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Author Topic: Pollution  (Read 12914 times)

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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #630 on: December 11, 2017, 03:09:09 pm »
California's Thomas Fire scorches area larger than New York City

The most destructive wildfire raging in southern California has expanded significantly, scorching an area larger than New York City.

The Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has consumed 230,000 acres (930 sq km) in the past week.

Fanned by strong winds, it has become the fifth largest wildfire in recorded state history after it grew by more than 50,000 acres in a day.

Residents in coastal beach communities have been ordered to leave.


Satellite imagery shows the vast Thomas Fire, north of Los Angeles, which has spread as far as the Pacific coast

On Sunday, firefighters reported that 15% of the blaze had been contained but were forced to downgrade that to 10% as it continued to spread.

"This is a menacing fire, certainly, but we have a lot of people working very diligently to bring it under control," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

The containment operation is not only being hampered by dry winds. It is proving challenging for firefighters because of the location and mountainous terrain.

An analyst with the California fire protection department, Tim Chavez, said the emergency services were struggling because "a hot interior" was in parts practically meeting the ocean, making access difficult.

"It's just a very difficult place to fight fire," Mr Chavez said, adding: "It's very dangerous and has a historical record of multiple fatalities occurring over the years."

The other fires hitting California are largely controlled, but 200,000 people have evacuated their homes and some 800 buildings have been destroyed since 4 December.

Evacuation orders were issued overnight on Sunday for parts of Carpinteria close to Los Padres National Forest, about 100 miles (160km) northwest of Los Angeles.

Forecasters said wind speeds were expected to increase throughout the day, before dying down again overnight.

The local fire department tweeted pictures of a wall of flames advancing on homes on the outskirts of Carpinteria early on Sunday morning.



Meanwhile, actor Rob Lowe, who lives in Santa Barbara, a city of close to 100,000 people, tweeted that he was praying for his town as fires closed in.

"Firefighters making brave stands. Could go either way. Packing to evacuate now," Lowe added.

 Rob Lowe

@RobLowe

Praying for my town. Fires closing in. Firefighters making brave stands. Could go either way. Packing to evacuate now.
10:37 AM - Dec 10, 2017

    596 596 Replies
    328 328 Retweets
    4,343

California has spent the past seven days battling wildfires. Six large blazes, and other smaller ones, erupted on Monday night in southern California.

The Thomas Fire - named according to where it started, near the Thomas Aquinas College - is by far the largest of the fires.

They swept through tens of thousands of acres in a matter of hours, driven by extreme weather, including low humidity, high winds and parched ground.

The authorities issued a purple alert - the highest level warning - amid what it called "extremely critical fire weather", while US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency.

On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown described the situation as "the new normal" and predicted vast fires, fuelled by climate change, "could happen every year or every few years".

Several firefighters have been injured, but only one person has died - a 70-year-old woman who was found dead in her car on an evacuation route.

There are also fears the blaze will seriously hit California's multi-million dollar agricultural industry.

Are you in the area? If it is safe to do so, share your experience with us by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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hytp://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42303203]http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42303203
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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #631 on: December 14, 2017, 01:46:40 pm »
‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off


Scientists have identified 2 million species of living things. No one knows how many more are out there, and tens of thousands may be vanishing before we have even had a chance to encounter them.

The Earth is ridiculously, burstingly full of life. Four billion years after the appearance of the first microbes, 400m years after the emergence of the first life on land, 200,000 years after humans arrived on this planet, 5,000 years (give or take) after God bid Noah to gather to himself two of every creeping thing, and 200 years after we started to systematically categorise all the world’s living things, still, new species are being discovered by the hundreds and thousands.

In the world of the systematic taxonomists – those scientists charged with documenting this ever-growing onrush of biological profligacy – the first week of November 2017 looked like any other. Which is to say, it was extraordinary. It began with 95 new types of beetle from Madagascar. But this was only the beginning. As the week progressed, it brought forth seven new varieties of micromoth from across South America, 10 minuscule spiders from Ecuador, and seven South African recluse spiders, all of them poisonous. A cave-loving crustacean from Brazil. Seven types of subterranean earwig. Four Chinese cockroaches. A nocturnal jellyfish from Japan. A blue-eyed damselfly from Cambodia. Thirteen bristle worms from the bottom of the ocean – some bulbous, some hairy, all hideous. Eight North American mites pulled from the feathers of Georgia roadkill. Three black corals from Bermuda. One Andean frog, whose bright orange eyes reminded its discoverers of the Incan sun god Inti.

About 2m species of plants, animals and fungi are known to science thus far. No one knows how many are left to discover. Some put it at around 2m, others at more than 100m. The true scope of the world’s biodiversity is one of the biggest and most intractable problems in the sciences. There’s no quick fix or calculation that can solve it, just a steady drip of new observations of new beetles and new flies, accumulating towards a fathomless goal.


But even as thousands of new species are being discovered every year, thousands more seem to be disappearing, swept away in an ecological catastrophe that has come to be known as the sixth extinction. There have been five such disasters in the past. The most famous (and recent) is the end-Cretaceous extinction, the one that killed off the dinosaurs 66m years ago. The most destructive was the Permian, the one that cleared the way for the dinosaurs 190m years before that.

To know if we are really in the midst of a sixth extinction, scientists need to establish both the rate at which species are currently vanishing, and the rate at which they would go extinct without human activity (known as the “background rate”). In 2015, using a census of all known vertebrates, a team of American and Mexican scientists argued that animal species are going extinct “up to 100 times” faster than they would without us – a pace of disappearance on a par with the extinction that took out the dinosaurs.

But as Terry Erwin, the legendary tropical entomologist, pointed out to me, these sixth-extinction estimates are “biased towards a very small portion of biodiversity”. When it comes to invertebrates – the slugs, crabs, worms, snails, spiders, octopuses and, above all, insects that make up the bulk of the world’s animal species – we are guessing. “Conservationists are doing what they can, without data on insects,” he said.

To really know what’s going on with the state of the world’s biodiversity, ecologists need to start paying more attention to the invertebrates and spend less time on the “cute and cuddlies” – Erwin’s term for the vertebrates. (Years of hearing about the wonders of gorillas and humpback whales can make a staunch bug man resentful.) After all, there are far, far more of them than there are of us.

We live in an invertebrate world. Of all known animal species, less than 5% have backbones. About 70% are insects. Fewer than one in every 200 are mammals, and a huge proportion of those are rodents. Looked at from the point of view of species diversity, we mammals are just a handful of mice on a globe full of beetles. The great majority of those beetles are herbivores native to the tropics. So if you really want to understand the total diversity of life on Earth – and the true rate at which it is disappearing – you need to figure out how many types of beetle munch on every variety of tropical tree.

