Friday, April 30, 2010
by Jodi Wallace
As we all know, mining can create a variety of serious environmental degradation issues. The one I want to discuss is called acid mine drainage (AMD). The science behind AMD is actually pretty in-depth and there are still a lot of ongoing studies regarding its cause and treatment, but basically, AMD occurs when sulfur-bearing minerals are exposed to water and air, allowing for the formation of sulfuric acid. Heavy metals leached from the rocks can combine with the acid and dissolve, creating highly toxic runoff. While small amounts of this runoff can occur naturally, mining (both strip and subsurface) exposes more minerals to more air and water and therefore produces sulfuric acid runoff at a much higher rate when compared to the natural rate of discharge. The process of AMD can result from both new mines as well as mines that have been abandoned for over 100 years. The environmental impact of AMD is enormous when this runoff drains into nearby rivers and streams (EPA). According to the EPA, there are about 500,000 abandoned mines in the U.S. and about 40% of the U.S. western watersheds are polluted with metals from these mines. Altogether, the cost of cleaning up these abandoned mines is estimated to cost about $30 billion dollars, and some call it today’s greatest environmental issue. Waters polluted from AMD can harm the aquatic life in the rivers, our drinking water, outdoor recreation, and can also lead to corroding wastewater pipes and other infrastructure (Limerick, et. al).
There are two major issues with AMD clean up. The first is a lack of enforcement in current mining operations, and the second (oddly enough) is the Clean Water Act.
Let’s start with enforcement. The only true, cost-effective way to solve AMD is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The best regulation in place to prevent this sort of environmental degradation – and save taxpayers millions and billions of dollars in water treatment – is SMCRA (the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1977). SMCRA basically assigns stringent standards to mining operators and makes them accountable for the environmental degradation they inflict, including water pollution. However, SMCRA isn’t always enforced; anyone can drive up I-70 and see the effects mining has had in the Rocky Mountains. SMCRA is most obviously ignored in the Appalachian region, where Mountain Top Removal (MTR) is particularly destructive and harmful to the environment, as well as to the local communities. MTR companies are incredibly behind in their reclamation efforts - most haven’t even tried to reclaim the land they’ve destroyed - and they owe millions (possibly billions) of dollars, but have no incentive to pay so long as the OSM continues to fail to enforce the regulations.
AMD is most difficult to treat in abandoned mines, not only because a number of historic mines in the western states are not mapped, but also because there are no parties to hold responsible for the cleanup. The Clean Water Act (CWA), while beneficial for nearly every other water pollutant, actually makes AMD clean up more difficult. An organization that tries to treat a mine for AMD effectively becomes permanently responsible for the mine under the CWA. This means that anyone – nonprofit, government agency, local community, corporation, etc. - that tries to treat a mine also becomes responsible for any damage or pollution the mine has created or will create in the future. The organization, by taking liability, must ensure that the water quality meets the standards required by the CWA, which, in the case of AMD, can be extremely costly and may require continued treatment for decades. Simply put, the people who want to clean up the damage either have to clean it up completely or not at all; there’s no variability in the CWA that allows for a partial clean-up effort.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
In the past week, two major stories have come to the forefront regarding offshore energy.
The first was the explosion of an oil rig off the coast near New Orleans. The blast presumably killed 11 workers and is currently leaking over 200,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day1. By the time the leak is fixed, the total amount of oil spilt into the Gulf is expected to exceed the 11 million gallons of the Exxon Valdez in 1989.
The second was the approval of 130 windmills to be built five miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts2. This wind farm would produce enough clean energy to power up to 200,000 homes2.
Opponents of the wind project say that it will kill some birds and the turbines may be visible from beach front properties tarnishing their view. However, offshore oil drilling has already resulted in the loss of human life, as well as incalculable harm to birds and marine life. Additionally, the quickly spreading oil is threatening to completely destroy the Gulf Coast fishing industry. At this point, climate change seems almost irrelevant in the comparison of the two.
Still, the Obama administration has stood behind both forms of energy, approving increased offshore drilling in addition to the Cape Cod wind project. It's time that the government quits trying to cater to everyone and chooses the correct side. Proposed wind and oil projects are both privately funded so there is no upfront cost to the American people. However, wind promises zero emissions while only harming a few birds and potentially coming into view of some rich people. Meanwhile, oil drilling means certain release of greenhouse gases while potentially killing more workers and a historic record of environmental catastrophe from spills. You don't need a detailed cost-benefit analysis to see that the choice is clear. WIND BABY WIND!.
