Dec 31, 2011
Teach4Real- Have you ever met a poor person?
Seriously. They don’t have s*%t. My students have four outfits they wear to school every week, which means they have to wear one outfit twice. In order to space it out you can bet they wear it Monday and Friday hoping nobody will notice. Our school offers ¾ of our students free breakfast and lunch because their parents can’t afford to feed them. They come to school cold and shivering, and before I ask them “Where’s your sweater?” I have to bite the question off when I remember they don’t own one. Or they’ve worn the one they do have twelve days in a row and are trying to switch it up.
The really broke kids don’t have cell phones. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but if you thought they did, you must not be in touch with how 50% of this country now lives.
Yet even Edison's 100-watt bulb will still be available for a while. The bipartisan law mandating the phaseout, whichPresident George W. Bush signed in 2007, says the bulbs can't be manufactured or imported after Jan. 1 but lets stores sell them until stock runs out.
So, to reiterate:
• We're highly dependent on a finite fuel source controlled by crazy people who hate us
• We've done next to nothing about this problem for four decades
US EIA reminder: Strait of Hormuz world’s most important oil chokepoint; almost 20% of oil traded wo
With Iran’s current threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to sanctions as a backdrop, the US Energy Information Agency issued an update to its “World Oil Transit Chokepoint” brief (earlier post), noting that “Hormuz is the world’s most important oil chokepoint due to its daily oil flow of almost 17 million barrels in 2011, up from between 15.5-16.0 million bbl/d in 2009-2010. Flows through the Strait in 2011 were roughly 35 percent of all seaborne traded oil, or almost 20 percent of oil traded worldwide.”
|Chokepoints are narrow channels along widely used global sea routes, some so narrow that restrictions are placed on the size of vessel that can navigate through them. They are a critical part of global energy security due to the high volume of oil traded through their narrow straits.|
More than 85% of the crude oil exports flowing through the Strait went to Asian markets, with Japan, India, South Korea, and China representing the largest destinations, EIA said.
The Strait is located between Oman and Iran, and connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. At its narrowest point, the Strait is 21 miles wide, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles, separated by a two-mile buffer zone.
The Strait is deep and wide enough to handle the largest crude oil tankers, with about two-thirds of oil shipments carried by tankers in excess of 150,000 deadweight tons.
|The Strait of Hormuz and alternate routes (pipelines). Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.|
Please read more from: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/12/hormuz-20111231.html
... California as a whole has no active coal mines and only a handful of small coal-fired power plants. L.A.'s infamous smog isn't generated from dirty coal plants nearby, nor is the pollution that hugs up against the San Gabriel Mountains the result of burning coal. Nonetheless, a large percentage of the power Angelenos depend on to run their air conditioners and light their buildings comes from coal plants -- plants that spew their filth hundreds of miles away, across state lines in Indian country. This filth is all out of sight and out of mind for most who call L.A. home.
While California is often cited as one of the most energy efficient states in the country, coal still plays a large role in producing energy for the state. When in-state generation, (some 461 MW) is added to out-of-state coal-based electricity (approximately 3,500 MW) California ranks 28th in the United States in coal-fired power generation. Nearly all of this electricity generated by coal ends up in the southern half of the state.
Massive solar storm 'could knock out radio signals' over next three days, warn scientists -- Fire in the Sky -- Sott.net
.. even as more Americans buy foods with the organic label, the products are increasingly removed from the traditional organic ideal: produce that is not only free of chemicals and pesticides but also grown locally on small farms in a way that protects the environment.
The explosive growth in the commercial cultivation of organic tomatoes here, for example, is putting stress on the water table. In some areas, wells have run dry this year, meaning that small subsistence farmers cannot grow crops. And the organic tomatoes end up in an energy-intensive global distribution chain that takes them as far as New York and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, producing significant emissions...From now until spring, farms from Mexico to Chile to Argentina that grow organic food for the United States market are enjoying their busiest season.
“People are now buying from a global commodity market, and they have to be skeptical even when the label says ‘organic’ — that doesn’t tell people all they need to know,” said Frederick L. Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. He said some large farms that have qualified as organic employed environmentally damaging practices, like planting only one crop, which is bad for soil health, or overtaxing local freshwater supplies.
...the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is actually "economic collapse". At least that is what a recent survey conducted by Leiflin Inc. for the EcoHealth Alliance found. But this goes along with what so many other polls have found over the past few years. Over and over again, opinion polls have found that the number one issue that American voters are concerned about is the economy. The truth is that average Americans are deeply, deeply concerned about unemployment, debt, the housing crash and the steady decline in the standard of living. It has been years since the U.S. economy has operated at a "normal" level, and many Americans are afraid that things could soon get a whole lot worse.
In the new survey mentioned above, those contacted were asked to select the top three potential catastrophes that worry them the most.
The following results come directly from the survey....
Economic Collapse: 63%
Natural Disaster: 46%
Terrorist Attack: 44%
Global Disease Outbreak: 33%
Global War: 27%
Nuclear Accident: 25%
Global Warming: 22%
Fuel Shortage: 15%
Cyber War: 8%
Oil Spill: 6%
Industrial Accident: 5%
As you can see, "economic collapse" was the winner by a wide margin.
