The Watering Hole, Tuesday September 29, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Alarming Report on the Health of Our Oceans

“According to the World Wildlife Fund‘s (WWF) recently released Living Blue Planet Report, marine populations have declined by an astonishing 49 percent between 1970 and 2012, with with some fish species, including tuna, declining by almost 75 percent.”

I think our first Earth Day was in 1970. Our awareness of the earth’s problems has increased dramatically, but our actions to correct them are but a minor blip on the radar.

Pretty alarming numbers. What will the oceans look like in another 40 years?

The Watering Hole, Tuesday, August 11, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Stem Cell Research Identifies Effects of Pollution on Human Health

From the article:

“The researchers used a combination of biochemical and cell-based assays to examine the gene expression profile during the differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells upon treatment with BPA, a compound known to cause heart disease, diabetes, and developmental abnormalities in humans. They were able to detect and measure, BPA toxicity toward the proper specification of primary germ layers, such as endoderm and ectoderm, and the establishment of neural progenitor cells. These results indicate that BPA may alter embryonic development in vivo.”

Read on…

The Watering Hole, Tuesday April 21, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

The good times are here. Well, let’s say there is some good news this week with respect to the environment. The first two have to do with the importance of biodiversity and resiliency in nature. Who could be against that? The last shows that we can have clean energy and jobs. In Georgia, of all places. Who could be against that?

1. Stinging nettle chemical improves cancer drug

Yes our common weed that itches like crazy when you brush against it also has the same effect on cancer cells.

2. Plastic-Eating Corals Discovered on Great Barrier Reef

A way too early study, with more research to come.

3. Georgia’s clean energy industry provides nearly 20,000 full-time jobs

Open thread, discuss.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday April 14, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Today environmental news  and food politics cross paths, in the UK anyway.

Warmer Waters Threaten Future of Traditional Fish and Chips

I can just see the proposals now for a pipeline connecting the Great Lakes with California after seeing this bit: Record low snowpacks in Southwest is bad news for water supplies

And the last bit of good news…

Mercury levels in Arctic birds found increasing over the past 130 years

Open thread, discuss.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday February 3, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics – Rural Water

Scientists have studied the water. Rural water (mostly).

The studies come amid new evidence that even low doses of arsenic may reduce IQ in children, in addition to well documented risks of heart disease, cancer and reduced lung function.

“”Arsenic is the biggest public-health problem for water in the United States—it’s the most toxic thing we drink,” said geochemist Yan Zheng, an adjunct research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who coedited the special section and coauthored some of the articles. “For some reason, we pay far less attention to it than we do to lesser problems.”

It’s in the water, mostly rural water, and you know who lives there (mostly).

The Watering Hole: Tuesday October 7, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

California leads the way again! The truth is most plastic bags don’t get recycled, and as we now know, plastic particles are affecting the food chain in the oceans. Hemp is a suitable alternative for making ‘throw away’ totes.

BYOB Policy -Bring Your Own Bag

Reports show that traditional breeding techniques are years ahead of GM technologies in developing crops to withstand drought and poor soils, writes Lawrence Woodward. Yet GM advocates are sticking rigidly to their script even as the evidence mounds against them.”

Read on.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday September 30, 2014: Environmental News and Food Politics

Study calculates that water on Earth is actually older than our Sun!

The heathens who conduct science in this country strike another blow against the ‘earth is 8000 years old theory. It turns out that the water here on earth may be from interplanetary sources older than our sun (which itself is a bit older than 8000 years old).

Read on…

National monument expanding

Looks like Obama muffed another one. Large portions of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument increased in size by a factor of six.

Obama’s fault.

 

Born free… again

 

I just knew that this study would come out of Oregon (OSU to be precise)

If Hops aid cognitive function in mice, maybe beer will do it in humans

Pass, pass pass that bottle of beer.

The Wateing Hole: Tuesday September 9, 2014 – Envionmental News and Food Politics

1. Is this money well spent?

The grass is greener…

A better idea might be to replace the lawn with wildlife friendly native plants, or a vegetable plot. Here in Eugene, you’ll see many font yards tuned in to productive organic gardens.

 

2. If you can handle the English spellings and can convert from Euros to dollars, here is a compelling article.

The case for smaller, healthier dairy herds

Got milk to throw away?

