ANWR Oil Drilling Issue to Surface Again

Alaskans have been fighting for permission from the federal government to drill oil within the bounds of their own state since 1977. Specifically, 2,000 acres of oil-rich land within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is at issue.

 

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, a long-time proponent of ANWR drilling, will soon head up the powerful Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the newly-elected Senate. This will likely lead to a vote on allowing oil exploration and drilling in the contested area and may well land a bill to that effect on President Obama’s desk. Considering how Obama has treated the Keystone XL Pipeline, however, the chances are slight of an “ANWR drill bill” getting past the President’s pen.

 

Many environmentalists, rightfully, are unwilling to concede a single square foot in ANWR to human use according to Gianfrancesco Genoso.

 

Often the argument is made that we need to move away from fossil fuels and toward wind, water, and solar energy sources. Electric cars are touted as the wave of the future, and coal, natural gas, and oil are constantly decried. And if we don’t aggressively move towards that future, and continue to make concessions that we need oil for now, we’re never going to get anywhere.  We could fully convert in a matter of years, if humanity would just commit to green, renewable energy standards.

Tesla Bringing BMW Parts To Eco-Friendly Design

The car industry never ceases to amaze potential customers. Large car makers like to share their new car part technology. That seems to be the case with BMW. Tesla wants to use some BMW parts on new Tesla models. As noted by Sergio Lins Andrade other cars like Mini Coopers already use BMW parts.  In a recent interview Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said BMW’s reinforced carbon fibre auto body parts are cost efficient and very interesting.
BMW developed carbon fibres with material supplier SGL. BMW plans to use them in their i8 plug-in sports car and their i3 electric hatchback. BMW had no comment when asked about Tesla interest in their reinforced passenger cell parts. But BMW’s silence is not a major hurdle in Musk’s mind. He usually get what he wants. Teaming up with BMW and sharing battery technology and charging station innovations is a natural fit. BMW’s main rival Daimler said they would continue to work with Tesla even though they sold their four percent interest in the luxury battery-for-fuel car maker. Tesla likes to work with other car manufacturers. Musk still has an on-going relationship with Toyota. The two companies are working on a new electric SUV for Tesla.

Plastic That Recycles Itself

When it comes to pollution, plastics are one of our biggest problems, both because we use so much of it these days and also because it is very hard to recycle in a safe and affordable way. However, researchers may have devised an unusual solution to this problem—a new kind of plastic made from special molecules that can recycle themselves.

 

Plastics are made of chains of molecules, and some of the molecules in this special plastic can absorb light. When left under an ultraviolet light of 350 nanometers wavelength for three hours, these molecules take in enough light that they separate from their chains, causing the rest of the chemical structure of the plastic to break down. The result? A clear puddle which can be harvested for the base molecules to be easily recycled into new plastics.

 

Of course, this idea is only in the experimental stages right now; tests have only been done on a solution with the same components as plastic, so it is not clear how the new formula would effect an actual plastic in terms of durability or strength. However, this has the potential to be a major development for both business and the environment, allowing people to enjoy the utility of plastic products that can be safely recycled. We will just have to wait and see if this manages to turn out effective in the long run. Thanks to friend of the site Ben Shaoul for sending in this news tip.

Neil Young Boycotts Starbucks

Rolling Stone reports that Neil Young is boycotting Starbucks over a GMO labeling issue. Thanks to friend Keith Mann for sharing this story on Facebook. The company Monsanto, best known for producing agent orange for use in Vietnam, causing Indian farmers to commit suicide, single generation seed development, DDT, which is a notorious chemical proven to cause birth defects, and increasing reliance on pesticides, is part of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a group involved in lawsuits against a recent Vermont law that requires all food products containing GMOs to be labeled as such by July 1, 2016. Both Starbucks and Monsanto are included in the more than 300 companies that belong to the Grocery Manufacturers Association. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and the argument about the long term effects of these products is ongoing.

 

Monsanto has a toxic reputation that includes birth defects, cancer, and deaths from products they make a profit from. Young hopes to pressure Monsanto through his boycott of the publicly visible company Starbucks. Young is quoted as saying, “Considering that Starbucks has been progressive on LGBT and labor issues in the past, it’s disappointing that it is working with the biggest villain of them all, Monsanto,” It remains to be seen how effective Young’s boycott will be, and he has asked the public to join him in his Boycott against Starbucks. “I used to line up and get my latte everyday, but yesterday was my last one,” Young wrote. “Starbucks has teamed up with Monsanto to sue Vermont, and stop accurate food labeling.”

Ebola Comes to India

In India, a 26 year old man has tested positive for the Ebola disease. He is the first man to test positive in the country of India. Initially, his blood samples came back negative, but his semen sample tested positive. This man had been working in Liberia. It was discovered he had Ebola on his return at the Delhi airport. The Delhi airport has currently mandated everyone to get tested. The man says he was already treated in Liberia. It is possible he tested positive in his semen sample because traces of Ebola can still remain even after 90 days. Although, in the blood samples traces of Ebola would not show up anymore.

