yet another fossil fuel disaster, this time in the uk - filth pumped into atmosphere, but is it worse than chernobyl? | ecology news at abelard.org
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yet another fossil fuel disaster, this time in the uk - filth pumped into atmosphere, but is it worse than chernobyl?

“ "Our house shook, all the windows rattled and there were flames rising to the height of the chimneys at Coryton. Black smoke was billowing up into the sky."

“Ray Howard is a member of Castle Point Borough Council which covers Canvey Island, Benfleet, Thundersley and Hadleigh, and lives nearby

“ "Some almighty explosion occurred, it shook my house," he said. "The next thing, all I saw was huge flames and smoke coming from the refinery." ”

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“A large fire broke out at an oil refinery in southern England on Wednesday with flames reaching as high as 30 metres (100 ft), firefighters said.

“Ten fire engines and seven special firefighting vehicles were called to the scene and there were no reports of any injuries. [Quoted from uk.reuters.com]

The fossil oil industry is casual beyond belief, and have got away with low standards for far too long. They are also immensely wealthy and, like the tobacco industry, spread false ‘information’ and bribes around the planet.

Nuclear power is probably safer even than wind or photovoltaic power. The levels of safety demanded over nuclear matters is vastly higher than other levels of safety, often far far above reason.

Even with the idiocy of socialism in the Soviet block, it would be difficult to make the case that damage from nuclear disasters is far worse, however much the iconic case of Chernobyl is wheeled out. I’ll make a wager that more people died in filthy fossil fuel industry disasters in every year in the Socialist Soviet Union than all deaths accumulated from Chernobyl, and that despite the idiotic handling of the health issue after the Chernobyl mess, being a main cause of Chernobyl problems. In socialist China, 5-10,000 a year are dying just in coal mining. The pollution is also a vast and major killer.

The accident at Chernobyl was a one-off, and in the habitual context of a socialist state. The plant did not even have containment, and such a mess was not repeated elsewhere. Further, the deaths from Chernobyl are minute when compared with the filthy fossil fuel industry.

I have read dozens of ‘reports’, listened to lectures and even read the odd book on the Chernobyl disaster. Most of it is emotionalism. The deaths from Chernobyl are probably rather low (in the approximate region of a hundred). It has probably shortened some lives, but it is nearly impossible to assess how many. The life expectancy in the ex-USSR is pretty poor anyway. The Soviet Communists have left vast problems of pollution which is, doubtless, shortening lives. Chernobyl is just one such (limited) example. From memory, there is some problem in an area around Kiev and in poor lands in Belarus. Interestingly, the health of wild life in the area around Kiev (the highest hit area - the no-go area) was reported recently as better than in control areas. The ‘big Chernobyl’ nonsense is mostly hype and propaganda. Cancer dangers are more likely from food and cigarettes than radiation. In Western society, approximately a third of cancer deaths are from food and a third from smoking. Of course, we could stop eating!

In comparison with the power capacity of nuclear, the capacity of windmills and photovoltaic are such that vast amounts have to be manufactured. Furthermore, they will take up huge land areas. Windmills and photovoltaic are, of course, much safer than the filthy fossil fuel industry. However, they are less safe than nuclear, by virtue of the great safety of the nuclear industry. But maybe some idiots will fall off roofs installing PV arrays, or be hurt mining or machining the metals for windmills and erecting and servicing them. The same is probable in the transportation of coal and burning at coal-fired power stations. It is essential for proper comparisons to relativize safety figures to power produced.

The standards in the nuclear industry are vastly higher than those for fossil fuels, and the pollution is vastly lower. Nuclear power is probably safer even than wind or photovoltaic power. It is very difficult to keep up with the damage done around the world by the filthy fossil fuel industry and the millions it kills year. A great deal of the time you do not hear about the disasters, the disasters are around the world every day and ongoing:

“Stormy weather in the Gulf of Mexico forced Pemex to reduce crude production by 600,000 barrels by Monday and suspend efforts to fix a damaged valve line still spewing oil and natural gas almost a week after a platform-rig collision that killed at least 21 workers.

