t want to be alarmist, because, for all I know, livestock may require large amounts antibiotics (in order for the medicines to be effective)… but damn…

Well, federal regulators have for years ignored the question and refused to release estimates of just how much antibiotics the livestock industry burns through. But that ended yesterday, when the FDA released its first-ever report on the topic. The answer: 29 million pounds in 2009. According to ace public-health reporter Maryn McKenna, that’s a shitload. (I’m paraphrasing her.) (Source)

The Most Polluted City?

I came across this article while reading i09 detailing in photos one of the most polluted sites on the earth, a town in Russia called Karabash (also the name of a breed of dog).

I’m not posting this to depress you, which I’m sure I will accomplish by posting this, but more because it reminds me of all those Star Trek episodes where they land on a planet and fruitlessly scan for signs of life. “This planet is almost completely dead, Captain.”

a la…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBREuGXxz7o[/youtube]

In 1910, the Karabashmed copper smelter opened at the foot of the Ural Mountains. By 1916, it was producing one third of Russia’s copper. Unfortunately for the 15,700 residents of Karabash, copper smelting has gradually destroyed the land and air. The plant has long pumped derivatives from lead, sulfur, arsenic, and copper into the air, with no clean-up processes attempted. Not only is the air toxic — eye-stinging and hard to breathe — it also brings down acid rain, destroying the soil and thinning the once-dense forest with lifeless bald patches. (Source)

For the whole story and a gallery of pictures, check out the article (which is also the source of all quoted text and pics).

North Pacific Trash Gyre?

Recent events – including my own brewing exploits – have forced me to reconsider how much trash/pollution that we dump into the ocean on a daily basis. I mean, just today I drank 4 cans of soda, ate two meals out of Styrofoam containers (with three sets of plastic silverware and a stack of napkins). One you start to add things together, it’s a pretty staggering picture how much trash an average North American produces, just living a normal life. Now imagine that you actually produce something useful to society in any way, and you start to enter into a quagmire of epic proportions. I mean, I brew my own beer, which has got to be environmentally friendly in some way. However, in brewing, the cleaner your materials are the less chance you have of your beer being infected by wild yeasts. That, generally, ends up in a few teaspoons of iodine dissolved in a few gallons of water being dumped down the drain. Epic, mostly because it’s pretty clear that if and when we destroy our environment, the picnic’s over. Everything adds up.

Rant ended, I saw this article over at The Oyster’s Garter about the supposed “North Pacific Trash Gyre,” which is what it sounds like: a huge floating pile of Trash in the Pacific. Because our earth is some 75% water, it’s not a big deal that you don’t particularly notice this “trash gyre,” an effing whirpool of muck south of Cali, but it damn sure is a big deal that it’s there. And it’s the size of Texas.

The Pacific is not big enough, however, to hide all the plastic crap that comes pouring off North American and Asia. Many of the broken flipflops, lost plastic bags, abandoned waterbottles, and so forth collect in the North Pacific Gyre, which is essentially a big slow gentle whirlpool. But instead of sucking the trash down, it just collects at the center, forming a floating trash heap the size of Texas. LINK

Although the articles I quoted are old, The Oyster’s Garter, apparently run by a Miriam Goldstein, is probably the best continuing blog I’ve read on this subject in my short week of research.  Another article over there deals with the lack of images relevant to the story:

To really get a sense of how much plastic is in there, you have to do a trawl, which entails dragging a net with a bucket on the end behind your boat. Here’s a photo of a bongo trawl taken off of southern California. (Credit: Barbeau Lab, SIO) And here’s a photo of what a normal bongo trawl should produce – lots of zooplankton, a few invertebrates, and the occasional small fish.

Now, contrast this with the results of a trawl from the North Pacific Gyre. Here’s the bongo net being hauled up – see how the ocean looks normal? But the contents – plastic, plastic, and more plastic.* (Credit: Algalita Marine Research Foundation).  When all that plastic collects somewhere, you get beaches like this one in the NW Hawaiian Islands. LINK.

One dude was so struck by (what basically amounts to) the huge pile o’ shit in the ocean that he went on to found an organization dedicated to studying this situation.  Some of their pictures are used in this post.  You can find their page here: http://www.algalita.org/

Reality: Clean Coal by the Coen Bros.

You may have seen this spot on the tellie recently – I saw it last night watching something embarassing like Hardball with Chris Matthews… but I had no idea it was the Coen brothers until I was informed by our ninjas at the We campaign. 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_U1Z0vezw[/youtube]

Plus a behind the scenes look at possible new spots on the way:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs9k6UojyD8[/youtube]

.: sign up -> We Can Solve It

.: there is no such thing as clean coal -> This Is Reality

FOX, FOX, FOX…

So, once upon a time I had a job, and, every morning I’d walk into it to the sound of FOX & Friends, a so-called morning show being watched by the night guy that I was going to relieve. Well, let me say that over the years I’ve grown an appreciation for the subtle ignorance of the show, and the nuances. It’s almost like an aged cheese… except never really on the sharp side. Anyway, a few glasses of wine ought to make it easier to swallow.

It’s not that I’m, like, down with women in skimpy bathing suits championing a cause, as is seen in this video about PETA, but it’s just the attitude which this show takes that makes me sort of cringe. The dude introducing the story says, “For sommme reason PETA has a problem with the way KFC treats their livestock,” as if there’s absolutely no tangible reason why someone might be disgusted with KFC’s practices. Well, he doesn’t say that exactly, but he definitely *WANTS* to be saying that.

Then, to make matters worse, the guy goes on to ask if “liberal causes like these have gone too far.” Excuse me? Since when is caring about what you eat and the environment actually something liberal? I feel that conservatives have backed themselves into a corner by choosing to define anything environment-oriented/science-supported as a “liberal cause” and denying objective reality. PETA, that said, is clearly a “liberal” group and does tend to use shock-value tactics, but, what difference does a simple categorization make if you agree with the cause? Hell, I care about my taxes and my finances – making me… a conservative?

Note: I will refer to him as “the guy” for we do not speak the name of the evil one on this blog. Also, the guy DOES indeed have a point about PETA, but it’s poorly made. And, at what cost?

Anyway, sometimes I wonder if they broadcast this crap so I’ll link to it… or because they actually believe the words coming out of their own mouths. “They think they environment is more important than humanity.” I’m not even going to start on how silly that is…