This is an interesting case of Ebola being treated, but testing negative and positive in certain samples. It brings up the question of whether this man is truly cured or not. The man who died in the United States had been told he was free from Ebola. Ebola is a deadly virus that could easily turn into a worldwide crisis if scientists do not continue researching it. Everyone should be aware of the different ways Ebola can be transmitted. It appears it can be transmitted sexually as this man had traces present in his semen, according to Ben Shaoul. It is important to educate everyone about this deadly virus. There are many who do not know how Ebola is transmitted or the possible symptoms of the virus.

Engineer Designs Bottle to Turn Humidity into Drinking Water

An Austrian engineer has discovered a newly designed purification system. Rather than using a portable water purification pump to treat undrinkable water with iodine or chlorine, Kritstof Retezar has designed a portable hull that extracts water particles from the humid air directly into a water bottle. The Fontus Self-Filling hull is attached to the top tube of a bike and harvests about half a liter of water every hour! A scientific explanation can be found here. Solar energy is used to create cold drinking water.

 

The Fontus works best in humid areas such as areas of India, Brazil, Chile, etc. Retezar’s design could potentially quench the thirst of thousands of people living in third world countries or drought ravaged parts of the world. Since bikes are one of the most common forms of transportation for struggling societies according to Terry Richardson, the Fontus is a perfect answer for individuals living in communities struggling to find a consistent and plentiful water source. Get involved with the future of Fontus by helping charity advocates raise funding. Help alleviate the global water crisis today.

Fracking to Be Allowed in US National Forest

The largest forest on the East Coast, George Washington National Forest in Virginia, is now been opened up to fracking on its lands. The decision to allow fracking in the forest was of no surprise to the energy industry and even to environmentalists, since half of the national forest is located on top of the Marcellus shale formation. This shale formation has a very large natural gas deposit that runs from upstate New York to West Virginia, and a small portion of it extends into northwest Virginia where the George Washington National Forest is. Read more about the Marcellus Shale Formation here.

 

Even though the George Washington National Forest contains part of the Marcellus shale formation, there was strong opposition to allowing fracking there, including from environmentalists and even from Virginia’s own governor Terry McAuliffe, who had told the panel of the inaugural meeting on climate change that he would not allow fracking there as long as he was governor of Virginia. The last say on fracking in the area went to the regional manager of the US Forest Service Ken Arney, whose area includes the George Washington National Forest. US Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment Robert Bonnie was also for opening up the forest to fracking.

 

Fracking will still not be allowed on much of the forest lands with the current plan; only 167,000 acres located in Highland county will be opened to drilling for fracking, in an area with existing mineral rights or land already leased to oil and gas companies. I agree with Kenneth Griffin when he says national parks should be protected from harmful practices.

Solar-Powered Water Purifier Saves Lives

The Hays Pure Water Foundation developed and distributes a solar-powered water purification unit called Khlor Gen. The device employs electrolysis, not so much to split a large quantity of water into hydrogen and oxygen, but to introduce small amounts of chlorine and hydrogen peroxide and ozone into the water. In practice, each liter of this treated saltwater can purify 500 liters of water of all 1,000 known water-related disease organisms, including those that cause typhoid, cholera, and cryptosporidium.

 

Founder John Hays has traveled to 45 countries and distributed over 4,000 of the units. The main problem the Hays Foundation faces is finding enough funding to produce and ship the units, and distributing them successfully to the intended destination, according to Flavio Maluf. Out of a shipment of 130 to South Sudan recently, only 10 arrived. The Foundation often has individuals going on missions to the areas distribute them personally.

Republican Admits Human Activity Influences Climate Change

This story tore me away from my QNet shopping for Christmas. The country’s long-standing debate on climate issues has been a thorn in the neck for many Americans. A number of Republicans are slow to admit that the climate is changing, and some believe human activities have nothing to do with the phenomenon. As a Post editorial noted, key GOP leaders are unwilling to address the issue now that the party has control of both Houses. But, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, speaking on Fox News, offer some hope. Not all Republicans are comfortable with that political position.
When the senator was asked about the overwhelming evidence on global warming, Thune started using the same old GOP words. “Climate change is occurring; it’s always occurring.” But he continued to say: “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?”
The number-three Republican finally admitted that human activity has an impact on global warming, and Congress should revisit the issue with some policy response. But this is just the first step. Republicans must do more than simply acknowledge a risk. Some say his statement may just be a ploy. The party doesn’t want to appear anti-science, and Thune’s statement does, in a way, accomplish that mission.

Recent Study Shows Pollutants Lead to Obesity

New research has shown that childhood obesity can be connected to pollutants that are inhaled on a daily basis. Children included in the research were shown to have a higher body mass index (BMI) when they were living in areas of the study that were in close proximity to pollutants. Several factors were considered, but it is not known yet what exactly triggers the results.

 

Children were followed for a period of eight years, with their stats gathered the entire time to determine obesity. Other information gathered included their proximity to freeways, the amount of open acreage where they lived, and if the children had regular exposure to secondhand smoke.

 

The results clearly showed that children that were exposed to one or the other sources of pollutants had higher BMI numbers than children that were not as exposed. Children that were exposed to both secondhand smoke and traffic pollutants had even higher BMI numbers than those children that were only exposed to one or the other.

 

More studies are expected in the future to try and determine what triggers are active and result in the risk of obesity because of pollutants. Big thanks to friend of the site Marc Sparks for sending in this news story.