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Amped Status's List: Environment

  • Dec 03, 19

    "The Port Neches chemical plant where two explosions and an ongoing fire prompted widespread mandatory evacuations Wednesday has a years-long history of state and federal environmental violations.

    The facility owned by Houston-based Texas Petroleum Chemicals, or TPC Group, which manufactures highly flammable 1,3 butadiene, has been considered a high priority violator by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more than two years, and been out of compliance with federal clean air laws since the agency’s last inspection in August 2017. State data shows the facility has reported spewing more air pollution than allowed by its government-issued permits five times this year, including hundreds of pounds of butadiene."

  • Nov 29, 19

    "A wastewater well, used in hydraulic fracturing, may have leaked, undetected, for years, according to a new study from Southern Methodist University in the journal Nature.

    A team, led by geophysicist Zhong Lu, used satellite imagery to identify the site and conclude it had leaked over the course of 4 years, between 2007 and 2011, possibly polluting a rural water supply used for agricultural purposes.

    The injection well, in northern Reeves County, is currently inactive.

    In 2018, Zhong used the same satellite technology in a study that showed how sinkholes in West Texas are rapidly expanding.

    The new research shows a bump forming in the earth around the time the injection well was in heavy use. The bump, or uplift, is about 5-and-a-half football fields across but just 7-and-half inches high."...

    Toxic wastewater is generated during the hydraulic fracturing process for oil and gas. That wastewater is pumped underground and permanently stored in, what’s called, an injection well so that it will not contaminate underground drinking water.

    Lu’s paper shows, from 2007 to 2011, a growing volume of wastewater was injected underground. At the same time, satellite measurements show a correlation with the earth lifting at the well site.

  • Nov 29, 19

    "In what is being hailed as a world-first, a German steel plant has just succeeded in powering one of their blast furnaces entirely with hydrogen.

    Up until Thyssenkrupp Steel announced their groundbreaking achievement earlier this month, steel had been made exclusively using coal-powered furnaces. Reports say that the steelmaking industry uses about 1 billion tons of coal every year, which contributes to about 7% of global carbon emissions.

    According to the US Energy Information Administration, burning one ton of coal produces almost three tons of carbon dioxide. Using hydrogen, however, produces only water vapor.

    Since Thyssenkrupp successfully managed to power their “Furnace 9” with hydrogen in place of coal, the company now plans on powering all three of their Duisburg-based steel furnaces with hydrogen by 2023."

    The company—which is also known for being one of the world’s leading suppliers of carbon steel flat products—also plans to reduce their total emission output by at least 30% before 2030, and achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050.

    “Today is a groundbreaking day for the steel industry,” said Premal Desai, Chairman of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe. “We are doing pioneering work here. The use of hydrogen is the key lever for climate-neutral steel production. Today’s test is another step in the transformation of our production which will culminate in green steel. At the same time, we see what is possible when business and government work together towards a common goal.”....

    In 2018, studies showed that wind, solar, biomass, and hydro power sources produced 4.3% more power than they did in 2017, accounting for 40% of the nation’s total energy output—a notable improvement from renewables producing only 19.1% of their power in 2010.

  • Nov 29, 19

    "Israeli scientists have succeeded in editing the genes of microorganisms so that they stop eating all of their normal solid foods and switch to a strict diet of only eating carbon dioxide (CO2) from their environment.

    This means that the bacteria were able to build all of their biomass from air. This feat, which involved nearly a decade of rational design, genetic engineering and a sped-up version of evolution in the lab, point to an exciting new means of developing carbon-neutral fuels.

    The research, which was conducted in the laboratory of Professor Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Science, was reported this week in Cell.

    The study began by identifying crucial genes for the process of carbon fixation—the way plants take carbon from CO2 for the purpose of turning it into such biological molecules as protein and DNA. After adding and rewiring the needed genes, the researchers found that many of the “parts” for the machinery that were already present in the bacterial genome could be used as is.

    RELATED: First Fully Rechargeable Carbon Dioxide Battery is Seven Times More Efficient Than Lithium Ion

    They also inserted a gene that allowed the bacteria to get energy from a readily available substance called formate that can be produced directly from electricity and air and which is apt to “give up” electrons to the bacteria.