Within recent years, the technology has been developed to grow meat in vitro. This means that regular muscle and fat cells can be forced, through a complicated process, to proliferate and divide creating meat (1). Two distinct methods are available for creating this in vitro meat. The first creates loose muscle cells ideal for minced meat, while the second would create a form of meat that would look similar to a conventional variety. Some researchers believe that this in vitro meat is ready for consumer production, and even believe that they can alter the properties of the meat to one day be more healthy than the conventional variety (2). Researchers believe that they have the technology to reduce the saturated fat content, as well as adding Omega 3 fatty acids. The process would also potentially expose the meat to less bacterial sources, as it wouldn’t need to be grown on an animal. In vitro meat is currently expensive, but is projected to be the same price as conventional meat and only twice the price of conventional chicken.
My question is simple. Do the vast benefits of this new technology outweigh other negative factors? What do you think?
o Possibly more healthy
o Cheaper as the technology expands
o No animal welfare concerns
o Hormonal Risks (similar growth hormones are used with in vitro meats as are used with conventional practices)
o Meat may not be as appealing visually
o Costly research must be done
o Huge amounts of jobs would have to be reallocated to accept this new market
1) Siegelbaum, D.J. (2008-04-23). "In Search of a Test-Tube Hamburger"
2) Macintyre, Ben (2007-01-20). "Test-tube meat science's next leap"
The discussion sparked my interest in researching wind energy because of the disadvantages of natural gas and coal. The article I read about wind energy is by the U.S department of Energy. Wind has many advantages such as it is one of the .." lowest-priced renewable energy technologies available today", at a price of 4 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. It also takes up little space and energy companies pay the land owners for the use of land.
The article states that by 2030 , payments for wind turbines would produce more than $600 million dollars for landowners. In addition it would generate local tax revenues.
One disadvantage is that it is not necessarily going to be windy when the community needs energy. Since wind energy cannot be stored it is only a efficent source in windy areas. The biggest disadvantage is where there is space for wind power plants there is little demand for energy such as rural areas and farm land. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/wind_ad.html
This is a rendering of Poseidon 37, "a floating power plant with the durability of an oil rig and the efficiency to generate up to 50 gigawatt [hours] of hydro and wind power a year"(gizmondo). Although both hydro and wind power are by no means new technologies, the idea of producing energy from multiple renewable sources with one structure is intriguing to me. At 30,000tons and 230 meters wide, Poseidon 37 will roam the seas freely going wherever the winds and currents take it, all the while producing energy with both wind and hydroelectric turbines.
The main challenges we face today with implementing larger-scale renewable energy infrastructure pertains to the huge cost of manufacturing wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, and so on. While power plants such as the Poseidon 37 are by no means inexpensive, the fact that one structure is common to two different types of energy-harnessing turbines points to the conclusion that it will at least be cheaper than installing separate wind farms and hydroelectric plants.
Although a novel idea, I can foresee Poseidon 37 posing many potential problems. A huge underwater hydroelectric turbine roaming the seas can not me good for marine life, and run-ins with land could also be a problem. Regardless of this, the idea of implementing multiple renewable energy production methods into one 'power plant' can prove to be a very valuable innovation.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
When doing a study on nuclear power in the United States, I found something interesting on how it benefits the overall growth of an economy. This might be something that this country needs because of the current deficit .
Nuclear Power brings overall benefits to the economy.. Although there is the general argument that nuclear power brings major subsidies and cost to an economy, there is an argument that nuclear power benefits and helps an economy thrive in more then one way. In a study done by the Nuclear Energy Institute, in cooperation with PPL Corporation, there were findings that there are economic benefits of the PPL Susquehanna nuclear power plant. The plant, which is located in Pennsylvania, is a two-reactor plant that generates low-cost electricity and makes purchases of goods and services has stimulated the local economy since 1970. Besides its economic output, the plant provides jobs, labor income, and tax revenue to the area, in 2005 Susquehanna increases Pennsylvania’s economic output by 51.7 million (Nuclear Energy Institute and PPL Corporation 2008, p.1). If I am Barrack Obama, I look at these numbers and realize that nuclear power is something that could help benefit all different aspects of the economy. This country is in a deficit; with unemployment reaching high levels, an investment in a nuclear power plants can help stimulate more jobs therefore raising the overall economic input and output.
