Environmental Issues

Sharon Hill

Complicated biological machine
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
270
Likes
488
Points
64
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
Those precious habitats get destroyed a lot faster when subjected to natural disasters. Rising ambient temperatures pose a threat to them as well of course. It's a bit of a shit storm we have started.
:sstorm:
Large-scale slash and burn and timbering of forestland for agricultural use, coopting huge swaths of meadowland for grazing, damming rivers and filling in wetlands is all done a rate that far exceeds what is affected by natural disasters. Humans have a history of exploiting nature and then complaining that it hurts them (flooding, fires, landslides, etc.). Things would be better if we respected the way the world rolls instead of attempting to engineer against it.
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,737
Likes
4,114
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
Black Snow in Siberia

Residents of a coalmining region in Siberia have been posting videos online showing entire streets and districts covered in toxic black snow that critics say highlight a manmade ecological catastrophe.

“It’s harder to find white snow than black snow during the winter,” Vladimir Slivyak, a member of the Ecodefense environmental group, said. “There is a lot of coal dust in the air all the time. When snow falls, it just becomes visible. You can’t see it the rest of the year, but it is still there.”

The coal dust that turns the snow black in the Kuzbass comes from numerous open pit mines that environmental activists say have had disastrous consequences for the health of the region’s 2.6 million people, with life expectancy three to four years lower than Russia’s national average of 66 for men and 77 for women.

The dust contains a variety of dangerous heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury, environmental activists say. Environmental problems are exacerbated by the practice of loading coal on to open train cars for export, with wind and rain depositing dust on towns and rivers along the rail tracks.

Critics say Russian authorities turn a blind eye to routine violations of safety norms and regulations, with open pit mines often located dangerously close to towns and villages.

Officials in Mysky, a town in the region, were mocked recently for painting black snow white in an apparent attempt to improve the appearance of a children’s snow-slide.

Despite political tensions between Moscow and London, Russia is the leading supplier of British coal imports. Russian mines supplied around half of the 8.5m tons of coal shipped into Britain in 2017, with up to 90% of it coming from the Kuzbass region.

Some Russian environmental activists are calling on Britain to boycott Russian coal. “The best way to put pressure on them is to stop buying coal until they improve the situation,” said Slivyak.
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,737
Likes
4,114
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
"toxic black snow "

"Toxic" is way overused. Don't eat too much of it and it's not toxic. Now, maybe test for mercury and then we'll talk.
Yeah, a bit of black snow - what's the problem, moaning minnies.

Re mercury, if you read the article the issue seems to be that the coal dust which "contains a variety of dangerous heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury" is in the air they're breathing all the time. The black snow just makes it more apparent.
 

Sharon Hill

Complicated biological machine
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
270
Likes
488
Points
64
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
Yeah, a bit of black snow - what's the problem, moaning minnies.

Re mercury, if you read the article the issue seems to be that the coal dust which "contains a variety of dangerous heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury" is in the air they're breathing all the time. The black snow just makes it more apparent.
I'm very familiar with coal dust and the like. I work as a state regulator for mining. Different coal has different amounts of mercury and arsenic. Products and items that people use every day and think are safe might have more concentration of these elements. "Toxic" is way too often used in headlines and it's often wrong. Clusters of illnesses attributed to environmental causes are also often wrong. So there is ample justification to not take these incidents at face value. That said, many countries do have lax environmental laws or governments that don't want to enforce them and people (usually poor people) suffer consequences. But the big picture with all its complications doesn't make good headlines like black snow.
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,737
Likes
4,114
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
I'm very familiar with coal dust and the like. I work as a state regulator for mining. Different coal has different amounts of mercury and arsenic. Products and items that people use every day and think are safe might have more concentration of these elements. "Toxic" is way too often used in headlines and it's often wrong. Clusters of illnesses attributed to environmental causes are also often wrong. So there is ample justification to not take these incidents at face value. That said, many countries do have lax environmental laws or governments that don't want to enforce them and people (usually poor people) suffer consequences. But the big picture with all its complications doesn't make good headlines like black snow.
Do you have black snow as a result of open cast coal mining in Pennsylvania?
 

Sharon Hill

Complicated biological machine
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
270
Likes
488
Points
64
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
Do you have black snow as a result of open cast coal mining in Pennsylvania?
No it's not particularly dusty. The processing plants have some coal dust around them but regulations require it not to leave the site or flow into waterways and dust control (and stack emissions from power plants) is required under federal and state air quality regulations.
 

Comfortably Numb

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 7, 2018
Messages
2,725
Likes
3,327
Points
153
Location
Phone
Climate change, or a misperception?

UK weather: Is hot February down to climate change?

'We're getting weirdly warm weather for February - which has everyone asking the same question.

How much of this is due to a warming climate? Or is this just a freak few days?'.

