Sunday, February 25, 2007

101 Amazing Facts About Earth

Interesting articles at Some of the entries are related to climate change. #2 is related to ice cores and #7 is related to why hurricanes disappeared in 2006.

2. And the coldest place around here?
Far and away, the coldest temperature ever measured on Earth was -129 Fahrenheit (-89 Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.

7. How far does regular dust blow in the wind?
A 1999 study showed that African dust finds its way to Florida and can help push parts of the state over the prescribed air quality limit for particulate matter set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The dust is kicked up by high winds in North Africa and carried as high as 20,000 feet (6,100 meters), where it's caught up in the trade winds and carried across the sea. Dust from Chinamakes its way to North America, too., 101 Amazing Earth Facts, Robert Roy Britt, 22 July 2003
Garbage Plasma Power

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A new machine uses high voltage to create an arch of plasma. This plasma is used to break apart ordinary garbage into clean burning syngas and an inert glass which could be used for concrete filler.

Michael Nuzzi of US Energy says:

“New York City is already paying an astronomical $90 a ton to get rid of its trash. According to Startech, a few 2,000-ton-per-day plasma-gasification plants could do it for $36. Sell the syngas and surplus electricity, and you’d actually net $15 a ton. Gasification is not just environmentally friendly, it’s a good business decision.”
Photos and videos of this process can be seen here.

Popular Science, The Prophet of Garbage, Joseph Longo's Plasma Converter turns our most vile and toxic trash into clean energy—and promises to make a relic of the landfill, Michael Behar, March 2007
40.7% sunlight-to-energy conversion efficiency!

With funding from the Department of Energy, Boeing-Spectrolab has managed to create a solar cell with 40.7% sunlight-to-energy conversion efficiency, said DoE assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy Alexander Karsner on Tuesday.


This breakthrough may lead to systems with an installation cost of only $3 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 8-10 cents per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a more cost-competitive and integral part of our nation’s energy mix.

EE Times, Solar cell breakthrough claimed

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Czech President Declares War on Science
"Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so. It is not fair to refer to the U.N. panel. IPCC is not a scientific institution: it's a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor. It's neither a forum of neutral scientists nor a balanced group of scientists. These people are politicized scientists who arrive there with a one-sided opinion and a one-sided assignment. Also, it's an undignified slapstick that people don't wait for the full report in May 2007 but instead respond, in such a serious way, to the summary for policymakers where all the "but's" are scratched, removed, and replaced by oversimplified theses.• This is clearly such an incredible failure of so many people, from journalists to politicians. If the European Commission is instantly going to buy such a trick, we have another very good reason to think that the countries themselves, not the Commission, should be deciding about similar issues.•"

The full interview is here. Found via Drudge flash page.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Exxon Owe's $5 Billion, Pays $0.

On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez departed from Valdez, Alaska, heading south with a full load of 52 million gallons of oil. Due to fatigue and excessive workloads the ship crashed and caused one of the biggest environmental disasters in history. It contaminated 1,200 miles of pristine shoreline and it killed 2,800 otters. Today the tanker is still leaking and a recent study found that there is more than 26,600 gallons of oil remaining at Prince William Sound. 26,000 gallons may not sound like a lot but even oil companies like Castrol will admit:
A single pint of oil can create an oil slick the size of a football field. A single gallon of used oil can contaminate a million gallons of fresh water.
Researchers say the oil spill is declining at a rate of only 4% a year and even slower in the Gulf of Alaska. Predictions that the sound would have recovered by now have shown to be inaccurate. Fishery scientists estimate that less than 10% of the oil was cleaned up.

After the oil spill Exxon was taken to court to cover the cleanup costs. In 1994 Exxon was fined $5 billion for negligence. That debt still remains unpaid. Meanwhile over 1,200 of the plaintiffs have passed away. Victor Smith, a fisherman, lost more than $1 million due to the spill and says the herring fish community still hasn't recovered. Smith has since given up fishing and now hauls freight.

For those that have a knack for law, feel free to read the 2006 decision which is available via this PDF. 32,000 people are waiting compensation.

The Guardian, 18 years on, Exxon Valdez oil still pours into Alaskan waters, Ewen MacAskill in Washington, Friday February 2, 2007
Seattle Times/Common dreams, The Lingering Lessons of the Exxon Valdez Spill, Monday, March 22, 2004, Marybeth Holleman


Seattlepi, Exxon still owes for Valdez spill, Despite profits, oil giant holds billions awarded to victims, MIKE LEWIS, Monday, March 13, 2006
Staley,Laurel. "Petroleum Oils." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2000: March 26, 2003.