But before you can count species, you have to name them. That’s where the taxonomists come in. The idea of species has been notoriously hard for biologists to define, especially since organisms so often exist on a continuum, becoming harder and harder to distinguish the closer they are to each other. The most widely accepted definition comes from the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, who defined species as groups of animals that breed with one another, but not with others – at least not in the regular course of events. (If you force a zebra and a donkey together to make a zonkey, you’ve created one hybrid, not disproved the fact that they are two different species, since such a mating would not normally occur in nature.)

Taxonomists do not just name individual species; they also have to figure out how species are related to each other. Over the centuries, many scientists have tried to fit the world’s creatures into a coherent system, with mixed results. Aristotle tried to classify all life forms based on their essential traits, and in particular, the way they moved. Sedentary animals gave him the most trouble. He seems to have spent a lot of time on the island of Lesbos, puzzling over whether sea anemones and sponges were animals, plants, or plant-like animals.

The real revolution in taxonomy came in the 18th century, during the age of Enlightenment. It was largely the work of one man, Carl Linnaeus, who was hailed as the Isaac Newton of biology. Linnaeus was an odd figure to rise to such heights: a brilliant, headstrong, egotistical showoff with a prodigious knack for remembering the sexual characteristics of plants. He made one major expedition – to Lapland, in Sweden’s north – but mostly relied on the discoveries of others. He inspired 17 “apostles” to venture into the world in search of specimens to complete his system. Seven never came home. Based on their collective work, he named 7,700 species of plants and 4,400 species of animals.

Later biologists found much to quibble with in Linnaeus’s system. For instance, he grouped hedgehogs and bats together as “ferocious beasts”, and shrews and hippos together as “beasts of burden”. Linnaeus’s lasting achievement was not in creating the groups themselves, but the system by which all subsequent species would be named. He decreed that all species should have a two-part name. The first part indicates the genus to which a species belongs, and the second part is the species name.


This is a brilliantly efficient system for both naming and sorting. With it, we can tell in an instant that we, Homo sapiens, are both related to, and distinct from, our evolutionary relatives Homo erectus and Homo habilis. It is also a source of considerable fun for taxonomists. Presidential names – the bushi, obamai and donaldtrumpi (a remarkably coiffed moth) – reliably grab headlines. Less frequently, species names invoke politics or recent events. A Brazilian mayfly received the species name tragediae, to commemorate the catastrophic collapse of a dam in 2015. Taxonomists are also not above the occasional pun or rhyme. Terry Gosliner, an expert on nudibranchs, or marine sea slugs, once giving the name Kahuna to a species belonging to genus Thurunna from Hawaii, to make Thurunna kahuna.

Gosliner found his first nudibranch while still at high school. Since then he has travelled the world in search of them, and has named more than 300 in his 40-year career. As denizens of coral reefs, sea slugs are particularly sensitive to rising sea temperatures. Some scientists think climate change and ocean acidification might cause reefs to vanish entirely in the next 50 to 100 years. Gosliner tends to be a bit more optimistic, emphasising the reefs’ ability to bounce back from stress. But while corals reefs face peril in the seas, an even greater crisis could be developing for insects on land – the true dimensions of which entomologists are only beginning to grapple with.

Before entomologists could ponder the terrifying possibility of an insect mass extinction, they first had to come to grips with the true scale of insect diversity. They are still struggling to do that now. But for many, the breakthrough moment came in 1982, with a brief paper published by a young beetle specialist named Terry Erwin.

Erwin wanted to figure out how many species of insect lived on an average acre of rainforest in Panama, where he was working. To do this, he covered a single tree in sheeting and “fogged” it, by blasting it with insecticide from a device resembling a leafblower. He waited several hours while dead bugs cascaded on to the plastic sheeting he had spread on the ground. He then spent months counting and sorting them all. What Erwin found was startling: 1,200 species lived on this one tree. More than 100 lived on this particular tree and nowhere else. Scaling this result up, Erwin estimated that there are 41,000 different species in every hectare of rainforest, and 30m species worldwide.

This estimate quickly became famous, and controversial. Erwin is widely respected in the field. He has been commemorated in the names of 47 species, two genera, one subfamily and one subspecies – a good gauge of respect in the entomological community, where, according to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, naming a species after yourself is forbidden by custom, but not law. Still, many entomologists are sceptical about Erwin’s wilder estimates, and more recent studies have tended to revise the 30m number down somewhat. But Erwin remains intransigent. “It’s like Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid, these kids out here taking potshots at me. None of them have any data,” he told me recently. “They’re just sitting in that office throwing numbers around.” He thinks the real number might be as high as 80m, or even 200m – and that a large number of these species are in the process of vanishing without anyone being around to even notice.


Everywhere, invertebrates are threatened by climate change, competition from invasive species and habitat loss. Insect abundance seems to be declining precipitously, even in places where their habitats have not suffered notable new losses. A troubling new report from Germany has shown a 75% plunge in insect populations since 1989, suggesting that they may be even more imperilled than any previous studies suggested.

Entomologists across the world have watched this decline with growing concern. When Brian Fisher, an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences with a particular expertise in ants, arrived in Madagascar in 1993, he expected he would be able to describe some new species, but he had no idea of the extent of the riches he would find there. “Everything was new. It was like it was in the 1930s,” Fisher said. In that time, he has identified more than 1,000 new species of ant, including some whose adults feed exclusively on the blood of their own young, a group he has nicknamed the “Dracula ants”.

A thousand ants is quite a lot, but scientists have identified 16,000 species – so far. To a layperson like me, they all seem basically alike. Some are brown, some are black, some are cinnamon-coloured, but other than that, they look pretty much like the (invasive, Argentine) ants that swarm my kitchen in California every time it rains. To an expert like Fisher though, they are as different from one another as warblers are to a birder. Under a microscope, each ant positively bristles with identifying features in their flagellate hairs, their segmented antennae, and most of all, in their mandibles, which under magnification look like diabolical garden shears.

In the decades since Fisher started making expeditions to Madagascar, deforestation has accelerated, and today only 10% of its virgin forests remain intact. Fisher says that “in 50 years I can’t imagine any forest left in Madagascar”. According to Wendy Moore, a professor of entomology at the University of Arizona, who specialises in ant nest beetles, “There is a sense of running out of time. Everyone in the field who is paying attention feels that.” Because many insects depend on a single plant species for their survival, the devastation caused by deforestation is almost unimaginably huge. “Once a certain type of forest vanishes, thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of species will vanish,” Erwin told me. “Deforestation is taking out untold millions of species.”

While we still don’t have a clear idea of what’s happening to insects at the species level, we are in the midst of a crisis at the population level. Put simply, even if many kinds of insects are holding on, their overall numbers are falling drastically. The alarming new data from Germany, which was based on tracking the number of flying insects captured at a number of sites over 35 years, is one warning sign among many. According to estimates made by Claire Régnier of the French Natural History Museum in Paris, in the past four centuries, as many of 130,000 species of known invertebrates may have already disappeared.