 

 

The Watering Hole: Tuesday August 12, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

After having taken an unannounced leave of absence for the past three weeks, my memory kicked in again, so here we are.

The ocean is being affected by microscopic plastics, as researchers have found a year or so ago. New research has found the the upper millimeter contains a more prevalent pollutant than plastic.

Boat paint, anyone?

 

Will pristine ever be available again? Anywhere?

The Watering Hole, Tuesday June 24, 2014 Environmental News and Food Politics

Study links pesticides and pregnancies with increased risk of autism:

“Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, according to a new study.”

Another reason to go organic

New study shows link between bald eagle deaths and lead ammunition

“Endangered California condors have been the poster birds for calls to get lead ammunition out of our environment, but they might have to make some room for our nation’s most iconic raptors thanks to a new study showing how lead ammunition is also harming bald eagles.”

The NRA isn’t going to like this one.

Oppose the DARK act.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has introduced a bill in Congress that would block states from enacting GE food labeling laws and make “voluntary labeling” the law of the land. Big Food is trying to kill your right to know if the food you’re eating is genetically engineered.

The food giants want to control the debate.

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday June 12 2014; Climatic Idiocy

Climatic Idiocy. Where to begin? There is, in case anyone’s missed it, yet one more emerging Obama atrocity: his War on Coal. Actually, it’s one of the best ideas in recent memory, the concept of drastically reducing carbon emissions by drastically reducing the use of coal in power generation; it’s the wingnut reaction to same that’s idiotic. Here are a couple of grand headlines which come close to describing the . . . ermmm . . . the idiocy — yeah, there’s the word! — that forever drives Wingnuttistanians everywhere.

First, there’s this li’l gem: Coal Company CEO Threatens To Sue EPA For ‘Lying’ About Climate Change

Next, to demonstrate that not all wingnut idiots are Republican, there’s this one: West Virginia Democrat Unveils Bill To Let Coal Plants Emit Unlimited Carbon Pollution

And of course, implied in the coal industry’s resistance to the ‘War on Coal’, there’s the task of bought-and-paid-for and/or idiot politicians to do all they can to diminish the progress of clean energy alternatives. Starting here at home, there’s this: House Republican Budget Would Cut $113 Million From Renewable Energy

And from Down Under (where one might think politicians might oughtta be urging every possible means to reduce carbon emissions to zero), there comes word that Australian PM Tony Abbott Travels The World To Drum Up Anti-Climate Action Coalition

I could go on, and on, and on, and . . . well, OK, one more. We should definitely not ignore the idea put forward by an idiot (Republican) Florida Congressman: If Humans Cause Climate Change, Then ‘Why Did The Dinosaurs Go Extinct’?

Indeed. I mean really, why didn’t I think of that?

There are, however, in a small handful of spots on the globe, evidences of cognitive thought on climate change, followed by action mandates designed to attack the problem head on, action mandates that are clearly NOT designed by idiots, NOT driven by idiocy. Example: Finland Sets New, Ambitious Goal For Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions, wherein:

Last week, Finland became the latest European country to set itself a new and newly ambitious goal for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Change Act legally commits the country to reducing its emissions 80 percent below their 1990 levels by 2050, and enters into legal force in 2015.

Imagine it. A land with no wingnuts, a land free of Climatic — make that Climactic Idiocy!

Rant over. For now, at least. Whew.

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Tuesday May 13, 2014 Environmental News and Food Politics

Quick notes for today.

A big issue for siting windfarms is bird casualties. The critters are wont to fly in to the blades. Scotland seems to be on the way to solving the problem.

Fly on little birdie.

 

Then we have the GMO herbicides showing up in mother’s milk.

Passing it forward.

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 12th, 2014: BREAKING into WIND power

Last week at the grocery store, I noticed a couple of men standing behind a table near the pharmacy section. They had some large tri-fold posters standing on the table, but, since my first view only encompassed the back of the posters, I didn’t know what they were pushing. I avoided them for a bit, but I had to pick up a prescription so I covertly checked them out from the safety (and better viewing angle) of the pharmacy counter. Once I realized that the posters showed wind turbines, my interest was piqued and, after I finished getting my prescription, I went directly over and said, “Hi, whatcha doing?”

