Thursday, June 18, 2015

You and Droughts

Things you might want to know when deciding...

...What to eat:

How many gallons of water does it take to make one pound?

  • Beef = 1857 gallons/lb*
  • Sausage = 1382 gallons/lb
  • Pork = 756 gallons/lb
  • Processed Cheese = 589 gallons/lb
  • Chickens = 469 gallons/lb
  • Eggs = 400 gallons/lb
  • Figs = 379 gallons/lb
  • Fresh Cheese = 371 gallons/lb
  • Plums = 193 gallons/lb
  • Cherries = 185 gallons/lb
  • Avacodos = 154 gallons
  • Yogurt = 138 gallons/lb
  • Apples = 84 gallons/lb
  • Grapes = 78 gallons/lb
  • Oranges = 55 gallons/lb
  • Beans = 43 gallons/lb
  • Strawberries = 33 gallons/lb
  • Potatoes = 31 gallons/lb
  • Eggplants = 25 gallons/lb
Eating a burger (without fries) requires 634 gallons of water Just sayin

Where to get your power:

How many gallons of water does it take to generate one Megawatthour?
  • Atomic Generation = 720 gallons/MWh
  • Coal Power Generation = 714 gallons/MWh
  • Natural Gas Generation = 100 gallons/MWh
  • Solar Power Generation = 0 gallons/MWh
  • Wind Power Generation = 0 gallons/MWh
Nuff said.  You figure it out from here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Struggle For Restraint

An Art. A Discipline: Not Lashing Out


Last night I was subjected to verbal malice barely disguised as humor. It was rancorous teasing that took me back to my teens when I was a very short boy (5'1" when I graduated high school).  I found myself once again being a 16 year old unfairly bullied and I came very close to "bitch slapping" my verbal assailant; ready to escalate to greater physical violence.  I knew from my past experience, I could humiliate and possibly hurt this person. My past experiences at being bullied provided me with what I came to call "some ugly habits."

We have entered into an age of aggression. Stephen Hawking fears that human aggression will destroy us (humanity) all. In an era where aggression is not only accepted, but lauded, it becomes more and more difficult to exercise restraint (i.e. to not lash out at anything that makes us uncomfortable.) Hunter S. Thompson, put it succinctly when he said, "we are a land of [300] million used car salesmen all armed with guns and no compunction to use them against anyone who makes us uncomfortable."

Why Here? What Prompted This?

Why write about restraint and aggression in a blog about global warming and population explosion?  Because aggression may very well be part of the underlying root causes of anthropogenic climate change and aggression certainly threatens the well being of humanity.  The way humans aggressively exploit the planet with little care for the near or far future can only be described as "aggression"

What prompted this now was two things.  An article a friend of mine sent me about remember that the Japanese aggression prior to and during World War II and the above mentioned incident.

Acceptance of Aggression

What is most unsettling were my memories of the positive reinforcement for lashing out with physical violence that accompanied my physical violence.   Physical violence thwarted some of the bullying and some of the girls in school found it attractive.  However, in later years, I would find this behavior hampered my growth as a human being.  As a culture we (The US) are seeing the costs of aggression, though many choose not to see those costs:  A quagmire of violence in the Middle East that is expanding globally; and rising brutal police aggression, etc....

Stewing in the Past

What I know from my own experience last night is that my impulse to throw my fists was rooted deeply in the past, consciously and sub-consciously.   Moving away from being that aggressive teen took a concerted effort to not stew about the mistreatment bestowed up on me years ago; a hard journey though many bottles of Jack Daniels.  This stewing in past memories is rife in most of the acute incidences of world aggression:

  • Israel vs Palestine
  • Sunni vs Shi'ites
  • Russians vs Ukrainians
  • ....
Often the past memories are not our own as individuals.  Yet, we as humans seem to cling to them, enjoying the drama of aggression that they bring to us.

