self inflicted wounds


When homosapiens invented fire did we doom ourselves? Because it seems fire will always come into contact with fire and global warming is the result. I think this implies that there is a limit on large animals ability to survive on Earth. I think it means that the Earth is locked into cycles of mass die offs. Finally, I think it means humans better get out of here soon. Yet, I wonder why that is just dawning on me at 60?

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/fire-in-the-hole-77895126/?no-ist

Fire in the Hole

Raging in mines from Pennsylvania to China, coal fires threaten towns, poison air and water, and add to global warming

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

From the back kitchen window of his little house on a ridge in east-central Pennsylvania, John Lokitis looks out on a most unusual prospect. Just uphill, at the edge of St.IgnatiusCemetery, the earth is ablaze. Vegetation has been obliterated along a quarter-mile strip; sulfurous steam billows out of hundreds of fissures and holes in the mud. There are pits extending perhaps 20 feet down: in their depths, discarded plastic bottles and tires have melted. Dead trees, their trunks bleached white, lie in tangled heaps, stumps venting smoke through hollow centers. Sometimes fumes seep across the cemetery fence to the grave of Lokitis’ grandfather, George Lokitis.

This hellish landscape constitutes about all that remains of the once-thriving town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Forty-three years ago, a vast honeycomb of coal mines at the edge of the town caught fire. An underground inferno has been spreading ever since, burning at depths of up to 300 feet, baking surface layers, venting poisonous gases and opening holes large enough to swallow people or cars. The conflagration may burn for another 250 years, along an eight-mile stretch encompassing 3,700 acres, before it runs out of the coal that fuels it.

Remarkably enough, nobody’s doing a thing about it. The federal and state governments gave up trying to extinguish the fire in the 1980s. “Pennsylvania didn’t have enough money in the bank to do the job,” says Steve Jones, a geologist with the state’s Office of Surface Mining. “If you aren’t going to put it out, what can you do? Move the people.”Nearly all 1,100 residents left after they were offered federally funded compensation for their properties. Their abandoned houses were leveled. Today Centralia exists only as an eerie grid of streets, its driveways disappearing into vacant lots. Remains of a picket fence here, a chair spindle there—plus Lokitis and 11 others who refused to leave, the occupants of a dozen scattered structures. Lokitis, 35, lives alone in the house he inherited from “Pop”—his grandfather, a coal miner, as was Pop’s father before him. For fans of the macabre, lured by a sign warning of DANGER from asphyxiation or being swallowed into the ground, Centralia has become a tourist destination. For Lokitis, it is home.

Across the globe, thousands of coal fires are burning.
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Go there and read. More next week.

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I never thought I would ever see this. Really as a post it has nowhere to fit in. BUT. It is important so I just thought I would cram it in here and live with it. When people surf this blog in future years they can just think of it as a speed bump. Can you believe that there are people who want to flaunt their ignorance?

http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/07/i-rejoice-that-it-is-warm-ars-attends-a-climate-contrarian-conference/

Scientific Method / Science & Exploration

Echo chamber of outrage: Ars attends a climate skeptics’ summit

A political buffet offering everything but science.

“I accept that the planet has warmed,” said conservative columnist Mark Steyn from the podium. “And I rejoice that it is warm.”

Steyn was one of many speakers at the libertarian Heartland Institute’s 10th “International Conference on Climate Change,” a major event for climate science contrarians. The two-day conference, held in mid-June at the classy Washington Court Hotel just a few blocks from the US Capitol, had all the trappings of an academic conference, but you wouldn’t mistake it for a Geological Society of America meeting. Tables set up outside the hotel’s main ballroom hosted conservative advocacy groups and think tanks like CFACT, the Ayn Rand Institute, and the Heritage Foundation (which attracted visitors with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Ronald Reagan). The audience contained some meteorologists but seemed mostly composed of retired couples with an interest in politics, along with a handful of state legislators.