Economic benefits of ppl susquehanna nuclear power plant. (2006).
Nuclear Energy Institute and PPL Corporation.
Xcel will reach this goal by working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in order to create a plan to retrofit 900 megawatts of coal-fired capacity. The deadline for submitting a proposal is August 15th. The law will help Colorado keep regional haze legislation within the state rather then delegating it to the EPA. As a part of the federal Clean Air Act, Colorado must submit a plan addressing regional haze by 2011 or the EPA will be given authority to write it.
One interesting thing I noticed was that Xcel's chairman and CEO Dick Kelly actually supported this bill (House Bill 1365) and was present at the signing ceremony. This act is a step forward for Xcel, but also allows them to maintain autonomy over their emissions regulations.
Link to the article
Link to Governor Ritter's press release on HB 1365
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"According to NASA, low sea surface temperatures can spell death for a hurricane, as happened in 1998 when the cold water Hurricane Bonnie left in its wake caused Hurricane Danielle, which was following close behind, to dissipate. Thus, there is reason to suspect that a significant amount of cold water could cause a hurricane to dissipate.
There are two ideas behind Gates' patent idea. First, the lower depths of the ocean may be used as a huge heat/energy sink. In this method warm ocean surface water is pushed in a downward direction to exit into the cold ocean depths, operating in a continuous cycle. Second, while the primary conduit pushes water down, in an alternative version a secondary conduit may be used to bring cold water to the surface to aid in cooling the warm surface water regions by mixing of subsurface water with surface water."
While the magnitude of the effort might be considerable, perhaps even to the point that it may never become feasible, the physics involved are plausible, and looking at the heat graph above showing how Danielle never materialized it does not seem as if there is a large temperature difference required. Perhaps it is unrealistic to think that anything man made could dissipate a hurricane, but perhaps lessening hurricanes is far more possible. Given the harm caused by hurricanes, there will no doubt be some who continue to follow this and other paths in an effort to control their deadly and damaging affects. your thoughts?
I wrote a case study on ADHD and thought some of what I learned would apply to this blog, it's pretty interesting stuff....It's evident that there has been a dramatic increase in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Environmental hazards, specifically
mercury and lead as neurotoxins, are mainly responsible due to the high correlation between
mercury and lead levels and ADHD:
- Children with ADHD have a mean blood mercury levels 6.6 nmol/L higher than children without ADHD
- Children with anything above 29 nmol/L had 9.69 times higher risks of having ADHD (Cheuk & Wong, 2006).
- Lead has a similar case; studies have found those with ADHD have higher levels of lead in their blood
-Today, it is estimated that 25% of children in the U.S. are at risk for lead poisoning
- It is estimated that 3.8
million children have toxic levels of lead exposure from water-specific sources (Crocetti &
environmental policy does address this, but so far all efforts and establishments have been insufficient in taking care of this....
Monday, April 26, 2010
The embedded video by Siri Schubert discusses a clash between three parties in
the state of Paraná, in southern Brazil. The first and central group of this video
is the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem-Terra translated to Brazil’s
Landless Workers Movement). The second, Syngenta, a transnational
corporation that was testing genetically modified soybeans in the state. And
finally, a private security company contracted to protect the Syngenta testing
grounds, N.F. Segurança.
The MST commonly protested Syngenta for the testing of potentially toxic seeds
and fertilizers. They claim that the toxins in their products can contaminate
food and water supplies as well as reducing the biodiversity of the area. In early
2007, the court ordered the protesters to stop, which they did albeit
In 2006, Syngenta was found guilty of violating a law prohibiting any genetic
testing within 10 km of governmentally protected areas and ordered to pay
$500,000. In late 2007 however, tensions rose in the area when the company
dragged out paying the fine. On October 21st 2007 at around 7:00 am a large
group of MST protesters gathered around the complex, at the gates near the
security check point. After realizing they were out numbered, the security
guards fled, but returned with numbers. Although the exact order of events is
unclear and disputed by N.F. and MST, the last image captured of the event, on
a cell phone, clearly displayed a security guard with a handgun. In the after
math of the event the gates were riddled with bullet holes, 2 lay dead and many
Blame for the events that transpired is placed on many different parties. The
police investigating the incident blame N.F. Segurança. The security firm
however points to the MST who were carrying “revolvers, rifles and a lot of
guns” (although MST claim to have been unarmed). The firm also blames the
contract with Syngenta claiming they had a security plan for such events, which
included deploying more men to a location in case of an invasion. Syngenta,
although unavailable for an interview, stated that they had a provision in the
contract to “nether use force nor to carry weapons in the guarding and
protection of the research station”.
