Entries Tagged as 'Environment'

Northwest Passage

There have been a number of articles recently on the effect of global climate change on the arctic ice pack, and I guess you could say one of the “good” things that is happening is that a (Summer) shipping route North of the Arctic Circle may be a reality within the next few years.

While the melting of the ice pack might be good news for shipping and oil/gas exploration, it might not be a good thing for the world as a whole.

Remember, a large portion of the world’s population lives in coastal regions, not far above sea level — when the ice pack melts, that water goes somewhere — and, of course, that’s fresh water, so not only does the level of the oceans rise, but the salinity of the oceans goes down.

No one can really predict what these changes will have on the habitability of this planet long term, but along with the receding glaciers we have more evidence of rather dramatic climate change.  Whether these changes are a natural event, a natural even being accelerated by emissions, or purely cause by emissions may still be debatable, but whether or not it’s happening… that’s fairly well documented.

Of course, as I always say — many love to do the back-stroke in de-nile; or as other like to day, de-nile isn’t just a river in Egypt…

Originally posted 2011-08-18 02:00:18.

The Anti-Green – Architectural Lighting

It’s estimated that US electrical plants burn six million tons of coal daily to power unnecessary outdoor lighting — this estimate doesn’t include the wasted hydroelectric in areas like Las Vegas used to power unnecessary outdoor lighting.  Another estimate puts the waste at three-hundred twenty thousand kilowatt hours per minute!

Often called “light pollution” this unnecessary outdoor lighting could be produced by individuals or businesses and both need to take responsibility for adopting more sustainable lighting policies.

Earth Day this year illustrated just how much “needless” light we humans produce… and just what the potential savings and reductions could be.

Consider that electricity isn’t free; it has the initial cost of purchasing the kilo-watt hour of power and the negative impact it’s generation had on the environment (even in areas where wind or hydroelectric are used there are negative impacts to the environment — and power saved there could be routed to areas using coal or natural gas for power further reducing the carbon footprint).

This is an excellent area where it doesn’t take much to save a great deal.

First, think — if the light doesn’t serve a useful purpose, turn it off; or use it sparingly.  Put it on a timer or a motion sensor if you’re forgetful.

Second, consider the lighting technology.  Lights that need to be on quite a bit should use technology that’s efficient, like LED lighting.  Lights that are on occasionally could use (and recycle your existing CF bulbs — remember production and disposal of those lighting elements have an adverse effect on the environment).  For lights that are rarely on, and heat does not pose a problem re-using your existing incandescent bulbs might make sense.

Third, consider using solar powered LED lighting completely for outdoor lighting.  While the rechargeable batteries in those devices do impose potential environmental impact, properly recycled their impact is greatly mitigated by their years of service lighting without drawing power from the grid.

In commercial applications it’s probably a no win situation unless the business takes directed action to improve their lighting; and that might require local, state, and federal government taking action to make it fiscally desirable — a combination of taxes and tax credits.  Here we as individuals might want to take the initiatives to make heavy consumers of electricity pay a “waste” tax (users who actually produce real goods and services would have a threshold for the tax than those who simply consume it for eye candy effect).

I certainly believe that an individual or company should be able to purchase and use electricity for whatever purpose they desire; however, I also believe that individuals and companies that waste that electricity without providing benefit to society as a whole should shoulder the costs of the impact on the environment more than those who attempt to use resources responsibly.

Originally posted 2010-05-24 02:00:04.

High Speed Rail might be de-railed

It’s very likely that one of the casualties of the mid-term elections will be the high-speed-rail grants.

Representative John Mica (R-FL) who is in line to be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has indicated he wants to re-examine all $10 billion worth of high-speed-rail grants that have already been awarded around the country.

High speed rail service would be an extremely cost effective competitor to increasing air transportation; it would be far more eco-friendly; use less energy; potentially use renewable energy; and unlike airports, high speed rail stations could be in the middle of busy metropolitan areas.

