Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Bacon AND lettuce are called for and it is BLET for me

December 17, 2015

The papers have recently been full of a study from Carnegie Mellon University which purports to show that for lower greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore for the good of the environment, bacon is three times better than lettuce.

Yahoo News:

Greenhouse gas emissions from lettuce production are three times higher per calorie than from bacon, study finds .

Eating lettuce could be three times worse for the environment than bacon, scientists have claimed. Despite calls from celebrities including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sir Paul McCartney for people to eat less meat to help save the planet, new research suggests that ‘healthier’ diets with more fruit and vegetables could actually be worse for global warming .

The study, by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, compared the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of 1,000 calories of different foods. “Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” Professor Paul Fischbeck, one of the report’s authors, concluded.

But for all my liking of bacon, I am not giving up on my lettuce. First I don’t believe that man-made “greenhouse” gas emissions have any significant impact on climate. Second, even if they did, the Paris conference has saved the world. Third the combination of bacon with lettuce is one of the greater discoveries of humanity.

But most importantly, my favourite sandwich is not a BLT but a BLET (Bacon, lettuce, egg and tomato). In a crisp and crusty baguette, the egg is better either scrambled or hard-boiled and sliced, but if space allows a fried egg is ideal. The de-luxe edition could also have melted cheese (which is then a BLETCH). Of course, the bacon is the centrepiece and should be just crisp but should not “crumble”. Back-bacon rather than crispy bacon would be my choice.

A BLET – image Pinterest

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If the EPA had been BP, they would be liable for billions

August 23, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency is not the most impressive of organisations – either in efficiency or in their “politically correct” policies or in their complete lack of common sense. No doubt they have done some good work – more by accident than by design – but they suffer from the irresponsibility that comes from the lack of accountability and liability that “government” or “international” organisations are subject to. Just as UN troops get away with rape and murder and pillage in the CAR because they shelter under the immunity that they have, so does the EPA get away with little more than a slap on the wrist for the massive pollution that they have caused by releasing toxic heavy metals from the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado into rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. If the EPA had been a private company (say BP) they would by now have been facing billions in compensation claims.

Over a million gallons of mine wastewater has made it's way into the Animas River.

Over a million gallons of mine wastewater has made it’s way into the Animas River, closing the river and putting the city of Durango on alert. (Brent Lewis/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

Now it turns out they were well aware of the risks of a blowout before they caused the blowout.

TPM:

EPA released the documents following weeks of prodding from The Associated Press and other media organizations. EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado.

Among the documents is a June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup that noted that the old mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed. The plan appears to have been produced by Environmental Restoration, a private contractor working for EPA.

“This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse,” the report says. “ln addition, other collapses within the workings may have occurred creating additional water impounding conditions. Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals.”

A subsequent May 2015 action plan for the mine also notes the potential for a blowout.

I don’t hear much from the usually strident environmental lobbies for whom the EPA can do no wrong.

Related:

How the EPA managed to spill 3 million gallons of mining waste into a Colorado river

Why would anybody trust the EPA?

August 11, 2015

CBS News: The Environmental Protection Agency is taking the blame for a huge leak of contaminated water into a Colorado river. Government officials said Sunday three million gallons spilled into the Animas River. That is three times larger than the original estimate. The once-clean waterway that was a popular place for kayakers is now filled with yellow, contaminated water.

EPA says arsenic and other toxins from mine spill have traveled 100 miles through Colorado and New Mexico

Three million gallons of toxic waste are now pushing down two rivers that cross Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Last Wednesday a crew working for the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally breached a dam holding back heavy metals used in gold mining. Colorado’s governor declared a disaster.

EPA caused pollution  colorado August 2015 - cbs news

EPA caused pollution colorado August 2015 – cbs news

The EPA had no alternative to taking the blame. After all they did do it. A scapegoat will no doubt be found but no EPA heads will roll.

India has 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities with New Delhi as the worst

May 9, 2014

The WHO has released the 2014 update of its Ambient Air Pollution database.

The database contains results of ambient (outdoor) air pollution monitoring from almost 1600 cities in 91 countries. Air quality is represented by annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5, i.e. particles smaller than 10 or 2.5 microns).

