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Australia

Submission + - Aussie Research Shows Windfarm Sickness Spreads by Word of Mouth (guardian.co.uk)

eldavojohn writes: Just like the many stories surrounding alleged "wifi sickness" research is now showing that windfarm sickness spreads by word of mouth instead of applying universally to windfarms. Areas that had never had any noise or health complaints were suddenly experiencing them after 2009 when anti-wind groups targeted populations surrounding windfarms. From the article, 'Eighteen reviews of the research literature on wind turbines and health published since 2003 had all reached the broad conclusion that there was very little evidence they were directly harmful to health.' While there's unfortunately no way to prove that someone is lying about how they feel, it's likely a mixture of confirmation bias, psychosomatic response, hypochondria, greed and hatred of seeing windmills on the horizon that drives this phenomenon.
China

Submission + - China Now Using "State Secrets" Label to Cover Up Polution Records (reuters.com)

eldavojohn writes: More problems have surfaced as people attempt to bring soil pollution problems to light in China. From the article, 'When Pan sued the Hebei Department of Environmental Protection in 2011, he was given access to the environmental impact assessment that the environment ministry claimed it had done in the village. Pan discovered that the assessment, carried out by the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, had names of people who had left the village two decades previously and even a person who had been dead for two years — all "expressing favor" for the project. Pan surveyed 100 people in his village, showing them the purported environmental impact study. The majority of them gave him written statements that declared: "I've never seen this form," according to documents seen by Reuters.' Reuters has also discovered that China uses "state secrets" labels to hide environmental studies and pollution numbers as well as using strong arm tactics to silence residents attempting to do their own studies.
China

Submission + - Growing Public Unrest Leads China to Admit to "Cancer Villages" (bbc.co.uk) 1

Earth

Submission + - North Dakota Proposes Ban on Natural Gas Flaring after One Year (bismarcktribune.com)

eldavojohn writes: A North Dakota lawmaker has proposed a bill that would ban flaring at oil and natural gas sites after one year of that site's operation. ISS footage has revealed that now large swaths of North Dakota are illuminated at night due simply to flaring from Bakken oil and natural gas drilling. Democratic Sen. Tim Mathern, proposer of the bill, said "It’s bringing a higher quality of life to western North Dakota, it’s putting an end to waste (and) it’s addressing the issue of climate change" and "This is taking a, what I’d call, a step-wise approach in addressing health and waste." In 2011, waste from global flaring equivocated to a fourth of the United State's natural gas consumption. The major difference between this bill and current law is that no exemptions whatsoever will be made. Mathern claimed that 30 percent of natural gas is flared in western North Dakota compared to the national average which is in single digits.
Earth

Submission + - In 2011, Fracking Was #2 in Causing Greenhouse Gas in US (businessweek.com)

eldavojohn writes: According to Bloomberg, drilling and fracking results in greenhouse gases second only to coal power plants in the United States. From the article, 'Emissions from drilling, including fracking, and leaks from transmission pipes totaled 225 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents during 2011, second only to power plants, which emitted about 10 times that amount.' According to Mother Jones, we now have more giant methane fireballs than any other country in the world and we can now see once dim North Dakota at night from space.
Earth

Submission + - UT Professor Resigns Over Fracking Conflict of Interest (npr.org)

eldavojohn writes: Dr. Charles “Chip” Groat, lead author of a study claiming there was no link between fracking and water contamination, has resigned at the University of Texas along with Dr. Raymond Orbach, the head of UT's Energy Institute. The reason is that Groat served on the board of a drilling company and received compensation totaling over $1.5 million from that entity over the last five years including time he spent writing the study. After the Public Accountability Initiative gave the UT report a thorough beating for failing to mention this it sparked UT to recommend the report's withdrawal. PAI said the original report was “based on literature surveys, incident reports and conjecture” and criticized UT's press from downplaying the many caveats. PAI also said conclusions of the original report were “tentative,” that the press coverage was “inappropriately selective” and “seemed to suggest that public concerns were without scientific basis and largely resulted from media bias.” This study was also covered by Slashdot via MSNBC quoting Groat and calling fracking safe in theory but not in practice.
Earth

