Tag Archives | Environmentalism

Why Libertarians Must Deny the Effects of Pollution

George Monbiot. Photo: SlimVirgin (CC)

George Monbiot. Photo: SlimVirgin (CC)

Matt Bruenig writes on his blog:

George Monbiot had an article in the Guardian on Monday about bastardised libertarianism and its inability to understand the real freedoms being fought for by environmentalists and social justice advocates. However, Monbiot’s treatment of environmentalism’s threat to libertarianism was a bit sloppy. He got sucked into the negative freedom and positive freedom debate, and although he worked his way to the correct conclusion ultimately, I felt like the clarity was lacking.

So I want to explain more clearly just how much environmentalists stick in the side of libertarian ideology. First, consider what libertarians of the sort Monbiot criticizes are really about philosophically: they favor a procedural justice account of the world based heavily on property rights. This is the newest face of libertarianism. Gone is the appeal to utility and desert. The modern libertarians try to prop up their political ideas almost solely through a rigid formalism of property rights.

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Florida Funeral Home Unveils New Body ‘Liquefaction’ Unit

resomatorThere are many things to consider when taking care of funeral arrangements: did the person want to be buried, cremated, or liquidated? This ‘alkaline hydrolysis” unit is thought to be more environmentally friendly than the traditional cremation process. BBC News reports:

A Glasgow-based company has installed its first commercial “alkaline hydrolysis” unit at a Florida funeral home.

The unit by Resomation Ltd is billed as a green alternative to cremation and works by dissolving the body in heated alkaline water.

The facility has been installed at the Anderson-McQueen funeral home in St Petersburg, and will be used for the first time in the coming weeks. It is hoped other units will follow in the US, Canada and Europe.

The makers claim the process produces a third less greenhouse gas than cremation, uses a seventh of the energy, and allows for the complete separation of dental amalgam for safe disposal.

Mercury from amalgam vaporised in crematoria is blamed for up to 16% of UK airborne mercury emissions, and many UK crematoria are currently fitting mercury filtration systems to meet reduced emission targets.

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Yesterday’s News Could Be Tomorrow’s Fuel

800px-World_newspapers_Everyday millions of newspapers are read and then throw out or, hopefully, recycled. Instead of turning those papers into other paper products, they may be able to be used for fuel. Via Discovery News:

Tulane University scientists discovered a strain of clostridia bacteria, dubbed “TU-103,” that can devour old newspapers to produce butanol, a substitute for gasoline.

Old editions of the Times Picayune, New Orleans’ daily newspaper, have been successfully used by the researchers to produce butanol from the cellulose in the paper. Cellulose is a structural material in plants.

TU-103 is the first bacterial strain found in nature (not genetically engineered) to produce butanol directly from cellulose. It is also the only strain yet found that can grow in the presence of oxygen. Keeping bacterial fermentation chambers air tight makes other strains more expensive to work with.

“This discovery could reduce the cost to produce bio-butanol,” said David Mullin, who’s lab discovered the bacterial strain, in a Tulane press release.

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Mushroom Death Suit

5934717321_bb03e77a6d_bSomeday the lifeless bodies of all of us may be laid into the cold earth zipped snugly in the outfit at right. Artist Jae Rhim Lee designed her mushroom burial suit to address how we part with the dead — “By trying to preserve the body we poison the living.” The garment is embedded with spores of toxin-cleaning, flesh-eating mushrooms that will consume the corpse wearing it, leaving the earth cleansed and renewed as we make our exit:

The first prototype of the Infinity Burial Suit is a body suit embroidered with thread infused with mushroom spores. The embroidery pattern resembles the dendritic growth of mushroom mycelium. The Suit is accompanied by an Alternative Embalming Fluid, a liquid spore slurry, and Decompiculture Makeup, a two-part makeup consisting of a mixture of dry mineral makeup and dried mushroom spores and a separate liquid culture medium. Combining the two parts and applying them to the body activates the mushroom spores to develop and grow.

