Feb 12, 2016

Boeing Installs World's Largest 'Reversible' Renewable Energy Storage System

Boeing announced that it has installed a first-of-its-kind 50MW Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system on a naval base in Port Hueneme, Calif. The fuel cell system, which can scale to 400KW, is unique in that it uses solar power to generate hydrogen gas from seawater, which it then stores until power and it releases the gas into a fuel cell stack to produce electricity, heat and water. Because the system can both store energy and produce electricity, Boeing is calling the fuel cell system "reversible." The Navy's Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center is testing the fuel cell system on a microgrid to determine its viability for use at both remote bases and during overseas military missions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Feb 11, 2016

Argentine and Brazilian doctors suspect mosquito insecticide as cause of microcephaly

With the proposed connection between the Zika virus and Brazil's outbreak of microcephaly in new born babies looking increasingly tenuous, Latin American doctors are proposing another possible cause: Pyriproxyfen, a pesticide used in Brazil since 2014 to arrest the development of mosquito larvae in drinking water tanks. 

Might the 'cure' in fact be the poison?
Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyriproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places direct blame on the Zika virus.

The World Health Organization view that the microcephaly outbreak in Brazil's impoverished northeast is caused by the Zika virus has, so far, received few challenges.

Brazil's Health Minister, Marcelo Castro, has gone so far as to say that he has "100% certainty" that there is a link between Zika and microcephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born with small heads.

The view is widely supported in the medical community worldwide, including by the US's influential Center for Disease Control. But there is no hard evidence of the link, rather a mixture of epidemiological indications and circumstantial evidence.

One of the key scientific papers, by A S Oliveira Melo et al in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, found Zika virus in the amniotic fluids and other tissues of the affected babies and their mothers. But only two women were examined, far too small a number to establish a statistically significant link.

The New York Times also reported on 3rd February on the outcome of analyses by Brazil's Health Ministry: "Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly. Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus. But the government and many researchers say that number may be largely irrelevant, because their tests would find the presence of the virus in only a tiny percentage of cases."

And last weekend, the most powerful indicator yet that the microcephaly may have another cause altogether was announced by Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos, as reported by the Washington Post. Colombian public health officials, stated Santos, have so far diagnosed 3,177 pregnant women with the Zika virus- but in no case had microcephaly been observed in the foetus.

Read full at: Argentine doctors: it's the insecticide

Obama Budget Would Add Another $9.3 Trillion to the Debt

President Barack Obama presented a budget to Congress on Tuesday that if enacted would add nearly $10 trillion to the national debt, according to the White House's projections.

The president's final budget, widely considered to be dead on arrival due to the Republican-controlled Congress, projects the nation would face a $27.4 trillion debt in 2026.

The budget set the actual total debt for 2015 at $18.1 trillion, projecting an increase of $9.3 trillion. When President Obama took office the debt stood at $10.6 trillion.

Feb 9, 2016

World's largest solar plant goes live; will provide power for 1.1M people

ComputerworldThe world's largest solar power plant, now live in Morocco, will eventually provide 1.1 million people with power and cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year.

The $9 billion Noor Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant could eventually start exporting energy to the European market.

The Noor Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), paid for with funds approved by The World Bank, is located in the Souss-Massa-Drâa area in Morocco, about 6 miles from Ouarzazate town. It began operation on Thursday. While the World Bank and other development partners provided financial support, the Noor solar plant is a wholly Moroccan project.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Starcore Nuclear high temperature gas reactor and Northern nuclear pebble bed

Next Big FutureCanada has several projects for small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) and very small modular nuclear reactors (VSMRs). VSMRs are typically of capacity below 15 MW while SMRs are usually up to 300 MW.

Remote communities, mining and oil/gas production sites, and government facilities are the three most likely customers of remotely-deployed VSMRs.

Canada has over 200,000 people in over 200 remote communities and 80% of energy comes from diesel powered generators, he said. "It's getting increasingly difficult year by year to bring [diesel] in," Humphries said.

The ice roads of northern Canada are crucial supply routes for providing fuel and resources to remote communities and mining operations in the winter.

The ice roads were late to freeze this winter and some reports suggested climate change was having an impact on the seasonal cycle. Other fuel transport measures include road train, special flights and ice breaker ships.

"You're talking up to C$2/kWh [to supply electricity] in those regions," Humphries said.

Many nuclear vendors are targeting initial Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) in the range of C$0.30-0.40/kWh with a long-term goal of reducing costs to a level that would compete economically with the cost of power in an urban area, Humphries added.

