May 31, 2006

The Environmental Wars : Overview

The Environmental Wars : Overview: "From June 2–4, 2006, the Environmental Wars conference will host scientists, writers, environmentalists, and thinkers from all points along the environmental spectrum at the California Institute of Technology for questions, answers, and opinions.

The conference is hosted by the Skeptics Society, a scientific and educational organization that applies rational inquiry and journalistic research to claims made by scientists, historians, writers and politicians on a wide range of subjects. The society publishes Skeptic magazine, and hosts regular lecture series with past speakers including Richard Dawkins, Susan Blackmore, Ursula Goodenough, Jared Diamond, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Jennifer Michael Hecht."

May 28, 2006

Earth's Ozone Layer Appears To Be On The Road To Recovery

"'The search for signs of recovery of the ozone layer' by Elizabeth Westhead and Signe Andersen.

Sorting out cause and effect is difficult, but a group of NASA and university researchers may have made some headway. Their new study, entitled 'Attribution of recovery in lower-stratospheric ozone,' was just accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research. It concludes that about half of the recent trend is due to CFC reductions.

Lead author Eun-Su Yang of the Georgia Institute of Technology explains: 'We measured ozone concentrations at different altitudes using satellites, balloons and instruments on the ground. Then we compared our measurements with computer predictions of ozone recovery, [calculated from real, measured reductions in CFCs].' Their calculations took into account the known behavior of the sunspot cycle (which peaked in 2001), seasonal changes in the ozone layer, and Quasi-Biennial Oscillations, a type of stratospheric wind pattern known to affect ozone.

What they found is both good news and a puzzle.

The good news: In the upper stratosphere (above roughly 18 km), ozone recovery can be explained almost entirely by CFC reductions. 'Up there, the Montreal Protocol seems to be working,' says co-author Mike Newchurch of the Global Hydrology and Climate Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The puzzle: In the lower stratosphere (between 10 and 18 km) ozone has recovered even better than changes in CFCs alone would predict. Something else must be affecting the trend at these lower altitudes.

The 'something else' could be atmospheric wind patterns. 'Winds carry ozone from the equator where it is made to higher latitudes where it is destroyed. Changing wind patterns affect the balance of ozone and could be boosting the recovery below 18 km,' says Newchurch. This explanation seems to offer the best fit to the computer model of Yang et al. The jury is sti"

ScienceDaily: Telltale Toenails: Dartmouth Study Finds That Arsenic Inhibits DNA Repair

ScienceDaily: Telltale Toenails: Dartmouth Study Finds That Arsenic Inhibits DNA Repair: "'The DNA repair machinery normally protects us from DNA-damaging agents, such as those found in cigarette smoke,' says Andrew. 'The concern is that exposure to drinking water arsenic may exacerbate the harmful effects of smoking or other exposures.'"

May 26, 2006

Marketplace: 'Green chemistry' hitting the market

Marketplace: 'Green chemistry' hitting the market:

KAI RYSSDAL: When he said it, Timothy Leary was talking about LSD. But the slogan, 'Better living through chemistry,' originally came from DuPont. Actually, the whole catch phrase was 'Better Things for Better Living . . . Through Chemistry.' DuPont's point was chemistry can improve our daily lives. Decades of toxic spills, pollution and Superfund sites might make you think twice about that. But the backlash has inspired something called green chemistry. And now it's moving out of the laboratory and into the marketplace. Here's Sarah Gardner from the Sustainability Desk.

SARAH GARDNER: If green chemists had their way, there'd be no need for massive toxic clean-ups or class-action consumer safety lawsuits, or company spokesmen forced to defend their most popular brands.

DUPONT SPOKESMAN: In fact, cookware coated with Teflon has been used safely by tens of millions of people for over 40 years and is safe when used properly and as directed.

That was DuPont recently, on the defensive over a long-lasting chemical used to make Teflon. That chemical may ultimately prove safe. But the point, say advocates of green chemistry, is to determine safety before products go to market, not after. Paul Anastas is one of the movement's founders:

PAUL ANASTAS: Green chemistry is the design of new products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.