The two men were from Green Mountain Energy, and the tall, bearded man named Gregory explained that they were offering NYSEG (New York State Electric & Gas) customers a choice to opt for electricity generated solely by wind power. New York State has a number of wind farms providing electricity for hundreds of thousands of customers, enough to offer an approximate $.02/killowatt-hour savings over traditional, multi-source electricity ($.089 versus $.11+.) However, even if it was the same price, just the idea that we would not get our electricity from oil, natural gas, coal, and other polluting sources made me feel that it would be worthwhile to switch. While New York State does produce hydroelectricity, the vast majority of our electricity comes from oil and natural gas. Ewww. Well, not anymore for us at least!

From Green Mountain Energy’s website:

In 2013, our customers had the largest annual impact ever, avoiding more than 6.1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2)! Over the past 15+ years, our customers collectively have avoided 30.6 billion pounds of CO2 by choosing cleaner electricity and carbon offset products. To put that into perspective, that’s like:

Taking 2.9 million cars off the road for a year
17.6 million households turning off their lights for a year
Planting 3.6 million trees

At first, of course, I hemmed and hawed about it, thinking that Wayne would be furious with me if I just blindly signed up and we got stuck in something we really didn’t want. Gregory assuaged that fear a bit by telling me that even if I signed up then and there, the contract would not be etched in stone. I was given a booklet about the company for us to review, along with Gregory’s phone number. We arranged to have him talk to Wayne, and, after a phone call the following day, a little research, and a visit back to the store to meet with Gregory, Wayne agreed to it. So we’re finally breaking into renewable energy sources.

Wayne and I have often said that, when we can eventually afford to have our roof fixed, we’ll go solar (our back yard is big enough and open enough to fit a small solar array, too.) But until then, I feel a little bit better about lessening our carbon footprint.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole Tuesday May 6, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics – Open Thread

Here is a sad statement about our last unexplored places:

“Most of the deep sea remains unexplored by humans, and these are our first visits to many of these sites, but we were shocked to find that our rubbish has got there before us.” stated one researcher from an international study team.

Trash before we get there.

Staying with our ocean theme, we seem to be slowly but steadily destroying the food chain, starting with the largest organisms first (think whales, tuna, sharks) and now right to the bottom of it, where acidification of the ocean melts the shells of tiny marine snails. Dare to dream of a fishless ocean.

Will fish farming be the only way to obtain seafood in the future?

And now for the good news: Vermont Legislature passes GMO labeling law, and the governor is expected to sign it.

Finally, a state with courageous politicians.

 

The Watering Hole, Tuesday April 1, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

April Fools!!!!!!!

 

Too tired to be clever, so I’ll leave that to others.

1. Time to Vege Up! Cut out the meat and the cheese if you want to save the world.  

“If agricultural emissions are not addressed, nitrous oxide from fields and methane from livestock may double by 2070. This alone would make meeting the climate target essentially impossible.”

2. Last week it was Chernobyl, this week Three Mile Island is celebrating an anniversary. I actually remember this one pretty well. Just met Cats and lived in Reading, PA, about 60 miles downwind of the disaster. Have we learned anything yet?

3. GMO labeling won’t go away. Food Democracy showing signs of resurgence in California, Colorado. Referenda – the people speak.

 

OPEN THREAD!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 25, 2014 Environmental News and Food Politics – Open Thread


Chernobyl Nuclear Plant

Has it been thirty years since Chernobyl? Although no people live in the extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, animals, trees and other plants still show signs of radiation poisoning. The saga of nuclear accident: a poisoned earth refuses to heal.

It ain’t the fat. It appears that the presence of saturated fat in foods has very little influence on cholesterol levels, and other aspects of heart disease. Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats. 

Climate change – it’s not all bad news:   The long tailed tit likes warm dry springs.     

 

Open Thread – Discuss

Tuesday February 25, 2014 Watering Hole: Environmental News and Food Politics – Open Thread

Let’s start with some of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules:

#11. Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

#19. If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.

#20. It is not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

The rest of the rules here: Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

Obama’s most effect environmental action, from High Country News: Smog in the West

Not environmental per se, but more from HCN – Failed secession movements litter the West.

Open Thread

The Watering Hole, Tuesday February 18, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Putting his money where his mouth is... retired hedge fund executive willing to spend up to $100 million this year to challenge climate deniers running for office, according to this article from the New York Times.

“A billionaire retired investor is forging plans to spend as much as $100 million during the 2014 election, seeking to pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers.”

Read more here.