StarCore Nuclear is developing a 30 MWe high temperature gas nuclear reactor. It is safe, reliable and operated remotely. This makes it ideal for two types of frontier customers in Canada – mines and villages. These customers currently rely on diesel generation and propane, which are expensive and increasingly unreliable due to shrinking ice road capacity. Starcore has identified two dozen mines where they can offer electricity and heat at prices well below the mine's alternative cost and still be highly profitable. Villages are currently heavily subsidized by governments and utilities. For the larger villages, or those near mines, we can offer retail customers electricity at attractive prices, enable community development, substantially reduce the subsidies, and earn strong profits.

Beyond Canada, there are 1.3 billion people worldwide who have no access to electricity, and another billion relying on expensive diesel generation. Using the experience gained in Canada, we will offer affordable electricity and clean water to customers in this huge market, significantly improving their living standards and health, while earning attractive profits.


LEADIR-PS100

This is a new design from Northern Nuclear Industries in Canada, combining a number of features in unique combination. The 100 MWt, 36 MWe reactor has a graphite moderator, TRISO fuel in pebbles, lead (Pb-208) as primary coolant, all as integral pool-type arrangement at near atmospheric pressure. It delivers steam at 370°C, and is also envisaged as an industrial heat plant. The fuel pebbles are in four cells, each with graphite reflectors, and capacity can be increased by adding cells. Shutdown rods are similar to those in CANDU reactors. Passive decay heat removal is by air convection. The company present it as a Gen IV design

Read more »

China's experimental fusion reactor maintains superheated hydrogen plasma for 102 seconds

China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak reactor

GizmagA bit of friendly competition never hurt anyone. China's EAST tokamak and Germany's Wendelstein 7-X aren't exactly fusion energy's answer to Messi and Ronaldo, but through their own flashes of individual brilliance the reactors might one day command the world's attention in a much more important way. Wendelstein 7-X made headlines last week after generating a quarter-of-a-second pulse of hydrogen plasma, and now scientists at China's Institute of Physical Science have flexed their fusion muscle to sustain the gas for an impressive 102 seconds.

.. Continue Reading China's experimental fusion reactor maintains superheated hydrogen plasma for 102 seconds 
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Feb 8, 2016

Pope Francis, Environmental Anthropologist...our responsibilities to each other and the natural world that we share.

Abstract:  In June 2015, after much anticipation and a few leaks, Pope Francis released his encyclical entitled "Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home." "Laudato si'" means "praise be to you," a phrase that appears repeatedly in Saint Francis' Canticle of the Sun poem. The encyclical itself has been widely praised and widely reported, far more than one would expect from an explicitly religious document. The encyclical is breathtakingly ambitious. Much of it is addressed to "every person living on this planet," while specific parts speak to Catholics and others to religious believers generally. It surveys a sweeping range of environmental and social problems. Along the way, it relies on anthropology, theology, science, economic, politics, law, and numerous other disciplines. 
 
Especially anthropology. The popular response often described Laudato Si' as a "climate change" encyclical. It's not: only five of the 180 pages specifically address climate change, about the same as the discussion of the noise and ugliness, crime, housing, and transportation that affect the "ecology of daily life." It is not really even an environmental encyclical, for the natural environment does not play the starring role. Rather, it is an encyclical about us. Francis contends that the natural environment suffers because we misunderstand humanity.
 
This Article examines the encyclical from the perspective of Christian environmental thought more generally. It begins by outlining the development of such thought, and then it turns to the contributions of the encyclical with respect to environmental anthropology, environmental connectedness, environmental morality, and environmental governance. As the article explains, Pope Francis is a powerful advocate for a Christian environmental morality but a less convincing advocate for specific regulatory reforms. His greatest contribution is to encourage more people, religious believers and non-believers alike, to engage in a respectful dialogue about how we can better fulfill our responsibilities to each other and the natural world that we share.

Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 1526 

John Copeland Nagle 
Notre Dame Law School

Research says BPA replacement in plastics not safer

The BPA-free trend started after studies found a link between bisphenol A (BPA) and health issues such as early puberty and prostate cancers. After that, products with bisphenol S (BPS) started cropping up as a safer alternative. But now a UCLA-led study suggests that BPS can be just as harmful as BPA, causing faster embryonic development and disruption of the reproductive system in animals.

Gizmag.. Continue Reading Research says BPA replacement in plastics not safer 

Feb 6, 2016

EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement Announced

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP | Newsroom |

On February 2, 2016, the United States and European Union Commission announced the EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement. The Agreement will govern regulation of data flows between the United States and the European Union (EU) and, as one of the EU Commissioners stated, the agreement addresses concerns by EU members regarding use of European citizens' data and personal information by U.S. companies and the U.S. government. 

 

The full text of the Agreement will not be released for a number of weeks, but the dual announcements highlight the Agreement's major points:

 

  • The Agreement will impose strong requirements on U.S. companies with respect to the collection and use of personal data.
  • The limitations and oversight requirements will also be imposed on collection and use of Europeans' personal information and data by the United States government.
  • Aggrieved Europeans will have a number of affordable and accessible dispute resolution options.

 

While awaiting the specifics of the Agreement, a consensus has emerged that companies might still be able to rely on the EU Model Clauses and Binding Corporate Rules for data transfers, but whether those protocols survive after the terms of the Agreement are released remains to be seen. Companies relying on the U.S. Safe Harbor provisions may face enforcement action since that scheme was invalidated by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Schrems decision late last year.


Feb 4, 2016

Nuclear fusion device's 1st test with hydrogen declared a success - CBC News

Scientists in Germany flipped the switch Wednesday on an experiment they hope will advance the quest for nuclear fusion, considered a clean and safe form of nuclear power.

Following nine years of construction and testing, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald injected a tiny amount of hydrogen into a doughnut-shaped device — then zapped it with the equivalent of 6,000 microwave ovens.

Germany Nuclear FusionGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel , center, who holds a doctorate in physics, personally pressed the button at Wednesday's launch of an experiment they hope will advance the quest for nuclear fusion, considered a clean and safe form of nuclear power. (Bernd Wuestneck/dpa via Associated Press)

The resulting super-hot gas, known as plasma, lasted just a fraction of a second before cooling down again, long enough for scientists to confidently declare the start of their experiment a success.

"Everything went well today," said Robert Wolf, a senior scientist involved with the project. "With a system as complex as this you have to make sure everything works perfectly and there's always a risk."

Among the difficulties is how to cool the complex arrangement of magnets required to keep the plasma floating inside the device, Wolf said. Scientists looked closely at the hiccups experienced during the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland more than five years ago to avoid similar mistakes, he said.

World-wide effort

The experiment in Greifswald is part of a world-wide effort to harness nuclear fusion, a process in which atoms join at extremely high temperatures and release large amounts of energy that's similar to what occurs inside the sun.

Advocates acknowledge that the technology is probably many decades away, but argue that — once achieved — it could replace fossil fuels and conventional nuclear fission reactors.

Construction has already begun in southern France on ITER, a huge international research reactor that uses a strong electric current to trap plasma inside a doughnut-shaped device long enough for fusion to take place. The device, known as a tokamak, was conceived by Soviet physicists in the 1950s and is considered fairly easy to build, but extremely difficult to operate.

The team in Greifswald, a port city on Germany's Baltic coast, is focused on a rival technology invented by the American physicist Lyman Spitzer in 1950. Called a stellarator, the device has the same doughnut shape as a tokamak but uses a complicated system of magnetic coils instead of a current to achieve the same result.


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Feb 2, 2016

CDC: 4 out of 5 Americans prescribed antibiotics each year - CBS News

Via: CBS:

Skyrocking rates of antibiotic prescriptions now suggest that as many as four out of five Americans may be getting antibiotics annually, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's is concerning officials, especially because overuse is one reason antibiotics are losing their punch and making infections harder to treat.

The report released Wednesday gives the first detailed look at usage of these medicines in every state and finds it highest in the South and Appalachia. West Virginia had the highest rates at 1.237 prescriptions per person, followed by Kentucky at 1.232 and Tennessee at 1.199. The lowest rates were found in California (0.6 per person), Oregon (0.595) and Alaska (0.529).


GE turns out the lights on CFLs

GE will cease production of CFLs (left) in favor of LEDs (right)

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that could fit into standard light sockets only hit the market in the 1980s, but the signs are their days may be numbered. GE has announced it will cease production of CFLs this year and instead switch its focus to producing LEDs.

.. Continue Reading GE turns out the lights on CFLs 
// Gizmag

Jan 29, 2016

Fifty Years of Global Immunization at CDC — 1966–2015

Source: CDC Weekly
During the early 1960s, concern that smallpox could be imported into the United States, and a broader interest in solving health challenges facing humanity, catalyzed the U.S. government's commitment for global smallpox eradication, which culminated on November 23, 1965, with a White House press release announcing plans for smallpox and measles vaccination campaigns for West Africa. Shortly afterward, in January 1966, the CDC Smallpox Eradication Program was established in the Office of the CDC Director, demonstrating strong agency-wide commitment to smallpox eradication and enabling deployment of resources across the agency. Ultimately, approximately 300 CDC staff members participated in the eradication initiative, and smallpox was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1980.

January 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of CDC's Smallpox Eradication Program and the beginning of CDC's leadership in global immunization. This year CDC will begin implementing a new Strategic Framework for Global Immunization, 2016–2020, that articulates CDC's vision of a world with healthy persons protected from vaccine preventable disease (VPD), disability, and death.

A major focus during the next 5 years will be to provide scientific leadership and evidence-based guidance to achieve a world free of polio. CDC will also build on and leverage achievement of polio eradication to increase focus on preventing VPD importation into the United States; preventing, detecting, and responding to VPD outbreaks globally as part of the Global Health Security Agenda (https://ghsagenda.org); achieving a world free of measles and rubella; ending VPD deaths among children aged <5 years; and reducing chronic disease and cancer deaths from VPDs.

It’s not just Flint: Poor communities across the country live with ‘extreme’ polluters - The Washington Post

The Washington Post:

As national attention focuses on Flint, Mich. — where lead-contaminated water flowed for over a year to a relatively poor, minority community — new research suggests that across the U.S., communities like these are more likely to be exposed to some of the most intense pollution.

In a new paper just out in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters, sociologist Mary Collins of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and two colleagues from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and the University of Maryland examined what they term "hyper-polluters": Industrial facilities that, based on EPA data, generate disproportionately large amounts of air pollution. Then, they cross-referenced the location of these facilities with socio-demographic data from the 2000 census.

The result? "We find striking evidence that extreme emitters are likely impacting EJ [environmental justice] communities even more significantly than typical EJ scholarship might predict," the study said.

The study adds to a body of evidence showing that the U.S. continues to struggle when it comes to "environmental justice," a concept advanced by advocates and researchers to describe the reality that poor and minority communities tend to have disproportionate exposures to environmental hazards.

The industrial emissions examined in the new study were reported by close to 16,000 industrial facilities in the continental U.S. as part of the EPA's toxics release inventory program. The facilities were across a variety of sectors, ranging from mining to manufacturing, according to Collins. They did not include large power plants.

Examining this EPA data, the study found a significant disparity when it comes to how much different facilities pollute. "90% of toxic concentration present in the study area is generated by only 809 (about 5%) of facilities," the paper reported.

Michigan Officials Quietly Gave Bottled Water To State Employees Months Before Flint Residents | @ThinkProgress

ThinkProgress:

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget decided to haul water coolers into the Flint state building in January of 2015 out of concern over the city's water quality, a year before bottled water was being made available to residents, according to documents obtained by Progress Michigan.

Flint switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River in April 2014, which is now known to have caused lead to leach into the city's tap water. After two boil advisories were issued in August and September of 2014, the city sent residents a notice that the level of trihalomethanes (TTHMs), which can cause liver and kidney problems, had exceed federal limits, although they were told that it was still fine to use the water and no corrective actions needed to be taken.

But concerns raised over water quality were enough for officials in the state's capitol of Lansing to decide to give state employees the option to drink bottled water from coolers, rather than from water fountains. Coolers were placed next to the fountains on each occupied floor, according to the documents, and were to be provided "as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements."

facility notification

CREDIT: PROGRESS MICHIGAN

For residents, however, it took researchers uncovering elevated levels of lead in children's bloodstreams for a lead advisory to finally be issued in September of 2015. Residents were told not to drink the water and a public health emergency was declared by the Genesee County Health Department in October, and Flint's mayor declared a state of emergency in December. The National Guard was activated in January of this year to distribute water from five fire stations — a full year after water was brought in for state employees out of concern over water quality.


5 percent of polluters create 90 percent of toxic emissions. Guess where they’re located? | Grist

Grist: 

With the way the Flint water crisis is unfolding, the reality of environmental racism is front and center in the news. As Aura Bogado explained so well earlier this week, environmental justice is closely tied to segregation and inequality. It seems like every month there's a new study telling us that pollution is higher in black and low-income communities. Well, January did not disappoint.

A new study published in Environmental Research Letters looks into the connections between pollution, race, and income. Other studies have shown that people of color and immigrants are more likely to live in areas of higher pollution. This study, titled "Linking 'Toxic Outliers' to Environmental Justice Communities," gets a little more specific. The study looked to see if there were super-polluters — were a small number of facilities responsible for the majority of toxic emissions? — and measured their proximity to communities in terms of race and income status.

First, the researchers found the super-polluters:

Using public data and open-source software, we assess industrially based exposure estimates and proximate socio-demographic characteristics on a polluter-by-polluter basis across the continental United States. We find a highly skewed distribution of polluter-based harm generation with fewer than 10% of the nearly 16,000 study area facilities generating greater than 90% of estimated exposure.

They then did some nice math trick in order to compare it to the race and income area demographics. The results were definitely interesting but maybe a little unsurprising if you've been reading about environmental justice for a while: 90 percent of toxic emissions came from just 5 percent of the facilities, and low-income and people of color are more likely to live in closer proximity and be exposed to these super-polluters.

