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Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (11/12/13)
These lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner" refer to not being able to drink salt water from the vast ocean surrounding a boat filled with parched sailors. But for a large percentage of the world's population it refers to fresh water people depend on for drinking, cooking, and other purposes vital to their existence. Even parts of our own country are afflicted with water shortages brought on by droughts and changing weather patterns. The shortage of potable water looms as increasing problem as the earth heats up
What struck my eye and piqued my interest this past week was news that the well known air pollution in modern China may not be their worst concern when in comes to pollution. It turns out that the water in many parts of China is highly toxic. The New York Times reported in an article by by Damien Ma and William Adams that :
"For visitors, China’s water problem becomes apparent upon entering the hotel room. The smell of a polluted river might emanate from the shower head. Need to quench your thirst? The drip from the tap is rarely potable. Can you trust the bottled water? Many Chinese don’t. What about brushing your teeth?
Measured by the government’s own standards, more than half of the country’s largest lakes and reservoirs were so contaminated in 2011 that they were unsuitable for human consumption. China’s more than 4,700 underground water-quality testing stations show that nearly three-fifths of all water supplies are “relatively bad” or worse. Roughly half of rural residents lack access to drinking water that meets international standards.
For all of the dazzling progress that the world has come to associate with a booming 21st century China, the quality of its water supply has failed to keep up with the country’s leap into modernity.
Policy makers and the Chinese public rightfully blame lax environmental controls and shoddy enforcement. But the more fundamental problem is that the country simply doesn’t have enough water. Breakneck and large-scale industrialization has overwhelmed scarce supplies — and drinking water has become one of the most visible casualties.
China contains only about 7 percent of the world’s fresh water while sustaining nearly 20 percent of its population. In stark contrast, Lake Michigan in the United States holds about 4 percent of the world’s fresh water (the Great Lakes combined contain about 20 percent).
Despite China’s limited resource base, the country’s vertiginous and dense urban jungles continue to grow. More water is needed with each skyscraper added to urban China’s skylines, each ton of coal burned to heat them, and each steamer of dumplings sold on their steps. And every time water is discharged from a new residential complex or power plant, it returns to the river basins a little dirtier.
China’s two major rivers — the Yellow River and the Yangtze River — illustrate the problem. Both waterways traverse the country’s major industrial belts as they flow from west to east. By the time the water reaches China’s coastal population centers, it requires extensive treatment before it is potable.
Unfortunately for China’s neighbors, water scarcity has ramifications beyond Chinese borders. Tensions over how to share water from the Mekong River, one of the world’s longest, have rattled relations with the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors."
Many other nations around the globe face the problem of polluted water : look at some of these statistics. From the National Geographic: “According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world's population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change.The challenge we face now is how to effectively conserve, manage, and distribute the water we have. ”
In addition water.org reports that “more than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world.
Of the 60 million people added to the world's towns and cities every year, most move to informal settlements (i.e. slums) with no sanitation facilities.
780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people.
"The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns."
An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day
Over 2.5X more people lack water than live in the United States”
With the advance of global warming China's and other countries' problems with water pollution are likely to increase in the near future and beyond. I strongly suggest that those in our country who downplay environmental concerns and want to restrict the powers ( or even eliminate) the Environmental Protection Agency take a look at China and see where their policies might lead. Their polices can lead only to disaster for our country and the world and must be reversed. Contact your representatives in government to let them know that the future of our water supply lies in the balance.
[Editors note: the views and opinions expressed by all Contributors and Guests ,do not represent the Green Local 175 or WPNR. Nor do they necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those associated with the Green Local 175 or WPNR. We do however, encourage your comments and opinions regarding the views and statements made by Contributors and Guests on our program and web site. They should be sent to email@example.com Senders acknowledge and accept that anything sent to the Green Local 175 becomes the property of same and that the material can be used by us at any time and for any purpose what so ever , without compensation of any kind to the sender].
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Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (11/5/13)
"Only you can prevent forest fires" was a slogan used by the United States Forest Service when I was a boy. It's spokesman was of course Smokey Bear, who emphasized that many forest fires were started by careless human beings tromping through, camping in, or operating motor vehicles in the woods
According to Wikipedia "Smokey Bear (often called Smokey the Bear or Smokey) is a mascot of the United States Forest Service created to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. An advertising campaign featuring Smokey was created in 1944 with the slogan, "Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires". Smokey Bear's later slogan, "Remember... Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires", was created in 1947 by the Ad Council. In April 2001, the message was updated to "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires". According to the Ad Council, Smokey Bear and his message are recognized by 95% of adults and 77% of children in the U.S. Though the U.S. Forest Service fought wildfires long before World War II, the war brought a new importance and urgency to the effort. The forest service began using colorful posters to educate Americans about the dangers of forest fires. Since most able-bodied men were already serving in the armed forces, none could be spared to fight forest fires on the West Coast. The hope was that local communities, educated about the danger of forest fires, could prevent them from starting in the first place."
In recent years the idea that we humans can help prevent wildfires has taken on knew meaning. It is now widely believed that global warming caused by the human use of fossil fuels contributes strongly to the increase in wildfires around the globe. Many climate experts have been convinced that the fires in Colorado earlier this years and in Australia in recent decades can be traced to temperature increases.
According to in The Verge magazine "The head of a United Nations committee on climate change said this week that global warming is "absolutely" linked to a recent spate of wildfires and heat waves, while calling upon international leaders to address the matter with more urgency. Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), made the comments in a recent interview with CNN, as massive brush fires continue to rage across Australia.
"Yes there is, absolutely," Figueres said when asked whether there is a link between climate change and wildfires. "The World Meteorological Organization has not established a direct link between this wildfire and climate change – yet. But what is absolutely clear is the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that there these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency."
""We are paying the price with wildfires, we are paying the price with droughts.""
Figueres also criticized newly elected Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who once described global warming as "total crap" and is looking to repeal the country's carbon tax, after having disbanded its climate change committee in September. Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Figueres said Australia is already paying a price for carbon emissions, taxes notwithstanding.
"We are really already paying the price of carbon," Figueres said. "We are paying the price with wildfires, we are paying the price with droughts."
Figueres delivered a more impassioned plea for action during an interview with BBC News Tuesday, telling the agency that diplomatic negotiations over a global climate change treaty are not advancing fast enough. The UNFCCC is charged with creating a treaty by 2015 and implementing it by 2020, as determined during a 2011 conference in Durban, South Africa.
"I am always frustrated by the pace of the negotiations, I was born impatient," she said. "We are moving way, way too slowly, but we are moving in the right direction and that's what gives me courage and hope."
"I'm committed to climate change because of future generations, it is not about us, right? We're out of here," Figueres told BBC News. "I just feel that it is so completely unfair and immoral what we are doing to future generations, we are condemning them before they are even born."
"We have a choice about it, that's the point, we have a choice," she continued. "If it were inevitable then so be it, but we have a choice to change the future we are going to give our children."
As far as the recent Colorado fires are concerned,. an article called "Blame Climate Change Instead of Beetles” on NBC News by Science Editor Alan Boyle, said ," Tiny, winged bark beetles have been the ecological bad guys of the West for more than a decade, and rightfully so. They've killed off millions of acres' worth of trees in Colorado. Now all those dead trees are feeding the flames across tens of thousands of acres in the southern part of the state.
The West Fork Complex fire raged through southwest Colorado burned more than 75,000 acres, including wide stretches of tinder-dry trees hit by beetle damage. With 600 people evacuated from homes, and nearly 900 firefighters on the scene, it is considered to be the worst fire to hit the Rio Grande National Forest.
Are the beetles to blame for wider wildfires? Not long ago, experts would have said yes. But more recent research suggests that the connection between Colorado's beetle infestation and the vulnerability to wildfires is more complex than that. "The culprit here is the unusual weather conditions, which might become the new norm with climate change," said Jesse Logan, a retired U.S. Forest Service researcher who has spent decades studying the mountain pine beetle's effect on Western forests.
Logan has seen this before — in 1988, when wildfires swept over more than a million acres in and around Yellowstone National Park. "Independent of what the beetle had done in certain areas of Yellowstone, the whole thing went up in flames," he told NBC News. "You can point your finger in various directions. It might be the mountain pine beetles, or it might be lack of response to a lightning strike. But really what was driving that was unusually dry weather conditions, and that's what's happening in Colorado."
Both the wildfires and the beetle outbreak can be considered effects of climate change And like many of climate change's effects, how they interact is more complicated than it seems.
I think it is time to revive Smokey's old slogan and start thinking about all the drastic effects global warming can have on our planet. Act now before it is too late.” Remember that Only You Can Prevent Wildfires by Acting Against Climate Change.
Smokey the Bear Song 1952
[Editors note: the views and opinions expressed by all Contributors and Guests ,do not represent the Green Local 175 or WPNR. Nor do they necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those associated with the Green Local 175 or WPNR. We do however, encourage your comments and opinions regarding the views and statements made by Contributors and Guests on our program and web site. They should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org Senders acknowledge and accept that anything sent to the Green Local 175 becomes the property of same and the material can be used by us at any time and for any purpose what so ever , without compensation of any kind to the sender].
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (10/29/13)
During one of the Spring 2013 Green Local 175 LIVE shows I mentioned that our local Congressman Richard Hanna expressed the opinion that wind turbines are “pathetic” because they can not produce electric power in an efficient manner. We called him to task and offered him the chance to appear on this program, but he did not respond. It seems that Mr. Hanna is only interesting in appearing on local media outlets where his views are not challenged. At the time I pointed out that wind turbines were being used extensively in many countries around the word and were producing ever increasing amounts of energy in several US states including Texas,
Recently there have been several new articles pointing toward the wisdom of the increased use of wind turbines as an alternative to fossil fuels. Studies have shown that wind turbines can be used very efficiently and offshore wind turbine systems are being built in many nations of Europe, Japan, and soon off the coast of the United States.
Scientific American reported that “one of the most oft-repeated arguments of the anti-wind lobby is that turbines produce electricity only intermittently, when there is enough wind to turn them.
This, the wind critics argue, means that so much gas has to be burnt to provide a reliable back-up supply of electricity that wind power's overall benefit to the environment is erased.
But extensive research in Spain has shown that this claim can now definitively be declared a myth. Wind, the researchers found, is a very efficient way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The anti-wind campaigners claim that fossil fuel plants have to be kept running at a slow speed, continuously producing CO2, just in case the wind fails. At slow speeds these plants are less efficient and so produce so much CO2, wind opponents say, that they wipe out any gains from having wind power.
Not true, according to a report published in the journal Energy by researchers at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. There are some small losses, the researchers say, but even if wind produced as much as 50 percent of Spain's electricity the CO2 savings would still be 80 percent of the emissions that would have been produced by the displaced thermal power stations.
Spain is second behind Germany in wind energy production in Europe, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. The country regularly obtains 25 percent of its electricity from wind, reports Renewables International, a trade magazine. The study looked at 87 of the country's coal and gas plants and how they were run alongside Spain's wind industry. Adjustments made by the fossil fuel plants as they compensated for variable wind strengths had little impact on the plants' C02 emissions. This is the opposite of reports reproduced repeatedly by right-wing think tanks and campaigners opposed to renewable forms of energy.
In another important development, the New York Times reported that Japan has decided to invest heavily in floating offshore wind turbines. “The project is a bid to seize the initiative in an industry expected to double over the next five years to a global capacity of 536 gigawatts, according to the industry trade group Global Wind Energy Council. The Japanese have lagged at wind turbine manufacturing, which is dominated by European and Chinese makers.
The Japanese government is paying the 22 billion yen, or $226 million, cost of building the first three wind turbines off Fukushima, part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to make renewable energy a pillar of his economic growth program. After that, a consortium of 11 companies, including Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Shimizu and Marubeni, plan to commercialize the project.”
“It’s Japan’s biggest hope,” said Hideo Imamura, a spokesman for Shimizu, during a recent trip to the turbine ahead of its test run. “It’s an all-Japan effort, almost 100 percent Japan-made.”
What sets the project apart from other offshore wind farms around the world, consortium officials say, is that its turbines, and even the substation and electrical transformer equipment, float on giant platforms anchored to the seabed. That technology greatly expands potential locations for offshore wind farms, which have been fixed into the seabed, limiting their location to shallow waters.
For this reason, there have been few great sites for offshore wind farming in Japan, which lies on a continental shelf that quickly gives way to depths that make it unfeasible to build structures into the seabed. But floating wind farms could change the picture in a big way.
There is also good news about the United States finally building offshore windmills after trailing the world for decades. It's been 12 years since the offshore U.S. wind farm was proposed for the Massachusetts Nantucket Sound, but so far, not a single turbine has been put up. The struggles to get the Cape Wind project built stand in stark contrast to the torrid growth of the U.S.’s onshore wind industry — and the success of offshore wind in Europe.
But Politico has recently reported that “advocates are pointing to recent developments that they say show the offshore wind industry is on the cusp of turning into a full-force gale. Cape Wind will consist of 130 turbines across 24 square miles in the Sound and provide up to 468 megawatts of power, about the same as a modest-sized natural gas power plant.
For years, locals have fought the project, contending it would be an eyesore from the shores of wealthy enclaves on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. Such opposition made strange bedfellows of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and oil billionaire Bill Koch, who has funneled millions into a local alliance opposing Cape Wind.
Cape Wind also has had to navigate its way through a quagmire of local, state and federal permitting issues — not to mention lawsuits alleging the 440-foot turbines will be too close to shipping lanes, threaten birds and pose a danger to aircraft.
All these delays have come even as onshore wind in the U.S. has expanded rapidly. Since 2005, when Cape Wind first sought a lease, onshore wind growth has been dramatic. .This tremendous growth helped America’s total wind power capacity surpass 60 GW at the end of 2012 – representing enough capacity to power more than 15 million homes each year, or as many homes as in California and Washington state combined. The country’s cumulative installed wind energy capacity has increased more than 22-fold since 2000. Now it appears that Cape Wind may soon be a reality. The developers are in the final stages of securing financing and expect to begin construction by the end of 2013 — a benchmark they must meet to qualify for a crucial tax credit. The project is expected to be completed by 2016.
Meanwhile, several other sites along the Atlantic Coast look ripe for wind projects, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has identified areas off the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
At the end of June 2013 total European combined offshore wind energy capacity was 6,040MW. According to BTM Consult, more than 16 GW of additional capacity will be installed before the end of 2014 and the United Kingdom and Germany will become the two leading markets. Offshore wind power capacity is expected to reach a total of 75 GW worldwide by 2020, with significant contributions from China and the United States Projections for 2020 calculate a wind farm capacity of 150 GW in European waters which would provide 13–17% of the European Union's demand of electricity.[
The generation of elctricity using wind turbines is a viable and growing industry that is far from pathetic.
I hope that our congress including Rep Hanna realize this fact and support its development in the future.
[Editors note: the views and opinions expressed by all Contributors and Guests ,do not represent the Green Local 175 or WPNR. Nor do they necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those associated with the Green Local 175 or WPNR. We do however, encourage your comments and opinions regarding the views and statements made by Contributors and Guests on our program and web site. They should be sent to email@example.com Senders acknowledge and accept that anything sent to the Green Local 175 becomes the property of same and the material can be used by us at any time and for any purpose what so ever , without compensation of any kind to the sender].