Anastas and fellow scientist John Warner wrote what you might call the bible of green chemistry in 1998. The book challenged chemists to design with the environment in mind. In the past few years companies like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Pfizer are taking a stab at it.

TV COMMERCIAL: I'm back. I'm back. We're back. If you or your partner isn't living life to the fullest because of erectile difficulties. . . .

Bet you didn't know green chemistry is now behind Viagra. Pfizer"

Household cleaning products, air fresheners may pose health risk

Study: Household cleaning products, air fresheners may pose health risk

Source: Environmental Protection E-News, 5/25/06.

Many common household cleaners and air fresheners, when used indoors under certain conditions, emit toxic pollutants at levels that may lead to health risks, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Elminate Worker Protection Office

Department of Energy To Elminate Worker Protection Office

In what may be the waning months of a prematurely lame-duck Republican administration, the orders seem to have gone out from corporate headquarters: Identify any agencies that are doing a good job, or have the potential to do a good job (especially those that might benefit workers) -- and kill them.

The Department of Energy has revealed a plan to eliminate its office for environment, safety and health. The office was created 20 years ago to respond to radioactive contamination of workers as a result of cold war weapons production. Most of the office's current worker safety and health functions would be transferred to an office dealing with security. The current department is headed by an Assistant Secretary, a political appointee, whereas the security agency is headed by a career DOE employee.

The "official" reasoning seems a bit bizarre:
The department says the reorganization will combine some related functions that are currently separated, like safety and security.


Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell said, "We are trying to strengthen the way we do environment, safety and health policy."

For example, Mr. Sell said, the department had decided to install a Gatling gun to defend the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. "I can guarantee you that's also a safety issue," Mr. Sell said.

Under the current structure, he said, "policy and oversight and enforcement organizations have kind of been splintered."
A Gatling gun?

The DOE Office of Environment, Safety and Health is basically OSHA for the roughly 130,000 people who work for the department and its contractors.

Disposable Workers

Bob Herbert has a column in the NY Times today where he discuss a recent book by economist Louis Uchitell, The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. Uchitelle argues corporate leaders have overdone it with layoffs:
Mr. Uchitelle's thesis is that corporate layoffs have been carried much too far, that they have gone beyond a legitimate and necessary response to a changing economy.

"What started as a necessary response to the intrusion of foreign manufacturers into the American marketplace got out of hand," he writes. "By the late 1990's, getting rid of workers had become normal practice, ingrained behavior, just as job security had been 25 years earlier."

In many cases, a thousand workers were fired when 500 might have been sufficient, or 10,000 were let go when 5,000 would have been enough. We pay a price for these excesses. The losses that accrue to companies and communities when many years of improving skills and valuable experience are casually and unnecessarily tossed on a scrap heap are incalculable.
Look at that last highlighted sentence again. Now, think about how employers justify their arguments that we don't really need OSHA to be an enforcement agency that cites and fines companies.

No, no, no:
Aside from being like families, employees are our most important resource. If they get injured or killed, we have lost an enormous investment in their skills and experience and must then find and train new workers. That's quite enough incentive to encourage us to provide a safe workplace.
So employees who are trash (despite their skills and experience) when the bottom line calls for it, suddenly become their most valuable resource when it comes to avoiding regulations and enforcement.

Anyway, just thinking.... Disposable Workers By Jordan

May 24, 2006

Quick conservation of water urged

"Thirsty lawns a target"

Lawn watering, especially irrigation systems, was the repeated target of criticism from symposium speakers. Vickers, a Massachusetts conservationist, said the No. 1 drinking problem in the United States is not alcohol, but lawns.

Wisconsin has an abundance of groundwater to work with, said Todd Ambs, state water administrator. If all of the groundwater were brought to the surface, it would cover the entire state to a depth of 100 feet, he said.

Ambs said that with new laws on groundwater use in place, and a pending nationwide agreement on regulating Great Lakes water, it is time for the state to implement water conservation plans.

'If we do this right, it is my firm belief that Wisconsin will be the center of the water belt of the United States,' Ambs said. 'This is really what I challenge people and urge people to think about and look to the future, for Wisconsin is a state woven in a fabric drenched in water.