Why is this? The authors give a good guess: Economic power comes with political power, so those of a lower income are less likely to be able to fight and get these polluters out of their neighborhoods. The study explained:

[O]ur results support the possibility of Lerner-style sacrifice zones — or high minority, low income neighborhoods where toxic outliers can exist without the focus they might receive in other locations (Lerner, 2010). If so, the ability of such facilities to impose health risk on populations with the least capacity to resist would contribute to the persistence of these patterns.

These results definitely give us interesting policy implications. The key to helping these communities could be to focus on reducing the emissions of these "toxic outliers," or better yet — getting them shut down.


That's a relief..... In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans

WASHINGTON — The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.

The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass.

"Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation," Schatz said.

The chairman of the environment committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the "biggest hoax" perpetrated against mankind.

"The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate," Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. "Man can't change the climate."

The Senate, with Inhofe's support, did pass a separate measure saying that climate change is real — just not that human activity is a cause. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the only senator to vote against it.


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Jan 28, 2016

First Annual State of EH&S Report from Triumvirate Environmental Details Trends, Opportunities and Possible Threats

BOSTON--()--Triumvirate will detail findings and implications of the 2016 State of EH&S Survey in a webinar on January 28, 2 p.m. ET. Registration is open at: bit.ly/EHSwebinar

"The findings in this report should be a call to action because with stagnant budgets, EH&S employees are unable to focus on new initiatives that move the needle in regards to sustainability, innovation and growth."

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Triumvirate Environmental today released its first annual "State of EH&S" report analyzing the direction of the environmental health and safety industry. Triumvirate Environmental surveyed close to 200 EH&S professionals across multiple verticals to gain insight on the direction of the industry for 2016 and beyond.

Four Trends from the Survey

1. Safety Is Number One

Safety was the most important trend and biggest challenge of 2016 across industries and experience levels.

One respondent elaborated that the most important concern is, "maintaining EH&S visibility and the critical importance of safety and environmental compliance to the Senior/Executive Leadership. EH&S and its functions are taking a backseat to many other programs, and is becoming dispersed and diluted."

2. Understaffing is Rampant

Over 72% of EH&S professionals feel their department is currently understaffed and 79% of EH&S departments won't be growing in 2016. Of all industries, educational institutions had the highest percentage of respondents who felt their EH&S department was understaffed at 82%.

3. Regulatory Updates Are A Focus

Regulatory compliance was a close second to safety for most industries when asked about trends and challenges (aside from life sciences that put sustainability in the second spot). The majority of respondents cited constantly changing regulations and increasing fines as the reason.

4. Sustainability Isn't Quite There Yet

Sustainability ranked least important out of seven possible initiatives for 2016 (including safety, regulatory compliance, training, waste management & disposal, cost savings and plan improvement).

"The 2016 State of EH&S report shows that organizations are hard-pressed to expand their environmental health and safety staff with possible negative outlook for many of the topics we care about," said Warren Sukernek, director of marketing at Triumvirate Environmental. "Our analysis shows that a lack of staffing and resources can limit the ability to adopt programs like sustainability and affect operational efficiency. If organizations were allocating more funding, I think we'd see a greater focus on sustainability and using technology to streamline existing processes. Simply focusing on regulatory requirements to avoid fines and preserve job security is not enough to drive future success and innovation in our industry."

"Building a safe and compliant workspace is the central function of most EH&S departments. However, perspectives around environmental wellness are not being taken into account when EH&S departments are developing goals and priorities for their organizations," said Sasha Laferte, research lead for "State of EH&S" at Triumvirate. "The findings in this report should be a call to action because with stagnant budgets, EH&S employees are unable to focus on new initiatives that move the needle in regards to sustainability, innovation and growth."

Access the full report: bit.ly/EHSreport

Triumvirate will detail findings and implications of the 2016 State of EH&S Survey in a webinar on January 28, 2 p.m. ET. Registration is open at: bit.ly/EHSwebinar

Methodology:
Triumvirate's report is the first report of this depth and breadth in the EH&S industry. During December 2015, Triumvirate surveyed close to 200 EH&S professionals. Experience level of respondents ranged from associate to C-level and their locations spanned from Florida to Maine and out to Illinois.

Please read full from link source at: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160127005808/en/Major-Environmental-Health-Safety-Survey-Finds-Staffing

Jan 24, 2016

By 2050, there'll be more plastic than fish in our oceans

The number of fish in our oceans will be outweighed by plastic waste over the next 35 years, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF). The announcement comes after a pretty bleak week for news, during which scientists told us all the aliens are probably dead, and South Africa moved closer to lifting its ban on domestic rhino horn trade.

The report revealed that almost a third of all the plastic we produce "leaks" into the environment, mostly ending up in our oceans, where it'll probably be eaten by wildlife or will eventually make its way into a great floating garbage patch.

Please continue reading from: 
http://www.sciencealert.com/by-2050-there-ll-be-more-plastic-than-fish-in-our-oceans?

Jan 22, 2016

NY S 164A Requires that all persons working on contracts valued at $250,000 or more receive at least 10 hours of OSHA training prior to their performance of work

New York — ​S 164A

Title:
Requires that all persons working on contracts valued at $250,000 or more receive at least ten hours of OSHA training prior to their performance of work

Resources:
Full Text Read the official bill text.
http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=printbill&bn=S164A&term=2015

Jan 21, 2016

Energy Department Announces Teams to Compete in #SolarDecathlon 2017

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the 16 collegiate teams selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 competition. The teams, from colleges and universities across the United States and around the world, will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative and highly energy-efficient.

 

"President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy aims to create a safer and more sustainable planet, while ensuring American students and workers have the skills they need for the challenging jobs of today and tomorrow," said DOE's Solar Decathlon Director, Richard King. "The Solar Decathlon competition supports the department's commitment to improving the nation's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education efforts, and to building a more knowledge-intensive workforce."

 

Over the coming months, the 16 Solar Decathlon teams will design, construct, and test their houses before reassembling them at the Solar Decathlon 2017 competition site, which will be announced soon. As part of the Solar Decathlon, teams compete in 10 different contests—ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance—while gaining valuable hands-on experience in clean energy design. The winner of the competition will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. For the first time in the competition's history, the Solar Decathlon 2017 teams will be competing for $2 million in prize money.

 

In mid-2017, the student teams will showcase their solar-powered houses at the competition site to the public, providing free tours of renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products, and appliances that today are helping homeowners nationwide save money by saving energy. The solar-powered houses will represent a diverse range of design approaches; building technologies; target markets; and geographic locations, climates and regions, including urban, suburban and rural settings.

 

The following teams have been selected to compete in Solar Decathlon 2017:

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College (Daytona Beach, Florida)

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)

HU University of Applied Science Utrecht (Utrecht, Netherlands)

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Missouri)

Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)

Rice University (Houston, Texas)

Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York)

University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Alabama)

University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, California)

University of California, Davis (Davis, California)

University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Washington State University (Pullman, Washington)

Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri)

West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virginia).

The 16 teams include eight returning teams and eight new teams.

 

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017

http://www.solardecathlon.gov

By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans, study says

There is a lot of plastic in the world's oceans.

It coagulates into great floating "garbage patches" that cover large swaths of the Pacific. It washes up by the truckfull on urban beaches and remote islands, tossed about in the waves and transported across incredible distances before arriving,...

Please read full and follow at: // B'More Green - Baltimore Sun

Ultra low quality North Dakota crude oil re-priced at $1.50 per barrel, up from negative number

Flint Hills Resources LLC, owned by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, originally asked producers in North Dakota's Bakken formation to pay the company to take shipments of a certain type of low-quality crude, Dan Murtaugh and Javier Blas report for Bloomberg. The company, which last week posted a price of -$0.50 per barrel, said the negative price was incorrectly posted and raised the price to $1.50 per barrel. The crude is down from $13.50 per barrel a year ago and $47.60 in January 2014. 

"While the near-zero price is due to the lack of pipeline capacity for a particular variety of ultra low quality crude, it underscores how dire things are in the U.S. oil patch," Murtaugh and Blas write. "U.S. benchmark oil prices have collapsed more than 70 percent in the past 18 months and fell below $30 a barrel for the first time in 12 years last week. West Texas Intermediate traded as low as $28.36 in New York. Brent, the international benchmark, settled at $28.55 in London." 

"Different grades of oil are priced based on their quality and transport costs to refineries," reports Bloomberg. "High-sulfur crudes are generally priced lower because they can only be processed at plants that have specific equipment to remove sulfur. Producers and refiners often mix grades to achieve specific blends, and prices for each component can rise or fall to reflect current economics." While negative prices are rare, they aren't unheard of. "Oil refineries sometimes pay people to take away low-demand products such as sulfur or petroleum coke to free up space." 
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"All transport, with the exception of rockets, will go fully electric" (@Michael_GR)

Elon Musk says Apple's electric car is an 'open secret' in wide-ranging BBC interview

BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones went to Tesla's Design Studio in Hawthorne, California, to have a 20 minute conversation with Elon Musk, the man with the thousand big projects. They covered a lot of ground, including the future of electric cars and autonomous driving technology, as well as Tesla's goal of making more affordable EVs (starting with the Model 3, which will be unveiled this Spring), and what Musks think of possible competition from Apple. There's also a brief discussion of artificial intelligence, which Musk has warned about before.
Please read full and follow at: 

The Russian Plan To Use Space Mirrors To Turn Night Into Day

Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it's that too. The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jan 20, 2016

A Triple-Bottom Line Solution FREE Webinar-February 17, 2016 1:30 PM EST

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Reuse: A Triple-Bottom Line Solution
A Free Webinar

Join us on February 17, 2016 1:30 PM EST for the third webinar in NERC's reuse webinar series!

