Category Archives: Water

USGS revised NYS-commissioned study to downplay the effects of fracking on well water after back-and-forth with Cuomo’s office

Anti-fracking activists protest outside an event attended by Governor Cuomo in Syracuse this weekend. Photo credit: New Yorkers Against Fracking via this EcoWatch story (see link)

Anti-fracking activists protest outside an event attended by Governor Cuomo in Syracuse this weekend. Photo credit: New Yorkers Against Fracking via this EcoWatch story (see link)

After yesterday’s story about federal regulators approving the expansion of fracked gas storage beneath the Finger Lakes, here’s another one about how the federal government is decidedly not supporting the interests of those in NYS who would like to keep fracking and its gas out of their communities.

It’s also a fascinating story about how power can influence science. While the revisions made did not change the actual findings of the study, they significantly changed how those findings were framed and presented to downplay the negative effects of fracking in NYS.

How many people pour over the data of studies; how many of us instead depend on how that data is explained to us? The studies become worthless, really, when the public can’t trust that what they are reading is at least in good faith.

Gov. Cuomo’s Office Tilts Study to Downplay Fracking Risks
By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch, October 6, 2014.

A federal study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), commissioned by New York state to assess the impact of fracking on well water, was edited and delayed by state officials when they found some of its conclusions apparently not to their liking, according to Capital New York, which covers state politics.

Read the whole article here.

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Court rules that the right to water is not enforceable in Detroit

A bankruptcy judge in Detroit has ruled that there is not an enforceable right to free and affordable water, contradicting the United Nations declaration that water is a basic human right.

We have blogged about this issue recently.

Today in Salon, author Lindsay Abrams details how in a classic shock doctrine move, corporations are privatizing water systems around the world and are declaring “No Money, No Water.”

Photo: Detroit Water Brigade

Photo: Detroit Water Brigade

Water is the New Oil: How corporations took over a basic human right
By Lindsay Abrams, Salon. October 5, 2014.

Water has become a commodity, Karen Piper tells Salon, and the world’s poor are paying the price

When you talk about human rights, not to mention human necessities, there’s not much more fundamental than water. The United Nations has even put it in writing: it formally “recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

That’s the theory, at least. In practice? Well, on Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes arrived at a different conclusion from that of the U.N., in a ruling on Detroit’s hotly contested practice of cutting off water access to tens of thousands of residents who can’t pay their bills. “It cannot be doubted that water is a necessary ingredient to sustaining life,” Rhodes conceded. Yet there is not, he continued, “an enforceable right to free and affordable water.” Water, in the eyes of the court, is apparently a luxury.

Read the whole article here.

 

 

 

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Great Lakes, Water

First toxic algae and now cargo dumping in Great Lakes

Barely a month ago sink taps ran dry in the city of Toledo, Ohio, USA, due to toxic algae blooming in Lake Erie. Nearly half a million people were affected by the toxic concoction that occurred by a mixture of rising temperatures and dangerous pollutants.

So here’s a great solution — let’s let freighters dump their cargo into the Lakes.

Satellite image shows the colossal spread of the 2011 blooms on Lake Erie which can cause destructive health risks and create economical problems. Photo: NOAA

Satellite image shows the colossal spread of the 2011 blooms on Lake Erie which can cause destructive health risks and create economical problems. Photo: NOAA

An article in the Buffalo News quotes Glen G. Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, as saying the amount of substances allowed to be dumped will be minuscule, posing no health risks. He then later quantifies minuscule as about the size of a football field.

Just how great does the U.S. government want these Great Lakes to be? If it’s illegal to litter on the land, then why is it legal to dump waste in the water?

New federal rule allows freighters to dump cargo remnants into Great Lakes

by T.J. Pignataro, Buffalo News, Sept. 30, 2014

Environmental groups came up short in their fight to prevent freighters from sweeping or washing limestone, iron ore, coal and other non-toxic remnants of their dry cargo into the Great Lakes.

A federal rule that went into effect earlier this year allows what has been a long-time practice in Great Lakes commerce: shipping vessels, under certain conditions, washing down residues in their cargo holds left behind after their deliveries.

Read the full article here.

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Sewage treatment plants demonstrated to help create and circulate new mutant microbes

Last July David Cameron warned that the world could be soon cast back into the dark ages of medicine if we do not find a way to deal with newly evolving bacteria that is becoming resistant to antibiotics.

One has to make the connection between antibiotic resistant microbes and the increasing changes of life forms, including important ecosystem supporting microbes, to genetically engineered (Round-up ready, etc.) food crops and experimental GE Trees. These products are designed to boost the so called “green” economy and are untested rapidly expanding  dangers. These frankenplants are modifying ecosystems and the biosphere in ways that we have not even begun to understand. Ok, well maybe we have begun to understand.

Cameron has urged the world’s drug companies to “accelerate” the discovery of a new generation of antibiotics.