As of yet, no one in any of the groups has been sentenced, however charges
stand against many N.F. Segurança agents. Syngenta gave its 127 acres used for
testing GM plants to the state, which promised to use it as an organic farm and
an agricultural school. MST has since moved on to protest other environmentally
N.F. Segurança website: http://www.nfseguranca.com.br/
MST website: http://www.mstbrazil.org/?q=node/642
Syngenta Brazil: www.syngenta.com.br
Regardless of how immaterial future 'greener' societies may be, a need for shelter and public infrastructure are two things that will always be needed. This poses a problem in our resource-limited world when the vast majority of buildings are made in part out of wood, and huge amounts of energy are expended in the production of steel and other building materials. Furthermore, large quantities of waste is produced in traditional construction methods (i.e. disposal of poor-quality lumber, disposal of excess lumber, etc).
Miniwiz, a company that specializes in sustainable energy development, has recently developed the 'polli-brick' which is a building material made solely out of recycled mature PET plastic bottles. Although the thought of structures - especially large ones - made entirely out of plastic bottles may seem somewhat precarious, 'polli-brick' structures have been tested to withstand extreme weather conditions. The bricks themselves, besides the obvious fact that they are recycled plastic bottles, hold many energy-saving qualities. The bricks have far superior thermal and sound insulating properties than traditional building materials, they are semi-transparent, meaning more light in structures, and they are self-interlocking, meaning no need for nails, screws, mortar, glue, and so on. Another interesting quality that these bricks posess lie in within the fact that the bricks are hollow - this means that lights can be implemented into the walls and ceilings of structures (and powered as well with stored solar energy within the bricks), gardens can be grown in home walls and floors, storage space is increased immensely, and so on.
Here is a miniwiz representative explaining the polli-bricks at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.
Regardless of the benefits of such green technology, public response may be mixed due to polli-brick structures aesthetic value (or lack thereof), resistance to change, etc. The first polli-brick building was recently completed for the 2010 Taipei flora expo which commences on december 6th, 2010. The polli-brick building at the expo, if nothing else, will hopefully raise awareness of sustainable architecture and inspire new ideas of similar nature.
edit: Upon further inspection, I realized that the image of the polli-brick building I posted was actually steel, so I deleted it.
A problem in Boulder, which my geology 2 professor pointed out two semesters ago is the geographical location of the City of Boulder and it's propensity for flooding I read a great article on the topic, a little long but worth it if you are interested http://www.getboulder.com/visitors/articles_w05/flood-ready.html...
I found an interesting article about the current debate over Nuclear energy. As Nuclear energy is becoming more popular in developing nations (India, China), how should the USA respond? Currently there are over 100 nuclear reactors in the US and they provide roughly 17% of energy on the grid. France has around 60 reactors but they provide more than 70% of the countries energy. Nuclear energy has the potential to provide clean energy in abundance, and combat climate change with zero emissions. The opposition to Nuclear advocates stress on financial risk, and safety as main arguments. Do you think it would be possible to create a policy that effectively reduces financial risk in order to attract American investors to the Nuclear industry? Or a policy that would make the nuclear industry safer? For example, maybe developing a single global reactor fuel supplier to strictly control and regulate the global market. It seems like the turn to prominent nuclear energy use will come as safer technologies emerge, such as meltdown-proof reactors. Citizens will not support nuclear energy until it is safer. Accidents such as Chernobyl, which occurred exactly 24 years ago today, are not worth the health and financial risks. As these risks are mitigated through research, nuclear energy will likely gain public influence. So what should the US do? Compete with the India's and China's of the world in the nuclear industry, or focus on other sources of energy with less initial costs/risks for the future?
Sunday, April 25, 2010
"Could Cleaner Air Actually Intensify Global Warming?"
