Tag Archives | Pollution

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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Asthma Rate Rising Sharply in U.S.

Peak flow meters used to measure one's maximum speed of expiration.

Peak flow meters used to measure expiration speed.

Roni Caryn Rabin writes in the New York Times:

Americans are suffering from asthma in record numbers, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in 10 children and almost one in 12 Americans of all ages now has asthma, government researchers said.

According to the report, from 2001 to 2009 the prevalence of asthma increased among all demographic groups studied, including men, women, whites, blacks and Hispanics. Black children are most acutely affected: the study found that 17 percent of black children — nearly one in five — had a diagnosis of asthma in 2009, up from 11.4 percent, or about one in nine, in 2001.

While officials at the Centers for Disease Control emphasized that asthma could be controlled if managed effectively, they were at a loss to explain why it had become more widespread even as important triggers like cigarette smoking had become less common.

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Hey Smokers, You’re Killing The Fish

Photo: Sillyputtyenemies

Photo: Sillyputtyenemies (CC)

It turns out that fish are also helpless victims of smokers. No joke, as reported by Jeffrey Kluger for TIME:

For smokers, the world has always been one big ashtray, with cigarettes flicked away pretty much anywhere. That’s especially true now, since smokers are increasingly forbidden to light up in restaurants, office buildings and even new no-smoking condos. In the great river of litter human beings create each year, so tiny a thing as a cigarette butt hardly seems to amount to much. But with the world’s smokers burning through a breathtaking 5.6 trillion cigarettes per year — 4.5 trillion of which are simply tossed away outside after they’re smoked — little things add up fast. That, as it turns out, can be especially dangerous for one type of nonhuman critter: fish.

About a third of all of the trash found on U.S. shorelines consists of cigarette butts.

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Ocean Noise Pollution Blowing Holes in Squids’ Heads

From Discovery News:

Thousands of Humboldt squid died off the coast of Oregon in 2004 and hundreds again in 2008. The culprit was originally considered a shift in deep-sea currents, but a new study pinpoints the physical trauma noise pollution can inflict on cephalopods and raises new concerns over the incidents of squid strandings. Dolphins and whales and other marine mammals aren’t the only sea life vulnerable to noise pollution from human activities.

Deadsquid

Earlier indications that squid might be susceptible to noise occurred in 2001 and again in 2003, when giant squid washed up along the shore of Asturias, Spain. After struggling to identify the reason, biologists eventually concluded that the deaths were most likely related to the presence of vessels using seismic air guns for geophysical prospecting of the seabed.

A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, has found that even low intensity noise can leave cephalopods damaged and likely to wash ashore.

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Japanese Engineers Plug Fukushima Leak

Fukushima_I_by_Digital_Globe_2_crop

Photo: DigitalGlobe-Imagery

This sounds familiar, did they get advice from BP? The Guardian reports:

Engineers battling to contain the crisis at Japan‘s Fukushima nuclear power plant appeared to have turned an important corner last night after they stopped highly radioactive water from leaking into the ocean from one of the facility’s crippled reactors.

Workers struggling to halt the leaks successfully used a mixture of sawdust, newspaper, concrete and a type of liquid glass to stem the flow of contaminated water near a seaside pit, said the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).

Earlier efforts involving cement, an absorbent polymer and rags were unsuccessful in plugging the leak, which was discovered on Saturday, while radiation of more than 7.5 million times the legal limit for seawater was found just off the earthquake-hit plant.

In a sign of Tepco’s desperation, it breached its own regulations on Monday by beginning an intentional discharge of 11,500 tonnes of less contaminated water into the Pacific to make space for the highly radioactive liquid that was seeping out in an uncontrolled manner.

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Nuclear Accidents and All, Coal Is By Far the Deadliest Energy Source

Energy Death RateBen Jervey writes on GOOD:

Last week, Nicola wrote about an interactive chart that compared the number of deaths per terawatt-hour that could be attributed to a few major sources of energy. Yesterday, Seth Godin did the world a service by simplifying that rather complicated chart.

This is a “non-exaggerated but simple version” of the original deaths/TWh statistics. Perhaps the most stunning, simple takeaway:

For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced.

Godin also mentions this incredibly important point, which cannot be driven home hard enough:

Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.

So, actually, it’s even worse. As everyone debates the costs and benefits, the pros and cons, and the feasibility of various energy sources as we try to power our future, we should all remember: coal is dangerous, dirty, and not as “cheap” as advertised.

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China Leads The World In Clean Energy

Solar collectors on apartment rooftops in Xian Chian. Photo: Richard Chambers (CC)

Photo: Richard Chambers (CC)

One of the most polluted countries has become number one in clean energy. The US ranks number three. The Guardian reports:

China has overtaken the US for the first time in a league table of investments in low-carbon energy among the G-20, according to a new report by not for profit group the Pew Charitable Trusts published this week.

The report found that despite an overall 6.6 per cent global decline in clean energy investments last year, China invested almost twice as much as the United States in clean energy during 2009.

But the US still leads in energy capacity. It’s interesting for the UK too:

• third in overall clean energy investments
• fourth in five-year clean energy investment growth rate
• fifth in the percentage of total power it receives from clean energy sources ahead of France, China and the US

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New Invention Has Bicycle Purify Drinking Water

Cycloclean

Cycloclean

Why bike? Riding a bicycle is good for your health, curbs pollution as an environmentally conscious form of transportation, and can now improve your drinking water! Via Smart Planet:

Bicycling is a great way to burn calories and get fit. But a new kind of bike may improve the health of entire communities in an entirely different way.

Nippon Basic, a start-up based in Japan, has plans to scale up production of a bicycle that purifies water for those living in remote villages or disaster areas. Cycloclean functions just like any other bicycle, except that the addition of a water filtering system allows bikers to crank out drinking water using the same pedaling motion that propels bikers forward. The rotation of the bike chain helps to remove impurities by driving a motor that pumps water through a system of filters, pumps and hoses located near the rear wheel.

But just how much drinking water are we talking about here?

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‘Concrete’ Dress Helps Purify The Air

6a00d8341bf67c53ef0147e191c8c2970b-800wiLooking for that perfect dress that will turn heads? Well, this one is made with pollutant-absorbing concrete, so you can clean the air too! Discovery News reports:

A collaboration between London College of Fashion, University of Sheffield, and the University of Ulster, “Herself” is a prototypical dress sprayed with a concrete mixture that purportedly absorbs pollutants in nearby air. The details of the process remain a little hazy, although pollutant-absorbing concrete does actually exist — in fact the same Italian company that made this “transparent” cement (as some readers pointed out, this should have been concrete, which is actually the mixture of cement plus gravel and sand) has already built some air-friendly structures in Europe with it. Using sunlight as a catalyst, titanium dioxide on the surface of the material reacts with pollutants in the air, reportedly decreasing nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide in the surrounding area by up to 65 percent.

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Canada’s Goldstream River Turned Fluorescent Green

Via Utica Daily News:

The river, which runs through the city of Langford, British Columbia, turned a fluorescent green on Dec. 30, when a passer-by captured stunning video of the verdant waterway.

At first it wasn’t clear what caused the river — and the water in a nearby fountain — to change color. But investigators now believe that the green hue was caused by the addition of fluorescein, a synthetic organic compound that is often used as a dye, or a “fluorescent tracer,” in the testing of water systems.

[Continues at Utica Daily News]

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