Various kinds of anecdotal evidence appear to support these observations. The environmental journalist Michael McCarthy has noted the seeming disappearance of the windscreen phenomenon. Once, he writes, “any long automobile journey,” especially one undertaken in summer, “would result in a car windscreen that was insect-spattered”. In recent years this phenomenon seems to have vanished.

Although insecticides have been blamed for the declines in Europe, Erwin thinks the ultimate culprit is climate change. The location he has been observing in Ecuador is pristine, virgin rainforest. “There’s no insecticides, nothing at all,” he said. But gradually, almost imperceptibly, in the time he has been there, something has changed in the balance of the forest. Studying the data, Erwin and his collaborators have found that over the past 35 years, the Amazon rainforest has been slowly dying out. And if the forest goes, Erwin tells me, “everything that lives in it will be affected”.

If this trend were to continue indefinitely, the consequences would be devastating. Insects have been on Earth 1,000 times longer than humans have. In many ways, they created the world we live in. They helped call the universe of flowering plants into being. They are to terrestrial food chains what plankton is to oceanic ones. Without insects and other land-based arthropods, EO Wilson, the renowned Harvard entomologist, and inventor of sociobiology, estimates that humanity would last all of a few months. After that, most of the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals would go, along with the flowering plants. The planet would become an immense compost heap, covered in shoals of carcasses and dead trees that refused to rot. Briefly, fungi would bloom in untold numbers. Then, they too would die off. The Earth would revert to what it was like in the Silurian period, 440m years ago, when life was just beginning to colonise the soil – a spongy, silent place, filled with mosses and liverworts, waiting for the first shrimp brave enough to try its luck on land.

Conserving individual insect species piecemeal, as is done with most endangered mammals, is extremely difficult. Not only are the numbers mind-boggling, but insects and other invertebrates don’t tend to have the same cachet. Polar bears and humpback whales are one thing; soft-bodied plant beetles from the Gaoligong mountains of Yunnan are quite another.

Not long ago, I took a trip to the first wildlife refuge established with the express purpose of protecting an endangered insect, the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, about an hour’s drive north-east of Berkeley, California. The reserve is small – only 55 acres, hemmed in on three sides by a chain-link fence, and by the San Joaquin river on the fourth – and, in truth, the Dunes do not dazzle the eye. The terrain resembles an unlovely, overgrown plot of land intended for development at some unspecified point in the future. The day I went, three vultures huddled around the body of a cat while the turbines of a wind farm spun lazily on the opposite bank of the river.

Once, however, these dunes were a miniature Sahara, home to a number of animals and plants that existed nowhere else. It took decades before that fact became apparent to biologists, and by then, it was very nearly too late. When white settlers arrived in California, the dunes were seen simply as a source of raw materials. The dune sand was unusually well-suited for brickmaking, and between the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the postwar housing boom, most of the sand was mined out and turned into buildings. Once the dunes were gone, most of the land they formerly stood on was built up.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that biologists began to realise how special the Antioch Dunes were. By that point, only three native species remained. There were two plants – the Contra Costa wallflower and the Antioch Dunes evening primrose – and one insect, the Lange’s metalmark butterfly. The metalmark butterfly is tiny, with a wingspan about the size of thumbnail. A pretty brown-and-orange with white spotting, they are weak flyers, capable of travelling a maximum 400 metres (1,300ft) after they emerge from their chrysalises for seven to nine days every August.


After the Dunes Reserve was established in 1980, the butterfly enjoyed a brief resurgence. Today, it is struggling. At last count, there were only 67 individuals in the park. The Lange’s lay their eggs on one plant and one plant only: the naked-stemmed buckwheat, which is currently being choked out by weeds. The only other population of Lange’s is kept in a captive-breeding programme at Moorpark College in Simi Valley, California. If something should happen to these, it would be the end of the species.

In a bid to save the butterfly, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has recently begun a bold experiment in habitat restoration, covering much of the refuge in sand. Spread a metre deep, the sand suffocates invasive plants, allowing the species that originally evolved on the dunes to reclaim their lost ground. “If we can bring back the environment, we can bring back the butterfly,” wildlife refuge manager Don Brubaker told me. The day I visited, his co-worker, refuge specialist Louis Terrazas, spotted a hopeful sign. The season’s first shoots of native primrose had just started peeking out above the sand. Given time, this remnant of a remnant might spring back to life.

When I asked Brubaker if his painstaking efforts on behalf of the Lange’s was worth all the trouble, he replied: “Why protect the species? Why not? Because it’s what we do – we’re enabling the planet to keep functioning.”

In some ways, the tiny ranges of invertebrates like the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly make them perfect targets for protection. Sarina Jepsen is the director of endangered species and aquatic conservation at the Xerces Society, a Portland, Oregon-based non-profit focusing on invertebrates. She told me that for insects, “often small patches of land can make a huge difference,” unlike what is needed for, say, wolf or tiger conservation. “We don’t necessarily need hundreds of thousands of acres to make a difference with these species,” she said. Even so, the amount of work that goes into saving even a single species can sometimes feel overwhelming. It isn’t enough to save one in a lab. You have to rescue whole environments – the products of complex interactions between plants, animals, soil and climate that have built up over millennia.

At a certain point, it becomes clear that to even think about extinction in terms of individual species is to commit an error of scale. If entomologists’ most dire predictions come true, the number of species that will go extinct in the coming century will be in the millions, if not the tens of millions. Saving them one at a time is like trying to stop a tsunami with a couple of sandbags.

Like many of the species they study, taxonomists are presently at risk of becoming a dying breed. Faculty hires, museum posts and government grants are all declining. Fewer students are drawn to the field as well. All too often, taxonomy gets dismissed as old-fashioned and intellectually undemanding, the scientific equivalent of stamp collecting. Molecular biology, with its concern for DNA, proteins and chemical processes within individual cells, dominates curriculums and hoovers up grant money. “All the university courses are oriented towards it, and so is the funding,” says Terry Erwin.

Meanwhile, the new species keep piling up. Already today, as I’m writing, ZooKeys and Zootaxa, two of the largest and most prolific taxonomic journals, have announced the discovery of a potter wasp from South America, a water scavenger beetle from the Tibetan plateau, an erebid moth, an Andean scarab beetle, two Korean crustaceans and a whole genus of parasitoid wasps (don’t worry, we’re safe – the bastards prey on aphids), and it isn’t even noon yet.

What to do with this onrush? Many taxonomists I spoke to admit that it simply isn’t manageable. Brian Fisher confessed that many taxonomists find themselves awed at some point by “the immensity of what we don’t know”. Kipling Will, of the University of California, Berkeley, who has spent two decades studying one subfamily of ground beetles, told me, while gesturing at boxes of samples that had just flown in from Australia: “We do what we can. I have so much undescribed material. It takes decades just to get where we are.” With any species, it takes time to do a proper dissection, test their DNA, compare them to their nearest relatives, and compile all the information necessary to publish something as new. With so many invertebrates being found each year, it’s common for them to spend years, or even decades, in a queue waiting for their coming-out party.