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (10/22/13)
Back in May I talked about the problems of algae in lakes in the northeast including Oneida lake I said that according to Clearwaters magazine: “Biological pollution and invasive species will continue to affect Oneida Lake's waters. Prolific zebra mussel populations will undoubtedly facilitate invasions of others. A fish called the round goby, for example, may soon flourish and affect the Oneida Lake food web. Round gobies were transported to North America in the ballast water tanks of ocean-going freighters from the Black and Caspian Seas and are currently established in near-by Lake Ontario. Small gobies seek cover in aquatic plant weed beds, and adults feed on zebra mussels.
At the root of this biological pollution is the transport and release by large ships of organisms from around the globe. Until we solve this environmental problem, Oneida Lake and nearby waters will continue to be vulnerable to infestations by unwanted invaders.”
I concluded that “Based on my experience and reading about the lakes of New York I would suggest that eternal vigilance and rapid response to pollutants are absolutely necessary to maintain the health of our state waters.”
Well in August of this year, Oneida Lake's algae problem appeared to get worse just as feared.. It was reported by local news outlets on August 9 that blue-green algae blooms, first identified about ten days before on the North Shore area of Oneida Lake in Oswego County, had now been seen in the North Bay area of the lake in Oneida County, health department officials said. A warning was issued by Oneida County after the potentially toxic blue-green algae was found in Oneida Lake The Oneida County Health Department told local media outlets the blooms are near the north shore in Oswego County, but winds and tides can move them around. People should avoid swimming or wading near the algae or surface scum, and pets should be kept away from drinking the water.
"It's impossible to tell whether the previously identified algae blooms have migrated or these are newly formed, but we want the public to be aware that some lake waters in Oneida County are being affected," Dr. Daniel W. Gilmore, Director of Environmental Health said. He added, "No public beaches, particularly Sylvan Beach, are impacted at this time but the health department will continue to monitor the situation."
Gilmore said the recent reports of blue-green algae blooms, which take on the appearance of pea soup or paint in the water, involve waters off of privately owned properties about 2-3 miles from the eastern shore of Oneida Lake. The algae may produce toxins which can cause health issues for humans and pets that ingest the contaminated water or are exposed to high concentrations of toxins produced by the blooms. Exposure in humans could cause skin, throat and eye irritations, inflammation of the respiratory tract, nausea and vomiting. Ingestion of these toxins can be fatal to pets.
As far as the dangers of algae around the world, according to the U S Center for Disease Control “In general algae are vitally important to marine and fresh-water ecosystems, and most species of algae are not harmful. Algal blooms occur in natural waters used for drinking and/or recreation when certain types of microscopic algae grow quickly in water, often in response to changes in levels of chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer, in the water. Algal blooms can deplete the oxygen and block the sunlight that other organisms need to live, and some can produce toxins that are harmful to the health of the environment, plants, animals, and people. Harmful algal blooms (HABS) have threatened beaches, drinking water sources, and even the boating venue for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and red tides are examples of algae that can bloom and produce toxins that may be harmful to human and animal health. HABs can occur in marine, estuarine, and fresh waters, and HABs appear to be increasing along the coastlines and in the surface waters of the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). HSB epidemiologists have led a number of studies to investigate the public health impacts of blue-green algae blooms and Florida red tide. The studies have demonstrated that there is the potential for exposure to potent HAB-related toxins during recreational and occupational activities on water bodies with ongoing blooms.
Although scientists do not yet understand fully how HABs affect human health, authorities in the United States and abroad are monitoring HABs and developing guidelines for HAB-related public health action. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added certain algae associated with HABs to its Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List. This list identifies organisms and toxins that EPA believes are priorities for investigation.
Many states regularly experience harmful algal blooms (HABs), and state public health departments are often asked to provide guidance about HAB-associated human and animal illnesses. HAB subject matter experts help states to develop their public health responses to HAB events, including providing outreach and education materials and assessing exposure and the potential for health effects.
Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, grow in any type of water and are photosynthetic (use sunlight to create food and support life). Cyanobacteria live in terrestrial, fresh, brackish, or marine water. They usually are too small to be seen, but sometimes can form visible colonies, called an algal bloom. Cyanobacteria have been found among the oldest fossils on earth and are one of the largest groups of bacteria. Cyanobacteria have been linked to human and animal illnesses around the world, including North and South America, Africa, Australia, Europe, Scandinavia, and China.
Cyanobacterial blooms and how they form
Cyanobacterial blooms occur when organisms that are normally present grow exuberantly. Within a few days, a bloom of cyanobacteria can cause clear water to become cloudy. The blooms usually float to the surface and can be many inches thick, especially near the shoreline. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients such as fertilizer runoff or septic tank overflows. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.
They can occur in marine, estuarine, and fresh waters, but the blooms of greatest concern are the ones that occur in fresh water, such as drinking water reservoirs or recreational waters.”
Concerning our local area, the Oneida County health department advises persons who suspect blue-green algae is in the water:
Do not drink the water
Do not swim or wade near algae blooms or surface scum
Keep children and pets away from algae blooms or scum
Rinse with clean water if exposed to blooms
Consult a medical professional if you experience symptoms of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; skin, eye or throat irritation; difficulty breathing after contact with blue-green algae.
I strongly recommend that we maintain surveillance and prevention programs to keep our lakes free of potentially dangerous algae.
[Editors note: the views and opinions expressed by all Contributors and Guests ,do not represent the Green Local 175 or WPNR. Nor do they necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those associated with the Green Local 175 or WPNR. We do however, encourage your comments and opinions regarding the views and statements made by Contributors and Guests on our program and web site. They should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org Senders acknowledge and accept that anything sent to the Green Local 175 becomes the property of same and the material can be used by us at any time and for any purpose what so ever , without compensation of any kind to the sender].
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (10/8/13)
For quite awhile I have felt that ocean acidification brought on by global warming maybe the worst manifestation of climate change we have to deal with. It is conceivable that the deadly effects of acidification could decimate our planet of life before global warming it self makes the planet uninhabitable. It is all the more reason to act quickly and decisively to reduce our carbon emissions.
Time magazine published an article on August 26 stating that not only is acidification increasing but that it enhancing the development of global warming. the article said : “”As we emit more carbon dioxide, the oceans will become more acidic. That will be bad for sea life—but it may also speed the rate of global warming. :It is known that oceans are absorbing a large portion of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere—in fact, oceans are the largest single carbon sink in the world, dwarfing the absorbing abilities of the Amazon rainforest. But the more CO2 the oceans absorb, the more acidic they become on a relative scale, because some of the carbon reacts within the water to form carbonic acid. This is a slow-moving process—it’s not as if the oceans are suddenly going to become made of hydrochloric acid. But as two new studies published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change shows, acidification will make the oceans much less hospitable to many forms of marine life—and acidification may actually to serve to amplify overall warming.
The first study, by the German researchers Astrid Wittmann and Hans-O. Portner, is a meta-analysis looking at the specific effects rising acid levels are likely to have on specific categories of ocean life: corals, echinoderms, molluscs, crustaceans and fishes. Every category is projected to respond poorly to acidification, which isn’t that surprising—pH, which describes the relative acidity of a material, is about as basic a function of the underlying chemistry of life as you can get. (Lower pH indicates more acidity.) Rapid changes—and the ocean is acidifying rapidly, at least on a geological time scale—will be difficult for many species to adapt to.
Corals are likely to have the toughest time. The invertebrate species secretes calcium carbonate to make the rocky coastal reefs that form the basis of the most productive—and beautiful—ecosystems in the oceans. More acidic oceans will interfere with the ability of corals to form those reefs. Some coral have already shown the ability to adapt to lower pH levels, but combined with direct ocean warming—which can lead to coral bleaching, killing off whole reefs—many scientists believe that corals could become virtually extinct by the end of the century if we don’t reduce carbon emissions.
In testimony to Congress , Scott Doney of Wood's Hole Oceanagraphic Institute echoed the findings about acidification. He said “The ocean takes up roughly one quarter of human emissions to the atmosphere of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning and deforestation. Additional carbon dioxide uptake causes direct changes in seawater acid-base and inorganic carbon chemistry in a process termed ocean acidification. Acidification is independent of warming of the atmosphere but the two are linked through the underlying cause of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. Growing evidence suggests that ocean acidification will strongly impact many types of marine organisms, from microscopic plankton to shellfish and corals.
Acidification and climate change will put further pressure on living marine resources, such as fisheries and coral reefs that we depend upon for food, tourism and other economic and aesthetic benefits. Scientific observations show that ocean acidification is already occurring around the globe and is amplified in some coastal regions by changing ocean circulation, pollution, and land management practices. Recent near collapses of the oyster fishery in the Pacific Northwest, directly attributed to changing seawater chemistry, had substantial negative impacts on local jobs and economies.
We have an opportunity now to limit the negative impact of ocean acidification in the future. Key elements include curbing human carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, improved control of local pollution sources, reducing coastal habitat destruction, and better preparing coastal human communities to withstand the amount of ocean acidification and climate change that is unavoidable. At the State and local level, adaptation and mitigation strategies are being developed for ocean acidification. “
Other reports indicate that high levels of pollution may be turning the planet's oceans acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the past 300 million years, with unknown consequences for future sea life, researchers said recently. An international team of researchers from the United States, Britain, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands examined hundreds of paleoceanographic studies, including fossils wedged in seafloor sediment from millions of years ago. They found only one time in history that came close to what scientists are seeing today in terms of ocean life die-off -- a mysterious period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum about 56 million years ago.
My conclusion based on these and other studies is that we still have time to head off the worst effects of ocean acidity as well as global arming itself- but and that 's a big but, we have to act soon with a WWII size effort! That does not seem to be on the horizon given the makeup of the current Congress and the lack of alarm among the general population.
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (10/1/13)
I had made a list of possible commentaries for this week but my choice was selected for me by the publication of the latest (fifth) report on the status of Climate
Change just released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is very important that this report get the widest possible dissemination because it describes the seriousness of the problem but stresses that the future of global warming is still in our hands. In other words, the report says it is not too late to save our planet from the worst effects of the growth of CO2. The projected increase in temperature depends strongly on the amount of carbon dumped into the atmosphere
The IPCC report said that to keep global warming below 3.6 degrees F, global carbon emissions would have to remain below 1,000 billion tons. This carbon "budget" accounts for the 500 billion tons that were released by 2011, so the lowest emissions scenarios have carbon output peak around 2020 and decline soon after.
"We have a choice," said Gerald Meehl, a report author and senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "When you look at these different scenarios, for example, when you see a nearly ice-free Arctic in summer by mid-century, we can choose a different future. We can choose what future we have by the choices we make right now."
Andrew Revkin, writing in the NY times reacted this way
“To my eye, perhaps the most important line in the summary of the new report on global warming science from the IPCC is this:
“”By the mid-21st century the magnitudes of the projected changes are substantially affected by the choice of emissions scenario.””
For decades to come, we’re locked into generally rising temperatures, with shorter-term temperature shifts* — up or down — shaped most by natural variability in the system (as with the recent plateau in temperatures). But humanity, by acting in ways that blunt emissions of greenhouse gases, can significantly affect the rate of warming and other related conditions from mid century onward. That’s a time scale that people can reasonably understand. Energy and environmental policies being considered now can matter not just to great grandchildren, but to many global citizens alive today.
There is more robustness in several important conclusions this time. Most notably, the panel now says it is “extremely likely” (greater than 95 percent confidence) that most warming between 1951 and 2010 was human-caused. “
“Seas will very likely (more than a 90-percent chance in panel parlance) rise at a faster rate in coming decades than they have from 1971 until this decade, the authors conclude. Similarly, the report finds, “It is very likely that heat waves will occur with a higher frequency and duration.”
“The report touches on the “temperature hiatus” of the last 15 years, but notes that the basic trend in warming is unrelenting when looked at decade by decade. “
In another response Climate Report wrote that
“The new IPCC report gives no reason for complacency – even if politically motivated “climate skeptics” have tried to give this impression ahead of its release with frantic PR activities. Many wrong things have been written which now collapse in the light of the actual report.
The opposite is true. Many developments are now considered to be more urgent than in the fourth IPCC report, released in 2007. That the IPCC often needs to correct itself “upward” is an illustration of the fact that it tends to produce very cautious and conservative statements, due to its consensus structure – the IPCC statements form a kind of lowest common denominator on which many researchers can agree. The New York Times has given some examples for the IPCC “bending over backward to be scientifically conservative”. Despite or perhaps even because of this conservatism, IPCC reports are extremely valuable – as long as one is aware of it. An article I highly recommend for further reading is called 15 Things You Should Know About The New IPCC Report On Climate Science
I will not mention all 15 tonight but will point out some of the more important ones- including one made by Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University who has been a guest on Green Local 175 LIVE.
The first five points are these.
1. It’s happening and we’re doing it: This report concludes that the earth is unequivocally changing, and the evidence is clear that humans have a large role in how it has changed over the last 60 years.
2. 95-100 percent certain: Each of the IPCC’s last five big reports found that climate science has gotten increasingly certain that the planet is warming, and humans are the main cause. Scientists have a 95-100 percent certainty (“extremely likely”) that humans are causing temperatures to rise. Directly from the report: “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.” The report in 2001 was 66 percent certain, and the 2007 report was 90 percent certain. Scientific conclusions that cigarettes are deadly and that the universe is about 13.8 billion years old have similar levels of certainty.
3. Warmest 30 years: The globe has already warmed 0.85°C from 1880 to 2012. 0.6°C of that warming happened since 1950, and “1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years.”
4. Pause? What pause?: The report itself does not mention the word “pause,” but does describe the long term and short term increase in temperature. Since 1880, the nine warmest years have happened since 1998. 1998 was a very warm year partially because a warm ocean caused by El Nino did not take up as much heat as normal, which made the atmosphere warmer. Without 1998′s anomaly, there is no “slowdown,” “plateau,” “pause,” or “speed bump.”
5. Acidifying oceans: The lower the pH, the more acidic something is. The pH levels of the ocean surface dropped by 0.1 since the start of the industrial era, “corresponding to a 26% increase in hydrogen ion concentration.” There’s been that big of an increase with a change of 0.1 because the scale is logarithmic.
Another point was that “To put the report’s findings in perspective, Stanford scientists Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field found that the current pace of warming is happening 10 times faster than any time over the last 65 million years.”
I conclude by restating that the report contains bad news and good news. The bad news is that the climate is changing and the temperature is bound to rise with damaging effects. The good news is that we can still do something about it to preclude the worst effects. Tell your representatives, relatives
neighbors. coworkers, etc to become aware of climate change and support action to reduce its effects.
by Contributor Don Stebbins (9/24/13)
I have talked in the past about the disappearance of honey bees and what that portends for human life since we depend on the fertilization of plants by bees to maintain our food supply. The problem of bee disappearance has not gone away and I will return to it in future editorials. I recently learned that bees are hardly the only species important to mankind that is facing diminution in numbers if not extinction. Bats and frogs are among the first to come to be identified as having bad problems. And to my surprise many insects other than bees may be having a tough time. I was awakened to the problem bats are having when my wife and I woke up to find a bat in our bedroom a couple of weeks ago. I confined the bat to a hallway and called a bat control expert, who advised us that it would be necessary to have the bat euthanized and tested for rabies since he had been in our room overnight. Fortunately, It did not have rabies. I learned from talking to the “bat man” that bats are close to being an endangered species. I found later that gray bats are already on the endangered species list. Bats serve the important function of consuming a huge number of insects and thus protecting our food supply and other valuable plants from being consumed by nasty bugs.