So are there good reasons for the American people to be concerned about an economic collapse?
Of course there are...
Back in 2008, a financial crisis that began on Wall Street was felt in the farthest corners of the globe.
This time, ground zero for the financial crisis is going to be in Europe. As I have written about previously, the European financial system is rapidly coming apart at the seams. The euro continues to drop like a rock, and banking stocks continue their long-term decline.
Many people expect a "financial collapse" to happen on a particular day. But that is not how it happens usually. Instead, it is often like a snowball that starts rolling downhill very slowly at first but that eventually become a huge avalanche.
Right now, we are seeing the financial world come apart in slow motion. A recent article posted on Automatic Earth included a list of the year-to-date performance of some of the most prominent global banking stocks. These numbers are absolutely staggering....
- BofA: -60.38%
- Citi: -44.76%
- Goldman Sachs: -46.41%
- JPMorgan: -23.03%
- Morgan Stanley: -45.24%
- RBS: -50%
- Barclays: -34.32%
- Lloyds: -63.02%
- UBS: -29.33%
- Deutsche Bank: -28,55%
- Crédit Agricole: -56.04%
- BNP Paribas: -37.67%
- Société Générale: -59.57%
But because these numbers happened over the course of a year and not on a single day it doesn't feel quite as much like a "collapse".
Unfortunately, things are about to get a whole lot worse. ...The federal government cannot pile up a trillion dollars of additional debt every year indefinitely.
We cannot afford to see an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day in the United States shut down. Eventually there won't be anymore factories to shut down.
We cannot afford to keep putting millions more Americans on welfare. At this point the government is feeding 46 million Americans a month. Will the government eventually be feeding most of us?
The U.S. economy is getting weaker and weaker and weaker. All of the long-term trends are absolutely nightmarish. We are accumulating debt faster than ever, and our ability to produce wealth is diminishing faster than ever.
There is no way that things are going to be okay if we stay on the path that we are currently on.
So the truth is that Americans should be very concerned about an economic collapse...
Dec 30, 2011
As island nations around the world look for solutions to stem rising sea levels due to climate change, a new land mass has spontaneously popped out of the Red Sea. The smoking hot island is acting as a real-time geographical lesson in how volcanic oceanic islands are formed — it is bubbling above the surface due to a recently active volcano. NASA captured the rising island (shown above) from their Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) – check out an image of the spot before the volcanic eruption after the jump.
Read the rest of Brand New Smoking Island Rises Out of the Red Sea
Fracking: Is there really 100 years’ worth of natural gas beneath the United States? - Slate Magazine
“Sun-Believable” is what the Notre Dame chemists call their invention. What they’ve made is a paste consisting of quantum dots – nano-particles of semiconductors – of titanium dioxide coated in either cadmium sulfide or cadmium selenide and suspended in a water-alcohol mixture. Brushed onto a transparent conducting material and exposed to light, this stuff produced electricity.
“The best light-to-energy conversion efficiency we’ve reached so far is 1 percent, which is well behind the usual 10 to 15 percent efficiency of commercial silicon solar cells,” Prashant Kamat, who’s leading the research at Notre Dame’s Center for Nano Science and Technology, said in a statement. “But this paint can be made cheaply and in large quantities. If we can improve the efficiency somewhat, we may be able to make a real difference in meeting energy needs in the future.”
A123 Systems, a Massachusetts-based developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries, has announced that it will supply a 11-megawatt (MW) Grid Battery System to Sempra Generation for use at its Auwahi Wind project in Maui, Hawaii. Power from the 21-megawatt (MW) Auwahi Wind project will be purchased by Maui Electric Company under a 20-year power purchase agreement.
The energy storage solution, which is capable of delivering up to 11 MW of power in milliseconds, will help Maui Electric Company maintain the stability of Maui’s electric grid by smoothing the variable generation of wind power at the facility, A123 said. This announcement follows soon on the heels of the installation of 32 MW of battery storage at awind power plant in West Virginia. That system was developed by AES Energy Storage.
After nine long years, the war in Iraq is finally drawing to a close. As the last U.S. troops leave Iraq, we’ve learned a lot of lessons — and one of them is how important it is to reduce our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.
But here’s some other important news: The U.S. military is pursuing cutting-edge programs to reduce its own fossil fuel dependence and invest in clean energy. From oil transported across oceans to solar energy that keeps the Marines connected to their families back home, energy use dominates almost everything the military does. But investment in clean energy doesn’t just benefit the military — it moves the conversation forward and encourages innovation in the private sector.
Check out these four innovative and climate-friendly ways the Pentagon is using clean energy at http://www.earthtechling.com/2011/12/4-ways-the-military-is-saving-energy/
montrealgazette.com.....asbestos has become Canada’s new sin, tarred as an evil at home and abroad.
In just three years, asbestos went from being one of the country’s great exports, supported by all political parties at the House of Commons, to being vilified by politicians of all stripes, including some Conservatives.