West Virginia take me home… but don’t drink the water. Another coal slurry spill. As much as people hate fracking and oil drilling, coal is the most environmentally disastrous energy source in the world. There isn’t even a close second. John Denver, are you sure you want to go there?

Biosolids contain more harm? Duke University researchers are looking in the the effects of anti-microbial chemicals are having on soil decomposition. Biosolids are what your sewage treatment plant spreads on parks, farm land fields or bag as fertilizers for sale. They are supposed to be tested by federal regulation for pathogens and heavy metals but chemicals are a different story. It is expensive and complicated to test the right now, but some may contain chemicals harmful to he environment. Read on.

First Clinton and now Al Gore... going vegan. May be old news to some of you but I just uncovered it. Al Gore likes lentils and carrots. Fiftysomething Diet: Is It Time to Go Vegan? Here is the science behind it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 17th, 2014: Pick an Issue?

I’m sure that I’m not the only one among us Critters and Zoosters who received this email survey from Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) asking, “What should Congress focus on in 2014?”

Which issue matters most to you in 2014?

__Keeping Our Promise to Seniors by Protecting Social Security & Medicare

__Strengthening Our Manufacturing Economy

__Raising the Minimum Wage

__Protecting Women’s Health and Freedom

__Tax Reform That Rewards Hard Work

__Working to Lower Healthcare Costs

__Supporting Small Business Startups

__Investing in Innovation, Science, Research and Technology

Other:

I went with “Other”, more or less:

While most of the above are important issues in my view (“Protecting Women’s Health and Freedom” and “Investing in Innovation, Science, Research and Technology” in particular), I believe that the single most important issue that impacts the future of this country is EDUCATION. We need children who are taught critical thinking, in order to have the ‘Innovation, Science, Research and Technology’ in which to invest. Stressing the basics in: reading (especially reading comprehension); spelling (because words are spelt the way they are for good reason); vocabulary (because words mean what they mean due to their evolution through history); math skills; and the basics in the sciences and technologies, are all paramount. Investing in the future means investing in schools, teachers, and (most importantly) young citizens’ minds.

Really, with all of the problems that our country faces, there are so many important issues to be addressed that it’s impossible to say which is MOST important. And some issues which I would have thought were important are not even on the list, i.e, gun control, environmental issues (climate change, fossil fuel pollution of several sorts, etc.), our failing infrastructure…(sigh) I could go on, but you get the idea.

How would you respond to Senator Baldwin’s survey?

This is our daily open thread–you can answer the survey if you wish, or talk about whatever you want!

Watering Hole; Tuesday February 11, 2014 Open Thread- Food and Environmental Politics.

It appears that global warming is having just the effect that climate deniers and their exploitation pals want, in of all places Greenland. My suggestion? Trademark the name Brownland. Here they come.

Even though wind power is doing well during this cold snap, put your money on more fracking. Natural gas supplies are down, meaning stocks prices are up. Forget environmental health  …follow the money.

And now for some good news (of sorts). When we lived back in Pennsylvania, there was a place about 45 minutes away called Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. It was established in the 1930’s when a rich socialite found out that hunters were indiscriminately killing hawks and other birds of prey that used this flyway just north of Hamburg, PA. She bought the mountain and chased away the hunters.

This year’s Rachel Carson award goes to a National Geographic writer who exposed senseless killing of migratory waterfowl through Albania. Proves one thing
-the dumbfucks are everywhere.

So our colder than normal (the new normal that is) winter in the Northeast and Midwest has climate deniers tisk, tisking at enviros. So, let’s see what the explanations is for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Oh, I know, they mis-named it. Pass the tanning lotion please.

Carry on…

The Waterless Watering Hole, Monday, February 3rd, 2014

A few recent articles got me started connecting several dots, which then began forming an unsettling picture. Read along, and let me know what you think.

First, according to this ClimateProgress article from January 31st, what was once the largest lake in the Middle East, Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, has reportedly lost 95% of its water. While Lake Urmia is a saltwater lake, and not essential for agriculture or drinking water, such a huge reduction in size is more than alarming. From the article:

“Dam construction recently increased throughout the country, to provide both badly needed electricity and water supplies for irrigation. But that’s also diverted massive amounts of the freshwater that formerly flowed into Lake Urmia. Other major rivers throughout the country have gone dry, and the dust from the riverbeds and the salt from Lake Urmia’s dried basin are now a form of pollution unto themselves. Major cities around the country — including the capital of Tehran, home to 22 million — are making contingency plans for rationing. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently named water as a national security issue, and demonstrations and riots over water supplies have already erupted.”[emphasis mine]

“According to a 2012 study by the United Nations, 65 percent of the decline can be chalked up to climate change and the diversion of surface water cutting inflow to the lake. Another 25 percent was due to dams, and 10 percent was due to decreased rainfall over the lake itself.

