Tag Archives | Pollution

Welcome to the Acid Sea

Waves on Ocean CoastIs the coming tide an uninhabitable ocean? Reports the AFP via Alternet:

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 Thursday.

The acidification may be worse than during four major mass extinctions in history when natural pulses of carbon from asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions caused global temperatures to soar, said the study in the journal Science.

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.

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A Cheap New Way To Clean The Air

George Olah. Photo: Bitman (CC)

George Olah. Photo: Bitman (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

Scientists are reporting discovery of an improved way to remove carbon dioxide — the major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming — from smokestacks and other sources, including the atmosphere. Their report on the process, which achieves some of the highest carbon dioxide removal capacity ever reported for real-world conditions where the air contains moisture, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Alain Goeppert, G. K. Surya Prakash, chemistry Nobel Laureate George A. Olah and colleagues explain that controlling emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. They point out that existing methods for removing carbon dioxide from smokestacks and other sources, including the atmosphere, are energy intensive, don’t work well and have other drawbacks.

In an effort to overcome such obstacles, the group turned to solid materials based on polyethylenimine, a readily available and inexpensive polymeric material.

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River Of Blood Flows In China

When researching your local natural environs involves a DVD of The Shining…Via the International Business Times:

The Jian River in Luoyang, China had become a “river of blood”…Locals were subject to the water’s eerie, blood-like color for several days before government officials tracked the source of the color not to a Moses-like End Times but to two small chemical plants.

Although media outlets were alerted to the spill by citizens’ panicked calls, others who live neat the water are unsurprised, saying the water changes color often due to the various pollutants dumped into or along the river on a weekly basis. Some Chinese locals report that the river has turned dark green in the past.

chinablood

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Traffic Fumes Linked To Brain Damage, Autism

Not that this should be any great surprise, but maybe now that scientists are able to measure the adverse effects of combustion-engine vehicle pollution, legislators will take action. One can dream, anyway. From the Wall Street Journal:
Congested cities are fast becoming test tubes for scientists studying the impact of traffic fumes on the brain. As roadways choke on traffic, researchers suspect that the tailpipe exhaust from cars and trucks—especially tiny carbon particles already implicated in heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments—may also injure brain cells and synapses key to learning and memory. New public-health studies and laboratory experiments suggest that, at every stage of life, traffic fumes exact a measurable toll on mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability...
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When Pollution Grows Terrible, The Elite Breathe Purified Air

gty_beijing_pollution_nt_111101_wblogIt has recently been noted that in the Chinese capital of Beijing, the air quality has grown so bad as to be off the charts of measurability. But the New York Times reports that the elite breathe special air thanks to purification systems — is this the global future, in which a breath of fresh air is a luxury item?

Ordinary Beijingers could take some comfort in the knowledge that the soupy air they breathe on especially polluted days also finds its way into the lungs of the privileged and pampered. Such assumptions, it seems, are not entirely accurate.

As it turns out, the homes and offices of many top leaders are filtered by high-end devices, at least according to a Chinese company, the Broad Group, which has been promoting its air-purifying machines in advertisements that highlight their ubiquity in places where many officials work and live.

The company’s vice president, Zhang Zhong, said there were more than 200 purifiers scattered throughout Great Hall of the People, the office of China’s president, Hu Jintao, and Zhongnanhai, the walled compound for senior leaders and their families.

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EPA Puts Former Senior Administrator Who Supported Whistleblower in Prison

EPAVia Corporate Crime Reporter:

Where are the criminal prosecutions of the major corporations responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Still nowhere to be found. Where are the prosecutors? Where is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Not prosecuting major polluters.

Instead, what are they doing? Cracking down on whistleblowers. And those who support whistleblowers. While the corporate crooks are running free.

Next time you think of this disparity of justice, remember these two words: Jon Grand.

For more than twenty years, Grand was a senior administrator at the EPA in Chicago. Never had a run in with the law. Then, he made the mistake of supporting an EPA whistleblower.

In 2000, Grand was talking on the phone with colleagues in Washington. And the EPA people in Washington were making disparaging remarks about Marsha Coleman-Adebayo – a young African-American EPA staffer who was suing the EPA and its administrator – Carol Browner – for race and sex discrimination.

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Pollutants Linked to 450% Increase in Risk of Birth Defects in Rural China

China PollutionForget climate change deniers, there are more urgent reasons to eliminate pollution. Via ScienceDaily:

Pesticides and pollutants are related to a 450 percent increase in the risk of spina bifida and anencephaly in rural China, according to scientists at The University of Texas at Austin and Peking University.Two of the pesticides found in high concentrations in the placentas of affected newborns and stillborn fetuses were endosulfan and lindane. Endosulfan is only now being phased out in the United States for treatment of cotton, potatoes, tomatoes and apples. Lindane was only recently banned in the United States for treatment of barley, corn, oats, rye, sorghum and wheat seeds.

Strong associations were also found between spina bifida and anencephaly and high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are byproducts of burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Spina bifida is a defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth.

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Solar Plant Pollutes River in China … Riots Ensue

Solar PanelWhat does sustainability truly mean in an industrial world? Villagers in Zhejiang Province are wondering the same thing since the production of solar cells and batteries at a factory in the area has effectively poisoned their river and their children … Via the BBC:

Hundreds of villagers in eastern China have held three days of protests at a solar panel plant over pollution fears. Around 500 people started gathering at Zhejiang Jinko Solar company in Haining city, Zhejiang province, on Thursday. Some of protesters stormed the factory, overturning several company cars and destroying offices, officials said. Residents in the nearby village of Hongxiao said they became concerned after the deaths of a large number of river fish.

One 64-year-old villager told the Associated Press that the factory — located close to a school and kindergarten – discharges waste into the river and spews dense smoke out of a dozen chimneys.

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We Have to Clean Up Outer Space Now in Order to Safely Launch New Spacecraft

Space JunkVia the BBC:
Scientists in the US have warned NASA that the amount of so-called space junk orbiting Earth is at tipping point. A report by the National Research Council says the debris could cause fatal leaks in spaceships or destroy valuable satellites. It calls for international regulations to limit the junk and more research into the possible use of launching large magnetic nets or giant umbrellas. The debris includes clouds of minuscule fragments, old boosters and satellites. Some computer models show the amount of orbital rubbish "has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures," the research council said in a statement on Thursday.
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Niger Delta Villagers Vs. Oil Giant Shell’s Destruction of Their Land

OginisOnce again, unregulated Big Business makes everything better. John Vidal writes in the Guardian:

Goi is now a dead village. The two fish ponds, bakery and chicken farm that used to be the pride and joy of its chief deacon, Barrisa Tete Dooh, lie abandoned, covered in a thick black layer. The village’s fishing creek is contaminated; the school has been looted; the mangrove forests are coated in bitumen and everyone has left, refugees from a place blighted by the exploitation of the region’s most valuable asset: crude oil.

A long-awaited and comprehensive UN study exposed the full horror of the pollution that the production of oil has brought to Ogoniland over the last 50 years.

The UN report showed that oil companies and the Nigerian government had not just failed to meet their own standards, but that the process of investigation, reporting and clean-up was deeply flawed in favour of the firms and against the victims.

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