Archived entries for environment

Anti-pollution poster (Kenji Ito, 1973)

Via Pink Tentacle.

And, yes, I know there’s a slight nipple. But, if you’re really worried about such things, you probably shouldn’t be visiting a place like this during your work day, should you?

From the BBC:

In a grimy shipyard in St Petersburg, an ugly hulk of red-painted metal sits floating in the dock.

On deck, workmen scurry back and forth, hammering, drilling and welding.

This strange construction, part ship, part platform, is unique and lies at the heart of Russia’s grand ambitions for the Arctic.

When it is completed in 2012, it will be the first of eight floating nuclear power stations which the government wants to place along Russia’s north coast, well within the Arctic Circle.


“These [floating nuclear power stations] have very good potential, creating the conditions for exploring the Arctic shelf and setting up drilling platforms to extract oil and gas,” says Sergey Zavyalov, deputy director of the operating company, Rosenergoatom.

“Work in the Arctic is very complicated and dangerous and we should ensure there’s a reliable energy supply.”

He says each power station, costing $400m, can supply electricity and heating for communities of up to 45,000 people and can stay on location for 12 years before needing to be serviced back in St Petersburg.


“We can guarantee the safety of our units one hundred per cent, all risks are absolutely ruled out,” says Mr Zavyalov.


Although Moscow denies it’s setting up special military forces or bases to protect its interests in the Arctic, it is establishing a new coastguard under the control of the all-powerful intelligence agency, the FSB.


The route along the Northeast passage from Russia to Asia which is now opening up, is many days quicker than the traditional route via Europe, the Suez Canal and around India.

Although the ships still need to be escorted by ice-breakers, it is a tantalising opportunity for Russia which wants to sell more oil and gas to energy-hungry countries like China.

With some scientists predicting that there may be no ice at all in the summer by 2030, Russian officials are confident the Northeast passage will become a major route for energy supplies to Asia.

Ah, Russia, Russia, Russia.

Nearly every day you give me another reason to believe that your legendary winters freeze out any common sense you might’ve had.

Remember those nuclear powered lighthouses you dotted your northern frontier with? Remember how well those turned out for you?

And now you think that by repeating that exercise, only in much hasher environments, on a much bigger scale, is a brilliant idea?

You can’t even keep your own infrastructure from destroying itself, for Christ’s sake, and now you’re setting the stage for a disaster that will make the Deepwater Horizon seem insignificant in comparison.

But, it is quite the image of the future, isn’t it? Ships the size of city blocks, powered by atomic fire, moored to the ocean bed, floating on near-freezing seas during the summer, frozen in them during the winter. Millions of parts working together, billions of people praying nothing goes wrong. The crushing weight of statistical odds saying that something will.

Because I really can’t think of anything else that this might be.

Look at that. Looks like a nice country road, right? A picture taken from pretty close to the ground with a wide angle lens, maybe?

Well, it’s not.

That’s hundreds of thousands of  dead sea animals floating on top of a Louisiana waterway.

From Yahoo! News:

What you see above isn’t a rural gravel road. It’s a Louisiana waterway, its surface completely covered with dead sea life – a mishmash of species of fish, crabs, stingray and eel. New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV reports that even a whale was found dead in the area, a stretch of coastal Louisiana hit hard this summer by oil from BP’s busted Gulf well.

Fish kills are fairly common along the Gulf Coast, particularly during the summer in the area near the mouth of the Mississippi, the site of this kill. The area is rife with dead zones — stretches where sudden oxygen depletion can cause widespread death. But those kills tend to be limited to a single species of fish, rather than the broad sort of die-off involved in this kill.

And therein lies the concern of Gulf residents, who suspect this may be yet another side effect of the catastrophic BP oil spill.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cry in a closet while dry heaving.

Russia is experiencing probably its worst heat wave in history. A place that normally freezes people to death is now boiling their brains in their skulls. Moscow hit 113 last week. And summer is still roaring along.