So what to do? And why bother? There are plenty of practical reasons to worry about the fate of invertebrates. They are a vital part of the ecosystems that function as the heart, lungs and digestive system of our planet. Some might carry, inside their exotic biochemistries, cures for any number of diseases. Recently, chemicals harvested from sea slugs have been tested in clinical trials in the US for use as cancer-fighting drugs. Others could be used as natural alternatives to pesticides. But ultimately, it’s not certain that any of these will be enough on its own. The answer could have more to do with aesthetics, or enthusiasm for the living world – the quality EO Wilson named “biophilia”.

When you ask people who work in invertebrate taxonomy why they have devoted their lives to a particular type of insect, snail or clam, the word you hear most often is “beautiful”. Their eyes light up in front of their chosen genus or subclass. The occupants of a case full of slightly iridescent, mostly black beetles will be described as “rather huge and incredibly beautiful”. (Huge is relative, too – they are the size of the final joint of a little finger.) Surrounded by jars full of tiny sea slugs, they will gush about their beauty and the glorious variety of their colour, shape and behaviour. Amy Berkov, a professor of tropical ecology at the City College of New York who works on wood-boring beetles, came to entomology from a background in art and chose her new field, in part, because “there’s nothing more amazing than looking at insects”. Even the ant specialists – generally a pretty hard-nosed-bunch – will trade Latin names of rare ants with the affection you usually hear reserved for old friends.

It’s easy to care about the cute and cuddlies. Soon we’ll be living on a planet that has lost its last mountain gorilla, its last leatherback turtle. A world without tigers or polar bears; what a sad place that will be.

But to think about the coming invertebrate extinctions is to confront a different dimension of loss. So much will vanish before we even knew it was there, before we had even begun to understand it. Species aren’t just names, or points on an evolutionary tree, or abstract sequences of DNA. They encode countless millennia of complex interactions between plant and animal, soil and air. Each species carries with it behaviours we have only begun to witness, chemical tricks honed over a million generations, whole worlds of mimicry and violence, maternal care and carnal exuberance. To know that all this will disappear is like watching a library burn without being able to pick up a single book. Our role in this destruction is a kind of vandalism, against their history, and ours as well.

Take Strumigenys reliquia, one of the ants I heard discussed with such warmth at the California Academy of Sciences. Strumigenys is a predator, a native of the undergrowth, and very rare. It was first discovered in 1986 by Phil Ward of the University of California, Davis. He spotted this incredibly rare species on a two-hectare patch of woods a few miles from his office. It has never been seen anywhere else. Ward thinks there is a reason for this. California rivers were once flanked by giant forests of hardy, flood-resistant, evergreen oaks. Geologists think these riverine forests were a feature of the landscape for at least 20m years. Accounts from early settlers and explorers give an idea of what they might have been like. They write of flocks of geese “blackening the sky”, salmon choking the streams and grizzly bears gathering under the oaks to feed on acorns in troupes of a hundred or more.

Today, except for a few scattered acres like the one Ward found in Yolo County, those forests are gone. They were chopped down long ago for firewood and ploughed under to make way for tomato farms and almond orchards. The salmon, the geese and the grizzlies have all gone too. Only the ant remains. Only it remembers.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/a-different-dimension-of-loss-great-insect-die-off-sixth-extinction

Agelbert WARNING: Already many vertebrates are going extinct. The mass die-off of insects is accelerating vertebrate extinctions. That means YOU AND ME!



 
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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #632 on: December 15, 2017, 05:05:03 pm »

Men work on a natural gas valve at a fracking site in South Montrose, Pa. An analysis of more than 1.1 million Pennsylvania births finds that that babies born to mothers living within 1 kilometer of active “fracking” wells are 25% more likely to exhibit low birthweight.

Babies born to moms who lived near fracking wells faced host of health risks, study suggests

December 13, 2017

After combing through a decade's worth of Pennsylvania birth records, researchers have found that pregnant women living within two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing well were 25% more likely to give birth to a worryingly small infant than were women who lived at least 10 miles outside that zone during pregnancy.

Over these babies' lifetimes, their low birth weights raise the likelihood they will suffer poorer health and lower achievement, including reduced earnings and educational attainment.

The authors of the new research estimated that, in 2012, about 29,000 of the close to 4 million annual births in the United States — roughly 0.7% of babies born each year — were to women who lived within about two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing operation during their pregnancies.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Nationally, the advent and expansion of hydraulic fracturing operations have reduced gasoline prices, decreased some air pollution emissions and driven down U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But in areas surrounding the nation's roughly 1.2 million fracking wells, the extraction technique has increased pollution of air, soil, groundwater and surface water.

Many of the toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process are known carcinogens. Toxic gases, including benzene, are released from the rock by fracking. And the high-pressure pumping of a slurry of chemicals into the ground is widely thought to release toxins and irritants into nearby air and water. The noise and pollution emitted by trucks and heavy machinery also may affect the health of people living nearby.

Research by some of the new study's authors — all economists — has detailed the powerful impact of fracking on local communities, where it boosted employment, household incomes and housing values. It also has made the extraction technique's local effects on human health a subject of heated debate and growing research.

Based on an analysis of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2013, the new research found that babies born to mothers who lived within 1 kilometer (0.64 miles) of a fracking well weighed, on average, 1.38 ounces less than babies whose gestation occurred 3 kilometers or more from a fracking site.

The researchers compared the birth weights of babies born to mothers living within 1, 2 or 3 kilometers of fracking wells, both before and after the wells were active. In a bid to capture health influences specifically related to well proximity, the authors compared the birth weights of siblings born at different distances to wells — both close enough to be exposed to fracking in utero, and too far away.

The largest health impacts were found in infants born to mothers living the closest to active wells. Compared to those whose pregnant mothers lived about 10 miles or more away, these infants were 25% more likely to weigh less than 5 1/2 pounds and be classified as low birth weight, the authors found.

For babies whose mothers lived between 1 and 3 kilometers from a well, researchers found birth-weight effects, but they were greatly diminished — less than half those found among babies born to women living within 1 kilometer of a well.

The findings suggest that fracking's impacts on newborns' health "are highly local," the authors wrote.

"This study provides the strongest large-scale evidence of a link between the pollution that stems from hydraulic fracturing activities and our health, specifically the health of babies," said coauthor Michael Greenstone, an economist and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

A representative of the oil and gas industry criticized the study for failing to take account of a wide range of factors that can contribute to low birth weight, as well as for measuring women's proximity to fracking wells instead of their exposure to actual pollutants.

"It's just one of many examples of research that has similar limitations," said Nicole Jacobs, Pennsylvania director for Energy in Depth, a research, education and lobbying arm of the Independent Petroleum Assn. of America.

Jacobs also cited Pennsylvania Health Department statistics showing that in the most heavily drilled counties in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region, infant mortality rates not only have declined, but actually have improved more than overall state levels. To the extent that low birth weight drives infant mortality, such data would appear to contradict the findings reported Wednesday, Jacobs said.

