Pollution

OPINION: Sanitation Too Often Overlooked in Developing Nations
August 9, 2010 11:07 AM - Danielle Nierenberg and Daniel Kandy, Worldwatch Institute

For most of us, finding a bathroom or toilet isn't hard. Chances are it's not more than a short walk away - you may even be there now. For 2.5 billion people around the world, however, it isn't that easy. Their bathroom is likely shared, has no running water and is a walk from their house. And you thought port-a-potties were bad. The lack of access to sanitation is a huge challenge to the 1 billion people living in urban slums in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The dangers of inadequate sanitation infrastructure are well known - contaminated drinking water and disease transmission become difficult to avoid.

BP cements Gulf oil well ahead of permanent plug
August 6, 2010 07:20 AM - Kristen Hays, Reuters

BP finished pumping cement into its ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday to seal off the source of the world's worst offshore spill, paving the way to permanently plug the blow-out later this month. The daylong cementing operation followed earlier injections of heavy drilling mud this week that had subdued the upward pressure of oil and gas inside the deep-sea Macondo well. The crippled wellhead was provisionally capped in mid-July. "This is not the end, but it will virtually assure us that no oil will be leaking into the environment," retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who oversees the U.S. oil spill response operation, said at a briefing in Washington. "Monitoring of the well is under way in order to confirm the effectiveness of the procedure," BP said in a statement announcing completion of the cementing work.

Sewage-cleaning device produces electricity, too
August 5, 2010 09:35 AM - James Dacey, SciDevNet

Small units that purify household sewage could provide a source of electricity for urban and remote communities in the developing world, according to researchers. The units would be populated with Shewanella oneidensis, one of several types of bacteria that can break down organic matter in sewage, producing electrons and protons. If the sewage is placed between electrodes with the bacteria present, this process can be harnessed to generate an electrical current.

BP gusher stopped, most remaining oil degrading naturally
August 5, 2010 07:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a major report by the federal government addresses the fate of the oil released while the well was gushing, and what is likely to happen to the remaining oil in the ocean. The report was prepared by a team of federal agencies and scientists from NOAA, USGS, and NIST, and as well as independent scientists from universities, Environment Canada, Exxon Mobil, and other companies. The study concludes that the vast majority of the oil from the BP oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed much of which is in the process of being degraded. A significant amount of this is the direct result of the robust federal response efforts. A third (33 percent) of the total amount of oil released in the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill was captured or mitigated by the Unified Command recovery operations, including burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead, according to a federal science report released today. An additional 25 percent of the total oil naturally evaporated or dissolved, and 16 percent was dispersed naturally into microscopic droplets. The residual amount, just over one quarter (26 percent), is either on or just below the surface as residue and weathered tarballs, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments. Dispersed and residual oil remain in the system until they degrade through a number of natural processes.

Solar Futures
August 3, 2010 02:33 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Solar power is the generation of electricity from sunlight. This can be direct as with photovoltaics, or indirect as with concentrating the sun's rays to boil water which is then used to provide power. Solar energy can be obtained in a variety of different ways. Passive solar occurs when you build your house in a manner that takes advantage of the low angle winter sun and/or when the mass of your house is used to absorb the sun’s heat in winter. In addition, passive solar also refers to keeping your house cooler in the winter months by making adjustments that include placing trees and awnings along the south side of a house.

Fishless Lake in Adirondacks Shows Signs of Recovery
August 3, 2010 01:20 PM - Monica Heger, Live Science

Chuck Boylen and his crew of six had been hiking for around two hours, surrounded by nothing but the tree-lined, towering Adirondack Mountains, when they reached the wide-open space of Brooktrout Lake. The goal of the research is to determine how the Clean Air Act, passed in 1990, has affected the lakes in the Adirondacks, many of which had become so acidic they no longer had any fish.

Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" overlaps BP spill zone
August 3, 2010 07:20 AM - Reuters

This year's low-oxygen "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the largest ever, about the size of Massachusetts, and overlaps areas hit by oil from BP's broken Macondo well, Louisiana scientists report. The area of hypoxia, or low levels of oxygen, covered 7,722 square miles (20,000 square kilometers) of the bottom of the Gulf and extended far into Texas waters, researchers from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium said in a statement late on Sunday. "This is the largest such area off the upper Texas coast that we have found since we began this work in 1985," said Nancy Rabalais, the consortium's executive director. "The total area probably would have been the largest if we had had enough time to completely map the western part (of the Gulf)."

Renewable Power Users and Sources
August 2, 2010 03:42 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable as opposed to fossil fuels for example which once gone are gone. In 2008, about 19% of global final energy consumption came from renewables, with 13% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.2% from hydroelectricity. The EPA has just named the 50 green power partners (individual purchasing sources or companies) using the most renewable electricity. The Green Power Partnership’s top purchasers use more than 12 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of more than 1 million average American homes. Green Power users pollute less and do not use up non-renewable sources.

Here Come the Electric Cars: "Leaf" and "Volt"
July 31, 2010 12:01 PM - Karina Grudnikov, Triple Pundit

Here's an article from Triple Pundit talking about the launch of two new electric cars: the Nissan "Leaf" (eco-friendly name, huh) and the GM "Volt." Read the article and let us know - would you buy either of these two vehicles? The Plug-In 2010 Conference in San Jose was the site of major announcements by major auto manufacturers Nissan and General Motors. During their Tuesday morning speeches, both Nissan North America’s executive vice president, Carlos Tavares, and General Motors vice president of U.S. marketing, Joel Ewanick, announced that their much-anticipated products would be available in only a limited number of cities, at first, and that both companies will begin delivering cars by the end of the year. Even though there are many similarities and differences, both Nissan and GM are betting that U.S. auto buyers will embrace the plug with open arms. The Leaf and the Volt are the first mass-market plug-in electric vehicles to be sold in the U.S. The LEAF is a “pure” battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, and has no gasoline motor whatsoever. Its range is approximately 100 miles. The Volt, however, with an “all-electric” range of only 40 miles, augments its smaller battery pack with a gas motor that can recharge the battery while the vehicle is in motion. While this gives the Volt unlimited effective range, it means that the Volt is not truly "zero emissions".

BP to try well kill Tuesday
July 31, 2010 07:47 AM - Leigh Coleman, Reuters

BP Plc said on Friday it could seal its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well by next week as the House of Representatives voted to toughen regulation of offshore energy drilling. Incoming BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said the British energy giant would attempt a "static kill" operation on Tuesday to try to plug the blown-out deep-sea well that caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. This marks a slight delay. The U.S. official overseeing the spill response, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, had said on Thursday he hoped the operation to pump mud and cement into the well could be performed as early as this weekend. As BP moved ahead with its plans, U.S. government scientists said South Florida, the Florida Keys and the U.S. East Coast likely will be spared from oil pollution from the spill despite earlier dire warnings.

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