Oct 24, 2014

EPA Proposes to Remove 72 Chemicals from Approved Pesticide Inert Ingredient List

U.S. EPA News - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting public comment on a proposal to remove 72 chemicals from its list of substances approved for use as inert ingredients in pesticide products. "We are taking action to ensure that these ingredients are not added to any pesticide... 

Oct 23, 2014

Silicon Valley's latest high-tech gadgetry makes sewage water drinkable

Gizmag Drinking recycled urine may be the stuff of Dune novels, and a drastic response to California's ongoing drought. But officials in Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley are hoping its new high-tech purification plant will help residents get past the ick factor and eventually allow treated wastewater to flow through their faucets in a "toilet to tap" scenario. Opened in July, the $72 million Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center is the most advanced such plant in the US, and uses a multi-step system of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet rays to produce water of higher quality than typical drinking water... Continue Reading Silicon Valley's latest high-tech gadgetry makes sewage water drinkable 

Oct 22, 2014

Fukushima legacy... 1,600 deaths and 25,000 who cannot go home ever again

Three years on from the Fukushima disaster, the families who once lived in the area have been forced to accept that their homes will be out of bounds for a lifetime By rob Edwards in Fukushima

At least 25,000 people evacuated after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan will never be able to go home.

A large swathe of land downwind of the four Fukushima Daiichi reactors smashed by a 15-metre tsunami in March 2011 is so contaminated by radioactivity that it will not be officially safe to return for more than 100 years.

Tens of thousands more who have left their homes outside the most contaminated zone will choose never to return because of the dangers.

One is Rumyko Kobayashi, a quietly spoken grandmother of nine, who had to leave her ancestral home in Tomioka.

"Because the radiation is so high, I can't bring my grandchildren home and I do not want to live in a place where you can't see your grandchildren," she said.

With heart-rending dignity, Kobayashi confesses how strongly she feels about what she's lost.

"I am very, very sorry to my ancestors who lived there for a long time as a family, a chain of generations," she said. "I am very sorry to my children and grandchildren because they cannot come back to live in our cherished home. I feel guilty, as if it was me who blew up the nuclear power station."

The explosions, meltdowns and leaks at Fukushima Daiichi triggered by an earthquake and tsunami three and a half years ago have hurt Japan deeply, triggering 2.2 million compensation claims, an £8 billion decontamination budget and dozens of legal suits. It's a hurt that is going to take many decades to heal.

More than 30,000 square kilometres of northern Japan were contaminated by the huge clouds of radioactivity that belched into the air during the accident. More than 80,000 people were forced to evacuate from the areas closest to Fukushima Daiichi, and at least another 80,000 are reckoned to have voluntarily decided to flee their homes.

The official evacuation zone is divided into three different areas. In the least contaminated, furthest away from the nuclear plant, the Japanese government is hoping to allow 32,900 people to return soon.

In the second area there is twice or three times as much contamination, and no immediate plan to lift the ban on living there. But the government is hoping that, after decontamination work and natural radioactive decay, 23,300 people will be allowed home in years to come.

In the third area closest to the nuclear station, radiation levels are so high that experts say it will be more than 120 years before it will be safe for anyone to be allowed back. That means that the 24,700 who used to live there will all be dead before they can go home.

Many of those who may be allowed back won't want to come. A survey of one village in the evacuation zones, Katsurao, found that 60 per cent of residents either didn't want to return home or weren't sure. Families with young children faced an "enormous challenge" because of the "invisible risk" of radiation, said the village mayor, Masahide Matsumoto.

"At least 25,000 people will never be able to return home, and this will have traumatic, prolonged and widespread consequences," said Maria Vitagliano, international programme director for Green Cross International, an environmental Red Cross active in Japan and set up by former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993.

She added: "In Japan the catastrophe is continuing. Three years on, it is impossible to calculate the full dimensions of this disaster and its terrible consequences for the people. This is a catastrophe that will cause untold suffering for decades to come."

More than 1,600 deaths have been attributed to the nuclear accident by the Japanese authorities, mainly amongst elderly evacuees due to acute stress, suicides or shortages of medical care. Any long-term health damage from the radioactive contamination will take many years to show up.

It is a tragic disaster that is getting worse, according to Ikuko Hebiishi, a green councillor in Koriyama city, 34 miles from Fukushima Daiichi. The evacuations have torn families and communities apart, making people sick and depressed, she said.

"The next Fukushima disaster could happen anywhere and anytime in Japan as long as nuclear power plants exist in our country. The co-existence of nuclear power and human beings is totally impossible."

Please read full and follow at: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/world-news/fukushima-legacy-25000-who-cannot-go-home-again.25565035

Natural Gas Is Leaking And Warming The Climate -- And You're Paying For It

The way U.S. cities move around natural gas may be contributing more to climate change than anyone appreciated: The pipes are leaking, and some are leaking a lot.

About a third of the natural gas we consume is delivered to homes and businesses, where it fires appliances like furnaces, boilers, ovens and cooking stoves. To transport this gas, most urban areas have extensive networks of underground pipelines, many of which were built decades ago. Although big leaks are hard to miss (they smell), small leaks can go undetected. How much natural gas leaks out before it gets to the furnace in your basement? Until recently, no one had thought much about this.

But one research group has pioneered the study of urban gas leaks by driving around cities, first Boston and then Washington, D.C., with equipment that can sniff out natural gas leaking from pipelines. The researchers found plenty of leaks: more than 3,000 individual leaks in Boston and nearly 6,000 leaks in D.C. Although few were concentrated enough to be an explosion risk, all leaks warm the climate; natural gas is mostly methane, which has a stronger climate-warming effect than carbon dioxide in the short term, as I discussed in a recent article.

You might think that the public utilities supplying the gas would have an economic incentive to reduce leaks and avoid losing a valuable product, but the reality is the opposite.

Every utility knows how much gas is being lost; it’s simply the difference between the amount of gas the utility purchases as the gas enters the city and the amount of gas the utility sells to its customers. But the cost of the lost gas is typically charged to the utility’s customers: Each of us pays a little bit on our gas bill to purchase gas that leaks into the atmosphere.

The Washington study assembled data from the 174 largest urban gas distribution systems in the United States and found a wide range of loss rates: 0 percent to 11 percent, with an average of 1.6 percent. (Note that a small quantity of the gas labeled as “lost” could be due to metering errors, rather than actual gas leaks.)

datalab--miner.natural-gas-chart

Plugging the leaks would be no small feat — urban gas pipelines across the country are decades old, and are just one of many items on America’s lengthy to-do list of repairs to aging infrastructure. As Andrew Flowers has reported on this site, we can’t afford all of these repairs in the current political and budgetary climate.

