Monthly Archives: January 2016

Environmental Damage Is Bad Enough To Create A New Geologic Period

There has been scientific debate for more than ten years if the changes humans have been making to the planet actually comprise a new name-worthy geologic time period. A new study indicates that is indeed so.

From contributor Alejandro Davila Fragoso on 1/7/16:

Waters and other authors of the study — which gathered data from multiple other studies — said the amount of data available identifies various so-called signatures that can be found worldwide in a similar time and scale. This makes the case for the Anthropocene and its proposed starting date compelling, some authors said.

“It’s the things like the novel materials we’ve seen in the last 60 years,” said Waters, a principal geologist at the British Geological Survey. “It’s the way that the atmospheric geochemistry, the CO2 and the methane (have) changed dramatically in the last 60 years. It’s the general contamination from nitrates and phosphates, heavy metals, all the things that we looked at seem to show a very dramatic change in the mid 20th century.”

Read more.


Graph based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey. CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS


The logging prevented in an average conservation project simply moves to an unprotected area. As a result, this kind of conservation effort is becoming ineffective, especially as it relates to preserving the earth’s rainforests to mitigate climate change.

From onEarth contributor, Brian Palmer (onEarth is published by the Natural Resources Defense Council​) —

…conservationists must coordinate their efforts at both the national and the international level. So far, however, global attempts to get on the same page have basically failed. According to a 2007 study in the journal Ecological Economics, at least 42 percent of the logging prevented in an average conservation project simply moves elsewhere. In many cases, that figure can be as high as 95 percent—rendering conservation efforts essentially useless from a climate change perspective.

Read more.

rain forest

An aerial image shows the contrast between forest and agriculture land in Brazil (PHOTO: KATE EVANS, CIFOR/FLICKR)

Solar bill bogged down in conference that hasn’t met

Two months ago, the Massachusetts House and Senate failed to reach an agreement on lifting caps on solar power. Cautioned by activists that new solar investments and installations were imperiled, a conference committee was formed to find a compromise between the differing bills between the House and the Senate. However, the committee only met for 15 minutes right before the long winter recess, and while talks between legislators are ongoing, there is the real danger that a deal won’t be struck in time.

From the Salem Gazette, by Andy Metzger and Matt Murphy (State House News Service)

As lawmakers and activists warned that solar projects and investments were imperiled, the House and Senate in mid-November assigned a six-member conference committee to settle differences between the branches over competing solar bills.

The committee, according to Tarr, met on the day it was appointed – Nov. 18 – and has not met since, a span of 54 days. The Nov. 18 meeting was hastily convened moments after the House and Senate appointed conferees. It lasted just 15 minutes, and an hour and a half later conference leaders announced that no deal would be struck before the Legislature began its weeks-long winter recess.

Read more.

The Massachusetts Senate Chamber (from the online photo tour of the Statehouse)


Flint, Michigan, tried to save money on water. Now its children have lead poisoning.

lead poisoning
Flint learned that cheaper water came at quite a price.                                                                               Shutterstock

From, updated by Libby Nelson on January 5, 2016.

How Flint poisoned its children while trying to avoid bankruptcy

The lead crisis in Flint has been public since October and suspected long before that. But things were bad in the Michigan city long before its tap water turned out to be unsafe.

Lead poisoning affects brain development so much that the gradual reduction of lead poisoning in American society has worked something of a miracle. Exposure to lead — and no amount of exposure is now considered safe — can lead to learning disabilities, lower IQs, and impulsivity. Those effects, multiplied over a city or state or country, are costly.

Read more.

Ontario IESO Contracts for Large Scale Battery Storage

From Solar Thermal Magazine:
​S​unEdison, Inc., ​recently ​announced that it signed ​an agreement to supply battery storage to the province ​of Ontario​.​ ​This is to insure everyone in the province gets the electricity they need​ as it’s needed​, ​and to smooth the power flow from wind and solar​. This will eventually result in major improvement​s​ ​in how its grid functions​:
“By integrating energy storage into their grid, the Ontario IESO gains access to a powerful new tool that has the potential to transform how it operates the power system,” said Tim Derrick, SunEdison’s general manager of Advanced Solutions. “Batteries can be used to reduce grid congestion, smooth out power flow from solar and wind sources, and may help the IESO defer or avoid expensive upgrades to the grid.”


Daily Diagnosis: Tropical Diseases Moving North Toward US


From the American Society for Clinical Pathology and BulletinHealthcare: due to climate change, disease-carrying insects are making their way father and father north.

Tropical Diseases Moving North Toward US.

In a nearly 1,200-word article, the New York Times (1/5, D3, McNeil, Subscription Publication) reports that as mosquitoes and ticks are able to expand their ranges due to climate change, tropical diseases, including Lyme, West Nile, Chagas, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, are moving north. Scientists say that while this does not mean epidemics are imminent, as a “set of factors far more complex than the weather” will determine whether a full outbreak occurs. However, they say some factors “are, for now, unstoppable, scientists say: the weather is hotter; cheap airfares mean humans travel more than they did decades ago; and cities in tropical countries are becoming more crowded, creating nurseries for each disease.” Meanwhile, “other factors can be manipulated to stop outbreaks: insects can be killed; patients can be cured before they are bitten again; vaccines can be developed; and simple measures like screens, air-conditioning and bug spray can play big roles.”

Forbes (1/4) contributor Judy Stone gives an overview of the Zika virus, describes its’ origin, how it spreads, the symptoms associated with the virus, prevention, travel and treatment. Given her overview, Stone concludes that “with globalization and climate change, we can expect to see more and more similar infectious.” She predicts that viruses like dengue, Chikungunya and Zika “are likely to be growing problems in the US over the coming year or two.”

Read the Forbes and the New York Times articles.

Wind turbines now produce enough power to energize 19 million U.S. homes

Thanks to Ron Martino on the facebook page, Essex Coastal Wind Forum, for bringing our attention to this story by Lulu Chang on December 29 for Yahoo News. 2015 was a good year for wind power in the U.S. About five percent of our total electricity generated comes from wind power at this point in time. The recent decision by Congress to extend the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit has turned the tables, making it good business to invest in wind.

wind farm in Spain

Turbines at Maranchon Wind Farm in Spain’s Guadalajara province (AFP Photo/Curto de la Torre)

“This American wind power success story just gets better. There’s now enough wind power installed to meet the equivalent of total electricity demand in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “Wind energy is the biggest, fastest, and cheapest way we can cut carbon pollution here in the U.S., and as wind power grows, so will savings for American families and businesses all across the country.”

Read more.