Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oil Spill Threatens the Galapagos of North America (Ocean Conservancy) | WILL THIS SPILL CHANGE ANYTHING? (Greenpeace)




MARINE PROTECTED AREAS

Oil Spill Threatens the Galapagos of North America

California leads the nation in marine protection with the largest network of marine protected areas in the country. The Gaviota oil spill puts ten years of cooperation between fishermen and conservationists to protect the state’s crown jewels at risk.
Media Contact:
Greg Helms
Manager, Fish Conservation Program
805-886-8645
ghelms@oceanconservancy.org

May 20, 2015

Statement from Greg Helms, manager, Fish Conservation Program, and Santa Barbara-based marine protected area expert:

Santa Barbara, CA: “Yesterday’s crude oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara County, resulting from an inland pipeline break, is a reminder that oil and water don’t mix. California leads the nation in marine protection with the longest network of marine protected areas in the country. In the Gaviota Coast area with its world-class and irreplaceable marine life, the community has just completed years of work establishing four marine protected areas due to its very special nature. The currently four-mile long oil slick puts ten years of cooperation between fishermen and conservationists to protect the state’s marine crown jewels at risk. The threat that this oil spill poses to important locally harvested species like sea urchin, squid and lobster as well as marine mammals and seabirds, and the Naples Reef and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas that serve as their feeding and breeding grounds concern us. The companies must be held fully accountable for the impacts of this spill. This spill is a wake-up call for us to look at how we as a state prioritize the different uses of our ocean and the risks associated with them."


Ocean Conservancy: Oil Spill Threatens the Galapagos of North America


see also –

WILL THIS SPILL CHANGE ANYTHING?


Yesterday afternoon, news spread of the latest oil-related tragedy to occur in the United States—an oil pipeline ruptured in Santa Barbara County in Central California, along the Refugio State Beach coastline. Though the pipeline was on land, it was found to be leaking into a culvert that eventually emptied into the ocean. By the time the pipeline was shut off, oil had been spilling into the sea for at least three hours.
Oil from a broken pipeline coats miles of the Pacific Ocean and shoreline near Goleta, Calif., May 20, 2015, after a 24-inch underground pipeline broke May 19th and leaked into a culvert leading to the ocean. Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline said an thousands of gallons of oil were released before the pipeline was shut down. Photos by Jonathan Alcorn/Greenpeace.
As of yesterday evening, officials claimed that an estimated 21,000 gallons had spilled into the ocean in an oil slick that was four miles wide. Unfortunately, as of this morning, the slick had spread to at least nine miles wide, as the winds and tides did what they do. And now, a new estimate says that up to 105,000 gallons of oil might have been spilled.
Refugio State Beach has been closed indefinitely. The area is a sensitive and important place for all kinds of species, including migratory whales and rare seabirds—and wildlife has already been affected. Though there is no estimate of how much wildlife has been impacted so far, things don’t look good.
California Oil Spill
California Oil Spill
The cleanup is painstaking work. There are several dozen workers outfitted in protective suits and helmets on the beach, shoveling up contaminated mud and rocks into plastic bags. It is made more arduous by having to take place both on shore and on the water, since the oil originated on land.
California Oil Spill
California Oil Spill
California Oil Spill
Greenpeace visited the site to survey the true damage and to share with the world the devastation to the Santa Barbara County coastline, and to communicate the dangers of fossil fuels so that we can transition to clean energy and prevent this from happening again.
California Oil Spill
Plains All American Pipeline, the company that owns the ruptured pipeline, has a history of spills. The company has apologized, with the district manager saying, “We’re sorry this accident has happened, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience to the community.”
This spill has not occurred in a vacuum. We can now add it to the sad history of oil-related spills and accidents that have happened the world over in the past years—including one that happened very near to this area in 1969, which spilled 3 million gallons of oil into the ocean.
As Annie Leonard, our Executive Director, has said, “Oil spills are never accidents. They are the direct result of substandard oversight of fossil fuel companies who put their profits above human and environmental impacts.” Each time a spill, oil train explosion, or some other disaster occurs, we look to our leaders to take responsibility to make change. So far they’ve demonstrated that they don’t have the courage to stand up to Big Oil.
We all hope that this oil spill will quickly be contained and cleaned up. But are we willing to keep taking chances for future accidents to occur? I can’t help but think of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s research that shows that there’s a 75% chance of an oil spill occurring in the Arctic if drilling takes place there. Even with that scary fact, the Obama administration has decided to give Shell the conditional go-ahead to drill. Let’s demand better from our President and other leaders before it’s too late.