This heat coupled with a lack of rain is drying out Russia’s forests and fields, turning one of the greenest (in terms of wilderness space) countries on the planet into on giant tinderbox.

A tinderbox which erupted into flames late last month. Fires that have spread so far and so fast that the threaten to burn the world’s largest country in half. Fires that have completely obscured the view of the planet from space. Fires that are threatening critical infrastructure locations – like a nuclear power plant.

Fires that are producing scenes like this:

Video via Coilhouse

Post Script – I’m sure there’s a post in here about the feedback loop that amplifies global warming. Hot temps causing more people to use energy to cool, leading to more greenhouse gases, leading to hotter temps, leading to wild fires, leading to more greenhouse gases, leading to hotter temps, leading to more cooling, etc, etc. But I don’t have the time to hash it all out for you right now.

…then you are fucking asshole.

The politics of the statement aside, peel that shit off or cover it up. I mean, you didn’t seem to have a problem covering up your AMERICA: Love It or Leave It! bumper sticker. It shouldn’t pain you too much to cover this one up.

The ecological disaster of the century is going on in the Gulf, and your decal talking point is in bad taste.

Or better yet, take a drive down Interstate 10 between New Orleans and Pensacola. I’m sure the locals would love to express what they think of your bumper sticker.

Taken with my iPhone and then cropped as to not show off said asshole’s license plate. Excuse the crappy quality.

Carl Safina of the Blue Ocean Institute said, “The oil blowout, the bank bailout, mortgage crisis, all these things are absolutely symptoms of same issue … we still need police to protect us from a few bad people … for the last 30 years, we’ve had a culture of deregulation caused directly by people we need to be protected from buying the government out from under us.”


“Much of the region’s [nonfishing boat] businesses — particularly the hotels — have been prospering because so many people have come here from BP and other oil emergency response teams,”

From Planet BP, BP’s online internal magazine.

Source- WSJ’s THE SOURCE blog


Interesting way to present this data. One of those nice little “if money and resources weren’t a problem, we could do THIS!” sort of things.

But, if you want to take a little bit of – heh – sunshine from this, look at the metrics they give you for energy consumption. While the total amount of energy used is going up, the rate at which it is going up is decreasing.

Now you just have to wonder if we have the resources to survive the run up to the point where the curves intersect and we have just the right amount of resources to meet our energy needs.

Iceland’s economy completely collapses.England buys Iceland. Icelandic volcanoes decide to play with their new owners. All flights in the United Kingdom are now grounded due to the death rain of volcanic ash.

England can’t find the fucking receipt to take Iceland back.

I can pretty much assure that the entirety of the British Isles have taken a holiday and are now getting snockered at the local pub watching it black snow fall out of the sky.

Image source: NASA.

PS: Oh, the volcano that erupted is called “Eyjafjallajokull”. Which I swear is something I’ve had drunken hobos yell at me as I walked past.

PPS: Apparently, I was incorrect. Those weren’t hobos. People from Iceland just look like that.

“Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship,”

That’s a line from a Vatican review of the film Avatar, releasing in Italy this week. Which is keeping in line with Darth Pope’s Benedict XVI’s fear that modern ecology and environmentalism will give rise “to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms.” This is coming from a pontiff that’s been called “the green pope” by third party observers because of his acknowledgment of things like eco-refugees, climate change and poor shepherding of the world’s resources. Which makes me think that this current pope isn’t so much worried about the environmental apocalypse that is baring down on us because maybe he sees it as a means to drive people back to the church. Has your poor fishing village been washed away because of rising ocean levels? Turn to Christ, especially the Catholic Christ!

Snake oil salesmen hawking for souls.

I really do hate this new pope.

Me: A 20-something at the Lucero show last night with his girlfriend and roommate on a blanket.

You: A horde of douchebags with no respect for the Shell or its rules.