Restraint

The time of least global strife came during the years of restraint; those years when we didn't react to the 1st bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.  Or, when we didn't over react to the bombing the Embassy in Libya.  Some were angered that we didn't.  However, note that this epidemic of aggression begin and has been rising since we lashed out at the world with aggression for the second bombing of the World Trade Center.  Since then, aggression has been expanding exponentially.  We frack, pollute, shoot and expect violence to deter violence and forget there was time less than half a century ago when aggression wasn't this rampant.
A time of Restraint

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Too Much to Fix

Fracking, carbon emissions, water pollution, non-degradable plastic, NUCLEAR WASTE.....  the list goes on and on and on.  Too much for us to remember. Too much for us to do to be eco-responsible human beings. Too much!

It's overwhelming!  What should we do?

A New Way of Thinking

Maybe we just need a whole new mindset, a new zeitgeist. One that is less aggressive, more compassionate.  Stephen Hawking believes that human aggression will be then end of humanity  So, rather than try to keep track of each individual action we need to perform to maintain a safe, healthy world ("world" being the whole of the human race), how about we adopt a more compassionate, less competitive zeitgeist; not only in the esoteric aspect of thinking as the planet as a living creature, but toward each other.  What if each of us was less competitive more compassionate toward person we know, we meet in our daily excursions.   What if we were mindful of  acting in benevolent way with each person we met, or knew.   The task of acting in benevolent to the world would be much simpler.

Mindfulness

"Mindfulness" is a word that is used often these days that is quickly becoming a buzz word (trendy). It is actually a shortened version of the ancient Buddhist concept of "Right Mindedness" or "Right Mindfulness" and the 7th part of the Buddha Gautama's Eightfold Path that is 2500 years old.  Buddhist hold that being mindful is being in the present being aware of everything around one.  Sounds so ambiguous and esoteric.

However it is simple.  It may take practice, but it is simple.  For every action you take, be mindful of what the impact might be on someone else, someone you know or someone you never met. Before you consume anything, ask yourself will this create a problem for someone else.   Doing this will require practice in thinking in a more compassionate, less aggressive manner toward everyone.  Perhaps you may even be convinced that you are part of a whole organism like James Lovelocke's Gaia Theory that stipulates that we are all a part of a single self-regulating organism.

It will take a while, but soon you may find yourself acting in such a way that is more beneficial to all of the world, in small increments.  Be mindful of even the simplest acts,  If you live in Chicago, for instance, and leave that light on tonight, will you be adding to the nuclear waste building up in Morris Illinois, from the Dresden Nuclear Power plant that generates nearly half the electric power for Chicago?

What did you just do?  What impact will it have on others?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Immediate Threat

For the last six years since I created this blog, I have focused on carbon footprints and pollution.   It has been messages for the future, care for future generations.  Through no great influence of mine things are changing.   Scotland and Denmark generate enough power from wind and solar to fulfill all their needs. Burlington, Vermont is nearly at that level of power generation from alternative sources. In all this pontification there has been little room to speak about the environmental issue most threatening to people now not a half or a whole generation in the future.

Nuclear Waste

No one will dispute that nuclear radiation is carcinogenic What people don't realize is how much of nuclear waste is laying around. (over 70,000 tons)   No one is really clear on how much cancer is caused by nuclear waste. Reputable studies from Princeton and Stanford University will tell you what you probably already know  from common sense:  The risk is dependent on the amount of exposure and that concentration of radioactivity and time of exposure are factors in the risk off cancer or genetic issues someone might suffer. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets standard for people who work with nuclear materials (medicine, power plants, etc..), but publishes no guidelines that correlates how much radiation exposure causes what kind of cancer So...

The best way to maybe tell is to look at nuclear accidents and resulting incidences of cancer following those.   Chernobyl wracked up several thousand deaths by cancer, 30 people died from acute radiation poisoning and 6000 cases of thyroid cancer.  The impact of the  After a tsunami damaged the Daichi plant at Fukushima the expected expected impact includes 130 deaths by cancer and 180 cancer illnesses with the upper limits rising to over 1300 people dead or stricken over the years.  The VA has compiled a list of diseases related to radiation exposure. There is an International Nuclear Event Scale (INES Level) with 7 levels, level 4 involving at least one death, Level 7 including Chernobyl and the Fukashima explosion.  So we know exposure kills and creates illness, but...