The results of the Boston study hint at one way to prioritize efforts to repair leaky urban gas pipeline systems. The Boston neighborhoods with the most gas leaks were also those with the most pipes made of cast iron, which is older and more prone to rust than newer pipeline materials. This suggests that cities with more cast-iron pipes are probably leaking more gas. Replacing these leaky cast-iron pipes would have multiple benefits: Reduced climate effects, increased safety and cost savings for customers.

But that last statement highlights the crux of the problem: The customers are the ones currently paying for lost gas — we’re buying it, essentially. In fact, if a municipal utility reduced pipeline leakage, it would actually lose money because it would sell less gas overall.

Clearly these economic incentives are backwards, and one solution is for state governments to implement programs to change them. New Hampshire, for instance, has had cast-iron replacement programs in place since 1996.


Please read full By and follow:
http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/natural-gas-is-leaking-and-warming-the-climate-and-youre-paying-for-it/

Wisconsin water use declined 6% in 2013 #water

MADISON -- Wisconsin's use of surface and groundwater declined 6 percent in 2013 from prior year levels as cooler temperatures and a return to normal rainfall patterns reduced demand for power plant cooling water, municipal drinking water and irrigation. 
Please read full and follow at: Wisconsin DNR Weekly News

Oct 21, 2014

Pesticide Linked to Bee Deaths Does Not Improve Soybean Crops, EPA Finds [

Yale Environment 360Coating soybean seeds with a class of insecticides that has been implicated in honeybee deaths and partially

Soybeans (left) and corn coated with pesticides
banned in the European Union does not increase soybean yields compared to using no pesticides at all, according to an extensive review by the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Seed treatment provides at most $6 in benefits per acre (an increase in revenue of less than 2 percent), and most likely no financial benefit at all, the EPA analysis concluded. The insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, are only effective for the first few weeks after planting, studies have found, when soybean pests are not typically active. Neonicotinoid seed treatments could theoretically help fend off sporadic and unpredictable pests, the report notes, but that benefit would be small and unlikely to be noticed outside of the southern U.S. 

Two-dimensional piezoelectric material forms basis of world's thinnest electric generator

GizmagResearchers from Columbia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology are laying claim to having observed piezoelectricity in an atomically thin material for the first time. The effect was demonstrated in the world's thinnest electric generator made from a two-dimensional molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) material, which had previously been predicted to exhibit such properties... Continue Reading Two-dimensional piezoelectric material forms basis of world's thinnest electric generator 

Oct 20, 2014

Daily consumption of soda associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging, comparable to smoking,

Slashdot; Those free soft drinks at your last start-up may come with a huge hidden price tag. The Toronto Sun reports that researchers at the University of California — San Francisco found study participants who drank pop daily had shorter telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — in white blood cells. Short telomeres have been associated with chronic aging diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. The researchers calculated daily consumption of a 20-ounce pop is associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. The effect on telomere length is comparable to that of smoking, they said. "This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level," researcher Elissa Epel said in a press release.

Turning up the heat to make kelp a viable source of biofuel

GizMagBiofuels may indeed offer a greener alternative to fossil fuels, but they do raise at least one concern – crops grown as biofuel feedstock could take up farmland and use water that would otherwise be used to grow crops for much-needed food. That's why some scientists have looked to seaweed as a feedstock. Kelp is particularly attractive, in that it's abundant and grows extremely quickly, although its fuel yields haven't been particularly impressive. That could be about to change, however, thanks to a newly-developed hydrothermal process. .. Continue Reading Turning up the heat to make kelp a viable source of biofuel 

Oct 17, 2014

Developing an Incident Management System to Support Ebola Response -- Liberia, July-August 2014

On October 14, 2014, this report was posted as an MMWR Early Release on the MMWR website (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr).

Satish K. Pillai, MD1, Tolbert Nyenswah, LLB2, Edward Rouse, MPA3, M. Allison Arwady, MD4, Joseph D. Forrester, MD4, Jennifer C. Hunter, DrPH4,5, Almea Matanock, MD4, Patrick Ayscue, DVM4, Benjamin Monroe, MPH6, Ilana J. Schafer, DVM7, Luis Poblano, AS3, John Neatherlin, MPH8,9, Joel M. Montgomery, PhD8,9, Kevin M. De Cock, MD8,10 (Author affiliations at end of text)

The ongoing Ebola virus disease (Ebola) outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most sustained Ebola epidemic recorded, with 6,574 cases (1). Among the five affected countries of West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, and Senegal), Liberia has had the highest number cases (3,458) (1). This epidemic has severely strained the public health and health care infrastructure of Liberia, has resulted in restrictions in civil liberties, and has disrupted international travel (2). As part of the initial response, the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) developed a national task force and technical expert committee to oversee the management of the Ebola-related activities. During the third week of July 2014, CDC deployed a team of epidemiologists, data management specialists, emergency management specialists, and health communicators to assist MOHSW in its response to the growing Ebola epidemic. One aspect of CDC's response was to work with MOHSW in instituting incident management system (IMS) principles to enhance the organization of the response. This report describes MOHSW's Ebola response structure as of mid-July, the plans made during the initial assessment of the response structure, the implementation of interventions aimed at improving the system, and plans for further development of the response structure for the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.

A clearly defined chain of command and organizational structure, effective resource management, and advanced planning are important aspects of an emergency response. An IMS is a standard structure based on these principles that is used in large and small-scale incidents throughout the United States at the federal, state, and local level (3). CDC has adapted IMS principles in managing their responses to public health emergencies, which in addition to the command, operations, logistics, planning, and finance/administrative functions, also includes scientific/public health response roles (4).

Initial Ebola Response Structure and Efforts to Improve Response Structure

The national response system that was initially established by MOHSW employed several IMS elements. For example, a national coordinator for the Ebola response was identified. This position was held by MOHSW's deputy health minister/chief medical officer. Additionally, daily meetings were held that were attended by the heads of each technical committee deemed important for the operational response to the epidemic: epidemiology/surveillance, social mobilization (responsible for communication of key messages), psychosocial (responsible for ensuring adequate social and mental health support for patients and families affected by Ebola infection), contact tracing, case management, and laboratory. MOHSW leadership recognized that this organizational structure (Figure 1) and the overall response could be further optimized and sought to implement improvements with technical support from CDC.

