Tag Archives | Pollution

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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

Read the rest

Continue Reading

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?

Read the rest
Continue Reading

‘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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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]
Continue Reading

Mercury ‘Turns’ Wetland Birds Homosexual

American White Ibis. Photo: Terry Foote (CC)

American White Ibis. Photo: Terry Foote (CC)

Victoria Gill reports for the  BBC:

Mercury affects the behaviour of white ibises by “turning them homosexual”, with higher doses resulting in males being more likely to pair with males.

Scientists in Florida and Sri Lanka studied the effect of mercury in the birds’ diet. Their aim was to find out why it reduced the ibises’ breeding.

Mercury pollution can come from burning coal and waste, and run-off from mines.

The report, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that wetland birds are particularly badly affected by it.

Although the researchers already knew that eating mercury-contaminated food could affect an animal’s development, they were surprised by the “strange” results of this experiment.

“We knew mercury could depress their testosterone (male sex hormone) levels,” explained Dr Peter Frederick from the University of Florida, who led the study. “But we didn’t expect this.”

Read more here.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Scientists Suggest That Cancer Is A Man-Made Disease

Source: Joshua Sherurcij (CC)

Source: Joshua Sherurcij (CC)

Basing their findings on research conducted at the University of Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, professors Rosalie David and visiting Villanova professor Michael Zimmerman assert:

“In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization”.

You can read more here

Moving from prehistory to modern times utilizing literary and mummified remains, there is little occurrence or reference to cancer, until the 17th century, where the team found the first reports in scientific literature of operations for breast and other types of cancer.

It has been suggested that the short life span of individuals in antiquity precluded the development of cancer. Although this statistical construct is true, individuals in ancient Egypt and Greece did live long enough to develop such diseases as atherosclerosis, Paget’s disease of bone, and osteoporosis, and, in modern populations, bone tumors primarily affect the young.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

James Cameron To Fund Legal Action Over Canadian Oil Sands

The Vancouver Sun reports that Hollywood luminary-cum-Earth savior James Cameron has committed financial support to aboriginals for legal action against the Canadian federal and regional governments for oil sands pollution in Alberta:
Canadian-born director James Cameron agreed Tuesday to help aboriginal communities with legal action against the Alberta and federal governments to stop water-borne pollution from the oilsands. The director, famous for movies such as Avatar and Titanic, met with community leaders and residents in Fort Chipewyan. The small town of 1,200 has been complaining for years about unusual rates of cancer and other illnesses among residents. The majority believe the disease is caused by air and water pollution from oilsands development, which they say also contaminates the wild foods they eat...
Continue Reading

BP May Drill In Same Undersea Oil Pocket Again

Really?! What about learning from our mistakes? What about waiting to see if the plug actually holds? How about cleaning up the mess before making a new one? RawStory reports:

BP PLC said Friday it might someday drill again into the same lucrative undersea pocket of oil that spilled millions of gallons of crude, wrecked livelihoods and fouled beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.

“There’s lots of oil and gas here,” Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said at a news briefing. “We’re going to have to think about what to do with that at some point.”

The vast oil reservoir beneath the blown well is still believed to hold nearly $4 billion worth of crude. With the company and its partners facing tens of billions of dollars in liabilities, the incentive to exploit the wells and the reservoir could grow.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill, said he had no information on BP’s future plans.

Read the rest
Continue Reading