Source:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-47371648


Why are there UK wildfires in February?

'Scorched Earth images of Marsden Moor - close to Saddleworth - look horribly familiar. In June 2018, a fire on moorland in that area took hold and burned for weeks; the army was called in, carbon-storing peatland and entire ecosystems were incinerated.

But that was during a memorably hot, dry summer. We are now witnessing the strange spectacle of large winter wildfires'.

Source:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47389480
 

Coal

Polymath Renaissance Man, Italian Wiccan Anarchist
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,794
Likes
10,492
Points
279
Pretty good read.

https://quillette.com/2019/02/27/why-renewables-cant-save-the-planet/

The first was around land use. Electricity from solar roofs costs about twice as much as electricity from solar farms, but solar and wind farms require huge amounts of land. That, along with the fact that solar and wind farms require long new transmissions lines, and are opposed by local communities and conservationists trying to preserve wildlife, particularly birds.
 

Min Bannister

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
3,512
Likes
2,992
Points
184
Is this a why bother then?

What about offshore windfarms? And tidal power has huge possibilities if there was a will to pursue it..
They may be harder to see but the sea also has masses of animals on the sea bed, in the water and flying over it that will be harmed by large offshore windfarms and turbines. Also the materials used to create them still need to be ripped from the land, and disposed there when they break.
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,737
Likes
4,114
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
They may be harder to see but the sea also has masses of animals on the sea bed, in the water and flying over it that will be harmed by large offshore windfarms and turbines. Also the materials used to create them still need to be ripped from the land, and disposed there when they break.
Certainly there's negative effects to all large scale power production, and any method involves obtaining materials from the land & disposing of them later. But if you're looking for ones which have the least negative impact, wind/solar/tidal would seem to be up there.

We already have large offshore windfarms & many more in the pipeline. What their impact is on bird life I don't know - it could be we find in the future, not good..
 

Min Bannister

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
3,512
Likes
2,992
Points
184
But if you're looking for ones which have the least negative impact, wind/solar/tidal would seem to be up there.
The point of the article though was that they really aren't. It goes against everything we have been taught to believe I know but the evidence is quite compelling.
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,737
Likes
4,114
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
The point of the article though was that they really aren't. It goes against everything we have been taught to believe I know but the evidence is quite compelling.
He makes a lot of claims in the article but doesn't provide much supportive evidence from elsewhere. For example - "nearly one million birds are killed by wind turbines". "Wind turbines, surprisingly, kill more people than nuclear plants" Where does this come from?

big, threatened, and endangered birds—birds that could go extinct—like hawks, eagles, owls, and condors
aren't likely to be found at sea.

Offshore windfarms don't require large amounts of land & turbines have got more efficient recently with the use of neodymium magnets so I've read. Large arrays of solar panels on land may be not a good idea.

He also doesn't go much into decommissioning nuclear plants, the cost involved, the safe storage of radioactive materials for several thousand years.

He doesn't mention tidal generation at all..

I'm not saying I'm dead set against nuclear, which does seem the cleanest option at the moment, with the above caveats. I don't have the technical knowledge frankly.

I think I read recently that Spain now gets the majority of it's electricity from wind.
 

Min Bannister

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
3,512
Likes
2,992
Points
184
aren't likely to be found at sea.
There are masses and masses of birds at sea. Some of them very rare and endangered. Petrels, shearwaters, auks, terns, gulls. Not to mention all of the migratory ones that are more associated with land but cross the sea in large numbers in spring and autumn. They are all at risk.

He also doesn't go much into decommissioning nuclear plants, the cost involved, the safe storage of radioactive materials for several thousand years.
This is what I don't like about nuclear but the destruction caused by wind and solar farms is very immediate. You can bury the nuclear waste and hope for the best. If we have already killed everything by blending it in turbines or suffocating it under solar farms, it doesn't even matter if there is a radiation leak in 300 years.:(

He doesn't mention tidal generation at all..
The problems will be the same - the deleterious effect on sea animals of all that machinery.
 

PeteByrdie

Privateer in the service of Princess Frideswide
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
2,059
Likes
1,598
Points
159
He makes a lot of claims in the article but doesn't provide much supportive evidence from elsewhere. For example - "nearly one million birds are killed by wind turbines". "Wind turbines, surprisingly, kill more people than nuclear plants" Where does this come from?
For the most part, the article is ridiculous. Studies show an overall minimal impact on wildlife if renewables are established with a modicum of common sense and sensitivity to ecology. A pity for those people now complaining that populations of protected birds such as the red kite or buzzard are now at pest levels, perhaps. However, for all in unsupportable nonsense (shocking people are still criticizing renewables for their inconsistency this late in the game), it does highlight that there aren't nearly enough peer reviewed studies on the impact of renewable technology on wildlife. We could do much better in that regard.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Joined
Aug 9, 2001
Messages
3,769
Likes
6,570
Points
234
He makes a lot of claims in the article but doesn't provide much supportive evidence from elsewhere. For example - "nearly one million birds are killed by wind turbines". "Wind turbines, surprisingly, kill more people than nuclear plants" Where does this come from?
“Clive Hambler -- a lecturer at Oxford, and author of the Cambridge University Press text "Conservation" -- slams the wind industry in no uncertain terms, saying that the sector's support from environmentalists comes as a result of environmentalists being essentially ignorant of science:

The environmentalists who support such projects do so for ideological reasons. What few of them have in their heads, though, is the consolation of science.​
Hambler cites some distressing statistics from sources around the world. Between 6-18 million birds and bats are killed by Spanish wind farms each year Hambler says, including 400 griffon vultures per year just at Navarro. German wind turbines kill at least 200,000 bats per year, depressing populations up to 2,000 miles away. Wind turbines in the U.S. have been estimated to kill 70 bats per installed megawatt per year, on average, says Hambler. That would work out to about 320,000 bats per year in California.

Hambler's assessment of the reasons for wind power's popularity among environmentalists is rather unsparing:

Why is the public not more aware of this carnage? First, because the wind industry (with the shameful complicity of some ornithological organisations) has gone to great trouble to cover it up -- to the extent of burying the corpses of victims. Second, because the ongoing obsession with climate change means that many environmentalists are turning a blind eye to the ecological costs of renewable energy. What they clearly don't appreciate -- for they know next to nothing about biology -- is that most of the species they claim are threatened by 'climate change' have already survived 10 to 20 ice ages, and sea-level rises far more dramatic than any we have experienced in recent millennia or expect in the next few centuries. Climate change won't drive those species to extinction; well-meaning environmentalists might.”​

https://www.kcet.org/redefine/uk-ecologist-wind-farms-driving-birds-bats-to-extinction-0

maximus otter
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,737
Likes
4,114
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
Crikey - we've gone from "nearly 1 million birds killed each year by wind turbines" [presumably worldwide] in coal's link, to "6 - 18 million birds & bats killed by Spanish wind farms alone" in max's. That's quite an escalation.

As regards sea turbines, would it be beyond the realm of possibility to have some sort of mesh over the moving parts to prevent creatures over a certain size getting mashed but allow water through. Extremely small organisms may be able to pass through unscathed..

There doesn't seem to be much use of sea turbines anywhere. Maybe there's some underlying reason - cost, life-span, but environmental impact seems fairly low to me. And unlike wind, the sea doesn't stop.
 
Last edited:

Ladyloafer

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
271
Likes
482
Points
63
....

As regards sea turbines, would it be beyond the realm of possibility to have some sort of mesh over the moving parts to prevent creatures over a certain size getting mashed but allow water through. Extremely small organisms may be able to pass through unscathed..

There doesn't seem to be much use of sea turbines anywhere. Maybe there's some underlying reason - cost, life-span, but environmental impact seems fairly low to me. And unlike wind, the sea doesn't stop.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-en...ore-wind-energy-boost-to-benefit-humber-ports

Offshore wind energy boost to benefit Humber ports
A deal between the government and the wind industry is expected to provide an economic boost for the Humber ports.
The UK aims to ensure that 30% of the nation's electricity will be generated by offshore wind turbines by 2030.
I've wondered why they can't be covered somehow, but maybe that would affect the wind on the blades?
 

PeteByrdie

Privateer in the service of Princess Frideswide
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
2,059
Likes
1,598
Points
159
There doesn't seem to be much use of sea turbines anywhere. Maybe there's some underlying reason - cost, life-span, but environmental impact seems fairly low to me. And unlike wind, the sea doesn't stop.
There's been an awful lot of r&d into submerged turbines. They show a lot of promise, the tides being as predictable as they are, and water being more dense than air. From what I can gather, the biggest drawback is maintenance. Working on a submerged turbine obviously brings with it a different combination of problems and skill sets. That aside, corrosion was a potential issue last I heard, given they're submerged in salt water, and yes, because of the ideal locations for submerged turbines being estuaries, threat to the life cycles of wildlife is considerable.
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,737
Likes
4,114
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
Dead whale washed up in Philippines had 40kg of plastic bags in its stomach

Marine biologists and volunteers from the D’Bone Collector Museum in Davao City, in the Philippine island of Mindanao, were shocked to discover the brutal cause of death for the young Cuvier’s beaked whale, which washed ashore on Saturday.

In a damning statement on their Facebook page, the museum said they uncovered “40 kilos of plastic bags, including 16 rice sacks. 4 banana plantation style bags and multiple shopping bags” in the whale’s stomach after conducting an autopsy.

Images from the autopsy showed endless piles of rubbish being extracted from the inside of the animal, which was said to have died from “gastric shock” after ingesting all the plastic.
 
Top