Several areas were identified where the response structure might benefit from adjustment. The initial response structure implemented by MOHSW represented what would be recognized as the scientific response section of a public health response (4). The deputy health minister was responsible for not only MOHSW's Ebola response framework as the national coordinator but also for other, non–Ebola-related public health responsibilities as the country's chief medical officer (e.g., overseeing the county-level delivery of health care in outpatient and inpatient settings and overseeing prevention and control programs, including those related to immunization, human immunodeficiency virus, tuberculosis, and malaria) (5). The national coordinator did not have a deputy to serve as an alternate decision-maker when the national coordinator was unavailable (e.g., when attending higher level meetings). In addition to overseeing the national response, MOHSW's span of control over the response was stretched because it also provided direct support for many activities in the counties surrounding the capital (e.g., assisting with case management and coordinating ambulance and burial transport). Regarding meetings, each morning the national coordinator presided over a national task force meeting, during which presentations were made by technical committee heads. The meeting included numerous partner organizations working in Liberia on the Ebola response (e.g., representatives of the World Health Organization [WHO], public health agencies from other countries, and nongovernmental organizations), with attendance exceeding 50 persons. The numerous comments and input from this large group made it difficult to develop clearly articulated action items. Furthermore, when logistics challenges were identified (e.g., lack of fuel or vehicles to transport teams to investigate potential cases, or to transport a burial team), there was not a single point of contact among the large assembled group to provide the logistical and administrative support to respond to these needs.

Improvements to the Ebola Response Structure

MOHSW developed plans to further refine the command and control structure; develop an IMS general staff section to support the scientific response section with logistical, administrative, and planning components; identify how best to link the national IMS to the county-level response and external partners; and improve the organization of IMS meetings to ensure response objectives had clearly identified action items and that these action items were acted upon. Where possible, efforts were made to work within the existing MOHSW framework to facilitate implementation of the changes (Figure 2).

Regarding command and control, on August 10, 2014, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare appointed an incident manager (IM) responsible for only the Ebola response, chairing a 9:00 am incident management meeting, and establishing, following-up, and adjusting the response priorities and objectives. This allowed the deputy health minister/chief medical officer to focus on other pressing, non–Ebola-related public health activities. In terms of organizational structure, a deputy IM, operations chief, and planning chief were identified. The deputy IM had the authority to step in and function as the IM, to ensure the response continued to have command and control when the IM was in higher level coordination meetings related to the response. The deputy IM also convened and guided a regular logistics meeting attended by MOHSW and partners with logistical interests or resources and chaired a subcommittee to address county level issues. This county-specific subcommittee served as the forum where technical, administrative, and logistical needs for the county responses could be raised. The deputy IM and all technical and general staff committees reported directly to the IM. With respect to IM meetings, each key Ebola response committee was instructed to have the chair (or an alternate with decision-making authority) attend. An agenda was implemented that focused meeting discussions on the key actions completed during the previous 24 hours, actions to be completed during the next 24 hours, and major challenges being faced. The meetings also included a representative from the logistics and finance section (responsible for keeping track of the financial resources available to MOHSW for the managing the response). These changes allowed for more regular reporting of key logistical items to the IM, such as availability of personal protective equipment and regular budget status reports. A task listing was implemented assigning responsibility and due dates for action items as they were identified, and more detailed meeting minutes were prepared and issued the same day as the meeting. The addition of logistical and financial/administrative general staff facilitated completion of the objectives identified by the IM. When expertise did not exist within MOHSW, assistance was sought from other response partners (e.g., logistics support was sought from the United Nations Mission in Liberia, given the mission is a well-resourced organization in Liberia with a track record of timely and efficient movement of personnel and equipment across the country). To facilitate the ability of MOHSW to reach out to external partners, the IMS included liaisons with key external stakeholders involved in the coordination of international partners and provision of essential supplies and technical expertise, such as WHO, CDC, Medécins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (Figure 2).

The revised IMS structure did not replace the national task force, which consists of a higher-level interministerial coordination group and key external partners. Thus, ongoing work is need to integrate the MOHSW response structure into this overarching national Ebola response framework. Also, the current "planning horizon" is about 24 hours. Continued development of a planning section in the IMS, to look beyond this limited timeframe, is required to anticipate potential problems and develop contingency plans.

Next Steps

The changes described represent work done during mid-July through mid-August. MOHSW colleagues, with technical assistance from CDC, will continue refining the IMS during the next 6–9 months. During this period, there are several anticipated objectives, the first of which is to ensure the IM designates all priorities for the subsequent 24–48-hour operational periods. Development of a robust planning section to look beyond this 24–48-hour timeframe also will occur. Because much of the operational component of the response (case identification and contact tracing) resides at the county level, there needs to be ongoing information exchange with the counties and MOHSW through the subcommittee chaired by the deputy IM. This information exchange will need to focus on ensuring sufficient logistical support for these county-level operations. Finally, a permanent emergency operations center at MOHSW is planned to serve as a location to receive calls and reports, to replace the current model of direct reporting of information to the scientific response section chairs and IM leadership.

Conclusion

MOHSW has readily adopted the concept of IMS during the early months of this response to align their national response structure with well-recognized emergency management principles. Clearly, the institution of an IMS in Liberia for the management of the Ebola response will be an evolutionary process, not only because the concepts are new to MOHSW, but because these concepts are also new to the other ministries with which MOHSW coordinates and to the political structure to which MOHSW reports. It is hoped that by instituting an organized response framework, which IMS provides, MOHSW will be able to more rapidly and effectively deal with the burgeoning Ebola outbreak in Liberia. The findings in this report might also be useful in other settings where IMS has not been used previously and is being considered for the first time.

Read full at:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6341a4.htm

Ebola USA: 132 People May Be Affected After Flying with Patient

The 132 passengers who flew with Amber Joy Vinson from Cleveland to Dallas onboard a Frontier Airlines flight on October 13 may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been reaching out to all 132 passengers of Flight 1143 that flew with Vinson as part of the agency's "extra margins of safety," reports CNN.

Source: http://www.latinospost.com/articles/39505/20141017/ebola-virus-outbreak-in-usa-132-people-may-have-disease-after-flying-with-patient.htm

Apart From Ebola (And Inflation), These Are The Greatest Dangers To The World

zero hedge - With 80% of Americans concerned about Ebola, and Europe's most worrisome 'factor' is rising prices (yes, rising, despite central banks' deflation ogre fears), we thought it might be useful to remember just what other concerns the world has. From 'inequality' to 'religious hatred' and from 'nuclear weapons' to 'pollution', there is a lot of diverse fears around the world.

Americans are focused on Ebola (for now)...nearly 80 percent were concerned about the Ebola outbreak, with 41 percent saying they were "very concerned" and 36 percent "somewhat concerned."

*  *  *

Europe's biggest fears - rising prices!

So, paradoxically to "fix" Europe, Mario Draghi is desperately trying to make Europe's biggest problem even worse.