Notwithstanding such limitations, the results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that fracking exacts a toll on the health of populations living in close proximity to wells.

A study of Pennsylvania published in August 2016 found higher rates of migraine headaches, fatigue, and nasal and sinus symptoms in people who were at greater proximity to fracking operations. Another study, conducted in southwest Pennsylvania, where fracking wells are heavily concentrated, found an increase in cases of bladder cancer, but not of thyroid cancer or leukemia, that was steeper in counties where well density was highest.

In research that examined a Colorado registry of cancer cases, another study found that people aged 5 to 24 who were diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia were more likely to live in areas with a high concentration of oil and gas activity.

Other studies have focused on pregnancy outcomes and infant health. In one conducted in North Texas — where fracking wells abut diverse populations of urbanites — researchers found an increased risk of preterm birth, and a slight increase in fetal death, among pregnant women living close to greater concentrations of fracking wells. But it failed to find an association between a pregnant woman's proximity to fracking wells and her likelihood of giving birth to a child who was either small for its gestational age or who was born at term at less than 5½ pounds.

Many of these studies have been faulted for methodological weaknesses, and their findings have been assailed by oil and gas industry groups.

Weill Cornell public health researcher Madelon L. Finkel, who has conducted some of the early research, acknowledges that the findings are preliminary. Cancer and many other outcomes can take decades to become evident, while the widespread practice of hydraulic fracturing is not quite a decade old, Finkel said.

Firming up conclusions on fracking's health effects, she added, will take years of further research. "But we're beginning to see a pattern: that living near these sites does elevate risk compared to living further away," said Finkel, who was not involved in the Science Advances study.

University of Pennsylvania neonatologist Dr. Rebecca Simmons praised the new study's design and the researchers' focus on low birth weight as a factor potentially affected by proximity to fracking wells.

"Birth weight is a proxy: it gives us an insight into what's going on in gestation, and we worry a lot when we see changes like this," said Simmons, who is deputy director of the Penn's Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology. "We know that babies born at low birth weight have a much, much higher risk of diseases such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity."

Simmons, who was not involved in the Science Advances study, acknowledged that many factors contribute to low birth weight, including poverty and poor nutrition. Increasingly, however, environmental factors are gaining their share of attention and research.

Coauthor Katherine Meckel, an assistant professor at UCLA, acknowledged that the study could not pinpoint the source of the environmental hazards that affect human health and birth weight.

"Until we can determine the source of this pollution and contain it, local lawmakers will be forced to continue to make the difficult decision of whether to allow fracking in order to boost their local economies — despite the health implications — or ban it altogether, missing out on the jobs and revenue it would bring," she said.


http://beta.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fracking-infant-health-20171213-story.html
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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #633 on: December 20, 2017, 01:38:07 pm »
EcoWatch



Beauty and Despair Collide in These Murals of the Great Lakes

By onEarth
 
Dec. 06, 2017 11:32AM EST

By Clara Chaisson

With loons and trout alongside allegorical monsters, the fantastical murals at the center of artist Alexis Rockman's new exhibition don't just look like a dream sequence; they are a dream come true.

Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle emerged out of a 2013 phone call with Rockman's longtime friend and collaborator Dana Friis-Hansen, director of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, where the series will make its debut on Jan. 27 2018. "[Dana] asked me if I had any dream projects up my sleeve," Rockman said. "I looked at the map and thought of the Great Lakes."


Pioneers, 2017. Oil and acrylic on wood panel, 72 x 144 inches. Alexis Rockman and Sperone Westwater, New York

Though he was born and raised in New York City, Rockman said Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior appeal to him because they are both natural wonders and human-made disaster zones. These massive freshwater lakes—the world's largest by surface area—formed from glacial movement and melting during the Pleistocene. They now hold 20 percent of the Earth's freshwater and provide drinking water for 40 million people, but threats ranging from massive algal blooms and industrial pollution to rapidly warming temperatures and voracious invasive species now plague these vital resources. "It's a perfect cocktail of awe, despair, and melancholy," Rockman said.


Rockman tells the lakes' story through five large-scale paintings, each measuring 6 by 12 feet, beginning with the Pleistocene, exploring the present day, and imagining the future (which includes opportunities for recovery and preservation). The exhibit also features six large watercolors and 28 field drawings made from organic materials collected from Great Lakes sites.


Spheres of Influence, 2016. Oil and alkyd on wood panel, 72 x 144 inches. Collection of Jonathan O'Hara and Sheila Skaff. Alexis Rockman

The paintings abound with Rockman's unique style, which combines his passion for natural history and landscape painting with a dark, hallucinatory flair. He refers to this particular blend of influences as "natural-history psychedelia." Director Ang Lee was so taken with Rockman's approach that he asked the artist to create visual inspiration for his 2012 film Life of Pi.


For his latest work, using an itinerary developed by the Grand Rapids museum, Rockman set out on a tour of eight U.S. states and Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes region. Along with extensive reading, his studies included fishing trips, a circumnavigation of Lake Michigan, and meetings with museum directors and biologists. Rockman had previously painted the lakes in the 1980s, becoming familiar with many of their woes, such as their infamous zebra mussel infestation. But his latest research introduced him to new horror shows, like tiny spiny water fleas that gunk up fishing gear and botulism outbreaks that paralyze and kill birds. The Great Lakes "are under incredible pressure from so many things, it's just mind-boggling," said Rockman.


Watershed, 2015. Oil and alkyd on wood panel, 72 x 144 inches. Collection of Jonathan O'Hara and Sheila Skaff. Alexis Rockman

Each painting in the series is accompanied by a map key that that identifies the species and references at play. "As I have worked on this project for the past five years, the environmental issues facing the lakes have become even more critical," Rockman said. "My expedition in the region, observations of the area, and conversations with experts have helped me tell a story that is, I hope, a compelling call for action on behalf of this natural treasure."


Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle will be on view at the Grand Rapids Art Museum from Jan. 27 through April 29, 2018, before traveling to Chicago, Cleveland and Minneapolis.


Forces of Change, 2017. Oil and acrylic on wood panel, 72 x 144 inches. Collection of Jonathan O'Hara and Sheila Skaff. Alexis Rockman

https://www.ecowatch.com/murals-great-lakes-2515369495.html

Agelbert NOTE: Capitalism is reaping what it's God of Profit over people and planet has sowed. It will get much worlse.


Psalm 49 King James Version (KJV)

1 Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:

2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.

3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

4 I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.

5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:

8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)

9 That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.

10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.

11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.

12 Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.

14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.

15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;

17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.

20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.


 


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Re: Pollution
« Reply #634 on: December 28, 2017, 12:37:59 pm »
By Muhammad Fazri Bin Muhri / Shutterstock

North Sea Forties Pipeline Pumping at Half Capacity -Source

December 27, 2017 by Reuters

SNIPPET:

LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest and most important oil pipeline, Forties, was ramping up throughput after repairs and was currently pumping at around half its normal rates, a trading source familiar with the operations said on Wednesday.