The goal was to gather speakers—who, organizers frequently reminded the audience, were some of the most famous and well-respected experts in the world—who could arm attendees with the information they needed to take the Good Fight back out to the streets. A small number of the talks presented research into climate science, but most were arguments against climate policy based on economic impacts. In other words, imagine the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal plus a podium.

As for the speakers, they viewed themselves as voices of reason speaking truth to power—all of them trying desperately to keep the Western world from slipping over the precipice to certain economic ruin. And to hear them tell it, Heartland and its allies were winning the battle against the “climate alarmists.” The public remains divided on the issue of climate change, with some recent polling placing it low on the priority list of concerns. Attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through legislation have been stymied. International negotiations have been arduous.

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The Age of Coal is over. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court doesn’t get that. In fact most of the power plants have already installed the required equipment so what does this ruling even mean?

http://www.alternet.org/environment/us-supreme-court-strikes-down-obamas-epa-limits-air-pollution?sc=fb

Environment

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Obama’s EPA Limits on Air Pollution

Landmark 5-4 decision is major setback for Obama’s efforts to set limits on amount of mercury, arsenic and other toxins coal-fired power plants can spew into air, lakes and rivers.

June 29, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down new rules for America’s biggest air polluters on Monday, dealing a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to set limits on the amount of mercury, arsenic and other toxins coal-fired power plants can spew into the air, lakes and rivers.

The 5-4 decision was a major setback to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and could leave the agency more vulnerable to legal challenges from industry and Republican-led states to its new carbon pollution rules.

It was also a blow to years of local efforts to clean up dangerous air pollution.

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Go there and read. Be prepared to be sad. More next week.

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For an additional punch today…

 

 

I usually post here on Wednesday. Imagine the probability of Earth Day occurring on the same day! So today I offer a more optimistic view of the world then mine. Think: Global Warming.

http://aeon.co/magazine/science/why-extinction-is-not-the-problem/

 

Rethinking extinction

by

The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis

The way the public hears about conservation issues is nearly always in the mode of ‘[Beloved Animal] Threatened With Extinction’. That makes for electrifying headlines, but it misdirects concern. The loss of whole species is not the leading problem in conservation. The leading problem is the decline in wild animal populations, sometimes to a radical degree, often diminishing the health of whole ecosystems.

Viewing every conservation issue through the lens of extinction threat is simplistic and usually irrelevant. Worse, it introduces an emotional charge that makes the problem seem cosmic and overwhelming rather than local and solvable. It’s as if the entire field of human medicine were treated solely as a matter of death prevention. Every session with a doctor would begin: ‘Well, you’re dying. Let’s see if we can do anything to slow that down a little.’

Medicine is about health. So is conservation. And as with medicine, the trends for conservation in this century are looking bright. We are re-enriching some ecosystems we once depleted and slowing the depletion of others. Before I explain how we are doing that, let me spell out how exaggerated the focus on extinction has become and how it distorts the public perception of conservation.

Many now assume that we are in the midst of a human-caused ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ to rival the one that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. But we’re not. The five historic mass extinctions eliminated 70 per cent or more of all species in a relatively short time. That is not going on now. ‘If all currently threatened species were to go extinct in a few centuries and that rate continued,’ began a recent Nature magazine introduction to a survey of wildlife losses, ‘the sixth mass extinction could come in a couple of centuries or a few millennia.’

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Quick not: He favors Nuclear Power

Go there and read. More next week.