Who is at Risk?

Maybe you are and don't know it.  Hard to tell Correlating illness and death with nuclear incidents has not been studied in depth. In the year after 3 mile Island there was 54% increase in infant deaths, but not attributed by study to the Three Mile Island incident.  The math in a Columbia University did not account correlating observed increases in cancer in the area of 3 Mile Island. The state of New Mexico fined the U.S. Energy Commission $54 mil dollars for the contamination of 13 workers at the only high level radioactive waste sin the country (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant).  All 13 workers have tested positive for contamination, though none high enough to suffer acute radiation exposure sickness.  It may take years to know what effect the exposure had on these 13 workers and so far no assessment has been done to determine exposure levels to local residents.  An ex-nuclear technician who goes by the byline "Amasimp" described the Ten Most Famous deaths by radiation in a blog which includes Chernobyl, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima, but most are results of accidental exposure.  The National Cancer Institute admits from studies that there is a risk of cancer for those who live near a nuclear power plant and describe (in past tense) how people become exposed, but publishes no actual numbers of people who have been afflicted with cancer.  According to The Daily Mail, Dr. Chris Busby conducted a study that shows that people living near a nuclear power plant were five times more likely to develop cancer.  Healthline.com reported a drop of over 4,000 cases of cancer in twenty-years since the closing of a nuclear power plant near Sacramento, California.  Aside from the health threat, there have been eight nuclear power plant incidences resulting in more than $140mil damage for each incident

Are You At Risk?

Do you live near a nuclear power plant or nuclear waste disposal site?  There are 62 active nuclear power plants in the United States.  You can find a list here that includes a map.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission lists four low level waste disposal sites.  There are only two high level waste disposal sites: One at Yucca Mountain, Nevada; the other near Carlsbad, New Mexico.  However, most of the nuclear power plants store high level waste.  According to an assessment done by the Morris [IL] Hospital and Healthcare Center the Morris area had a much higher rate of cancer and death by cancer than the rest of the state of Illinois.  Morris, Illinois is also home of the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant and high level waste repository.

What Should You Do?

Move.  That is the quick solution, because clean up is not going to come quickly at this point.  However, if you have any concern for the near future, then the best bet is to take proactive measure toward alternate, safe energy sources:

What Can You Do?

A good reverse osmosis filter will reduce radioactive levels in your water.  Lining your house and making your own clothes out of aluminum foil isn't practical and I'm sure there are some health issues from too much contact with aluminum. Moving if you find that you are near a site is not a particularly feasible option, and runs the risk of moving closer to another spent fuel repository.

If you feel you are at risk you can contact the EPA's Radiation Protection Division; although if it is discovered that you are at risk, the time it might take to resolve the problem is might make moving and option  
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air
Radiation Protection Division
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
(MC 6608J)
Washington, DC 20460-0001

The Best Solution...

...is a long term solution and it will take a few years to implement, so the sooner alternative sources of energy are implemented the quicker nuclear plants can be decommission.   Contact the White House, your Congressmen, and your Senators and tell them you want wind energy!  Don't waste time on petitions.  Go direct.  Takes no more time than signing an online petition If Denmark7 and Scotland8 can produce 100% of their energy needs from wind, so can we.

Even the birds will be safe...

...with the new wind turbine technology with six times the output reducing costs below that of other wind generators and way below the costs of nuclear power plants, especially maintenance costs:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

On Being Cold Heartedly Selfish

It's not someone else's problem

Before you do something, take some action, commit to some deed, no matter how small or apparently inconsequential do you ever ask yourself, "what impact will my action have on someone I know; family, friend, or lover?"   Can you extend that and ask yourself that same question about people you don't know.

People Around Long After You Are Dead

For instance what about people who will be around in 80 years.  Ever wonder how your carbon footprint, or the pollution you leave behind will impact them? If you are just having kids now, this will be your kids when they are old.  If you have kids that are halfway grown or just having kids, these people will be your grandchildren.  If you kids are having kids this will be your grandchildren's children.  Are they too far removed from you for you to care?  What's statute of limitations on caring: one generation, two generations,  three generations?

Are you drinking out of a Styrofoam cup right now?  Or have you used a Styrofoam container to bring home food since the last time the trash was taken out.  Please take a moment to look at it and know that  it's legacy will be around long after you have been forgotten, long after your grandchildren will be gone.

People Who Live Someplace Else

Let's say you live in Chicago. When you flush the toilet, do you think of Lemont, Lockport or Morris?  They are all all downstream from Chicago's over-taxed water reclamation system, not to mention all the crap that ends up in the rivers that should end up in trash cans.  And when you think of Morris, quaint little poster town for American Gothic, do you think of cancer when you turn on a light switch? Yes! Cancer!  

You Too Can Be Carcinogenic!

Morris is situated right next to the Dresden Nuclear Power plant and almost right on top of the Morris Operation.  Never heard of the Morris Operation?  Well it's the only high level radioactive waste storage facility in the United States.  That's right all of the most highly volatile nuclear waste is shipped to cute little Morris, some of it coming though Chicago.  Dresden power plant generates nearly half of the electric power used in the Chicago Metropolitan area and it's not like the power distribution is parsed out so that some goes here and some goes there.  Next time you frivolously leave a light on think of Morris and Leukemia.
Cute Little Morris, IL

If you don't live in Chicago, these kind of Nuclear waste disposal storage facilities are all over the country.  Click here to see if any are near you. It is a list of power plants cause that is where the largest amount of waste is stored until one of the permanent plants is opened.  If you leave near one of these, consider your cancer risk raised.

What To Do: A New Paradigm For Starters

Start thinking differently. I would contend that being mindful of everyone else in every action is a good place to start and from there work your way into the specifics of solving each problem. Stop thinking that the solution is someone else's business and your responsibility ends with awareness and a public gripe for someone else to take care of the problem.

 It's true that these problems are often created for profit, but that profit is gained only by leveraging our need and addiction to convenience.  There are two tools in your toolbox for creating change: the fact that you are a consumer and money.  Yes money!  It's how the big profiteers exact control and since there are so many of us, we only have to give smaller amounts to our favorite warriors of political change (special interest) the same as the big guys. (See below).  As consumers, we can become educated (Google makes that incredibly easy) about the impact of what we purchase and not purchase that which works against the best interest of us...us being all of us!

Show Them The Money

Below is a list of groups that not only fight against issues, but fight for positive change. Pick your favorite issue and cut a check:

Pro Sustainable Energy Lobbies

Solar Energy Industries Association
American Wind Energy Association

Nuclear Waste Reduction:

Greenpeace
Sierra Club


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lethal Litter (Think Humans)

It couldn't happen to you...could it?

Making a new friend now has me thinking about an environmental issue that I haven't thought much about since I wrote my book in 1990.  However, this issue is not one of those that is going to effect our grandchildren in the Twenty-Second Century.  It's something that effects people now.  It could be effecting you...right now...as you read this.

Radiation Poisoning

Symptoms of radiation poisoning1 can range from the list below to cancer from long term exposure to low doses: Symptoms of high dosage exposure:
  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, and rectum
  • Bloody stool
  • Bruising
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation of exposed areas (redness, tenderness, swelling, bleeding)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Open sores on the skin
  • Skin burns (redness, blistering)
  • Sloughing of skin
  • Ulcers in the esophagus, stomach or intestines
  • Vomiting blood
  • Weakness

How can you contract Radiation Sickness?

There are nine sunken nuclear submarines2 in the Atlantic and the Arctic seas with both nuclear reactor engines and unreclaimed nuclear missiles3. One is just off the coast of Newfoundland.  Do you have a strong enough knowledge of ocean currents to know if you are effected or not?


Lost or damaged nuclear missiles (Broken Arrows) and other nuclear "accidents" has left nuclear litter scattered all over the Northern Hemisphere as detailed in this map (click here).  Much of this litter is above ground and in the US. Do you have a sufficient understanding of wind currents to know if you are at risk?
Spent nuclear fuel (e.g nuclear waste)4 constitutes the highest risk to you.  Since permanent storage at Yucca Mountain has been delayed this waste, (71,780 metric tonnes) is stored all over the United States.  The map shows tonnes by state (Click here for larger version). Do you know how close you live to a temporary storage facility and groundwater movement to determine what risk you may be in?  Keep in mind that 71,780 metric tonnes is equal to  78,021 tons or over 156 million pounds. That's 11 times the weight of the US Capital building. The Nuclear Energy Institutes4> lists sites built for the purpose of temporary storage of spent reactor fuel, but much of the spent fuel is stored onsite at the nuclear power plant

With this much radioactive litter lying around the risks of cancer from long time ionized radiation exposure to spent fuel increases dramatically.  When you look at the list of cancers long term exposure can cause, you can see that often it is cancer attributed to other causes (Maybe, maybe not):

  • Cancers of the bile ducts, bone, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, liver (primary site, but not if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated), lung (including bronchiolo-alveolar cancer), pancreas, pharynx, ovary, salivary gland, small intestine, stomach, thyroid, urinary tract (kidney/renal, pelvis, urinary bladder, and urethra)
  • Leukemia (except chronic lymphocytic leukemia) 
  • Lymphomas (except Hodgkin’s disease) 
  • Multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells)
The NDT (Non Destructive Testing)5 Center which sets exposure safely limits for people working around low level radioactive material such as x-rays, medical materials used in hospitals, etc...) at .5 rem/year doesn't calculate a safety level for someone living for years near a source of ionized nuclear radiation, such as a spent fuel depository. However they do say this:
Current guidelines are based on the conservative assumption that there is no safe level of exposure. In other words, even the smallest exposure has some probability of causing a stochastic effect, such as cancer.
In its website Nuclear Regulatory Commission6 describes the construction of  storage vessels but is remiss in documenting what radiation leakage radiates from pools and casks

What Can You Do?

A good reverse osmosis filter will reduce radioactive levels in your water.  Lining your house and making your own clothes out of aluminum foil isn't practical and I'm sure there are some health issues from too much contact with aluminum. Moving if you find that you are near a site is not a particularly feasible option, and runs the risk of moving closer to another spent fuel repository.

If you feel you are at risk you can contact the EPA's Radiation Protection Division; although if it is discovered that you are at risk, the time it might take to resolve the problem is might make moving and option  

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air
Radiation Protection Division
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
(MC 6608J)
Washington, DC 20460-0001

The Best Solution...

...is a long term solution and it will take a few years to implement, so the sooner alternative sources of energy are implemented the quicker nuclear plants can be decommission.   Contact the White House, your Congressmen, and your Senators and tell them you want wind energy!  Don't waste time on petitions.  Go direct.  Takes no more time than signing an online petition If Denmark7 and Scotland8 can produce 100% of their energy needs from wind, so can we.  

Even the birds will be safe...

...with the new wind turbine technology with six times the output reducing costs below that of other wind generators and way below the costs of nuclear power plants, especially maintenance costs:


Notes:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Yes. The Planet Does NOT Need Saving

The Human Race Does.

I know this is feeding into quibbling between proponents of the anthropogenic aspect of climate change and deniers.  Also, I am aware that  I am once again, preaching to the choir.  Those who believe that the whole plethora of potential and sometimes currently realized danger to the human race grouped under the umbrella of Global Warming will nod their heads in agreement, while Climate Change Deniers will sputter at this in mock.  Nobody's opinion will be changed.

What brings me here to post after a long hiatus from posting1 (Tired of trying to teach pigs to sing) was several discussions in which I participated where people rather flippantly indicated that "the planet" has been taking care of itself for more than 4.5 billion years without needing saving by humans.  One person in such a discussion quoted comedian George Carlin2 as a source, missing the double entendre of his joke.  If you have read any of my previous posts, you would realize that by this point in a post, I would have already quoted statistics like scripture, but have since learned that facts are ineffectual to  changing opinions.  I need to find a muscle-bound man and bikini clad woman in yoga poses to convey my message,  So, here's my rant3...er appeal to sensibilities:

Does this really need explaining?