GREEN PEACE BLOGS -

Friday, May 15, 2015

House Passes Anti-Endangered Species Amendment | Defenders of Wildlife

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2015
Contact: Courtney Sexton, csexton@defenders.org, 202.772.0253
House Passes Anti-Endangered Species Amendment
Protections for two species on the brink removed by irrelevant amendment in defense bill
WASHINGTON— Today the House of Representatives voted to include in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) an amendment proposed by Rep. Lucas (R-OK) which jeopardizes the recovery and continued existence of the lesser prairie chicken and American burying beetle by removing their protections under the Endangered Species Act and preventing future listing and conservation action.
The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, President, Defenders of Wildlife:
“The NDAA has once again been hijacked for use as a vehicle for those blatantly seeking to weaken the Endangered Species Act – the underlying bill already contains a sweeping provision that denies protections for the imperiled greater sage-grouse. Inclusion of this amendment is another shameful, opportunistic abuse of one of our nation’s most important pieces of legislation that Congress passes each year, and is an outright attack on the bedrock environmental laws that protect our air, lands, water and wildlife.
“This amendment was not requested by the Department of Defense, is unrelated to military readiness and does not belong on the NDAA, or anywhere else for that matter. It is the epitome of irresponsibility to yank a species off the endangered list simply because certain special interests are opposed to science-based conservation. Summarily removing a species from the list does not mean that species is magically recovered – quite the opposite. Removing a species’ protections before it has had a shot at recovery only increases conservation costs and the likelihood of extinction.
“It is heartening to see that at least some members of Congress, including Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), recognize the pettiness and the trickery of these attacks on our natural heritage, and came forth to speak out against such triviality.”
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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @defendersnews.


House Passes Anti-Endangered Species Amendment | Defenders of Wildlife


Medicinal Plants - old US map



"Medicinal Plant Map of the United States of America." Edwin Newcomb and the National Wholesale Druggists' Association, 1932.


This map of medicinal plants depicts one or two important species that grew in each state in 1932, identifying the plant as native or cultivated and describing its medical uses. A few species of seaweeds float in the map's Atlantic Ocean, and the border identifies important medicinal plants from around the world... 


History of medicinal plants: Map of the plants in the United States from 1932.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Scarry Thoughts: Why I'll Be in NYC for Peace and Planet April 24-26

JOE SCARRY –
For months now, I have been thinking about and working on the Peace and Planet mobilization, taking place April 24-26, 2015, in New York City.

Today I opened the New York Times and saw the image at right.

It made me realize that in this final week of preparation, I need to center down and concentrate on the deep reasons that I will be going to New York in a week.

I decided to do this step-by-step, adding a little bit each day. Perhaps I can do it prayerfully.

(Saturday, April 18)

I'm realizing that, to me, the most important reason to be involved in the Peace and Planet events is that over and over (and over and over and over and over and over . . . )we let ourselves forget that the greatest threat we face is nuclear annihilation by the thousands of nuclear weapons standing on alert at all times around the globe.
Daisy Youngblood, Budhi
(More at McKee Gallery)

The fire and blast of Hiroshima: why are we still hiding it? (and hiding from it?)

(Sunday, April 19)

We tell ourselves, "that could never really happen."

The truth is: the weapons are on hair-trigger alert precisely SO that it can happen.

Which US leader, exactly, are you counting on to never, ever, ever ever ever, flip that switch?

Are you sure -- 1000% sure -- that Barack Obama will say "no" when push comes to shove?


(Monday, April 20)
What I want to know -- and really don't know, at least not yet -- is whether we have the power to eliminate nuclear weapons.

I'm convinced that the power of the people has been cut off at the knees by the myth of Presidential power (and Presidential competence).

In theory we have a government structure that enables us to assert our authority.

But what good is the theory if we stand idly by and don't exercise power in practice?

 TAKE ACTION: 


Register to attend the Peace and Planet
nuclear disarmament activities.

Join us every day this week to spread
the word about the need for nuclear
disarmament with @peaceandplanet.

Sign up to be part of the
Thunderclap! going off April 24.

Join the Global Wave for nuclear disarmament on April 26.


Scarry Thoughts: Why I'll Be in NYC for Peace and Planet April 24-26




Monday, April 13, 2015

WATCH: Uranium emits radiation inside a cloud chamber - ScienceAlert |


"Ever wondered what radiation looks like? If you have, I bet you didn’t think it would look as cool as this. This is a small piece of uranium mineral sitting in a cloud chamber, which means you can see the process of decay and radiation emission..."
– WATCH: Uranium emits radiation inside a cloud chamber - ScienceAlert 




A sealed glass container contains liquid alcohol at the top. Emanating alcohol vapors fill the whole volume of the container until they reach the bottom of the chamber maintained to a very cold temperature (-40°C).
Most of the vapour condenses on the glass surface creating a mist, but a small fraction of it stays in vapour form above the cold condenser. This creates a layer of unstable sursaturated vapour which can condense at any moment. When a charged particle crosses this vapor, it can knock electrons off the molecules forming ions. It causes the unstable alcohol vapor to condense around ions left behind by the travelling ionizing particle : the path of the particle in the matter is then revealed by a track composed of thousands droplets of alcohol...