“We’ve reached a tipping point in our attitude toward asbestos and so has the world. Canada’s boy-scout image is being tarnished,” said New Democrat MP Pat Martin, who has been fighting to ban asbestos mining since he was first elected in 1997.
“In many circles, we’ve become an international pariah. Clubbing baby seals, dumping asbestos in the Third World and tarsands are probably the three biggest embarrassments for Canada on the international stage,” Martin said.
...In a news release, the members of parliament expressed concerns about the “serious harm to the health of workers mining asbestos, the processing and use of which is already banned in the EU.”
In November, Australia’s Upper House passed a motion urging the government to press Canada to stop producing and exporting asbestos – an insulating mineral used in construction that is linked to deadly lung diseases, including cancer.
Activists in Asian countries, notably in India, are increasingly holding demonstrations to protest against asbestos exports, which they say are causing harm to workers.
Mohit Gupta, coordinator of the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India, called Canada’s plan to eliminate tariffs on asbestos exports to India “an appalling travesty of all ethical codes of human behaviour.”
“All of this is giving Canada an enormous black eye around the world. People can’t believe that Canada is acting as a rogue country and that Canada is the biggest public-health obstacle internationally to making any progress on the asbestos issue,” said Kathleen Ruff, a prominent anti-asbestos campaigner.
Every person in Britain will need to pay about £5,000 a year between now and 2050 on rebuilding and using the nation's entire energy system, according to government figures. But the cost of developing clean and sustainable electricity, heating and transport will be very similar to replacing today's ageing and polluting power stations, the analysis finds.
The forecasts come from a unique open-source analysis package, called the 2050 pathways calculator, which was created by Professor David MacKay, chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The predictions challenge suggestions that the costs of embracing low-carbon energy and meeting the UK's legally binding commitments to tackle global warming will be higher than the bill would be for using traditional energy sources. They are also supported by a major EU project that found developing renewable energy was no more expensive than alternatives.
"The calculator takes the poison out of the debate," MacKay told the Guardian. "The key thing is that any scenario you choose has to add up." He said the tool, constructed with the help of hundreds of experts and a thorough literature review, is used to enable "open source policy making", where anyone can see and challenge the assumptions made and the data used. "You can play at being secretary of state, and you have to make a plan which is not too unpopular."
The calculator was used to create the three scenarios set out in the government's official carbon plan, which shows how the UK could meet its emissions targets by 2050 while keeping the lights on, and to test a "cost-optimised" scenario, ie the cheapest.
Debris from the tsunami that devastated Japan in March could reach the United States as early as this winter, according to predictions by NOAA scientists. However, they warn there is still a large amount of uncertainty over exactly what is still floating, where it's located, where it will go, and when it will arrive. Responders now have a challenging, if not impossible situation on their hands: How do you deal with debris that could now impact U.S. shores, but is difficult to find?
Federal Agencies Join Forces
To learn more about the tsunami debris, NOAA researchers have been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners to coordinate data collection activities.
NOAA and its partners are also coordinating an interagency assessment and response plan to address the wide-range of potential scenarios and threats posed by the debris.
“We’re preparing for the best and worst case scenarios — and everything in between,” says Nancy Wallace, director for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program.
U.S. prosecutors are preparing what would be the first criminal charges against BP PLC employees stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident, which killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, said people familiar with the matter.
Prosecutors are focused on several Houston-based engineers and at least one of their supervisors at the British oil company, though the breadth of the investigation isn't known. The prosecutors assert the employees may have provided false information to regulators about the risks associated with the Gulf of Mexico well while its drilling was in progress, these people said.
Excerpt - The Alaska Volcano Observatory said satellite images showed Cleveland Volcano had spewed ash 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) into the air in a cloud that moved east-southeast. U.S. Geological Survey scientist-in-chargeJohn Power called it a small explosion.
"It's not expected to cause a disruption to big international air carriers," he said.
But the event drew strong interest from air carriers.
"Any time you put an ash cloud up into the atmosphere, the airlines, the air carriers, air freight companies — it's a major concern," Power said.
Dec 29, 2011
We are all affected by government regulations. The fire service is no exception. There are a number of regulations from both the federal government and state governments that affect firefighter personal protective equipment.
Included in these regulations are general requirements for fire departments (employers) to provide PPE for their firefighter employees. These requirements extend to not only providing the PPE but also caring and maintaining it, and providing training on the use and limitations of protective clothing and equipment.
These regulations are found in OSHA 29 CFR Part 1910.132. The regulations, sometimes also known as a "general duty clause" or Subpart I, further prescribe fire departments conduct hazard assessments and select the appropriate personal tech equipment based on the identification of hazards....Please contiune reading at:
Once released into the environment from industrial sources, trace amounts of heavy metals can remain present in waterways for decades, or even centuries, in concentrations that are still high enough to pose a health risk. While processes do exist for removing larger amounts of heavy metals from water, these do not work on smaller quantities. Now, however, scientists from Rhode Island’s Brown University have combined two existing methods, to create a new one that removes even trace amounts of heavy metal from water... Continue Reading New technique removes even trace amounts of heavy metals from water