Wikipedia reports that “White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a poorly understood disease associated with the deaths of at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million North American bats. The condition, named for a distinctive fungal growth around the muzzles and on the wings of hibernating bats, was first identified in a cave in Schoharie County, New York in February 2006. It has rapidly spread,and as of 2013, the condition had been found in over 115 caves and mines ranging mostly throughout the Northeastern U.S. and as far south as Alabama and west to Missouri and into four Canadian provinces.
According to laboratory research in late 2011, the syndrome appears to be caused by a fungus called Geomyces destructans, however, a 2013 phylogenic evaluation has revealed this organism should be reclassified under the family Pseudeurotiaceae, changing its name to Pseudogymnoascus destructans. No obvious treatment or means of preventing transmission is known. The mortality rate of some species has been observed at 95%” “It’s probably the fastest decline of wild mammals in recorded history,” post-doctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee who has been on the forefront of WNS research, Justin Boyles told Earth Island Journal. “Everything’s gone in some of the northeastern caves.”
Although bats conjure up images of vampires and the occult, these shy creatures actually provide us with an invaluable service – pesticide-and-herbicide-free, no-cost pest control. For example, little brown bats, once one of the most populous of bat species found in the United States and now expected to go extinct from the killer fungus “One little brown bat can capture 1,200 insects in an hour; a nursing female eats more than her own body weight nightly – up to 4,500 insects,” according to the Izaak Walton League f America. One study put the economic value of bats’ pest control defending agriculture at up to $53 billion a year. But bats are not the only insect eater we need that is in danger of becoming a casualty of the sixth mass extinction crisis.
Newser.com reports that “More than a third of all species of amphibians, many of which are toads and frogs, have already joined the dinosaurs, and many more are quietly headed down the same path. The interesting – and tragic – thing about frogs being unable to cope with the world we have created (or destroyed, depending on whether you’re a glass-half-full or half-empty type of person), is that frogs watched the dinosaurs come and go. They were the first of our ancestors to brave the unknown world of life outside of the oceans. They survived the age of reptiles, ice ages and asteroids, but it looks like the age of man is what will finally do these ancient creatures in. ' One important element to this that we need to keep in mind is that as much as we’ve separated ourselves from nature, we are still completely dependent on it and at its mercy. If frogs, who have been around for so long, can’t survive in the toxic environment that is a byproduct of our success, then what makes us think we can? Scientists consider frogs and other amphibians bell weathers for the environment because they breathe through their skins, meaning if frogs are starting to die off, we need to pay attention because we could be next.
Tyrone Hayes at the University of California at Berkeley reported in a PBS Nature documentary that agricultural chemicals, including fertilizers and pesticides, are affecting the health of frogs in super creepy ways. Many researchers think that pesticides play an important role in reducing the number of many species benefiting mankind- It is really ironic when pesticides kill species instrumental in killing insects. But are insects prospering in the face of the wide scale deaths of predators? It doesn't seem so to me as I see fewer and fewer insects and read of the death of bees and other insects.
A little research confirmed my suspicions: the National Geographic reported in 2005 that the 'Mass Extinction of Insects May Be Occurring Undetected The term "endangered species" typically conjures up images of charismatic animals—tigers, pandas, orangutans, whales, condors. But a new study says that the vast majority of species on the verge of extinction is in fact humble insects. The study estimates that up to 44,000 bugs of all varieties could have been wiped off the face of the Earth during the last 600 years. And hundreds of thousands more insect species could be lost over the next 50 years.
So it seems that extinctions and diminutions of various species is wide spread and many of these phenomena can be traced to human behavior. The message I get from this is that we had better be more careful or the next species to face these troubles will be you know who!!
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (9/17/13)
Recent news on the environmental front has been anything but good. It seems that every other day we read news indicating that the advance of global warming and climate change is posing yet another threat to our planet's oceans, atmosphere, wild life, food supplies etc. Action is required on many fronts if we are to head off disaster. One important decision facing us this year is President Obama's choice regarding the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would bring large amounts crude oil from the Canadian Tar Sands to our midlands during the coming decade. Later this week on September 21st the Group 350.org is conducting a nationwide effort to help defeat the pipeline. Rallies will be held from coast to coast and involve many thousands of people. The nearest rally to the Utica area will be held almost 100 miles away at Saratoga Springs, which says something about environmental activism in Central NY.. Those on the internet should check the 350.org and the Sierra Club web sites for information about a rally near you.
Backers of the project describe it this way “The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed 1,179-mile (1,897 km), 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline beginning in Hardisty, Alberta, and extending south to Steele City, Neb. This pipeline is a critical infrastructure project for the energy security of the United States and for strengthening the American economy. Along with transporting crude oil from Canada, the Keystone XL Pipeline will also support the significant growth of crude oil production in the United States by allowing American oil producers more access to the large refining markets found in the American Midwest and along the U.S. Gulf Coast.” -
Proponents claim that the pipelines are the safest and most efficient method of moving fossil fuels, and TransCanada has one of the best safety records in the industry. There are more than 2.6 million miles of oil and natural gas pipelines in the United States that deliver 99.9998 per cent of their products safely and reliably every day. Keystone XL Pipeline will be the newest and most technologically-advanced pipeline built in the United States to date. TransCanada has voluntarily agreed to incorporate 57 special safety conditions into the design and construction of Keystone XL, including a higher number of remote-controlled shutoff valves, increased pipeline inspections, burying the pipe deeper in the ground and using thicker steel pipe at river crossings.
TransCanada says it is ” committed to minimizing its environmental impact along the proposed route for Keystone XL. Recognizing the importance of native prairie as well as soil and topsoil conservation, the project team will execute established techniques designed for the highest quality reclamation process. With more than 60 years of experience building and operating pipelines, TransCanada has successfully reclaimed thousands of acres of native range land on pipeline rights of way throughout North America. In all cases, great care and planning will be taken to minimize and avoid impacts to the environment”
Opponents describe it in quite different terms and offer some harsh critiques. According to 350.org, “It's time to take a stand against the Keystone XL pipeline, a dangerous and destructive project that would pump over one million barrels of dirty "tar sands" oil from Canada to the USA every day. The oil in the Keystone pipeline could poison drinking water, threaten the communities it runs through, and wreck the climate. In a draft report the State Department found that the project will not increase US energy security. In fact, they acknowledge the purpose of the pipeline is to export Canadian crude from the US after it is refined. This is not a pipeline for US economic or energy security, but a project to spur tar sands expansion, raise oil prices and help the oil industry. An estimated 60% of crude brought to the Gulf through Keystone KL would be exported.
According to the draft report the State Department acknowledges the pipeline will not lower gas prices for Americans by a single cent. When TransCanada pitched the Keystone XL pipeline to Canadian regulators at the National Energy Board in 2009, it said that the pipeline would raise crude oil prices in 15 Midwestern states. In fact, the tar sands industry has publicly complained that the delay in permitting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is forcing it to “subsidize U.S. energy consumers” by $36 billion a year. The report also stated that Keystone XL carries dirty fuel. The State Department confirmed that tar sands fuel is up to 19% more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional fuel. The State Department also indicated that tar sands from Keystone XL would still be more greenhouse gas intensive than other heavy oils currently imported to the US Gulf Coast.”
350.0rg ends their report by saying “But there's good news: the Keystone XL pipeline cannot be built without a "presidential permit" from the Obama Administration. Let's turn up the pressure to make sure President Obama rejects the pipeline. The clock is ticking: the State Department has said it will make a final decision on whether or not to issue a presidential permit deeming the pipeline in our "national interest" by the end of this year. We know more pollution and more climate change are not in any nation's interest, so we’re calling on President Obama to step up and display the kind of leadership we need.”
I have read that Prime Minister Harper of Canada is a strong supporter of the pipeline and has tempted President Obama recently by saying he will fully cooperate with Obama's Greenhouse reduction efforts if he agrees to build the pipeline. The Global Warming activist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben emailed his followers with this response “It feels to me like we’re getting close to the endgame on Keystone XL. Last week the Canadian government sent a letter to President Obama offering vague promises of reducing carbon emissions from the tar sands in return for the right to build the pipeline. Scientists and energy analysts quickly pointed out that this was nonsense -- it’s as if you were to begin your diet with two dozen jelly doughnuts, or plan to quit smoking by buying another carton or two of cigarettes.”
I think President Obama should refuse that deal and declare emphatically that we do not need the pipeline. It is high time to end our dependence on fossil fuels and an excellent way to show we mean business is to reject the pipeline. It is absolutely necessary to reduce the CO2 level in our atmosphere and the only way we can do that is to sharply reduce our use of fossil fuels starting by not building the Keystone XL pipeline
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (5/28/13)
I have been warning people about Global Warming or Climate Change if you will for at least 15 years; first on public access television and in the past two years right here on Green Local 175 LIVE. When I started out I saw it as a long term threat to our environment which would pose serious problems for my grandchildren and beyond if nothing was done about it. Unfortunately the bad effects of global warming have developed at a much faster pace than almost anyone expected. It is long past time to take strong action, but even now many in this country seem to be content to twiddle their thumbs or in the tradition of Nero, fiddle while Rome burns.
As we head into our 8 week summer break for this show I will give a quick assessment of where we as a people stand versus climate change as of Memorial Day 2013. From a personal standpoint I am very frightened that we will do nothing until it is too late. Just in recent times weather events seem to be sending a message as strong as any ever sent by Western Union in its heyday. Some of the most destructive tornadoes in history have followed in the steps of floods, droughts, and horrible hurricanes fresh in our memories. Meanwhile sea levels rise, the ocean becomes more acidic, and bees disappear just to name a few threatening phenomena. The mainstream press has been fairly reticent recently about tying extreme weather events to climate change, but on May 25th , NBC news did point out the apparent connections and repeated the fact that 2012 was the warmest year on record.
On the national level President Obama started the year on the right foot by giving significant attention in his second inaugural speech to the problem. He said “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” at the start of eight sentences on the subject, more than he devoted to any other specific area. He continued “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” Unfortunately he has not yet put his words into action. Part of the problem of course is that the Congress is in the control of Republicans completely under the thumb (not a green one) of powerful; fossil fuel interests. They continue to brand global warming as questionable science if not a hoax. In the faces of such opposition the New York Times has called on Mr. Obama to take executive actions to reduce global warming. In a May 10th editorial the editors wrote: it is possible to adopt a robust climate strategy based largely on executive actions. The most important of these is to invoke the E.P.A.’s authority under the Clean Air Act to limit pollution from stationary industrial sources, chiefly the power plants that account for almost 40 percent of the country’s carbon emissions. The agency is reworking a proposed rule to limit emissions from new power plants. A more complex but no less necessary task is to devise rules for existing power plants, which cannot be quickly shuttered without endangering the country’s power supply, but which can be made more efficient or phased out over time.” Let's hope the President can make progress along these lines, but I am afraid a lot more needs to be done.
In closing I would like to salute 3 men who have influenced my thinking about Climate Change and led me to making it a cause to fight for in my senior years. The first is journalist Les Gelbspan who published “The Heat Is On and The Boiling Point” in an attempt to alert the world to the coming dangers. He spoke in Utica at the invitation of Global Warming Awareness and Action Group over 10 years ago. He gave an inspiring speech at the MWP calling for action. In reviewing his books The New York Times Book Review said that "No other reporter has told the story as comprehensively or explored its implications for human welfare as searchingly as Gelbspan
The second is Bill Mckibben, an environmentalist who framed one of the first analysis of Global Warming in his book “The End of nature” in which he gives impassioned plea for radical and life-renewing change is today still considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies. McKibben's argument that the survival of the globe is dependent on a fundamental, philosophical shift in the way we relate to nature is more relevant than ever. McKibben writes of our earth's environmental cataclysm, addressing such core issues as the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer. His new introduction addresses some of the latest environmental issues that have risen during the 1990s. The book also includes an invaluable new appendix of facts and figures that surveys the progress of the environmental movement.
In a sermon he gave recently at NYC's Riverside Church he said:
“Consider that, so far, human beings have burned enough coal and gas and oil to raise the temperature of the planet 1 degree Celsius...the energetic equivalent of exploding 400,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs every day...enough energy so far to melt the Arctic...We've taken one of the largest physical features on earth and we've broken it, and with the others not far behind. The oceans are now 30% more acidic...The atmosphere itself, because warm air holds more water vapor than cold, is now 5% wetter than it was 40 years ago, which loads the dice for drought and for flood...
A third, James Hansen, who recently retired from NASA, presented the most scientifically detailed and convincing account of his decision to make global warming his life's work. At 72, he said, he feels a moral obligation to step up his activism in his remaining years. He went on to say as quoted in the New York Times
“If we burn even a substantial fraction of the fossil fuels, we guarantee there’s going to be unstoppable changes” in the climate of the earth, he said. “We’re going to leave a situation for young people and future generations that they may have no way to deal with.”
The Times went on to say that 'his departure ended a career of nearly half a century working not just for a single agency but also in a single building, on the edge of the Columbia University campus.
From that perch, seven floors above the diner made famous by “Seinfeld,” Dr. Hansen battled the White House, testified dozens of times in Congress, commanded some of the world’s most powerful computers and pleaded with ordinary citizens to grasp the basics of a complex science.
His warnings and his scientific papers have drawn frequent attack from climate-change skeptics, to whom he gives no quarter. But Dr. Hansen is a maverick, just as likely to vex his allies in the environmental movement. He supports nuclear power and has taken stands that sometimes undercut their political strategy in Washington.”
I strongly recommend that you read more of the works of Gelbspan, Mckibben and Hansen. Links are provided on our web site greenlocal175.com I especially suggest that climate change deniers and skeptics make an effort to understand these men before going on their advocacy of doing nothing or worse in the face of the greatest challenge facing the human race.
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (5/21/13)
The phenomenon called NIMBY, short for "Not in my Backyard" can be found in the news on an almost daily basis. Locally it came to the fore as a result of the attempt
by Richard Synek to open a food bank for veterans in the Bagg's square area. (He talked about his plans on this program April 23rd.) The arguments in opposition to the plan were summarized in the words of a Utica OD editorial : "This whole incident is very unfortunate. Those raising questions are being vilified, and that’s wrong. This was never about veterans It was about placing a food bank — any food bank — in the middle of a developing business district. It’s not the right location." I note that the OD does not have any suggestions as to where a proper location might be. Furthermore, opponents never displayed the appropriate level of outrage over the fact that Veterans as well as active duty military need to use a Food Bank and that feeding our vets should be among the highest priorities in any community in the nation. Other local illustrations of NIMBY include plans for upgrading our electrical power distribution system and the development of wind turbine power generation system in several locations in the area. I will talk in detail about the wind turbine problem later in my editorial
Wikipedia defines NIMBY this way: "NIMBY is a pejorative characterization of opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development because it is close to them, often with the connotation that such residents believe that the developments are needed in society but should be further away. Opposing residents themselves are sometimes called Nimbies.
Projects likely to be opposed include but are not limited to tall buildings, chemical plants, industrial parks, military bases, wind turbines, desalination plants, landfills, incinerators, power plants, prisons,] pubs, adult entertainment establishments, mobile telephone network masts, legal abortion clinics,] schools, kindergartens, toxic waste dumps, youth hostels, wind farms, golf courses, sports stadiums, strip malls, housing developments, and especially transportation improvement schemes (e.g. new roads, bridges, passenger and freight railways, highways, airports, seaports).
The NIMBY concept may also apply more generally to people who advocate some proposal (for example, austerity measures like budget cuts, tax increases, or layoffs), but oppose implementing it in a way that would require sacrifice on their part.