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Is The Internet Polluting The Planet?

indexIs your constant craving for coneing clips hastening the destruction of the world? People tend to think of internet usage as "virtual" or "magic" but, it isn't so. YouTube viewing alone pumps thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day. Computer servers add to worldwide carbon emissions at the same rate as the aviation industry, and Facebook and Apple are powered largely by coal. In fact, I better stop typing right now. Via Hungry Beast:
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Al Gore’s New Reality Show: 24 Hours Of Reality

Al Gore has a new reality program, 24 Hours of Reality, set to air its first live-stream on September 14. In his continuing campaign to raise awareness about global climate changes this program is a new step towards provoking action. The program will run 24 hours around the globe in multiple languages and featuring scientists, executives, celebrities and citizens around the world. [More at The New York Times]
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An Environmental Advocate Faces Jail Time For Peacefully Derailing The Government’s Auction Of Utah Land

Photo: Nodar Kherkheulidze

Photo: Nodar Kherkheulidze

Environmental hero or another illegal tactic of a peaceful activist? Jurors are often told that they must come to a verdict based on the law and not their moral conscious. Should DeChristopher get a 4 1/2 year prison sentence, or should his trial lead to a reconsideration of the law? AlterNet reports:

Tim DeChristopher is scheduled to be sentenced in a Salt Lake City courtroom by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson on July 26. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $750,000 fine for fraudulently bidding in December 2008 on parcels of land, including areas around eastern Utah’s national parks, which were being sold off by the Bush administration to the oil and natural gas industry. As Bidder No. 70, he drove up the prices of some of the bids and won more than a dozen other parcels for $1.8 million. The government is asking Judge Benson to send DeChristopher to prison for four and a half years.

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KLM To Use Recycled Frying Oil To Fuel Flights

800px-Klm.fokker.f100.ph-ofg.arpKLM airlines are going green, well, at least for some flights. BBC reports:

The Dutch airline KLM says it plans to use recycled cooking oil on 200 flights between Paris and Amsterdam.

The fuel, biokerosene, is derived from used frying oil, which has to be tested to meet the same technical specifications as traditional kerosene.

Airlines are under EU pressure to cut their carbon emissions by 3% by 2012.

KLM’s interest in biofuels dates back to 2009, when it ran a test flight carrying 40 people, including the then Dutch economics affairs minister.

The 90-minute flight was majority powered by traditional aviation fuel, with just one of the its four engines powered 50% by biofuel.

Future flights will use half traditional kerosene and half biofuel.

[Continues at BBC News]

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Lawmakers Debate The Mass Killing Of Sea Lions In The Pacific Northwest

Photo: Oregongirlmary (CC)

Photo: Oregongirlmary (CC)

Kill the sea lions to save the salmon? The Raw Story reports:

A House Natural Resources Committee panel is holding a hearing this morning about the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act (HR 946), which, under its tame-sounding official name, would authorize tribal members in the Pacific Northwest to kill sea lions to allow the endangered wild salmon to replenish in the Columbia River.

“As Northwest residents spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to protect salmon, California sea lions camp out at Bonneville Dam and other areas along the Columbia River and gorge themselves on endangered fish,” Natural Resources Committee chairman Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) explained in a statement last month.

The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration in May authorized “lethal” removal of sea lions on the 140-mile stretch of the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington below the dam.

“This is not an easy decision for our agency to make, but a thorough analysis shows that a small number of California sea lions preying on salmon and steelhead are having a significant effect on the ability of the fish stocks to recover,” William W.

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Australia’s ‘Kill A Camel’ To Cut Pollution Concept

800px-Camel_in_the_Thar_Desert

Photo: Dan Searle (CC)

How can we curb the emission of greenhouse gases? Get rid of a bunch of camels, apparently. Via Physorg:

Australia is considering awarding carbon credits for killing feral camels as a way to tackle climate change.

The suggestion is included in Canberra’s “Carbon Farming Initiative”, a consultation paper by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, seen Thursday.

Adelaide-based Northwest Carbon, a commercial company, proposed culling some 1.2 million wild camels that roam the Outback, the legacy of herds introduced to help early settlers in the 19th century.

Considered a pest due to the damage they do to vegetation, a camel produces, on average, a methane equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide a year, making them collectively one of Australia’s major emitters of greenhouse gases.

In its plan, Northwest said it would shoot them from helicopters or muster them and send them to an abattoir for either human or pet consumption.

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