The database covers the period from 2008 to 2013, with the majority of values for the years 2011 and 2012. The primary sources of data include publicly available national/subnational reports and web sites, regional networks such as the Asian Clean Air Initiative and the European Airbase, and selected publications. The database aims to be representative for human exposure, and therefore primarily captures measurements from monitoring stations located in urban background, residential, commercial and mixed areas.

The world’s average PM10 levels by region range from 26 to 208 ug/m3, with a world’s average of 71 ug/m3.

India has the dubious distinction of having 6 of the ten worst polluted, 13 of the 20 worst polluted cities and 20 of the 50 most polluted. Needless to say New Delhi is the worst. Delhi, Patna, Gwalior and Raipur are the 4 worst polluted cities in the world. 

50 most polluted cities WHO 2014 (pdf)

Delhi’s preeminent position in the pollution stakes was also reported by the Yale 2014 Environmental Performance Index which I posted about in February. I wrote then:

Whether Delhi is worse or better than Beijing is irrelevant. The point is that Delhi is as bad as it is.

I visit Delhi 5 or 6 times every year and it has the worst air quality that I experience. It is dust particles in the main – and a lot of that is from the ubiquitous building rubble and  building materials lying in piles (some small and some large) all over the city. The diesel engine particulates have – I think – reduced after the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for taxis and autos but they build up every night when the long-distance trucks roll through the city (they are banned during the day).

But Delhi is essentially a huge building site. In new building projects (many for domestic dwellings), building materials (bricks, sand, cement, tiles, sewer pipes….) are all brought and dumped in open piles on the street long before any building actually commences. Even completed building projects leave behind their piles of sand and bricks and rubble on the street which are never cleaned up. If a road is dug up for any reason the remaining mud and rubble is never actually cleared up . it is usually just pushed to one side. The last mile syndrome applies and nothing ever gets finally or properly finished.

But the real issue is one of attitude and behaviour. .. 

Delhi’s atmosphere is what it is because the citizens of Delhi do not give any value to it being any better.

I travel to Delhi 5 or 6 times a year and can vouch for the muck and grime both in the air and on the ground. The problem is not one of money or of technology but of attitudes. The population of Delhi – on average – just does not give much value to the quality of the environment they live in. The politicians are followers rather than leaders and none have the courage to follow a vision of what Delhi could be like

The Indian General Election results are due out in a week.

Toilets before temples may win the day. 

When molluscs and plovers take precedence – the “green” contribution to drought and flooding

February 13, 2014

Do-gooding idiocy has its consequences.

High rains (which happen from time to time) and undredged rivers will inevitably result in escape channels for the water being restricted and increase the possibility of water breaking out of the river channels and finding their own way to the sea. In the UK it seems rainfall levels have been very high this winter – but not as high as in 1929/1930. People are now living in much more vulnerable areas than they did before and the lack of dredging – mainly to protect some form of plant or wildlife – has led to – or at least contributed to – some of the flooding that is currently being experienced. Sections of the Thames have been left undredged to protect molluscs!

Apparently the same form of green idiocy  has also been prevalent in the US. In South Dakota plovers take precedence over humans and in northern California, the Delta Smelt – a small fish – is preventing the release of waters which could alleviate the drought being experienced by many farmers.

Human Lives Being Imperiled to Save the Mollusc and the Plover

It’s time for the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its British counterpart the Environment Agency (EA) to put humans first on their epic Endangered Species Lists. 

The new mantra of everyday people who make the populations of the U.S. and Britain should be: ‘People First, Rare Molluscs, Plover, & Delta Smelt Last’.

Thousands of people in both nations are being flooded out of house and home and lives are being imperiled because weak western leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron allow their environment protection agencies to continue to cower to the demands of radical environmentalists.

Out of decency for the devastated, photo ops for Prime Minister David Cameron and politicians visiting Britain’s flooded areas wearing “wellies” (as in Wellington rubber boots) should be curtailed. …… 

It now turns out that in spite of the afflicted region being one of the most ‘undefended flood plains in England’, the Thames was not dredged in case a rare mollusc was disturbed. (Daily Mail, Feb. 13, 2014)

The EA,  of course is claiming that the mussels were not the only reason the Thames was not dredged, even though in a 2010 report, seen by the Mail, they ruled out dredging between Datchet and Staines because the river bed was home to the vulnerable creatures. ….. 

Even with devastation as the result, in South Dakota the waters of the mighty Missouri River are held back each spring to protect the plover, a shore bird that nests along the Missouri. 