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So see if you can follow me on this. Some people see “space travel” as a way to get off this planet. But why would you want to do that? It is a perfectly good planet. I think it is because everyone knows deep down that the way we are treating this planet may ultimately cause its demise. That is why I am ultimately an environmentalist; because I do not believe we can get off this planet. So we humans better change our ways. Why do I believe there will be no space travel for humans. The radiation levels of outer space are too great, the distances too far, and the physical demands too great. Thus I believe in saving energy and creating green energy because I believe it is the only way for our planet to survive. Yet people dream.

http://phys.org/news/2015-03-breakthrough-energy-harvesting-power-life.html

Breakthrough in energy harvesting could power life on Mars

Martian colonists could use an innovative new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide thanks to research pioneered at Northumbria University, Newcastle.  The technique, which has been proven for the first time by researchers at Northumbria, has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

The research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy based on the Leidenfrost effect – a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point. This effect is commonly seen in the way water appears to skitter across the surface of a hot pan, but it also applies to solid carbon dioxide, commonly known as dry ice. Blocks of dry ice are able to levitate above hot surfaces protected by a barrier of evaporated gas vapour. Northumbria’s research proposes using the vapour created by this effect to power an engine. This is the first time the Leidenfrost effect has been adapted as a way of harvesting energy.

The technique has exciting implications for working in extreme and alien environments, such as , where it could be used to make long-term exploration and colonisation sustainable by using naturally occurring solid as a resource rather than a waste product. If this could be realized, then future missions to Mars, such as those in the news recently, may not need to be ‘one-way’ after all.

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Go there and fulfill your fantasy. More next week.

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This is absurd.

 

http://www.sj-r.com/article/20141211/NEWS/141219899/-1/json

 

$137M Ameren rate increase approved

 

By Tim Landis
Business Editor
Posted Dec. 11, 2014 @ 9:05 am
Updated at 9:23 AM

State utility regulators have approved a $137 million rate increase for power-grid upgrades on the Ameren Illinois system.

The 17.4 percent increase in electricity distribution rates, announced Wednesday by the Illinois Commerce Commission, take effect Jan. 1. Commissioners also approved a $245 million increase for system upgrades on the Commonwealth Edison system, serving Chicago and northern Illinois.

Ameren serves 1.2 million electric and 806,000 natural-gas customers in central and southern Illinois.

Commission chairman Doug Scott said in a statement the rates were set under the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, a state law that allowed Ameren and ComEd to recover annual costs for installation of smart grid technology such as high-tech meters, real-time pricing of electricity, more control options for consumers and more accurate energy data.

Scott said commissioners tried to balance the need for network improvements with long-term benefits to ratepayers.

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He killed over 20 people, so I think he needs to die. This is one arrogant son-of-a-bitch.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/11/21/347725.htm

Blankenship Pleads Not Guilty to Charges Linked to Massey Mine Explosion

By Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk | November 21, 2014

Former Massey Energy chief Donald Blankenship pleaded not guilty to charges linked to the West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 workers in the worst U.S. coal industry disaster in almost 40 years.

The former executive, 64, once a powerful figure in the coal industry and state politics, wore a gray business as he stood with four lawyers in federal court in Beckley, West Virginia, and said, “Not guilty.”

Blankenship is accused of hampering regulators’ safety inspections of the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County where the explosion occurred in April 2010.

The judge set a trial for Jan. 26. About 50 spectators were in the courtroom.

If the former chief executive officer is convicted of the four charges, he faces a maximum penalty of 31 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

Blankenship is accused of setting hyper-aggressive coal- production quotas and instructing subordinates to ignore basic safety measures, such as controlling explosive coal dust and providing proper ventilation in the mines

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All these carbon capture systems are just stupid. Generating poisons through industrial processes has never been a good idea. It just generated profits for the rich and the elites. But now with humanity on the line with global warming we have to just give it up. Right now and shift to renewables.

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2014/07/15/nrgs-1b-bet-to-show-how-carbon-capture-could-be-feasible-for-coal-power-plants/

Ucilia Wang

Ucilia Wang, Contributor

NRG’s $1B Bet To Show How Carbon Capture Could Be Feasible For Coal Power Plants

Green Tech|
7/15/2014

NRG Energy NRG -1.28% said Tuesday it’s building a $1 billion project to capture carbon dioxide emissions from a coal power plant in Texas and ship them 82 miles away to help boost an oil field’s production.

The Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project, a joint venture between NRG and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration in Japan, will be the largest in the world to use a process that scrubs away the carbon dioxide after coal has been burned to produce electricity, the companies said.

Carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, would vent into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change if it’s not removed beforehand.

“This project is such a game changer because  it acts like a bridge between the power and oil industry,” said Arun Banskota, president of NRG’s carbon capture group. “Carbon dioxide is something we need to increasingly manage. There is a huge shortage for carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery.”

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I find this article troubling because what you are talking about here is the creation of a substance that only exists on the two gas giants in our solar system. That would be CO3 and that would be on Jupiter and Saturn. Now I have to admit that if the liquid were released from that pressure (in a total failure where it burst to the surface) it would probably convert to CO and CO2 those gases are lethal. And the resultant cloud would kill everything in its path.

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2014/0527/Can-we-hide-carbon-dioxide-underground-Algeria-site-offers-note-of-caution

 

Can we hide carbon dioxide underground? Algeria site offers note of caution.

Scientists want to capture carbon dioxide underground to slow global warming. But a test in Algeria is showing that the sunk CO2 can do some surprising things.

By Staff writer / May 27, 2014

A facility in Algeria that captured carbon dioxide on an industrial scale – and locked it up deep underground – is yielding this lesson for researchers exploring ways to deal with global warming: Select a site with care, because the unexpected can happen.

A new study that aims to explain why sequestered CO2 was moving surprisingly quickly through rock formations beneath In Salah, a natural-gas extraction site in central Algeria. In Salah hosted the second-largest industrial-scale sequestration demonstration project after Norway’s Statoil, which has been conducting a sequestration demonstration at the Sleipner field in the North Sea since 1996.

The new study of In Salah’s effort identifies the injected CO2 itself as a key culprit. The facility was injecting the unwanted greenhouse gas at a rate that boosted the pressure of the CO2 stored in a sandstone formation more than 6,000 feet below the surface

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Go there and read. More next week.

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And if you do not believe me, then go to the links below and read what they say.

http://www.dangersoffracking.com/

http://theweek.com/article/index/261337/more-proof-that-fracking-is-dirtier-than-advertised

As for what I think:

Hydraulic Fracturing is a drilling process that drills oil and gas wells into shale formations and produces what is referred to as “ tight petroleum fluids”. Principally oil and methane. This process begins by drilling a typical vertical well.  The drill bit is then turned to drill horizontally and moves as far as 3 miles. Then the well is cased with concrete and a slurry of liquids are prepared. We will come back to that discussion in a bit because the fluids pumped into the bore hole are very special. Once the drill is extracted it is replaced with special pipe that is flexible enough to make the turn and has holes in it which are temporarily plugged with ping pong ball  like ball bearings. Once that is done, the fluids  are piped down the well under extremely high pressure. These fluids blast the bearings out of the way and the fluids escape from the pipe and pulverizes the surrounding rock. Then the danger of fracking begins. Because of the  physics of pressure, the fluids  which are now in front of the flow of the oil and methane burst back to the surface and must be contained. After that the dangers only grow. These risks include: Pollution risks, Health risks, Death risks and Financial risks.

The health risks are many. The groundwater risks arise from the fracking itself and the type fluids used. The fluids are extremely toxic.  While I can”t say what exactly are in the fluids because the drilling companies refuse to release them, everyone admits that toxics like diesel fuel, hydrochloric acid, silica, and antifreeze are involved.  For a list of the thousand of chemical used please see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_additives_for_hydraulic_fracturing .   Will the fluids remain in the area fracked and will the oil and gas flow towards the well head if other avenues are available? This is something no one can guarantee. If even small amounts of the fracking fluids do not return through the bore hole then ground water contamination is possible and well water contamination is all but guaranteed. Surface contamination comes in the form of produced water contamination on the ground and in the nearby waterways. Many wild catters want to just dump those waters in waste pits or worse yet dump them in larger stream and rivers. Even tank storage is problematic. Transportation to a disposal site risks many types of accidents. I believe that all these fluids should be recycled. They contain radioactive materials, heavy metals and poisons like arsenic. Finally there is air pollution. This come in the form of methane and benzene. Many wild catters want to flare the methane and only deal with the oil. This guarantees that methane will be released and methane is one of the most potent green gases around. Exposure to benzene can be lethal as will be discussed later and will lead to lung damage and many cancers.

