Environmental Issues

hunck

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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.
 

Sharon Hill

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"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.
 

hunck

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"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

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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

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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

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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.
 

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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
 

Anonymous-50446

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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

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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

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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..
 

hunck

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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

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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

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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.
 

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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

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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.
 
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Ladyloafer

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....

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

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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.
 

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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.

717.jpg
 

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I like this:
 

AlchoPwn

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Things would be better if we respected the way the world rolls instead of attempting to engineer against it.
Or alternatively, perhaps engineering to support the native environment and reduce our effect on it. Such things are possible, but are presently not made cost effective, when we should make them pretty much mandatory for everyone's benefit.
 

ramonmercado

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Doresn't look good.

Concern is growing in Mexico about an environmental activist and expert on the monarch butterfly who has been missing for more than a week.

Homero Gómez manages a butterfly sanctuary in western Michoacán state, a region which is notorious for its violent criminal gangs. Rights groups fear illegal loggers may have targeted Mr Gómez for his activism to conserve the local forest which is the home of the monarch butterfly. He was last seen on 13 January.

Sixty thousand people have disappeared in Mexico since 2006.

Many of them have fallen victim to criminal gangs which control large areas of Mexico and kill anyone who could interfere with their illegal activities, which range from drug and human trafficking to extortion, logging and mining.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-51189909
 

hunck

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'Illegal' Plastic Waste Returned

You think you're doing something worthwhile recycling your plastic but much of it is shipped & dumped abroad, usually to somewhere in S.E.Asia.

Malaysia has returned 150 containers to various countries - UK, France, US, Canada.

Other countries have also returned plastic waste - China, Philippines, Indonesia.

EU is the largest exporter as a bloc & US largest as a single country.
 

AlchoPwn

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'Illegal' Plastic Waste Returned You think you're doing something worthwhile recycling your plastic but much of it is shipped & dumped abroad, usually to somewhere in S.E.Asia.
What a shame. If the material were properly sorted it could go to companies like Polygenta in India: Polygenta Link that is able to do completely amazing high grade PET plastic to high grade PET plastic recycling without loss of quality. No more turning plastic into paint or park benches, these guys make it 99% reusable. I wish Boyan Slat and his Ocean cleaning project would get in contact with them.
 

hunck

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More uncomfortable reading:

Unsustainable use of resources is wrecking the planet but recycling is falling, report finds

The climate and wildlife emergencies are driven by the unsustainable extraction of fossil fuels, metals, building materials and trees. The report’s authors warn that treating the world’s resources as limitless is leading towards global disaster.

The materials used by the global economy have quadrupled since 1970, far faster than the population, which has doubled. In the last two years, consumption has jumped by more than 8% but the reuse of resources has fallen from 9.1% to 8.6%.

The report, by the Circle Economy thinktank, was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It shows that, on average, every person on Earth uses more than 13 tonnes of materials per year. But the report also found that some nations are making steps towards circular economies in which renewable energy underpins systems where waste and pollution are reduced to zero.

“We risk global disaster if we continue to treat the world’s resources as if they are limitless,” said Harald Friedl, the chief executive of Circle Economy. “Governments must urgently adopt circular economy solutions if we want to achieve a high quality of life for close to 10bn people by mid-century without destabilising critical planetary processes.”

Marc de Wit, the report’s lead author, said: “We are still fuelling our growth in population and affluence by the extraction of virgin materials. We can’t do this indefinitely – our hunger for virgin material needs to be halted.”

The report found that 100.6bn tonnes of materials were consumed in 2017, the latest year for which data is available. Half of the total is sand, clay, gravel and cement used for building, along with the other minerals quarried to produce fertiliser. Coal, oil and gas make up 15% and metal ores 10%. The final quarter are the plants and trees used for food and fuel.

etc.
 

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It's really interesting that the technology exists to do recycling really well... but local authorities are running away from the issue, rather than investing in this already-existing technology. Unwillingness to take responsibility.
 

Kondoru

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Yes, me too.

Was at the tea and talk at Kresen Kernow today, -about our new Spaceport.

Of course the naysayers were there, saying we dont need more satelites doing enviromental monitoring, since it is a static system and we already have enough data...

(Okayyy...)

They were a bit confrontational, and had brand new T shirts for the occaision.

(More okay...)

I think the world is in safe hands....
 
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