One of the most environmentally degrading and psychologically disturbing industries in the United States, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s), is consistently ignored by the media, causes extensive environmental degradation, and is wasting millions of government money in subsidies. Factory farming is the process of confining animals in unnatural conditions so as to maximize the amount of meat these industries can produce at the lowest cost. The amount of waste produced by so many animals in such a limited space often causes nearby lakes or rivers to become contaminated from runoff. These feeding operations are also very water intensive themselves, nearly 8% of human water use goes toward animal production. This does not include the amount of water that is needed to produce the crops for animal feed. The incredible amount of manure that so many animals create also emits greenhouse gases, such as methane, which contribute to global warming. The land needed to grow crops to feed these animals also has a huge impact on the environment mainly in the form of soil degradation. Farmers now use genetically modified organisms which can grow on soil that does not need to be replenished by growing different crops every couple of years. This ensures that the nutrients the crops are taking from the soil are not getting replenished and this often leads to soil desertification. These crops, primarily corn and soy beans, are heavily subsidized by the government and wastes millions of dollars annually to support an industry that is inefficient to begin with. The way in which these animals are mass produced is inconsistent with how the environment was structured to create meat and how humans were meant to consume meat. There needs to be an immediate change in the structure of governmental subsidies to encourage growth in industries that have positive impacts on its citizens.
Reference: Singer, Peter, and Jim Mason. The Ethics of What We Eat. Rodale, 2006. Print.
While this program sounds like a great idea, there are some issues that need to be addressed. 1) Is Denver biker friendly? Boulder is a great place to move around on bike, but downtown Denver might not have the infrastructure for bike paths and bike lanes. 2) Is the program affordable for infrequent users? The current 24-hour membership is $5, while a yearly membership is $65. 3) If it is too expensive, how do membership fees decrease? Donations, subsidies, taxes?
Much question remains whether the program will succeed, but if it does, there is great potential for expansion within Denver, and Denver could serve as a model for new large scale bike-sharing programs around the country.
Friday, April 23, 2010
On February 16th 2010 President Obama promised up to $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of new nuclear reactors in Georgia. This nuclear reactor will be the first to be built since the 1970’s. Since many people do not know much about the pros and cons of nuclear power I’ll give a brief overview. Nuclear power accounts for about 20% of the energy needs in the US. One of the main attractions to nuclear power is the low emission of greenhouse gases. In addition to the low emissions nuclear power plants also can generate a lot of energy in a single location. A single power plant can have an energy generation capacity of 3,825 mw. Another advantage to nuclear power is that once the plant is built it has a low operating cost. As there are many advantages to nuclear power there are also many disadvantages. The first and most notable disadvantage is the waste that nuclear power plants generate. The waste is radioactive and will take thousands of years before it will be safe for humans. Also an accident at the plant can be catastrophic, as we saw in Chernobyl. Another disadvantage is that it is a limited energy source so it will not be able to solve all of our energy needs. The last disadvantage ill bring up is the cost of building a nuclear power plant is extremely high. It can cost between $3-5 billion dollars to build. So now that you have heard some of the pros and cons do you think we should be pursuing nuclear power in the US to fulfill out energy needs? Do you think nuclear power is economically feasible? Can nuclear energy help reduce emissions?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
• Formally permitting and encouraging visitation to the park’s interior by oversnow roads
• Grooming the oversnow roads to make them more comfortable for travel
• Authorizing the park concessionaire to open a lodging facility for overnight use at Old Faithful.
Snowmobiles are far more polluting than cars and produce higher noise levels that disturb animals as well as the "natural quiet" of the park. I think something needs to be done about the volume of snowmobiles allowed into the park, currently around 320 per day in the winter. I would like to see snowmobiles banned from the park. What do you think?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
In April 2010, President Obama and Preseident Dmitriy Medvedev came together to discuss a 10 year old agreement at the Nuclear Security. Summit. At the end of President Clinton’s term these two nations agreed to start disarming nuclear weapons. The goal is to ultimately eliminate the nuclear threat. Each country has promised to reduce their arsenals by ridding them of 34 tons of plutonium each. This is the equivalent of 17,000 bombs. They will begin in 2018 because faciclities must be constructed to get the job done properly. The reason that the agreement has not been honored till now is there were discrepancies over funding. It was agreed upon that Russia will spend $3 billion and the US $400 million. The biggest environmental concern is where will the plutonium be disposed? Both leaders have agreed that the plutonium will be used in commercial nuclear plants for consumer use. This is the most environmentally, and militarily, safest way to rid us of many deadly weapons. The nuclear plants will be able to convert this plutonium into energy and fuel for both consumer driven nations. It creates a lot of cleaner energy as opposed to oil and coal energy. This is a clear example of how you can use one problem to potentially start to fix two.
