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Showing posts from November, 2011

Durban Conference on Climate Change 2011

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By B. McPherson


The UN Conference on Climate Change being held in Durban South Africa has only opened but already the prospect of a united front to combat changes that humanity is making in the Earth’s climate look dim. Canada has made it clear that the Kyoto Protocol is dead in the water. That agreement that Canada’s representatives signed, obligated the signatories to reduce greenhouse gases by a little over 5% from their 1990 levels. The Kyoto Protocol left loopholes such as trading emission credits and ignored greenhouse emissions from the shipping and aviation industries.
The U.S. did not sign on to the Kyoto agreement at all, stating that it was inherently unfair as no similar obligations would be placed on the rapidly emerging economies of China(PRC) and India.  It now appears that Japan and Russia will not renew their commitment to Kyoto in 2012 either. 
Those countries that are feeling the brunt of climate change, whether it is a natural cycle or anthropomorphic, are urging the …

Rivers are Being Stressed by Electricity Production

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By B. McPherson


The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has released a report on water usage by power plants in the US.
The picture they have painted is grim. If power plants are not made more efficient or alternate forms of electrical production are used, the choice between living rivers and electricity will have to be made soon. While conventional power generating plants return the bulk of cooling water to the rivers they use, the water temperature is elevated. The scientists found in some cases that water was hot enough to parboil the critters living in the river.
“The report also showed that power plants are stressing water bodies by discharging water at temperatures harmful to fish and other wildlife. In 2008, 350 power plants across the country reported discharging water at temperatures of over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and some at temperatures over 110 degrees, according to the report.” Union of Concerned Scientists Some areas of the US endured a lengthy drought this year, Texas being…

Virunga Park: Is There a Future for It and the Mountain Gorilla?

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By B. McPherson


This wildlife refuge in the Albertine Rift area of Africa was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979. The 790 000 ha site was dedicated as a park in 1925. Since then it has been subjected to increasing pressure from the swelling populations in that area. Villagers crowd the park boundaries and infiltrate it, seeking to increase their plantings and find forage for their cattle. Charcoal merchants turn park trees into fuel for city dwellers in Goma who lack other means to cook their food.
Tomorrow the Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC) will hold elections. Perhaps the warfare that has raged in this area will cool, perhaps not. Virunga Park also  borders the countries of Rwanda and Uganda, countries that have had their share of civil unrest, resulting in massacres and millions of displaced people. Enterprising poachers have slaughtered many of the large mammals in the park and sold the meat to soldiers, and irregular militia as well as to the refugees.
As well as direc…

Greenpeace Coins New Word for Politicians Who Bend to Polluters

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By B. McPherson


Greenpeace has come up with a new word to describe politicians who bend to the influence of big business whose business often includes laying waste to the environment – polluticians. In a press release they come out swinging against those who acquiesce to the polluters either by collusion or ignoring the problems. In their report Who’s Holding Us Back, they outline steps that the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa that the delegates should institute in order to ensure that rampant pollution does not continue. The UN conference starts November 28 and ends December 9th
A summary of Greenpeace directives follows: "• Ensure a peak in global emissions by 2015 • Emission reductions: Close the gap between politics and science • Ensure that the Kyoto Protocol continues and provide a mandate for a comprehensive legally binding instrument • Deliver the necessary climate finance • Set up a framework for protecting forests in developing countries • Address the needs…

Chevron Suspended From Brazil Offshore Drilling

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By B. McPherson



The Brazilian government has taken action against Chevron Corporation for their part in an oil spill in the Atlantic Ocean. Along with the Brazilian owned Petrobras Corporation, many petroleum companies are vying for the riches in the Campos Basin. November 7, Chevron had an oil spill when unexpectedly high pressure in the oil pool caused a spill and seepage through weak ocean bed rock. Estimates of the amount of oil entering the ocean vary depending on the source of the reporting, but a conservative estimate is at least 3000 barrels escaped.
Bloomberg is reporting that the Brazilian government is taking a tough stand on the spillage and demanding no drilling be done until Chevron comes up with some satisfactory answers.
“The company needs to pay more attention to safety after its “negligence” contributed to the accident, Brazil’s oil regulator, the Agencia Nacional do Petroleo, said yesterday. The ban will remain in place until the regulator identifies the causes and con…

Brazil and Chevron Juggling Oil Pollution vs Money

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By B. McPherson


The government of Brazil is fining Chevron about $28 million dollars for the oil spill in the Campos Basin. That’s a little under four days production. Chevron struck oil in their lease concession but the deep water drill site brought up oil at high pressure, enough to force oil up through the pipe and also to allow it to seek escape through weak rock formations. The spill wasn’t reported immediately. The accounts vary depending on who is relating them. The Chevron position is that they assumed the oil slick on the Atlantic was a result of operations by the state owned Petrobas corporation. The Brazilian government is saying that Petrobas was forced to report on Chevron and that Chevron underestimated the amount of oil that escaped to the surface. This current leak is far smaller than the BP catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico in 20ll which saw millions of barrels of oil foul water and beaches in the USA, but the Campos Basin is a massive formation which has several oil exp…