No question the US has to tighten it’s belt and bring it’s spending in line with it’s bank accounts — but investments in long term infrastructure improvements are likely what will allow the economy to rebound and gain a solid footing.

I’d say we need to look at all the spending and make sure we make cuts where it’s waste first — and then weigh the costs and benefits before making other cuts.

As I’ve posted before — we could cut down the salaries, retirement pensions, and health insurance costs for elected official… that’s a good start to savings — and elected officials should get the same “benefits” they approve for the American people.

Originally posted 2010-11-23 02:00:13.

Hurricane Names

Hurricane names come from six pre-established lists; however, when a storm is extremely severe, it’s name is retired from the list and replaced by a new name.  You can view lists for past and future years simply by doing an internet search on “hurricane names”.  [Notice that there are no names on the list that begin with the letters ‘Q’ or ‘U’]

The name list for 2009-2012 Atlantic Hurrican Seasons are:

  • 2009 Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fabian, Grace, Henri, Isabel, Juan, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda
  • 2010 Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, Walter
  • 2011 Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, Whitney
  • 2012 Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, William

 Retired hurricane names alphabetical:

  • Agnes (1972)
  • Alicia (1983)
  • Allen (1980)
  • Allison (2001)
  • Andrew (1992)
  • Anita (1977)
  • Audrey (1957)
  • Betsy (1965)
  • Beulah (1967)
  • Bob (1991)
  • Camille (1969)
  • Carla (1961)
  • Carmen (1974)
  • Carol (1954)
  • Celia (1970)
  • Cesar (1996)
  • Charley (2004)
  • Cleo (1964)
  • Connie (1955)
  • David (1979)
  • Dean (2007)
  • Dennis (2005)
  • Diana (1990)
  • Diane (1955)
  • Donna (1960)
  • Dora (1964)
  • Edna (1968)
  • Elena (1985)
  • Eloise (1975)
  • Fabian (2003)
  • Felix (2007)
  • Fifi (1974)
  • Flora (1963)
  • Floyd (1999)
  • Fran (1996)
  • Frances (2004)
  • Frederic (1979)
  • Georges (1998)
  • Gilbert (1988)
  • Gloria (1985)
  • Gustav (2008)
  • Hattie (1961)
  • Hazel (1954)
  • Hilda (1964)
  • Hortense (1996)
  • Hugo (1989)
  • Ike (2008)
  • Inez (1966)
  • Ione (1955)
  • Iris (2001)
  • Isabel (2003)
  • Isidore (2002)
  • Ivan (2004)
  • Janet (1955)
  • Jeanne (2004)
  • Joan (1988)
  • Juan (2003)
  • Katrina (2005)
  • Keith (2000)
  • Klaus (1990)
  • Lenny (1999)
  • Lili (2002)
  • Luis (1995)
  • Marilyn (1995)
  • Michelle (2001)
  • Mitch (1998)
  • Noel (2007)
  • Opal (1995)
  • Paloma (2008)
  • Rita (2005)
  • Roxanne (1995)
  • Stan (2005)
  • Wilma (2005)

Retired hurricane names chronological:

