Archive | Protect

Tags: , , , , ,

Poles Melt as 2016 is Hottest Year

Posted on 11 February 2017 by Jerry

It does not wait for the White House. Global warming continues all around the world but especially at the North and South poles. 2016 will go down in the record books as the hottest year on record per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the third consecutive year of progressively record temperatures.

An article in Science magazine in the January 27 issue of 2017 stated that this last year was “1.1°C above those in the industrial era, and 0.07°C above the previous record set in 2015.” The article goes on to say this conclusion is based on an “analysis by the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO), based on data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United Kingdom’s Met Office Hadley Centre of Climate Science and Services, and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.”

All indications are the sea ice of both poles was at historic lows. The air temperatures over the artic and Antarctica in November and December 2015 were near normal and yet the sea ice around both poles was at a lower point than many previous years and decades.

An article by the National Snow and Ice Data Center appearing this year in January 2017 said, “Artic sea ice extent for December 2016 averaged 12.10 million square kilometers (4.67 million square miles), the second lowest December extent in the satellite records.”

In a recent January 26, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Herald, Dr. James Renwick of Victoria University is reported to have seen 2017 begin with more than one million square kilometers of ice missing at the two poles when compared with the historical average. It also reported he saw more than three million square kilometers of ice missing over a 76 day stretch of time between October 13 and December 27th of 2016.

I apologize for the absence of written articles recently. In the last couple of months I moved to a new home in another state and attempted to cope with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. These two developments took the majority of my time during the intervening period. I must admit that my mood turned around with the Women’s March that swept the nation. It was a beacon of hope that there may be hope that the Trump overtures will not go unanswered by the people. In addition, I took comfort in all of the protests about the cancelling of “Obamacare”.

I now see that progress has just gotten harder to come by and that we must keep fighting for what we believe. Of course I continue to believe that we must have solutions to global warming, the ozone hole, nuclear weapons, nuclear technology and synthetic biology/genetic engineering. So we must keep fighting until we solve these four or five problems that we have collectively created.

For more information or to access source documents for this article please use the following links.

http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/hottest-year-on-record/

http://huffingtonpost.com/entry/2016-hottest-year-global-record_us_587e63eee4b07b9dd704f788

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid+11776133

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/sifter/last-year-was-again-hottest-record

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

Will We Poison Ocean Fish With Fukushima Water?

Posted on 17 July 2016 by admin

nuclear-arms-md-336Each day some 300 tons of water is used to cool the broken nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power facility. This becomes a part of the stored water in the over 10 meter tall steel tanks which hold over 750,000 tons of water stored at the plant (see first link below to see picture). As of February 2016 there were 1,106 water tanks on the property. The water is stored because during this process the water becomes irradiated with nuclear particles that make the water dangerous to human health. This process began following the earthquake that caused the tsunami and meltdowns at the power plant on a fateful day in March 2011.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, that runs this plant, feels that it should be allowed to pump this water into the ocean.   The problem they are trying to solve is what to do with the water. It is only through 10% of the decommissioning process that is expected to take an additional 30 – 40 years.

It treats the stored water before it is pumped into storage or presumably the ocean. Today they have deployed filtration devices that remove the dangerous isotopes of strontium and cesium. Unfortunately, they do not yet remove tritium that is very costly and difficult to remove.

An article that appeared in The Guardian on April 13, 2016 quoted Ken Buesseler, senior scientist of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He was commenting about the tritium released by the Fukushima plant, “I would think more has been put into the Irish Sea (from the UK’s Sellafield plant) than would ever be released off Japan.”

The same article goes on to quote Simon Boxall, an oceanographer at the University of Southampton who said, “Even if all of the contaminated water were released into the ocean, it would not contain enough tritium to be detectable by the time it dispersed and reached the US west coast about four years later.” The isotope has a half-life of 12.3 years and all of the storage tanks at the Fukushima Plant contain only 57ml of tritium.