    As it turns out, simply giving the bacteria the “means of production” was not enough for them to make the switch. The team still needed another trick to get the bacteria to use this machinery properly, and this involved a delicate balancing act.

    Together with several other members of Milo’s team in the Institute’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department, the researchers used lab evolution, as the technique is known; in essence, the bacteria were gradually weaned off the sugar they were used to eating.

    LOOK: This New Bioreactor Uses Algae to Capture as Much Carbon Dioxide as an Acre of Trees

    At each stage, cultured bacteria were given just enough sugar to keep them from complete starvation, as well as plenty of CO2 and formate. As some “learned” to develop a taste for CO2 (giving them an evolutionary edge over those that stuck to sugar), their descendants were given less and less sugar until after about a year of adapting to the new diet some of them eventually made the complete switch, living and multiplying in an environment that served up pure CO2.

    To check whether the bacteria were not somehow “snacking” on other nutrients, some of the evolved E. coli were fed CO2 containing a heavy isotope: C13. Then the bacterial body parts were weighed, and the weight they had gained checked against the mass that would be added from eating the heavier version of carbon. The analysis showed the carbon atoms in the body of the bacteria were all extracted directly from CO2 alone.

    The researchers believe that the bacteria’s new “health kick” could ultimately be healthy for the planet. Milo points out that today, biotech companies use cell cultures to produce commodity chemicals. Such cells—yeast or bacteria—could be induced to live on a diet of CO2 and renewable electricity, and thus be weaned from the large amounts of corn syrup they live on today.

    CHECK OUT: New Reactor Uses Renewable Energy to Turn Greenhouse Gases into Fuel for Hydrogen Batteries

    Bacteria could also be further adapted so that rather than taking their energy from a substance such as formate, they might be able to get it straight up—say electrons from a solar collector—and then store that energy for later use as fuel in the form of carbon fixed in their cells. Such fuel would be carbon-neutral if the source of its carbon was atmospheric CO2.

    “Our lab was the first to pursue the idea of changing the diet of a normal heterotroph (one that eats organic substances) to convert it to autotrophism (‘living on air’),” says Milo. “It sounded impossible at first, but it has taught us numerous lessons along the way, and in the end we showed it indeed can be done. Our findings are a significant milestone toward our goal of efficient, green scientific applications.”


  • Nov 29, 19

    "Several beaches in Orange County were shut down Thursday due to a raw sewage spill in Laguna Beach, according to county officials.

    All ocean and bay water areas from Pelican Point at Crystal Cove in Newport Beach to the Poche Beach interface in Dana Point/San Clemente are closed, the Orange County Health Care Agency said.

    The spill was first reported to the agency on Wednesday at 4:40 p.m. The South Orange County Wastewater Authority, along with the city of Laguna Beach, reported the spill after a main broke at the Ben Brown Golf Course in Laguna Beach.

    All closures will remain in effect until results of a follow-up water quality monitoring meet acceptable standards, the HCA stated in a written news release.


  • Nov 29, 19

    "Take the nucleus of an atom. It is made up of protons and neutrons. If we add or take away a neutron, it changes absolutely everything. It is no longer the same atom, and its properties will completely change. The lifespan of nuclear waste is fundamentally changed, and we could cut this from a million years to 30 minutes!"

    "Gérard Mourou has already won a Nobel for his work with fast laser pulses.

    If he gets pulses 10,000 times faster, he says he can modify waste on an atomic level.

    If no solution is found, we're already stuck with some 22,000 cubic meters of long-lasting hazardous waste.

    Whatever one thinks of nuclear energy, the process results in tons of radioactive, toxic waste no one quite knows what to do with. As a result, it's tucked away as safely as possible in underground storage areas where it's meant to remain a long, long time: The worst of it, uranium 235 and plutonium 239, have a half life of 24,000 years. That's the reason eyebrows were raised in Europe — where more countries depend on nuclear energy than anywhere else — when physicist Gérard Mourou mentioned in his wide-ranging Nobel acceptance speech that lasers could cut the lifespan of nuclear waste from "a million years to 30 minutes," as he put it in a followup interview with The Conversation."