The Uranium Waltz
By Sue Prent

 Unless you’re a science geek who routinely trawls YouTube for entertainment, you probably haven’t seen this fascinating clip that observes a small pellet of uranium as it just sits sealed in a lighted cloud chamber infused with vaporized alcohol.

 To the strains of a Strauss waltz, puffy little trails begin to erupt from the uranium in staccato straight lines, shooting through the alcohol cloud and radiating in all directions like soft white fireworks. It’s a mesmerizing sight to behold.

 It is also a sobering one, because what we are enabled to observe through that cloud of alcohol is the behavior of one of the most aggressive toxins on earth: radioactive decay.

This is the stuff that gives nuclear weapons their destructive energy; the instability that, in the course of things, has been somewhat inefficiently harnessed to generate simple electricity.

 It takes a whole lot of uranium, a relatively low energy source of radiation, to produce a little bit of weapons-grade plutonium. Between the mine and the battlefield, turning uranium into reactor fuel is a convenient first step on the way to enabling nuclear weapons, which is a major reason so many countries want “nuclear power”.

 The dependent relationship between nuclear weapons and nuclear power stations provides one of the biggest bones of contention in the world today.

 Setting that aside for others to consider, and returning to the simple lesson that is so vividly illustrated by the video, one cannot ignore the fact that even the tiniest particle of uranium is alive with radioactive potential.

 Imagine the environmental hazards associated with every stage of uranium processing, from extraction to waste disposal, when every tiny particle is literally bristling with projectile energy.

 While uranium in minute amounts is a common enough component of rock and soils available almost everywhere, there are relatively few places on earth where concentrations of uranium rich mineral deposits are great enough to represent opportunities for cost-efficient mining.

 The danger to mine workers is not so much from the uranium ore, which has low concentrations of pure uranium relative to the mass in which it is sequestered. The real danger lies in the fine particulates and radon gas that are released from the rock in the course of mechanical extraction.

 This hazard threatens the surrounding environment and population as well, since slurry and waste from the mining operation find their way into groundwater and may be redistributed through the air as well.

 Even decades after uranium mines have been exhausted for all practical purposes, surrounding populations must endure the continuing threat posed by tailings, a waste byproduct of uranium mining. For example, hundreds of residents of the Navajo communities of North Church Rock and Quivera, New Mexico, where two nearby uranium mines ceased to be profitable and were abandoned at the close of the Cold War have suffered enormous health risks due to the mountainous piles of waste that the uranium mines simply left behind.

 Ever since these New Mexico mines closed, corporate owners of the two lethal stacks have been feuding with the federal government over who is responsible for the cleanup.

 At least one of the waste piles is scheduled to move down the road to a tailings dump, which will distance it somewhat from the local population, if not from the greater environment.

 That move in itself raises another point of contamination in the uranium fuel chain: transportation. To transfer the waste to a less objectionable location, it is estimated that 38 open dump trucks will be required. Loading the trucks will stir up so much harmful particulate matter that the government will relocate residents for up to five years following the move in order to allow the dust to settle again, and to monitor the grounds for remaining contamination.

 Just imagine each of those tiny particles being energized like that uranium pellet in the cloud chamber, and small enough to be inhaled… Now imagine what happens on a cellular level when all that bristling energy lodges deep in the human lung and continues to radiate indefinitely.

 As those loaded dump trucks wheel through the environment to their ultimate destination, it isn’t difficult to imagine that they will be seeding the air with radioactive dust and particulates, endangering all who live and work along the way.

 These same hazardous scenarios play out on a daily basis around active uranium mines, and at the processing plants where uranium ore is refined into nuclear fuel. I would guess that the concentration of harmful radiation in millings and tailings might be even greater as the uranium undergoes further refinement in the fuel production process.

 Even if none of the collateral contaminants distributed by mining are considered, when nuclear energy production is viewed strictly from the perspective of fuel sourcing, it is clearly far, far from a “clean” energy source.

– via Fairewinds Energy Education​ [email]



The Energiewende – made in the USA – German Energy Transition


To many both inside and outside Germany, the Energiewende seems special. Questions therefore often focus on where the Germans got the idea. Craig Morris says they stole it from an American...

The Energiewende – made in the USA – German Energy Transition


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Judge permits Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon: No Tribal Consult, No Environmental Update; Appeal Expected | Mining Awareness Plus




The nuclear fuel chain destroys the environment and kills from the start, with uranium mining, to the finish, with long-lived, deadly, nuclear waste. Why does the US government refuse to protect America’s National Forests and water supply? Why does it fail to uphold its obligations to the American Indians?Especially at the behest of foreign mining companies? Why must Americans fight foreign companies in court, and even fight Congressmen, to protect the land and water?

full story: Judge permits Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon: No Tribal Consult, No Environmental Update; Appeal Expected | Mining Awareness Plus