One can be sure that this will be done in the context of profitability.  Disaster capitalism knows no boundaries except profit, -not even when that conflicts with human health and sustainability. This is the same context that corporate influenced governments are using to rush to develop so called “green” strategies to climate change. Profit is the first principle–and unfortunately this is viewed through the smoked glasses of the near term quarterly reports. Complex science problems can be overwhelming even for the most talented and diligent scientists, engineers, and thinkers. We know that we don’t know enough. We know that we are moving along into a dark tunnel. We also know that many of us are organized to strongly advocate for common sense as opposed to simplistic economic growth without a thorough analysis of the consequences..

We urge a precautionary approach as a real first step in all science and in what we work for–stopping release of potential synthetic ecosystems, or radically out of control synthesized ecosystems,  without a whole lot more research. We believe our species has a responsibility to do adequate risk assessments for any developing product. We demand these concepts  be first. We do not endorse nor wish to endure watching humanity follow the money like a moth drawn to a candle. We hope that Cameron can help us find our way through the dire delima that is described below, but we have our doubts.  We know, as you do, that these issues are barging into where you live and have proven to treat humans unkindly. The dark ages of medicine is just one way to characterize our future. Shouldn’t we be demanding system change? should’t we at least demand a ban on all GE Trees? The answer to both is yes.

The article below is from July of 2014,  and helps to contextualize the out of control mutations issues that we face with the release of GE crops.

Discovery in the UK reveals role of sewer plants in creating mutated microbes that are resistant to antibiotics

UK discovery reveals role of sewer plants in antibiotic-resistant microbes (Keith Williams, Creative Commons via The Independent)

 

Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant ‘mixing vessels’ after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river

Steve Connor  The Independent

Superbugs resistant to some of the most powerful antibiotics in the medical arsenal have been found for the first time in a British river – with scientists pinpointing a local sewage-treatment plant as the most likely source.

Scientists discovered the drug-resistant bacteria in sediment samples taken downstream of the sewerage plant on the River Sowe near Coventry. The microbes contained mutated genes that confer resistance to the latest generation of antibiotics.

The researchers believe the discovery shows how antibiotic resistance has become widespread in the environment, with sewage-treatment plants now acting as giant “mixing vessels” where antibiotic resistance can spread between different microbes.

A study found that a wide range of microbes living in the river had acquired a genetic mutation that is known to provide resistance to third-generation cephalosporins, a class of antibiotics used widely to treat meningitis, blood infections and other hospital-acquired infections.

Read the whole piece here 

 

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Greenwashing, Human made disasters, Synthetic Biology, Water

Appalachian ‘Our Water, Our Future’ protest today for clean water, climate justice

App-Rising-Mosaic-Donna-1000x288-1Dana Kuhnline wrote this great essay for Waging Nonviolence on the inspiration leading up to the Our Water, Our Future protest scheduled for today in DC. The event and others for this week have been organized by a coalition of groups working on environmental justice in the region, particularly around mountaintop removal and coal.

Appalachians push for clean water and climate justice with week of action
By Dana Kuhnline, Waging Nonviolence. September 6, 2014.

While much of the national climate movement has focused on gearing up towards the People’s Climate March in New York City later this month, frontline communities in Appalachia have been working hard at the local and regional level to address climate justice issues at the source.

“Our people have been producing energy for this nation for over 100 years. We are proud of our heritage. But we can’t stay stuck in time,” said Teri Blanton, a long time organizer with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and The Alliance for Appalachia. “In Appalachia we’ve already seen what climate change can do — denuded and destroyed landscapes, poisoned water and a corrupt political system — it’s all together and it’s all connected. We have seen first hand that what they do to the land, they do to the people.”

Read the whole article here.

Photo comes from the Alliance for Appalachia website.

Read the press release for the events here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Coal, Mountaintop Removal, Water

Canada Now Leads Brazil in Deforestation

Scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch, and the World Resources Institute are tracking global forest decline and have announced that the rate of decline is accelerating.

Canada has now surpassed all other countries including Brazil as being responsible for loss of forest landscapes since 2000.  According to a story in the Ottawa Citizen published last week, the “main drivers are fire, logging, and energy and industrial development.”

Resource exploitation in the boreal forests of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are particularly devastating. Satellite imagery shows that the boreal forests in the area of the oil sands between Fort McMurray and Lake Athabasca has been almost totally devastated.

 

Lakes, like these in Northern Ontario dot Canada's boreal forests and contain 25 percent of the world's wetlands.  Photo- Jeff Wells

Lakes, like these in Northern Ontario dot Canada’s boreal forests and contain 25 percent of the world’s wetlands. Photo- Jeff Wells

According to Dr Nigel Sizer, director of the forest program at the World Resources Institute, “if this rate of degradation continues “business as usual will lead to destruction of most remaining intact forests in this century”

Canada leads world in forest decline, report says
By William Marsden, Ottawa Citizen. September 3, 2014.

