Article excerpt (from MSNBC):
“A crematorium is installing turbines in its burners that will convert waste heat from the combustion of each corpse into as much as 150 kilowatt-hours of juice — enough to power 1,500 televisions for an hour. The facility plans to sell the electricity to local power companies.
“Some might find this concept creepy. Others might be pleased to learn that the process ‘makes cremation much greener by utilizing its by-products,’ in the words of cremation engineer Steve Looker, owner and chief executive officer of the Florida-based company B&L Cremation Systems, which is unaffiliated with the Durham enterprise.”
[I find it very interesting that they quantify the heat produced by a burning body according to how many hours of television it generates, instead of something a bit more noble-sounding, such as how many trees it saves.]
This sounds too absurd to be real, but real it is.
“Dutch scientists have found a way of turning plant matter into the building blocks of common plastics using a nanotechnology process that offers an alternative to oil-based production….The team from Utrecht University and Dow Chemical Co produced ethylene and propylene – precursors of materials found in everything from CDs to carrier bags and carpets – after developing a new kind of iron catalyst made of nanoparticles.”
From the Los Angeles Times:
Sacrificing the desert to save the Earth
By Julie Cart, February 5, 2012
“The public got its chance to comment at scores of open houses, but the real political horse trading took place in meetings involving solar developers, federal regulators and leaders of some of the nation’s top environmental organizations.
“Away from public scrutiny, they crafted a united front in favor of utility-scale solar development, often making difficult compromises.”
“Even if only a few of the proposed projects are built, hundreds of square miles of wild land will be scraped clear. Several thousand miles of power transmission corridors will be created.
“The desert will be scarred well beyond a human life span, and no amount of mitigation will repair it, according to scores of federal and state environmental reviews.
“‘The scale of impacts that we are facing, collectively across the desert, is phenomenal,’ said Dennis Schramm, former superintendent at neighboring Mojave National Preserve. ‘The reality of the Ivanpah project is that what it will look like on the ground is worse than any of the analyses predicted.’”
From an article in Forbes magazine:
But the most amazing and telling evidence of the bias of the Wall Street Journal in this field is the fact that 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences wrote a comparable (but scientifically accurate) essay on the realities of climate change and on the need for improved and serious public debate around the issue, offered it to the Wall Street Journal, and were turned down. The National Academy of Sciences is the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organizations. Its members are among the most respected in the world in their fields. Yet the Journal wouldn’t publish this letter, from more than 15 times as many top scientists. Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation.
Read the entire article, with links to both letters, here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/petergleick/2012/01/27/remarkable-editorial-bias-on-climate-science-at-the-wall-street-journal/
“A horrendous slaughter is going on out here,” said Peter D. Ward, a biologist from the University of Washington, during a recent census of the marine creature in the Philippines. “They’re nearly wiped out.”
The culprit? Growing sales of jewelry and ornaments derived from the lustrous shell. To satisfy the worldwide demand, fishermen have been killing the nautilus by the millions, scientists fear. Now marine biologists have begun to assess the status of its populations and to consider whether it should be listed as an endangered species to curb the shell trade.
On eBay and elsewhere, small nautilus shells sell as earrings for $19.95, and as pendants for $24.95. Big ones — up to the size of plates — can be found for $56, often bisected to display the elegant chambers.
The Epoch Times:
Land Grabs in Africa Threaten Greater Poverty, Part 1 of 2
This land grab or land rush began in earnest a decade ago, but gained momentum following record high food prices in 2008, combined with increasing hunger, the ongoing financial crisis, and a surge in biofuel demand. It describes investors, governments, or companies, buying or leasing vast tracks of arable land in foreign countries for the purpose of exporting the produce back to their own country, or simply for financial speculation.
The phenomena is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in Brazil and Russia; the foreign countries most involved in claiming the land are China, South Korea, India, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar.
While the exact figures are hard to determine, in 2009, the World Bank estimates that over 110 million acres of land were under negotiation for allocation, 70 percent of which were in Africa. The International Land Coalition (ILC) puts the number at almost 200 million acres, 64 percent in Africa.
According to the World Bank, 21 percent of land deals in 2009 globally were for biofuel production; the ILC figure for 2009 is 44 percent, with Southern Africa being called the new Middle East of biofuels.
Land Grabs in Africa Usher in a New Form of Colonialism, Part 2 of 2
From Sun-Sentinel article, “Nuke program wrong move, wrong place” by Philip Stoddard, Mayor of South Miami:
Under our American capitalist model, corporations issue bonds to raise money for new projects. But here in Florida, our Legislature allows a publicly traded utility to take our money, never repay the principal and charge us 10 percent interest on whatever it builds with our dollars. So long as a “regulated” utility can claim to be planning a new nuclear reactor, it can bypass Wall Street and take the money directly from ratepayers like us ahead of time.
This amazing scam is perfectly legal under Florida Statute 366.93, known as the Early Cost Recovery. An electric utility can take our money up front for any and all of the following:
“All capital investments, including rate of return, any applicable taxes, and all expenses, including operation and maintenance expenses, related to or resulting from the siting, licensing, design, construction or operation of the nuclear power plant, including new, expanded or relocated electrical transmission lines or facilities of any size that are necessary thereto.”
The capitalist system sets up a false jobs vs. environment conflict, that serves the system on both sides. If people’s land wasn’t stolen and destroyed, they wouldn’t be able to be forced into a position of dependency and into the labor force in the first place.
Here’s an interesting article by a labor leader about why he opposes the Tar Sands pipeline. Though he’s very much part of the establishment unions, he seems to be honestly grappling with the false conflict between labor and the environment that has been set up by the ruling class.
I don’t see things the same way he does (like his advocacy of “green jobs” within a continued framework of capitalism, or participating in a protest of orchestrated arrests that appeals to Obama), but he makes some good points and, I think, eloquently expresses the real anguish of the worker trapped in a bind — of balancing the immediate need to feed one’s family while realizing that the only options we’re offered for doing so are destroying their future.
It’s hard to find anything to eat anymore that isn’t going to kill us. Recently I wondered: should I eat hormone-infused US-made cheese, or radioactive European cheese?
Decided on a handful of raw almonds (irradiated or fumigated with proylene oxide) instead.
Here’s an article about my work in the Transylvanian online newspaper Transindex: http://think.transindex.ro/?p=9198
Isn’t it weird that mainstream news programs talk incessantly about record temperatures all over, but none of them mention the cause?
Everything’s FINE! Keep buying stuff and keep that stock market humming, everyone!
From an article on Truthout.org:
The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) program was launched in 2008 with a $47 million grant from mega-rich philanthropists Warrant Buffet and Bill Gates. The program is supposed to help farmers in several African countries increase their yields with drought- and heat-tolerant corn varieties, but a report released last month by the African Centre for Biosafety claims WEMA is threatening Africa’s food sovereignty and opening new markets for agribusiness giants like Monsanto.
The Gates Foundation claims that biotechnology, GE crops and Western agricultural methods are needed to feed the world’s growing population and programs like WEMA will help end poverty and hunger in the developing world. Critics say the foundation is using its billions to shape the global food agenda and the motivations behind WEMA were recently called into question when activists discovered the Gates foundation had spent $27.6 million on 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock between April and June 2010.