Posts Tagged 'environment'

Soon, you too will be able to make your own whatchamacallit right from your printer

I heard a story on NPR this morning about the falling price of 3-D printers and scanners and copyright issues.
Does anyone really think that Disney, et. al. won’t have an issue with people making their own plastic princess or Star Wars character?

I heard another version a week or so ago about the possibility of making a functioning gun with such a 3-D printer. The consensus was that at least at this point, no gun made in such a way would work.
The tack the companies making these printers and scanners take is how wonderful it would be for everyone to make their own version of things to save money or design them the way they want.
But nowhere have I heard anyone discuss the environmental side of this. First there’s the do-we-really-need-more-stuff issue, and then there’s the matter of of making your own whatever out of molten plastic.
Basically, with one of these printers, you scan the picture of the image you want to make, put it in the printer and it turns it into a 3-D image that is then laid down in hot plastic a few microns at a time.
In a few hours, ta da, you have your very own whatchamacallit, possibly for a fraction of the cost of going out and buying the real thing, which might or might  not be made of plastic.
And I’m guessing it’s not plant-based plastics steaming out of your $2,000 printer.
So there are likely to be chemicals steaming out and off-putting from your kid’s new toy.
The technology side of it is fascinating, I grant that. But really, do we need more plastic stuff?
– Linda J.

What to do with old pantyhose? Recycle them!

OK, ladies, listen up.

For those of you who haven’t found 20 other uses for old pantyhose, here’s an option that you might just like.

If you are like me, you have a drawer full of old hosiery, mismatched knee-hi stockings, and ruined tights that you’ll never wear again and the thought of dumping them into a landfill isn’t appealing.

Here’s how to get that drawer back and do something good for the environment along the way.

No Nonsense wants your old hosiery, any brand, size, type, condition you have.

They’ll ship it to a recycling company which will turn it into all sorts of things from park benches and playground equipment to carpet and toys, according to the company’s Web site.

Download a mailing label, ship them off, and be done with them.

Guess what I’m doing tonight?

– Linda J.

 

New monitoring efforts to track water quality improvements in KY and 11 other states

A task force of federal and state officials announced Wednesday two new efforts to monitor water quality through reductions in nutrients in Kentucky and 11 other states flowing from farms and other sources into local waterways that reach the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient (Hypoxia) Task Force, which began in 1997, set up the Mississippi River Monitoring Collaborative to analyze data from the states to see which conservation practices are working and where “new strategies” are needed, according to a news release.

The monitoring efforts will specifically track nitrogen and phosphorus throughout the watershed, according to the release.

Nutrient runoff from agricultural, urban and industrial sources has polluted waterways for decades and contributed to a hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico – an area of low oxygen that is largely uninhabitable by fish and other marine life, the release said.

The Task Force consists of five federal agencies, 12 states and the tribes within the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin.  For more information, visit http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/named/msbasin/index.cfm

 

Appeals court focuses on facts, science

What a good idea.

A court, and a high court at that, ruled Tuesday in favor of facts, science and reality.

I knew they could do it!

The subject is, of course, the EPA ruling on greenhouse gases that came down Tuesday afternoon.

I especially loved the quote cited by the Associated Press and McClatchy writer Renee Schoof:  “It makes no difference that much of the scientific evidence in large part consisted of ‘syntheses’ of individual studies and research,” the court said. “Even individual studies and research papers often synthesize past work in an area and then build upon it. This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.” (The bold is my doing)

That is just beautiful.

– Linda J.

Time to speak out

I’ve bitten my tongue for far too long. I’ve let climate-change deniers have their say to avoid stepping on various toes and I can’t do it any longer.

Climate change is real. Period.

There, I said it.

It took a vacation to “my” Colorado mountains for a family reunion to open my eyes to how bad things really are.

If you don’t believe me or the consensus of real scientists who deal in facts, I have a challenge for you: Take a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and go up to about 9,000 feet. Take in the wonder that is around you for a while and then start looking at things in detail. You will start to notice dead and dying lodge-pole pines; in some places whole mountainsides wiped out.

You will see burn piles where last winter, after snow fell, rangers burned 5,000 piles of beetle-infested and dead trees, according to rangers I spoke with. The burn marks were evident at that altitude and they’ve already started building piles to burn this winter (when snow’s on the ground so as to not spread fire).

Who did I get this from?

  • Two different park rangers at two different locations, one as worried as I, the other slightly more optimistic.
  • A wildlife biologist who lives there (extended family member to fully disclose).
  • I also observed the destruction myself.

One of the rangers told me he started a talk at one of the campgrounds two years ago detailing how climate change is affecting the park.

Today, groups are studying a little mammal, a cousin to the rabbit, called the pika. It’s the park’s canary-in-the-coal-mine, if you will, a term I used with the ranger. Groups are studying its changing migration patterns and watching the little guys for signs of extinction. It will go first, the ranger said.

There wasn’t enough cold last year to kill the beetles that are eating the trees from the inside out. Some always survive and kill a few trees. But the trees need at least a week of below 20 degree weather in winter to kill off the bulk of the beetles. That didn’t happen.