 

*  *  *

Let's see what the rest of the world is worried about... (via The Washington Post)

As panic over the spread of Ebola persists, a new report from the Pew Global Attitudes Project offers a bit of perspective. It explores the larger threats people in different regions of the world fear. Unsurprisingly, concerns vary across continents.

 

Respondents to the poll were asked to cite what they believed was the top global threat out of five categories. The 48,643 respondents came from 44 countries.

 

 

Source: The Washington Post

CBS » Why No Protective Gear For Man With Dallas Ebola Patient?

CBSAs the world watched the loading of Ebola patient Amber Joy Vinson onto a CDC plane Wednesday, something seemed odd to us, and a lot of you as well. On social media, and on the CBS 11 News phone lines, the biggest question became – who was the guy not wearing protective hazmat gear? CBS 11 News did some digging and got answers.

A news crew spoke with a number of different agencies that were involved in Vinson's transport. Officials with AMR, the ambulance company that transported Vinson from Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas to Dallas Love Field Airport, said it wasn't one of their guys.

From the CBS 11 Chopper video (seen at the top of this post) it looks like the man left with Vinson on the plane.

A spokesperson with Emory University Hospital in Atlanta said that, to her knowledge, none of their people were on the plane.

That pretty much leaves a worker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Composting For Entrepreneurs via @Sustainablog

SustainablogAccording to the EPA, Americans dump over 36 million tons of food waste every year. Not only is that horrendously wasteful in a world where billions of people are starving, but decomposing food also creates methane, which is ten times more harmful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Entrepreneurs know that every problem creates a potential for profit. According to Fredricksburg.comMelissa Tashjian of Milwaukee took the money she had saved for a new kitchen and used it to buy a 25 year old dump truck earlier this year. So far she had signed up 7 area restaurants who pay her to haul away their food scraps. They put waste vegetables, fruit, eggshells, and cheese into a container lined with a compostable bag made of plant material and leave it for Tashjian to collect. She is now carting 25,000 pounds of wasted food to a local composting facility and expects to have 100 or more customers by the end of 2015.

In Boston, Andy Brooks, a former journalist, started a business in 2011 picking up food waste from local restaurants using a bicycle. Now his business has eight employees and three trucks and gathers organic waste from 750 homes and 50 businesses. Residential service costs $8 a week. Commercial accounts start at $18 a week. "I realized pretty quickly that there was a pretty big demand for this," Brooks says.

In Philadelphia, Tim Bennett started Bennett Compost. He and his crew service more than 1,000 homes and 15 to 20 small businesses, hauling their food scraps and yard waste to five different farms for composting. CompostNow in Raleigh, North Carolina has 350 residential customers. In Washington DC, Compost Cab counts about 500 homes and a few dozen businesses as clients. "What we're really talking about is building a more sustainable citizenry, one bag of food scraps at a time," Compost Cab founder Jeremy Brosowsky says.

Can Entrepreneurs Handle All of Our Composting Needs?

However, a growing number of communities are planning citywide or regional organics recycling programs. They are already up and running in hundreds of communities, especially large West Coast cities and their suburbs says Jerry Powell, executive editor of Resource Recycling magazine. He says one-man-and-a-truck operations can't handle large scale operations.

Powell believes municipalities can do it cheaper and more efficiently by doing it themselves or contracting with large commercial haulers. "At which point our business goes away," said CompostNow founder Justin Senkbeil. "So this model, nationwide, is probably a 10 to 15 year business model."

So is now a good time for you to quit your day job, buy a truck and get into the waste hauling business? Maybe. Or maybe not. A few decades ago, video stores were the business of choice for entrepreneurs but they have gone the way of the horse drawn carriage today. Still, a lot of people made a lot of money renting videos. Entrepreneurs have to be quick on their feet and know how to adapt to changing market trends.

In Milwaukee, Melissa Tashjian isn't worried. She sees plenty of near-term potential. "One thing there is not a lack thereof is waste," she said. "It happens every day, all year. It doesn't matter what the weather's like. It doesn't stop."

The post Composting For Entrepreneurs appeared first on Sustainablog.

Oct 16, 2014

Ebola nurse Am​ber Vinson called CDC several times before flying - CBS News

CBS News...In the case of Amber Vinson, the Dallas nurse who flew commercially as she was becoming ill with Ebola, one health official said "somebody dropped the ball."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Vinson called the agency several times before flying, saying that she had a fever with a temperature of 99.5 degrees. But because her fever wasn't 100.4 degrees or higher, she didn't officially fall into the group of "high risk" and was allowed to fly.

Officials in the U.S. have been trying to calm fears over the Ebola crisis, but time and again events have overtaken their assurances.

In August, before the first U.S. infection, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said: "We're confident that we have the facilities here to isolate patients, not only at the highly advanced ones like the one at Emory, but really at virtually every major hospital in the U.S."

Please continue reading from: 
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ebola-nurse-called-cdc-several-times/

Earth's magnetic field could reverse in just one lifetime

Gizmag Emerging Technology Magazine

The direction of magnetic north suddenly reversed about 786,000 years ago, with new resear...

A new study by a team of scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrates that the Earth's magnetic field could change polarity in less than 100 years. The last magnetic reversal occurred some 786,000 years ago and was previously thought to have taken several thousand years but, if the researchers are right, the real time it may take for the flip to occur could actually be closer to the span of a human life... Continue Reading Earth's magnetic field could reverse in just one lifetime 

Section: Science 

Nature Study Says that a lot of cheap natural gas will not reduce overall global CO2 emissions

Nature - Limited impact on decadal-scale climate change from increased use of natural gas

The most important energy development of the past decade has been the wide deployment of hydraulic fracturing technologies that enable the production of previously uneconomic shale gas resources in North America. If these advanced gas production technologies were to be deployed globally, the energy market could see a large influx of economically competitive unconventional gas resources. The climate implications of such abundant natural gas have been hotly debated. Some researchers have observed that abundant natural gas substituting for coal could reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Others have reported that the non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions associated with shale gas production make its lifecycle emissions higher than those of coal. Assessment of the full impact of abundant gas on climate change requires an integrated approach to the global energy–economy–climate systems, but the literature has been limited in either its geographic scope or its coverage of greenhouse gases. Here we show that market-driven increases in global supplies of unconventional natural gas do not discernibly reduce the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions or climate forcing. Our results, based on simulations from five state-of-the-art integrated assessment models of energy–economy–climate systems independently forced by an abundant gas scenario, project large additional natural gas consumption of up to +170 per cent by 2050. The impact on CO2 emissions, however, is found to be much smaller (from −2 per cent to +11 per cent), and a majority of the models reported a small increase in climate forcing (from −0.3 per cent to +7 per cent) associated with the increased use of abundant gas. Our results show that although market penetration of globally abundant gas may substantially change the future energy system, it is not necessarily an effective substitute for climate change mitigation policy


Global Natural Gas supply curves. The current natural gas supply curves provided by Global Energy Assessment. Future cost reduction assumptions are documented in the Methods. These supply costs are not the actual prices in the market place

Read more » at Next Big Future

Oct 15, 2014

Medical Research Org CIDRAP: Ebola Transmittable by Air?