Super Mario Draws PETA Ire Over Tanooki Suit

By B. McPherson


The new Super Mario 3D game by Nintendo has drawn the ire of the PETA organization. In the soon to be released Mario wears a fur suit of Tanooki fur. PETA is furious that the Nintendo corporation has used this image in a game. While the Tanooki suit was introduced in 1988, many people have changed their attitudes towards animal cruelty over the past 20 years. And we have a great deal more information about this cruel trade. PETA has a mock game on their site that has the tanooki chasing Mario who has stolen his skin. They also have an undercover video taken in China of these poor animals being bludgeoned and skinned. Some of the animals are shown suffering and one is shown skinned alive. http://features.peta.org/mario-kills-tanooki/ I was not aware of these animals until now. They are big business in the fur trade around the world. Japan, Russia and China are the principal purveyors of this cruelly obtained fur. Apparently this fur trade has been going on for quite some t…

Ringo Starr Designs Boots for Timberland and Charity

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By B. McPherson


Ringo Starr is designing and autographing a special line of boots, Earthkeeper, for the Timberland Company that is geared to provide aid money to the non-profit Water-Aid. This non-government organization has been working for the past 30 years to provide clean water to those who most need it.
“WaterAid is an international non governmental organisation. Our mission is to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world's poorest communities.”Water-Aid
The new line of boots which feature Ringo’s peace logo will have canvas sides using organic cotton. 75 pairs will bear his autograph and will be auctioned on line. More detailed information is available at Treehugger.com with opening bids of minimum $250. The auction is expected to raise more than $18 000 for the charity.
Timberlands is receiving accolades from various environmental groups for its pioneering use of bionic canvas which features organic cotton and recycled polyesters. Th…

Keystone Pipeline Decision Delayed Until Pres. Elections Spotlight Shifts to Great Bear Rain Forest

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By B. McPherson


The decision to delay the building of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline until after the US presidential elections next year may doom the project. Opposition to the building of the oil pipeline which would connect the oil fields of Alberta to refineries in Texas has been loud and growing. The proposed route of the Keystone pipeline would take it across the Nebraska Sandhills, an environmentally sensitive treasure. Any breaches in the pipeline could easily contaminate the Ogllala aquifer. This aquifer is the supplier of water to much of the Midwest, both cities and aqriculture. Those that support the building of the $7 billion project point out the economic benefits of the pipeline. Many people would be employed in good paying jobs; oil from Canada is a stable source; there could be a reduction in oil tankers plying the Gulf of Mexico. At first glance, this looks like a victory for environmentalists. It is not. It puts the focus on a different environmental treasure – …

Hasbro Joins Other Toy Makers in Asia Pulp & Paper Boycott

By B. McPherson


Hasbro toy maker has joined other forward thinking companies in shunning the products of Asia Pulp & Paper(APP). Greenpeace has announced that along with toymakers Mattel and Lego, other companies are already on board in avoiding the products of APP.
“These names join the likes of NestlĂ©, Adidas, Kraft, Unilever, Tesco, Carrefour, Auchan and Metro Group who have all taken action against APP in their supply chains. Staples, the stationary retailer, summed things up pretty well when they described APP as a "great peril to our brand". More and more companies agree.” GreenpeaceThe reputation of APP is increasingly tarnished in spite of its maintaining that most of its fibre comes from sustainable plantations. They have been accused of illegal logging in Cambodia and Indonesia. APP started in Indonesia, but currently makes its headquarters in Singapore.
Indonesia’s rainforests are home to endangered species as well as being biologically diverse. They are increasi…

Foreign Corporations Moving Onto Tribal Lands in Ethiopia

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By B. McPherson
Survival International is highlighting the plight of the native people of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. The Omo River is in the process of being dammed. The dam, Gibe III, of questionable legality, is being built in conjunction with an Italian firm. When it is complete, it will hold back the lifeline to as many as 100 000 people and prevent the annual flood which renews the cropland. When this mega project is completed, there will be a series of five dams along the Omo River, changing it forever. The series of dams will generate large amounts of electricity, with enough surplus to export energy to neighbouring Kenya, Sudan and Somalia. The expected sale of the electricity when the dam is operational is expected to bring in over $4 million in foreign money each year to the Ethiopian economy. In addition to the people who will be displaced by the flooding of the land behind the dam, a further 200 000 are expected to have their already harsh lives made more difficult by the im…

Fukushima Leaks More Radiation

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By B. McPherson


The news from Japan makes one wonder where the truth lies. Perhaps we should wonder where the lies are rather than hope for truth from the authorities at TEPCO. Since the earthquake and tsunami in March that devastated large areas of Japan and wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant the world has been receiving evasive answers about the extent of the damage to the reactors and the amount of radioactive material spewed into the environment. …. Today Japan Today has news of a new radioactive leak from the crippled power plant.
While authorities speaking for TEPCO have assured the public that there is no danger from today’s leak, they are taking measures to damp down the radiation by spraying water and boric acid onto the failed reactor container. Junichi Matsumoto is quoted: “Given the signs, it's certain that fission is occurring,” Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at Tepco who regularly talks to the media, told reporters in Tokyo today.BusinessWeekReactors…