Back in 1992 on tandfonline.com Michael Dear wrote that “neighborhoods and political leaders are fighting with increased fervor to prevent unpopular projects from being sited in their communities. It's always been hard to find places for jails,drug treatment centers, halfway houses, incinerators, and homeless shelters, but the NIMBY syndrome now makes it almost impossible to build or locate vital facilities the cities need to function”
Locally we have has a lot of opposition to wind turbines in places like Litchfield and Cherry Valley. When confronted with an actual wind turbine system some people have flinched..
The problem of wind turbines being loved at a distance but feared up close is discussed by Smith and Klick of the University of California at Santa Barbara
“Wind power receives overwhelming support public support in national surveys. For example, in a recent CBS/New York Times Poll (2007), 75 percent of the respondents said they would be willing to pay more for electricity if it were generated by renewable sources such as wind or solar. In addition, over 60 percent of respondents supported requiring government office buildings to use renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power, even if this kind of regulation resulted in higher taxes
However, these are curious findings, indeed, because they are contrary to the strong opposition that wind proposals sometimes face at the local level.
These local protests are characterized as Nimby responses which are sometimes emotional and often adamant local opposition to site proposals that residents believe will result in adverse impacts” . This local opposition—stemming most notably from conflict between developers and activists—is cited as one of the fundamental challenges facing the wind industry .
The criticisms presented by opponents are many. Most notably, critics identify noise, visual intrusion, electromagnetic interference, harm to birds and other wildlife, distrust of developer objectives, and lack of local ownership as the foremost reasons why they oppose wind farms
Almost all of these reasons were cited by those who opposed the now infamous Cape Wind Project—a 130-unit wind turbine plant proposed to be stationed on a 24- square-mile area of Nantucket Sound . The Cape Wind Project has in many ways become emblematic of the opposition to wind farms at the local level. A group of Massachusetts residents formed the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound—a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the landscape off Cape Cod. Members and locals alike claimed that the project would ruin the pristine landscape and was environmentally unsound. Most importantly, these groups opposed the plan because it placed the public’s ocean in the hands of private developers.. Political leaders—including Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass), Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Robert F. Kennedy, a senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council—joined forces and formed an unlikely coalition opposing the project Senator Kennedy even tried to insert language into a Coast Guard funding bill which would have allowed then Governor Romney ultimate veto power over the project .
This opposition to Cape Wind is not an isolated case. On Long Island, a citizen group known as the Jones Beach Ad Hoc Committee is committed to preventing forty wind turbines from entering Jones Beach. Land wind farms have also been subject to fierce, local opposition
Nimbyism is definitely a serious problem for making progress in developing more efficient and carbon friendly power generation and transportation systems. People of all political stripes are sometimes guilty of not considering the overall costs and benefits of any planned systems. While it is understandable from the point of view of not wanting to be inconvenienced in any way we must get over gut reactions rejecting any and all solutions to problems that are not going away any time soon. Some sacrifice will be required from almost all people as we make the transition to reliance on fuels not destructive to the environment.
(Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins 5/7/13)
In its long history the game of golf has come under a lot of fire from many quarters; for example Mark Twain called golf a "good walk spoiled." George Carlin teed off on the "arrogant, elitist game" of golf in one of his comical rants- described this way by Jay Busbee in his blog on Yahoo "In memory of the great George Carlin, we present his outstanding rant on homeless folks and golf courses. DISCLAIMER: We warn you that it contains some of those seven words that can never be said on television"
And definitely not on our radio show here at Green Local 175 LIVE.
Recently golf has been the subject of one of the urban legends floating around the internet and even proclaimed as real by now Senator Ted Cruz of Texas Cruz vowed that as senator he would fight against “a dangerous United Nations plan” on environmental sustainability that he said was aimed at abolishing “golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads.” He blamed all this on the Democratic financier-philanthropist George Soros.
Golf courses have long been looked at with suspicion by environmentalists for their use of pesticides, herbicides, and high volumes of water , but despite all this information I have been attempting to play golf for about 58 years and still enjoy the game. I thought that in the big scheme of things that golf was not one of our major environmental problems, and may even contribute to our awareness of environmental conditions. Recently I looked into the status of golf ecology and found that some progress has been made in making golf "greener" if you forgive the expression.
Wikipedia states that
'Environmental concerns over the use of land for golf courses have grown over the past fifty years. Specific issues include the amount of water required for irrigation and the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in maintenance, as well as the destruction of wetlands and other environmentally important areas during construction. The United Nations estimates that, worldwide, golf courses consume about 2.5 billion gallons/9.5 billion liters of water per day. Many golf courses are now irrigated with non-potable water and rainwater. In 1988, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prohibited the use of Diazinon on golf courses and sod farms because of its negative impact on bird species.
These, along with health and cost concerns, have led to research into more environmentally sound practices and turf grasses. The golf course superintendent is often trained in the uses of these practices and grasses. This has led to significant reduction in the amount of both water and chemicals on courses. The turf on golf courses is an excellent filter for water and has been used in communities to cleanse grey water.
In doing research for this editorial I found that there are strong movements in Europe and to a lesser degree to in America to improve the ecology of golf courses- see our references on the web site for more detailed information. An article in Golf Digest describes American efforts to improve golf course ecology
It is certain that golf in America will face a crisis over water There simply won't be enough to go around for golf courses to continue to do what they've been doing (one report says U.S. courses each use on average 300,000 gallons a day). Water is going to have to be increasingly carefully managed by everyone -- some have even described it as "the new oil." By 2025, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme's 2007 report, about 1.8 billion people in the world will be living in conditions of absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the planet will be subject to water stress. In America, demand for water grows while global warming has meant shrinking glaciers and mountain snow levels producing less snowmelt to fill our streams and rivers and reservoirs, more evaporation of freshwater reserves and lower rainfall in some areas and even unexpected droughts (not to mention rising sea levels threatening some coastal courses. There will be increasing financial and regulatory pressures on golf courses' use of water, especially in high-population desert areas where shortages are acute, such as Las Vegas, one of the fastest growing cities in America (the population has tripled to 1.7 million in the last 20 years, and by one estimate that figure might double by 2015). Recently the U.S. Geological Survey announced that demands on the aquifer beneath the Coachella Valley in California -- including from 126 area golf courses -- are so great that in the past nine years, large parts of the valley have sunk more than a foot.
In the short term, golf has already proved to be innovative in adapting to the challenge of conserving water. Some golf courses are using treated effluent water or waste water instead of drinkable water, irrigating smaller areas of the property, irrigating more efficiently and with better equipment, raising mowing heights, and using new strains of grass that require dramatically less water. All of these things will continue. New courses in the desert will become rarer. The practice of over seeding fairways in the South with cool-season grasses in the winter will become harder to justify, and less common. A lot of golf courses might disappear.
THE PESTICIDES THAT GOLF COURSES USE, AND THE ONES THAT PEOPLE THROW ON THEIR LAWNS, PERHAPS ARE NOT AS SAFE AS WE BLITHELY ASSUME THEM TO BE.
To coin a phrase, there are known knowns when it comes to pesticides, but there are also an awful lot of unknown unknowns. Even if the superintendents at every one of America's 16,000 courses are rigorous in applying pesticides sparingly and with extreme caution -- and given the pressure they're often under to deliver unblemished, Augusta-like grass year-round, that's unlikely -- can we be sure these chemicals aren't harmful? There are many unanswered questions. Why are various diseases like autism, asthma and all kinds of cancers on the rise? Why are Western men and women increasingly infertile? Why did my friend's girlfriend's dog get tongue cancer and die? It's not unreasonable to think that exposure to synthetic chemicals -- some of whose residues are found in high concentrations as far away as the Arctic -- are to blame. There's a reason that, for instance, Connecticut recently banned pesticides from all school grounds (grades K through 8), and why more than 30 states have some kind of pesticide restriction on school property. There's a reason golf-course superintendents dress like Power Rangers when they spray the golf course. There's a reason the organic movement is growing.
Internationally, in a concerted drive to help build greater awareness on sustainability, the International Sustainability Council and Audubon Lifestyles (ISC-Audubon) has launched the ISC-Audubon EcoGolfer League.
In announcing this unique programme, Ronald G. Dodson, Chairman of The International Sustainability Council and Audubon Lifestyles (ISC-Audubon), said that the project is aimed at getting golfers to become more aware of environmental conservation and sustainability on and beyond the golf course.
Even though it has not been targeted for elimination by the United Nations, golf must reform its use of land and water to find a place in the new world of sustainability. Some degree of progress has already been made by using waste water and less dangerous chemicals but a lot of work needs to be done to bring the world's golf courses up to the stringent requirements necessary in the face of our threatened environment.
(Editorial By Contributor Don Stebbins 4/30/13)
I have always been sensitive to chemicals in the environment- I remember getting headaches and other symptoms from going places sprayed with chemicals even when I was a boy. In particular I was afflicted with headaches and fatigue after golfing or walking across lawns or park lands that had been treated with herbicides and or pesticides. I got a very bad headache when I took a train ride through the agricultural section of the Epcot Center at Disney World
Recently I came across two articles and a radio program reminding me that chemicals put into our environment can cause all kinds of problems for all kinds of people. In the New York Times on April 13 Ian Unbania wrote an article called “Think Those Chemicals Have Been Tested? He wrote that
“MANY Americans assume that the chemicals in their shampoos, detergents and other consumer products have been thoroughly tested and proved to be safe. This assumption is wrong.
Unlike pharmaceuticals or pesticides, industrial chemicals do not have to be tested before they are put on the market. Under the law regulating chemicals, producers are only rarely required to provide the federal government with the information necessary to assess safety.
Regulators, doctors, environmentalists and the chemical industry agree that the country’s main chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, needs fixing. It is the only major environmental statute whose core provisions have not been reauthorized or substantively updated since its adoption in the 1970s. They do not agree, however, on who should have to prove that a chemical is safe.
Currently this burden rests almost entirely on the federal government. Companies have to alert the Environmental Protection Agency before manufacturing or importing new chemicals. But then it is the E.P.A.’s job to review academic or industry data, or use computer modeling, to determine whether a new chemical poses risks. Companies are not required to provide any safety data when they notify the agency about a new chemical, and they rarely do it voluntarily, although the E.P.A. can later request data if it can show there is a potential risk. If the E.P.A. does not take steps to block the new chemical within 90 days or suspend review until a company provides any requested data, the chemical is by default given a green light.
The law puts federal authorities in a bind. “It’s the worst kind of Catch-22,” said Dr. Richard Denison, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. “Under this law, the E.P.A. can’t even require testing to determine whether a risk exists without first showing a risk is likely.”
As a result, the overwhelming majority of chemicals in use today have never been independently tested for safety.”
In its history, the E.P.A. has mandated safety testing for only a small percentage of the 85,000 industrial chemicals available for use today. And once chemicals are in use, the burden on the E.P.A. is so high that it has succeeded in banning or restricting only five substances, and often only in specific applications: polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, asbestos and chlorofluorocarbons.”
Another article discussing the dangers posed by untested chemicals appeared in Forbes Magazine in November 2012 by Alice Walton entitled “The Chemicals In Your Couch May Pose Serious Health Risks”
It says “More and more, studies are calling out the serious health risks of the flame retardant chemicals that are almost always present in our sofas, upholstery, rugs, and even electronics. The risk is particularly high for children, whose brains are still developing and are therefore especially vulnerable to the chemicals. What’s also concerning, as new research points out, is that the levels of some of these chemicals are found in much higher abundance than previously thought. And, as they are released from household items in the form of microscopic dust, we inhale and ingest them constantly, which is particularly true for the kiddos.
Of the 55 chemicals tested for in one new study in Environmental Science & Technology, 44 were found in household items, and 41 were found in at least 50% of the samples tested. The study was carried out in a sampling of California homes, since the state’s stricter flammability regulations have become the de facto standard for the rest of the country.
The most prevalent group of chemicals was one known as the chlorinated organophosphates, which include TCEP and TDCIPP (a.k.a., chlorinated “Tris”). Under California’s Proposition 65, these chemicals all fall under the ominous “carcinogen” category. Brominated Tris was banned in children’s pajamas in the 1970s for fear of adverse health effects, but it’s still present in three-quarters of people’s homes today, according to the study. Other common flame retardant chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors, which interfere with the ways in which our hormones function, and can inhibit neurological development in young brains.
“Our study found that people are exposed to toxic flame retardants every day,” said study author Robin Dodson. “These hazardous chemicals are in the air we breathe, the dust we touch and the couches we sit on. Many flame retardants raise health concerns, including cancer, hormone disruption, and harmful effects on brain development. It is troubling to see that a majority of homes have at least one flame retardant at levels beyond what the federal government says is safe. Infants and toddlers who spend much time on the floor are at higher risk for exposure.” In fact, another recent study found that corresponding levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals called PBDEs were found on toddlers’ hands and in their blood stream, which suggests that young kids are taking in the chemicals primarily through hand-to-mouth action.
There are, bizarrely, no federal guidelines for routine safety testing of flame retardant chemicals. The EPA lists guidelines for only a handful of the chemicals, but the new study found that some chemicals were present in higher levels than approved by the EPA. “
Sandra Steingraber heard here on Green Local 175 LIVE is a biologist and cancer survivor. Recently she appeared on Bill Moyer’s radio program to speak about the dangers of environmental toxins and the lack of testing currently required of synthetic chemicals. She told Bill that only 200 of the more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals used in the United States have been tested.
What’s more, exactly none of them are regulated on the basis of their potential to affect infant or child development.
Based on my experience and many articles I have read the EPA should greatly expand its programs testing chemicals entering our environment. There are just too many to completely test them all, so a sort of triage must be set up to eliminate the worst from our environment.
Today we spend 60 billion on Homeland Security and 8 billion on the EPA, but guess which is faced with the worst threats to our health and well being? We must get our priorities in order.
Show your support for common sense limits on potentially dangerous chemicals by participating in Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign. You can sign a petition asking ten major retailers (including Costco, Target and Walmart) to get tough on a list of 100 chemicals, including formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, BPA and flame retardants, that are found in everyday consumer products on their shelves.
You can also call your senator about The Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, which was introduced last week in Congress. The bill would strengthen the 1976 Toxic Substance Control Act by establishing health standards for chemicals that would protect children and other vulnerable groups, and place the burden on the chemical industry to prove that their products are safe. Supporters say the bill will likely emerge from committee this summer — and hopefully go to a vote from there.
For Green Local 175 LIVE, I’m contributor Don Stebbins.
Editorial by Don Stebbins (4/16/13)
Last week at the Ninth Annual Symposium in the 21st Century in Syracuse the topic of the year was "Planning for a Net Zero Footprint". It is a good indication of progress that we are thinking of net zero energy production in 2013. Zero net site energy use is considered to exist when the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable energy sources is equal to the amount of energy used by the building. In the United States, “zero net energy building” generally refers to this type of building.
Scientific American has reported that nearly 40 percent of the nation's energy is consumed by homes and commercial buildings, which means that making them more efficient would not only save money but also drastically reduce carbon emissions. So a handful of builders are taking the idea one step further: Why construct a building that uses less energy when we can make one that uses no energy at all?
That's the philosophy behind "net-zero" buildings, and they have been springing up all over the country in recent years. By the purest definition, a net-zero building produces all the renewable energy it needs on site, drawing no more power from the grid than it gives back.
Considering that a shack in the woods is technically net zero, the concept isn't exactly new. But advances in technology over the past decade have made it easier to design sophisticated buildings that produce 100 percent of their own energy. At least 21 commercial buildings in the United States meet net-zero standards, according to a study released yesterday by the New Buildings Institute and the Zero Energy Commercial Building Consortium.