BREITBART; The highly respected Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota just advised the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) that “there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles,” including exhaled breath. 

CIDRAP is warning that surgical facemasks do not prevent transmission of Ebola, and healthcare professionals (HCP) must immediately be outfitted with full-hooded protective gear and powered air-purifying respirators.

CIDRAP since 2001 has been a global leader in addressing public health preparedness regarding emerging infectious diseases and bio-security responses. CIDRAP’s opinion on Ebola virus is there are “No proven pre- or post-exposure treatment modalities;” “A high case-fatality rate;” and “Unclear modes of transmission.”

In April of 2014, CIDRAP published a commentary on Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) that confirmed the disease “could be an aerosol-transmissible disease, especially in healthcare settings,” similar to the known aerosol transmission capability of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). 

Although CIDRAP acknowledges that they were “first skeptical that Ebola virus could be an aerosol-transmissible disease,” they are “now persuaded by a review of experimental and epidemiologic data that this might be an important feature of disease transmission, particularly in healthcare settings.” 

CDC’s published “Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Hospitalized Patients with Known or Suspected Ebola Virus Disease in U.S. Hospitals” states: “HCP should wear gloves, a gown, disposable shoe covers, and either a face shield that fully covers the front and sides of the face or goggles, and respiratory protection that is at least as protective as a NIOSH certified fit-tested N95 filtering facepiece respirator.”

N95 filters look like surgical masks and are defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as “disposable respirator” with a workplace protection factor (WPF) of 10. A 3M “qualified” N95 respirators rated to block 95% of airborne particles with a size greater in diameter than 5 microns is can cost as little as $.65 each.  

However, the US National Institutes of Health reported in 2005 that 50% of bio-aerosols were found to be less than 5 microns in diameter. The NIH calculated that after correcting for dead space and lung deposition, “N95 filtering facepiece respirators seem inadequate against microorganisms.” 

CIDRAP warns in regards to N95 respirators, “Healthcare workers have experienced very high rates of morbidity and mortality in the past and current Ebola virus outbreaks. A facemask, or surgical mask, offers no or very minimal protection from infectious aerosol particles.” 


Please read full at:
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/10/14/CIDRAP-Confirms-Ebola-Transmittable-by-Air

Ebloa question? A Comparison of Commonly Used Surface Disinfectants - CDC, OSHA & EPA

OSHA/EPA - Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/disinfection_sterilization/3_2contaminateddevices.html
In December 1991, OSHA promulgated a standard entitled "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens" to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens 214. One component of this requirement is that all equipment and environmental and working surfaces be cleaned and decontaminated with an appropriate disinfectant after contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. Even though the OSHA standard does not specify the type of disinfectant or procedure, the OSHA original compliance document 269 suggested that a germicide must be tuberculocidal to kill the HBV.   To follow the OSHA compliance document a tuberculocidal disinfectant (e.g., phenolic, and chlorine) would be needed to clean a blood spill.  However, in February 1997, OSHA amended its policy and stated that EPA-registered disinfectants labeled as effective against HIV and HBV would be considered as appropriate disinfectants ". . . provided such surfaces have not become contaminated with agent(s) or volumes of or concentrations of agent(s) for which higher level disinfection is recommended." When bloodborne pathogens other than HBV or HIV are of concern, OSHA continues to require use of EPA-registered tuberculocidal disinfectants or hypochlorite solution (diluted 1:10 or 1:100 with water) 215, 228.  Studies demonstrate that, in the presence of large blood spills, a 1:10 final dilution of EPA-registered hypochlorite solution initially should be used to inactivate bloodborne viruses 63, 235 to minimize risk for infection to health-care personnel from percutaneous injury during cleanup.

Alcohol-, Phenol-, Chlorine-, and Quaternary Amine-Based Disinfectants

http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/articles/2000/11/a-comparison-of-commonly-used-surface-disinfectan.aspx
By Lauren Crawford, BS; Zhi-Jian Yu, PhD; Erin Keegan, BS; and Tina Yu, MS

Using proper surface disinfection can prevent infections that develop during hospitalization that are neither present nor incubating at the time of a patient's admission. There are important factors to consider when selecting a surface disinfectant. This paper discusses a comparison of the product types on the basis of the health-related issues of infection prevention, compatibility with equipment and gloves, as well as the safety of the disinfectant to hospital personnel.

Some ideal characteristics of disinfectants used on environmental surfaces include rapid action in a broad antimicrobial spectrum, maintained efficacy in the presence of protein or blood, low toxicity, user safety, and material compatibility. Some disinfectants have limited use because they do not meet all of these criteria. Table 1 shows a list of 10 disinfectants, the active ingredients, manufacturer, characteristics of the disinfectant, and a recommendation of the types of gloves that can be used with the product for up to one hour.
Spectrum and Rapidity of Antimicrobial Activity

The spectrum refers to the range of recommended product usage and the sphere of microbial kill tested, as well as the contact time and temperature, according to the manufacturer and the EPA-approved label. The 10 products that are mentioned in Table 1 are similar in antimicrobial activity because they all claim to be bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal. However, not all disinfectants claim to be tuberculocidal. Envirosafe, Coverage HB, Coverage Spray, and Ascend are all low-level disinfectants and they do not kill the tubercule bacillus (i.e., M. Bovis). Based on the disinfectant class, the range of antimicrobial activity is discussed in further detail below.

High concentration alcohol-based

Lysol I.C. Disinfectant Spray has a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity with 79% ethyl alcohol and has a recommended surface contact time of 10 minutes. High concentration alcohol products are generally not advocated for instrument immersion since the high alcohol content volatilizes easily, and thus diminishes antimicrobial activity. Additionally, alcohols cannot be used as cleaners, which then requires the user to purchase a separate cleaner.

Chlorine-based
Dispatch can be used as a cleaner due to the presence of added surfactants and a deodorizer. It has a broad range of efficacy with a label claim contact time of two minutes at 20°. Both Babb and Alvarado et al. do not recommend chlorine-based compounds, such as the sodium hypochlorite contained in Dispatch, for disinfection of instruments and equipment. Robison et al. reported that a commercial disinfectant containing 0.55% sodium hypochlorite with a 2-minute contact time at room temperature displayed poor tuberculocidal activity. According to Robison's study, the average time required for a 6-log10 reduction was in excess of three hours. However, the CDC recommends that 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) diluted to a concentration of 0.05% can be used for the decontamination of a blood spill.

Phenol-based
Wex-cide, ProSpray, and Birex are germicidal, fungicidal, virucidal, and tuberculocidal in 10 minutes at 20°. Birex is a cleaner and deodorizer. Birex is not sold at the use-dilution, and therefore, diluting Birex involves an extra step. Surface disinfectants that require dilution can result in preparation errors, and incomplete disinfection due to an inappropriate disinfectant concentration.

Quaternary amine-based
Envirosafe, Coverage HB, Coverage Spray, and Ascend are all low-level quaternary amine-based disinfectants, and have a more prominently restricted efficacy range than the other products discussed herein. These product spectrums do not include tuberculocidal activity. With the exception of Coverage HB concentrate, they do not kill HBV (Hepatitis B Virus). Additionally, Envirosafe, Coverage HB, and Ascend are not sold at the optimum concentration and dilution is required. Envirosafe, Coverage HB, Coverage Spray, and Ascend can be used for ultrasonic cleaning and as general cleaners. The four quaternary amine products can also be used for (limited) instrument immersion for the allotted time to kill microorganisms. However, surface disinfectants in general are not recommended as permanent holding solutions.

Quaternary amine / low concentration alcohol-based

The synergistic mechanism of quaternary amines in the presence of alcohols involves the breakdown of the lipoprotein complexes by the quaternary amines in the cell membrane of microorganisms. The opening of the membrane thereby allows the alcohol, which is a protein denaturant, to penetrate the cell membrane and cause irreversible damage inside the cell. Cavicide has a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity with a recommended surface contact time of 10 minutes at 20°. It can be used as a cleaner, as an ultrasonic cleaning solution, and for instrument immersion.
Resistance to Organics (Soils)

Including blood in all active ingredient efficacy testing is important because clinicians rarely deal with pure cultures of microorganisms. Clinically, microorganisms are usually contained within proteinaceous material such as blood, plaque, saliva, etc. Inclusion of these proteins in tests is important since these proteins interfere with the antimicrobial activity of disinfectants. For this reason, it is a good clinical practice--and a mandated labeling requirement from the EPA--to clean surfaces of gross debris prior to disinfection.

Read full By Lauren Crawford, BS; Zhi-Jian Yu, PhD; Erin Keegan, BS; and Tina Yu, MS at:  http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/articles/2000/11/a-comparison-of-commonly-used-surface-disinfectan.aspx

Total global solar heads for 200GW, 50GW in 2014

Peak EnergyRNE has a look at the global solar power market - Total global solar heads for 200GW, 50GW in 2014.
Total global solar installations are well on the way to the 200GW mark, with the amount of PV added in the fourth quarter of 2014 forecast to fall just short of 20 gigawatts at 19.5GW, according to new data.

According to findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly, the amount of solar PV deployed worldwide in QSB_Q4 Solar PV Demand and Year-End Cumulative Installed PV_1410064 is forecast to be equivalent to the energy supplied by five large-scale nuclear power plants and will surpass the total annual solar PV deployed in 2010.


OSHA “Launches” Rulemaking to Significantly Update and Massively Increase the Number of Chemicals with Permissible Exposure Limits

Environmental & Safety Law Update

By James L. Curtis and Craig B. Simonsen

Through a fifty-five page proposed rule in the form of a Request for Information (RFI), 79 Fed. Reg. 61384 (October 10, 2014), OSHA has re-opened a "national dialogue on hazardous chemical exposures and permissible exposure limits" (PELs) in the workplace.

The OSHA's PELs are the regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a chemical substance in the air in the workplace. The PELs are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. According to OSHA, approximately ninety-five percent of the current nearly 500 PELs have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. More importantly, OSHA's current PELs cover only a "small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful."

OSHA had previously acted in 1989 to update the PELS. In a challenge to that rulemaking the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the final rule, finding that "OSHA has not sufficiently explained or supported its threshold determination that exposure to these substances at previous levels posed a significant risk of these material health impairments or that the new standard eliminates or reduces that risk to the extent feasible." AFL-CIO v. OSHA, 965 F. 2d 962 (11th Cir. 1992).

In its announcement concerning this rulemaking, Dr. David Michaels, the OSHA Administrator, said "many of our chemical exposure standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers." "While we will continue to work on updating our workplace exposure limits, we are asking public health experts, chemical manufacturers, employers, unions and others committed to preventing workplace illnesses to help us identify new approaches to address chemical hazards."

In particular, OSHA's stated purpose in promulgating the RFI is to:

  • Review OSHA's current approach to chemical regulation;
  • Describe and explore other possible approaches that may be relevant to future strategies to reduce and control exposure to chemicals in the workplace; and
  • Inform the public and obtain public input on the best methods to advance the development and implementation of approaches to reduce or eliminate harmful chemical exposures in the workplace.

In a public statement Dr. Michaels stated that "we are particularly interested in ideas about possible streamlined approaches for risk assessment and feasibility analyses, and alternative approaches for managing chemical exposures. Among the approaches we ask about are control banding, task-based approaches, and informed substitution." It is the lack of risk assessments and feasibility analyses that tripped up OSHA in its 1989 PELs rulemaking. OSHA is now seeking a "work-a-round" to enable the massive revision and update to the PELs, without the trouble and expense associated with  risk assessments and feasibility analyses for every chemical on the to be expanded list.

This rulemaking is important to manufacturers and businesses that make, use, distribute, or handle chemical substances.  

Public comments on the RFI, Docket No. OSHA-FRDOC-0001-0595, are due on April 8, 2015.


Battery Breakthrough: Researchers Claim 70% Charge In 2 Minutes, 20-Year Life

SlashdotAccording to Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU), they have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes and have a 20-year lifespan (10,000 charges). The impact of this is potentially a game changer for a lot of industries reliant on lithium ion batteries. In the car industry, for example, consumers would save on costs for battery replacement and manufacturers would save on material construction (the researchers are using a nanotube structure of Titanium dioxide, which is an abundant, cheap, and safe material found in soil). Titanium dioxide is commonly used as a food additive or in sunscreen lotions to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays. It is believed that charging an electric car can be done in as little as 5 minutes, making it comparable to filling up a tank of gasoline.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How to Make Biogas in 5 Easy Steps – #Renewable #Energy

MOTHER EARTH NEWS...The microscopic organisms that produce biogas, known as Archaea, are among the oldest life forms on Earth. They predate the planet's oxygen atmosphere — much less oxygen-breathing and CO2-absorbing plant life — by a cool 3.5 billion years. That's billion with a "B." Archaea are not bacteria, they are genetically closer to humans and other animals (eukaryotes), and form their own animal kingdom. As the Earth's atmosphere became predominantly oxygen about 500 million years ago, archaea became isolated in the few remaining airless places, such as stagnant swamps, deep oceans, caves and hot springs, and of course the stomachs of vertebrates. To create biogas, we must recreate the conditions in which Archaea thrive in nature.