“If they let out too much water in the spring, it drowns out their nests and kills the baby birds.  So the corps holds it back to allow the birds to hatch.” (William Kevin Stoos,CFP, June 1, 2011)

“Fast forward to the spring of 2011.  As I watch my friends in Dakota Dunes frantically trying to escape the mighty flood waters released in record amounts by the Corps this week, while their houses are ruined by the Muddy Mo, and my friends, neighbors, and family members work feverishly to protect our own homes and each others’ homes in Wynstone, South Dakota—up river a ways—I thought about the plover. ……

That’s the true tawdry tale of the plovers saved by environmentalists along the Missouri.

Then there’s the never-ending curious story of the Delta Smelt, a tiny fish that is exclusive to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a once fertile area that serves as a transition for water originating in northern California, ending in water delivery west of the delta for agriculture and south of the Delta for citizens of southern California.

According to Save-the-Fish radical environmentalists, pumping stations used for water delivery were pulverizing the smelt and leading to a dramatic decrease in population and possible extinction.

“The Delta smelt is not edible, does not eliminate pests or have any meaningful commercial value.  Sometimes, despite environmentalist’s protestations to the contrary, certain species reach a natural evolutionary dead end,” wrote William Busse in the Maricopa County Conservative Examiner back in September of 2009.

“However, using the weapon of the Endangered Species Act, environmental groups sued, and on December 14, 2007, Judge Oliver Wanger of the United States District Court for the Eastern district of California, issued an Interim Remedial Order

“The impact on farmers in the area has been devastating with the San Joaquin Valley unemployment rate reaching 14% and leaving thousands of previously productive farming acres scorched and unusable.  In addition, water utilities in southern California have already begun raising rates and creating tiered pricing to address the 85% reduction in imported water.”

To this day California is still under deadly drought—and still diverting water to save the Delta Smelt.

The incredulous headlines today are about a snowstorm in Washington. A snowstorm in winter! Who could possibly have anticipated that?

Environmentalism gives little priority to humans.

Greens are close to Trotskyites

January 21, 2014

I have always felt that the Green movement was penetrated and then effectively taken over by the extreme left who had no place to go after the fall of communism. This takeover by the extreme left – whether they were Maoists, Trotskyites or Leninists – coincides with when the Green movement moved from local environmental issues (where they did a great job) to large “global” issues – where they have been remarkably ineffective and terribly destructive. These global issues (climate, GM crops…) are ostensibly about large abstract (but non-existent)  threats but really concerned with furthering the communistic ideals of wealth redistribution.

Now Lord Deben (the former John Gummer) – who has not himself been above making money from “green” policies – labels the Greens openly as Trotskyites (though it may have more to do with the money he stands to make by promoting the fracking of shale). Gummer has been quite happy to be allied with the Trotskyites when it has suited him to promote renewable energy. But now it is not sustainable for Europe to perpetuate its lack of competitivity against the US with gas prices 3 times higher and electricity prices twice as high as in the US. And these high costs are almost entirely due to the misguided “green” policies in the EU (which have only succeeded in replacing nuclear power with coal). Fracking is inevitable and while Gummer is just ensuring his own future, it suits him to expose the undoubted extremism of the “Greens”.

The Guardian:

Lord Deben, who is chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said those who condemn fracking as extremely damaging are taking a “nonsensical position” and called on environmentalists who take a more “sensible” view to disassociate themselves from these groups.

In an interview with the Guardian, the Conservative ex-cabinet minister, formerly known as John Gummer, argued that the best way of protecting the planet is broad agreement about practical solutions, including exploitation of Britain’s shale gas reserves. 

He said the fight against climate change will not be won if moderates allow their position to be associated with campaigners who have “extremist” views close to Trotskyism that are not really connected to the environment.

The chairman’s remarks are likely to prove controversial with groups that strongly oppose fracking, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Green Party, whose MP Caroline Lucas was arrested during an anti-shale protest in Balcombe in August. They have raised worries about the carbon emissions and potential for water contamination, air pollution, flaring and visual impact on the landscape.

However, David Cameron and many other Conservatives have hailed the technology as a way of possibly bringing down bills and boosting growth, while insisting it will be properly regulated. The prime minister declared last week that he was “going all out for shale”.

Deben would not single out any particular green groups in the UK, but criticised what he called the “Christine Milne school of thought” in the environmental movement – a reference to the leader of the Australian green party, who is a senator for Tasmania.