'We have an abundant resource but it is not unlimited. If we do this right, I am firmly convinced . . . that it is a key cornerstone to the future of our economy. If we have a good sustainable water use plan for the future, in another 20 to 25 years it is my prediction that a lot of folks are going to be looking back at the Midwest because the Southwest and the Southeast portions of this country cannot sustain their growth.

'They don't have the water. They're stealing it now to make growth happen.'"

May 23, 2006

OSHA Does The Darndest Things

"OSHA chief Edwin G. Foulke Jr. , a South Carolina labor law attorney," "OSHA Director Ed Foulke Blames Workplace Carnage on Dumb Employees,"

In a year when families lost loved ones in multiple mining accidents and at a BP refinery in Ohio, the labor community interpreted the remarks as a slam at workers, blaming them for stupid mistakes on the job. Overall, there were close to 6,000 fatalities in 2004, the latest year available, plus 4.3 million injuries and illnesses.

What disturbed labor groups, critics of the Bush administration and families of workers who have been injured or killed were not the kids' posters, but the pictures Foulke juxtaposed alongside them to illustrate dangerous workplace practices.

They were a series of shots of workers doing improbable, dangerous things: someone standing on a ladder in a pool changing a light bulb, a guy on a ladder propped up against a power line, a worker repairing a truck propped up on its side, individuals covered in hazmat suits with an onlooker wearing shorts and T-shirt. ("I hope he wore sunscreen," quipped Foulke.)

"Looking at the posters," said Foulke in the speech, "I was reminded of a couple examples of safety and health bloopers that are both humorous and horrible." He repeated the bloopers in a speech a week later to a Georgia trade group.

It wasn't long before the remarks were being discussed on a widely read blog that covers labor-management issues called Confined Space.

Killed 15 to Be Corporate Hero...

In return for its generious donations to the Texas City College of the Mainland and the College of the Mainland Fondation, the Foundation has decided to select BP as its "Mainland Corporate Hero." BP is the first corporation to be recognized as an honoree at its gala.

But Larry Smith, who teaches at the college and is a founding member of its employee union doesnt' think that a company who has been admitted to the willful killing of 15 workers in an explosion last year is deserving of such an award. According to Smith
naming BP a “hero” so close to the 2005 explosion at its Texas City refinery is “really bad judgment and insensitive.”...."We think it is not good to recognize them at this point and certainly not to call them a hero,” said Smith.
The union doesn't think the fact that BP was found to be the nation's top polluter among refineries in 2004 helps matters.

Foundation president David Moss says the award has nothing to do with the company's environmental or safety record.
“BP has made some healthy donations to the foundation, and that is something the gala committee came up with to make its selection,” said Moss.

He said the bottom line is what the company had done for the students and what it had done for the college and the foundation.


OSHA fined BP $21.3 million for violations related to the explosion, including 170 "Egregious Willful Violations." and the Department of Justice is preparing a civil suit against the company. Last month, OSHA fined a BP refinery near Toledo, Ohio $2.4 million for unsafe operations.

I guess they don't make heros like they used to.

EPA air toxics emissions declined by 42%.

Environmental Protection Agency - Air Trends - Continued Progress Through 2005

The Clean Air Act directs EPA to establish air quality standards to protect public health and the environment. EPA sets national air quality standards for six principal air pollutants (also called the criteria pollutants): nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), and lead (Pb).

Looking at Growth and Emissions
Each year EPA looks at emissions that impact the ambient concentrations of these pollutants. These annual emissions estimates are used as one indicator of the effectiveness of our programs. The graph below shows that between 1970 and 2005, gross domestic product increased 195 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 178 percent, energy consumption increased 48 percent, and U.S. population grew by 42 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 53 percent.

From 1990 to 2002, air toxics emissions declined by 42%. These reductions are the result of implementing stationary and mobile source regulations. Seventy-five percent of air toxics emitted in 2002 are included below as volatile organic compound and particulate matter emissions.

CFC ban repairing ozone layer

A new study shows that a ban on ozone-depleting chemicals has led to a slow recovery of the Earth's protective ozone layer. Researchers say within the next 100 years, the ozone layer could be as strong as it was 25 years ago. But there's still a lot of uncertainty about the recovery process.