5 Steps to Making Homemade Biogas

The following table outlines the five steps to creating flammable biogas and I will get into further detail with each one. Biogas is reproduced in a special airtight tank called an anaerobic digester. The design of the anaerobic digester determines the first three steps.

How To Make Homemade Biogas 

Step 1. Airtight Environment. A Ziploc baggie can be used for an anaerobic digester. The difficulty arises from trying to add fresh material without allowing oxygen into the system. The most common method of creating a continuous flow digester is the "teapot" or "P-trap" shape. Most biogas digesters are some variation of this teapot shape.

Homemade Biogas Gas Storage 

Step 2. Archaea love water. When loading a digester, the water content in the material put in it should be taken into consideration. A head of lettuce, for example, looks very solid to us, however, it is 98% water. Dried rice is only 14% water. Regardless of the size of your digester, the "40-50-10 Rule" is simple rule of thumb to follow to get the correct volume: Forty percent material, fill the rest of the digester with water except for 10% headspace.

Home Biogas Digester Contents 

Step 3. A good analogy to think about regarding temperature and anaerobic digestion is your temperature is like the gas pedal of your car. The more you step on it, the faster your digester will convert waste into gas. However, also just like stepping on the gas pedal, there are consequences for it. The warmer your digester is, the archaea that decompose your waste get more fragile and susceptible to an unexpected crash.

Home Biogas Generator Chart 

Temperature can be controlled a few different ways. In China, digesters are typically buried underground and built much larger than they need to be. This way they can be overloaded in winter months to maintain consistent gas production. Other designs employ a greenhouses or hoop house over them. More advanced systems integrate some kind of heat exchanger, which can be heated with solar collectors. Regardless of your design, avoid using biogas or any other fuel to heat your digester. Make sure energy you use is excess energy on its way to being wasted.

Step 4. Neutral pH is an important parameter in anaerobic digestion, just as it is for aerobic composting. If pH is measured at the inlet, it will be slightly lower than neutral — usually around 5.5 — as fresh material is converted into acids. The pH will neutralize as these acids are converted into methane gas. By the time the liquid biofertilizer comes out the digester, it should be 7. If the pH of the biofertilizer is lower than this, it is an indicator the digester has been over-fed and is at risk to "sour," or stop working due to low pH. If the pH at the inlet goes below 5.5, it is necessary to add some wood ashes or lime to buffer the digester. A soured digester has no bubble activity and instead of producing gas, instead it draws air into it. The top will be sucked in tightly against the surface of the liquid and if a brewer's airlock is being used, the water in the airlock will be sucked into the digester. Restarting a soured digester is time consuming, and in most cases it is simpler to dump it out and start over. 

Step 5. Biogas production is best at the same 25:1 C:N ratio as aerobic composting. The reason cattle manure is far and away the most common feedstock for biogas is cattle manure is naturally the perfect 25:1 carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. Cattle manure makes an excellent feedstock to begin experimenting with biogas with. Other wastes need to be combined as a compost pile is.

Best Biogas Materials Chart

After these five steps, it is important to know that for the first 48 hours for a small digester or up to a couple of weeks for a larger system, the digester will only produce carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide is of course used in fire extinguishers. When you put a match to the gas to test for flammability, it will be blown out with an audible "hiss" and a wisp of black smoke. As the biogas begins to come on, the hiss and black smoke will be gone and you will smell the distinct "rotten eggs" scent of the hydrogen sulfide (H2S). This odor is the signal to begin capturing your gas, as it is either flammable or soon will be. This "CO2 Phase" has caused many people to abandon DIY projects that might have been flammable if they had waited a short time longer.

Please read full and follow at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/how-to-make-biogas-in-5-easy-steps-zbcz1410.aspx

China's energy plan to reduce coal to 60% and use more Russian natural gas

Next Big FutureChina's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is talking about prospective national carbon market formation by 2016, with potential coverage upwards of 4 billion MTCO2. According to official NDRC estimates, a national carbon market in China could reach an aggregate value of $65 billion by 2020. 

In March 2016, China is expected to announce its next five year energy plan. The fundamental levels of China's coal consumption will continue along absolute increases, China's National Energy Administration (NEA) Planning Board Division nonetheless recommended that the 13th Five Year Plan contain a 60% coal consumption target by 2020—a sizable decrease from 67% in 2013.



Read more »

Oct 14, 2014

Birth Control Pills Threaten Fish Stocks

SlashdotExperimental research has shown that small amounts of estrogen in waste water can lead to rapid large-scale changes in fish populations. From the article: "The lead researcher of a new study is calling for improvements to some of Canada's waste water treatment facilities after finding that introducing the birth control pill in waterways created a chain reaction in a lake ecosystem that nearly wiped out a freshwater fish. 'Right away, the male fish started to respond to the estrogen exposure by producing egg yolk proteins and shortly after that they started to develop eggs,' she said in an interview from Saint John, N.B. 'They were being feminized.' Kidd said shortly after introducing the estrogen, the number of fathead minnow crashed, reducing numbers to just one per cent of the population. 'It was really unexpected that they would react so quickly and so dramatically,' she said. 'The crash in the population was very evident and very dramatic and very rapid and related directly to the estrogen addition.'"
Estrogen pollution in waterways has been an issue for over a decade now.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

23,000 dead per year, Antibiotic resistance Threat Report from CDC

Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013

This report, Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013 gives a first-ever snapshot of the burden and threats posed by the antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health.

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.

Antibiotic-resistant infections can happen anywhere. Data show that most happen in the general community; however, most deaths related to antibiotic resistance happen in healthcare settings such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Please read full and follow at: 
Threat Report 2013 | Antimicrobial Resistance | CDC
http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/index.html

Pentagon Unveils Plan For Military's Response To Climate Change

SlashdotRising sea levels and other effects of climate change will create major problems for America's military, including more and worse natural disasters and food and water shortages that could fuel disputes around the world, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday. From the article: "The Pentagon's2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (PDF) describes how global warming will bring new demands on the military. Among the report's conclusions: Coastal military installations that are vulnerable to flooding will need to be altered; humanitarian assistance missions will be more frequent in the face of more intense natural disasters; weapons and other critical military equipment will need to work under more severe weather conditions. 'This road map shows how we are identifying — with tangible and specific metrics, and using the best available science — the effects of climate change on the department's missions and responsibilities,' Hagel said. 'Drawing on these assessments, we will integrate climate change considerations into our planning, operations, and training.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

SlashdotA leaked report shows wind is the cheapest energy source in Europe, beating the presumably dirt-cheap coal and gas by a mile. Conventional wisdom holds that clean energy is more expensive than its fossil-fueled counterparts. Yet cost comparisons show that renewable energy sources are often cheaper than their carbon-heavy competition. The report (PDF) demonstrates that if you were to take into account mining, pollution, and adverse health impacts of coal and gas, wind power would be the cheapest source of energy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Oct 12, 2014

New Spheromak Fusion reactor concept called a Dynomak could be cheaper than coal

University of Washington engineers have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.

