Friday, January 10, 2014

West Virginia Chemical Spill Declared Federal Disaster

UPDATE: 3-3-14

Received from Environmental Action:

Jan,

Thanks for being a part of our campaign for clean water in West Virginia. When a chemical spill last month poisoned the Elk River in West Virginia, we responded. Thousands of us signed a petition to make sure the Obama Administration took over the management of West Virginia's access to safe drinking water from corrupt and inept state officials. Hundreds more of us chipped in to buy clean drinking water for residents that (even now) can't trust what comes out of their taps.

The federal officials who accepted Johanna's report admitted that they'd never seen this level of detailed reporting. Meanwhile, they haven't even done basic data gathering in Wast Virginia.

I could see the impact of our friend's expertise and passion right on the faces of the Office of Surface Mining officials when they accepted the petitions. When we speak out government really can do the important work of protecting the planet. For this day, at least, I can tell you that officials in Washington D.C. were getting your message in a way they couldn't ignore. I was proud to be there to witness it, and I hope you bear witness too at our blog.



America Water Tells People Water Is Safe

Despite this, people are still smelling licorice smell and children are being sent home as schools are closed. People complaining of rashes etc. still being told to "flush" their water. And of course, this as well is out of the consciousness of the public as people still suffer the stench of poison water and political/corporate corruption.

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Update 1-12-14: Tap water may be out for days after W.Va. spill

Think they will tell the truth about when the water is safe? ( If there is such a thing now) Does the president of "Freedom" Industries live in the affected area? I bet not.

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A West Virginia resident shops for bottled water at a Kroger in South Charleston after a chemical spill on the Elk River compromised the water supply to nine counties.

West Virginia Chemical Spill Declared Federal Disaster

Tyler Evert/AP

West Virginia schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day's business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston shut down much of the city and surrounding counties even as the cause and extent of the incident remained unclear.

The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster, and the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency-service agencies in the nine affected counties.

Shortly after the Thursday-night chemical spill from Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby treatment plant, a licorice-like smell enveloped parts of the city. Thursday night, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for the affected counties and advised residents not to drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes in the water and to use it only for flushing.

The chemical, used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank and overran a containment area on Thursday. Freedom Industries did not immediately respond for comment.

The amount that spilled isn't immediately known. West Virginia American Water has a treatment plant nearby. The company's president, Jeff McIntyre, said the advisory affects up to 100,000 customers.

"The water has been contaminated," said Tomblin, who didn't know how long the emergency declaration would last. It includes includes West Virginia American Water customers in Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane counties.

Tomblin said the advisory extends to restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and other establishments that use tap water. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said symptoms include severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation, nonstop vomiting, trouble breathing and severe skin irritation like skin blistering.

End of excerpt



Map view of affected areas/Elk River

State of emergency, water ban issued in West Virginia over chemical leak

The 6 Most Terrifying Facts About The Chemical Spill Contaminating West Virginia’s Drinking Water

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So let me envision the scenario that results: "Freedom" Industries (meaning for them the freedom to do whatever they want regarding poisoning our resources) will get a slap on the wrist after not only contaminating the tap water of nine counties but also the Elk River. They may be required to throw some money into the cleaning (if that is even possible) and some to anyone who may have drank the water and suffers ill effects from it in order to appease their irresponsibility and all is then considered well. How many instances of this kind of event that toxifies our water through chemical, coal slurry, tarsands or fracking spills do we have to see in order to understand that you can't drink money? Regulation to protect our natural resources and our health and safety MATTERS.

Let us compare that to a state where solar energy provides the power... Will you ever see a headline that a "solar spill" resulted in such a toxification of our natural resources and the health of our citizens? You don't have to be of any political predisposition to see the difference... but you do have to be a human being who understands the importance of protecting our water and the health of our citizens.

People of West Virginia, there is a better way for you and your children. I hope you see it and demand it before it is too late.

Go Solar -Push Coal Out

Between this and fracking companies toxifying our waterways we better speak up!

Oil and Gas Co. Chesapeake Fined $3.2 Million for W. Virginia Water Violations Associated with Fracking



Also, just to address some of the comments I have been reading at other venues that the people of West Virginia deserve to drink this water because they are either Republicans or support coal (same as the comments I saw from Conservatives after Hurricane Sandy): I'm from New Jersey, but does that mean that because some partisans have now ruined the meaning of loving this country with their incessant politically partisan bickering and hatred that we cannot feel sad/outraged about this? This is beautiful country and we should all care regardless of politics. There needs to be an awakening because the political hatred in this country is killing it and our natural resources. Let's keep our eye on the prize. We are all in this together.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States



Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States

LAKE MEAD, Nev. — The sinuous Colorado River and its slew of man-made reservoirs from the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years.

