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Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Using more than 10% of our brain: more thoughts on mitigating global warming

Posted by Charles II on August 24, 2015

OK, so suppose that we were to do as I suggested and bring ocean water inland to mitigate sea level rises, then evaporating it to generate power and create fresh water. This would serve the purpose of cooling the continental interior, bringing water inland to substitute for the degradation of the natural conveyor, and generate power without burning carbon.

We understand the technology, and it is not without its problems

Laurene Veale, MIT Technology Review:

[The basic issue is that there is very little freshwater]


The two main desalination processes are Multistage Flash (MSF) distillation and Reverse Osmosis (RO)

A more radical solution [than reverse osmosis] is solar-powered desalination, now being deployed in Tunisia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with Jordan and Morocco announcing their intention to desalinate water with renewable energy.

However solar or wind power will not resolve a major environmental challenge posed by desalination: brine, the highly saline slush created from the desalination process. For every litre of freshwater, a litre of brine is produced. “When desalination is done inland, far from the coastline, dealing with the brine is a problem. You cannot dump it in the sea, and the only solution it to dump in the ground, but this contributes to increasing the salinity of the groundwater, which is destructive for the environment” explains Arafat.

Discharging the brine back into the sea is harshly criticised by marine biologists, who deplore its destructive impact on the marine environment. The high salinity and the high temperature of the brine can destroy marine flora and micro-organisms which in turn affects the entire marine food chain in the area.

One of the solutions proposed by Arafat is to crystallise the brine to make salt…

Now, this isn’t the last word.

1. Reverse osmosis also can cause damage to marine systems. One solution is to distribute the high-salinity effluent over a large area.
2. It’s not impossible, as the article implies for desalination to be done far from the sea. There’s just an associated energy cost.
3. The problem for marine systems is not just with output. It’s with input as well. One doesn’t want to sweep up plants and small animals with the intake feed. And then there’s the point that effluent can alter the temperature of the effluent and damage marine systems that way.
4. The problem of contaminating groundwater is real, and has to be dealt with.

But these are not impossibilities. They are simply technical problems to be overcome. For example, one could consider using the high brine effluent to grow brine tolerant plants. Here’s an ARAMCO document by Luis Lujan Rodriguez on desalination:

Desalination discharges have been shown to represent detectable environmental effects in seagrass habitats, phytoplankton, invertebrate and fish communities in areas near the discharge sites. Some species show that an increase in salinity of only 1-2 parts per thousand (ppt) can affect highly sensitive seagrasses. Salinities of 40-45 ppt increase the mortality in exposed plants, and epifaunal mysids and echinoderms. Other marine animal species may also be affected as some species of worms have been observed to become more dominant whereas others decreased in diversity up to a distance of 400 m from a discharge point. Reductions in the abundance of plankton, sessile invertebrates, and echinoderms can also be related to the discharge of brines especially when the copper concentration was high.

In addition to diluting the salt with other wastewater, this document suggests extracting valuable (e.g. precious metal) and toxic (e.g. copper)salts from the effluent, and converting the salt using CO2 into sodium bicarbonate (which additionally sequesters carbon).

But this is far from exhaustive. One could, for example, use brine tolerant plankton (or other aquatic life) to concentrate the salt, then release the organisms back into the environment. One simple example: grow algae or seaweed, then use them as human or animal food. In the case of plankton, one could release them into the sea to help restore the damage we have already caused to the ocean.

The point is that we haven’t even really thought about the issue. When we do, we will think of solutions. But our immediate problem is that global warming will radically damage our productive industrial plant, trigger conflicts, and reduce agricultural productivity due to interior continental warming. We do need to cut carbon emissions. But that’s not going to happen overnight. We need to use all our brainpower as a species.

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Added, from Phoenix Woman’s link (Tina Casey, Clean Technica), on the recovery of valuable minerals from saline water:

Here’s how it works on the agricultural drainage water of Central Valley, which is typically discarded as an unsuable byproduct of irrigation. The salinity level for drainage water in that region can range higher than the content of seawater.