Monday, April 19, 2010
A recent article in the New York Times discusses an Amazon dam project and its threat to the indigenous people of the area. The project, or Belo Monte dam, is a struggle between the rights of the indigenous people and economic/environmental factors at play. Belo Monte is the intended future for Brazil’s hydroelectric power, which accounts for over 80 percent of their energy. Brazil’s energy supply depends on the Belo Monte dam, especially because without it, the country will continue using costly and dirty fossil fuels. Another alternative is to hasten renewable energy development, such as sugar cane. The latest ruling on the case has enabled Brazil to continue plans for building. The president of the regional federal court declared, “there is no imminent danger for the indigenous community”. The construction of Belo Monte would include two large channels to take water from the dam to the power plant, which would flood over 160 square miles and dry out 60 miles of the Xingu River. Research shows this would affect about 20,000 indigenous people as well as eliminate their transportation and main source of food, fish. Leaders from 13 tribes recently decided to band together and create a new tribe to live on the Belo Monte site and prevent construction. Additionally, some nongovernmental groups have done studies showing this plant would be inefficient and might later call for more dams. What alternatives do you see for the situation? What could be done to both honor the rights of the indigenous people and Brazil’s move towards cleaner energy?
However, the rate-change is also multifaceted in the reasons behind its implementation. In addition to encouraging conservation among consumers, the rate-change addresses Xcel Energy’s needs for increased revenue to pay for its new coal-fired plant in Pueblo, Comanche III. In a way this new policy presents an interesting contradiction: promoting conservation and increasing rates to pay for a new plant, which represents increased consumption. Another shortcoming of the policy is that the new rate change applies only to residential customers and not commercial ones. While the policy has its inadequacies I do believe that it is a step in the right direction and will successfully provide residential consumers with direct feedback on consumption. A single policy cannot provide an all-encompassing solution, but can pave the way for continued reform in the future. Baby steps…
"State PUC Approves Xcel’s Two-Tier Rate Structure — Colorado Energy News." Colorado Energy News — The Business, Technology and Politics of Colorado’s Energy Industry. Web. 17 Apr. 2010.
"Colorado Adopts Tiered Electricity Rates and Graduates from the Energy Policy Stone Age!" Clean Energy Action. Web. 17 Apr. 2010.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Since I was 7 I have played organized hockey, and ever since I started playing I have always been aware of the fights that occur at various levels of hockey. While the penalty for fighting in youth hockey is great, suspension, it still happens. In juniors and the leagues under the NHL (except college) fighting is very much alive and is used as a way to protect players as well as pumping up teammates and settling a score.
In the NHL, fighting is used in the same way. Fighting in the NHL is either considered an awesome part of the game, or people hate it. Some people have said that the reason hockey will never become as popular as the big three sports in the US, (football, basketball and baseball) is because of the fighting. While I find some truth in this statement, I find that removing fighting would have greater implications as it would affect the integrity of the game.
I believe that if players are not able to fight the incidents of cheap shots will increase as there would be no risk of having to answer for your actions during the game. In college hockey, players are not allowed to fight, which causes a player who otherwise would be more reserved to act like an idiot. They know that if the ref doesn’t see what he does then there will be little the other team can do to get back at him.
Hockey is unlike any other mainstream sport in the world and I think that fighting should remain. If people cannot look past the fighting to see the level of skill the guys in the NHL have today, then they should probably not watch hockey. It is unique to the sport and I feel it should be looked at as part of the game, not a black-eye for the sport. What do you guys think about fighting in hockey? The following article outlines some arguments for fighting in hockey and offers counter arguments as well.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Didymosphenia geminata, or Didymo, is an invasive species in Colorado. Didymo is naturally found in various parts of the Northern Hemisphere, especially in the Pacific Northwest. This species is a small, single celled diatom that lives in streams and can be passed to other streams by living in felt soled wading boots for up to two weeks. Didymo is also known as rock snot since it can grow into large mats that coat rocks thickly, like snot. As fisherman travel from stream to stream, Didymo survives in their boots unless the boots are scraped clean or are bleached. This problem is much worse in Australia and New Zealand than in the US. However, Didymo has been found all around the US, even in Boulder Creek (picture above).