WASHINGTON – The world’s virgin forests are being lost at an increasing rate and the largest portion of the degradation is in Canada, according to a new report.

No longer is Brazil the main villain in the struggle to stop forest destruction.

“Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000,” Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview.

He said the main drivers are fires, logging and energy and industrial development.

“There is no political will at federal or provincial levels for conserving primary forests,” he said. “Most logging done in Canada is still to this day done in virgin forests.”

Using satellite technology, scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute have tracked changes in the earth’s forest coverage. The scientists discovered that the pace of decline is accelerating with more than 104 million hectares – about 8.1 per cent of global undisturbed forests — lost from 2000 to 2013.

Read the whole article here

 

 

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, BREAKING NEWS, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coal, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Fracking, Great Lakes, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Hydroelectric dams, Industrial agriculture, Keystone XL, Mining, Mountaintop Removal, Oil, Pollution, Tar Sands, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Uncategorized, Water

In the Midst of Global Chaos, Good News for a Change

Critically endangered Mascarene Petrel discovered at sea and unique image captured of bird with its egg.

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An expedition to find the Critically Endangered Mascarene Petrel at sea has returned with new information on one of the world’s least-known seabirds. Incredibly they have photographed a female bird where the egg is an obvious protrusion in the contour of her underbody.

This is thought to be the first record of any bird photographed in flight with an obvious egg inside the body.

The sighting has given new insight into the timing of the breeding season of the species which will help with future searches for its breeding grounds on Réunion Island, the only known place for the species in the world.

The search for the elusive petrel is described in a paper in the latest Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club. Thirty-three Mascarene Petrels were observed, and 12 of them photographed. The species’ flight, behaviour and detailed comparison to other species are also described for the first time.

Author Hadoram Shirihai said: “Against the background of a pinkish-orange sunset, with Réunion Island in the distance, I spotted a petrel through my camera’s viewfinder. Almost immediately I saw the outline of an egg, a huge bump at its belly.  I called out to the other expedition members – “she has an egg, she has an egg…“. She flew close to the boat which gave me the unique chance to photograph her just before the sun set. It was a magical moment, and to think that in less than an hour she would probably lay her egg and contribute to the future survival of this threatened species.”

Fellow author Tony Pym said: “These are first photos of Mascarene Petrel taken at sea. Up until now the only shots are of grounded birds, brought down due to artificial lighting on Réunion, the breeding island.”

Author Vincent Bretagnolle: “With some estimates of only a few dozen breeding pairs of Mascarene Petrel our at-sea records suggest there are more individuals than thought, and that unknown colonies somewhere on the island have ensured the future of this species, at least for now.”

Roger Safford of BirdLife International said: “This exciting discovery provides important information on a very poorly known and globally threatened seabird. The finders are to be congratulated on their dedication. Their discovery was no accident, combining meticulous planning and research.”

Mascarene Petrel is classified as Critically Endangered by BirdLife International on the IUCN Red List because it is assumed to have an extremely small breeding population and to be undergoing a continuing decline owing to predation and light-induced mortality.

“For most Critically Endangered species like Mascarene Petrel there is still hope for their survival,” added Safford, BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme Manager. “BirdLife and its partners are working to save the world’s most threatened species from extinction. With the right conservation action, often underpinned by sound science, we have improved the populations and fortunes of many species. “

“Mascarene Petrel is set to benefit from direct conservation action on Réunion.  The Parc national de La Réunion authorities have been awarded funds from EU LIFE+ this year to reduce threats and undertake conservation actions for the petrel.  This will involve working on the ground with local conservation organisations such as SEOR (Société d’Etudes Ornithologiques de La Réunion).”

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Filed under Biodiversity, Uncategorized, Water

Moyers & Company Report Reveals Much about America’s Oil Train Problems

Oil is our focus this first Friday of  September. We are pleased to link you to this Moyers & Company piece published earlier this week. This is one of the most comprehensive pieces on the growing Oil Train issue that we have seen recently. Kudos to multi-media producer and author John Light for bringing this to the growing Moyers & Company audiences!

July 16, 2013. tankers lined up at the Port of Albany, Albany New York. Photo-AP/Mike Groll

July 16, 2013. tankers lined up at the Port of Albany, Albany New York. Photo-AP/Mike Groll

 America’s Exploding Oil Train Problem
By John Light, Moyers & Company. September 2, 2014

If you reside in the US, there’s around an eight percent chance that you live in an oil train’s blast zone. And there’s a fight going on at the state and federal levels, between monied interests and regulatory agencies, over efforts to ensure that these trains — which have shown a tendency to burst into flames — will be relatively safe.

The increased use of hydraulic fracturing — fracking — has made oil that was previously inaccessible available to drillers. The crude then has to make its way to refineries, and while the boom in pipeline projects has received quite a bit of attention, roughly 60 percent of it travels by rail.

Read the whole story here

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Oil, Politics, Pollution, Tar Sands, Uncategorized, Water