They run the gamut from offices to libraries to elementary schools. Researchers identified eight more unverified buildings that may also be net zero and an additional 39 that would classify if they installed more on-site renewable energy systems, plus dozens more under construction.
"We are seeing commercial examples of larger and more complicated buildings, which I think is a positive sign," says Stacey Hobart, the communications director at the New Buildings Institute. "Most of these buildings are smaller buildings, and most of them are early market adopters." Universities and local governments have also been responsible for much of the construction, largely because "they have a charge to say, 'This is a net-zero building,'" explains Hobart. With green building becoming mainstream, the next big thing for the industry is in the realm of net-zero: buildings that produce all the energy they need.
Pike Research released a report this week indicating that net-zero construction will become a $1.3 trillion global business by 2035, driven largely by demand from Europe where zero-energy requirements are increasingly becoming required by building codes.
In November, the Northwest-based Living Future Institute launched a new certification for net-zero buildings in an effort to share best practices among designers and builders
Eric Bloom, Pike Research's building industry research analyst, said he sees a strong role for such certifications as net-zero energy construction catches on in the U.S., similar to the role that the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification played in green building.
"The purpose of the certification program was to cut through the green washing that was going on with green building," Bloom said. "As (the net-zero certification program) gains more implementation, it will become important."
While there may be a community of early adopter builders and designers in the U.S., Bloom sees states including California and Massachusetts leading the way in the U.S. in terms of bringing the building code closer to a net-zero standard. He also expects to see policy makers lead the push toward zero-energy construction.
While net zero buildings are a significant achievement, many contractors have realized that constructing individual net zero buildings is not always the best way to go( And much of the emphasis at the Syracuse meeting was in building net zero communities or neighborhoods rather than concentrating on just one building
Nadav Malin, writing in Environmental Building News, puts it this way
“Achieving a net-zero building with today’s technologies and occupant expectations is hard. There are a handful of projects out there proving that it is possible—for the right building in the right setting with the right team. But sometimes going after the goal of net-zero energy use in the building can have unwanted side effects. For example, a low-rise building on a low-density site will have a better chance of being net-zero with on site renewables, but that type of development is often known as “sprawl.” The investment in dollars and resources to get to net-zero are significant and might be better spent on more cost-effective energy saving options, such as a more efficient building envelope or creating a district energy system that can serve an entire campus.
For all those reasons and more, some argue that while both have an important role to play, it’s more useful and important to work toward net-zero energy communities rather than net-zero buildings. Individual high-performing buildings don’t mean so much if the neighborhood as a whole is wasteful, while if an entire community is net-zero, that’s meaningful even if the individual buildings within it are not.
I think it is imperative that we continue to develop net zero energy buildings and communities using modern technologies of all kinds. Communities should change their laws and operating procedures to allow flexibility and innovation at every level. Communities including cities, colleges, business parks and others should cooperate with each other and governmental authorities to achieve net zero energy whereever and whenever possible
For Green Local 175 LIVE, I'm Contributor Don Stebbins.
Zero-energy building - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Net-Zero Energy Buildings Take Hold in U.S.: Scientific American
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (4/9/13)
Last year our local Congress man Richard Hanna said in an interview with the Utica local newspaper's editorial board.
“Things like windmills are pathetic. Giving (tax) breaks to people to make bad decisions? I’m against it. If you want to go in the windmill business, go ahead, but don’t ask me to pay for it. That isn’t to say I’m not in favor of green energy — what I am against is getting out so far in front of a technology that it isn’t even practical in the next 10 years.”
This lead me to an editorial pointing out the significant strides that been made in developing wind and solar energy under President Obama. Virtually all the information I garnered points to successful operation of wind turbines . Wind energy development has proceeded at a pace unexpected by anyone just a few years ago, n five U.S. states, 10 percent or more of electricity generation came from wind power in 2011. South Dakota leads the states, with wind power making up 22 percent of its electricity generation in 2011. Iowa generated 19 percent of its electricity in 2011 with wind energy. And in North Dakota, wind power’s contribution was 15 percent A new study says New York could get the power it needs from wind, water and sunlight by 2030 with a concerted push. P resident Obama has taken strong action during his term to invest in wind energy, and nations around the world including Germany and Denmark have taken large steps to use wind energy to replace fossil fuels and nuclear reactors. In his State of the Union speech this year Obama talked up alternative energy. Not only did Obama tout the solar and natural gas industries' recent gains, he also talked up the amount of wind energy that's now fueling the country.
He said : "Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let's generate even more."
CNN asked whether this claim is true.
They asked “Did turbines do their jobs, or is this all just hot air?
According to the American Wind Energy Association, 2012 was the industry's strongest year. In total, more than 60,000 megawatts of wind-powered electric capacity were produced. That's enough to power almost 15 million homes. 2012 also saw wind energy providing about 42% of all new electric generating capacity, another first for the industry. Impressive stats aside, the wind energy sector had a little help from the Obama administration in the form of a tax credit from the 2009 economic stimulus package. That credit was set to expire at the end of 2012, and U.S. utilities rushed to get their wind projects online. The December deadline fueled an increase in wind power capacity: 5,300 megawatts were added in December alone, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. By comparison, it took the previous 11 months to generate 7,300 megawatts.
CNN thus concluded that Obama's claim about wind power was true.
But the news that led to my selection of Wind Power as this week's topic was from deep in the heart of Texas, Several articles described the advancement of wind power in a place you might not have expected it.
Blogger John Upton reported on Grist.org that “Texas cities (are) roping in more wind energy
He wrote that : “Something refreshing is about to blow into Dallas, Houston, and other oil-soaked Texan cities: wind energy. Lots of wind energy. A wind-farm boom has been brewing in the blustery Texas panhandle, where wind turbines now provide 9.2 percent of the state’s electricity. That figure is growing quickly, with more than $3 billion expected to be spent on new wind generation during the next two years alone. Meanwhile, Sustainable Business reports that the world’s most powerful battery system is helping to store wind energy produced during off-peak times so that it can be sold when demand for electricity is highest.
But the state’s biggest cities are in the east, far away from the graceful wind turbines and snazzy batteries of the west, making it difficult to deliver the renewable energy into most of the state’s homes and offices. That bottleneck will ease by the end of the year, when the state completes a scheduled $6.8 billion effort to double the capacity of power lines from western wind farms to its eastern municipalities. That will provide an even bigger market and new incentives for potential wind power developers eying opportunities in the Panhandle. Thousands of miles of new transmission lines are about to bring wind to all major cities in Texas and could double the wind energy.
The most important development in Texas could involve the new battery system as reported is th jounal “Sustainable Business”
The world's largest battery storage system for wind energy is online in Texas.
Batteries that can store 36 megawatts (MW) of energy during off-peak periods are attached to a 153 MW wind farm - they can hold the electricity needed for more than 10,000 homes.
It shook the renewable energy industry awake that storage is here and it's available," Ryan O'Keefe, vice president of business development for Xtreme Power, which designed and engineered the batteries, told Odessa American.
Now, businesses across the US are inquiring about batteries that can back up wind power, he says. The more widespread they become, the greater impact they can have on the grid.
12 years ago, energy storage for renewable energy was a zero development, but now it's becoming an industry, notes Imre Gyuk, program manager for energy storage research at DOE.
"It's been operating every day since Dec. 27, and ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas). is pleased," says O'Keefe.
A recent ERCOT report to the Texas legislature finds that wind and solar will be more cost-competitive than natural gas over the next 20 years.
The extension of the federal tax credit for wind power development as part of the Fiscal Cliff negotiation in January was a great help to wind energy programs in Texas and elsewhere.
The extension comes as the Texas wind energy industry continues expanding
Congressman Hanna voted for the Fisal Cliff bill despite his misgivings about wind while some Texas congressmen voted against it even while pressured by their constituents to vote for it. The power of oil companies remains strong as evidenced by their votes. It is time for all congressmen to put away their narrow concerns and vote for more green energy for America.
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins
I have talked about the collapse of bee colonies around the world a few times in past editorials. I mentioned it one of my earlier comments as a real threat to our food supply and definitely a problem we should be investigating and solving as soon as possible, To refresh your memories, Wikipedia defines Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) as a "phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term colony collapse disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006. Colony collapse is significant economically because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees; and ecologically, because of the major role that bees play in the reproduction of plant communities in the wild.
European beekeepers observed similar phenomena in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain,and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree while the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50%.
Multiple possible causes of CCD have been identified. In 2007, some authorities attributed the problem to biotic factors such as Varroa mites and insect diseases (i.e., pathogens including Nosema apis and Israel acute paralysis virus). Other proposed causes include environmental change-related stresses, malnutrition, pesticides (e.g.. neonicotinoids such as clothianidin and imidacloprid, and migratory beekeeping. Other possibilities have included both cell phone radiation and genetically modified (GM) crops with pest control characteristics although no evidence has been found to suggest this.
Last year I said that the situation was essentially status quo, but unfortunately that is no longer true. Recent reports indicate that the problem is growing significantly worse.
One report in the New York Times was particularly frightening
Quote: A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables.
A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment, colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor. The pesticide industry disputes that. But its representatives also say they are open to further studies to clarify what, if anything, is happening.
“They looked so healthy last spring,” said Bill Dahle, 50, who owns Big Sky Honey in Fairview, Mont. “We were so proud of them. Then, about the first of September, they started to fall on their face, to die like crazy. We’ve been doing this 30 years, and we’ve never experienced this kind of loss before.”
In a show of concern, the Environmental Protection Agency recently sent its acting assistant administrator for chemical safety and two top chemical experts here, to the San Joaquin Valley of California, for discussions.
In the valley, where 1.6 million hives of bees just finished pollinating an endless expanse of almond groves, commercial beekeepers who only recently were losing a third of their bees to the disorder say the past year has brought far greater losses.
Annual bee losses of 5 percent to 10 percent once were the norm for beekeepers. But after colony collapse disorder surfaced around 2005, the losses approached one-third of all bees, despite beekeepers’ best efforts to ensure their health.
Nor is the impact limited to beekeepers. The Agriculture Department says a quarter of the American diet, from apples to cherries to watermelons to onions, depends on pollination by honeybees. Fewer bees means smaller harvests and higher food prices.
According to another recent report on National Public Radio, Environmentalists and beekeepers are calling on the government to ban some of the country's most widely used insect-killing chemicals.
Christian Krupke, a professor of entomology at Purdue University in Indiana, is among the scientists whose research has alarmed beekeepers. Recently Krupke gave a talk to several hundred farmers and the agricultural consultants who advise them about seeds, fertilizer and pesticides. The meeting was organized by GrowMark, a farm supply company.
This was a skeptical audience, filled with people who make their livings using or selling pesticides. They listened quietly as Krupke laid out the reasons why neonicotinoids have fallen under suspicion.
These pesticides are typically applied to seeds — mainly of corn, but also other crops — as a sticky coating before planting. When a seed sprouts and grows, the chemicals spread through the whole plant. So insects, such as aphids, that try to eat the plant also get a dose of poison.
But could they be killing more than aphids? Krupke put up a picture of a beehive surrounded by a carpet of dead honeybees. In several places across the Midwest, there have been reports of bees dying in large numbers like this. And tests detected the presence of neonics on them.
It seemed like a mystery. How could bees come into contact with chemicals that are buried in soil with crop seeds?
Krupke put up another slide: a picture of a huge machine that's used for planting corn. This equipment is apparently part of the answer.
These machines use air pressure to move seeds from storage bin to soil. A slippery powder — talc or graphite — keeps everything flowing smoothly. The air, along with some of the powder, then blows out through a vent.
Krupke explained how he tested that planter exhaust and found amazing levels of neonic pesticides: 700,000 times more than what it takes to kill a honeybee.
That toxic dust lands on nearby flowers, such as dandelions. If bees feed on pollen from those flowers, that dust easily can kill them. A tell-tale clue: These bee die-offs all happened during corn-planting season.
I, for one, am outraged by our inaction regarding the problem of bees disappearance. There is an old quote attributed to but most likely not said by Albert Einstein "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live."
Although the quote is most likely an urban legend the truth of it may be very real. We should be taking action to find out why the bees are vanishing and then do something about it!
The disappearance of the bees is only one among several threats being posed by changes in our environment-we must be willing to spend time , money and effort to combat these threats or we won't have a chance to survive as an advanced civilization
Editorial by Don Stebbins (3/26/13)
Although I was brought up in the New York City area I have a nearly lifelong connection with the lakes of upstate New York. My grandmother lived in Fulton NY and I swam in nearby Fair Haven Beach on Lake Ontario many times, spent two weeks in 1953 living in a cottage on Silver Lake near Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks, and saw a good deal of the finger lakes and Lake Erie near Niagara Falls. Evidence of pollution and other environmental effects was noticeable even back in the 1940's and 50's, In particular I remember the dead fish floating in Lake Ontario and the lack of fish in Silver Lake. Incidentally, the two weeks we spent freezing in July at Silver Lake were among the worst of my life. When we got back to New Jersey the temperature hit 90 degrees for at least 10 days.
In retrospect I think Silver Lake was one of the first victims of acid rain. Colgate University has said that the “The Adirondack Park suffered the worst damage in the nation from acid rain between 1940 and the 1970's. Utility plant pollution from the highly industrial Midwest states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, was carried Northeast via wind patterns. .New York State has established the toughest acid rain control requirements in the nation. In 1999, the DEC took measures to further control emissions from New York State sources that cause acid rain. The state's acid rain initiative is helping New York lead the nation in the fight against acid rain. Unfortunately despite these efforts, based on the best available computer model projections, and assuming full implementation of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendment on reductions in sulfur emissions, the number of acidic waters in the Adirondacks is predicted to increase rather than decrease. In other words, even with the reductions achieved under the Clean Air Act, the problem of acidic deposition in the Adirondacks will continue to worsen” I will be returning to the topic of acid rain in future editorials. The situation ia much worse than I 'd thought
My interest in the state of Lakes in New York was piqued by a recent article in the New York Times called:: Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie
It starts out: quote “For those who live and play on the shores of Lake Erie, the spring rains that will begin falling here soon are less a blessing than a portent. They could threaten the very future of the lake itself.
Lake Erie is sick. A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually.
The spring rains reliably predict how serious the summer algae bloom will be: the more frequent and heavy the downpours, the worse the outbreak. And this year the National Weather Service says there is a higher probability than elsewhere of above-normal spring rains along the lake’s west end, where the algae first appear.
It is perhaps the greatest peril the lake has faced since the 1960s, when relentless and unregulated dumping of sewage and industrial pollutants spawned similar algae blooms and earned it the nickname “North America’s Dead Sea.” Erie recovered then, thanks to a multibillion-dollar cleanup by the United States and Canada that became a legendary environmental success story.
But while the sewage and pollutants are vastly reduced, the blooms have returned, bigger than ever.
Once, fisheries and sports anglers pulled five million walleye from the rejuvenated lake every year. Today the catch is roughly one-fifth that, the Environmental Protection Agency says. Commercial fisheries’ smelt catch is three-fifths of past levels. The number of charter fishing companies has dropped 40 percent. Sport fish like walleye and yellow perch are deserting the lake’s center and moving shoreward in search of oxygen and food.
For those who live and play on the shores of Lake Erie, the spring rains that will begin falling here soon are less a blessing than a portent. They could threaten the very future of the lake itself.”