“Strong winds and waves forced a pullback of repair crews who were trying to contain the spill by injecting cement into the line. Gulf ports closed as well, shutting down 200,000 barrels of oil production on Sunday and 400,000 more on Monday.”

“Pemex also was struggling to contain a spill from a pipeline crack in Veracruz state that dumped an estimated 10,000 barrels of oil into the Jaltepec and Coatzacoalcos coastal rivers. The company said it had set up five successive containment barriers to prevent that spill from reaching the downstream city of Coatzacoalcos and the Gulf.” [Quoted from iht.com]

Marker at abelard.org

“The charges stem from incidents that took place at BP's American operations in recent years:

“•In March 2005, an explosion at BP's refinery in Texas City, Texas, killed 15 contract employees and injured 170. As part of Thursday's settlement, BP pleaded guilty to a one-count felony violation of the Clean Air Act in the case and agreed to pay $50 million in criminal fines.

“•In March and August 2006, oil from BP's Alaskan exploration subsidiary leaked from pipelines into the tundra and a frozen lake. The company pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act and will pay $20 million in criminal fines and restitution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Alaska.

“•In April 2003 and February 2004, the company attempted to manipulate the price of propane on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the government said.” [Quoted from usatoday.com]

Marker at abelard.org

“The Exxon Valdez disaster is certainly the most notorious oil spill in the United States — a single, terrible accident that poured 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound 1989, causing grievous damage to Alaska’s waters and beyond. But it is not the largest. In terms of volume it cannot match the steady seepage of oil into Newtown Creek, the polluted waterway that separates Brooklyn from Queens.

“The Newtown Creek spill has not received anywhere near the response that followed the Valdez incident. The cleanup has been haphazard and ineffective, hampered by weak enforcement, and residents have been left in the dark about potential health effects.

“A report this month from the Environmental Protection Agency suggested that the Newtown spill may be twice as large as first believed — some 30 million gallons, nearly three times the size of the Alaska spill. It has polluted the 4-mile strip of waterway and some 55 residential and commercial acres around it, gathering in subsurface reservoirs, mixing with groundwater, creating toxic vapors and and seeping, slowly but inexorably, into the creek. One major concern is the reported leakage of chemical vapor into homes." [Quoted from greenpointvexxon.com and nytimes.com]

And look at the mountain leveling activity and the river destruction by the coal industry right now. Large swathes of coal mining areas were covered in spoil heaps, plagued by subsidence. Silicosis killed in the hundreds of thousands, the awareness of the levels of health problems from air pollution is still growing. Even now in China, there are assessments going on to see how much uranium can be recovered from fly ash from coal burning power stations. I have no doubt that miners are more subject to radiation than is common or would be tolerated in the nuclear industry.

Nuclear power is far safer, it could hardly be otherwise when the amount of power produced can be a million or more times greater than from filthy fossil fuels. Chernobyl is just a boo word to scare the children and keep out the main competition.

related material
fossil fuel disasters

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#fossil_fuel_nuclear_311007





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on the recent un report on environmental pressure

Fourth Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) [full 572-page .pdf report from the UNO]

“The difference between this GEO and the third report, which was released in 2002, is that claims and counter claims over climate change are in many ways over. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has put a full stop behind the science of whether human actions are impacting the atmosphere and clarified the likely impacts – impacts not in a far away future but within the lifetime of our generation. The challenge now is not whether climate change is happening or whether it should be addressed. The challenge now is to bring over 190 nations together in common cause.” [Preface, GEO-4]

Chapter 1: Environment for Development
Chapter 2: Atmosphere
Chapter 3: Land
Chapter 4: Water
Chapter 5: Biodiversity
Chapter 6: Sustaining a Common Future
Chapter 7: Vulnerability of People and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities
Chapter 8: Interlinkages: Governance for Sustainability
Chapter 9: The Future Today
Chapter 10: From the Periphery to the Core of Decision Making – Options for Action

I am unimpressed by the various scribbling I have seen on this report, so I have not worked on it, but some may find it interesting.