Evidently, people don't get that "saving the planet" used in the vernacular is a colloquialism for keeping Earth habitable for humans; "saving the planet" means saving the human race.  Even when I titled my book "The Council to Save The Planet"  it had a bit of a tongue-in-cheek double meaning.  The tagline for the book read: "Take care of the Earth before the Earth takes care of you"

The Fatalistic Solipsism of Deniers.

The flippancy of the logic that Earth is on it's own agenda is the first indication of the solipsistic avoidance of personal inconvenience required to reduce carbon footprints, waste that won't decompose, conservational use of water and other resources, etc...  The harsh reality of selfishness of epidemic proportions practiced by climate change deniers come from the projections from the International Panel on Climate Control4 (IPCC) which show that real problems with the current carbon acceleration5 won't become cataclysmic until 2100.  It's not our problem, it won't happen until we are gone.

I don't know about you, I find this lack of compassion for future generations to be appalling selfish to the point of being pathological.  I would have used the term sociopathic, but I'm sure someone would argue that we can't be in society with future generations.  However, we can be compassionate and empathetical to those who will pay the price for our actions. Worse is the fact that those who will be the first to be harmed the most are poor from Third World countries. Now the term sociopath can be invoked to individuals who defer care about those less fortunate than privileged U.S. citizens6.

It's Not Someone Else's Problem

If you think about things blamed for green house emissions (cars, power plants, and manufacturing) there is no way to point the finger at someone else.  These are things that us ordinary individuals (AKA "consumers") leverage for our convenient lifestyles.    We are in control.  We can reduce our use of cars, reducing gas consumption. We can reduce our power consumption8.  We can reduce how much and what we purchase, reducing more power consumption and our output of non-degradable pollution,  We can conserve water9.  Sounds small scale, but multiply what you can do by 300 million and you have massive impact.  Most know how to do this, Global Warming ethicists and activists have pounded this at you for decades.  If not Google each, or look below where I have done it for you.

Rather than demanding that manufacturers give us more sustainable products and technology and that the government regulate those manufacturers to ensure sustainable products, we can change our habits to drive these changes. That is the one beautiful thing about Capitalism. It's really driven from the bottom up. It just means getting past The Cult of Convenience.

A New Zeitgeist

I have discovered that railing about specific practices needed to ensure a sustainable planet for our descendants is not productive.  We all know what we can do.  What's really required is a whole new way of thinking; one that is more mindful of others, alive or yet to be born.  This is tough for most U.S. citizens indoctrinated in the paradigm of rugged individualism (selfishness) .  The Cult of Convenience is rife with entitlement and status by gain, but lacking in empathy

Try this:  As often as you can, before you do something, buy something, throw something away, ask yourself how will this impact others, now or in the future?  A good time might be while you are in yoga class trying to ignore the pain of the Upside Down Flying Dog position.  Trust me, an overall new paradigm of concern for others will do a world of good


Footnotes
(Not only required to make this post look official, but informational also)
  1. Actually I opted for action, by giving money to the strongest pro-ecology lobby in the US The Nature Conservancy
  2. Carlin's opinion as a comedian of course outweighs the opinion of the 800 scientists of the International Panel on Climate Change and NASA
  3. Rant's play better nowadays.
  4. For those of you who are capable of reading more that short paragraphs Click here for the IPCC projections
  5. "Carbon acceleration" refers to the fact that the rate of emissions gases released into the atmosphere is greater than the rate the Earth can turn it back into Oxygen and that rate is accelerating
  6. The US has 3% of the planet's population, yet contributes to 25% of the green house emissions. Only China is higher, but that is only because they have so many more people.  On a person by person basis the Carbon Footprint7 of each Chinese person is 1/4th of each U.S. citizen contributes
  7. Carbon footprint describes all green house emissions released by a particular entity (person, vehicle, factory, power plant) being assessed.  
  8. Reducing your power / electric consumption <--Click
  9. Conserving water <--- Click
You are responsible for the future.