A long drought in Iran ended two years ago, but the recent boost to rainfall has not been able to offset the other effects on the lake. Average temperatures around Lake Urmia rose three degrees in just the past ten years. In Pakistan, which sits along Iran’s southeast border, climate change has reduced snowmelt and river flow. That’s led to domestic political strife, and to a strained relationship with India over dams along the Indus River — Pakistan’s main source of freshwater.”[emphasis mine]

A commenter on the thread then led me to this Guardian article from November, concerning Hongjiannao Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake:

“Data released by local meteorological agencies on Thursday and reported by Chinese state media, shows the lake has now shrunk by almost one-third since 2009…”

Then there was this article by Graham Land entitled “Asia’s Disappearing Lakes”, with its alarming opening paragraphs:

“One of the worst environmental disasters in living memory is the near vanishing of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. What was once one of the world’s four largest lakes, containing some 1.5 thousand islands and covering 68,000 square kilometres (26,000 miles), by 2007 the Aral Sea was only 10% of its previous size and divided into four lakes.

What happened to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan’s inland sea was not the result of normal changing weather patterns. The fate of the Aral Sea is a story of human intervention, contamination and local climate change.”

Next, Brad Plumer interviews Francesca Femia of the think-tank Center for Climate and Security in this Washington Post article. Ms. Femia states that, during the period between 2006 and 2011, “…up to 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced one of the worst long-term droughts in modern history.”

“This drought — combined with the mismanagement of natural resources by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, who subsidized water-intensive crops like wheat and cotton farming and promoted bad irrigation techniques — led to significant devastation. According to updated numbers, the drought displaced 1.5 million people within Syria…They all moved into urban areas — urban areas that were already experiencing economic insecurity due to an influx of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.”

Ms. Femia added, “…we’re not making any claim to causality here. We can’t say climate change caused the civil war. But we can say that there were some very harsh climatic conditions that led to instability.” Later in the interview, Ms. Femia says that it was a 2011 NOAA report “showing that a prolonged period of drying in the Mediterranean and the Middle East was linked to climate change” that brought the conditions in Syria to her attention. [I mention this simply because I find it ironic that a NOAA report is taken so seriously outside of the U.S., while so many of our “exceptional Americans” are dumbfuck climate change deniers who wouldn’t trust a NOAA report if god it/him/herself read the report to them.]

We’ve all read the recent stories about the toxic spill in West Virginia that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people. (And they’re still peeling more eye-watering layers off this onion of a story.) We’ve seen the photos and news reports showing West Virginians driving to designated water-supply centers for their ration of clean water–which didn’t appear to be enough for families to bathe, drink, cook, and somehow wash clothes with. At one point, Wal-Mart had to call in the local police to help protect a delivery of bottled water.

Now imagine if the Keystone XL pipeline is given the go-ahead, and eventually there’s a spill that contaminates the Ogallala Aquifer. Instead of 300,000 people being without clean water, it would be 3,000,000 – all vying for relief deliveries of fresh water.

I could go on, but I think you catch my drift: if mankind, and the United States in particular, continues to ignore global climate change, refuses to enforce current environmental regulations, continues to rely heavily on finite and filthy fossil fuels, and refuses to consider stricter pollution regulations, then clean drinking water will become more scarce, and more valuable. If scarcity of water is fueling riots and protests in other parts of the world, imagine what could happen in the United States: with so much of our citizenry being over-armed and paranoid, how soon would the shooting start? And, if even Iran is already considering water to be “a national security issue”, eventually the inept fools who occupy Congress might finally get it through their thick skulls that clean water is essential to life as we know it, and is therefore more important than oil. So, when do you think the first War for Water would start? Or maybe it would be referred to as WWW: World Water War?

Not that I think that all of this may happen within my lifetime, but as Rachel Maddow used to say, “Somebody talk me down!”

This is our daily open thread–talk about whatever you want!