Since a busted oil well began spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico a month ago, the catastrophe has constantly been measured against the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. The Alaska spill leaked nearly 11 million gallons of crude, killed countless wildlife and tarnished the owner of the damaged tanker, Exxon.
Yet the leader of botched containment efforts in the critical hours after the tanker ran aground wasn't Exxon Mobil Corp. It was BP PLC, the same firm now fighting to plug the Gulf leak.
BP owned a controlling interest in the Alaska oil industry consortium that was required to write a cleanup plan and respond to the spill two decades ago. It also supplied the top executive of the consortium, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. Lawsuits and investigations that followed the Valdez disaster blamed both Exxon and Alyeska for a response that was bungled on many levels.
Earthship Biotecture in Taos, NM has a map on their blog this week that shows you on a county-by-county basis, where you can fairly easily (or not) build a carbon-zero home throughout the United States. On the site is an interactive version of the map shown below, as well as a video explaining the map. The red on the map represents a large amount of permitting, cost, etc. in order to build. It was very surprising to learn that they tried to retrofit a house in California - not even build new - and met with prohibitive regulation. Great to see that the I-25 corridor has a lot of green. I don't know if that is because those are the people who are most likely to make a trip down to an earthship community and actually "get it" or what but I feel privileged to live in NM. where it's relatively easy to obtain permits for retrofit or building.
"A new earthquake" is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.
In an open letter sent May 14, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the executive director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds ... and on what is left our environment in Haiti."(1) Haitian social movements have been vocal in their opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food, which undermines local production with local seed stocks. They have expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
NEW YORK - Children exposed to pesticides known as organophosphates could have a higher risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study.
"There is growing concern that these pesticides may be related to ADHD," said Marc Weisskopf of the Harvard School of Public Health, who worked on the study. "What this paper specifically highlights is that this may be true even at low concentrations." (photo by Flickr user D'Arcy Norman)
Researchers tracked the pesticides' breakdown products in kids' urine and found those with high levels were almost twice as likely to develop ADHD as those with undetectable levels.
The findings are based on data from the general U.S. population, meaning that exposure to the pesticides could be harmful even at levels commonly found in children's environment.
"There is growing concern that these pesticides may be related to ADHD," said Marc Weisskopf of the Harvard School of Public Health, who worked on the study. "What this paper specifically highlights is that this may be true even at low concentrations."
[OK - this is how awesome and unbelievable the size of the spill is. I originally typed 2500 sq. ft. below, rather than the 2500 sq. MILES it really is.]
I seem to be really into scary pictures and websites lately but I ran across a google map scenario tool set up by Dr. Paul Rademacher and it let you compare the oil spill to various areas in the United States or one of your own choosing. Of course, we're all awed by the some 2500 sq. mi. of oil floating on the Gulf waters but this really brings home the enormity of the situation. Here is a picture of a map I created with Rademacher's tool, showing the oil spill covering the city and environs of Albuquerque.
Increasing access to energy is critical to ensuring socioeconomic development in the world's poorest countries. An estimated 1.5 billion people in developing countries have no access to electricity, with more than 80 per cent of these living in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia.
The problem is most acute in remote areas: 89 per cent of people in rural sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity, which is more than twice the proportion (46 per cent) in urban areas. For these people, even access to a small amount of electricity could lead to life-saving improvements in agricultural productivity, health, education, communications and access to clean water.
Options for expanding access to electricity in developing countries tend to focus on increasing centralised energy from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, by expanding grid electricity. But this approach has little benefit for the rural poor. Grid extension in these areas is either impractical or too expensive.
Neither does this strategy help tackle climate change. Power already accounts for 26 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and while most of this comes from the developed world, by 2030 developing countries are predicted to use 70 per cent more total annual energy than developed nations.
There is therefore a clear need for pro-poor, low-carbon ways to improve access to electricity in the developing world - solar power could be one such solution.
PBS created this widget to estimate how much oil has spilled into the Gulf, based on sliding estimates (you slide 'em) from a minimum of a little over 200K gal. per day [NOAA] to the worst case scenario by BP, which is 2.5 million gal. per day. Frightening no matter which of the numbers you use. You can get the widget for your own website on the PBS page.
The authors specifically criticize some politicians for what the letter calls “McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues on the basis of innuendo and guilt by association.” It doesn’t name names, but a clear target is Senator James M. Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican.
You and your feline can help with the BP oil spill cleanup! Or you and your canine. Or you and your hairdresser. Wow, even you and your llama can help!
In case you weren't aware, hair of many varieties can be used to create mats and also to make floating hair sausages to [hopefully] prevent the spill from reaching shore. The organization in the first video is called Matter of Trust and their site with details on how you can help is called ExcessAccess (they also match donors with other excess material needs) but you will have to register to get the information on exactly how to donate your goods. There is also an e-How page on this that gives a brief explanation.
So, watch the videos below, shed your excess and get donating! It takes a lot of hair to accomplish this, so consider contacting your hair salon or barber and convince them to participate!
..and wondering how this oil slick cleanup actually works? CNN also has a nice video to explain that, as well: