Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Copper Prices Soar: Thefts on the Rise

http://gma.yahoo.com/video/news-26797925/copper-prices-soar-thefts-on-the-rise-27718424.html

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mercury Converted to Its Most Toxic Form in Ocean Waters

University of Alberta-led research has confirmed that a relatively harmless inorganic form of mercury found worldwide in ocean water is transformed into a potent neurotoxin in the seawater itself.



After two years of testing water samples across the Arctic Ocean, the researchers found that relatively harmless inorganic mercury, released from human activities like industry and coal burning, undergoes a process called methylation and becomes deadly monomethylmercury.



Unlike inorganic mercury, monomethylmercury is bio-accumulative, meaning its toxic effects are amplified as it progresses through the food chain from small sea creatures to humans. The greatest exposure for humans to monomethylmercury is through seafood. The researchers believe the methylation process happens in oceans all over the world and that the conversion is carried out by microbial life forms in the ocean.



The research team, led by recent U of A biological sciences PhD graduate Igor Lehnherr, incubated seawater samples collected from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Lehnherr says conversion of inorganic mercury to monomethylmercury accounts for approximately 50 per cent of this neurotoxin present in polar marine waters and could account for a significant amount of the mercury found in Arctic marine organisms. The researchers say this is the first direct evidence that inorganic mercury is methylated in seawater.



The research was published earlier this month online in Nature Geoscience.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427131935.htm



Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't be scared by Toxics this Halloween!

Halloween is only one week away. Get ready for the scary fun in your neighborhood but don't get scared by toxics in your costumes.




Three of our coalition partners have great tips on ways to make this Halloween safe for you and your whole family.

Check them out and share the info with friends and family!





CHEJ.org: PVC, the most toxic plastic for children’s health and the environment, has scared its way into some of our beloved children’s costumes. Even scarier is that many vinyl products are laden with harmful phthalates, endocrine disrupting chemicals banned in toys but widespread in many other vinyl products children come in contact with. Read more..



Mom'sRising.org: "In the grand scheme of holidays, Halloween can be costly, complicated, and not traditionally eco-friendly. Luckily, it is also incredibly, ridiculously easy to makeover. Costumes can be found, faces can be painted, and tricks and treats can be dispensed, all at a low-cost, in a green way. Here’s a Tips Tuesday breakdown on how to detox your Halloween: Read more..



HealthyChild.org: "Looking for ways to have a green & healthy Halloween? Just apply this equation: 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) + 3Gs (good for people, good for planet, good for community) = a green and healthy Halloween!Read more...



Have a HAPPY AND SAFER HALLOWEEN!



We believe everyone should be able to enjoy a safer Halloween this year and every year. ALL consumer products should be free from dangerous toxic chemicals, and we need to grow our community of people who are talking about it.



Please share this on Facebook and Twitter to help all

Thursday, October 20, 2011

U.S. Adults Recognize Need to Recycle Car Batteries More Than Any Other Kind of E-Waste

90% of U.S. Adults Want Car Batteries Recycled in U.S.

Miami, FL, October 20, 2011—In conjunction with the opening of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Annual Conference in Miami, Florida, SLAB Watchdog released the results of its first national survey on the recycling habits and beliefs of U.S. adults.

The survey, which was conducted online on its behalf by Harris Interactive from October 10-12, 2011, surveyed 2,050 U.S. adults on their views and opinions on the recycling of car batteries and other electronic waste in the form of cell phones, televisions, and computers.

The survey showed that by a margin of three to one, American adults recognize the need to recycle a car battery more than any other form of e-waste. The survey also showed overwhelming strength for the idea that car batteries purchased for use in government vehicles with taxpayer money should be recycled domestically instead of sent to foreign recyclers. Some survey highlights: ·


Ninety-five percent believe recycling car batteries is an important way to protect the environment from potentially hazardous materials like lead and battery acid. ·

Eighty two percent agree the car battery recycling industry provides good jobs for American workers. · Ninety percent believe it makes more sense to recycle batteries domestically where stricter regulations better protect workers and the environment. ·

Ninety-three percent of U.S. adults believe car batteries purchased for use in government vehicles with taxpayer money should be recycled domestically instead of sent to foreign recyclers.

For the complete release please click on this link http://bit.ly/o960h4 or go to the News section of http://www.slabwatchdog.com/

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Elouise Cobell dies at 65; Native American activist

Elouise Cobell was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that accused the federal government of cheating Native Americans in its management of Indian land, resulting in a record $3.4-billion settlement.




Elouise Cobell was the treasurer of the Blackfeet tribe who tenaciously pursued a lawsuit that accused the federal government of cheating Native Americans out of more than a century's worth of royalties. (Louis Sahagun / Los Angeles Times)



Elouise Cobell, the treasurer of the Blackfeet tribe who tenaciously pursued a lawsuit that accused the federal government of cheating Native Americans out of more than a century's worth of royalties, resulting in a record $3.4-billion settlement, has died. She was 65.



Cobell died Sunday at a hospital in Great Falls, Mont., of complications from cancer, her spokesman Bill McAllister announced.



Growing up on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwest Montana, Cobell often heard her parents and neighbors wonder why they weren't being paid for allowing others to use their land, she later recalled.



When she took over as treasurer of the tribe in 1976 she found herself in charge of an accounting system "in total chaos," she told The Times in 2002.



As Cobell attempted to unravel the books, she could make neither "hide nor hair of the trust accounts," she later said, referring to trusts that had been set up as part of the 1887 Dawes Act.



The act tried to erode the tribal system by granting parcels of land to individual Native Americans, but not allowing them to control their new property. Instead, the land was placed in trust with the promise that owners would be paid royalties for oil and gas, grazing or recreational leases.



Yet the Indians received little or no payment, The Times reported in 2009.



Cobell approached the Boulder, Colo.-based Native American Rights Fund about filing a class-action lawsuit against the Interior and Treasury departments, and she was named as lead plaintiff when the suit was filed in 1996. The suit contended that the Dawes Act arrangement allowed U.S. officials to systematically steal and squander royalties intended for Native Americans.



"It's just such a wrong that if I didn't do something about it I'm as criminal as the government," Cobell told the Associated Press in 1999.



Just this June, a federal judge approved the $3.4-billion settlement, the largest payment Native Americans have ever received from the U.S. government.



It provides a $1,000 cash payment to every individual who has a trust account and $2 billion for the federal government to buy back the land parcels, The Times reported when the settlement was reached in 2009. Cobell was to receive $2 million, according to the AP.



In deciding whether to accept the settlement, Cobell said she had to weigh the possibility of winning a greater sum against a harsh reality. The plaintiffs had estimated they were owed as much as $47 billion.



"Time takes a toll, especially on elders living in abject poverty," Cobell said in a 2009 Times interview. "Many of them died as we continued to struggle to settle this suit. Many more would not survive long to see a financial gain, if we had not settled now."



One of eight children, she was born Elouise Pepion on Nov. 5, 1945, on the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, Mont. Her parents owned a 200-acre ranch.



After high school, she attended Great Falls Commercial College and Montana State University in Bozeman but had to leave school after two years to care for her dying mother.



In 1968, Cobell moved to Seattle and worked in the accounting department of a television station. She also met her future husband, Alvin Cobell, a fisherman and fellow member of the Blackfeet tribe.



When her father asked her to come home to help run the struggling family ranch, she returned to the reservation. She had missed the community and the land, Cobell later said.



"Once we got on that ranch, there was no going back," Cobell told the AP. "We just wanted to make sure we held on to our land."



In 1987 Cobell helped found Blackfeet National Bank, the first bank established by a Native American tribe on a reservation.



A decade later she received a $300,000 "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation. Surprised by the windfall, she donated most of the money to the class-action suit's legal defense fund.



The cause also received a $4-million assist from businessman J. Patrick Lannan Jr. and his New Mexico-based Lannan Foundation.



"There was something about her that really impressed us," Lannan told The Times in 2002. "I guess it was her ability to describe what it's been like to be an Indian in this sort of thing."



In a 2000 tribal ritual, Cobell was declared a warrior of the Blackfeet Nation and presented with an eagle feather, an honor reserved in modern times almost exclusively for U.S. military veterans.



Cobell is survived by her husband, Alvin; son, Turk; brother Dale Pepion; sisters Julene Kennerly, Joy Ketah and Karen Powell; and two grandchildren.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Throwing trash all in one bin works in some cities

At a so-called dirty mixed-waste materials recovery facility, equipment and workers separate paper, glass, plastic, metal and other commodities so residents don't have to sort them into different bins.


It's called mixed waste processing, and it's an alternative way some cities have tried to increase recycling rates. (Ignácio Costa)


When South Pasadena homeowners recycle, it's as easy as throwing their tuna cans and soda bottles into the trash can along with their food scraps and meat wrappers. It's called mixed waste processing, and it's an alternative way some cities have tried to increase recycling rates.



In 2000, just 6% of South Pasadena's single-family residential waste was being recycled under a voluntary program that had residents sort recycling into a separate container. That percentage shot up to 25% in 2001 after the city decided to let waste and recycling go into one bin bound for a so-called dirty MRF, or mixed-waste materials recovery facility, where sorting equipment and trained workers separate paper, glass, plastic, metal and other commodities on the back end instead of the front.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Why recycling in Los Angeles is so confusing

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"We didn't do well with the volunteer system. All the recyclables that went into the trash can were being missed," said South Pasadena public works assistant Diana Harder. "Now the recycling program is automatic. Residents don't have to worry about it."



Nor do they have to pay extra. Single-family households pay $36.49 monthly for the service, about the same as single-family residents in L.A.



The stakes have been high since 1990, when California instituted AB 939, a law that required municipalities to reduce the amount of waste taken to landfills by 25% by 1995 and 50% by 2000 or be fined $10,000 a day. Recycling wasn't mandated, but the law prompted cities to institute source-separation programs similar to the one in effect in L.A., where residents are provided separate bins for green waste, trash and recycling.



"We all started the same way with a two- or three-crate system for newspaper, glass and plastic food and beverage containers. That was it," said Dennis Chiappetta, executive vice president of Athens Services, a waste collection, recycling and disposal company based in the City of Industry that serves 19 cities, including Riverside, West Hollywood and South Pasadena. For all the work that residents did, less than 5% of residential waste was diverted from landfills in 1990, he said.



Now, about 40% of what's put in a mixed-waste bin is recycled, Chiappetta said. With yard clippings separated into a green waste bin, landfill diversion in the cities that Athens services rises to at least 50%, and sometimes almost 80%, he said.



CalRecycle, the state agency responsible for regulating disposal and recycling in California, does not keep track of how many cities process their recyclables as mixed waste. But cities of radically different demographic stripes, from West Covina to Beverly Hills, have adopted the approach.



The latter used to ask its residents to sort recyclables into separate bins, but it switched to mixed-waste processing in 2004. Just 13% of Beverly Hills' waste was recycled in 1995. Now the city has a recycling rate of 35% and an overall landfill diversion rate of 78%.



Still, not everyone agrees that mixed-waste processing is a better system. Critics say higher rates of contamination can decrease the value of the recycled materials. The L.A. Bureau of Sanitation prefers its blue-bin system because contaminated materials such as soiled paper cost more to manage, transport and ultimately deposit in a landfill, a spokesman said.



"It's something we grapple with," said Coby Skye, a civil engineer with the environmental programs division of the L.A. County Department of Public Works, which implements the county's recycling program. "It's a trade-off between contamination and participation. The benefit of having everything go in one bin is you have 100% participation whether people want to recycle or not, or whether they know what goes in the right bin or not."


http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-dirty-mrf-20110813,0,971510.story


Target commits to 100% sustainable, traceable fish by 2015


The second largest discount retailer in the U.S. announced Thursday that it will sell only sustainable, traceable fish by 2015. Minneapolis-based Target Corp. operates 1,762 stores, many of which are converting to incorporate PFresh markets that sell fresh and frozen foods, including fish.



In 2010, Target stopped selling farmed salmon, Chilean sea bass and orange roughy due to various sustainability issues. It currently sells 50 different brands of fish certified by either the Marine Stewardship Council or the Global Aquaculture Alliance.



"We thought this larger commitment to fully eliminate anything that's not certified by 2015 would be the right thing to do to encourage our guests to make the right decisions," said Shawn Gensch, vice president of marketing for Target's sustainability initiatives.



Target is partnering with the nonprofit marine conservation group FishWise to reach its sustainability goals. According to FishWise executive director Tobias Aguirre, the group will assess all Target seafood products with vendor surveys to understand how the seafood is caught or farmed and will evaluate the environmental impacts associated with each product.



Aguirre said the fish species with the largest such impacts include big eye tuna caught with 50-mile fishing lines that snag high levels of unintended catch, including sharks, turtles and sea birds, and farm-raised shrimp that may have contact with natural bodies of water and spread disease.



Tracing Target's fish from the water to the store is likely to be more difficult because "there is no national traceability policy and the seafood supply chains are incredibly complex," Aguirre said. Supplier audits and a tracking system are among the tools FishWise plans to implement in partnership with Target.



The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently have a seafood tracking database. Just 2% of the seafood eaten in the United States is inspected, according to a seafood fraud report issued earlier this year by the Washington, D.C.-based international ocean advocacy group, Oceana.



RELATED:



Fish often mislabeled as wild salmon or red snapper, report finds



Gov. Jerry Brown signs shark fin ban, sparks protest



Genetically engineered salmon must be labeled



-- Susan Carpenter



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mercury Converted to Its Most Toxic Form in Ocean Waters

University of Alberta-led research has confirmed that a relatively harmless inorganic form of mercury found worldwide in ocean water is transformed into a potent neurotoxin in the seawater itself.


---------------------------------------------------------------------




•After two years of testing water samples across the Arctic Ocean, the researchers found that relatively harmless inorganic mercury, released from human activities like industry and coal burning, undergoes a process called methylation and becomes deadly monomethylmercury.



Unlike inorganic mercury, monomethylmercury is bio-accumulative, meaning its toxic effects are amplified as it progresses through the food chain from small sea creatures to humans. The greatest exposure for humans to monomethylmercury is through seafood. The researchers believe the methylation process happens in oceans all over the world and that the conversion is carried out by microbial life forms in the ocean.



The research team, led by recent U of A biological sciences PhD graduate Igor Lehnherr, incubated seawater samples collected from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Lehnherr says conversion of inorganic mercury to monomethylmercury accounts for approximately 50 per cent of this neurotoxin present in polar marine waters and could account for a significant amount of the mercury found in Arctic marine organisms. The researchers say this is the first direct evidence that inorganic mercury is methylated in seawater.



The research was published earlier this month online in Nature Geoscience.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427131935.htm



Saturday, October 8, 2011

Baby Mia Baptism 10/8/2011 St Catherines, Laguna Beach CA

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Baby Mia 2011 Baptism

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Baby Mia 2011 Baptism

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Hazardous







Hazardous waste is just that – hazardous. Many states require that this type of waste is processed and disposed properly. The hazardous waste that you generate is often distinguished as household hazardous waste, or HHW, because industrial hazardous waste is handled in a different manner. Many cities have HHW facilities where you can drop off and pick up safe materials so they don’t end up in the landfill.





Find your local disposal

solution for HHW







Does Gasoline Go Bad?

BARRY ASKED: I received a call from my friend who was cleaning out his garage and came across an old can that had gasoline in it that was likely several years old and spoiled if gasoline spoils. How does he properly dispose of the gasoline and what should he do with the container?



WE FOUND THE ANSWER: It’s true. Gasoline does have an expiration date. Most ethanol-blend fuels have a shelf life of about three months, so chances are that your friend’s gasoline is definitely unusable… in his car that is.



