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If oil spills in the Arctic and no one is around to clean it up, does it just stay there?

Grist.org - 51 min 2 sec ago
ShutterstockWho will save them after an oil spill?

Oil and shipping companies are salivating as the climate change that they helped cause melts away the ice at the top of the world. Planning and exploration is underway for an Arctic drilling and shipping boom. But what aren’t underway are meaningful preparations for responding to the oil that will inevitably be spilled into the remote and rugged Arctic environment by these accident-prone industries.

The National Research Council has catalogued these hazards in a new report, warning that the lack of Arctic infrastructure would become a “significant liability” should oil be spilled.

“It is unlikely that responders could quickly react to an oil spill unless there were improved port and air access, stronger supply chains, and increased capacity to handle equipment, supplies, and personnel,” wrote the council in a report requested by the American Petroleum Institute and various U.S. agencies. “There is presently no funding mechanism to provide for development, deployment, and maintenance of temporary and permanent infrastructure.”

The report identifies other issues that would hamstring oil spill responses. The U.S. Coast Guard, which coordinates federal responses to most oil spills, has a “low level of presence in the Arctic,” the report notes. “Coast Guard’s efforts to support Arctic oil spill planning and response in the absence of a dedicated and adequate budget are admirable but inadequate.”

It’s particularly challenging to prepare for oil spills in the Arctic. That’s because of the difficult terrain, because the environment is changing so quickly, and because little is known about how spilled oil behaves in such frigid environments.

Even if industry and government do get their acts together and prepare properly for an oil spill, the potential remedies are hideous to even think about. Two of the top responses discussed in the report include using toxic dispersants to dissolve oil and igniting the oil to help it dissipate as air pollution.

But with companies like Shell leading the oil-drilling charge in the Arctic, what could possibly go wrong? Oh, shit …


Filed under: Business & Technology, Climate & Energy
Categories: Environment

Oregon tells rail companies to keep oil deliveries secret

Grist.org - 1 hour 13 min ago

Oregon transportation officials are doing everything in their power to keep the state’s residents in the dark about the movement of crude-filled, explosion-prone rail cars.

The Oregonian won a two-month battle in March when the state Department of Justice ruled that the state Department of Transportation was of course legally required to provide information it receives about the oil shipments to the daily newspaper. Failing to do so “could infringe on the public’s ability to assess the local and statewide risks,” a Justice Department attorney advised.

“Risks shmisks,” the Transportation Department replied. It heavily redacted reports it had received from the rail companies before releasing them to the journalists — and then kicked the intrasigence up a notch. The department told rail companies to stop submitting reports because such reports would become public. (Rail companies have broken promises to share this type of data with the federal government. Oregon transportation officials claim publishing the information is a security risk, despite the fact that oil-laden rail cars are already clearly labeled.) From The Oregonian:

The Oregon Department of Transportation, the state’s rail safety overseer, says it will no longer ask railroads for reports detailing where crude oil moves through the state after The Oregonian successfully sought to have them made public.

Railroads “provided us courtesy copies with the understanding we wouldn’t share it — believing it might be protected,” ODOT spokesman David Thompson said in an email. “We now know that the info is NOT protected; so do the railroads.” …

State law requires railroads to annually submit detailed reports saying what dangerous substances they’ve moved, where and in what volume. They’re due to emergency responders across the state by March 1 of each year. That hasn’t been happening.

The reports have been sent to ODOT instead, which historically acted as a central hub, providing the information on request to firefighters across the state.

ODOT officials say that process needs reform. But as ODOT begins working to change those disclosure rules, its officials say they no longer need any reports.

Keeping this kind of information secret won’t just make it hard for residents to make decisions about where they can live and travel safely. It will make it more difficult for the Transportation Department to do its job. “There’s no other place to get the data,” a retired department rail safety inspector told the paper.


Filed under: Climate & Energy, Politics
Categories: Environment

Epicor Global Customer Conference Offers Deep Dive Sessions Into...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Altec, Diamond Sponsor for Epicor Insights 2014, presents the power of doc-link as a productivity tool to automate AP and AR processing for Epicor ERP and Prophet 21 solutions.

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11762395.htm

Categories: Environment

Reader Magazine Gears Up for National Expansion—Partners with Russell...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Chris Theodore’s Reader Magazine is a quarterly print publication that gives 390,000 Californians an antidote to the mainstream media as well as a dynamic direct mail alternative. He’s partnering with...

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/russelljohns/thereader/prweb11762614.htm

Categories: Environment

Mead Brown Costa Rica Vacation Rental Hot Spot, Manuel Antonio, Voted...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Mead Brown Costa Rica Vacation Rentals, the best Villa Rental Agency in Costa Rica as ranked by Travel & Leisure Magazine, adds another award to its shelf. TripAdvisor has voted Manuel Antonio has...

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11782449.htm

Categories: Environment

Saint Louis University Master of International Business Launches NEW...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

The John Cook School Business at Saint Louis University announced a new format for the Master of International Business starting fall 2014. The 21-month program includes a new, blended learning format...