  • 1954 – Carol
  • 1954 – Hazel
  • 1955 – Connie
  • 1955 – Diane
  • 1955 – Ione
  • 1955 – Janet
  • 1957 – Audrey
  • 1960 – Donna
  • 1961 – Carla
  • 1961 – Hattie
  • 1963 – Flora
  • 1964 – Cleo
  • 1964 – Dora
  • 1964 – Hilda
  • 1965 – Betsy
  • 1966 – Inez
  • 1967 – Beulah
  • 1968 – Edna
  • 1969 – Camille
  • 1970 – Celia
  • 1972 – Agnes
  • 1974 – Carmen
  • 1974 – Fifi
  • 1975 – Eloise
  • 1977 – Anita
  • 1979 – David
  • 1979 – Frederic
  • 1980 – Allen
  • 1983 – Alicia
  • 1985 – Elena
  • 1985 – Gloria
  • 1988 – Gilbert
  • 1988 – Joan
  • 1989 – Hugo
  • 1990 – Diana
  • 1990 – Klaus
  • 1991 – Bob
  • 1992 – Andrew
  • 1995 – Luis
  • 1995 – Marilyn
  • 1995 – Opal
  • 1995 – Roxanne
  • 1996 – Cesar
  • 1996 – Fran
  • 1996 – Hortense
  • 1998 – Georges
  • 1998 – Mitch
  • 1999 – Floyd
  • 1999 – Lenny
  • 2000 – Keith
  • 2001 – Allison
  • 2001 – Iris
  • 2001 – Michelle
  • 2002 – Isidore
  • 2002 – Lili
  • 2003 – Fabian
  • 2003 – Isabel
  • 2003 – Juan
  • 2004 – Charley
  • 2004 – Frances
  • 2004 – Ivan
  • 2004 – Jeanne
  • 2005 – Dennis
  • 2005 – Katrina
  • 2005 – Rita
  • 2005 – Stan
  • 2005 – Wilma
  • 2007 – Dean
  • 2007 – Felix
  • 2007 – Noel
  • 2008 – Gustav
  • 2008 – Ike
  • 2008 – Paloma

Originally posted 2009-08-11 01:00:26.

Limited liability resulting from the Deepwater Horizon incident?

Right away after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon Swiss company Transocean Ltd moved to have their liability for damages limited to the cost of the “sunken ship” ($27 million) citing an 1851 law that says the owner of a sunken vessel is liable only for its value after the accident.

Transocean expects to receive $560 million in insurance, so subtracting what they consider their maximum liability they’d just about meet their three year revenue projection under the BP contract.

Hmm…

Many of the judges are recusing themselves from hearing cases involving the oil spill; but I’d say if a federal judge in Houston makes a ruling we’ve certainly found a judge that can no longer recuse himeself (though he might be a candidate for impeachment)… my guess is Transocean will not get their ruling quickly, and likely will not get a ruling they like ever.

Transocean CEO Steven Newman told investors in addition that its contract with BP holds BP entirely responsible for all damages and liability from the spill.

I guess Newman isn’t totally confident of the petition filed in federal court, or his contractual liability limits so he’s working both ends… and is probably worried that a review will show negligence on his company’s part — which could cause a judge to throw out any and all liability limits.

BP, Halliburton, and Transocean are each responsible, and each of them should (and hopefully will) be held accountable for this mess — and their massive profits will be used to undo the damage their greed has caused.

As I’ve said before — make the problem expensive enough for them to allow to continue; and any future problem much more expensive for them to clean up — and we won’t have to worry much about the spill continuing… or ever happening again (just take highest quarter’s profits from the last year, divide by 90 — and that’s the daily fine).

Originally posted 2010-06-16 02:00:17.

There’s no place like home…

According to a survey by Mercer (a London based investment services company owned by Marsh and McLennan Cos) that’s true is you live in Vienna.

Their survey considered political stability, crime, economy, personal freedom, health services, sewage, air pollution, schools, public utilities, transportation, housing, and climate.  It aslo took into account the cities’ restaurants, theaters, sports, availability of consumer goods, and record of natural disasters.

The United States didn’t have a single city appear in the top ten.

The ten most liveable cities included Vancouver Canada; Auckland New Zealand; Dusseldorf, Munich, and Frankfurt Germany; Bern Switzerland; and Sydney Australia.

Of US cities, Honolulu ranked 31, San Francisco ranked 33, and Boston ranked 37.

The company also prepared a list that emphasized eco-friendly cities; focusing on water availability, cleanliness, waste removal, sewage, air pollution, and traffic congestion.

Honolulu placed second, bested only by Calgary Canada.  Minneapolis was sixth, Pittsburgh was thirteenth, and Washington was twenty-third.  Cities in Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan dominated the list.