After reading this bad news about Lake Erie I decided to look at the status of a lake closer to home, Onondaga Lake near Syracuse. Onondaga lake has been polluted for quite awhile During the late 19th century many resorts were built along Onondaga Lake's shoreline. However, after the Industrial Revolution domestic and industrial waste, due to development and urbanization, led to the severe degradation of the lake. Unsafe levels of pollution led to the banning of ice harvesting in 1901. In 1940 swimming was banned and in 1970 fishing was banned due to mercury contamination. Mercury pollution is still an existing problem for the lake today. Despite the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1973 and the closing of the major industrial polluter in 1986, Onondaga Lake is still one of the most polluted lakes in the United States. Several initiatives, including a 15-year multi-stage program currently under way, have been recently undertaken to clean up the lake. A good deal of progress has been made in cleaning up the sewage as well as the chemical pollution but much work remains to be done.
In future editorials I will discuss other NYS lakes including Lake Ontario and Oneida Lake
Based on my experience and reading about the lakes of New York I would suggest that eternal vigilance and rapid response to pollutants is absolutely necessary to maintain the health of our state waters. We have made some progress in reducing the amount of acid rain, sewage, and chemical pollution in many of our lakes but new threats like the algae problem in Lake Erie are emerging, and acid rain remains a problem I would like to see the results of monitoring the lakes for environmental dangers published by the State and the media on a regular basis. I would also like to see a stepped up program for ridding our lakes of pollutants- the time is long past to restore these vital waters.
For Green Llocal175 LIVE I’m contributor Don Stebbins
by Contributor Don Stebbins (3/19/13)
Last year I discussed the possible development of thorium nuclear reactors for electrical power generation . I reported that a new advocacy organization, the Weinberg Foundation, plans to push the promise of thorium nuclear energy into the mainstream political discussion of clean energy and climate change. The message they sent is that thorium is the antidote to the world’s most pressing energy and environmental challenges.
In 2006, writing in the magazine Cosmos, Tim Dean summarized perhaps the most optimistic scenario for what a Thorium-powered nuclear world would be like:
(quote)“What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium.” (unquote)
According to proponents, a thorium fuel cycle, however, offers several potential advantages over a uranium fuel cycle, including much greater abundance on Earth, superior physical and nuclear properties of the fuel, enhanced proliferation resistance (not easily weaponized), and reduced nuclear waste production. Tim Dean, science editor of Cosmos magazine, states that thorium could be “the key to unlocking a new generation of clean and safe nuclear power”.
It turns out that recently a great deal of progress has been made toward developing thorium reactors- In China. According to the group Motherboard vice.com
(quote) “In the fracking-dominated and carbon-obsessed United States, we often forget that carbon-neutral energy doesn't have to simply be solar and wind. There's also nuclear power, of which alternative, safe power cycles exist, ones that were first developed by American researchers. But after years of sitting around, that research is finally being put to use–by China.” (unquote)
The article goes on to say that Motherboard has long been interested in developing thorium reactors (quote) “largely because it's oh so tantalizing: an alternative fuel cycle for nuclear reactors that produces little to no waste, has very low proliferation risks, and has extremely low risks of meltdowns–and in some cases, none at all. Thorium is a very abundant resource, and, as proponents like to say, converting the world to thorium power would provide thousands of years of carbon-free, clean energy.'(unquote)
In January 2013 the London Telegraph reported that (quote) “Princeling Jiang Mianheng, son of former leader Jiang Zemin, is spearheading a project for China's National Academy of Sciences with a start-up budget of $350m. He has already recruited 140 PhD scientists, working full-time on thorium power at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear and Applied Physics. He will have 750 staff by 2015.The aim is to break free of the archaic pressurized-water reactors fueled by uranium -- originally designed for US submarines in the 1950s -- opting instead for new generation of thorium reactors that produce far less toxic waste and cannot blow their top like Fukushima. China is the country to watch," said Baroness Bryony Worthington, head of the All-Parliamentary Group on Thorium Energy, who visited the Shanghai operations recently with a team from Britain's National Nuclear Laboratory. "They are really going for it, and have talented researchers. This could lead to a massive break-through." (unquote)
According to Motherboard (quote) “ the nuclear dream in the United States stalled in the 70s and 80s. Promising research into thorium-powered reactors that reaches as far back as the 60s was shelved because, at the height of the Cold War, we needed uranium reactors, which produce plutonium for bombs. And in any case, large energy corporations had already invested heavily in pressurized water reactors, and thorium represented a fresh start on a whole new avenue.” (unquote)
The article went on to say (quote) “The thorium blueprints gathered dust in the archives until retrieved and published by former NASA engineer Kirk Sorensen. The US largely ignored him: China did not.
Jiang visited the Oak Ridge labs and obtained the designs after reading an article in the American Scientist two years ago extolling thorium. His team concluded that a molten salt reactor -- if done the right way -- may answer China's prayers.
Sorensen, has long struggled to build support for molten salt reactors, which don't get hot enough for a meltdown, and which have a built-in fail safe design. That means that those cooling towers of Simpsons lore would no longer be necessary. Instead, we could have small, plug-and-play nuclear reactors that could help power the future distributed grid. Here in the US the Department of Energy has made funding available to develop small modular reactors, but there's not been a huge amount of push behind them, especially when we're in the middle of such an incredible natural gas boom. China, which has more pressing energy growth concerns, and hopes to get a working reactor fired up in the next couple decades.” (unquote)
We need action on a large scale to remove us from fossil fuel dependency. China is doing it- why can't we? We should be starting a WW II size effort to develop alternative fuels to reduce our carbon footprint and save the world from climate change. Send me an e-mail at email@example.com and let me know if you agree or disagree with me that this form of nuclear energy should be pursued ?
For Green Local 175 LIVE I’m contributor Don Stebbins.
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (3/5/13)
For some time I have been considering doing editorials about food and the problems our current system has with providing healthful diets to everyone. Some of the topics would include food additives, genetically altered foods, and the effects of climate change on food production.
But the other day the New York Times ran an op-ed piece by NYT food editor Mark Bittman dealing with the connections involving obesity, sugar consumption, and diabetes that piqued my interest. The author claimed that “Sugar is indeed toxic. It may not be the only problem with the Standard American Diet, but it’s fast becoming clear that it’s the major one He went on to say A study published in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal PLoS One links increased consumption of sugar with increased rates of diabetes by examining the data on sugar availability and the rate of diabetes in 175 countries over the past decade. And after accounting for many other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates independent of rates of obesity.
In other words, according to this study, obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does.
The study demonstrates this with the same level of confidence that linked cigarettes and lung cancer in the 1960s. As Rob Lustig, one of the study’s authors and a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said , “You could not enact a real-world study that would be more conclusive than this one.””
Now the idea that sugar causes diabetes rather than triggering high blood sugar in people with diabetes is contrary to what I have believed all my life. The American Diabetes Association's web page calls the idea that sugar causes diabetes a myth with these words:
“Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: The answer is not so simple. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.
Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked indirectly to type 2 diabetes
In an article by Marianne Wait on besthealth.ca . She writes
“Does eating sugar cause diabetes?
It's a common misconception, but there is no proven direct link between sugar consumption and diabetes
No, sugar doesn't cause diabetes. But candy and other sugary foods contribute plenty of calories, which can lead to weight gain, and being overweight greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Studies have failed to produce consistent evidence that links a sweet tooth with type 2 diabetes. A study of more than 39,000 women, for instance, found that those who ate the most sugar did not have an increased risk for the disease.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood levels of glucose, or blood sugar, become chronically elevated. Consuming sugar makes blood sugar levels rise, so it seems logical
that eating candy, cakes, and cookies would cause diabetes. But it doesn't—at least not directly.
Dr Mehmet Oz has written:
"Diabetes is caused by metabolic dysfunction and not by sugar. While it may be hard for you to metabolize sugar due to your metabolic condition, it is not the sugar per se that causes the condition
One response to Mr Bittman's article posted on the NYT web site by Dr. Phil Klebba,
the Head of Biochemistry at Kansas State University says that
“This article is a gross distortion of nutritional and biochemical facts, that neglects the fundamental importance of sugars to the metabolism of life on this planet. The opening line ("Sugar is indeed toxic.") is distorted and inane. Sugars are not toxic, as evidenced by our evolution of taste buds that respond so positively to them. Sugars are a dense source of energy, which is why our metabolic systems cherish them. Let's leave such excessive, unsubstantiated commentary to The Onion or Mad Magazine, and just apply common sense to our diets.”
There are numerous other articles denying that sugar consumption is a direct cause of diabetes. The report cited by Mr Bittman challenges those beliefs but even if it the study quoted proves correct I am concerned that he did not raise the issue of artificial sweeteners in his op-ed piece. Most artificial sweeteners are indeed toxic and treated by the liver as toxic substances. I am very concerned that any effort to label sugar as toxic will lead to the consumption of greater amounts of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. This in my view would be a case of the "cure" being worse than the disease. The side effects of artificial sweeteners are well established and cause a myriad of conditions including for Aspartame:: Headaches, fibromyalgia, anxiety, memory loss, arthritis, abdominal pain, nausea, depression, heart palpitations, irritable bowel syndrome, seizures, neurological disorders, vision problems, brain tumors and weight gain. Other Concerns include brain and central nervous system functions; evidence shows they play a role in mood disorders, memory problems and other neurological illnesses.
I am not a medical doctor or an expert in nutrition, but I strongly recommend going slowly when considering sugar as toxic. Let's do more studies and make sure we do not make things worse by jumping to the wrong conclusions and the wrong solutions
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (2/26/12)
There has been a mixture of good and bad news on the Global warming/Climate Change front so far this year. On the bright side the largest climate rally in our nation's history was held in Washington DC
on Feb 17th with about 40000 to 50000 people participating on a cold day. Another positive note was
President Obama's pledge to include Climate Change as an important factor in his future plans for reducing greenhouse emissions and developing more efficient systems for producing and using energy.
On the dark side there have been numerous reports and many storms and other phenomena indicating that climate change is affecting the earth more rapidly than anyone expected a few years ago. One report calls for a WWII size effort to reverse climate change
At the Washington rally, which I would have liked to attend myself but did not due to health reasons,
the crowd marched for several hours in an enthusiastic demand for action on the problem of climate change The march was sponsored by 350.org and the Sierra Club among others. Several people from the Utica area did attend and reported that “the Rally and March were huge, spirited, terrific, and very cold! We dressed warmly and were able to be pretty comfortable outside on the Mall for the rally and the march (actually a slow walk) through the streets to and from the White House. It was a long, important and very worthwhile day, and, even though President Obama wasn't home, we're sure that he knew we had all been there to leave him a message! “
Bill McKibben, long term climate activist and founder of 350.org called the rally
“A Great Day for the Climate Movement
He went on to say “Today was the day. Finally, powerfully, decisively -- the movement to stop climate change has come together.” This was the biggest climate change rally in US history. People gathered by the Washington Monument and then marched past the White House, demanding that President Obama block the Keystone XL pipeline and move forward toward climate action.
There were many high points: Van Jones who worked in Obama’s White House in 2009 as his “green jobs czar,” declared that Keystone is the only presidential decision anyone will care about in 20 years; billionaire investor Tom Steyer laying out why it's a bad investment; Chief Jackie Thomas explaining the toll that the tar sands are taking on her neighbors, and promising that they would never allow a tar sands pipeline west to the Pacific.
So this wasn't your standard protest, but rather a rally of support. But organizers aren’t naïve about political realities—and there was some tough talk for the president, too.
Van Jones, made it clear in a pre-rally interview that the burgeoning anti-pipeline movement would not be bought off with other initiatives, like tougher EPA rules or more great speeches.
“I think we should take the president at his word, but make him honor his word,” Jones said. “This pipeline, if it goes through—the first thing that the pipeline runs over is the credibility of the president of the United States. That’s the first thing it runs over. He said that he’s not going to let us be a generation that cooks the earth.”
Jones continued: “If we lose, we lose everything. We’re fighting for the children of all species. This isn’t just a fight about Democrats versus Republicans in the United States. The children of all species forever are going to be impacted.
And what if Obama does approve the pipeline? Jones said it would define Obama in history’s eyes. “Every other gain this president has done will be erased over the next ten, twenty, thirty years by floods, by fires, by droughts, by superstorms. His legacy is on the line.”
Among the many reports describing the effect s of Climate Change was one stating that the Arctic Sea is experiencing rapid ice loss at a pace so fast that the area will soon be ice-free in warmer months, scientists confirmed in a report this week—showing a collapse in total sea ice volume to one fifth of its level in 1980.
The alarming rate of melting was measured by the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite, which uses new technology to measure the thickness of the sea ice in addition to how much of the region is covered.
While ice thickness is more difficult to see with the naked eye, its decline in volume is a harbinger of faster and more alarming ice loss, the scientists urged.
"Not only is the area getting smaller, but also its thickness is decreasing and making the ice more vulnerable to more rapid declines in the future," Christian Haas, a geophysicist at York University in Canada, told NBC News.
The Arctic sea already hit record lows in 2012 with the lowest amount of ice on record, covering only half the average area covered between 1979 and 2012.
But the most disturbing report I saw was one comparing the threat from climate change to the military threat we faced from Nazi Germany and Japan in 1940 and calling for a WWII level response
John M. Repp, a former Boeing employee and climate activist explained that
“The U.S. government spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year to fight – or prepare to fight – wars against supposed security threats around the world. But far less money is invested in what many experts believe will be the greatest security threat, global warming, as
The real security of our society and our world depends upon changing how we produce and use energy. We need to get off fossil fuels, change how we farm and refit our buildings. There is a strong consensus among our scientists that this is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. We listened to our scientists when they said they could build a weapon to defeat Hitler and we should listen to them now.
Repp went on to say that “this is a huge project and contrary to the current thinking in Washington D.C. which demands more and more privatization, this project should be done with government spending on the scale that occurred during World War II because defeating this problem is just as important as the Manhattan Project and far more moral. There is a research paper at the Institute for Policy Studies website entitled “The Green Dividend” which should be better known.”
This report explains how the government could move the money it now spends on weapons systems at large companies like Boeing, to projects that help us get off of fossil fuels. Done right, no jobs would be lost and the industrial part of the military-industrial complex would become less dependent on military contracts; instead those companies would become part of the effort to prevent the worst effects of global climate change.
But I think we have to face the likelihood that nothing approaching the magnitude of the required effort is likely without a vast change in attitude by the people controlling this country. I urge everyone to contact their congressmen, Senators, and other government officials to demand action on the Climate Change front
Email Re: A report on Sunday's Forward on Climate Rally and March!
Editorial by Contributor Don Stebbins (2/19/13 )
"Plastics" is a word that lives in the minds of movie fans who saw the film "The Graduate" in 1967.The protagonist Benjamin played by Dustin Hoffman is told by a businessman friend of his father's that the one word he needs to know for success in life is "Plastics". The quote is number 42 on the American Film Institute's list of famous movie quotes and the only one of two in the top 100 that consists of one word ( Rosebud" from Citizen Kane is the other one).
After a lecture I heard at a local college last week the word "Plastics" has assumed a new meaning for me. It seems that plastics in our oceans could present quite an environmental problem. In a presentation called “Improving Local Government in Developing. Countries-One Garbage Pile at a Time,” Ted Siegler of DSM Environmental Services in Windsor Vermont discussed garbage control and reduction techniques.
Green Local 175 LIVE was there .Go to our you tube channel later this week where a video we recorded of Siegler’s lecture will be made available.
Siegler went into some detail and stressed the importance of recycling. As a part of the lecture he showed a map of the world's oceans including areas where what we might call "plastic pollution “has occurred
Since I am interested in all kinds of environmental pollution and have pursued scientific analyses of the problems involved for over 10 years I was taken aback when I realized that I had overlooked this important phenomenon.