It does have large numbers of pretty and interesting illustrations.

Total primary energy supply by energy source. Courtesy, UNO
Note the terrible and growing dependency on fossil fuels.

Lowering wheat growth rates with increasing air pollution. Courtesy, UNO

Seasonal melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, 1992 and 2002. Courtesy, UNO.

Mapping environmental problems according to management and reversibility. Courtsey,UNO

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#un_geo4_291007

radical technological change at the tokyo motor show

The new Honda FCX hydrogen car. Courtesy: Honda. The new Honda FCX hydrogen car. Courtesy: Honda.

“There was every conceivable type of environmentally friendly car on show at the Tokyo motor show last week, but Honda scooped them all by announcing it will be putting the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell car into production next year.

“The car will travel an estimated 270 miles at speeds of up to 100mph and will produce only water vapour from its exhaust. It is expected to cost £50,000 and will be available initially only in America and Japan.”

And a lot more detail.

Marker at abelard.org

“How much pollution its use ultimately creates depends on how the hydrogen is harvested. While hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it doesn't generally exist by itself. It must be separated out of other substances, a process that takes some power, usually electricity.

“Regardless of how the electricity is produced, though, electricity generation is a more efficient way to make power from a fuel than exploding it to push pistons, a process in which most of the power is wasted as heat. So, even if the electricity to separate the hydrogen were to come from a coal-burning power plant, the FCX would still be cleaner than a gasoline-powered car.”

“[...] the hydrogen is fed into a device in which it is combined with oxygen in a chemical reaction that makes water while also releasing a stream of electricity. That electricity is stored in a battery and used to run the FCX's electric motor.” [Quoted from money.cnn.com]

related material
Transportable fuels

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#hydrogen_car_271007

atmospheric carbon rising faster from varying mechanisms

Part of the atmospheric carbon increase is due to the lower efficiencies of the ‘new’ economies which is increasing the amount of carbon per $ of output, a figure which had been falling for 30 years.

These changes are likely to bring forward the levels of warming to be expected at given time-scales.

“[...] increasing by 1.93 parts per million each year--the fastest rate of buildup since monitoring activities began in 1959 and considerably higher than the 1.58-ppm average for the 1980s and the 1.49 ppm for the 1990s."

“An international team of scientists has taken another look at how rapidly Earth's atmosphere is absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2)--the biggest greenhouse gas in terms of volume--and the news is not good: A high-flying world economy is pumping out the gas at an unprecedented rate. Current CO2 production is outstripping the best estimates used by modelers to predict future climate trends.

“Earth's climate has been warming for the past century or so, particularly during the past 40 years. Scientists say the blame most likely belongs to an increase in the greenhouse effect, caused by human output of CO2, methane, and types of fluorocarbons. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [I.P.C.C.] cites human activity as the biggest contributor to the phenomenon known as global warming.

“During the past half-century, scientists have been closely monitoring the changes in the atmosphere and have constructed elaborate computer models to project what will happen if current trends in CO2 output continue. What's going on now in the real world is surpassing the assumptions of the climate models.” [Quoted from sciencenow.sciencemag.org]

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Meanwhile, indications that oceanic absorption of carbon is decreasing.

“Specifically, oceans and plant growth absorbed only around 540 kilograms per metric ton (1,190 pounds per short ton) of the CO2 produced in 2006, compared with 600 kilograms per metric ton (1,322 pounds per short ton) in 2000 [...]”

“All told, human activity released 9.9 billion metric tons (2.18 x 1013 pounds) of carbon in 2006, up from just 8.4 billion metric tons (1.85 x 1013 pounds) in 2000. At the same time, poleward shifts of westerly winds in the Southern Ocean reduced the region's ability to suck up CO2 as have mid-latitude droughts, which slowed the growth rate of forests and plants that capture carbon.