  • Nov 29, 19

    "Gérard Mourou has already won a Nobel for his work with fast laser pulses.

    If he gets pulses 10,000 times faster, he says he can modify waste on an atomic level.

    If no solution is found, we're already stuck with some 22,000 cubic meters of long-lasting hazardous waste.

    Whatever one thinks of nuclear energy, the process results in tons of radioactive, toxic waste no one quite knows what to do with. As a result, it's tucked away as safely as possible in underground storage areas where it's meant to remain a long, long time: The worst of it, uranium 235 and plutonium 239, have a half life of 24,000 years. That's the reason eyebrows were raised in Europe — where more countries depend on nuclear energy than anywhere else — when physicist Gérard Mourou mentioned in his wide-ranging Nobel acceptance speech that lasers could cut the lifespan of nuclear waste from "a million years to 30 minutes," as he put it in a followup interview with The Conversation."

  • Nov 29, 19

    "For nearly two centuries, the Rieckmann family has raised cows for milk in this muddy patch of land in the middle of Wisconsin. Mary and John Rieckmann, who now run the farm and its 45 cows, have seen all manners of ups and downs — droughts, floods, oversupplies of milk that sent prices tumbling. But they’ve never seen a crisis quite like this one.

    The Rieckmanns are about $300,000 in debt, and bill collectors are hounding them about the feed bill and a repayment for a used tractor they bought to keep the farm going. But it’s harder than ever to make any money, much less pay the debt, Mary Rieckmann says, in the yellow-wallpapered kitchen of the sagging farmhouse where she lives with her husband, John, and two of their seven children. The Rieckmanns receive about $16 for every 100 pounds of milk they sell, a 40 percent decrease from six years back. There are weeks where the entire milk check goes towards the $2,100 monthly mortgage payment. Two bill collectors have taken out liens against the farm. “What do you do when you you’re up against the wall and you just don’t know which way to turn?” Rieckmann says, as her ancient fridge begins to hum. Mary, 79, and John, 80, had hoped to leave the farm to their two sons, age 55 and 50, who still live with them and run the farm. Now they’re less focused on their legacy than about making it through the week."

    In the American imagination, at least, the family farm still exists as it does on holiday greeting cards: as a picturesque, modestly prosperous expanse that wholesomely fills the space between the urban centers where most of us live. But it has been declining for generations, and the closing days of 2019 find small farms pummeled from every side: a trade war, severe weather associated with climate change, tanking commodity prices related to globalization, political polarization, and corporate farming defined not by a silo and a red barn but technology and the efficiencies of scale. It is the worst crisis in decades. Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies were up 12 percent in the Midwest from July of 2018 to June of 2019; they’re up 50 percent in the Northwest. Tens of thousands have simply stopped farming, knowing that reorganization through bankruptcy won’t save them. The nation lost more than 100,000 farms between 2011 and 2018; 12,000 of those between 2017 and 2018 alone.

    Farm debt, at $416 billion, is at an all-time high. More than half of all farmers have lost money every year since since 2013, and lost more than $1,644 this year. Farm loan delinquencies are rising.

    Suicides in farm communities are happening with alarming frequency. Farmers aren’t the only workers in the American economy being displaced by technology, but when they lose their jobs, they also ejected from their homes and the land that’s been in their family for generations. “It hits you so hard when you feel like you’re the one who is losing the legacy that your great-grandparents started,” said Randy Roecker, a Wisconsin dairy farmer who has struggled with depression and whose neighbor Leon Statz committed suicide last year after financial struggles forced him to sell his 50 dairy cows. Roecker estimates he’s losing $30,000 a month.

    Even large companies are facing unprecedented challenges; Dean Foods, a global dairy producer that buys milk from thousands of small farmers, filed for bankruptcy Tuesday, November 12, and is seeking a sale, a move that could further hamper farmers looking for places to sell their milk.