Another alarmist theme debunked: PCF’s and PCB’s don’t affect fertility

October 7, 2013

A major EU study concludes that environmental contaminants have little if any impact on human fertility and certainly much less than the alarmist meme has portrayed for 2 decades. Moreover “data indicates that global warming will not increase the spread of contaminants around the Arctic areas and the rest of the planet”.

ScienceNordic reports:

….

The event marked the culmination the three-year-long EU study ‘Climate Change, Environmental Contaminants and Reproductive Health (CLEAR)’, which is headed by Danish scientists. 

Since 2010 the CLEAR project has aimed at assessing whether global warming causes an increase in the spread of the already widespread environmental contaminants such as PCB and PCF and whether increased exposure is a threat to human reproductive health.

The short answer to both questions is no, said Professor Jens Peter Bonde of the Department of Public Health at Copenhagen University.

“Most people probably feel they already know about the negative effects of environmental contaminants but with this study we can conclude that these contaminants really pose no major threat to human fertility,” he said.

On top of that, he added, their data indicates that global warming will not increase the spread of contaminants around the Arctic areas and the rest of the planet.

Some 1,400 pregnant women and 600 spouses from Greenland, Hungary and Poland were examined for the CLEAR project, which is the largest project so far to study the effect of more than 20 known environmental contaminants’ toxicity on human fertility.

While no major negative effects were found on the subjects’ reproductive health, the scientists did see cases of harmful properties from the contaminants of which most have been banned by the UN since 2004.

”We found some minor correlations between contaminants and lowered sperm quality plus hormone changes in men,” conceded Bonde.

He did, however, add that it these effects may not be of clinical relevance.

”We’d rather emphasize on the fact that we’ve carried out extensive analyses of contaminant levels in men and women and that the general picture looks peaceful.”

 

The Pirates of Greenpeace

October 3, 2013

Greenpeace is not just becoming, it already is , a comic soap opera.

This is to be sung to the tune of I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from The Pirates of Penzance.

Preferably after dinner with a cognac (or two) and a good cigar!

(With thanks and apologies of course to Gilbert and Sullivan)

The Pirates of Greenpeace or I am the very model of a modern Environ-Mentalist

I am the very model of a modern Environ-Mentalist
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and min’ralist,
I know the Sins of Nations, and I quote the fights rightorical
From Vancouver to Murmansk, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted, too, with crises hypothetical,
I understand ecology, both the stupid and the fanciful,
About bio-diversity I’m teeming with a lot o’ fears
With many, many made-up facts ’bout the dying of the polar bears
I’m very good at man-made global warming ideology;
I know the sensitivity of fossil fuel combustology:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and min’ralist,
I am the very model of a modern Environ-Mentalist
I know our mythic history, and Nuclear power efficacy; 
I answer hard acrostics, I’ve a pretty taste for Piracy,
I can quote in haiku all the crimes of Big Petroleum;
Genetic crops to feed the poor meet with my opprobrium;
I can tell undoubted radicals from all the evil conservatives;
For all the problems of the world, I have the simple preservatives!
Then I can hum a fugue of which I’ve heard the music’s din afore, 
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.
Then I can write an alarmist screed in IPCC complexity,
And tell you ev’ry detail of Pachauri’s Nobel perplexity.
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and min’ralist,
I am the very model of a modern Environ-Mentalist.
In fact, when I know what is meant by “Decadal” and “Oscillatus”,
When I can tell at sight a hockey-stick from a hiatus,
When with such affairs as PDO’s and ADO’s I’m more adept,
And when with cosmic rays and clouds I’m a little more abreast,
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern statistickery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery –
In short, when I’ve a smattering of physics elementary
You’ll say a better Environ-Mentalist was never so exemplary
For my scientific knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the start of the last century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and min’ralist,
I am the very model of a modern Environ-Mentalist.

Guardian’s “catastrophe” correspondent supports Rudd: Could be the final straw

September 5, 2013

If anything convinces me even more than the bookies that Rudd will lose the election this weekend, it is that George Monbiot of the Guardian has developed the catastrophe scenario for Australia if Abbot wins. He has the uncanny knack of picking dead – and useless – causes.