While Simon Boxall dismisses the radioactive water issue, he is not so dismissive when it comes to the already heavily impacted fishing industry. He felt there might be local effects on fish caught in future years.

This fear is echoed by Dr. Ken Buesseler in an article in the April 24, 2015 Daily Beast.   Remember the water used to cool Fukushima is filtered for cesium.   His concern was cesium that has a half-life of 30 years. He said, “That’s a long time. So you take a contaminated tuna, put it in a can, and it takes 30 years for half of that cesium to decay away per natural processes.”

The quote continued, “The bad news is, the Japanese found, through their own monitoring data, cesium levels weren’t going down in fish. That means they’re getting a source – they’re getting fed more cesium. There are still leaks at the site.” Unfortunately the cesium and strontium remain high.

The point is that no one knows what the water will do to fish caught off Japan or fish in the ocean generally. They are radioactive and neither the oceans nor humans can afford more radioactive fish. Japan’s request to discharge the cooling water into the ocean should be turned down. The world cannot afford this solution.

This is a need that has fallen to the company that runs the plant. It may be that this company cannot afford to own more land as a site for water storage. Governments can help. The Japanese or American or the United Nations can come up with the cash that is needed. A concerned populace should provide the political cover so no one is burdened with the cost of storing 300 tons of water a day. We cannot have this contaminated water in the ocean.

Use the following links to access additional information or see the original documents that were the basis of this article.

https://nuclear-news.net/2016/02/13/more-than-1100-water-storage-tanks-at-fukushima-plant-and-counting/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/13/is-it-safe-to-dump-fukushima-waste-into-the-sea

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/24/how-radioactive-is-the-pacific-really.html

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/five-years-after-meltdown-it-safe-live-near-fukushima

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/is-radioactive-water-from-fukushima-worth-worrying-about

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

U.S. and India to Reduce Use of Hydrofluorocarbons

Posted on 06 July 2016 by Jerry

The United States and India reached a far ranging agreement. President Modi of India and President Obama of the U.S. met at the White House in Washington D.C. on Tuesday June 7, 2016. Continuing the world’s progress on replenishing the planet’s ozone, the two countries agreed to modify the Montreal Protocol for India to have an earlier beginning to stop use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) in its air conditioners.

This would change a clause in the Montreal Protocol that specifies a much longer phase-out period for the air conditioning and refrigerator chemical for developing countries that include India. The expectation is that India’s sale of air conditioning and refrigerators will grow significantly matching the growth of the middle class in India. India’s middle class is expected to burgeon in the near future as a sign of India’s growing wealth.

An article in the June 7, 2016 Washington Post states, “India is the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, and HFCs have a global warming power thousands of time greater than carbon dioxide.” It was mentioned in earlier articles on this blog (http://iamaguardian.com/1542/the-more-we-understand-ozone-the-less-we-know/ )( http://iamaguardian.com/1067/are-we-trading-greenhouse-gas-for-ozone/) that there was a loophole in the Montreal Accord and that HFCs are important for control of global warming as well as the disintegration of ozone.

Progress in eliminating the loophole of the Montreal Accord would come from an amendment to the Accord itself. Modifying the agreement will happen in October of this year in Rwanda. That is the next time countries that are parties to the Montreal Accord will meet. This amendment would also provide funds for developing countries included in the loophole to get a new generation of air conditioners and/or refrigerators for their use.

Another important reason for an agreement between the two countries is that the commitments made recently by countries fighting climate change do not go into effect without 55% of global emissions being represented by countries ready to ratify the agreement. India agreed to ratify the agreement. This agreement puts them over the 55% goal with India’s 4.1% of global emissions and puts these commitments into effect.

As a major architect of this climate change agreement we constructed the agreement to go into effect by going over the 55% goal. This means the U.S. or Obama can now ratify the treaty without congressional involvement. It is then clear the U.S. will now ratify the agreement.