Learn about the positive impact reuse can have on your state, community, organization, or business Triple Bottom Line!

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Who Should Attend
Materials management professionals, nonprofit organizers, state/community/tribal leaders and activists, business owners, and others wanting to advance reuse in their communities.
 
Description
States, communities, organizations, and companies are realizing that incorporating sustainability strategies into their programs and operations brings positive benefits to people, the planet, and economies ("profits")—the "triple bottom line". Reuse can foster both environmental and economic sustainability. Reuse conserves resources by extending product life cycles, and it presents the world with exciting entrepreneurial business models that benefit the social good. Reuse: a Triple-Bottom Line Solution will present insights into the many benefits of reuse and ways to measure these benefits.
 

Presenters and Topics
Meeting the Triple Bottom Line - the Community ReUse Center Model
Diane Cohen, Executive Director, Finger Lakes ReUse, Inc.

Fix-it Clinics—Bringing Communities Together
Nancy Lo, Waste Reduction and Recycling unit, Hennepin County
(MN) Environment and Energy Department
 
ReUse on Campus
Stacey White, Sustainability Coordinator
University Operations, University of Minnesota
 
Reuse – Metrics, and Impacts
Colleen Hetzel, Solid Waste Principal Planner
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
 

Panasonic to invest $1.6B in Tesla's Gigafactory

Increasing its previous commitment to lithium-ion battery technology for electric vehicles and homes, Panasonic Corp. said it will spend up to $1.6 billion on Tesla Motor's Gigafactory.

The investment in the factory, which is being build outside Reno, Nev. and is expected to cost $5 billion, is an attempt by Panasonic to cement its future in automotive electronics, Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga told reporters at CES this month.

Tesla Model S lithium-ion battery 

A Tesla Model S lithium-ion battery pack

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Jan 19, 2016

Researchers kill drug-resistant lung cancer with 50 times less chemo

The cancer drug paclitaxel just got more effective. For the first time, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have packaged it in containers derived from a patient's own immune system, protecting the drug from being destroyed by the body's own defenses and bringing the entire payload to the tumor.

"That means we can use 50 times less of the drug and still get the same results," said Elena Batrakova, Ph.D., an associate professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. "That matters because we may eventually be able to treat patients with smaller and more accurate doses of powerful chemotherapy drugs resulting in more effective treatment with fewer and milder side effects."

The work, led by Batrakova and her colleagues at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy's Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, is based on exosomes, which are tiny spheres harvested from the white blood cells that protect the body against infection. The exosomes are made of the same material as cell membranes, and the patient's body doesn't recognize them as foreign, which has been one of the toughest issues to overcome in the past decade with using plastics-based nanoparticles as drug-delivery systems.

"Exosomes are engineered by nature to be the perfect delivery vehicles," said Batrakova, who has also used this technique as a potential therapy for Parkinson's disease. "By using exosomes from white blood cells, we wrap the medicine in an invisibility cloak that hides it from the immune system. We don't know exactly how they do it, but the exosomes swarm the cancer cells, completely bypassing any drug resistance they may have and delivering their payload."



Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine journal - Development of exosome-encapsulated paclitaxel to overcome MDR in cancer cells

Read more »// Next Big Future

Jan 18, 2016

Environment and Society featured article “Untangling Introduced and Invasive Animals" by @crystallf

The latest Environment and Society featured article is now available! This month's article, "Untangling Introduced and Invasive Animals," comes from Volume 4 (2013). Crystal Fortwangler explores introduced and invasive species, untangling the ways disciplinary frameworks across the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities examine introduced and invasive species and their relations with human societies.

Visit the featured article page to download your copy of the article today before it's gone! A new article is featured every month.

Crystal Fortwangler is Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Environmental Anthropology at the Falk School of Sustainability. Follow her at: @crystallf

Pandemics and national security

This months the report "Global Health Risk Framework" was released. It was prepared by a commission sponsored by The Wellcome Trust [UK]..." in partnership with seven other philanthropic and government organisations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, in response to the Ebola outbreak that began in 2014. It was coordinated by the US National Academy of Medicine," according to an announcement at the Welllcome Trust website.

The announcement continues:

"...Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Commission's International Oversight Group, said:

"Few global events match epidemics and pandemics in potential to disrupt human security and inflict loss of life and economic and social damage. Yet for many decades, the world has invested far less in preventing, preparing for and responding to these threats than in comparable risks to international and financial security.

"Today's report shows that by spending the equivalent of around 40p a year for every person on the planet, we could make our world much safer against the threat of infectious disease outbreaks.