This is because ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning that it will absorb … read more

http://earth911.com/recycling/hazardous/

Friday, September 30, 2011

Orange County city highlights 'green' lifestyle

The city of Aliso Viejo is in the midsts of a series of workshops designed to implement sustainable living practices.




The latest Aliso Viejo Green City Initiative workshop is set for Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at Aliso Viejo City Hall, 12 Journey.



The goal is to increase energy efficiency, and reduce energy, water consumption and waste stream flow.



The meeting continues the fall series of workshops that focus on "implementation strategies" for incorporating sustainable living practices into part of our daily lives. The discussion will center on vehicle management and transportation.



For more information, contact Director of Planning Services Albert Armijo at (949) 425-2527. Information about the initiative is also available at http://www.cityofalisoviejo.com.



Yellowstone grizzly bear euthanized for "predatory behaviors"



Southwestern pond turtle making a comeback in San Diego County



Agency seeks to end sea otter relocations, to allow them off SoCal





—Jamie Rowe, Times Community News



Friday, September 23, 2011

In China, what you eat tells who you are

In a nation reeling from tainted-food scandals, organic products are mostly reserved for the rich and political elite. Chinese government officials have exclusive suppliers, who do not advertise.


Organic vegetables grow behind a 6-foot fence at the Beijing Customs Administration Vegetable Base and Country Club. “Ordinary people can’t go in there,” a neighbor says. (Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times / September 17, 2011)


Reporting from Beijing— At a glance, it is clear this is no run-of-the-mill farm: A 6-foot spiked fence hems the meticulously planted vegetables and security guards control a cantilevered gate that glides open only to select cars.



"It is for officials only. They produce organic vegetables, peppers, onions, beans, cauliflowers, but they don't sell to the public," said Li Xiuqin, 68, a lifelong Shunyi village resident who lives directly across the street from the farm but has never been inside. "Ordinary people can't go in there."



Until May, a sign inside the gate identified the property as the Beijing Customs Administration Vegetable Base and Country Club. The placard was removed after a Chinese reporter sneaked inside and published a story about the farm producing organic food so clean the cucumbers could be eaten directly from the vine.



Elsewhere in the world, this might be something to boast about. Not in China. Organic gardening here is a hush-hush affair in which the cleanest, safest products are largely channeled to the rich and politically connected.



Many of the nation's best food companies don't promote or advertise. They don't want the public to know that their limited supply is sent to Communist Party officials, dining halls reserved for top athletes, foreign diplomats, and others in the elite classes. The general public, meanwhile, dines on foods that are increasingly tainted or less than healthful — meats laced with steroids, fish from ponds spiked with hormones to increase growth, milk containing dangerous additives such as melamine, which allows watered-down milk to pass protein-content tests.



"The officials don't really care what the common people eat because they and their family are getting a special supply of food," said Gao Zhiyong, who worked for a state-run food company and wrote a book on the subject.



In China, the tegong, or special supply, is a holdover from the early years of Communist rule, when danwei, work units of state-owned enterprises, raised their own food and allocated it based on rank. "The leaders wanted to make sure they had enough to eat and that nobody poisoned their food," said Gao.



In the 1950s, Soviet advisors helped the Chinese set up a food procurement department under the security apparatus to supply and inspect food for the leadership, according to a biography of Mao Tse-tung written by his personal physician. Lower levels of officialdom were divided into 25 gradations of rank that determined the quantity and quality of rations.



In modern-day China, it is the degradation of the environment and a limited supply of healthful food that is fueling the parallel food system for the elite.



"We flash forward 50 years and we see the only elements of China society getting food that is reliable, safe and free of contaminants are those cadres who have access to the special food supply," said Phelim Kine of the Hong Kong office of Human Rights Watch.



In the capital, special supply farms are located near the airport, home to wealthier expatriates and many international schools, and to the northwest, beyond the miasma of pollution emanating from the overcrowded, traffic-choked central city.



In the western foothills, the exclusive Jushan farm first developed to supply Mao's private kitchen still operates under the auspices of the state-run Capital Agribusiness Group, providing food for national meetings. A state-owned company, the Beijing 2nd Commercial Bureau, says on its website that it "supplies national banquets and meetings, which have become the cradle of safe food in Beijing."



The State Council, China's highest administrative body, has its own supplier of delicacies, down to salted duck eggs.



"We have supplied them for almost 20 years," said a spokesman at the offices of Weishanhu Lotus Foods, in Shandong province. "Our product cannot be bought in an ordinary supermarket as our volume of production is very little."



Organic farmers say they face pressure to sell their limited output to official channels.



"The local government would like us to give more products to officials and work units, but we think it is important that individuals can enjoy our product," said Wang Zhanli, whose organic dairy in Yanqing, just beyond the most frequented tourist sections of the Great Wall, received certification in 2006.



At his Green Yard dairy, the technology is imported from Holland. The cows graze on grass free of pesticides and are milked in a sterile barn by women in white caps who look more like laboratory aides than milkmaids.



On their organic diet, the cows produce about half the volume of conventional dairy cows, meaning that the supply is never enough, especially since the 2008 scandal in which tainted milk left six Chinese babies dead and sickened 300,000 people. Managers at the dairy say about two-thirds of their product goes to officials, state-owned enterprises, embassies and international schools. A limited quantity is sold at diplomatic compunds and a few select health food stores at prices nearly triple that for regular milk.



"We're not Switzerland. Our population is way too big for everybody to eat organic food," said Hou Xuejun, general manager of the Green Yard dairy.



Sunday, September 18, 2011

China Consolidates Grip on Rare Earths

BEIJING — In the name of fighting pollution, China has sent the price of compact fluorescent light bulbs soaring in the United States.




By closing or nationalizing dozens of the producers of rare earth metals — which are used in energy-efficient bulbs and many other green-energy products — China is temporarily shutting down most of the industry and crimping the global supply of the vital resources.



China produces nearly 95 percent of the world’s rare earth materials, and it is taking the steps to improve pollution controls in a notoriously toxic mining and processing industry. But the moves also have potential international trade implications and have started yet another round of price increases for rare earths, which are vital for green-energy products including giant wind turbines, hybrid gasoline-electric cars and compact fluorescent bulbs.



General Electric, facing complaints in the United States about rising prices for its compact fluorescent bulbs, recently noted in a statement that if the rate of inflation over the last 12 months on the rare earth element europium oxide had been applied to a $2 cup of coffee, that coffee would now cost $24.55.



An 11-watt G.E. compact fluorescent bulb — the lighting equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb — was priced on Thursday at $15.88 on Wal-Mart’s Web site for pickup in a Nashville, Ark., store.



Wal-Mart, which has made a big push for compact fluorescent bulbs, acknowledged that it needed to raise prices on some brands lately. “Obviously we don’t want to pass along price increases to our customers, but occasionally market conditions require it,” Tara Raddohl, a spokeswoman, said. The Chinese actions on rare earths were a prime topic of conversation at a conference here on Thursday that was organized by Metal-Pages, an industry data firm based in London.



Soaring prices are rippling through a long list of industries.



“The high cost of rare earths is having a significant chilling effect on wind turbine and electric motor production in spite of offsetting government subsidies for green tech products,” said one of the conference attendees, Michael N. Silver, chairman and chief executive of American Elements, a chemical company based in Los Angeles. It supplies rare earths and other high-tech materials to a wide range of American and foreign businesses.



But with light bulbs, especially, the timing of the latest price increases is politically awkward for the lighting industry and for environmentalists who backed a shift to energy-efficient lighting.



In January, legislation that President George W. Bush signed into law in 2007 will begin phasing out traditional incandescent bulbs in favor of spiral compact fluorescent bulbs, light-emitting diodes and other technologies. The European Union has also mandated a switch from incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient lighting.



Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is running for the Republican presidential nomination on a platform that includes strong opposition to the new lighting rules in the United States and has been a leader of efforts by House Republicans to repeal it.