Phase 2 is where the rubber will hit the road in terms of resource recovery. Due for completion this fall, phase 2 is expected to demonstrate that resource recovery can from the brine can be managed with minimal environmental impacts, if any.

The recoverable products include gypsum and calcium compounds that are widely used in the building industry for drywall, plaster, and cement.

Also present in the brine from this particular drainage area are magnesium salts, which are used in the medical industry, selenium (a health supplement), nitrates (fertilizer), and boron, best known for its use in bleach and pyrotechnics among many other uses.

Boron is also coming into its own in high-efficiency electronics and cutting edge solar technology, and for the record, selenium is also used in electronics as well as glass making, so altogether the region could be looking at a new high-value, job-creating industry in tandem with its agriculture base.

Posted in climate change, environment, global warming | 7 Comments »

Media reports to the contrary, global warming is still on

Posted by Charles II on July 15, 2015

Jim Wild, Lancaster University:

Recent headlines are warning that the Earth will enter into a “mini ice age” in about 20 years because the sun is heading towards a period of very low output. Here’s why this scenario is extremely unlikely.

So what about global climate change? If solar activity is falling, and that has a cooling influence over the UK and Europe, isn’t that a good thing?

Unfortunately not. The overwhelming consensus among the world’s climate scientists is that the influence of solar variability on the climate is dwarfed by the impact of increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Most calculations suggest that a new “grand solar minimum” in activity would have a cooling effect that would temporarily offset just a few year’s worth of the warming due to the emission of carbon dioxide by humans.

We may well be heading towards a period of low solar activity, but a new mini ice age seems very unlikely at this point.

Briefly, the last Little Ice Age was probably due more to volcanic activity than to fluctuations in solar output.

Expressing my outrage with those who twist scientific work into support for the petroleum industry’s profits is impossible without swearing.

For that matter, suppose we are going to have a Mini Ice Age. Shouldn’t we should be saving fossil fuels for when we’ll need them? But for hypocrites, there are no boundaries, no reason, nothing except their narcissistic pursuit of planetary destruction.

Posted in environment, global warming, liars, science and medicine | 1 Comment »

Lies my leaders told me

Posted by Charles II on July 10, 2015

Union of Concerned Scientists:

This report presents seven “deception dossiers”—collections containing some 85 internal company and trade association documents that have either been leaked to the public, come to light through lawsuits, or been disclosed through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. While many of these documents have been analyzed by others (Oreskes 2011; Oreskes and Conway 2010; Gelbspan 1998), these dossiers offer the most complete and up-to-date collection yet available.

Each collection of internal documents reviewed here reveals a separate glimpse of a coordinated campaign
underwritten by the world’s major fossil fuel companies and their allies to spread climate misinformation and
block climate action. The campaign began decades ago and continues today. The fossil fuel industry—like the tobacco industry before it—is noteworthy for its use of active, intentional disinformation and deception to support its political aims and maintain its lucrative profits.

Since they used the tactics of the tobacco companies, let the oil companies be sued and regulated into oblivion… hopefully more effectively than has been done with the tobacco companies.

[Image from World Lung Foundation, Tobacco Atlas 4th ed.]

Posted in abuse of power, environment, Oil | Leave a Comment »

Light on your feet …and, farm gushers

Posted by Charles II on June 16, 2015

Anmar Frangoul, CNBC:

Pavegen is a London-based company that is looking to harvest the energy from our footsteps to do precisely this. They have designed and built flooring that converts the kinetic energy we produce when walking into clean, renewable electricity.

“The Pavegen panels convert the weight of your footsteps into electricity, so every time you walk on our product it harnesses a small amount of energy from every single step,” Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO and Founder of Pavegen, told CNBC.com in a phone interview.

Anmar Frangoul, CNBC:

The global chemical industry is vast, and has an environmental impact to match. According to a 2013 report by International Energy Agency, the chemical and petrochemical sector accounts for approximately seven percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

One Illinois-based company is working to change an industry which has traditionally relied on oil-based products.