The once broad and blue river has in many places dwindled to a murky brown trickle. Reservoirs have shrunk to less than half their capacities, the canyon walls around them ringed with white mineral deposits where water once lapped. Seeking to stretch their allotments of the river, regional water agencies are recycling sewage effluent, offering rebates to tear up grass lawns and subsidizing less thirsty appliances from dishwashers to shower heads.

But many experts believe the current drought is only the harbinger of a new, drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished.

Faced with the shortage, federal authorities this year will for the first time decrease the amount of water that flows into Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, from Lake Powell 180 miles upstream. That will reduce even more the level of Lake Mead, a crucial source of water for cities from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and for millions of acres of farmland.

A connector will link the existing water infrastructure to a tunnel being built under Lake Mead. Jim Wilson/The New York Times Reclamation officials say there is a 50-50 chance that by 2015, Lake Mead’s water will be rationed to states downstream. That, too, has never happened before.

“If Lake Mead goes below elevation 1,000” — 1,000 feet above sea level — “we lose any capacity to pump water to serve the municipal needs of seven in 10 people in the state of Nevada,” said John Entsminger, the senior deputy general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Since 2008, Mr. Entsminger’s agency has been drilling an $817 million tunnel under Lake Mead — a third attempt to capture more water as two higher tunnels have become threatened by the lake’s falling level. In September, faced with the prospect that one of the tunnels could run dry before the third one was completed, the authority took emergency measures: still another tunnel, this one to stretch the life of the most threatened intake until construction of the third one is finished.

These new realities are forcing a profound reassessment of how the 1,450-mile Colorado, the Southwest’s only major river, can continue to slake the thirst of one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions. Agriculture, from California’s Imperial Valley to Wyoming’s cattle herds, soaks up about three-quarters of its water, and produces 15 percent of the nation’s food. But 40 million people also depend on the river and its tributaries, and their numbers are rising rapidly.

End of excerpt

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“The era of big water transfers is either over, or it’s rapidly coming to an end,” said Mr. Entsminger, the southern Nevada water official. “It sure looks like in the 21st century, we’re all going to have to use less water.”



Graphic Of The Day

You think? Conservation however, appears to be a dirty word to those who think they are entitled to use any amount of water they chose for their pools, golfing, mansions, casinos and high living as well as fracking and water use by industry that is unaccounted for. Were it not for the fact that the river and the ecosystems that support it have been damaged so greatly, I would say it was justice. Extreme suffering seems to be the only way selfish people ever learn.



Also see:

The Colorado-Running Near Empty

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The "Polar Vortex" Freezing Us Today Due In Part To Global Warming



Frozen Chicago

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

What Is This Polar Vortex That Is Freezing The US?

Excerpt:

"The polar vortex is a prevailing wind pattern that circles the Arctic, flowing from west to east all the way around the Earth. It normally keeps extremely cold air bottled up toward the North Pole. Occasionally, though, the vortex weakens, allowing the cold air to pour down across Canada into the U.S., or down into other regions such Eastern Europe. In addition to bringing cold, the air mass can push the jet stream—the band of wind that typically flows from the Pacific Ocean across the U.S.—much further south as well. If the jet stream puts up a fight, the moisture it carries can fall out as heavy snow, which atmospheric scientists say is the circumstance that caused the February 2010 “snowmageddon” storm that shut down Washington, D.C.

But why does the vortex weaken? Now it gets interesting. More and more Arctic sea ice is melting during summer months. The more ice that melts, the more the Arctic Ocean warms. The ocean radiates much of that excess heat back to the atmosphere in winter, which disrupts the polar vortex. Data taken over the past decade indicate that when a lot of Arctic sea ice disappears in the summer, the vortex has a tendency to weaken over the subsequent winter, if related atmospheric conditions prevail over the northern Atlantic Ocean. The situation looks something like that shown in the graphic below. (For a full explanation, see the Scientific American article that accompanies the graphic.)

Although the extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic varies year to year, overall it has been disappearing to a notable degree since 2007 and it is forecast to continue to vanish even further. That could mean more trouble for the polar vortex, and more frigid outbreaks—a seeming contradiction to “global warming,” perhaps, but not for “global weirding,” also known as climate change."

End of excerpt

Also see: Study Finds Unprecedented Warmth In Arctic

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Dr. Jennifer Francis on Arctic amplification and the jet stream. AGW deniers' heads are exploding at not being able to understand science.



The period of consequences is here. This is a must see and important video.

Arctic Ocean Leaking Methane At Alarming Rate

Methane Feedback & Abrupt Climate Change

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Annual Minimum Extent- 6th Lowest Extent Recorded: Deniers Desperate To Spin Even That...