China says it has largely shut down its rare earth industry for three months to address pollution problems. By invoking environmental concerns, China could potentially try to circumvent international trade rules that are supposed to prohibit export restrictions of vital materials.



In July, the European Union said in a statement on rare earth policy that the organization supported efforts to protect the environment, but that discrimination against foreign buyers of rare earths was not allowed under World Trade Organization rules.



China has been imposing tariffs and quotas on its rare earth exports for the last several years, curtailing global supplies and forcing prices to rise eightfold to fortyfold during that period for the various 17 rare earth elements.



Even before this latest move by China, the United States and the European Union were preparing to file a case at the W.T.O. this winter that would challenge Chinese export taxes and export quotas on rare earths.



Chinese officials here at the conference said the government was worried about polluted water, polluted air and radioactive residues from the rare earth industry, particularly among many small and private companies, some of which operate without the proper licenses. While rare earths themselves are not radioactive, they are always found in ore containing radioactive thorium and require careful handling and processing to avoid contaminating the environment.



Most of the country’s rare earth factories have been closed since early August, including those under government control, to allow for installation of pollution control equipment that must be in place by Oct. 1, executives and regulators said.



The government is determined to clean up the industry, said Xu Xu, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, a government-controlled group that oversees the rare earth industry. “The entrepreneurs don’t care about environmental problems, don’t care about labor problems and don’t care about their social responsibility,” he said. “And now we have to educate them.”



Beijing authorities are creating a single government-controlled monopoly, Bao Gang Rare Earth, to mine and process ore in northern China, the region that accounts for two-thirds of China’s output. The government is ordering 31 mostly private rare earth processing companies to close this year in that region and is forcing four other companies into mergers with Bao Gang, said Li Zhong, the vice general manager of Bao Gang Rare Earth.



The government also plans to consolidate 80 percent of the production from southern China, which produces the rest of China’s rare earths, into three companies within the next year or two, Mr. Li said. All three of these companies are former ministries of the Chinese government that were spun out as corporations, and the central government still owns most of the shares.



The taxes and quotas China had in place to restrict rare earth exports caused many companies to move their factories to China from the United States and Europe so that they could secure a reliable and inexpensive source of raw materials.



China promised when it joined the W.T.O. in 2001 that it would not restrict exports except for a handful of obscure materials. Rare earths were not among the exceptions.



But even if the W.T.O. orders China to dismantle its export tariffs and quotas, the industry consolidation now under way could enable China to retain tight control over exports and continue to put pressure on foreign companies to relocate to China.



The four state-owned companies might limit sales to foreign buyers, a tactic that would be hard to address through the W.T.O., Western trade officials said.



Hedge funds and other speculators have been buying and hoarding rare earths this year, with prices rising particularly quickly through early August, and dipping since then as some have sold their inventories to take profits, said Constantine Karayannopoulos, the chief executive of Neo Material Technologies, a Canadian company that is one of the largest processors in China of raw rare earths.



“The real hot money got into the industry building neodymium and europium inventories in Shanghai warehouses,” he said.


http://finance.yahoo.com/news/China-Consolidates-Grip-on-nytimes-2650144197.html?x=0&.v=1

Friday, September 16, 2011

Marine is awarded rare Medal of Honor at White House

Cpl. Dakota L. Meyer of Kentucky defied orders and braved enemy fire in Afghanistan to save his comrades.



President Obama applauds Dakota Meyer after awarding him the Medal of Honor. “I’d rather have all my guys here now than receive the medal,” the 23-year-old Kentuckian said of comrades killed in Afghanistan. (Alex Wong, Getty Images / September 16, 2011)





Reporting from Washington— The desperate call crackled over the radio in predawn darkness: A small team of American and Afghan troops was pinned down in a remote village under withering fire from three sides. A young lieutenant was begging for artillery or air support. Without it, he yelled, "we are going to die out here."



Can't be done, came the reply. It might kill civilians.



Less than a mile away, Marine Cpl. Dakota L. Meyer heard the radio exchange in agony. His buddies were dying, yet Meyer was under orders to stay where he was. Four times he requested permission to go to their aid, and four times he was refused.



After two hours, Meyer decided to defy his superiors. The powerfully built 21-year-old with a soft Kentucky drawl climbed into the turret of a gun truck mounted with a .50-caliber machine gun and, with another Marine driving, raced toward the battle.



On Thursday, Meyer was at the White House to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, for saving the lives of 36 combatants — 13 Americans and 23 Afghans — and personally killing at least eight Taliban fighters that day, Sept. 8, 2009. He is the first living Marine to receive the award since the Vietnam War.



Meyer, now 23, stood at attention in dress uniform as President Obama recounted what happened in the village of Ganjigal in Afghanistan's Kunar province.



"He drove straight into the line of fire with his head and upper body exposed," Obama said, describing how Meyer and the other Marine went toward the sound of the guns. "They were defying orders, but they were doing what they thought was right."



As Obama prepared to fasten the medal around his neck, Meyer stared toward the ceiling at the back of the room, as if recalling the events of two years ago, a day Meyer calls the worst of his life.



"I'd rather have all my guys here now than receive the medal," Meyer, now a construction worker back home in Kentucky, told CNN. He wears the names of four fallen comrades he could not save on his wrist, engraved on a silver bracelet.



Obama said Meyer had initially refused to take his call about the award because he was working, saying, "If I don't work, I don't get paid." But at Meyer's request, the president shared a beer with the former Marine on Wednesday evening outside the Oval Office.



Trained as a sniper, Meyer volunteered to go to Afghanistan in 2009 because he wanted to see action. His unit, the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment based in Hawaii, was deploying to Iraq, but Meyer had already done a tour there two years earlier and found it too quiet for his tastes. In Afghanistan, he would be part of a sniper team assigned to a unit training Afghan forces in Kunar province, a remote and rugged area near the Pakistan border.



"The main reason I went is because I wanted to fight," he later told the Marine Corps Times.



He'd joined the service to prove a point. In 2006, he'd told a Marine recruiter that he hoped to play college football. "Yeah, that's what I would do, because there's no way you could be a Marine," the recruiter responded, according to the Associated Press. Meyer walked away — but returned five minutes later to enlist.



On the day of the ambush, four Marines from a training team accompanied two platoons of Afghan army soldiers and border police to Ganjigal for what they thought was a meeting with village elders about helping to rebuild a mosque.



But as they entered the village near sunrise, all the lights went out and gunfire erupted as 50 insurgents in houses and in the hills above opened fire.



Once Meyer and the other Marine decided to disobey orders to stay away, it took nearly 10 minutes for the gun truck driver, Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, to navigate down a steep, dry riverbed to the village of stone and mud houses at the far end of a valley. They had driven straight into the "kill zone," according to a Pentagon account of their actions. Bullets were bouncing off the vehicle.



Seeing Afghan soldiers lying on the ground, Meyer jumped out and began carrying the wounded to the vehicle, gunfire raging around him, the account said. After Meyer had loaded five men, Rodriguez-Chavez turned the Humvee around and drove out of the village to a casualty collection point, where the wounded could be picked up by a medevac helicopter.



They switched to an undamaged Humvee and returned to the village. Maneuvering in the riverbed, Rodriguez-Chavez called out that they might get stuck. "I guess we'll die with them," Meyer called back from the turret, according to the Pentagon account.



Many of the Afghan soldiers were wounded, allowing the attackers to concentrate their fire on the vehicle carrying Meyer. On his third trip back to the village, he was wounded in the arm by a rocket-propelled grenade.



Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't Bury Your Technotrash

Your electronic castoffs could be someone else's e-treasure.






"E-waste" is the fastest- growing source of consumer trash. But don't dump your old computers, cell phones and other devices in a landfill. Your trash could be someone else's treasure.



Sell It.



Buyers at eBay and Amazon.com are always looking for deals. Mike Hadad, owner of an iSold It outlet in Gaithersburg, Md., says he sells most of the electronics he gets on eBay, but he tends to place new or nearly new items on Amazon, where they usually fetch a higher price. Anyone can become a seller on eBay or Amazon. If you don't want the hassle of listing and shipping your items, find an online trading assistant at http://ebaytradingassistant.com. ISold It franchises usually take about a third of the sale price.



Capstone Wireless buys back all varieties of cell phones, as long as they power up and have a good LCD display. Gazelle.com buys more than 20 categories of electronics. Apple offers a gift card in exchange for reusable Apple computers.



Donate It.



ReCellular resells phones it can find buyers for and recycles the rest. Give desktop computers and peripherals to the National Cristina Foundation and the World Computer Exchange.



To establish the value of donated items, use Its Deductible (free at www.turbotax.com). To clear your computer's hard drive, use a free disk-wiping product, such as Active@KillDisk or Darik's Boot and Nuke.



Recycle It.



Some retailers and many manufacturers take back electronics for recycling or resale. Best Buy stores accept most electronics. Staples stores take personal electronics (such as PDAs, cell phones and digital cameras) free but charge $10 to take back office electronics. Call2Recycle picks up cell phones and rechargeable batteries from many locations, including Radio Shack and Home Depot stores (to find the nearest drop-off location, visit www.call2recycle.org).



For manufacturers' take-back programs, visit the Web site of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. Dell partners with Staples and Goodwill to collect Dell products in their stores. To find other places to recycle electronics, visit www.earth911.com and search by zip code. Of course, you can always give your e-trash away to someone who wants it. Join your local Freecycle group.

by Pat Mertz Esswein


Monday, September 12, 2011

http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/113467/dont-bury-electronic-trash-kiplinger




___

Saturday, September 3, 2011

South Carolina’s Leftover Food Will Soon Go Here

Like the proposed Columbia plant, this anaerobic-digestion facility - funded through the UK's Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and operated at a family-owned dairy in Devonshire, England - uses local organic waste to produce both electricity and soil additives that are used on the farm. Photo: WRAP, wrap.org.uk

 


Food waste from University of South Carolina cafeterias and other homes and businesses in Columbia, S.C. won’t be headed to the landfill for long.

 

Waste 2 Energy (W2E) LLC, a local start-up co-founded by city councilmember at-large Dan Rickenmann, announced this week that it has received the funds to build a $25 million anaerobic-digestion facility in the region.

The 48,000-ton facility will accept all forms of organic waste from the Columbia area and convert it into electricity by utilizing anaerobic bacteria.

Unlike the aerobic bacteria that typically break down waste in landfills, anaerobic bacteria can digest organic waste in the absence of oxygen – meaning plant operators can produce and extract methane in a completely sealed environment without fear of fugitive emissions.

Converting methane produced from the decomposition of organic waste is steadily growing in popularity – thanks in part to the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), which provides assistance to landfills that are good candidates for methane extraction.

But some environmentalists express concern that extracting methane from landfills for energy – called landfill gas-to-energy or LFGTE – may lead to excess methane seeping out into the atmosphere.

READ: Is Landfill Gas-To-Energy a Good Idea?

Proponents of anaerobic-digestion facilities, which have already been operated successfully in Europe, claim the technology solves the fugitive emissions problem by capturing 100 percent of all methane generated during decomposition.

While anaerobic-digestion facilities usually carry a much heavier price-tag than converting landfill methane to energy, the process is said to be much more efficient.

Even the most efficient landfill gas-to-energy systems only claim to capture about 90 percent of the methane produced in a given landfill.

The Columbia facility will use Eisenmann Corporation’s Biogas-GW technology to extract the most methane possible from decomposing waste, while separating unwanted contaminants and keeping the plant safe for the surrounding environment and human health.

Representatives from W2E LLC said construction will begin by the end of the year and expect the plant to be fully operational in 2012. In addition to providing electricity to the local grid, the digestion process will produce soil additives that will be used by local farmers.

Funding for the plant was acquired through the partnership with Eisenmann and additional funding provided by Chicago-based Ciycor LLC.

The plant will be the first of four W2E-operated anaerobic digestors in the Southeast, according to the firm.

Posted via email from eWaste Disposal and Recycling

South Carolina’s Leftover Food Will Soon Go Here






Like the proposed Columbia plant, this anaerobic-digestion facility - funded through the UK's Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and operated at a family-owned dairy in Devonshire, England - uses local organic waste to produce both electricity and soil additives that are used on the farm. Photo: WRAP, wrap.org.uk



Find your local recycling

solution for organic waste



Food waste from University of South Carolina cafeterias and other homes and businesses in Columbia, S.C. won’t be headed to the landfill for long.



Waste 2 Energy (W2E) LLC, a local start-up co-founded by city councilmember at-large Dan Rickenmann, announced this week that it has received the funds to build a $25 million anaerobic-digestion facility in the region.



The 48,000-ton facility will accept all forms of organic waste from the Columbia area and convert it into electricity by utilizing anaerobic bacteria.



Unlike the aerobic bacteria that typically break down waste in landfills, anaerobic bacteria can digest organic waste in the absence of oxygen – meaning plant operators can produce and extract methane in a completely sealed environment without fear of fugitive emissions.



Converting methane produced from the decomposition of organic waste is steadily growing in popularity – thanks in part to the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), which provides assistance to landfills that are good candidates for methane extraction.



But some environmentalists express concern that extracting methane from landfills for energy – called landfill gas-to-energy or LFGTE – may lead to excess methane seeping out into the atmosphere.



READ: Is Landfill Gas-To-Energy a Good Idea?



Proponents of anaerobic-digestion facilities, which have already been operated successfully in Europe, claim the technology solves the fugitive emissions problem by capturing 100 percent of all methane generated during decomposition.



While anaerobic-digestion facilities usually carry a much heavier price-tag than converting landfill methane to energy, the process is said to be much more efficient.



Even the most efficient landfill gas-to-energy systems only claim to capture about 90 percent of the methane produced in a given landfill.



The Columbia facility will use Eisenmann Corporation’s Biogas-GW technology to extract the most methane possible from decomposing waste, while separating unwanted contaminants and keeping the plant safe for the surrounding environment and human health.



Representatives from W2E LLC said construction will begin by the end of the year and expect the plant to be fully operational in 2012. In addition to providing electricity to the local grid, the digestion process will produce soil additives that will be used by local farmers.



Funding for the plant was acquired through the partnership with Eisenmann and additional funding provided by Chicago-based Ciycor LLC.



The plant will be the first of four W2E-operated anaerobic digestors in the Southeast, according to the firm.



Join the discussion



Mary Mazzoni

Mary lives and works in Philadelphia, Penn.



More articles by Mary











Living without a car

I live in San Francisco with my husband, a 6 month old baby, and a cat in a one bedroom apartment near the beach. We have no car but don't need one since the public transportation system in this city takes us where we NEED to go (not always where we WANT to go.)




When we need groceries, we walk about 1/2 mile to Safeway or a just few blocks to a small organic co-op market. We have a shopping cart with wheels and a telescoping handle (similar to a wheeled suicase but it's open on top and constructed of mesh instead of thick material) and we take this with us when we need to get heavier things. I walked to the store with this cart through my entire pregnancy and now I put the baby in a carrier or sling and walk, pulling the cart behind me full of groceries. The walk takes about 20 minutes, it's a scenic path along Highway 1 near the ocean, and it's good exercise!



In addition to walking wherever we can, we frequently ride buses and streetcars with our baby. We even took the streetcar to the hospital when I went into labor! Not only is riding transit less stressful than highway traffic, you really get more exposure to different types of people in your community (some admittedly not so savory, but it's a good dose of reality nevertheless.)