Elevance Renewable Sciences have developed technology and a process that they say enables them to “successfully bridge the renewables and chemicals industries, transforming natural plant-based oils… into speciality high-performance, cost-effective commercial products.”

Posted in energy, environment, science and medicine | 3 Comments »

The California drought is caused by not taking enough water out of rivers.

Posted by Charles II on April 29, 2015

Brian Sussman is making a documentary so that all generations to the end of time will know that the California drought is caused by communistic environmental liberals letting some water flow to the sea. Also, that he is terminally stupid:

I’m involved in a new film about watermelons; you know, the zealous environmentalists who are green on the outside and red (like Marx and Lenin) on the inside. The movie (available on DVD) is titled: It’s Easy Bring Green, When You Have No Choice.

As you think about the title for a moment, let me share what’s happening out here in California. We’ve got a serious drought and there’s a critical water shortage. However, the water shortage is completely man-made. Thanks to the environmentalists and their liberal co-conspirators in our state legislature, water storage in California has not kept up with a steady population increase and the associated water demand.

So, if you increase water storage, that means you are reducing the flow of water in the rivers. And, since the flow of water in rivers is already not enough for consumption, with water tables falling all through the agricultural areas, that means you are creating lakes in what is becoming a desert.

Brilliant!

Posted in environment, idiots | 2 Comments »

Clean coal?

Posted by Charles II on November 21, 2014

Nikkei Asian Review:

Toshiba has developed technology to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into an energy source at the highest efficiency to date, with a goal of commercializing it in 2020.

The artificial-photosynthesis technology combines a semiconductor with a gold catalyst. Oxygen and hydrogen ions are generated from water by applying sunlight to the semiconductor. The catalyst then creates carbon monoxide through a reaction between the carbon dioxide and the hydrogen ions. The carbon monoxide can be processed into such fuels as methanol.

An American article on this, using gallium phosphide with a cobaloxime catalyst, here.

So far, clean coal is a pipe dream, and not just because of CO2. Coal produces mercury and sulfur oxides among other pollutants.

But maybe some day.

Posted in energy, environment | 1 Comment »

The obvious question that no one asked (Keystone XL)

Posted by Charles II on April 19, 2014

State Dept. Briefing, 4/18:

MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us. Today [Senior State Department Official One] will provide an update on the application – the presidential permit application review for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. [The official] will be referred to as Senior State Department Official One from here on out. We are also joined by [Senior State Department Official Two], who will be referred to as Senior State Department Official Number Two.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thank you very much. All of you have received a Media Note with the basic substance of the issue that we wanted to discuss today, so let me give some clarifying or complementary information.

Regarding the 2.5 million new public comments, they are indeed unprecedented. In response to the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that the Department published in March of last year, we received 1.5 million comments. Usually on some form of a pipeline application there may be less than 100 comments. We are concentrating our resources to review the public comments that we receive. We are proceeding to ensure that we review those comments and appropriately reflect them in the draft Record of Decision, which will eventually result in recommendations.

As far as I can tell, the State Department did not list how the comments were running. But one can guess: despite the fact that a majority of Americans support the pipeline, almost certainly a majority of Americans who know what bitumen is are opposed. Fiercely. And so when the State Department says that they will “review and incorporate all of those,” they are lying.

And that would explain why two public officials, talking about a matter of public record, are so cowardly that they gave a press conference metaphorically from behind a curtain. A curtain provided for them by our free press.

Shame.

Posted in environment, Oil, State Department | Comments Off on The obvious question that no one asked (Keystone XL)

Radically green

Posted by Charles II on January 22, 2014

Sydney Brownstone, Co-Exist

In the future, leather shoes won’t come from cows. They’ll be manifested out of petri dishes, or in green chemist Richard Wool’s vision, divined from chicken feathers, flax, and soybean oil.

Over the past two decades, Wool has figured out how to turn chicken feathers into computer processors and soybean oil into John Deere tractor parts. His latest project aims to capture the attention of catwalk watchers: Wool hopes to commercialize a new kind of breathable leather that’s made without the environmentally destructive chemicals.