More ozone FACTS:

Message for Dan (Ipods R4 music & Trix R4 kids)

this is an audio post - click to play I left this Comment for Danny Joe...
I agree that Podcasts are for the lazy writers and I won't listen anytime soon.

May 18, 2006

The next Water-Cars patent (100's) filed

From the FOX news 13 segment: Klein just patented his process of converting H2O to HHO, producing a gas that combines the atomic power of hydrogen with the chemical stability of water. "it turns right back to water.

It seems like every 15 years or so some guy comes along and claims to have come up with a way to turn water into clean burning fuel. The thing is, any elementary school student can turn water into hydrogen and oxygen, which burns very nicely, turning back into water when it burns. If Klien has a truly “energy free” way to electrolyze H then he has a true perpetual motion machine.

Klien's website about the efficiency of the process, but if it isn't greater than 100%, then what's the big deal? The welding device seems kind of neat, but I've read comments that dismiss these kinds of welding torches.

I remember seeing an article like this awhile back.

When you "cook" down any battery it produces excess H gas (everyone knows this).
The trick is, in a car you do have extra electric current to produce H.

In the early 90's my father and I tried this with very little MPG performance gains.
We used a small container filled with acid and an iron rod (basic battery), then “cooked it” until it produced measurable amounts of H.

There have been similar units available for over ten years like this using the “Brown's Gas” idea

I was very excited about the HHO car... now sad it is just another "FOX News" Kittens & Mittens Story.

It does appear that the Simpson’s is the closest thing FOX can produce near reality.

Link to short-on-facts and big-on-hype Fox News story video:

I have yet to hear of anyone who has come up with a way to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen without using more energy than you produce.

May 16, 2006

Directory:Acetone as a Fuel Additive - PESWiki

# Toyota Prius Owner
* 'Pretty hard to believe that only 2-3 oz. of Acetone could have such a dramatic effect, but my mileage on my Prius went from 43 mpg to over 54 mpg, on the same tank of gas!' (J.; March 21, 2005)
* 'Still getting about 15-20% improvement in my Prius Mileage w/Acetone' (J; April 6, 2005)
* 'Great results in my Prius which is currently in the Tour de Sol Rally. Will post data next week.' (J; May 13, 2005)
* 'Still haven’t finished the Acetone Dyno testing, but it still is helping my Prius and suburban, about 10% on average.' (J; June 7)
* 'Suspended the testing as I have been loaning my car out to different people – too hard to collect data. Still planning to do some Dyno testing when I get some Free time.' (J; Aug. 30, 2005)
# 'I am starting testing using acetone today and looking forward to 60's in my MPG.' (E; May 1, 2006)"

Smoggy Forests - Popular Science

"In 1980, when Ronald Reagan famously said that most air pollution was caused by plants, most people guffawed. Yet he may have been onto something. Scientists have since learned that some flora do produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to smog, and now a study has found that widespread land-management and forest-growing practices are making the problem worse by allowing certain VOC-emitting species to thrive. "
Smoggy Forests - Popular Science:

May 3, 2006

News: Infant pesticide exposure

New study shows that some newborns may be 65 to 130 times more sensitive to these pesticides than some adults, a level of susceptibility 26 to 50 times higher than previously believed."

Organophosphates may be more dangerous to small children than previously believed.

Some infants may be far more vulnerable to organophosphate pesticides than previously believed, according to a paper published in Pharmacogenetics and Genomics (2006, 16, 183–190).

The new study “raises the question of whether current standards for safe levels of pesticide exposure are sufficiently protective of a vulnerable population,” says Nina Holland, an adjunct professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and coauthor of the paper.

Current U.S. EPA standards require an extra 10-fold safety factor to protect children compared with adults. But the new study shows higher than previously believed.

Of the 130 Latina women who participated in the study with their newborns, more than 40% worked in agriculture during their pregnancies. The Berkeley researchers measured levels of paraoxonase 1, an enzyme that breaks down the toxic metabolites of organophosphates, as a marker for pesticide susceptibility