Thursday, December 29, 2011

Recent news

Having been busy this last week (and having no internet connection for a few days), I just went through my RSS feed and here are few interesting stories.

Advertising can be bad for environment according to a new report. The article's point is that advertising has a effect on the way we behave -- making us more individualistic and less concerned about society and the environment.

Much has been written (including by me) on carbon in the atmosphere and global warming, but less attention has been to "blue carbon", that is carbon in the oceans. Some are now saying that blue carbon should be on the agenda of the Rio+20 summit to be held next year. Especially important is getting more scientific data on the topic.

The Internation Rice Research Institute in the Philippines is now recommending stricter controls on use of pesticides in Asia. Improper use of pesticides can ironically lead to increased disease due to formation of resistances.

Guess what? We have another oil spill by Shell company in Nigeria, this one the largest for 13 years. See some of my other blogs about earlier problems in Nigeria.

Finally, the world has a new island. See the link for pictures and explaination.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Climate change meeting finished

The COP-17 meeting in Durban that I mentioned in the previous blog entry has now been completed.
I have just put up my thoughts on the meeting on this blog article. That article also includes some links about the meeting.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Incoming students and CVF

Hello, to entering Environmental Science students. I hope you have found your way to this miniblog. Also check out the Johnsearth blog and my Environmental Science website.

The big thing just around the corner is the Durban climate change conference, known as COP-17 (for the 17th Conference of Parties). Where a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol will be discussed (Kyoto runs out in Dec. 2012). This was also discussed at COP-15 in Copenhagen and COP-16 in Cancun, Mexico. However, all signs point to a disappointing meeting, but we will see.

Just finished was a meeting of 14 countries called the Climate Vulnerable Forum hosted by Bangladesh. These countries are among the most under threat from climate change. They issued the Dhaka Declaration, information on can be found here.

Groups such as CVF and the small island states are demanding action, but the major industralized (lead by the US) are dragging their feet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Field trip to Chernobyl

An interesting article from the BBC on how scientists are studying the area near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

We will be discussing nuclear power later; this is a good example of the long-term effects of a serious nuclear accident 25 years ago.

Snow in the Desert!

Check out this picture. It is snow in the desert.

And not any desert, the Atacama Desert -- the driest place on the Earth. Some parts get less than 3 mm of rain in a year! (The area of the picture gets a huge ;) 50 mm per year)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Amu Darya

HERE is a report on the Amu Darya River in Central Asia.

The Amu Darya river is the longest river empties into the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea is one of the biggest environmental disasters the world has seen. I discuss it in this blog post .

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Depleted Uranium

One not often mentioned result of war is the environmental damage. And one of these environmental dangers is from depleted uranium (DU). A recent report from NGO's in Iraq discusses "what appear to be widespread, and often lethal, health effects from war contaminants in Iraq, namely Depleted Uranium (DU)"

Natural Uranium is composed of two isotopes U-235 and U-238. But only U-235 is used in nuclear reactors. After U-235 is removed, the remainder is called Depleted Uranium. This is used to make armor-piercing shells because Uranium is very dense. But uranium is an alpha radiation emitter, which means it is toxic if ingested or inhaled. Hence the concern over its use.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Green"? Companies

Today companies often try to fly their "green" colors. However, often what we get is called greenwashing, calling yourself green when your not. A perfect example of this is the recent article in Triple Pundit 43 “Green” Companies Called out for Anti-Environmental Stance

In this case companies which promote themselves as green, but are supporting an organization which is trying to stop the US environmental regulators from regulating greenhouse gases.

Moral: Do not believe everything that companies say.

Update: For an even more disturbing example of greenwashing see the article chevron advocate posing journalist caught sending phony email.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Welcome to new Environmental Science students. On this miniblog will be short articles on recent news items which would be of interest to students.

If you are interested in longer articles with more analysis and opinions see my other blog Johnsearth.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lead Poisoning in China

As many of the students this term are from China, you may find this interesting:

Chinese children caught in lead poisoning scare (BBC News)

Students living near battery factories in Anhui province were tested and over 200 found to have excessive lead in their blood.

Lead causes mental damage and one of the students had lead levels three times what is considered to cause mental impairment.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Energy use in Middle East

Students should remember that the largest user of energy per person was somewhat surprising Qatar. (For those who don't know Qatar is in the Middle East).

With this in mine it is interesting to read the article Rapid Rise Middle East Energy Presents New Concerns.

This is indeed a worrisome trend. Even though the article mentions renewable energy, that is not the issue here. Demand needs to be reduced to make any progress on energy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Indonesia and REDD

I will get to the results of the Cancun climate change conference shortly. We will be looking at global warming in class in the next few weeks.

But for now let us look at the article Indonesia Chooses Climate Pact Pilot Province. It talks about the Indonesian government choosing the province of Central Kalimantan (Borneo) for trials with REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation). The province contains significant amounts of peat swamps and logging.

Support for REDD is one of the positive points to come out of Cancun. And Indonesia is one of the key countries for its implementation (it has the third largest rain forest).