The Blacksmith Institute, a nonprofit environmental think tank, regards pollution from leather tanneries in Hazaribagh, Bangladesh, as one of the top toxic threats in the world.

Posted in environment, Good Things | 1 Comment »

America’s Secret Fukushima: Abandoned Uranium Mines

Posted by Charles II on June 5, 2013

Margaret Flowers [of healthcare reform fame] and Kevin Zeese:

Early in the morning of July 16, 1979, a 20-foot section of the earthen dam blocking the waste pool for the Church Rock Uranium Mill in New Mexico caved in and released 95 million gallons of highly acidic fluid containing 1,100 tons of radioactive material. The fluid and waste flowed into the nearby Puerco River, traveling 80 miles downstream, leaving toxic puddles and backing up local sewers along the way.

There are currently 1200 abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation and 500 of them require reclamation. The greatest amount of radioactive contamination on Navajo land comes from solid waste called “tailings,” which sits in large open piles, some as tall as 70 feet high, and was incorporated into materials used to build homes. Dust from these piles of waste blows throughout the land causing widespread contamination.

Charmaine White Face of Defenders of the Black Hills describes the situation in the Great Sioux Nation as “America’s Chernobyl.”

As White Face explains, “In an area of the USA that has been called ‘the Bread Basket of the World,’ more than 40 years of mining have released radioactive polluted dust and water runoff from the hundreds of abandoned open pit uranium mines, processing sites, underground nuclear power stations and waste dumps. Our grain supplies and our livestock production in this area have used the water and have been exposed to the remainders of this mining. We may be seeing global affects, not just localized affects, to the years of uranium mining.”

As if this weren’t bad enough, fracking also releases radioactives into groundwater. Mike Ludwig, Truthout:

As hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has boomed in Ohio, Pennsylvania and nearby states in recent years, waste wells in Ohio have absorbed millions of barrels of liquid waste from oil-and-gas drilling operations in the region. Environmentalists and other observers are now calling Ohio a “dumping ground” for the fracking industry. Drillers now want to dump potentially radioactive waste mud, drill cuttings and frack sand from fracking operations in municipal landfills in the state, and environmentalists are up in arms.

Fracking also produces solid wastes such as drill cuttings, rocks, mud, dirt and used frack sand. These wastes can also be contaminated with radioactive material, especially if they come from Pennsylvania, where the Marcellus Shale formation at the heart of a fracking boom is known to contain considerable levels of radium-226 and other material. A truck carrying fracking waste was recently turned away from a landfill in Pennsylvania after setting off radiation alarms.

Basically, what we did to Iraq, we have done to much of our nation. Uranium may be poisoning our food supply. It is certainly poisoning many of our citizens.

Posted in environment | Comments Off on America’s Secret Fukushima: Abandoned Uranium Mines

The Iraq War is not over

Posted by Charles II on May 26, 2013

John Pilger, The Guardian:

The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert’s fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr Jawad Al-Ali, “the seeds of our death”. An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr teaching hospital in Basra, Dr Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. “Before the Gulf war,” he said, “we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48% of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years’ time to begin with, then long after. That’s almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us; the mushrooms grow huge; even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can’t be eaten.”

Along the corridor, Dr Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a paediatrician, kept a photo album of the children she was trying to save. Many had neuroblastoma. “Before the war, we saw only one case of this unusual tumour in two years,” she said. “Now we have many cases, mostly with no family history. I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. The sudden increase of such congenital malformations is the same.”

A WHO report, the result of a landmark study conducted with the Iraqi ministry of health, has been “delayed”. Covering 10,800 households, it contains “damning evidence”, says a ministry official and, according to one of its researchers, remains “top secret”. The report says birth defects have risen to a “crisis” right across Iraqi society where depleted uranium and other toxic heavy metals were used by the US and Britain.

Posted in environment, Iraq war | 1 Comment »

 
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