Forties normally pumps about 450,000 barrels per day.

Read more:

http://gcaptain.com/north-sea-forties-pipeline-pumping-at-half-capacity-source/
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Re: Pollution
« Reply #635 on: January 03, 2018, 08:46:15 pm »




January 3, 2018

Quote
Trump Admin is Pro-Pollution, For All Intents and Purposes

Welcome to 2018! What do you intend to do this year? Anything new, or more of the same? If you’re in the Trump administration, odds are you intend to do exactly what you did all of last year: help polluters in any way possible.

The Washington Post ended 2017 with a look at how Scott Pruitt has reshaped the EPA into a more industry-friendly organization. One particular word stood out to us as emblematic of how Pruitt is treating the relationship between regulator and industry: intent.

Pre-Pruitt, EPA administrators from both parties knew industry would try to be as cheap as possible about their pollution problems. In the past, part of the agency’s responsibility to ensure public health was protected from bad actors cutting corners was to make sure polluters weren’t hiding pollution--for example, by having someone independent double-checking reported emissions. But Pruitt seems to believe that as long as industries promise not to pollute and don’t intend to pollute, well then by golly, we should just take their word for it.

The Post describes a Dec. 7th memo from Pruitt on pollution restrictions on a DTE Energy power plant, the subject of a court case Pruitt inherited from Obama’s EPA. The EPA had been asking to double-check the company’s emission projections. Pruitt reversed that position, saying instead that so long as the company expresses an “intent” to reduce pollution, the EPA will trust DTE at its word to reduce emissions. It seems suspiciously naive to believe a company would voluntarily spend money to reduce pollution with only a scouts’ honor level of enforcement.

Even when an industry has proven it can’t be trusted with the public’s health, the Trump administration keeps rolling back regulations. The administration began its rollback of key offshore drilling protections last week, instead choosing to trust the industry’s “recommended practices” for testing safety equipment. These “recommended practices” were in place before the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed eleven and polluted the Gulf of Mexico. Clearly these practices aren’t perfect. Nor are the energy industry’s practices regarding migratory birds, but the Interior department’s lifting protections for those species, so long as it’s not industry’s intention to kill birds.

And then there’s Trump and his intentions. He campaigned on a promise to save the forgotten coal miners, and has even begun claiming victory. But as always, intentions and actions are a world apart. Not only are the coal industry and West Virginia far from “doing fantastically now,” as Trump claims, but in fact, there were more coal fatalities in West Virginia in 2017 than there were in all states in 2016. So of course, Trump’s celebrating by considering putting more miners’ lives at risk by repealing regulations inteded to protect miners from black lung disease.
 
Time and again, we’re seeing that the Trump administration is going to trust industry’s professed intentions--even when it’s proven that the intentions aren’t good enough to protect the industry’s own employees. We should be smart enough to know better than do the same with the Trump administration’s intentions, and always keep an eye on the actions.

If the sudden reappearance of the Mooch has you genuinely questioning what Trump really thinks about climate change, after 99 tweets and after Paris and the Clean Power Plan pullouts and his administration’s pro-polluter agenda...well, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn we intend to sell you.
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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #636 on: January 03, 2018, 09:12:46 pm »
Russia Posts Highest-Ever Natural Gas Output in Expansion Drive

The Christophe de Margerie, the first of 15 icebreaking LNG carriers ordered for the Yamal LNG project to provide transport of LNG year-round in the Arctic, loads its first cargo at the Yamal LNG plant at the Port of Sabetta on the Yamal Peninsula, December 8, 2017. Photo: SCF Group


January 2, 2018 by Bloomberg

By Elena Mazneva and Jake Rudnitsky (Bloomberg) — Russia registered its highest-ever natural gas production last year amid plans to expand into China and boost sales of liquefied natural gas.

The nation’s output of the fuel jumped 7.9 percent to 690.5 billion cubic meters, according to data emailed Tuesday by the Russian Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. That beat the previous record, set in 2011, by 2.9 percent.

Russia, the world’s largest gas exporter, is working to boost output with plans to increase production of LNG with new plants in an area that stretches from the Baltic region to its Pacific coast. That will put the country up against the biggest producers of the super-chilled fuel, including Qatar, Australia and the U.S. Russia has resources to increase its LNG production almost 10 times by 2035, led by the privately-owned Novatek PJSC in the Arctic, according to the nation’s Energy Ministry.

Full article:

http://gcaptain.com/russia-posts-highest-ever-natural-gas-output-in-expansion-drive/

Agelbert NOTE: "Enjoy" that fossil fuel celebrated in political circles as the "BRIDGE FUEL" to a "clean energy future".


And don't forget to laugh in any person's face who claims that fossil fuel use is going down. Gallows humor is appropriate at this time of abysmal Russian AND U.S. stupidity. 
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Re: Pollution
« Reply #637 on: January 03, 2018, 09:34:58 pm »




January 3, 2018

Even when an industry has proven it can’t be trusted with the public’s health, the Trump administration keeps rolling back regulations. The administration began its rollback of key offshore drilling protections last week, instead choosing to trust the industry’s “recommended practices” for testing safety equipment. These “recommended practices” were in place before the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed eleven and polluted the Gulf of Mexico. Clearly these practices aren’t perfect. Nor are the energy industry’s practices regarding migratory birds, but the Interior department’s lifting protections for those species, so long as it’s not industry’s intention to kill birds.

And then there’s Trump and his intentions. He campaigned on a promise to save the forgotten coal miners, and has even begun claiming victory. But as always, intentions and actions are a world apart. Not only are the coal industry and West Virginia far from “doing fantastically now,” as Trump claims, but in fact, there were more coal fatalities in West Virginia in 2017 than there were in all states in 2016. So of course, Trump’s celebrating by considering putting more miners’ lives at risk by repealing regulations inteded to protect miners from black lung disease.
 
Time and again, we’re seeing that the Trump administration is going to trust industry’s professed intentions--even when it’s proven that the intentions aren’t good enough to protect the industry’s own employees. We should be smart enough to know better than do the same with the Trump administration’s intentions, and always keep an eye on the actions.

If the sudden reappearance of the Mooch has you genuinely questioning what Trump really thinks about climate change, after 99 tweets and after Paris and the Clean Power Plan pullouts and his administration’s pro-polluter agenda...well, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn we intend to sell you.


the sudden reappearance of the Mooch


Mooch?.....or Molloch?

He/she/it/they have a lot of names. Belial is one of them. Basically, I believe it is composed of a coterie of evil spirits who want to off we-the-critters of Earth by manipulating us into offing ourselves. It is working.

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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #638 on: January 04, 2018, 09:23:25 pm »
17 Ways the Trump Administration Assaulted the Environment Over the Holidays  

New rules could affect everything from clean power to migratory birds, and they’re just a hint of what’s yet to come.