Originally posted 2010-05-31 02:00:15.

Hurricanes

Meteorology is fascinating, and since weather is something that has thwarted human kind’s attempts to control and harness it since the beginning of time it’s something worth watching [closely].

Hurricanes [also known as tropical cyclones or typhoons] are one of the most devastating of storms Mother Nature throws at us; and on the Eastern Coast of the United States, the Atlantic Hurrican Season has started for this year and I thought I’d gather some information about hurricanes and put it here on my BLOG.

 

Overview

Named for Huracan, the Carib god of evil, the hurricane is an amazing yet destructive natural phenomenon that occurs about 40 to 50 times worldwide each year. Hurricane season takes place in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Central Pacific from June 1 to November 30 while in the Eastern Pacific the season is from May 15 to November 30.

Hurricane Formation

Due to the Coriolis effect, the regions between 5° and 20° north and south of the equator are the belts where hurricanes can form (there is not enough rotary motion between 5° north and south. The term cyclone is used in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea and the term typhoon is used in the Pacific Ocean north of the equator and west of the International Dateline.

The birth of a hurricane starts as a low pressure zone and builds into a tropical wave of low pressure. In addition to a disturbance in the tropical ocean water, the storms that become hurricanes also require warm ocean waters (above 80°F or 27°C down to 150 feet or 50 meters below sea level) and light upper level winds.
Growth and Development of Tropical Storms and Hurricanes

A tropical wave grows in intensity and then may grow to become an organized area of showers and thunderstorms known as a tropical disturbance. This disturbance becomes an organized area of tropical low pressure that is called a tropical depression based on cyclonic winds (counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere). A tropical depression’s wind speed must be at or below 38 miles per hour (mph) or 62 km/hr when averaged out over one minute. These winds are measured at 33 feet (10 meters) above the surface.

Once average winds reach 39 mph or 63 km/hr then the cyclonic system becomes a tropical storm and receives a name while tropical depressions are numbered (i.e. Tropical Depression 4 became Tropical Storm Chantal in the 2001 season.) Tropical storm names are preselected and issued alphabetically for each storm.

There are approximately 80-100 tropical storms annually and about half of these storms become full-fledged hurricanes. It is at 74 mph or 119 km/hr that a tropical storm becomes a hurricane. Hurricanes can be from 60 to almost 1000 miles wide. They vary widely in intensity; their strength is measured on the Saffir-Simpson scale from a weak category 1 storm to a catastrophic category 5 storm. There were only two category 5 hurricanes with winds over 156 mph and a pressure of less than 920 mb (the world’s lowest pressures ever recorded were caused by hurricanes) that struck the United States in the 20th century. The two were a 1935 hurricane that struck the Florida Keys and Hurricane Camille in 1969. Only 14 category 4 storms hit the U.S. and these included the nation’s deadliest hurricane – the 1900 Galveston, Texas hurricane and Hurricane Andrew which hit Florida and Louisiana in 1992.

Hurricane damage results from three primary causes:

  • Storm Surge. Approximately 90% of all hurricane deaths can be attributed to the storm surge, the dome of water created by the low pressure center of a hurricane. This storm surge quickly floods low-lying coastal areas with anywhere from 3 feet (one meter) for a category one storm to over 19 feet (6 meters) of storm surge for a category five storm. Hundreds of thousands of deaths in countries such as Bangladesh have been caused by the storm surge of cyclones.
  • Wind Damage. The strong, at least 74 mph or 119 km/hr, winds of a hurricane can cause widespread destruction far inland of coastal areas, destroying homes, buildings, and infrastructure.
  • Freshwater Flooding. Hurricanes are huge tropical storms and dump many inches of rain over a widespread area in a short period of time. This water can engorge rivers and streams, causing hurricane-induced flooding.

Unfortunately, polls find that about half of Americans living in coastal areas are unprepared for a hurricane disaster. Anyone living along the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean should be prepared for hurricanes during hurricane season.