This is a terrible problem that can be easily solved. By posting signs throughout affected areas, or areas that could be easily targeted by the diatom, this problem could be slowed. Informing the general public of Didymo's existence and how they can stop the spread of it will go far to slow Didymo down. New Zealand has had to take drastic measures and make areas for vehicles traveling through streams to wash their tires and undercarriages off. By taking a few extra minutes to clean our boots, cars, and boats, we can slow the spread of Didymo.
Lijon Eknilang of the Marshall Islands explains her experience with the effect of nuclear radiation. "I cannot have children. I have had miscarriages on seven occasions. On one of those occasions, the child I miscarried was severely deformed - it had only one eye...Our culture and religion teaches us that reproductive abnormalities are a sign that women have been unfaithful. For this reason, many of my friends keep quiet about the strange births they have had. In privacy, they give birth, not to children as we like to think of them, but to things we could only describe as "octopuses," "apples," "turtles," and other things in our experience. We do not have Marshallese words for these kinds of babies, because they were never born before the radiation came. Women on Rongelap, Likiek, Ailuk, and other atolls in the Marshall Islands have given birth to these “monster babies.” Many of these women are from atolls that foreign officials have told us were not affected by radiation. We know otherwise, because the health problems are similar to ours. One women on Likiep gave birth to a child with two heads. Her cat also gave birth to a kitten with two heads. There is a young girl on Ailuk today with no knees, three toes on each foot and a missing arm. The most common birth defects on Rongelap and nearby islands have been “jellyfish” babies. These babies are born with no bones in their bodies and with transparent skin. We can see their brains and hearts beating. The babies usually live for a day or two before they stop breathing. Many women die from abnormal pregnancies, and those who survive give birth to what looks like purple grapes that we quickly bury.”
Between 1954 and 1958 one in three births on the Marshall Islands resulted in fetal death. Hepatitis B and liver cancer is approximately 30 times higher in the Marshall Islands than in the U.S. Cervical Cancer in women of the Marshall Islands is 60 times greater and rates of breast, lung, oral and gastrointestinal cancer are three to ten times greater than in the U.S. Life expectancy on the islands has sharply declined to 40 years. Some communities suffer so greatly as a result of these tests that they have decided to stop reproducing and go extinct.
Some believe that the testing was planned by the U.S. government to examine the effects of nuclear radiation on humans. However, the DOE has produced studies that "prove" these people are not suffering from radiation. This research conveniently fails to account for the environmental causes of disease, placing the blame on the Native peoples actions. This leaves the government unaccountable for their policies of environmental contamination.
Please read this testimony for a 1st hand report of the impact of nuclear testing:
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
On Feb. 4th, 2010 the First Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas upheld the public's right to use the beach from the waterline to the line of vegetation. As seawater levels rise and hurricane intensity & number increase more beachfront homes are threatened along the Texas Gulf coast. As hurricane surge sweeps away at our beaches, the Gulf of Mexico is claiming many homes. In the state of Texas under the Texas Open Beaches Act, all beach from the waterline to the line of vegetation is open to the public. This is a great thing for beachcombers and surfers alike because they have the right to use any beach. But this could be detrimental for beachfront homeowners. In 2008 Hurricane Ike struck Galveston Island taking with it thousands of homes and pushing the line of vegetation back even further. Many of the houses along the island are now beyond the line of vegetation placing them on public beaches. Under law once this line of vegetation has moved back, any structure, house, or road that sits between the waterline and line of vegetation now belongs to the state and is ordered to be demolished. I am very sympathetic to the loss of property by anyone, and am deeply saddened by the devestation Ike has done to our beaches. But buying beachfront property is a high risk investment and many people are aware of this when purchasing homes along the coast. In Surfside Beach, down the coast from Galveston, they have already seen this problem at hand. In the past 10-15 years, about 20 or so houses have been sitting between the waterline and the vegetation line and is considered to be on public beach. But homeowners still used their houses and didn't seem to pose a problem to beachcombers. In fact the housing provided shade to sit under, and for surfers to use the balconies to check where the surf was breaking. It seemed no nuisance or hazard to the public. Under the Texas Open Beaches Act, the 13 houses that are left (the rest swept from hurricane Ike) along Surfside drive are now scheduled to be demolished along with many other houses along Galveston Island and the rest of the Texas Gulf coast. My question is, do you think that houses sitting on public beach between the waterline and line of vegetation should be demolished or allowed to stay for their owners continued use? I feel that as long as the house is in good condition and not hazardous to the public, I think people should be able to continue to own and use their house. Under the condition that, because it is on public beach, that people have the right to walk near or under the house, I have no problem with the housing being there. What do you think?
