Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Less-Gassy Grass Cuts Cow Burps, Eases Global Warming

October 17, 2016

Less-Gassy Grass Cuts Cow Burps, Eases Global Warming
Scientists at Denmark’s Aarhus University and the DLF seed corporation are using DNA technology to develop a type of grass that is easier for cows to digest, meaning less gas builds up in bossy’s belly. Bovine burps are a major source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that promotes climate change.

The project, funded by Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food, uses genomic selection to determine promising grass strains for breeding. The project is expected to take about 5 or 6 years, so you’ll have to excuse bovine belching until then. Environmentally-anxious cowboys and cowgirls can follow the project here.

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Road to Hell

October 16, 2016

“Road to Hell (Part 2),” written and performed by Chris Rea. 1989. Said to have been inspired by the frustrations of rush-hour traffic on the M25 motorway. Or maybe it was the A19 near Middlesbrough. Whatever.

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BP’s Bill for the World’s Largest Oil spill: $61.6 billion

July 14, 2016

BP’s Bill for the World’s Largest Oil spill: $61.6 billion

On April 20, 2010, a well blowout a mile under the Deepwater Horizon exploration ship sent a surge of oil and gas up to the rig, setting it on fire and killing 11 crew members. The well leaked for 87 days, and 3.19 million barrels of crude oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico. BP just totaled up the amount of legal bills, damage settlements, restoration costs, and fines it has paid to hundreds of lawyers, 400 local governments, thousands of claimants and the federal government, and the tab comes to $61.6 billion.

More:

“BP’s big bill for the world’s largest oil spill reaches $61.6 billion,” Steven Mufson, Washington Post

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Flint: Fear the Water

March 18, 2016

A New Yorker video, produced by Zackary Canepari and Jessica Dimmock.

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Flint, Michigan

February 24, 2016

Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan residents, 40 percent of whom have incomes under the poverty level, have been paying the highest water bills in the nation for the lead-tainted water that has endangered their children’s health. Those rates were set by the state-appointed emergency managers who switched the system from Detroit water to chemical-laden Flint River water. Thank you, Governor Rick Snyder.

More:

“While Lead Flowed Through the Pipes, Flint Residents Paid America’s Most Expensive Water Bills,” Julia Lurie, Mother Jones

“Flint Is What Happens When a Small-Government, Anti-Spending Philosophy Rules the Day,” Jeff Turrentine , Pacific Standard

“Lessons from Flint and the Price of Water Privatization,”  Mary Grant and Jo Miles, Food & Water Watch

“By the numbers: Flint’s water emergency,” Associated Press

Related:

“How the Flint River got so toxic,” Tim Carmody, The Verge

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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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