    Farmers have always talked of looming disaster, but the duration and severity of the current crisis suggests an alarming and once unthinkable possibility — that independent farming is no longer a viable livelihood. Small farms, defined as those bringing in less than $350,000 a year before expenses, accounted for just a quarter of food production in 2017, down from nearly half in 1991. In the dairy industry, small farms accounted for just 10 percent of production. The disappearance of the small farm would further hasten the decline of rural America, which has been struggling to maintain an economic base for decades.

    “Farm and ranch families are facing a great extinction,” says Al Davis, a Nebraska cattle producer and former state senator. “If we lose that rural lifestyle, we have really lost a big part of what made this country great.”

    A perfect storm of factors has led to the recent crisis in the farm industry. After boom years in the beginning of the 21st century, prices for commodities like corn, soybeans, milk, and meat started falling in 2013. The reason for these lowered prices are the twin forces upending much of the American economy: technology and globalization. Technology has made farms more efficient than ever before. But economies of scale meant that most of the benefits accrued to corporate farmers, who built up huge holdings as smaller farmers sold out. Even as four million farms disappeared in the United States between 1948 and 2015, total farm output more than doubled. Globalization brought more farmers into the international market for crops, flooding the market with soybeans and corn and cattle and milk, and with increased supply comes lower prices. Global food production has increased 30 percent over the last decade, according to John Newton, the chief economist of the American Farm Bureau. If that’s a good thing for feeding the planet, it also reduces what comes back to producers, whose costs don’t fall with prices.

    President Trump’s trade war hasn’t helped matters. After the United States slapped tariffs on Chinese goods including steel and aluminum last year, China retaliated with 25 percent tariffs on agricultural imports from the U.S.. China then turned to other countries such as Brazil to replace American soybeans and corn. “This was a market that took years to develop,” says Barb Kalbach, a fourth- generation corn and soybean farmer in Iowa, referring to China. “The president has worked very hard to make our markets unstable.” Her soybeans are harvested and sitting in a grain elevator as she waits to see if China will buy despite the tariffs. Agricultural exports between January and August this year were down 5 percent, or $5.6 billion dollars, from the same period last year. The Trump administration has made $16 billion in aid available to farmers affected by the trade war, though small farmers complain the bulk of the money has gone to huge producers with large crop losses. Around 40 percent of the $88 billion in farm income expected this year is going to come in the form of federal aid and insurance, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Farm income absent that assistance, at $55 billion, is down 14 percent since last year and is half of what it was in 2013.

    Smaller farms have found it especially hard to adapt to these changes, which they blame on government policy and a lack of antitrust enforcement. The government is on the side of big farms, they say, and is ambivalent about whether small farms can succeed. “Get big or get out,” Earl Butz, Nixon’s secretary of agriculture, infamously told farmers in the 1970s. It’s a sentiment that Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary under President Trump, echoed recently. “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said, at the World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin in October. The number of farms with more than 2,000 acres nearly doubled between 1987 and 2012, according to USDA data. The number of farms with 200 to 999 acres fell over that time period by 44 percent.

    Many small American farmers are routinely selling their crops for less than it costs to produce them. “It’s very intimidating, you work hard every day, and every day, it seems like you’re just always struggling,” says Rieckmann.

    Prices are so low that farmers like the Rieckmanns are trying to figure out other ways to come up with the money to keep their farm going. But like many other rural areas around the country, their town of Fremont does not have a bustling economy. Both a Kmart and another department store, Shopko, closed in Waupaca county this year, costing dozens of workers their jobs. Mary Rieckmann who will turn 80 in January, got a job delivering newspapers; the family also launched a GoFundMe account. But after Mary crashed her car on a foggy night, her husband and sons convinced her to abandon her paper route. In the past, the family has sold calves to raise extra money, but John recently brought two calves to the stock market and got $20 for one and $30 for another—two years ago, those calves would have brought in $300 to $400 each. “If somebody would have told me 20 years ago what it was going to be like now, I think I would have called him a liar,” Rieckmann says.