After the meeting I searched the internet for information about Oceanic plastic and found a large number of articles dealing with it. According to Wikipedia, one of the first detected collection of plastic was discovered in the pacific and called The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex. It is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N.The patch extends over an indeterminate area, with estimates ranging very widely depending on the degree of plastic concentration used to define the affected area. A gyre in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements The Patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. Despite its size and density, the patch is not visible from satellite photography, since it consists primarily of suspended particulates in the upper water column. Since plastics break down to even smaller polymers, concentrations of submerged particles are not visible from space, nor do they appear as a continuous debris field. Instead, the patch is defined as an area in which the mass of plastic debris in the upper water column is significantly higher than average.”
Garbage patches have been found in many areas of the world's oceans. The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world's oceans according to the LA Times. . The United Nations Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic In some areas, the amount of plastic outweighs the amount of plankton by a ratio of six to one. Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean according to Greenpeace Seventy percent of that eventually sinks, damaging life on the ocean floor. The rest floats; much of it ends up in gyres and the massive garbage patches that form there, with some plastic eventually washing up on a distant shore.
The New York Times has warned in an editorial “Across the world’s oceans there are still many more millions of tons of floating plastic, most of it originating from land, not ships. All of this solid waste is bad news. It traps as many as a million seabirds every year, as well as some 100,000 marine mammals. Now comes what could be more bad news. A new study, announced at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, suggests that plastics in seawater break down faster than expected. As they do, they apparently release contaminants, including potentially harmful styrene compounds not normally found in nature. This was not merely a laboratory finding. The author of the study, Katsuhiko Saido, a scientist at Nihon University in Japan, found the same chemical compounds in seawater samples collected near Malaysia, the Pacific Northwest, and in the northern Pacific. The effects of these broken-down plastics on marine organisms is as yet unknown, and they will be harder to measure than the damage that plastic refuse does to sea-life. But adding to the contaminant load of the oceans cannot be a good thing.”
There is far more plastic in the world’s oceans that previously thought. Researchers have concluded that current estimates vastly underestimate the figures because they only look at the ocean surface. The latest claim was made by University of Washington oceanographer Giora Proskurowski who noticed the issue when on a research cruise in the Pacific Ocean. He saw the water surface was littered with tiny bits of plastic -- until the wind suddenly picked up and the plastic 'disappeared.' Taking water samples from 16 feet he discovered the wind was pushing the lightweight plastic particles below the surface. In 2010, his team collected water samples at various depths in the North Atlantic Ocean.
'Almost every subsurface tow we took had plastic in the net,' Proskurowski said. The scientists found that there was much more unrecorded plastic deeper in the ocean - not just on the water's surface In high winds, the volume of plastic trash could be underestimated by a factor of 27, he reported with Tobias Kukulka of the University of Delaware this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Plastics are yet another threat to our oceans and our food supply. I have talked earlier about the increasing acidity of the oceans and other threats to the well being of our planet. I suggest that all concerned persons contact their representatives in Congress and news outlets to alert them to the multiple dangers to our oceans. See our website greenlocal175.com for updates on this and other environmental issues.
For Green Local 175 LIVE….I’m contributor Don Stebbins
Editorial by Don Stebbins 2/12/13
The other day I received an email telling me that “ US Dept of Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, plans to dump 14,000 tons of radioactive scrap metal into the marketplace for use in the manufacturing of consumer products, such as zippers, belt buckles, eyeglass frames, jewelry, watches, silverware, toys, pet bowls and leashes. This action is being fast-tracked, with little regard for public comment. The deadline was February 11, 2013.”
The Email referred to a Wall Street Journal Article which indeed said that “The Department of Energy is proposing to allow the sale of tons of scrap metal from government nuclear sites—an attempt to reduce waste that critics say could lead to radiation-tainted belt buckles, surgical implants and other consumer products. The department, in a document released last month, said the recycling proposal is in line with its policy of "reusing materials whenever possible."
The Email I received contained a petition asking that the decision to use radioactive waste in manufacturing. It reads
“STOP DEPT OF ENERGY PLANS to dump 14,000 tons of radioactive scrap metals into the manufacturing of consumer products. There is no safe level of radiation. Keep nuclear waste out of my home and workplace!”
As a result of receiving the Email I launched a Google search to see what others thought of this idea- in general the reaction was decidedly negative, to no one's surprise.
An article by Karen Charman on Feb 7, 2013 in whowhatwhy.com asks
“How would you like radioactive metal from nuclear weapons facilities to be recycled for use in consumer goods like silverware, pots and pans, eye glasses, zippers, kid’s braces, and even pacemakers and artificial hip joints? If the U.S. Department of Energy gets its way (after a public comment period ing Feb. 11), that is exactly what we can expect in our future.
DOE, the steward of the sprawling—and massively contaminated—American nuclear weapons complex, wants to lift a ban on recycling imposed in 2000. That action came in response to an earlier proposal to sell radioactive metal from DOE facilities to scrap metal recyclers. Once the contaminated metal is mixed into the scrap supply, it could be turned into virtually anything made with metal.
The problem is, products contaminated with radiation give off alpha particles, beta particles, or gamma rays, depending on the radioactive element (radionuclide or radioisotope) present. Though these three kinds of radiation have different properties, all are ionizing, meaning that each is energetic enough to break chemical bonds in the cells in our bodies. That kind of damage can result in cancer and other illnesses.”
DOE’s current plan is to release 13,790 metric tons of metal the department says is “uncontaminated” or just contaminated on the surface. This material would likely include things like metal desks, pipes, and perhaps construction equipment from radiation-contaminated areas, Robert Alvarez, a nuclear expert and former senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Energy during the Clinton administration, told WhoWhatWhy. Alvarez, a key player in stopping DOE’s earlier attempt to release its low-level nuclear waste into the public sphere, described the new effort as “a toe in the water” toward overturning the ban; in the future, it could lead to the release of a large part of the department’s vast stockpile of waste materials.
“DOE’s been pushing this scheme for 30 to 35 years,” he said. “They just don’t want to give up on it.”
According to prepared society. Com , some industry and environmental groups aren’t satisfied by the government’s assurances.
“We are concerned about what could happen in the marketplace if you have to worry about radioactive material possibly being in your eyeglass frames,” said Thomas Danjczek, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, a trade group whose members use recycled metals. “Why is the government trying to hurt the image of American products?”
It is difficult and expensive to prevent the commingling of recycled metals. Metal-processing facilities already face contamination problems when they inadvertently accept medical devices and other radioactive products, Mr. Danjczek said. Cleanup from such incidents can cost a recycling plant as much as $15 million, he added.
Some critics argue the DOE’s proposed exposure standards are too high and that information provided in its 50-page document explaining the proposal is even more worrisome.
Higher exposures could occur if contaminated metal is made into items such as belt buckles or hip-replacement joints, said Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and critic of the government’s proposal. Such exposures would further increase a person’s cancer risk, he said.
An Energy Department plan to allow the recycling of scrap metals emitting very low levels of radiation is drawing opposition because of concerns about potential health hazards. But the upside for U.S. atomic bomb-makers is that waste now requiring costly storage could be sold for a profit, reports William Boardman. for Consortiumnews.com.
He wrote that “in something of a stealth maneuver during the 2012 holiday season, the U.S. Department of Energy set about to give every American a little more radiation exposure, and for some a lot, by allowing manufacturers to use radioactive metals in their consumer products – such as zippers, spoons, jewelry, belt buckles, toys, pots, pans, furnishings, bicycles, jungle gyms, medical implants, or any other metal or partly-metal product.
The Energy Dept. announced its plan in the Federal Register on Dec. 12 and invited comment for 30 days, through Jan.11. Citing its need to address environmental concerns under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the agency said, in part, that its plan was: “to delegate authority to manage radiological clearance and release of scrap metal from radiological areas to each Under Secretary for sites under his or her cognizance. …
“ This Draft PEA for the Recycling of Scrap Metals Originating from Radiological Areas analyzes the potential environmental impacts associated with resuming the clearance of scrap metal, originating from DOE radiological areas, for recycling pursuant to improved procedures designed to assure that clearance for release is limited to metals meeting stringent criteria.”
Translated from the bureaucratese, this is a proposal to lift a ban on recycling radioactive metals left over from American bomb-making and other nuclear activities and allow them to be used commercially with “stringent” but largely unenforceable criteria for their use. The initial ban was ordered in 2000, by then Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson.
Largely ignored by mainstream media, the plan caught the attention of an alert member of Congress, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, who wrote a three-page letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Jan. 11.
Rep. Markey is now running for John Kerry's seat in the Senate- I wish him well. I also wish well for people trying to reverse the decision to us radioactive scrap in manufacturing. There is no everiding need to use these materials so the practice is not worth the risk
February 5, 2013 Pre-Empted for Basketball
The Birth and Possible Death of the EPA
Editorial by Don Stebbins 1/29/13
During the 2012 presidential campaign several Republican candidates proposed abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)or severely limiting its power. For example Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said she would try to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency but if she couldn't she may just try to lock employees out of the building. Newt Gingrich proposed abolishing the EPA, and several House Republicans have supported that goal, while making numerous attempts to hamstring limits on industrial polluters
Mitt Romney, while waffling on outright abolishment of the EPA, said that " he thinks the EPA has gotten completely out of control for a very simple reason. It is a tool in the hands of the president to crush the private enterprise system, to crush our ability to have energy, whether it's oil, gas, coal, nuclear... there's a real effort on the part of some in the president's party that don't like the American enterprise system and are trying to find a way to do everything they can to impede the growth of our economy and our energy independence." Many Republican House members still talk in terms of the EPA not being necessary.
I think any rational person viewing the history of environmental pollution in our country would strongly support the EPA. I have spoken in earlier editorials about the air pollution I observed in New Jersey back in the 1950's with each town along the New Jersey Turnpike.. Each community had its own stench produced by local industries operating without the regulations cursed by modern Republicans. No one who lived in New Jersey at the time would deny the need for the EPA. I always thought that those conditions led to the establishment of the organization.
Recent conversations with the host of Green Local 175 LIVE Richard Morris have informed me that an earlier incident may have provided the impetus for creating the EPA. According to Wikipedia, a “buildup of smog started building up in Donora Pennsylvania on October 27, 1948. By the following day it was causing coughing and other signs of respiratory distress for many residents of the community in the Monongahela River Valley. Many of the illnesses and deaths were initially attributed to asthma. The smog continued until it rained on October 31, by which time 20 residents of Donora had died and approximately a third to one half of the town's population of 14,000 residents had been sickened. Sixty years later, the incident was described by The New York Times as "one of the worst air pollution disasters in the nation's history". Even ten years after the incident, mortality rates in Donora were significantly higher than those in other communities nearby.”
“Fluoride and Sulfur dioxide emissions from U.S. Steel's Donora Zinc Works and its American Steel & Wire plant were frequent occurrences in Donora. What made the 1948 event more severe was a temperature inversion, a situation in which warmer air aloft traps pollution in a layer of colder air near the surface. The pollutants in the air mixed with fog to form a thick, yellowish, acrid smog that hung over Donora for five days. The sulfuric acid, nitrogen dioxide, fluorine and other poisonous gases that usually dispersed into the atmosphere were caught in the inversion and accumulated until the rain ended the weather pattern.”
Preliminary results of a study performed by Dr. Clarence A. Mills of the University of Cincinnati and released in December 1948 showed that thousands more Donora residents could have been killed if the smog had lasted any longer than it had, in addition to the 20 humans and nearly 800 animals killed during the incident.”
Lawsuits were filed against U.S. Steel, which never acknowledged responsibility for the incident, calling it "an act of God". While the steel company did not accept blame, it reached a settlement in 1951 in which it paid about $235,000, which was stretched over the 80 victims who had participated in the lawsuit, leaving them little after legal expenses were factored in. Representatives of American Steel and Wire settled the more than $4.6 million claimed in 130 damage suits at about 5% of what had been sought, noting that the company was prepared to show at trial that the smog had been caused by a "freak weather condition" that trapped over Donora "all of the smog coming from the homes, railroads, the steamboats, and the exhaust from automobiles, as well as the effluents from its plants. U.S. Steel closed both plants by 1966.
By 1949, a year after the disaster, the total value of the predominantly residential property in Donora had declined by nearly 10%. The Donora Smog marked one of the incidents where Americans recognized that exposure to large amounts of pollution in a short period of time can result in injuries and fatalities. The event is often credited for helping to trigger the clean-air movement in the United States, whose crowning achievement was the Clean Air Act of 1970, which required the United States Environmental Protection Agency to develop and enforce regulations to protect the general public from exposure to hazardous airborne contaminants.”
I suggest that anyone considering abolishing the EPA or even reducing its role take the time to read the history of pollution in America- it should be eye opening ( even while victims of air pollution had to close theirs.) People should challenge any pundits and/or politicians who suggest that we can live without the EPA or that it is “job killing”and harmful to the economy
For Green Local 175 LIVE , I'm contributor Don Stebbins
Nothing gets me angrier than hearing politicians and pundits say that we are putting future generations at risk because of deficit spending while at the same time want to do nothing or worse when it concerns the legacy of global warming and climate change. In fact we are paying taxes at a 50 year low in terms of percentage of GDP while our environment may very well be undergoing irreversible changes that will make much of our civilized world uninhabitable for generations to come. How's that sound for a legacy?
It is long past the time to take strong action to reverse the buildup of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere, but oil company propagandist and their allies in government and the media, have successfully campaigned against implementing any meaningful efforts. Now a series of recent events should open the eyes of even the most dogmatic climate change deniers and lead governments around the world to develop programs and policies reducing the threat to our way of life. These include the horrible devastation cause by Hurricane Sandy, the warmest year in recent history for the United States, a terrible drought in the American West, massive fires in Australia, and a new report expressing dire predictions for the future of our planet's climate. The report by a Federal Advisory Committee is especially frightening With the title “Climate Change and the American People.” It opens with these words addressed to the American people
“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. This report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee concludes that the evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report, written in 2009. Many more impacts of human-caused climate change have now been observed. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience. So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation. Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between.”
In the face of such overwhelming evidence not much has been done by our so called leaders. In his 2nd Inaugural address President Obama did say he would take action on Climate Change but did not offer any specifics. Well, not everyone is just sitting pat. The Sierra Club and the environmental group 350.org headed by Bill McKibben have combined forces . At Noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make “Forward on Climate” the largest climate rally in history. Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.
The first step to putting our country on the path to addressing the climate crisis is for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. His legacy as president will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis. It’s never been clearer that we need bold and immediate climate leadership - that’s why this Presidents Day weekend thousands of activists will head to the White House and tell President Obama to shut down the climate-killing Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.
Together, environmental organizations have proven time and time again that grassroots voices can speak louder than Big Oil’s dollars. So this Presidents Day, the Sierra Club, 350.org, and other environmental groups are working with our partners across the progressive community to organize the biggest climate demonstration yet. The goal for Presidents Day is to form a massive human pipeline through Washington, and then transform it into a giant symbol of the renewable energy future we need - and are ready to build, starting right away.
You can make this a President’s Day that President Obama can’t ignore and won’t forget – sign up to join the rally, bring your friends, and stop the climate-killing Keystone XL pipeline on February 17th:
Details http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/download/NCAJan11-2013-publicreviewdraft-letter.pdfFederal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review
NY Times Shuts Down Environmental Desk!! , Editorial by Don Stebbins (1/13/13)
For environmentalists there was unexpected and most likely bad news last week from the New York Times. The newspaper has decided to shut down its environmental news desk after four years in operation. This comes in the face of a great increase in the importance and frequency of catastrophic news regarding the environment. Just in the past few month we have seen Hurricane Sandy's destruction, the warmest year in history, record droughts and a massive fire storm linked to climate change in Australia.