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11785094.htm

Categories: Environment

Adventure Life Encourages Travelers to Visit Choquequirao Before Major...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Adventure Life encourages travelers to visit Choquequirao before major changes occur by offering private tours for an intimate experience of the ancient ruins in Peru.

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11785693.htm

Categories: Environment

Environmental Design Research Association Announces Recipients of 2014...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Awards Presented at EDRA Awards Banquet in New Orleans, LA

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11788886.htm

Categories: Environment

Gilbane Building Company Receives Sustainability Circle of Excellence...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

For a second consecutive year, Gilbane surpasses past results in recycling and diversion.

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11791337.htm

Categories: Environment

NASA/NOAA Climatologist Says Global Water Resources Disaster Can Be...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Retired NOAA/NASA climatologist L. DeWayne Cecil, PhD, discusses global water politics with Bio Logic Aqua research founder Sharon Kleyne.

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11791640.htm

Categories: Environment

Global Powder Coatings Market by Application (Automotive, Consumer...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Market Size - $7.59 bn in 2013, Market Growth - CAGR of 7.4%, Market Trends – Increasing demand from automotive industry. View complete report -...

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Powder-Coatings-Market/GrandViewResearch/prweb11792244.htm

Categories: Environment

BC Comfort Air Conditioning Limited Assists Richmond Centre Mall to...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

By retrofitting the facility’s rooftop HVAC units with new technology, heating and cooling needs are now met more efficiently, resulting in significant energy savings for Richmond Centre Mall.

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/bc-comfort-vancouver/commercial-HVAC-system/prweb11735026.htm

Categories: Environment

Celebrate the Yosemite 150 Year Anniversary With a Complimentary...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Yosemite Artist and Naturalist James McGrew Presents "How Art Shaped the National Parks" at 7pm on May 2, 2014 at the Yosemite Lodge

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/yosemite/waterfalls/prweb11772459.htm

Categories: Environment

Plant Delights Nursery Introduces New Perennial Plant Variety

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Plant Delights Nursery’s Baptisia ‘Blue Towers’ is one of the Direct Gardening Association's five best new plant varieties for 2014.

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11786014.htm

Categories: Environment

John Muir Event to Discuss Hetch Hetchy and the Future of the...

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Former Yosemite Ranger, Jim Cogan, will give his personal, interactive presentation on the Hetch Hetchy Valley, followed by a discussion and tasting of Living Tree Community Foods. This event is free...

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11791533.htm

Categories: Environment

Marc and Silvia Shamus, Network Marketing Leaders, Join Mommy’s Club

PR Web - 3 hours 50 min ago

Former Thousandaires Attracted to Healthy Home Company’s Mission and Outreach

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11791699.htm

Categories: Environment

This artist builds coral reefs by hand

Grist.org - 4 hours 28 min ago

It’s not easy to build a coral reef, which is why it usually takes millions of coral polyps and sponges and other organisms decades to build them up. Artist Courtney Mattison took on the job solo, while she was studying conservation biology in grad school at Brown and moonlighting in ceramics at Rhode Island School of Design. Her thesis project became the first sculpture in a series called Our Changing Seas, which highlights the dangers facing reefs on a massive scale by building them on a (slightly less) massive scale. (We’re talking 15 by 11 feet and not much lighter than a Smart Car.)

Mattison’s newest piece, Our Changing Seas III, depicts a hurricane-spiral of bleached corals coalescing to a bright center. You can read it as a message of hope or one of impending doom, depending on your disposition, but Mattison tries to stay on the cautiously sunny side. “I really hope I’m not building monuments to reefs, memorials of their demise,” she told Grist over the phone. “I would really like these to be celebrations of them — but time will tell.”

Mattison has an Etsy shop and also sells sea-licious art objects from her website. A portion of the profits go toward 350.org and Mission Blue.

If you’re near Saratoga Springs, N.Y., you can see Our Changing Seas III at the Tang Museum (Skidmore College, 815 North Broadway) until June 15. On June 14, Courtney Mattison will speak at the closing reception for the show. Our Changing Seas I is on display at the AAAS gallery in Washington, D.C., where Mattison will also be speaking on May 1


Filed under: Climate & Energy, Living
Categories: Environment

Ask Umbra: What should I do with used tissues, old mixtapes, and rage against the greens?

Grist.org - 5 hours 26 min ago

Send your question to Umbra!

Q. What is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of used tissues? I usually use a handkerchief, but I’ve had a very bad cold for four weeks. I try to put the tissues in the toilet, but my wife says I should put them in the trash. We have a properly maintained septic system, and the company that pumps it uses the outflow for approved compost on fields elsewhere in Maine. I maintain that they’re better reused as compost, rolling that carbon back into the soil. My wife maintains that it would be better to put them in the landfill, as they are reported in some circles to put undue stress on septic systems.  