"The cornerstones of the proposed framework must be the creation of a strong, independent WHO Center to lead outbreak preparedness and response, and an expert body to galvanise the research and development of vaccines, therapies, diagnostics and other tools...."

The announcement is at

The report is available as a free download from the US National Academy of
Medicine website:
where there are other links related to the report's launch.

Jan 17, 2016

MIT researchers can recycle the light of incandescent light and become 4 times as efficient as LED lights

Researchers at MIT have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat, while still allowing the light through.
They refer to the technique as 'recycling light' because the energy which would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light.

"It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted," said Professor Marin Soljacic.

Usually traditional light bulbs are only about five per cent efficient, with 95 per cent of the energy being lost to the atmosphere. In comparison LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 per cent efficiency. But the scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 per cent.

And it shows colors far more naturally than modern energy-efficient bulbs. Traditional incandescent bulbs have a 'colour rendering index' rating of 100, because they match the hue of objects seen in natural daylight. However even 'warm' finish LED or florescent bulbs can only manage an index rating of 80 and most are far less.



Nature Nanotechnology - Tailoring high-temperature radiation and the resurrection of the incandescent source

Read more »// Next Big Future

Jan 15, 2016

Occupational Health Guide for Owners and Managers

"Creating a Safe and Healthy Workplace: A Guide for Entrepreneurs, Owners, and Managers is available on the website of the International Commission on Occupational Health:

This is a short, easy-to-read, easy-to-translate, user-friendly, heavily illustrated booklet It was written primarily for small- and medium-enterprises in developing countries but there has been interest in using it more generally. 

This is a new resource and you may find it useful in many applications as a means of raising awareness, educating managers, and disseminating reasonable practices to clients and managers without ohs training. . 

Jan 14, 2016

Department of Energy ESnet will carry 100 petabytes of data per month in 2016

The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) is the mission network of the U.S. Department of Energy. This high-performance, unclassified network that is managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is moving into the newly-constructed Wang Hall on the Berkeley Lab campus.

ESnet links 40 DOE sites across the country and scientists at universities and other research institutions via a 100 gigabits-per second backbone network. One of these sites, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) has made the move to the Berkeley campus from its previous 15-year home in Oakland, California. ESnet has built a 400 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) super-channel between the Berkeley and Oakland sites to support this transition over the next year. This is the first-ever 400G production link to be deployed by a national research and education network, and will also be part of a research testbed for assessing new tools and technologies that are necessary to support massive data growth as supercomputers approach the exascale era.

ESnet carries around 20 petabytes of data monthly. The level of traffic over the ESnet network has increased an average of 10 times every 4 years, propelled by the rising tide of data produced by more powerful supercomputers, global collaborations that can involve thousands of researchers, and specialized facilities like the Large Hadron Collider and digital sky surveys. It's expected that ESnet will need to carry over 100 petabytes of data per month by 2016.


ESnet purchased almost 13,000 miles of dark fiber from a commercial carrier for DOE use. By creating a research testbed and lighting the dark fiber with optical gear, ESnet will enable network researchers to safely experiment with disruptive techologies that will make up the next generation Internet in a production-like environment at 100 Gbps speeds.

Read more »// Next Big Future

Jan 13, 2016

cryptogon.com » $1 Trillion Erased from Stocks So Far in 2016

CNNWall Street's disastrous start to 2016 has caused roughly $1 trillion to vanish from the stock market.

The eye-popping losses highlight the deep fears that has gripped financial markets over China's economic slowdown and crashing oil prices.

That one-two punch caused the Dow and S&P 500 to suffer their worst start to a trading year on record last week.

The S&P 500's market valuation has plunged by $1.04 trillion since the end of 2015, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Jan 12, 2016

Free Webinar: Implementation of the Green Chemistry Change and Sustaining Success

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Green Chemistry Guide Listen and Learn Webinar Series
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​​Webinar:                    Implementation of the Green Chemistry Change and Sustaining Success
Date:                           Tuesday, January 19, 2016 2:00-3:00 PM EST
Register Online:         https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2425667052908588290
 
Join the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) and the Western Sustainability & Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 2:00 PM EST for another Green Chemistry Guide Listen and Learn webinar.  The Green Chemistry manual provides state agencies and technical assistance providers (engineers) with tools and resources to better serve their clients who are looking for information and to support greening their operations, processes, products and supply chains. Business owners can also use the publication to develop and implement green chemistry solutions and improve profitability.

This series of webinars covers the content of the manual chapter-by-chapter. Lissa McCracken, Executive Director, Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center, will present on Chapter 8, which addresses the implementation of sustainability practices into business models and integrating pollution prevention and green chemistry strategies and models

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After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
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