A Guardian article that appeared on June 7, 2016 stated, “Though the two countries said engineering and site development work was starting on six nuclear reactors that US-based Westinghouse Electric Co wants to build in India, there was no agreement about the major unresolved issue: cost and financing. Instead, the countries said only that they had agreed to finish the contractual arrangements by June 2017.

The Washington Post article of June 7, 2016 about the nuclear reactor issues further stated, “On the nuclear power front, Westinghouse Electric (now owned by Toshiba) has been negotiating with India in the hopes of selling it six AP-1000 nuclear reactors. The project site was recently moved to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where site preparation is underway.”­

The same article further said, “Westinghouse and General Electric’s nuclear arm have been striving to reach a deal with India for more than a decade, and in 2008 Congress approved an agreement to promote nuclear cooperation with India, which critics said undermined half a century of U.S. nonproliferation efforts.”

As can be seen from these reports the Modi/Obama meeting was superbly timed to accomplish multiple objectives. This shows that the Obama administration’s timing is impeccable, knocking off multiple objectives in a single meeting.

In one fell swoop we made significant progress in both the areas of ozone depletion and climate change at a cost of some support for nuclear power in India. This shows we have an administration that is continuing to make progress against some big objectives. We should be heartened by this progress and be optimistic about our future.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or access source documents used in preparation of this article.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/obama-and-indias-modi-pledge-future-deal-on-climate-and-energy/2016/06/07/9cb5bb72-2cc0-11e6-b5db-e9bc84a2c8e4_story.html

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-modi-seek-to-rapidly-implement-climate-deal/article/2593199

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/06/world/asia/india-narendra-modi-obama.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/25/statements-president-obama-and-prime-minister-modi-republic-india

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/07/india-paris-climate-deal-barack-obama-narendra-modi

http://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/obama-and-india’s-modi-pledge-future-deal-on-climate-and-energy/ar-BBtYJ6n?srcref=rss

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-usa-climate-idUSKCN0YT22U

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , ,

Two Carbon Capture & Storage Developments

Posted on 03 July 2016 by Jerry

It looks as if baking soda is a key breakthrough in carbon capture and storage. Most countries were assuming a technology breakthrough that would allow them to take carbon out of the atmosphere. We should remember that if there is excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and it contributes to global warming then a key solution is to take this out of the atmosphere. This reality serves as the basis of a significant portion of the carbon reductions signed up for by various countries.

In a new breakthrough scientists have fashioned sponges made with baking soda to capture carbon emissions. They have tested microcapsules filled with their baking soda formula and believe their approach could be up to 40% cheaper than any existing technology.

One article cites Joshua Stolaroff, an environmental researcher at the Livermore Labs. He said, “Like all the commercial CO2 schemes we have today, the goal for large scale implementation is taking many tons of gas from a power plant and finding geological features deep underground where we can inject the CO2 and it will stay indefinitely.”

This leads us to the second development to be called out in research summarized in the June 10, 2016 issue of Science magazine. This article essentially says that 95% of carbon dioxide carbonizes and turns into benign carbonate minerals within two years when injected into a site in Iceland. This assumes the site has the appropriate chemistry and composition for carbon dioxide storage.

The carbon dioxide is dissolved in large amounts of water and then stored in porous basaltic rock. Here it undergoes a chemical transition to become a carbonate that binds to iron, calcium or magnesium, all of which are natural ingredients of the basalt.

Previously, scientists believed it would take hundreds if not thousands of years for carbon dioxide to harden underground. Obviously the faster the carbon dioxide turns to a harder material the better because it can be reused by other industries. An advantage of the microcapsule approach is that the carbon dioxide can be retrieved. If the baking soda solution is heated it turns into a form of gas that increases its value to others.

As said many times, there is reason for optimism in that human beings can find a solution or react fast enough to solve or diminish any problem we might identify. If we could only combine these two technologies or even if we can use them separately, it is clear we are making progress.

Taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is a part of the worldwide solution to climate change. This baking soda solution and the fact that it takes only two years to mineralize carbon dioxide underground, each point to progress in lessening climate change. This gives us reason for optimism when we think about our scientific community and the great problems confronting us.

Use the following links to obtain more information on these subject areas.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36197603

http://www.energy.gov/articles/these-tiny-capsules-fight-climate-change

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6291/1312

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/pulling_co2_from_the_air_promising_idea_big_price_tag/2197/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/07/scientists_use_baking_soda_to_capture_carbon_dioxide/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/06/09/scientists-in-iceland-have-a-solution-to-our-carbon-dioxide-problem-turn-it-into-stone/

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , ,

Synthetic Biology Creates Smallest Bacteria

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Jerry

Craig Venter, a longtime leader in synthetic biology if not a founder, has continued to pursue creation of a life form with the smallest number of genes that can act as a living envelop for a created synthetic organism. Venter’s team has now announced a bacterial cell that Venter calls the “most simple of all organisms.”   It only has 473 genes.

An article published on March 24, 2016 by Science magazine describes the new organism as a “Tour de force” in a quote of George Church, a synthetic biologist at Harvard University. Also known as Syn 3.0, the living bacterium has been cut down to the bare essential genes to sustain life. It has the least known or smallest genome of a living organism to date.

The problem with this new development is that it can be described as creating more questions than it answers. In trying to eliminate genes that did not keep this most basic bacterium alive, the synthetic biologist team found 149 of the 473 genes whose purpose was unknown. These genes remained a mystery because no one on the team could identify what functions these particular genes had.

The March 25, 2016 issue of Science magazine has an article entitled Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome, which was written by Venter’s own team. This article said in conclusion, “The minimal cell concept appears simple at first glance but becomes more complex upon close inspection. In addition to essential and nonessential genes, there are many quasi-essential genes, which are not absolutely critical for viability but are nevertheless required for robust growth….Unexpectedly, it also contains 149 genes with unknown biological functions, suggesting the presence of undiscovered functions that are essential for life.”

This represents a continuation of a trend that was last highlighted in an article in this blog entitled, “Troubling Progress for Synthetic Biology” see www.iamaguardian.com/category/protect/synthetic-biology/page/2/ . This May 2012 article shows that the same teams are making progress on their respective objectives. It also shows that this research team is taking the easiest path to a conclusion and the simplicity of their approach to research, simplicity that allows for 149 unknown genes. These bacteria represent the next chapter of the J. Craig Venter team. These bacteria grow and thrive in a laboratory environment.

We continue to call for regulation of Venter’s team’s experimental efforts. It is clear they are taking a very ‘ham-handed’ approach to finding the secret of life. What else will they fail to know about the microbes they create? What will they care? What will stop them from taking a shortcut to wealth when they find a path to an IPO or a new product rather than take the appropriate steps to be safety conscious? This again highlights that this area has no government regulator or regulatory regime to look over their shoulder and insure their efforts are in the public interest.

The announcements themselves seem to respond to funders thirst for progress, which must be threatening to not give them any more money. These numbers do not assuage the concerns of the public.

Would you announce proudly the fact that you have whittled down bacterial genes to 473 when you continue to not know what 149 or over 30% of these genes do? Why would you make sweeping public announcements about this accomplishment? We need regulation and oversight of this area now. We must slow these teams and their zeal to reach the next plateau in living out their founder’s dreams of great wealth and renown.

Use the following links to access more information or read the source documents used to prepare this article.

http://news.yahoo.com/stripped-down-synthetic-organism-sheds-light-nature-life-204848392–finance.html

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/synthetic-microbe-lives-less-500-genes

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2003/11/designer-genomes-pronto

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35895138

http://sciencemag.org/content/351/6280/aad6253

http://sciencemag.org/content/351/6280/1380

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6280/aad6253.full

 

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here
June 2017
S M T W T F S
« Feb    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930