UPDATE- the technical details and proposed timeline are provided in the next nextbigfuture article

The team published its reactor design and cost-analysis findings last spring and will present results Oct. 17 at the International Atomic Energy Agency's Fusion Energy Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The UW's design is known as a spheromak, meaning it generates the majority of magnetic fields by driving electrical currents into the plasma itself. This reduces the amount of required materials and actually allows researchers to shrink the overall size of the reactor.

New Energy and Fuel reports the concept entails a recently discovered imposed-dynamo current drive (IDCD) and a molten salt (FLiBe) blanket system for first wall cooling, neutron moderation and tritium breeding. The feasibility of the energy generating system is made possible from newly available materials and an ITER-developed cryogenic pumping system - See more at: 

The Dynomak will have very high neutron wall loading and FLiBe blanket which offers most attractive blanket power density, which is also an economic metric for power plant considerations. Imposed-Dynamo Current Drive (IDCD) perturbs and sustains a stable spheromak equilibrium, avoiding severe confinement quality limitations apparent in previous dynamo-driven experiments. IDCD enables energy efficient current drive when compared to conventional current drive methods, further reducing the recirculating power fraction

Fusion Engineering and Design - The dynomak: An advanced spheromak reactor concept with imposed-dynamo current drive and next-generation nuclear power technologies

Read more » at Next Big Future

Germany Reaches 74% Renewable Energy During May Weekend

Inhabitat has a look at Germany's increasing takeup of renewable energy - Germany Was Powered by 74% Renewable Energy Last Weekend.
According to think tank Agora Energiewende, Germany's renewable usage set a new record on Sunday when wind, solar, biomass, and hydro energy supplied a bulk of the country's energy. Information supplied by the group shows that the combined contribution of renewables reached 43.54 gigawatts between noon and 1 p.m. That equates to almost three quarters of the country's demand.

Agora Energiewende has noted, however, that the inability of some baseload generators to switch themselves off meant that a record level of more than 10 gigawatts of surplus capacity at its peak was exported to neighboring markets.

Germany has always been among Europe's leaders when it comes to solar energy, and this weekend was no exception with its output at 15.2 gigawatts at its peak. That said, the output is just half its rated peak capacity—which is more than 33 gigawatts—but then most of the northern part of the country was covered in cloud.

Please read full and follow at: Peak Energy

Drought is putting California hydroelectric power in danger

Think Progress - California's ability to produce renewable energy from hydroelectric dams has been significantly hampered over the last few years because of an increasingly severe and widespread drought, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said

The drought, which began in 2011 and is now covering 100 percent of the state, is drying up the reservoirs behind hydroelectric dams. The reservoirs create power when the force of the water in them is released onto turbines. When there is less water, there is also less pressure to spin those turbines, thereby decreasing the amount of renewable electricity that can be produced. 

Hydroelectric power used to account for 20 percent of California's in-state electricity generation for the first six months of each year from 2004 until 2013, the EIA said. But during the first six months of 2014, hydropower generation was halved, making up only 10 percent of California's in-state electricity generation. 
Please continue reading from:  

Oct 11, 2014

Cold fusion reactor verified by third-party researchers, seems to have 1 million times the energy density of gasoline

ExtremeTech: Andrea Rossi's E-Cat — the device that purports to use cold fusion to generate massive amounts of cheap, green energy – has been verified by third-party researchers, according to a new 54-page report. The researchers observed a small E-Cat over 32 days, where it produced net energy of 1.5 megawatt-hours, or "far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume." The researchers were also allowed to analyze the fuel before and after the 32-day run, noting that the isotopes in the spent fuel could only have been obtained by "nuclear reactions" — a conclusion that boggles the researchers: "… It is of course very hard to comprehend how these fusion processes can take place in the fuel compound at low energies."

How Oil & Gas Waste Became Exempt From Federal Regulation

In the small town of Nordheim, Texas, residents are trying to stop a commercial oil and gas waste facility proposed for a large plot of land less than a mile away. They worry that the Texas wind will carry toxic air emissions into the town and across the campus of the local school. The residents' effort is hampered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision in 1988 to classify most oil and gas waste as "non hazardous," even though it contains chemicals, including benzene, that are known to cause health problems. The industry lobbied hard for the non-hazardous classification, arguing that the cost of treating the waste as hazardous would be exorbitant. Here's a look at how the exemption came about, and a recent effort to repeal it. 

Why Is The World Bank Failing On Energy Poverty?

World Bank energy investments are categorically failing to end energy poverty. That's the stark finding of a new report released by Sierra Club and Oil Change International which measures how multilateral development banks (MDB) fare on their efforts to end energy poverty. The report benchmarked recent MDB investments in clean energy access against the breakdown of needed investment called for in the International Energy Agency's (IEA) "Energy for All" scenario. In that scenario, universal energy access is achieved by 2030. As it stands, if the "Energy for All" scenario is going to succeed, it will require 64 percent of all new investments be used to fund the fastest, cheapest, and most effective source of energy that will help energy poor populations get on to the energy ladder. That source of energy? Distributed off-grid and mini-grid clean energy systems for those living Beyond the Grid.  Please continue reading from: Why Is The World Bank Failing On Energy Poverty?

Methane emissions in Four Corners 80 percent higher than EPA estimates, study says

study by NASA and the University of Michigan published on Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters says that levels of methane in the Four Corners area where New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona connect are 80 percent higher than Environmental Protection Agency estimates, Seth Borenstein reports for the San Francisco Chronicle(NASA photo: Four Corners is a major hot spot for methane emissions)

The high level of methane "is likely leakage from pumping methane out of coal mines," Borenstein writes. Data taken from 2003 to 2009 "found atmospheric methane concentrations equivalent to emissions of about 1.3 million pounds a year."

"The amount of methane in the Four Corners—an area covering about 2,500 square miles—would trap more heat in the atmosphere than all the carbon dioxide produced yearly in Sweden," Borenstein writes. "That's because methane is 86 times more potent for trapping heat in the short-term than carbon dioxide." (Read more