News  January 2, 2018 - by John R. Platt

While visions of sugarplums danced in some of our heads, the Trump administration had a different vision — of a country unbound by rules that protect people, places, wildlife and the climate. Over the past two weeks, the administration has proposed or finalized changes to how the government and the industries it regulates respond to climate change, migratory birds, clean energy, pesticides and toxic chemicals. Here’s a timeline:

Dec. 18: Announced a plan to possibly replace the Clean Power Plan, one of President Obama’s signature climate actions.

Dec. 18: Dropped climate change from the list of global threats affecting national security. (Oddly enough, Trump did this just five days after he signed off on next year’s military budget, which just so happens to call climate change a national security threat.)

Dec. 19: Hid language that would exempt the Federal Emergency Management Agency from following requirements set by the Endangered Species Act in an an $81 billion emergency supplemental funding bill.

Dec. 20: Indefinitely postponed the previously announced ban of three toxic chemicals, methylene chloride, N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) and trichloroethylene (TCE).

Dec. 20: Signed an executive order requiring the “streamlining” of the leasing and permitting processes for exploration, production and refining of vaguely defined “critical minerals” (a list of which will be announced later by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke).

Dec. 21: Halted two independent studies by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, one to improve the safety of offshore drilling platforms and another to look at the health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining in central Appalachia.

Dec. 21: Revoked the Obama-era Resource Management Planning Rule (Planning 2.0 Rule), which advocated new technologies to improve transparency related to mining on public lands. A Federal Register filing said this rule “shall be treated as if it had never taken effect.”

Dec. 22: Signed the massive, unpopular Republican “tax reform” bill. The bill, which strongly benefits the richest Americans, contains numerous anti-environmental elements, including opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Dec. 22: Ruled that “incidental” killings of 1,000 migratory bird species are, somehow, not illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The legal opinion is considered by many a giveaway to the energy industry — which applauded the change — and was written by a former Koch staffer turned Trump political appointee.

Dec. 22: Reversed a previous Obama-era Interior Department decision to withdraw permits for a proposed $2.8 billion copper mine in Minnesota. The mine lease is owned by the Chilean billionaire who also happens to own Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s rented D.C. mansion.

Dec. 27: Announced a plan to consider dramatically expanding the use of a neonicotinoid insecticide called thiamethoxam, which has been proven damaging or deadly to bees.

Dec. 27: Prioritized oil and gas leasing and development near and even inside greater sage-grouse habitat management areas, yet another Obama-era reversal.

Dec. 28: Declared the beaverpond marstonia snail extinct, the first such extinction under the Trump administration. (Obviously this is a failure of the administrations that preceded Trump, but the declaration still comes under his watch.)

Dec. 28: Announced a plan to repeal yet another Obama-era rule, this one governing fracking standards on federal and tribal lands. The rule, which never actually took effect, would have required companies to disclose chemicals used in their fracking fluids, set standards for well construction and required surface ponds holding fracking fluids to be covered.

Dec. 28: Trump sent yet another tweet mocking climate change during a period of record cold temperatures, a not-so-subtle hint about his legislative agenda and personal intractability on the subject.

Dec. 29: Proposed to remove or rewrite offshore-drilling safety regulations put in place by the Obama administration after the deadly Deepwater Horizon disaster, saying “it’s time for a paradigm shift” in regulations.

Now that the New Year has arrived, how many other changes will follow? In all likelihood, this is just the beginning. President Trump’s “Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions,” announced Dec. 14, contains hundreds of provisions affecting endangered species, energy development and just about every other major environmental issue. Those will all start to move forward in the months ahead.

John R. Platt   is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.


http://twitter.com/johnrplatt
http://johnrplatt.com

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http://therevelator.org/trump-administration-environment-holidays/

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #639 on: January 12, 2018, 06:29:27 pm »
U.S. Senators From 12 States Seek Offshore Drilling Exemptions Like Florida’s 

January 11, 2018 by Reuters

SNIPPET:

“Just like Florida, our states are unique with vibrant coastal economies,” wrote the 22 senators, who include Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Kamala Harris of California. “Providing all of our states with the same exemption from dangerous offshore oil and gas drilling would ensure that vital industries from tourism to recreation to fishing are not needlessly placed in harm’s way,” they wrote.

Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said Zinke intends to meet with every coastal governor affected by the agency’s proposed offshore drilling plan, a process that could take a year.

full article:
http://gcaptain.com/u-s-senators-from-12-states-seek-offshore-drilling-exemptions-like-floridas/

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #640 on: January 12, 2018, 08:22:29 pm »
EcoWatch

Exposed: Chevron's Secretive Drilling Site in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
By Jonathan Rosenblum  AlterNet

Jan. 11, 2018 10:09AM EST

Learn about the damage to Alaska's fauna and flora that Drilling causes, in addition to boosting catastrophic climate change by accelerating the melting of the permafrost:

https://www.ecowatch.com/arctic-national-wildlife-refuge-drilling-2524505765.html
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Re: Pollution
« Reply #641 on: January 16, 2018, 04:49:55 pm »
40% of India’s Thermal Power Plants Are in Water-Scarce Areas, Threatening Shutdowns

by Tianyi Luo - January 16, 2018
         
New WRI research finds that 40 percent of the country’s thermal power plants are located in areas facing high water stress, a problem since these plants use water for cooling. Scarce water is already hampering electricity generation in these regions—14 of India’s 20 largest thermal utilities experienced at least one shutdown due to water shortages between 2013-2016, costing the companies $1.4 billion.

It’s an issue that’s only poised to worsen unless the country takes action—70 percent of India’s thermal power plants will face high water stress by 2030 thanks to climate change and increased demands from other sectors.

Billions of Tons of Freshwater, Consumed

Thermal power—power that relies on fuels like coal, natural gas and nuclear energy—provides India with 83 percent of its total electricity. While these power plants fail to disclose how much water they’re using in their operations, WRI developed a new methodology using satellite images and other data to calculate their water use.

What's the Difference Between Water Withdrawal and Consumption?
Water withdrawal: The total amount of water that is diverted from a water source (e.g. surface water, groundwater) for use.

Water consumption: The portion of water that is not returned to the original source after being withdrawn.

Much of the water withdrawn by plants is returned to the lakes and ponds from which it came, but a lot is also consumed, and not returned to its original source. We found that almost 90 percent of India’s thermal power generation depends on freshwater for cooling, and the industry is only growing thirstier. Thanks to increased energy demand and the growing popularity of freshwater-recirculating plants, which consume the most water of any thermal plant, freshwater consumption from Indian thermal utilities grew by 43 percent from 2011-2016, from 1.5 to 2.1 billion cubic meters a year.

To put this in perspective, India’s total domestic water consumption in 2010 was about 7.5 billion cubic meters, according to the Aqueduct Global Water Risk Atlas. That means power plants drank about 20 percent as much water as India’s 1.3 billion citizens use for washing dishes, bathing, drinking and more.