Some of the health risks were discussed above but there are a set of studies to be considered. You can find these studies easily online but in their gist they ask the question, “Are children in fracking zones healthy”?  The answer is NO. In general children that live within a ten mile area of fracked wells have many more health problems than children that live farther away. Please see this list for a discussion of benzene on human health – http://www.allenstewart.com/practice-areas/gas-property-damage/chemicals-used-in-fracking/   If that is true then how healthy can the adults be? But fracking is so new that it is hard to tell. I know in my heart that taking that plunge over that cliff is not worth the danger. We need to stop now.

Then there are risks of death to the nearby humans. Is that extreme? Not in the least. The increase in the large truck traffic alone and the attendant violations of trucking laws will destroy roads and lead to a large increase in traffic accidents leading to increases in deaths. And of course there will be deaths directly relating to the increase in drilling activity. Drilling for oil is inherently dangerous and the industry has its own mortality rate. We have already seen large numbers of deaths due to train wrecks involving trains pulling tanker cars holding fracked oil. Because of the trapped gases in fracked oil it is a lot more explosive. Who wants to die a fiery death? While pipeline leaks could have been discussed anywhere, the problems of pipelining unconventional oil are clear. Since the oil must be heated under pressure to physically move through a pipeline, any leak means the oil cools rapidly and latches on to anything in its path. Especially if it falls into water it will not float and it must be dug out of the bottom. Wherever it lands it begins to release its toxic chemicals including the ever present benzene. While no deaths have yet occurred, fracking possess the possibility of causing major calamities. The first are earthquakes. Today there is no doubt that fracking can cause earthquakes. The questions is when will they cause a major one? So far no earthquake caused by fracking has been greater than a 4.5 earthquake, so we continue to pray they stay small. Then there is the question of Bhopal On The Prairie. This was not a concern of mine but many people who live near old coal mines raised it with me at events I attended. They said, “What if they frack near an old coal mine or an old uncapped oil well” both of which Illinois has in abundance? Well the answer is, all the stuff that should go up the nrw well bore hole will spew out into the general environment. If you are anywhere near that the methane will kill you. This is unlikely but just one incident could kill many people.

Ever wonder why oil men refer to their business as a “Boom and Bust” business? It is because of their Financial Risks. These risks are not limited to the investors and the drillers themselves. First and foremost any property owners near these wells will see their property values go to zero and if you hold a mortgage on any such property you will be in debt for a worthless property. There is also a growing push to send the fracked oil and its refined products overseas. This means that oil prices will rise and the cost of gasoline will follow along. But ultimately it is the case that  wildcat fracking is a Ponzi Scheme and that costs investors the most money. Small drillers raise money well by well but when the first one “comes in” they divert some of the profits to the next well which enriches themselves. Because fracked wells have such a short life expectancy (possibly as short as 3 years) eventually the level of those losing money on their investments climb and the driller declares bankruptcy leaving those newest investors holding huge losses. Not only that but it leaves the State of Illinois and individual property owners holding the bag for any damages that remains. This also leads to market manipulation on insider information because the upcoming bankruptcies are an open secret in the oil and gas industry itself.

I must end with a plea for Illinois to stop this. Fracking is nothing but a case of gluttony gone wild. These are not resources we need to exploit now. We could leave these resources for future generations that may need them. But in our general lust for fatter and fatter energy girths we will be looked on by future generations with mortification. Again, shame on everyone in Illinois.

Doug Nicodemus

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Go there and read. More next week in a more timely fashion,

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