Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Dieselgate: Volkswagen or Bosch?

October 7, 2015

11 million Volkswagen diesel cars, 500,000 of them in the USA, have emissions-test-cheating software that allows them to produce lower emissions when tested by regulators and higher-performance dirty exhaust while they’re actually on the road. Now that WV has been caught, EPA is acting accordingly. Volkswagen engineers were certainly involved, but the Wolfsburg firm may not be the only one snared in Dieselgate. Most VW electronic equipment and software is built by Robert Bosch GmbH:

“It isn’t clear whether Bosch provided Volkswagen with the software at the heart of the scandal, or whether any of the Bosch-built components interacted with the software.

‘How these components are calibrated and integrated into complete vehicle systems is the responsibility of each auto maker,’ the Stuttgart-based company said.

Still, questions over how the software worked and who was responsible for installing it have spilled over to include Bosch.

German newspapers have reported that Bosch told Volkswagen in a 2007 letter that the use of Bosch-made software to manipulate car emissions was illegal. Volkswagen declined to comment Friday on the reports.”

— “Bosch Could Get Drawn Into Volkswagen Emissions Litigation,” Robert Wall, Wall Street Journal

So if Bosch knew VW was hacking their software, why didn’t they tell the authorities? Worse: Did Bosch tell the German government, which took no action other than suppressing the information?

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Australia Will Kill Millions of Kitty Cats

July 21, 2015

Australia Will Kill All the Kitty Cats
20 to 30 million feral cats roam Australia, killing 75 million animals each night. 29 of the continent’s mammals have been lost to extinction, and feral cats are implicated in 28 of these eradications. More than 120 Australian animals are currently at risk of extinction by feral cats, which also spread diseases that affect farm livestock.

These critters are not the mild-mannered moggies British colonists brought with them since arriving in 1788 but ferocious felines weighing up to 30 pounds. The Australian government wants to kill 2 million of these furry furies in the next 5 years.

More:

“Feline Massacre: Australia Unveils Plan to Kill Two Million Feral Cats,” Vice

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‘Tis the Season … to Gun Down Deer in Rock Creek Park

December 2, 2014

'Tis the Season ... to Gun Down Deer in Rock Creek Park

The National Park Service resumed its “Deer Reduction Program” last night, deploying sharpshooters in Rock Creek Park to shoot whitetail deer in the middle of the Nation’s capital. The seasonal slaughter will continue every night until March 15th, and recommence next winter. Last winter’s cull cut deer density in half, from 80 to 40 deer per square mile. The Park Service is shooting for a goal of 15 to 20 deer per square mile.

Venison harvested by the program is donated to food programs for the homeless.

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Image (“Rock Creek Deer Hunt, after Atelier de Walt Disney”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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BP ‘Grossly Negligent’ in the Gulf Oil Spill

September 8, 2014

BP 'Grossly Negligent' in the Gulf Oil Spill

On Thursday September 4, 2014 U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier, Louisiana born and bred, found BP to be “grossly negligent” in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, attributing 67% of the blame to the company, 30% to contractor Transocean, and 3% to submarine cement subcontractor Halliburton. BP may be liable for as much as $18 billion in fines under the Clean Water Act. BP had tried to claim its two partners in the drilling venture were equally responsible, so the ruling essentially doubles that. BP says it will appeal.

With this fine on top of other Deepwater fines, costs, and damage expenses, BP’s total bill for the disaster could reach $50 billion.

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West Virginia: Life in the Spill Zone

March 13, 2014

West Virginia: Life in the Spill Zone

“Life in West Virginia wasn’t all that easy to begin with. It is the third poorest state in the country; almost 18 percent of its population lives below the poverty line. Many people in the spill zone are now spending a chunk of their paychecks simply to have access to clean water — a necessity so fundamental it’s one that people in a developed country should expect.”

— “Don’t Drink the Water: West Virginia After the Chemical Spill,” Heather Rogers, Rolling Stone

Related:

“Chemical Valley,” Evan Osmos, The New Yorker

“What’s that smell in West Virginia water?” ScienceBlog

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Axolotl

February 22, 2014

Axolotl

Mexico’s amphibious Axolotl, the strange looking “water monster,” may be almost extinct in the wild, warns Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México biologist Armando Tovar Garza. Ambystoma mexicanum, the “walking fish,’ of Lakes Chalco and Xochimilco, is unmistakable with its slimy tail, stubby legs, plume-like gills and goofy smile. The odd critter is under habitat pressure from urban sprawl, competition from recently introduced fish species like carp and tilapia, and capture for aquariums, laboratories, and pet owners.

Frankly. we believe the decline of the strange species began in 1961 when Frank Jacobs and Wally Wood published the recipe for Axolotl Pudding in Mad Magazine.

Related:

Axolotl Poem from MAD magazine #43, 1958

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Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

January 16, 2014

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia
The business-friendly, health-challenged state of West Virginia has still not recovered from the spill of 7,500 gallons of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM) from Charleston’s Freedom Industries chemical plant into the Elk River, drinking water source for 300,000 people in nine counties. Some recent updates:

“Why So Many West Virginians Relied on Water from the Elk River: Industry Already Polluted the Others,” Nora Caplan-Bricker, The New Republic

“Safety violations found at another Freedom chemical facility,” Lindsay Abrams, Salon

“West Virginia chemical spill shines spotlight on loose regulation,” Alexandra Field. Meridith Edwards and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

“West Virginians Tolerate Chemical Spills Out of Fear of Losing Jobs,” Robert Reich, Moyers & Company

“I’m From West Virginia and I’ve Got Something to Say About the Chemical Spill,” Eric Waggoner, Huffington Post

“Thirsty in West Virginia,” Emma Fisher, Salon

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West Virginia Ministry of Truth Press Conference

January 11, 2014

West Virginia Ministry of Truth Press Conference
In Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, a 48,000 gallon tank at the Freedom Industries plant dumped a chemical called 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM) into the Elk River, a water source for 300,000 people in nine counties. Residents have been warned not to drink or wash with their tap water. Officials from the West Virginia American Water Company and Freedom Industries immediately held a press conference to address this public health crisis.

Press conference speakers had been well-trained by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, and adhered to its principles:

West Virginia American Water President Jeffrey McIntyre: “I can’t tell you that the water is unsafe … but I also can’t tell you it’s safe.”

Freedom Industries president Gary Southern: “Our intent is to be absolutely transparent and we’ll tell you what we know, as much as we know. … We have no information on that.”

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Found in the Trash: Music & Children

October 20, 2013

The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay.

More:

LandFillharmonicMovie.com

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Nuts! The Threat to Our Nation’s Infrastructure

September 23, 2013

Nuts! The Threat to Our Nation's Infrastructure

For years now we’ve told you, and told you, and told you yet again about a persistent threat to America’s infrastructure. Now that the New York Times has caught up, maybe now you’ll listen.

This year there have been stealth attacks on the electric power grid in Virginia, Illinois, Delaware, Virginia, Oregon, Ohio, Maryland, and dozens of places across the country, and they continue. These attacks on electrical substations are predictable and avoidable, yet nothing is done to avert them. Perhaps if we claim they are caused by Iranian hackers we can get relief.

More:

“Squirrel Power!” Jon Mooallem, New York Times

“Squirrels and electricity: A shocking problem,” Bruce Kennedy, MSN Money

“How squirrels are screwing with America’s power grid,” Katie Drummond, The Verge

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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