Fortunately, hurricanes ultimately diminish, reverting to tropical storm strength and then into a tropical depression when they move over cooler ocean water, move over land, or reach a position where the upper level winds are too strong and are thus unfavorable.

 Hurricane Strength (Classification)

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is utilized to determine the relative strengths of hurricanes that may impact the United States coast. Since the 1990s, only wind speed has been used to categorize hurricanes.

  • Category One Hurricane
    Maximum Sustained Wind Speed: 74-95 miles per hour
    Damage Category: Minimal
    Approximate Pressure: Above 980 mb
    Approximate Storm Surge: 3-5 feet
    Examples: Hurricane Lili (2002) in Louisiana; Hurricane Gaston (2004) in South Carolina
  • Category Two Hurricane
    Maximum Sustained Wind Speed: 96-110 miles per hour
    Damage Category: Moderate
    Approximate Pressure: 979-965 mb
    Approximate Storm Surge: 6-8 feet
    Example: Hurricane Isabel (2003) in North Carolina
  • Category Three Hurricane
    Maximum Sustained Wind Speed: 111-130 miles per hour
    Damage Category: Extensive
    Approximate Pressure: 964-945 mb
    Approximate Storm Surge: 9-12 feet
    Examples: Hurricane Katrina (2005) in Louisiana; Hurricane Jeanne (2004) in Florida; Hurricane Ivan (2004) in Alabama
  • Category Four Hurricane
    Maximum Sustained Wind Speed: 131-155 miles per hour
    Damage Category: Extreme
    Approximate Pressure: 944-920 mb
    Approximate Storm Surge: 13-18 feet
    Example: Hurricane Charley (2004) in Florida; Hurricane Iniki (1992) in Hawaii; the Galveston Hurricane (1900) in Texas
  • Category Five Hurricane
    Maximum Sustained Wind Speed: Above 155 miles per hour
    Damage Category: Catastrophic
    Approximate Pressure: Below 920 mb
    Approximate Storm Surge: More than 18 feet
    Examples: Only three Category 5 hurricanes have struck the United States since records began: The Labor Day Hurricane (1935) in the Florida Keyes, Hurricane Camille (1969) near the mouth of the Mississippi River, and Hurricane Andrew (1992) in Florida

There is no Category Six for hurricanes. While some have suggested such a category, since only three Category Five storms have struck the United States, Category Five would appear to be more than adequate.

Originally posted 2009-08-10 01:00:36.

100 miles to the gallon

That’s right.  The Edison2 (Lynchburg, VA, US) won half of the $10 million US  Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize for a gasoline powered vehicle capable of seating four adults that cruises city streets at over 100 mpg dubbed the Very Light Car.

Most of the high efficiency vehicles in the competition are electric powered.

X-Tracer (Winterthur,  CH [Switzerland]) with their two passenger E-Tracer; and Li-ion Motors (Charlotte, NC, US) with their two passenger Wave2 each won a quarter of the prize.

Originally posted 2010-09-18 02:00:20.

Gulf Oil Spill

Well, I’d say that the fact that BP stock is at a fourteen year low is karmic retribution for the way BP has been handling the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; but the stock price doesn’t really hit the company, and most of the large investors are likely to weather the stock price storm until the public forgets about what a horrible company BP is.

Though — the public might not forget too quickly, because the incompetence of BP has now put the problem squarely into hurricane season, and the $2.35 billion that BP has spent to date on the issue could be a pittance compared to what it might cost them if a tropical storm hits the Gulf… and of course the storms have started in what forecasters have indicated is likely to be a very active season.

Originally posted 2010-07-03 02:00:19.

BANG!

In the Summer of ’62 the US military detonated a hydrogen bomb in outer space above the Pacific Ocean as part of a project code named: Starfish Prime.

There’s a good article on NPR you can read at:

A Very Scary Light Show: Exploding H-Bombs In Space on NPR


Originally posted 2010-07-14 02:00:56.