For those who have not been exposed to George Monbiot, he is the Guardian’s “catastrophe” correspondent. He can manage to find a looming disaster in every human development. His articles tend to lurch from one catastrophe scenario to the next. That his “catastrophes” never happen and keep disappearing into the future never discourages him. He can always find a new catastrophe. And now he has picked on Tony Abbott! He does write for The Guardian and support for Abbott would not be possible but the demonisation of Abbott – like carbon dioxide – is a Monbiot speciality.

Fighting global warming is his reason for living. He detests – and denies – the hiatus in global warming since it might prove that there is no impending catastrophe. He denies that changes to climate may be due to natural variability. He doesn’t like fracking or the Farmers Union. In fact he doesn’t like fossil fuels of any kind. Coal – he thinks – has been disastrous for Australia. Tourists and sheep in the Lake District should be banned. Exotic trees should be banned and only “native” trees should be planted. He has a fantasy that woolly mammoths could be brought back to life. Neonictinoids are like DDT. The shooting of one of the Boston bombers was an “execution”. Oil companies and tobacco companies are to be shunned. He really does believe in “peak oil” and “peak gas”. Earning money and creating wealth is fundamentally wrong. Faith in the markets is misplaced and only governments can save our living planet. Having resources is a curse. Exploiting such resources is to court eternal damnation. He is a firm adherent of the precautionary principle.

In short he knows best what is best for others.

And he does not like Tony Abbott – probably to Abbot’s great advantage. His headlines can be worth looking at but to read through his articles requires a strong stomach. It’s not just that he does not like humanity; he does not like people doing well. Coal and its exploitation – he believes – has degraded and brutalised Australia.

The Guardian: 

If Abbott is elected, Australia’s natural wonders will gradually be rubbed away

Tony Abbott’s climate policies are about removing the social and environmental protections enjoyed by all Australians to allow the filthy rich to become richer – and filthier.

…. Why? The answer’s in the name. Coalition policies begin with coal: getting it out of the ground, moving it through the ports, stripping away the regulations that prevent mining companies from wrecking the natural beauty of Australia – and from trashing the benign climate on which we all depend. The mining boom in the world’s biggest coal exporter has funded a new, harsher politics. 

… Like the tar sands in Canada, coal has changed the character of the nation, brutalising and degrading public life. It has funded a vicious campaign of mud-slinging against those who argue for the careful use of resources, for peace and quiet and beauty and the health of the living planet. Australia, like Nigeria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, suffers from a resource curse. …

Read the whole article (if you really must).

Humans are enabling some animals to evolve larger brains

August 23, 2013

As humans implement artificial selection on themselves – a process and a force for evolution operating much faster than natural selection could  – they are also changing the environment for evolutionary selection in which many animals live. Some of these species are enormously successful in adapting to their new environments while others cannot cope with the change. The changes are so profound that the evolutionary trajectories of these species are changing. It could be that the “urbansisation” of these species has led some species to follow an evolutionary path which includes increasing brain size in their new, man-made surroundings. Carl Zimmer writes in the New York Times:

Are We Making Animal Brains Bigger? 

Evolutionary biologists have come to recognize humans as a tremendous evolutionary force. In hospitals, we drive the evolution of resistant bacteria by giving patients antibiotics. In the oceans, we drive the evolution of small-bodied fish by catching the big ones.

In a new study, a University of Minnesota biologist, Emilie C. Snell-Rood, offers evidence suggesting we may be driving evolution in a more surprising way. As we alter the places where animals live, we may be fueling the evolution of bigger brains.

Dr. Snell-Rood bases her conclusion on a collection of mammal skulls kept at the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Snell-Rood picked out 10 species to study, including mice, shrews, bats and gophers. She selected dozens of individual skulls that were collected as far back as a century ago. An undergraduate student named Naomi Wick measured the dimensions of the skulls, making it possible to estimate the size of their brains.

Two important results emerged from their research. In two species — the white-footed mouse and the meadow vole — the brains of animals from cities or suburbs were about 6 percent bigger than the brains of animals collected from farms or other rural areas. Dr. Snell-Rood concludes that when these species moved to cities and towns, their brains became significantly bigger.

…..  Studies by other scientists have linked better learning in animals with bigger brains. In January, for example, researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden described an experiment in which they bred guppies for larger brain sizes. The big-brained fish scored better on learning tests than their small-brained cousins.

Animals colonizing cities and towns have to learn how to find food in buildings and other places their ancestors hadn’t encountered. ..


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