Bob E.
Chebeague Island, Maine

A. Dearest Bob,

My, my – a month is a long time to spend nursing a terrible cold. I do hope you’re feeling better, and not only because of the mountain of icky tissues you’ve been creating. You’re right that a reusable, washable handkerchief is the best way to go here, but as you note, sometimes the nose has other plans.

In the interest of domestic tranquility, allow me to propose a third option for you and your wife: Skip the middleman and compost those tissues yourselves. Tissue is paper, after all, which fits nicely into a balanced compost pile’s browns (dry, carbon-rich materials, as opposed to wet, nitrogen-rich greens). And don’t worry about the unsightly deposit contained within – that’s also biodegradable organic material, and the cold virus won’t survive more than a couple of days outside its warm and luxurious host (that’s you, Bob). Note: While nose-blowing tissues get the green light, Leanne Spaulding, director of membership and communications for the U.S Composting Council, told me it’s best to toss any tissues soiled with blood or other potentially disease-carrying bodily secretions. “We haven’t seen any colds transmitted through backyard composting, but for safety’s sake, we encourage people not to go any further,” she says.

Try not to overdo it, though: If you’re generating enough tissues to throw your compost pile’s green-to-brown ratio wildly out of whack, you may want to divert the overflow. And here I’m going to give the edge to your wife and say the trash may be the proper place. Generally, experts don’t recommend flushing facial tissues because they might not break down as quickly as septic-safe toilet paper. Then again, there’s no reason why you couldn’t blow your nose into septic-approved TP. See, you can both be right!

In any case, do your best to reduce the overall amount of paper you’re using – perhaps you can start with your trusty handkerchiefs and bring in tissues to pinch hit when necessary? Go for recycled tissues whenever possible. And think about a visit to the doctor, OK, Bob? I’m a little worried about you.

Chicken Soupily,
Umbra

Q. What is the best way to dispose of (or recycle) countless old recorded cassette tapes? I also have sets of tapes – inside plastic cases – for language learning taking up space on my bookshelves. I hate to think of all this plastic going to a landfill.

Arlene M.
New Kensington, Pa.

A. Dearest Arlene,

Sounds like your days of recording Portuguese pop music are over (on cassette, anyway). Good news: Those nightmares of plastic-clogged landfills don’t have to come true. There are ways to responsibly rid oneself of old tunes en route to the digital evolution.

As we’ve discussed before, one woman’s trash could be another one’s analog treasure. So I’d start by asking around to see if a local thrift shop, school, library, or old-school mix-tape maker might want them. You might also ply your tapes on Craigslist or Freecycle to see who bites. You never know — I can’t be the only one who still has a ’90s-era vintage boom box.

If that doesn’t work, consider upcycling those cassettes. I’ve seen some crafty types create lamps, wallets, and purses out of old cartridges. Or chairs and chandeliers. Or coat racks and belt buckles …

And if all else fails, there’s always recycling. Not in your curbside bin – cassettes and their cousins, VHS tapes, are too difficult to recycle for that – but by mail to e-waste recycler like GreenDisk (which also accepts cases, by the way). It’ll cost you a small fee to ship them in, but I’ll bet you’ll find it worth the price.

Magnetically,
Umbra

Q. With all the articles that you print, it would be best if we did not wash ourselves or eat any food, stop breathing, and we will save the environment.

Walter W.
Hialeah, Fla.

A. Dearest Walter,

Well, that’s just common sense. Talk about low impact!

But seriously, Walter, of course human life leaves an ecological footprint. We can’t help that. What we can do is think critically about all the choices that make up our lives, from which soap to use to what food to eat, and pick the ones that do the most good (or least damage, if you’re a glass-half-empty type).

Oh, and breathe easy. That’s at least one thing we can do without worrying about wrecking the planet.

Optimistically,
Umbra


Filed under: Living
Categories: Environment

This killer video explains climate change with Tetris

Grist.org - 6 hours 27 min ago

If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around the unsexiness that is climate change — or need a way to break it down for your nephew — take two minutes and 49 seconds for the video above.

In her TED-Ed mini-lesson, Joss Fong compares CO2 emissions to Tetris blocks we’ve gotta get rid of. Burning fossil fuels adds blocks to the atmosphere, she says, and clearcutting forests undermines Earth’s ability to absorb the blocks. “The more blocks pile up, the harder it becomes to restore stability,” she says.

And just like in Tetris, things are speeding up — less ice, for instance, means there’s less surface area to reflect the sun, which is more rapidly heating the ocean. We’ve got to do something before game over! As Fong says, “Unlike in Tetris, we won’t get a chance to start over and try again.”


Filed under: Climate & Energy, Living
Categories: Environment

MNM Companies, LLC, a Leading Real Estate Property Management...

PR Web - 6 hours 51 min ago

Margaret E. Bromley has recently joined MNM Companies, LLC, as its marketing director and licensed agent, bringing a wealth of international fashion design directing and quality-control management...

(PRWeb April 24, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11782478.htm

Categories: Environment

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