Arctic Ice, Oceans, Climate And The Human Condition

The Arctic, Humanity's Barometer

Major Loss In Arctic Sea Ice Volume

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For the life of me I do not understand why this is so hard to understand. Record breaking sea ice loss in the Arctic not only affecting extent but more so volume is leaving more open water thus leaving more open space becoming warmer through retention of sun's rays that would normally be radiated back into space.... this then causes more warming (positive feedback) raising the temperature of the Arctic in comparison to warmer temperatures at Equator. This then has effect on jet stream, speed of jet stream and duration of events taking place in mid latitudes (cold, heat, storms, floods, droughts.) There is no disputation in the scientific community as to the human element involved in this Arctic sea ice loss either, so consequently any residual consequences of that ice loss would then have a human fingerprint on it.

Therefore, we know it is not about not understanding the mechanism behind this that constantly brings us the same partisan political battles. It is just that those whose ideology or wallet are threatened by that revelation have to instinctively try to debunk the science for those selfish reasons. This is why it is imperative that people not be constrained by political/ideological biases in order to clearly see just what effects our forcings are having upon Earth's systems. This shouldn't be a contest between two groups fighting to score points. This is about OUR LIVES.

Also, to those using the cold weather to say it negates global warming (there is an especially nasty and ill informed group posting to certain Internet sites) because you are incapable of reason and logic and do not realize there are two hemispheres and other countries on our planet besides the US, a contrast for you that has been part of the overall trend:

Australia Endures Hottest Year On Record

100,000 Bats Fall from the Sky in Australia Due to Extreme Heat Wave

Rio Heatwave Sets Off Sprinklers

Foul Weather In Britain Linked To US Polar Vortex

Brazil floods: Worst rains for 90 years wreak havoc

/ Record Rain Floods Brazil

Also see:

UPDATE 6-6-13:Czech Floods...Floods in Central Europe... Floods in the Midwest... Monster Tornadoes...Heatwaves...Glacier Melting...Excessive Drought... Now, What Could Be The Reason? Really? People Are Still Asking That Question?

The Ocean Is Broken





The Ocean Is Broken

Reading this account I was saddened, chilled, outraged and ashamed.

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From article:

The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.

"After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead," Macfadyen said.

"We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.

"I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen."

In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.

"Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it's still out there, everywhere you look."

Ivan's brother, Glenn, who boarded at Hawaii for the run into the United States, marvelled at the "thousands on thousands" of yellow plastic buoys. The huge tangles of synthetic rope, fishing lines and nets. Pieces of polystyrene foam by the million. And slicks of oil and petrol, everywhere.

Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there, snapped off by the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of the sea.

"In years gone by, when you were becalmed by lack of wind, you'd just start your engine and motor on," Ivan said.

Not this time.

"In a lot of places we couldn't start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That's an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.

"If we did decide to motor we couldn't do it at night, only in the daytime with a lookout on the bow, watching for rubbish.

"On the bow, in the waters above Hawaii, you could see right down into the depths. I could see that the debris isn't just on the surface, it's all the way down. And it's all sizes, from a soft-drink bottle to pieces the size of a big car or truck.

"We saw a factory chimney sticking out of the water, with some kind of boiler thing still attached below the surface. We saw a big container-type thing, just rolling over and over on the waves.

"We were weaving around these pieces of debris. It was like sailing through a garbage tip.

"Below decks you were constantly hearing things hitting against the hull, and you were constantly afraid of hitting something really big. As it was, the hull was scratched and dented all over the place from bits and pieces we never saw."

Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils."

End of excerpt

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I am thinking about this trying to pinpoint at what specific moment we humans just decided to give up on our planet. What exact moment we collectively decided that having stuff was more important than having a habitable world. Our oceans are our life and we are killing them. What does humanity now do knowing this? What happened to our collective soul? As this account recalls there is a huge amount of waste from the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 that was also seen on this trip. Some would contend that was in the ocean due to a natural disaster. While true the fact that there is so much of it added to the oil slicks and other debris already there only compounds the problem. Effects from continued seepage of contaminated water from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean are not helping either.

The question then is, what can we do about it? On a personal level we can cut down on what we consume. We can become more involved in our communities to monitor our waterways. We can call on our do nothing politicians to spend more time and effort regulating polluters rather than giving them tax breaks. We can do all of those things but it also comes down to once again honing a respect for the Earth and water that speaks to us on a moral level. I will say that I don't think the oceans are entirely broken yet- but I am not as hopeful about what I am seeing as I once was. However, there are organizations that are working to protect our oceans. We can also support their work and spread the word :

Ocean Conservancy

Clean Oceans Project

Plastic Oceans

If anyone knows of any other organizations involved in this please send me a link and I will include it in this post.

Humanitarian Disaster in the Sahara

Algeria has stranded 13,000 migrants in the Sahara forcing them to walk across it in response to EU directive to North Africa to lessen mi...