  • Nov 28, 19

    "Food prices are climbing fast in the world’s biggest emerging markets, posing a possible inflation threat after months of dormant pressures.

    Asia’s two largest developing economies face a price surge for staple products — pork in China and onions in India — that are central to consumers’ diets. In Turkey and Nigeria, supply problems are driving up costs, while United Nations data show global food prices rose at the fastest pace in October in more than two years.

    While the spike is painful for poorer consumers, it hasn’t reached a level to convince central banks to pull the brake on policy easing, as they remain focused on boosting economic growth amid a global slowdown. Average inflation across emerging markets is still at an all-time low, according to a Bloomberg gauge of consumer price indexes."...

    Nomura Holdings Inc. economists recently warned of three potential triggers of higher food costs — weather-related shocks, higher oil prices and a sharp depreciation in the dollar — saying emerging and frontier markets are most at risk since food costs make up a larger portion of their consumers’ income.

    The key will be whether the increases begin to feed into consumers’ longer-term inflation expectations, which could drive up wages and core inflation in a spiral, said Sonal Varma, Nomura’s chief economist for India and Asia ex-Japan.

  • Nov 27, 19

    "Researchers find that the neurotoxin is carried in by coastal fog, deposited on the land, and then makes its way up the food chain where it is approaching toxic thresholds in pumas.

    Along the coast of California, Mother Nature performs one of her most poetic tricks: Coastal fog. It slinks in from the Pacific and rolls up canyons, it swaths San Francisco in clouds, and it hydrates the world's tallest trees. It mingles the smell of the sea with that of chaparral and redwoods; it is so precious they make vodka from it! The world may know California for its sunshine, but many Californians cherish the coastal fog as their true mascot.

    And it was in this fog that an atmospheric chemist was riding his bike, about a decade ago, when the proverbial light bulb went off.

    "I was riding through this absolute fogstorm, with water dripping off my glasses, and I just wondered, 'What's in this stuff?'" Peter Weiss-Penzias recalled. Thinking that mercury might de-gas out of the ocean and turn up in the fog, he gathered samples and sent them to a lab.

    "The lab called me, saying they'd have to re-run the tests, because they didn't believe the numbers," said Weiss-Penzias.

    Thus begun a field of studying pollutants in coastal fog; now, all these years later, Weiss-Penzias has led the first study tracing the atmospheric source of super-toxic methylmercury in the terrestrial food web, all the way up to a top predator. And the results are ... really depressing.

    The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) notes, "Concentrations of mercury in pumas [AKA mountain lions] in the Santa Cruz Mountains were three times higher than lions who live outside the fog zone. Similarly, mercury levels in lichen and deer were significantly higher inside the fog belt than beyond it.""

  • Nov 25, 19

    "A new solar-powered device turns salt water into fresh drinking water.
    GivePower, the nonprofit behind the technology, is debuting the system in a coastal community in Kenya.
    Half of the world's population could live in water-stressed areas by 2025. The ocean offers an abundant source of water if the salt-removal process can be made energy- and cost-efficient.
    Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
    People have been trying to turn seawater into drinking water for thousands of years, but the process is not usually energy-efficient or affordable.

    At a newly constructed facility in Kenya, however, a nonprofit called GivePower is tackling that challenge using solar power.

    The desalination system, which started operating in the coastal area of Kiunga in July 2018, can create 19,800 gallons (75,000 liters) of fresh drinking water each day — enough for 25,000 people.

    "You have to find a way to pull water out of the ocean in a scalable way, in a sustainable way," Hayes Barnard, the president of GivePower, told Business Insider."

  • Nov 23, 19

    "Researchers from the University of Houston have reported a new device that can both efficiently capture solar energy and store it until it is needed, offering promise for applications ranging from power generation to distillation and desalination.

    Unlike solar panels and solar cells, which rely on photovoltaic technology for the direct generation of electricity, the hybrid device captures heat from the sun and stores it as thermal energy. It addresses some of the issues that have stalled wider-scale adoption of solar power, suggesting an avenue for using solar energy around-the-clock, despite limited sunlight hours, cloudy days and other constraints.