40 Percent of Thirsty Plants Are in Water-Stressed Areas

More than a third of India’s freshwater-dependent plants are located in areas of high or extremely high water stress. These plants have, on average, a 21 percent lower utilization rate than their counterparts located in low or medium water-stress regions—lack of water simply prevents them from running at full capacity. Even when controlling the comparison analysis by unit age, fuel type and plant capacity, the observation was always the same: Plants in low- and medium-stress areas are more able to realize their power output potential than those in high water-stress areas.

Scarce Water Dries Up Revenue

There are practical and financial implications of power plants’ thirst. Between 2013 and 2016, India’s thermal plants failed to meet their daily electricity generation targets 61 percent of the time due to forced power plant outages. The reasons ranged from equipment failure to fuel shortages. Water shortages were the fifth-largest reason for all forced outages—the largest environmental reason.

In 2016 alone, water shortages cost India about 14 terawatt-hours of potential thermal power generation, canceling out more than 20 percent of the growth in the country’s total electricity generation from 2015.

The Way Forward

Quote
As India develops, water competition will continue to grow and climate change will likely disrupt predictable water supply. Thermal utilities will become even more vulnerable to water shortages, power outages and lost revenue.

But there’s a better path forward: Upgrading cooling systems, improving plant efficiency, and ultimately shifting toward water-free renewables like solar photovoltaics and wind can all curb water risks to power generation.

It’s worth noting that the government of India already has plans in place that give reason for hope, such as the notification on power plant water withdrawal limits and the “40/60” renewable energy development plan. If these ambitious policies are enacted and enforced, our estimates show that India will save 12.4 billion cubic meters of freshwater from being withdrawn by power plants. That’s a year’s worth of showers for 120 million people – more than live in the Philippines.

But change won’t happen overnight. Even with proactive policies in place, the key lies in their implementation. In the coming years, the Indian government, utility companies and international investors all have a role to play in making the power sector more resilient to water risks.

LEARN MORE:
Read the full paper, Parched Power: Water Demands, Risks and Opportunities for India's Power Plants

http://www.wri.org/blog/2018/01/40-indias-thermal-power-plants-are-water-scarce-areas-threatening-shutdowns

Agelbert NOTE: Thermal power plants are a ruinously polluting, as well as wasteful, way to generate electricity. The totally inexcusable massive waste of fresh water is just one more COST the fossil fuelers refuse to compute in their happy talk Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) baloney formulas. I'm glad that India is finally starting to realize that Renewable Energy sourced power (see below for water demand of Renewable versus Thermal) is the only sane way to generate electricity.

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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #642 on: January 24, 2018, 05:24:07 pm »
Ninth U.S. city suesbig oil 🦍firms over climate change

#ENERGY JANUARY 23, 2018 / 2:24 PM

Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A California city has filed a lawsuit against 29 oil companies seeking damages to pay for the costs of rising sea levels it blames on climate change, the ninth U.S. community to take the fossil fuel industry to court.

The San Francisco suburb of Richmond filed a civil case in a California court on Monday against the energy giant Chevron, its biggest employer, and other oil companies for planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions dating back to 1965.

Defendants 🦍 have known for nearly 50 years that greenhouse gas pollution from their fossil fuel products has a significant impact on the Earth’s climate and sea levels,” the complaint said.

Defendants 🦍 concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation, and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products at ever greater volumes.”

New York City announced earlier this month that it filed a multibillion dollar lawsuit against five top oil 🦖 companies, citing their “contributions to global warming,” following similar lawsuits filed last year by California cities.

A Chevron spokesman 🦍 questioned the benefits that could come from Richmond’s lawsuit, filed on Monday.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue that requires global engagement,” said Braden Reddall 🐉 in emailed comments.

Chevron employs nearly 3,500 people at its Richmond refinery, municipal data shows.

Richmond is “uniquely vulnerable” because it is surrounded by water on three sides, with 32 miles (52 km) of shoreline and is one of the poorest communities in the Bay area, the mayor’s office said in a statement.

“Taxpayers of this low-income city should not have to pay for the damages that these companies are causing,” Alex Knox, Richmond mayor’s chief of staff, said in emailed comments.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 🦀 move to pull out of the global Paris climate change accord and roll back environmental regulations means campaigners are increasingly resorting to litigation.

Legal scrutiny of oil companies is growing in the United States, said Michael Gerrard, an environmental expert at Columbia Law School.

Quote
"Each new lawsuit is incrementally more pressure on the oil companies,"
he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. (Reporting by Sebastien Malo @sebastienmalo, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/usa-climatechange-lawsuit/ninth-u-s-city-sues-big-oil-firms-over-climate-change-idUKL2N1PI0XA


The Fossil Fuelers DID THE Clean Energy  Inventions suppressing, Climate Trashing, human health depleting CRIME,   but since they have ALWAYS BEEN liars and conscience free crooks, they are trying to AVOID   DOING THE TIME or     PAYING THE FINE!     Don't let them get away with it! Pass it on!   

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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #643 on: January 27, 2018, 06:03:12 pm »
Agelbert NOTE: This pre-2012 video predicted how polluted the ground water would become in thousands of communities all over the USA from Fracking. Now, the fossil fuel 🦖 owned fox in the EPA hen house (Pruitt ) is doing everything he can to prevent the polluters from being prosecuted for all the damage now visiting US community water sources.   


Delightful Animated Short on Fracking
 


So Simple A Child Can Understand

"Things always find a way to happen ... A pen leaking. Your shoelace coming untied. Toxic chemicals in your drinking water. What?!"

This short animation is a great addition to the more lengthy and serious videos, explaining why the process of hydro-fracking is highly toxic and dangerous.

Retro hip, sharp and funny - it hits the nail on the head when it come to getting across the basic message.

"Oil and gas companies drill into the ground. They take good water, mix it up with not so good stuff and shoot it into the wells to force out the gas. By 2010 they'll be drilling 32,000 wells a year."

So simple a child can understand. Let's spread the message so enough grown-ups do too!

--Bibi Farber

This video was produced by Earthjustice.org

Earthjustice.orgwww.nextworldtv.com/videos/anti-fracking/delightful-animated-short-on-fracking-.html
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AGelbert

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Re: Pollution
« Reply #644 on: January 29, 2018, 10:33:51 pm »


Chris Hedges (Jan 26, 2018) - On The Fall Of America

9,556 views


Published on Jan 25, 2018
Quote

"The fossil fuel industry swallows up $5.3 trillion a year worldwide in hidden costs to keep burning fossil fuels, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
 
This money, the IMF noted, is in addition to the $492 billion in direct subsidies offered by governments around the world through write-offs and write-downs and land-use loopholes.

In a sane world these subsidies would be invested to free us from the deadly effects of carbon emissions caused by fossil fuels, but we do not live in a sane world. "  -- Chris Hedges

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