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Showing posts from January, 2013

Bessemer Penn: Locals Chain Themselves to Giant Pig

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B. McPherson
Are you being fracked?

Fracking or fresh water, that’s what it’s come down to in Lawrence County countryside. At the center of the pig protest is Maggie Henry, a farmer. She and her family have farmed the area for many years and along with neighbours have learned to live with the consequences of oil exploration.
The area is riddled with abandoned oil wells from the 19th Century oil rush in the area. Periodically leaking methane causes buildings to explode.
The new gas rush using rock fracturing or fracking is a whole new ballgame. Shell is proceeding with fracking in the area and protesters have stationed a nine foot papier mache pink pig in the driveway of the well head. They have chained themselves to the legs of the monster pig impeding traffic to and from the well. This civil disobedience comes after Henry tried and failed through the courts to stop fracking in her area.
There are several concerns around this relatively new technology. The fracking fluid uses massive …

Kelowna BC: Enbridge Takes Its Dog and Pony Show to Kelowna

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B. McPherson

Here's a group of "environmental terrorists" whose weapon is common sense. Hundreds of protesters showed up in Kelowna today to demonstrate against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal. The proposal would see a twinned pipeline carrying diluted bitumen or dilbit to the west coast of British Columbia and solvent east to the pipeline head. The proposed route would take the pipeline through the most unspoiled area left in N. America and terminate at Kitimat at the head of Douglas Channel.
Opposition to the proposal has grown exponentially as the public has become informed of the scope and danger to the environment. In addition to the unease about driving pipelines, pumping stations and roads through pristine wilderness is the poor safety record of this company. First Nations bands in BC have outstanding land claims and they are united in their opposition to this project.
Many people are starting to think that the fix is in and this public consultation…

Belgium Researchers Detect Virus Lurking in GMOs

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B. McPherson
Throw a previously undetected viral gene into the GMO mix and you've got a whole new experiment.

Independent researchers at the University of Liege Belgium have discovered the presence of a viral gene present in the majority of GM plants that they investigated. They have dubbed the gene Gene VI.
It is significant that this group of investigators have revealed the presence of the virus particle in the genetically altered organisms because they were independent, neither opposing the proliferation nor supporting their use. These scientists were working for the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA).
Genetic engineers use viruses that are generally believed to be harmless to people to carry foreign genes into the cell’s nucleus. Theoretically, the virus will disappear entirely as the GM plant reproduces. Now this group of researchers in Belgium have found numerous incidents where this is not the case.
The researchers are not speculating on the possible toxicity of this virus…

Add Petcoke to Your Vocabulary

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B. McPherson
We can keep on truckin until the whole world falls apart.

Another dirty little secret about the Alberta Tar Sands is the production of Petcoke or Petroleum Coke as a waste product of refining the bitumen. It is estimated that emissions from the use of the Tar Sands will be about 23% greater than from refining and using conventional oil. Not so fast the organization called Oil Change International says. In their reportPetroleum Coke: the Coal Hiding in the TarSandsthey claim that this waste product which is as much as a third of a barrel for every barrel of bitumen is sold and burned, adding to the carbon dioxide burden of the atmosphere.
The refineries dealing with the bitumen sell the petcoke at a discount to coal because it is a waste product and it needs to move out. Oil Change International maintains that burning petcoke is dirtier than burning coal by about 53.6% ton for ton.
“ From January 2011 to September 2012, the United States exported over 8.6 million tons of pet…

World Bank Recommends Better Red Sea Than Dead Sea

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B. McPherson


The Dead Sea may be a memory by 2050 The World Bank has given its seal of approval to a scheme to transport Red Sea Water via pipeline to the Dead Sea. At a cost of approximately $10 billion, the scheme would theoretically save the dying Dead Sea from obliteration.
The Dead Sea is caught in the Great Rift Valley of Israel. It is formed in a depression 414 metres below sea level. The main source of water for this salty inland sea is the River Jordan. But in this very dry area of the Middle East, fresh water is at a premium and the countries of Syria, Israel and Jordan remove most of the water for drinking, industry and agriculture. Raw sewage makes up a large part of the river’s flow now. At the same time, the hot climate encourages evaporation, the result is the sea is drying up.
In Biblical times fish were caught in the lake, but due to the increasing salinity only small isopods can now live there. The Dead Sea is a prime tourist attraction for its unique properties.
The …

US Drought Threatens Mississippi River

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B. McPherson

A small increase in atmospheric temperature leads to big weather changes. The continuing drought in the US has the Mississippi River drying up. The Army Corps of Engineers is busy dredging the river in an attempt to keep the commercial traffic going. They are removing rocks from the river bed in an attempt to gain two feet of clearance for freight barges. If they are successful, traffic may continue this month but if rain is not forthcoming, February could see a shut down of fully loaded barge traffic that can now navigate the river as far as Illinois.
The engineers have already released water from a lake to bolster the river levels. While the Missouri River is a tributary and a source of water, it too is facing low levels. Various laws protect the Missouri Basin from “pirating” water from there.
The drought which devastated much of the American mid-west agriculture last summer and the summer before looks as if it will continue. Much of the winter wheat grown as late fodde…

Year 2012 Hottest on Record for USA

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B. McPherson

Climate change is happening. What are we going to do to survive? NOAA has released temperature figures for the contiguous US for 2012. It is the warmest on record and records go back to 1895. The average temperature beat any previous year by one degree Fahrenheit. One degree doesn’t seem like much, but previous high years were only fractions of a degree warmer.
People may debate the causes of a warming Earth, but the evidence is mounting that we are headed into a climate crisis. Prudent people would take steps to minimize the amount and speed of the changes if they can.
“The heat we saw in the U.S. is consistent with what we expect in a warming world,” Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NOAA's center, said on a conference call. “It’s a huge exclamation point on the end of several decades.” Bloomberg News
Drought, fires, extinctions, climate refugees – those are a few of the consequences of a changing world. 2012 saw massive droughts in the US, huge fi…

Kulluk Drillship Still Aground off Alaska Coast

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B. McPherson


The Shell Oil Arctic drillship Kulluk, remains aground on the shore of a small Alaskan island. The conical drilling platform grounded on shore December 31 after being set adrift by its tow ship which suffered engine failure at about the same time. Alaskan storms are fierce this time of year and 50 foot  swells made towing the drillship too dangerous. All personnel remaining on the vessel were removed safely.
The Kulluk was being moved from Alaskan waters to Washington State for the winter season. There are two contrasting stories about why the ship was being towed so late in the season. One version states that it was being moved for repairs and refurbishment, the other is that Shell Oil was seeking to avoid a $7 million tax that would have come into effect if the vessel remained in state territory after January 1st. In any event, the vessel remains in Alaskan waters and costs for the salvage operation will mount quickly. Approximately 600 people are currently involved in …