    The work, described in a paper published Wednesday in Joule, combines molecular energy storage and latent heat storage to produce an integrated harvesting and storage device for potential 24/7 operation. The researchers report a harvesting efficiency of 73% at small-scale operation and as high as 90% at large-scale operation.

    Up to 80% of stored energy was recovered at night, and the researchers said daytime recovery was even higher.

    Hadi Ghasemi, Bill D. Cook Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UH and a corresponding author for the paper, said the high efficiency harvest is due, in part, to the ability of the device to capture the full spectrum of sunlight, harvesting it for immediate use and converting the excess into molecular energy storage.

    The device was synthesized using norbornadiene-quadricyclane as the molecular storage material, an organic compound that the researchers said demonstrates high specific energy and exceptional heat release while remaining stable over extended storage times. Ghasemi said the same concept could be applied using different materials, allowing performance—including operating temperatures and efficiency—to be optimized.

    T. Randall Lee, Cullen Distinguished University Chair professor of chemistry and a corresponding author, said the device offers improved efficiency in several ways: The solar energy is stored in molecular form rather than as heat, which dissipates over time, and the integrated system also reduces thermal losses because there is no need to transport the stored energy through piping lines.

    "During the day, the solar thermal energy can be harvested at temperatures as high as 120 degrees centigrade (about 248 Fahrenheit)," said Lee, who also is a principle investigator for the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. "At night, when there is low or no solar irradiation, the stored energy is harvested by the molecular storage material, which can convert it from a lower energy molecule to a higher energy molecule."

    That allows the stored energy to produce thermal energy at a higher temperature at night than during the day—boosting the amount of energy available even when the sun is not shining, he said."

  • Nov 21, 19

    "A potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba has been detected in a Louisiana neighborhood’s drinking water — the third time the terrifying discovery has been made in the same parish since 2015, reports said.

    Naegleria fowleri, which causes fatal brain swelling and tissue destruction, was found over the weekend in Terrebonne Parish, deep in the Louisiana bayou about an hour south of New Orleans, WWL-TV reported."

  • Nov 21, 19

    "While researching for his new novel, author Denis Mills discovered an alarming link between chemtrails and the super wildfires. 

    The author discovered that unprecedented levels of aluminum and barium nanodust, primary components in chemtrails, both of which are incendiary, are fueling the ferocity of the super wildfires.

    Aluminum-fueled super wildfire

    Author Denis Mills
    A retired USAF brigadier general, Gen. Charles Jones, has been quoted from a public source as stating, "These white aircraft spray trails are the result of scientifically verifiable spraying of aluminum particles and other toxic heavy metals, polymers and chemicals." 

    "Millions of tons of aluminum and barium are being sprayed almost daily across the U.S., stated Mills, a former naval officer and UCLA graduate. "Just sprinkle aluminum or barium dust on a fire and see what happens.  It's near explosive.  When wildfires break out, the aluminum/barium dust results in levels of fire intensity so great as to cause firefighters to coin a new term  ̶ 'firenados,' "  he said. The entire U.S., in addition to various other NATO countries, are being sprayed."

    The government has for years denied the existence of chemtrail spraying.  It now calls the program by various names, all under Geoengineering.

    According to Cal Fire operation chief Steve Crawford, the fires are burning differently and more aggressively.  It has been reported the fires move faster than anyone has ever seen and barriers that in years past contained them such as rivers, no longer do. 

    In California's Mt. Shasta region, Francis Mangel, a USDA biologist tested and found elevated levels of aluminum in water and soil samples of 4,610 parts per million which is 25,000 times the safe guidelines of the World Health Organization. 

    Some have claimed Mr. Mills is publicity-seeking for his teen and young adult fiction adventure series, Matt Legend, about four teens who encounter and battle the supernatural and all kinds of strange things, including the forces behind the chemtrails.  The adventure thriller is being called the new Harry Potter.  Mr. Mills states the research speaks for itself and the novel is only what led to the discovery.  "Authors are known for researching things to death," he stated. No one can argue, however, the wildfires' newfound ferocity or the millions of tons of aluminum/barium nanodust which have appeared, which is killing vegetation and causing illness and death.  "

  • Nov 20, 19

    "“Taking their cue from nature, an international team of researchers from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, have created an ‘artificial leaf’ that mimics the carbon-scrubbing abilities of the real thing.