Last night was a perfect sort of early fall night in Memphis. A little muggy, but warm enough to make you forget that it is already October. Lucero was set to kick off their biggest tour yet with a free show at the Levitt Shell. The opening bands were two beloved Memphis acts. I had a perfect spot in the middle, a soft quilt and a cooler full of samosas. It was going to be a good night.

Then, you show up. With your twelve packs of Bud Light and Marlboro Light cigarettes. You set up around me and mine, and I eye you warily, but not with any overt malice. Maybe you’re just going to bend the rules a little bit. Sure, the Shell bans all alcohol and smoking because it wants to stay a family-friendly venue, but this is a Lucero bar crowd. (Except for those dozen or so small children running around the stage for the first two acts. Oops.) Turn one of those aluminum cans from your beer into an ashtray, and I’m fine. Put your shitty beer into a bag or trashcan after your done, and I’m fine. Don’t do any of these things, and you’ll piss me the fuck off.

Remember what the Shell used to be like? Before the Mortimer Levitt Foundation spent millions of dollars to rebuild and update the dilapidated structure that was there? Remember all of those broken, jagged, splintering benches that were more often than not occupied by a derelict or drug addict? Remember how all of that lush, green grass was nothing more than caked dirt or mud? Remember how the speakers were blown out and the lighting was non-existent? Well, you may not, but I sure as fuck do. The Levitt Shell is a musical wonder in Memphis. A free musical wonder at that. And assholes like you that come in and destroy something like that don’t deserve to use it.

It isn’t like the Mortimer Levitt Foundation set out to block your fun. There are ashtray/trashcan things all over the outer edge of the Shell space. Get off your lazy ass and walk the twenty yards to one of them. It isn’t hard. I watched my girlfriend do it a few times, she didn’t seem put out at all. And the booze? I don’t really give a damn about it as booze, I’m more concerned about walking past a group of frat boys with their crushed empties spread around them like  territorial markings. This isn’t your front porch, broheim. You’re taking money out the Shell’s pocket when they have to clean up after your lazy, cheap beer swilling ass. If you want to drink at the Shell, and God knows last night I did, mix up a cocktail and put it in a water bottle or something. There is no need for idiocy like that.

The bottom line is that the Levitt Shell is a public space, and public spaces should be left as good as you found them, if not better. I walked out last night with a bag full of trash that wasn’t my own because of you douchebags. The Shell is one of the best things going in Memphis, and it’ll never cost you a dime for a show. But, if you mistreat it, it will go away. And if that happens and they start thinking about turning it into a parking lot again, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.

Check out the real Missed Connection on

Also, check out the girlfriend’s reaction to Lucero’s addition of horns to their old songs.

Near as I can find, this is the first complete melting of a major world glacier. In less than 60 years, we’ve done enough damage to the world to melt several square miles of ice that was older than our most basic civilization.

From the Miami Herald:

If anyone needs a reminder of the on-the-ground impacts of global climate change, come to the Andes mountains in Bolivia. At 17,388 feet above sea level, Chacaltaya, an 18,000 year-old glacier that delighted thousands of visitors for decades, is gone, completely melted away as of some sad, undetermined moment early this year.

”Chacaltaya has disappeared. It no longer exists,” said Dr. Edson Ramirez, head of an international team of scientists that has studied the glacier since 1991.

Chacaltaya (the name in Aymara means ”cold road”) began melting in the mid-1980s. Ramirez, the assistant director of the Institute of Hydraulics and Hydrology at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in nearby La Paz, documented its disappearance in March.

Global warming. Everyone’s favorite topic of gloom and impending doom. Well, at least it was until that slut called economic collapse moved in.

One of the new angles of investigation into global warming deals with the melting of the permafrost and the gases trapped under the permafrost.

Methane is a natural gas that is produced as the organic material in a marsh breaks down. A tundra is basically a giant marsh that’s been frozen and turned into permafrost. But, the methane production doesn’t stop once the marsh is frozen. It just slows down and gas stays trapped under the ground. The US, Canada and Russia have used this and turned it into a booming natural gas industry.