Submission + - Earthquakes Correlated with Texan Fracking Sites (lifeslittlemysteries.com) 1

eldavojohn writes: A recent peer reviewed paper and survey by Cliff Frohlich, of the University of Texas' Institute for Geophysics, reveals a correlation between an increase in earthquakes and the emergence of fracking sites in the Barnett Shale, Texas. To clarify, it is not the actual act of hydrofracking that induces earthquakes but more likely the final process of injecting wastewater into the site according to Oliver Boyd, a USGS seismologist. Boyd said, "Most, if not all, geophysicists expect induced earthquakes to be more likely from wastewater injection rather than hydrofracking. This is because the wastewater injection tends to occur at greater depth where earthquakes are more likely to nucleate. I also agree [with Frohlich] that induced earthquakes are likely to persist for some time (months to years) after wastewater injection has ceased." Frohlich added, "Faults are everywhere. A lot of them are stuck, but if you pump water in there, it reduces friction and the fault slips a little. I can't prove that that's what happened, but it's a plausible explanation." In the US alone this correlation has been noted several times.
Democrats

Submission + - Domestic Drilling Doesn't Decrease Gasoline Prices (publicradio.org)

eldavojohn writes: As the political rhetoric heats up, there's something puzzling about drilling inside the United States. Essentially, it doesn't reduce what we pay at the pump. From the article, 'A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by The Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.' If the promises that politicians made when they opened US drilling were true, then we should be paying about $2 a gallon now. Instead it's $4 a gallon. Minnesota Public Radio pulls some choice quotes from both parties and wonders why this decades old empirical observation goes seemingly completely unnoticed.
China

Submission + - ConocoPhillips Blamed for June Chinese Oil Spill (chinadaily.com.cn)

eldavojohn writes: An oil spill in Bohai Bay from June was only made public on Friday after a member of the public made an announcement on a blog. What followed from the government mouthpiece China Daily was a series of articles announcing there was a leak around June 10th but it was "effectively controlled." Then they announced it was ConocoPhillips' fault and fear long term damage. Although the slick is declared cleaned up and said to have been 3 kilometers by 20-30 meters in area, other sources say it is much larger and the fishing industry is expected to be severely hurt with potential long term damage.
Democrats

Submission + - Louisiana Fed. Judge Blocks Drilling Moratorium (npr.org)

eldavojohn writes: In the ongoing BP debacle, the Obama administration thought the best action they could take would be a six month moratorium on offshore drilling and a halt to 33 exploratory wells going on in the Gulf of Mexico. Well, a federal judge (in New Orleans, no less) is unsatisfied with their reasons for this and stated, "An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country." The state governor seems to agree on the grounds that any blocking of drilling will cost the state thousands of lucrative jobs.
Earth

Submission + - Increasing Algal Blooms Threaten China's Coasts (google.com)

eldavojohn writes: While the United States deals with oil on its southern shores, China faces hundreds of square kilometers of algal blooms headed towards its shores. One large 200 sq km blob is about thirteen kilometers (eight miles) away from Jiaonan in Shandong province. In 2008, China employed ten thousand to clean a similar algal bloom in order to keep its nearby shore pristine for the Olympics. China has had several case studies (PDF) done of their algal blooms which many attribute to nutrient pollution in lakes and shores. The Alaskan blob also amounted to an algal bloom while west coast red tide algal blooms are making wild shellfish deadly to consume.
Earth

Submission + - Oil Arrives in Louisiana, Defense Booms Inadequate (npr.org)

eldavojohn writes: People in mainland Louisiana are seeing the beginnings of the oil's full effects on wildlife in the area. Sticky rust colored oil covers the reeds like a latex paint indicating that the efforts to lay miles of floating booms to keep it away from the fragile marshes are useless. They are experiencing what the Plaquemines (mouth of Mississippi River) saw last week and it now appears that their defenses were inadequate. Only time will tell how much more worse it can get as BP still scrambles for a solution. NPR also ran a story critical of Obama's 'scientific approach' that he promised to use in office and how well it's being applied and holding up during this crisis. He promised an official policy document that opens the science behind government decisions — like that of how to handle this oil spill — and this document is now a year overdue from his administration at a time when it could reassure the hysteric American people with rational thought behind tackling this impending disaster.
Earth

Submission + - NASA Plans Sewage to Fuel Technology with Algae (space.com)

eldavojohn writes: NASA has announcd the plan to use the OMEGA system which 'consists of algae grown in flexible plastic bags floating offshore, where cities typically dump their wastewater. Oil-producing freshwater algae would naturally clean the wastewater by feeding on nutrients in the sewage. The cleansed freshwater could then release into the ocean through forward-osmosis membranes in the sides of the plastic bags.' Jonathan Trent, a bioengineer at NASA Ames Research Center, came up with the idea of using the ocean currents to mix the algae and have a forward osmosis membrane to keep salt water out of the fresh water algae bags. The NASA fuel technology has already been licensed by a company called Algae Systems of Carson City back in May.

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