    “But rather than turning atmospheric CO2 into a source of fuel for itself, the leaf converts it into a useful alternative fuel.”"

  • Nov 20, 19

    "Data from ESA's Cluster mission has provided a recording of the eerie "song" that Earth sings when it is hit by a solar storm.

    The song comes from waves that are generated in the Earth's magnetic field by the collision of the storm. The storm itself is the eruption of electrically charged particles from the sun's atmosphere.

    A team led by Lucile Turc, a former ESA research fellow who is now based at the University of Helsinki, Finland, made the discovery after analyzing data from the Cluster Science Archive. The archive provides access to all data obtained during Cluster's ongoing mission over almost two decades.

    Cluster consists of four spacecraft that orbit Earth in formation, investigating our planet's magnetic environment and its interaction with the solar wind—a constant flow of particles released by the sun into the Solar System.


  • Nov 12, 19

    "Data from the Military Health System shows that the military is already experiencing a spike in illnesses caused by extreme heat. Worryingly, very few of those cases are occurring in Middle East where troops have to cope with extreme temperatures on a daily basis. Last year, there were nearly 2,800 cases of heat-related illness among active-duty members of the military and only 67 of those were recorded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back in 2014, the number of cases was substantially lower at 1,851. That year, 48 of those cases were documented in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Illustrating the extent to which the problem is prevalent on the home front, 40% of all heat-related illness cases over the past five years occurred on five sprawling bases in the Southeast of the United States - Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Camp Lejeune/Cherry Point in North Carolina, Fort Campbell in Kentucky and Fort Polk in Louisiana. During the same period, only 8% of total heat-related illness cases occurred outside the United States. The Military Health System states that "even though numerous effective countermeasures are available, heat-related illness remains a significant threat to the health and operational effectiveness of military members and their units and accounts for considerable morbidity, particularly during recruit training in the U.S. military"."

  • Nov 10, 19

    "She and other Amazon employees had filed a formal shareholder resolution, asking Amazon to create a plan to cut its reliance on fossil fuels. The proposal secured support from 31% of the shares that were voted.
    That may not sound like a win, but in the world of shareholder resolutions, in which votes are symbolic and not binding, it was a resounding result — the kind of message even a $900 billion company couldn't ignore. Four months later, amid growing scrutiny from shareholders and employees, Bezos announced a pledge to make Amazon carbon neutral by 2040.
    Cunningham is just one person in a long line of shareholders who have used their stakes to push corporations to address social and environmental issues. But on Tuesday, the US Securities and Exchange Commission took a significant step to curtail their power."

  • Nov 06, 19

    "The second of two oil spills in two years along the Keystone pipeline resulted in half an Olympic-sized swimming pool's worth of crude oil spilling onto a North Dakota wetlands area.
    The Associated Press reports that the leak was discovered Tuesday night and that crews shut down the pipeline, which extends through 7 US states and into Canada.
    TC Energy, the company that owns the pipeline, estimates about 383,000 gallons – or more than 9,000 barrels of oil – were spilled, though North Dakota regulators say drinking water sources were not affected.
    Activists opposing the proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension were outraged by the spill, especially because TransCanada claims safety is a "top priority" and says spills are "unlikely.""

  • Nov 06, 19

    Fine particle air pollution comes from many sources, including burning fossil fuels. Today more than 20 million Americans live in areas with high levels of fine particles.

    Average annual fine particulate levels in the U.S. fell by nearly 25% between 2009 and 2016, but this trend may be reversing. Increasingly frequent and severe wildfires, such as those currently raging in California, are one likely source.

    A recent study found that fine particle levels rose 5.5% between 2016 and 2018 and estimated that this increase was associated with some 9,700 premature deaths in 2018 that would not have occurred otherwise. Our panel noted the recent uptick in fine particle levels in our latest report, released last week."

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