I grew up in a spacious house in Texas and drove everywhere since the age of 15, but living carless now isn't as hard as I thought it would be. It saves gas money, insurance, prevents unnecessary shopping excursions to mega strip malls, curbs carbon emissions, etc... In some areas of the world it's much easier to be green, and San Francisco is one of those places. No heating bill, no air conditioning bill, no car bills.



Living in a small apartment (less than 600sf) also has surprising benefits, including avoiding unnecessary stuff that adds clutter. Efficiency, simplicity, diligent cleanliness, frugality...these things I've had to learn just to maintain sanity and a budget on one salary, but they've given me more peace in my life than I expected in return.

Friday, August 19, 2011

5 years later, Bolsa Chica is thriving

Click graphic for larger version

It was five years ago this month an ocean inlet debuted at the Bolsa Chica wetlands, and there are many ways to tell the area is flourishing. There is the diversity of wildlife. The picturesque landscape. And of course, the potent scent of bird droppings.

That last attribute might not be pleasant, but it’s a sure sign of a healthy ecosystem, one that’s rebounding at the eleventh hour amid a constant march of urban development.

“I just see this place as like a life raft,” said Kelly O’Reilly, biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. “All these wild things are clinging to this life raft. So many of these species don’t have any other place to go where they can get away from people.”

That doesn’t mean the wetlands are pristine. The low hum of oil pumpjacks is nearly ubiquitous, as is the distant rumble of motorcycles on Pacific Coast Highway. Pipelines crisscross the terrain, and visitors might notice an occasional example of graffiti.

Nonetheless, the land has been rejuvenated. Dozens of nodding-donkey oil wells were removed so hundreds of acres of marsh could be inundated by the ocean. Islands of green pickleweed, banks of brown mud and patches of rust-colored earth commingle everywhere, looking like someone dropped a camouflage blanket over the place. At the center of it all is a vast basin where millions of gallons of silver-blue seawater enter and exit each day.

 

“That is probably the most striking aspect of it, is visually,” said Flossie Horgan, executive director of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust. “What used to be oil roads and derricks is an inland bay. It’s gorgeous.”

A far different vision once was proposed – 5,000 homes and a marina – but environmentalists helped prevent it from becoming reality.

In doing so, they created the crown jewel in Huntington Beach’s wetland crown. Farther down the coast, smaller patches of marsh are being restored all along PCH, from Newland Street to the Santa Ana River.

“The community has done an excellent job of rallying around our wetland areas,” said Connie Boardman, a Huntington Beach councilwoman and president of the Land Trust.

More broadly, there has been something of a renaissance in a state where 90 percent of wetlands have been eradicated.

In Newport Beach, the Back Bay recently completed a $50 million restoration. In Carlsbad, the 600-acre Batiquitos Lagoon thrives roughly 15 years after an ocean inlet was created. And in Marina del Rey, the 600-acre Ballona Wetlands are more vibrant seven years after work to increase tidal influence.

Bolsa Chica’s inlet project, which also involved cleaning contaminated soil and building nesting mounds for birds, cost $151 million. Money came from the Ports of Long Beach-Los Angeles, which paid to offset habitat destruction caused by their expansion, as well as state bonds and interest.

A natural inlet existed nearby at PCH and Warner Avenue before being plugged by duck hunters in 1899, but the new opening would shut itself if not for human intervention. Every two years, it must be dredged to remove accumulated sediment, and engineers are studying whether they can modify the design to reduce clogging.

Though the restored area is largely off-limits to the public, elevated areas afford stellar views, and up-close sightings of feathers and fins are common.

Locals also are free to enjoy a pleasant side-effect, that being improved surfing near the inlet jetties. Sand deposited offshore altered the angle and size of waves to create “one of the best breaks” in Huntington Beach, said Sean Collins, founder of Surfline.com.

“Fishing has (become) really good as well,” Collins said, with halibut and bass thriving in the wetlands and making their way out to sea.

“We’re very, very happy because the marine fishes that are using the full tidal inlet just run the gamut of things that are vital to coastal fisheries,” said Jim Trout, himself not a sea creature but rather an official with the State Lands Commission.

It’s also been a “boom year” for various types of birds, such as snowy plovers, savannah sparrows and least terns, Trout said.

Indeed, visitors to gated-off areas find a world that, with homes and cars visible in the distance, seems remarkably wild.

Caspian terns, circling near a heavily scented nesting site, greet humans with kamikaze-style dive bombs and ceaseless squawking. Stingrays lap at algae-covered water-control gates, just above schools of minnows and just below resting brown pelicans. Crabs dart sideways amid beds of fist-sized oyster shells, and endangered plovers scurry around like turbocharged chicks.

“The more you look,” O’Reilly said, “the more you see.”

For more photos from Bolsa Chica, click here!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Christopher John Myers Darling

Christopher John Myers Darling

Christopher John Myers Darling

Christopher John Myers Darling
July 21, 1971 – July 20, 2011


  Christopher died unexpectedly on July 20th with his family by his side. He had somehow contracted necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria) and it shut down his body very quickly to the shock of everyone.
  Christopher was born in Newport Beach in 1971 and grew up on Balboa Island. He was an avid sportsman during his life. Junior All American and Corona del Mar High School Football, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, fishing and most of all surfing.
  His work in the culinary field allowed him to travel. He lived on Maui for several years with shorter stays in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas and Cabo San Lucas.
  Chris had many lifelong friends from the Newport area and from his travels. He was known affectionately by the name of “Beanie” to many of his friends. To be his friend was to be a friend for life.
  He was an accomplished musician, playing the guitar, bass, drums and singing with several bands. His friends say his smile would light up the room. He was the life of the party.
  Chris was a wonderful and devoted father to two beautiful girls, a great big brother, and a wonderful and caring son, always remembering the important occasions. Just a wonderful person. He was very loved and will be deeply missed by his family and many, many friends.
  He is survived by his parents, Bill & Penny Darling, brothers, Michael & John Darling, daughters, Gwendolyn & Naomi Smith, their mother , Sarah Smith, Aunt & Uncle, Pamela & Lewis Canfield, Aunt, Stephanie Myers, Cousin, Grayton Myers, Aunt & Uncle, Sue & Dan Naber, Cousins, Amy & Tom Loveless, Cousins, Laurie Naber & Chris Anderson and countless friends.
  Services will be held on Thursday, Aug. 18th at 5pm. at the Lighthouse Community Church located at 300 Magnolia St. Costa Mesa. A “Celebration of Life” will follow the services at the Boathouse Collective. There will be a “Paddle Out” on Friday, Aug. 19th.
  In lieu of flowers, the family and Chris would appreciate a contribution to a fund being created for the benefit of his daughters and their future needs. Information for this fund can be found on Facebook, R.I.P. Chris Darling or a contribution can be sent to his mother, Penny Darling at 120 Pearl Ave., Balboa Island, Ca. 92662. For further information call (949) 675-2661.

tn-dpt-darling-20110812

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

L.A. rethinks apartment recycling in march to zero-waste goal

Los Angeles Recycling Center
Keeping trash from landfills that are quickly filling up is a top priority for the L.A. Bureau of Sanitation. And these days its officials are working on changes to the way apartment dwellers and businesses dispose of their trash. The Home section's latest look at the complexities of apartment recycling delves into the possibilities and obstacles ahead before the L.A. City Council considers a new plan.

Home also has looked at why it's hard to know what can be recycled, and at whether all sorts of things can go in the recycling bin.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Los Angeles Recycling Center. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

ALSO:

Recycling: More questions than answers

Throw recycling in the trash? Some cities do

Can I recycle bubble wrap, wine corks, Ziploc bags and ...

 

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/home_blog/recyclist/

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why E-Waste Should Be Kept, Recycled in U.S.

Newly introduced legislation finally aims to ban the export of old electronics once and for all.

Rather than shipping unloved laptops and TVs to the Third World for a dirty form of salvage, advocates call for keeping e-waste at home for recycling.

As laptops, flat screens and smart phones grow ever more ubiquitous, so does the problematic trash they ultimately become. It’s a quandary for the Information Age that seldom gets the attention of the cool tech tools themselves.

Individual communities in the U.S. have been struggling with how to dispose of electronic waste, who should pay for its recycling and whether companies that manufacture electronics should be responsible for their full life cycle. But much of this e-waste is never disposed of anywhere in the U.S. — whether at local municipal dumps or corporate facilities.

It winds up, of all places, in Africa, or the Philippines, where it’s mined for valuable components as small as copper wiring. And conscientious consumers trying to hand off their old electronics seldom realize this.

“That’s the infuriating part of this — people who are really trying to do the right thing, who haul their big hulking televisions down to an Earth Day collection event in the neighborhood, people who are going to the trouble of taking their old stuff to some place thinking it’s going to be recycled, have no idea that it’s not going to be recycled at all,” said Barbara Kyle, national coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition.

“Recycling” is not really the best word to describe what happens to this material when it arrives in other countries, and its toxic components pose serious environmental and public health hazards there.

Currently, nothing about this business is illegal. But legislation introduced last week in Washington aims to finally address the booming trade, banning exports from the U.S. of most electronic waste to the countries least prepared to responsibly process it.

Researchers estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of electronic waste from the industrialized world that winds up in the hands of “recyclers” actually goes to a few developing countries: China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines. There, the unregulated materials are crudely handled in acid baths and burn pits, releasing into the air and soil heavy metals and chemicals that are used to make flexible plastics and flame retardants.

Studies of individual scrapping facilities in Ghana and China have measured contaminants and toxic metals like lead present in soil at more than 100 times typical background levels.

And as more of the world uses electronic products — and as their individual life spans shorten in favor of ever-evolving upgrades — the waste is getting worse. Reports have pegged the global e-waste generated each year at 20-50 million tons.

“‘Recyclers’ make more money exporting this stuff, and it’s actually a pretty easy business to get into,” Kyle said. “Really all you have to do is figure out how to hold a collection event — and lots of times they’ll get charities to front for them not even knowing they’re doing it — and you need to have a place where you can bring in a shipping container and load it up.”

Read Entire Article…

Source: Miller-McCune
By Emily Badger

Sunday, June 19, 2011

If Table Saws Can Be Safer, Why Aren't They?

I found the following story on the NPR iPad App:
http://www.npr.org/2011/06/18/137258370/if-table-saws-can-be-safer-why-arent-they?sc=ipad&f=1001

If Table Saws Can Be Safer, Why Aren't They?
by Chris Arnold

NPR - June 18, 2011

This week some of the nation's biggest power tool companies sent their executives to Washington. They came to argue against tougher safety mandates for so-called table saws, the popular power tools with large open spinning blades. NPR's Chris Arnold has this Reporter's Notebook.

Seven years ago, I was flying on an airplane and thumbing through a woodworking magazine. In the back of it, I came across a little ad for a table saw that wouldn't cut off your fingers. That sounded like a good kind of saw to me; I like doing home-improvement projects. And it just sounded interesting. So when I got home, I called up the inventor. It turned out he had a pretty amazing story to tell.

I found out that table saws cause thousands of these really horrible injuries every year. This inventor, a guy named Steve Gass, had actually figured out a way to prevent just about all of those accidents. Over the years, he's proved that it works, too.

"What you have is somebody who has invented a dramatic technology that seems to reduce virtually all the injuries associated with table saws," says Bob Adler, a commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was holding meetings on the issue this week.

Gass likes to demonstrate how his saw works by using a hot dog. At one point he showed this to me at a high school shop class out in Oregon.

"I'm gonna put this hot dog on top of the board here, as if it was my thumb misplaced in the path of the blade," he said, "and them I'm gonna shove it into the blade."

Gass' saw uses an electrical sensor to detect when the blade touches flesh instead of wood. Within a few thousandths of a second, the blade slammed to a stop.

But as well as the technology works, the major tool companies have failed to put this kind of device on any of their table saws — even eight years after Gass offered to license it to them.

"They came back and said, 'Well, we've looked at it, but we're not interested because safety doesn't sell,' " Gass says.

SawStop, Gass' little upstart company, has sold tens of thousands of these safer table saws, and lately things have been heating up in Washington. The National Consumers League last month brought in injured woodworkers to meet with lawmakers and regulators. They want to make the SawStop safety brake mandatory on all table saws.

So just this week, I was back in Washington in a hearing room.

"SawStop is currently available in the marketplace to any consumer who chooses to purchase it," says Susan Young, who represents Black & Decker, Bosch, Makita and other power tool companies.

In other words, let consumers decide. Young says many consumers won't want to pay for the SawStop technology, which could add $100 to $300 in cost, depending on which side you talk to.

Either way, the gears are now turning in Washington. By the end of September, regulators say they'll issue a draft of new safety requirements for table saws. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

To learn more about the NPR iPad app, go to http://ipad.npr.org/recommendnprforipad

Thomas M Abercrombie


Sent from my iPad

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

The latest in green fashion: caps and gowns....recycled plastic

Caltech's graduating class marched across the stage at Friday's commencement ceremony bedecked in more than 12,000 plastic bottles.

And it wasn't a prank.

More than 500 graduates of a school known for elaborate ruses — such as changing the Hollywood sign to read "Caltech" — donned garments made entirely of fabric spun from molten plastic pellets instead of the traditional polyester caps and gowns.

Graduation planners around the country are greening their ceremonies, cutting back on printed materials and balloons filled with non-renewable helium and choosing compostable dinnerware, biodegradable water bottles and campus-grown floral displays.

But to graduates such as Catherine Beni, who at 20 years old is the youngest ever to receive a doctorate from Caltech, the eco-friendly regalia was more an "interesting factoid" than something to brag about.

"It feels exactly the same as the polyester gowns," the Riverside native said. "Maybe on a hotter day, I would notice the difference. And because it's my PhD, I would have preferred a nicer gown that I would want to keep, but maybe for others, this'll be extremely useful because it would all otherwise go to waste."

The environmental movement is growing at schools, which are adding sustainability courses to their schedules and commissioning eco-friendly lecture halls, but skeptics say greening graduation garb might be more a marketing gimmick.

Jostens Inc., a maker of academic products, recently introduced a gown made from wood-based fiber that decomposes in soil. Critics said graduates were likely to rewrap them in the plastic cover before throwing them out, preventing the fiber from biodegrading. The company's outfits now come in packaging that it says breaks down in landfills.

At Caltech, school officials set up special recycling bins around campus for the gowns. The outfits, which were produced by Salem, Va.-based Oak Hall Cap and Gown, are to be reworked into new fabric, perhaps for next year's graduation.

Oak Hall, which has been making cap and gowns for more than a century, introduced the GreenWeaver line of eco-friendly garb in late 2009 and has seen orders nearly triple in the last year. With about 23 post-consumer bottles worked into each outfit, more than 7 million bottles otherwise destined for landfills have instead gone into GreenWeaver products, the company said.

The gowns are more expensive to produce because the technology is still new and the manufactured volumes are small, said Joseph D'Angelo, Oak Hall's president. However, each cap-and-gown set cost $27 for Caltech undergraduates, $35 for master's students and $71 for doctoral graduates — about $2 less than the old polyester prices.

Nearly 30 colleges and universities in California use GreenWeaver, said D'Angelo, who on Friday was at the University of Washington in Seattle, where graduating students are planning to wear his company's gowns this weekend.

The regalia comes in recycled-plastic bags and is shipped in recycled-cardboard cartons. Oak Hall experimented with fabrics made from bamboo and wood pulp before deciding on the GreenWeaver material, which it said was softer and more breathable than traditional gowns — while looking no different.

"A cap and gown is the most recognizable symbol for achievement that we know," D'Angelo said. "All of us are becoming more sensitive to our environment, but this helps make people more aware that they should be recycling."

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-green-grad-20110611,0,6067090.story

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Deepwater Horizon Spill Threatens More Species Than Legally Protected, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (May 11, 2011) — Marine species facing threats from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico far exceed those under legal protection in the United States, a new paper in the journal BioScience finds. University of New Hampshire professor Fred Short and others found 39 additional marine species beyond the 14 protected by federal law that are at an elevated risk of extinction. These species, which range from whale sharks to seagrass, should receive priority for protection and restoration efforts, the authors advocate.....http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511134221.htm

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Project Vision and Scope

Vision

Inspired by successful high-speed train systems worldwide, California's electrically-powered high-speed trains will help the state meet ever-growing demands on its transportation infrastructure. Initially running from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim via the Central Valley, and later to Sacramento and San Diego, high-speed trains will travel between LA and San Francisco in under 2 hours and 40 minutes, at speeds of up to 220 mph, and will interconnect with other transportation alternatives, providing an environmentally friendly option to traveling by plane or car.

Scope

800 miles of track… up to 24 stations… the most thorough environmental review process in the nation. Due to the large scope of the project, the planning process proceeded in phases: first, program-level review assessing the need and .......http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/project_vision.aspx

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Wooden Surfboards

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hawaii may get hit with trash from Japan's tsunami

 

April 7, 2011 8:08 a.m. EDT
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Researchers create a simulation of how the trash will move in the Pacific Ocean
  • Trash should begin washing up on beaches in Hawaii within a year, the simulation shows
  • It will then hit parts of Canada, Oregon, Washington and California in 2014, the simulation shows

(CNN) -- The Hawaiian islands may get a new and unwelcome addition in coming months -- a giant new island of debris floating in from Japan.

Researchers in Hawaii have created a simulation showing exactly how the houses, tires, chemicals and trees washed to sea by the March 11 tsunami will float across the Pacific and eventually hit the U.S. coast.

The team, led by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner at the International Pacific Research Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa have spent years preparing computer models by following real world observations of floating buoys, according to a statement.

The first wave should begin washing up on beaches in Hawaii within a year, the simulation shows.

After it passes Hawaii it should begin hitting beaches stretching from Vancouver down through Oregon, Washington and to the tip of Baja California in 2014, before bouncing back toward Hawaii for a second impact.

That second impact five years from now could be even more concentrated and harmful to Hawaii's beaches and reefs, the researchers found.

The flotsam and trash eventually makes its way into what's called the North Pacific Garbage Patch, a sort of circulating whirlpool of garbage hundreds of miles in diameter.

There it eventually decomposes and breaks up in collisions over many years.

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Unrecycled new light bulbs release mercury into the environment

Lightbulb production

The manufacture of incandescent lightbulbs is being phased out in the United States. (Willis Glassgow, AP / April 7, 2011)

 

 

The nation's accelerating shift from incandescent lighting to a new generation of energy-efficient bulbs is raising an environmental concern: the release of tons of mercury every year.

The most popular new bulb — the compact fluorescent light bulb, or CFL — accounts for a quarter of new bulb sales. Each contains up to 5 milligrams of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that's on the worst-offending list of environmental contaminants.

Demand for CFL bulbs is growing as government mandates for energy-efficient lighting take effect, yet only about 2% of residential consumers and one-third of businesses recycle the new bulbs, according to the Assn. of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers.

As a result, U.S. landfills are releasing more than 4 tons of mercury annually into the atmosphere and storm water runoff, according to a study in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Assn.

A San Francisco hardware store owner is all too familiar with the bulb issue.

"They're promoting them and giving them away, but there's nowhere to drop them off," said Tom Tognetti, co-owner of Fredricksen's Hardware.

The federal Clean Energy Act of 2007 established energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs that dimmed the future for old-fashioned incandescents, which don't meet those standards. Incandescents are to be phased out by 2014 in the U.S., and California passed even stricter rules, calling for store shelves to be cleared of them by 2013.

The old-style bulbs are just too wasteful, converting to light only 10% of the energy they consume. The rest is squandered as heat.

Sales of energy-efficient alternatives like CFLs, halogen bulbs and LEDs have been growing steadily, with the low-cost CFLs the biggest sellers.

If every California household replaced five incandescent bulbs with CFLs, the move would save 6.18 billion kilowatt-hours and prevent the annual release of 2.26 million tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, according to the California Energy Commission. That's equivalent to taking 414,000 cars off the road.

But no federal law mandates recycling of household fluorescent lights. Federal rules exempt some businesses, based in part on the number of bulbs used, said Paul Abernathy, executive director of the Napa, Calif.-based recycling association.

Several states, including California, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Minnesota, do require that all households and businesses recycle fluorescents. Abernathy's group thinks compliance is low because of a lack of convenient drop-off options.

Tognetti's store is part of a pilot project run by San Francisco to increase recycling of fluorescent bulbs and other hazardous waste. Since 2009, a city-financed truck has regularly stopped by his store and about a dozen other independently owned hardware stores to pick up consumers' toxic discards.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. in Rosslyn, Va., offers information on fluorescent light bulb recycling at http://www.lamprecycle.org. Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe's and many Ace Hardware stores, among other outlets, offer free recycling, even for noncustomers.

The website Earth911.com provides a list of recyclers by ZIP Code; or consumers can call 800-CLEAN-UP (253-2687).

CFL bulbs actually have fewer mercury concerns than incandescent lights, according to the California Energy Commission. Although the older bulbs contain no mercury, they're often powered by coal-fired electricity plants, which release mercury as a pollutant. The result is about 40% less mercury emissions per bulb with CFLs, according to Environmental Protection Agency figures.

But CFLs aren't the only energy-efficient alternatives to incandescents, said Brad Paulsen, national lighting merchant with Home Depot Inc.

"You really have three options," he said. "Halogens, LEDs [light-emitting diodes] and CFLs."

Halogen bulbs are essentially energy-efficient incandescents. "They're very similar to a person's experience with incandescents," Paulsen said, and are 30% more efficient.

Paulsen, along with many others, sees LEDs taking center stage in coming years. The lights contain no mercury, are 85% more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, and burn for 25 years.

The main drawback now with LEDs is cost — sometimes $30 or more per bulb — but Paulsen says prices are sure to plunge as demand and production grow.

"LEDs, in my mind, are the way of the future," he said.

Bohan writes for the Contra Costa Times.

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lighthouse10 at 4:51 AM April 07, 2011

Besides,

All the major light bulb manufacturers support a ban!

Why would they do that?
Why do these manufacturers welcome being told what they can make?

Profits of course:
The removal of the unprofitable cheap simple safe and popular bulbs so
that major manufacturers can make bigger profits from expensive
inferior products
that people otherwise would not to buy in sufficient quantities.

Instead:
Increased - not decreased - marketplace competition gives good energy
saving bulbs that people want to buy – since manufacturers then have
to try to satisfy them.
New businesses with  local American jobs, whatever the type of bulbs made.
Worried governments can give research grants towards energy saving alternatives.

lighthouse10 at 4:50 AM April 07, 2011

The mercury release shows just how problematic the ban on simple bulbs is..

It is of course a ban:
Yes, energy efficient halogen incandescent replacements are
temporarily allowed, but
have whiter light type etc differences with regular bulbs, apart from
costing much more for the small savings, which is why neither
consumers or governments really like them, since they have been around
for a while now without being sold much

LEDs are not yet suitable for all-round use,
and regarding the pushed CFLs,
the so-called power factor alone means that common CFLs use twice the
energy compared with what your meter says ( http://ceolas.net/#15eux
with Sylvania, DOE and other references, and with more on why supposed
savings from banning simple incandescents don't hold up ).


Much more relevant savings of actual “energy waste” comes from power
plant and grid changes, and from preventing the unnecessary usage of
products eg night lighting in buildings,
rather than from preventing the personal choices of what products
people can use.

Max Plank at 5:14 PM April 06, 2011

The law of unintended consequences. Personally I plan to stock pile a lifetime supply of incandescent light bulbs.

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