On Jan 11, 2013 Katherine Bagley of Inside Climate News revealed that the New York Times is dismantling its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. The positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor are being eliminated. No decision has been made about the fate of the Green Blog, which is edited from the environment desk. News that the New York Times is closing its environmental desk comes just a week after The Daily Climate reported that worldwide coverage of climate change continued a three-year slide in 2012—and that among the five largest U.S. dailies, the Times published the most stories and had the biggest increase in coverage. Times assistant managing editor Glenn Kramon told The Daily Climate that "climate change is one of the few subjects so important that we need to be oblivious to cycles and just cover it as hard as we can all the time."
On Thursday, Kramon responded to questions from Inside Climate News in an email. "Fortunately, we still have those reporters who cover climate change so well, and we expect to cover the subject just as aggressively going forward," he said. In the piece, top Times editors insist that this move will not diminish or dilute the paper’s commitment to sustained, effective environmental coverage. Andrew Revkin, who writes the Times’ DotEarth blog, described reaction to the decision on Facebook and Twitter as “shock and anger.” Others with lots of journalism experience have fearful views. Dan Fagin, who teaches journalism at New York University after a long career at Newsday, posted the following reaction on Facebook on the development this morning. “Without a designated staff your editor would have to rely completely on borrowing reporters from other desks, and editors on those desks would get no credit from management for any environmental stories their borrowed reporters produce. Meanwhile, the reporters themselves would feel the pressure from their desk editors — the editors who do their evaluations — to stay on their own desks. It sets up an adversarial system that has already failed in many newsrooms. The best solution is what the Times has sadly dismantled: a small dedicated staff with diverse skills AND the ability to tap other expert writers when appropriate.
Many of the Times' readers are seeing red over a decision to shut down the paper’s green desk. The New York Times plans to shutter its standalone environment “pod” -- a pool of editors and reporters dedicated to green issues and the climate -- and redistribute them to other teams. The paper’s top editors claim the move won’t affect the paper of record’s efforts to cover the climate, however. To both me and Jill Abramson, executive editor], coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever,” Dean Baquet, the paper's managing editor for news operations, told InsideClimateNews.com. “We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter.”
But Margaret Sullivan, the Times' public editor, expressed dismay at the news. 'Symbolically, this is bad news. And symbolism matters.' she said, " it shows a commitment and an intensity of interest in a crucially important topic," If coverage of the environment is not to suffer, a lot of people – including The Times’ highest ranking editors — are going to have to make sure that it doesn’t."
The climate change deniers were quick to pickup on the Time's action, offering it as proof that there is no global warming. Heartland.org wrote “What’s in worse shape? The state of the Earth’s climate? Or the state of the New York Times? Global temperatures are not rising all that quickly, so the Earth is doing fine. Meanwhile, the Old Gray Lady is shutting down it’s Environment Desk.”
The action by the Times and the expected reaction from the deniers show the importance of independent reporting and analysis of environmental issues like that conducted by Green Local175 Live. We are free of influence by corporations, government and other institutions and can state the unfettered truth as we see it. Tune in to find the facts and hear in-depth discussions of environmental issues!! You can also read pertinent articles on our website greenlocal175.com
For Green Local 175 LIVE this is contributor Don Stebbins
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/the-changing-newsroom-environment/ http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20130111/new-york-times-dismantles-environmental-desk-journalism-fracking-c http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/11/shock-and-anger-as-new-york-times-eliminates-environment-desk/ http://blog.heartland.org/2013/01/lack-of-global-warming-means-cold-empty-chairs-at-new-york-times-environme
Tonight I will spell out three actions we can take in the next year and beyond to improve our environment
The first thing we can do for our physical environment is to improve our political environment.
A way must be found to separate the wheat from the chaff. Right now lies seem to spread as in the days of Mark Twain ,who said .”A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Think of the vast improvements in the tools of information dispersal since he made that remark over 100 years ago and you see the nature of the problem. I suggest we develop methods for evaluating all statements by political officials and candidates for their truthfulness. The techniques used should be tested for objectivity and approved by the major political parties in each state. Of course this is much easier said than done, as agreement on the objectivity of the criteria for truthfulness will be difficult to achieve. But it must be done if our democracy is to continue.
A second action that can be taken is to improve the coverage of environmental subjects by our mainstream media. Too often a “false balance” is applied that gives equal weight to accepted scientific data and also to speculations of people with an ax to grind. This practice leads to misinformation being believed and spread. A good deal of effort has to be expended to correct for the misbeliefs. False information comes in the forms of propaganda as well as mindless repetition of bogus information. I suggest that all editors of print and electronic media try to improve their performance by developing techniques that filter out the nonsense and publishing the objective truth. . For guidance on how to do this correctly they should become regular listeners of Green Local 175 LIVE.
A third action we can take is to emphasize common sense when it conflicts with the propaganda.
Too many people suspend their own God given reasoning power and accept slogans instead of thinking for themselves. People give equal credibility to global warming deniers in the face of numerous reports from the UN and other prestigious science organizations stating that scientists are "virtually certain" human activity is behind global warming
Whether we are discussing crucial environmental issues or the regulation of assault weapons over the objections of the NRA and their mantra of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way. Common sense should be brought to all our discussions as a substitute for the rhetoric we hear so often today, especially when discussing the possible annihilation of life on Earth.
For Green Local 175 LIVE….I’m contributor Don Stebbins
Back in 1997 we went to Germany to visit the family of an exchange student we enjoyed having in our home in 1990. We stayed there only two weeks but saw some eye opening things that forever changed my mind about the United States being the number one country in the world. Of course the trains ran on time, but beyond that It seemed that in general we had entered a more advanced society. I did not see an area of the cities that looked even mildly run down, let alone a slum. When I came back to Utica, I viewed some of the downtown areas and was frankly ashamed of how our cities compared with Germany's. Mind you, that was 15 years ago and we have done little to rebuild our decaying infrastructure since then.
I was reminded of our lack of leadership in the environmental field recently when I saw several articles about other countries developing green energy resources to lessen their dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power. One article discussed Saudi Arabia's move to end the use of all fossil fuels and nuclear energy, while the other described German plans to shut down all their nuclear plants.
According to recent articles , including Saudi Arabia Unveils Plan to be Powered Entirely by Renewable Energyat http://cleantechnica.com/2012/10/20/saudi-arabia-unveils-plan-to-be-powered-entirely-by-renewable-energy/#KF33sGCCG37QY1dB.99 , Saudi Arabia, one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world is going green. Despite the fact that oil has been Saudi Arabia’s cash crop for decades, the country recently admitted that it does not represent the energy source of the future. EcoWatch reports that during a recent Global Economic Symposium in Rio de Janeiro, Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia said, “I would like to see Saudi Arabia using 100 percent renewable energy within my lifetime.” (He’s 67, by the way, so we’re talking about years, not decades).
.When the country from which America imports a huge amount of oil announces that it wants an economy based on renewable energy, it should be a wake up call. Too bad the oil and coal industries have paid to stuff our ears full of cotton and handed out pro-fossil fuel propaganda like sleeping pills. We can’t hear the alarm bells that have jarred Saudi Arabia into action.
In fact, Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries in the Middle East are banking on the fact that Americans will maintain their oil addiction up until the very last possible second. “I see renewable energy sources helping to prolong our continued export of crude oil, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, told The Wall Street Journal. This means that while his own country begins the shift to renewable energy for its own power needs, it will continue exporting to America and other oil-dependent countries, charging top dollar for ever barrel.
While our politicians scoff at the idea that we should abandon oil, gas and coal for clean energy alternatives, countries in the Middle East are proving that it’s possible — and doesn’t need to happen as gradually as we think. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced that it would invest $109 billion to exploit its abundant solar resources. Mecca, which hosts millions of pilgrims a year visiting Islam’s most holy shrine, hopes to become the first city in Saudi Arabia to operate an entire power plant from renewable energy sources. In fact, Middle Eastern potential for solar energy production is so promising, American companies are investing in it…something they’re reluctant to do here at home.
The lesson here is plain: America is lying to itself. Oil isn’t safer or cheaper. It won’t last forever. Instead of burning through every last bit, oil-rich countries are making the move to renewable energy now. They’re saving those last, excruciatingly expensive barrels for the last chump standing, which is likely to be the U.S. We’re being outpaced by China, Spain, Germany, Norway, and now apparently Saudi Arabia in every aspect of the clean energy game.
As stated in Renewable Energy World, America’s energy “policy hiatus, coming ironically at a time when fully competitive renewable power is starting to be a realistic possibility in a few years’ time, is posing a threat to continued growth in investment in the sector in 2012 and beyond.”
Getting back to progress in Germany, German Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Dieter Haller recently said “that Germany has abandoned nuclear energy not because it has suddenly become afraid of technology. On the contrary, it has decided to massively increase its share of renewables in its primary energy mix and in particular in electricity generation,” he said in his opening address.. See Article “While Germany Is Headed for 80% Renewable Energy, We're Getting Left in the Dust”
He added that this has been done to save oil and gas resources for better use than as fuel for power generation.
“Using renewable energy will help diversify the economy and create jobs for the young population. As of now, 350,000 jobs have been created by using renewable energy. If it could be done in Germany, it could also be done in Saudi Arabia,” he said. He added that using renewable energy also helps save the environment and prevent global warming. On Germany’s experience, he said: “Firstly, you have to give as much attention to the extension and the management of our electricity grid as to the power generating plants. You have to balance supply and demand, over the day and over the year. This – and the increasing inter-linkage between the grids of European partners – opened up a completely new area of technology called smart grid.”
This includes sophisticated power distribution solutions, close monitoring of supply and demand, a flexible arrangement of main and secondary lines, and decentralization of energy generation where possible, and a variety of energy storage options,” he added.
From these articles and many more like them one gets the sense that we are falling behind the rest of the world in a big way- we have to change our ways, educate our Congress and our people, and begin a large and focused effort to develop our own green energy in a hurry.
For Greenlocal175 live, this is contributor Don Stebbins
From time to time over the years I've glanced at the projection of population growth predicted in the World Almanac. The data listed there was quite enlightening as well as frightening.. For example the increase in the population of India is on track
to be 400 million by 2050 , bringing the total to 1.7 billion- that is compared to the population of North America today of a 547 million and 694 million by 2050. Asia's population is likely to exceed 5.5 billion by 2050, an increase of 2.7 billion, while Africa's may be 2.1 billion. The earth is on schedule to reach a population of 9.5 billion by 2050.
What is scary about these numbers is that every increase in population strains the earth's resources in several ways. Ideally we want to develop a civilization which allows sustainable development- that is one that does not damage the environment or use so many of our resources that civilization runs out of the materials and energy necessary to continue our way of life.
According to Population Action (http://populationaction.org/topics/climate-change/) , one of the most important steps on our path to sustainability is controlling the greenhouse gases which threaten to upset the balance keeping our earth at temperatures enabling human life to thrive During the past 100 years, population growth has mirrored the growth of greenhouse gases that cause climate change, with the vast majority of produced by developed nations. But most of the effects of climate change are already being experienced in developing countries. Governments of 37 least developed countries have identified population growth as a factor that increases vulnerability to climate change.
While development tends to increase per capita greenhouse gases, it acts to reduce population growth. When women are empowered to plan and space their children, they are better able to adapt to climate change and ensure the survival of their families. In addition, slowing population growth could help reduce future emissions. If the world’s population reaches 8 billion rather than 9.5 billion in 2050, it could result in one to two billion fewer tons of carbon Rapid population growth and fossil fuel emissions are two leading characteristics of our modern age. Since 1800, world population has grown sevenfold, while per capita CO2 emissions have increased 150 times. Put the two together, and you have about 1,100 times as much in terms of emissions.
At first glance, it is hard to see how population growth in less developed nations is linked to climate change. After all, people who live in places with the lowest carbon emissions tend to have the largest families. Residents of the African nation of Chad have about six children each, yet their annual per capita carbon emissions are less than 1 percent of those of the average American. It would be unfair to blame climate change on people in less developed nations who seek the same creature comforts many of us take for granted.
But we can’t escape this fact: A 2005 London School of Economics study concluded that, if each of us living in a highly developed country reduced our carbon footprint by 40 percent over 40 years, all of that would be cancelled by our present population growth rates alone. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that emissions will rise dramatically if and when billions of people are able to escape from poverty.
What sort of future do we picture for people in the poorest places on earth, where most people live on less than two dollars a day and where people lack access to clean water and basic sanitation? Many now-impoverished people in Africa and elsewhere would like to have – as many in the developed world do – central air conditioning. And cars. And air travel to other continents. All of these luxuries will increase per capita emissions.
Rather than assume long-term poverty for billions of our fellow human beings, we must cut our own emissions even as emissions of the poorest people increase to a level that yields a decent quality of life. To insure that the reduction of emissions in the developed countries is not cancelled by increases from the developing world, we must slow the growth rate of our human family.
Today, more than 222 million women in developing nations would like to limit their family size, yet they are unable to do so because of a host of obstacles. Lack of information about modern contraception and cost are important factors. But the most serious barriers are often more subtle and complex. They include misinformation about side effects of birth control methods, including the false notion that they lead to sterility. In many societies, women – especially young brides – have no power over their own lives. Husbands, clerics and even mothers-in-law occupy the positions of authority. Failure to procreate can have violent consequences for women, some of whom are barely into their teens.
If the United States were to invest one additional dollar per American per year in awareness-raising and education campaigns, we could help break down these barriers in partnership with other nations. Added to our current investment in international family planning, this would amount to one billion dollars per year.
Meeting the challenge of climate change is likely to take dedicated efforts over many generations. We also need a plan that will help lift out of poverty people in the developing world. Family planning should be a key part of that plan.
But beyond family planning I see an opportunity to solve the problems of climate change and population
growth by implementing a massive international program to “leap frog” to using green technology for development in the underdeveloped world. Rather than depending on follsil fuels for development, a wide array of solar, wind, biofuel, geothermal and other energy production methods would be used to arrive at a truly sustainable system- not so incidentally this program would stimulate the economies of first, second ,and third world nations- it would be a winner across the board.
Green Local 175 seeks to create a greater degree of environmental awareness and to stimulate and promote green economic development within a 175 mile radius of Utica - Rome. The organization started off with a bang as the first event was a large environmental expo. The Utica Rome Green Expo (URGE) is part of our multi - year Green Local 175 program, which is an educational and economic development campaign to make our region's green economy come alive and thrive.
The first URGE took place during September 2008. We rented a large arena and had 26 exhibitors and 42 speakers ( in 3 concurrent multi-media rooms ), over an entire weekend at our event. Thanks to our network of businesses, organizations, and individuals collaborating for the benefit of our region ; this unique and much needed event was achieved without any taxpayer money. Plans are already underway for the next URGE. We are currently looking for volunteers, whether they be individuals, businesses, or organizations to help make the next URGE a reality.
We will be fostering and promoting green initiatives, projects, products , and services of businesses and organizations in our region, at this event and others throughout the rest of the year. Since 2008 our Monday Nite green events have been very well received . We've already partnered with Utica Monday Nite again this summer and look forward to partnering with other companies and organizations in the future. Please contact Richard Morris (event organizer) at 724-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved and for further information about up coming events.