Can I say that again? There weren’t 7 consecutive days of high temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit in that part of the Colorado mountains last winter. That’s stunning. I remember that kind of cold in Denver, much less the mountains.

Then there are the fires raging all across the parched west, including the one west of Fort Collins, about 50 miles or so as the crow flies from the northern edge of the park. All those dead trees are tinder for a spark; fuel for fires started by nature or humans and quickly spread by winds that won’t quit.

Or check out Africa, where parched is taking on a whole new meaning. Or the arctic, where polar bears can’t find enough ice to survive.

How much observable data do you need?

Study what’s really happening, then come back and tell me climate change isn’t real with a straight face.

And just for fun, watch this clip of physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Real Time with Bill Maher cleaning the clock of climate denier and former GM chairman Bob Lutz using changing migration patterns as his example.

Closer to home, Kentucky didn’t have much of a winter last year. School actually got out on time, which didn’t happened in three prior years that I’ve paid attention because of a school-age child. And many of the “snow days” in those years weren’t because of snow, they were because of ice. We get ice because it doesn’t get and stay cold enough to snow.

We might have an extreme winter this year, Colorado might have little winter again, or the reverse might be true or some combination of severe storms, or drought, too much cold or not enough. Remember the deadly and destructive March 2 tornadoes? Awful early in the year, don’t you think?

That’s what climate change is: Long-term it means the planet is warming, but short-term, it means changing weather patterns, and more extreme and severe weather (droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.).

There’s no more “normal.”

We better get used to it since politically no one seems willing to stand up to the deniers.

“Startling” new estimates detail extent of white-nose bat syndrome epidemic

A hat tip to Lu-Ann Farrar for finding this and putting in her Kentucky News Review today.  It’s an important update especially since a white-nosed bat was found in the state last April:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF) has issued a report saying that at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats have died from white-nose syndrome since its detection in 2006.

When the disease is found in a location, the mortality rate can be 100 percent.

“This startling new information illustrates the severity of the threat that white-nose syndrome poses for bats, as well as the scope of the problem facing our nation. Bats provide tremendous value to the U.S. economy as natural pest control for American farms and forests every year, while playing an essential role in helping to control insects that can spread disease to people,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

The disease was found in Kentucky in April 2011 in a little brown bat from a cave in Trigg County in Western Kentucky, about 30 miles southeast of Paducah. The Herald-Leader and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has collected information and reported on the disease.

 

There’s a reason nail polish stays on so long, and it’s not good

Still using nail polish? I am, but I’ve made sure the brands I use don’t contain toluene. Now I need to add formaldeyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), the other two that make up the “toxic three”.

Many brands still use those chemicals. That’s why they are so shiny and stay put so well.

You’ve no doubt heard of formaldehyde,  the chemical that preserves dead animals, but what about the other two?

According to an article on HuffPost Green, “DBP is a known reproductive and developmental toxin, while toluene is a possible reproductive and developmental toxin and can also cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue.

While reading this article, I started thinking about my daughter, who always comes home from a weekend at Grandma’s house with newly painted toes and fingers.

I think I’m going to have to start furnishing as safe a polish as I can find for them to use, because I don’t want to stop their fun.

And here’s where I’m going to find it: The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a searchable database where you can look up all sorts of things about the products you use.

– Linda  J.

 

Using the right wording really does matter

I sometimes wonder if, and therefore how, the climate debates would be different today had the folks who started using the term “global warming” publicly instead used climate change, as most folks use now.

As I tried to explain it once to an acquaintance, in the short term climate change means more storms — all seasons — and more intense storms, and that the end result is a warming trend, but not on a season to season or year to year basis.

He said, and I quote, “Oh, I’ve never heard it explained like that before.”

I suggested he expand his daily news digest to include something fact-based, but I don’t know if he did.

And here’s some new reporting from the Associated Press on this topic; more severe weather and storms. It’s from a draft report to be issued in the next few weeks from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

– Linda J.

Monday green links: 7 billion and counting

Have you heard the news? Planet Earth is home to 7 billion people as of today, according to estimates from the United Nations.

Grist.org will host a chat at 1 p.m. today about the Earth’s expanding population and what it means. Join them here: Grist.org chat.

More links:
Countries grow populations and face new problems

Study links fungus to bat-killing disease.

In fight over gas drilling, civility is fading

Windmillers’ tradition hangs on in Texas panhandle

– Linda J.

 

Worth reading: ’7 billion: What to expect when you are expanding’

As the world’s population expands — a United Nations report says we will reach 7 billion people on Monday — Grist.org has been exploring issues of population growth and the environment with a series titled, 7 billion: What to Expect When You are Expanding.

I recommend some not-so-light reading for the weekend.

They are tackling some heavy topics, from Three’s a crowd: Is it unethical to have more than two children  and We can feed 10 billion of us, study finds — but it won’t  be easy to An indigenous take on family planning and population and much more.

So in between the parties this weekend and the kids’ trick-or-treating, check it out. It’s food for thought, and discussion.

– Linda J.

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