The problem is when the permafrost stops being so perma. The gas starts to leak up from the ground, poisoning the local environment and releasing into the atmosphere. In the last year alone, they tracked a .7% increase in methane in the atmosphere above Norway. Methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse agent. That .7% increase is really more like 15% increase in greenhouse emissions.

That’s just what’s being attributed to the gas coming up from the ground. The really scary shit is what’s under the ocean. The land-based natural gas deposits are scary enough, but they are nothing like what’s frozen under the Arctic. If the seabeds ever warmed up enough to let the gas out, we’d all die. The Arctic Ocean would fart, nearly all of us would suffocate, and who ever didn’t would die from the flash fires, catastrophic climate change and total removal of the ozone layer.

Not exactly how I want to go out, you know? Killed by a million year old fart.

From The Independent-

Leaves are falling off trees in the height of summer, railway tracks are buckling, and people are retiring to their beds with deep-frozen hot-water bottles, as much of Australia swelters in its worst-ever heatwave.

On Friday, Melbourne thermometers topped 43C (109.4F) on a third successive day for the first time on record, while even normally mild Tasmania suffered its second-hottest day in a row, as temperatures reached 42.2C. Two days before, Adelaide hit a staggering 45.6C. After a weekend respite, more records are expected to be broken this week.


At times last week it seemed as if that was happening already. Chaos ruled in Melbourne on Friday after an electricity substation exploded, shutting down the city’s entire train service, trapping people in lifts, and blocking roads as traffic lights failed. Half a million homes and businesses were blacked out, and patients were turned away from hospitals.


As Professor David Karoly, of the University of Melbourne, said last week: “The heat is unusual, but it will become much more like the normal experience in 10 to 20 years.”

Just so you get this, it is now hot enough in Australia to cause metal fatigue, bloil away sizeable percentages of their water reserves and blow shit up.


CNN just shit the bed.

They’ve laid off their entire space/science/technology/environment reporting group. This means no more front-page level reporting on new technology and environmental issues. They’re keeping their depressing-as-shit/doom-and-gloom reporting of this stuff as a facet of the PLANET IN PERIL show, which in turn is part of the AC:360 branding.

The biggest hit from this is the loss of Miles O’Brien. From the LA Times story:

His departure, confirmed by CNN today, comes as part of an effort to consolidate the network’s science and technology reporting into its Planet in Peril franchise, produced out of the “Anderson Cooper 360” show. Along with O’Brien, who served as CNN’s chief technology and environment correspondent, six producers who work in the science, environment and technology unit in Atlanta are leaving CNN.

“We want to integrate environmental, science and technology reporting into the general editorial structure rather than have a standalone unit,” said CNN spokeswoman Barbara Levin.

O’Brien, a skilled pilot, was CNN’s point person for coverage of aviation disasters and NASA. He also sought to be the first journalist in space, securing a deal with NASA that would have allowed him to fly on the space shuttle. The plan was scuttled, however, after the 2003 crash of the Columbia shuttle.

With this news, I will officially only be reading non-American news. Which in and of itself is a horribly depressing sign of the times and the state of my country. American news is hanging onto this side of the drain by a whore’s pubic hair. A weak fart from Olbermann would send the whole thing down the tubes.

(I guess a Maddow queef would do it, too.)

Source: BoingBoing via i09.

The problem? They don’t know if they can do it. There are so many variables that tracking the whole thing might be impossible. But, with storms becoming deadlier and deadlier, any chance of early warning might be worth the effort.

Meeting at the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK, the scientists liken the billion-dollar project to CERN, the international particle accelerator near Geneva, and to the Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb. They hope to present their plan to the G8 meeting in Japan this summer.

The modellers say they need a centre with computing power of 100 petaflops – two thousand times greater they have access to today.

“We think we know how to do it, but we need the computing power,” said Jagadish Shukla, chair of a meeting of 150 top modellers drawing up the plans

Article here at the NewScientist, with both interesting pro and con arguments for this project.

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