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
With Atlantic Bluefin Tuna stocks headed towards collapse and conservation efforts having troubles getting started; farming the fish may be one of the last chances for recovery. Farming the fish is a difficult process and involves netting the enormous fish into very large pens. This technique has worked in the past by allowing fisherman to catch small fish and raising them to a more desirable size, but until now has failed to allow the fish to breed. Recently a group of German scientists have discovered that because the fish is used to traveling great distances and a cage, even a large one, fails to produce this kind of natural environment required for breeding.
Their solution is to spear the fish with a hormone known as gonadotroptin, which has resulted in successful breeding programs. This new discovery raises the question can farm-raised tuna satisfy the worlds demand for the fish? Perhaps more importantly can these farm-raised fish be released into the wild and help fix collapsed stocks? Scientist and Environmentalists have their doubts. The biggest problem is the high amount of antibiotics used to keep cages free of disease. Most of these antibiotics pass through the fish and are secreted into waters nearby the pens and are then consumed by offer species, often with negative health effects. The second issue is the large amount of food needed to raise farmed fish on a commercial level. The fish food is usually taken from the surrounding ecosystem, robbing it of resources intended for wild populations. Still even with these negatives affects farm-raised tuna, along with proper conservation, may be one of the last hopes for the species.
Sources 1: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/farm-raised-bluefin-tuna-spawn-controversy
Source 2: http://www.grinningplanet.com/2004/02-26/farmed-salmon-pollution-gmo-eco.htm
Monday, April 12, 2010
"On Plains, concern about another Dust Bowl"
"Non-native Invasive Freshwater Plants"
Friday, April 9, 2010
Currently India ranks 120 on the green index and ranks very low in sanitation. The sacred Yamuna River is basically what the title suggests a fecal filled river. The amount of fecal bacteria in the river is 10,000 times higher than the amount recommended for bathing. Maybe the saddest thing is the river is this bad after the country implemented a half billion dollar, 15 year endeavor to build 17 sewage treatment plants.
India's main issue is sanitation it ranked 21 on sanitation on Yale and Columbia's Environmental Performance Index. The ranking put India below only Angola and Cambodia for countries with similar income. India is both overdeveloped and underdeveloped they are industrializing but still have a large amount of poor who cannot afford sanitation means by themselves. The poverty leaves people prone to illness from pollution causing 20 percent of illnesses, air pollution illnesses alone have cost India 20 billion dollars a year. Things don't appear positive either; the government is so disconnected there is little hope. In the case of the Yamuna River, although treatment plants have been made, the government never cleared the garbage from the drains allowing only 30 percent of the sewage to reach the plants.
India has come under scrutiny from the international community for environmental problems but what can be done in a country like India? As the article points out people still burn dung for fuel and the government is in disconnect. Should more developed hold countries like India to similar environmental standards or set more realistic goals?
Thursday, April 8, 2010
On April 1st, an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) press release announced a new set of actions that will help strengthen and clarify the requirements for Appalachian mountaintop removal. The actions will set clear policies for mining in an effort to prevent more damage and irreversible effects to the Appalachian environment, particularly to watersheds. The practice of mountaintop removal mining (MTR) has been occurring since the 1960’s, in response to the nation’s increasing demand for coal. MTR is particularly abundant in the Appalachian region of the nation. MTR is a form of surface coal mining, and the process involves the removal of mountaintops to expose coal seams. This type of mining has many detrimental effects on our environment which include, but are not limited to, the increase of zinc, sodium, selenium, and sulfate levels in the water, which can negatively impact fish and other animals, the loss of Appalachian forests (more than 7% have been cut down as a result of MTR) and the often permanent damage to ecosystems and streams that are used for swimming, fishing and drinking. The EPA has split their course of action into three parts; the first is called Improved Guidance and Clarity. This step will clarify existing requirements in the Clean Water Act and ensure that future mining will not continue to cause significant problems to the environment, water outlets, or human health. The next step is called Strong Science, which will make two scientific reports by the Office of Research and Development publicly available. The third step is Increased Transparency, which is the creation of a permit tracking website so the public knows the status of mining permits. Even though the environmentally-harmful process of mountaintop mining is still happening, it is uplifting to see the EPA taking steps to help limit its negative effects.