“New maritime measurements over the past decade also show that the North Atlantic's ability to absorb CO2 has been cut in half, according to researchers from the University of East Anglia who were not affiliated with the study by Canadell and his colleagues. "Until now, we thought that the decline in the efficiency of natural sinks was going to happen during the 21st century and more strongly during [its] second half," Canadell says. "If we didn't [include in the assumptions] that this was going to happen [so soon], have we underestimated the decline in the efficiency into the future?" ” [Quoted from sciam.com]

related material
global warming

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#co2_increasing_faster_231007

“i earn a living fronting an organization that kills 1,200 people a day”

No, not cocaine, not heroin ...

“Without even factoring in the paper wrapping, packaging and print advertisements - which require as much paper by weight as the tobacco being grown - nearly 600 million trees are felled each year to provide the fuel necessary for drying out the tobacco. That means one in eight trees cut down each year worldwide is being destroyed for tobacco production. In South Korea and Uruguay, tobacco-related deforestation accounts for more than 40 percent of the countries’ total annual deforestation. While in Malawi, in a region where only three percent of the farmers grow tobacco, nearly 80 percent of the trees cut down each year are used for the curing process.

“Such a rapid depletion of trees in an already semi-arid climate will lead to desertification. Parts of Uganda are currently losing much of their arable land as the topsoil erodes.

“Yet farmers in developing countries continue to grow tobacco because of the tremendous financial incentives from multinational corporations like Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds. With enticements such as farming supplies or a guaranteed foreign exchange for their crops, farmers are reluctant to use their land for anything else.”

related material
Drugs, smoking and addiction

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#tobacco_131007

Arctic ice shrink
This article has been transfered to Arctic melting ice,sea levels

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#arctic_ice_shrink_101007


lomborg and fruit flies

“In high-school biology class, we used to do an experiment with fruit flies. You put flies and food in a jar, screw the top on tight and wait to see what happens as the flies reproduce like mad.

“The goal is to see at what point the limits of the jar - air, food, space - begin to affect the ability of the fruit flies to exist. At some point, the jar becomes inhospitable and the flies die en masse.

“If Bjorn Lomborg, Danish author of Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, were to write up that high-school experiment, he would focus on the point just before the flies began to hit the limits.

“He would wax on about how the population of flies had never been stronger, trot out statistics to show how astoundingly well the population had reproduced over time, and gush boyishly about the excellent living conditions in the jar. And he would be right. Given those facts, examined at that specific point in the arc of the experiment, he would have drawn the correct conclusions.

“But he would have missed the facts that the food supply was getting low, that the air was becoming fouled and that fruit-fly catastrophe loomed.”

And here is Bjorn Lomborg giving a talk:

related material
so where are we right now (march 2007) section in How atmospheric chemistry and physics effects global warming.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#lomborg_fruit_flies_021007

condoleezza rice on agw

“US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday the world needs a revolution on energy that transcends oil, gas and coal to prevent problems from climate change.”

“ Since 2001, the US government has invested nearly US$18 billion to develop cleaner sources of energy, Rice said. Those include technologies that run on hydrogen, permanently burying emissions of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, advanced nuclear energy, renewable fuels and greater energy efficiency.”

Marker at abelard.org

Pressure on India and China’s emissions could come through import tariffs:

“Retaliatory steps that comply with world trade rules could be found against China and India if they fail to help international efforts to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, a senior US diplomat said on Tuesday.

“Speaking before a meeting on climate change in Washington to be attended by the world's 16 biggest greenhouse gas emitters, US ambassador to the European Union C. Boyden Gray said steps could include a tax on carbon emitted by manufacturers.”

related material
global warming anthropogenic global warming, and ocean warming

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#agw_rice_260907

the fight against filthy fossil fuels goes mainstream - the uk clown still drags along way behind

“The Government is even further away from keeping its repeated promise (in three general election manifestos) to cut UK carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2010.” [Quoted from peopleandplanet.net]

Doing the sums, the government target is 161.5 million tonnes minus 20%, that is 129.2 million tonnes.

The UK continues to fail in emission targets, despite hugh outsourcing of pollution to the Far East.

“The Kyoto treaty commits Britain to keeping annual greenhouse emissions during the period 2008-2012 to 12.5% below 1990 levels. In 2002, the UK was 14.4% below 1990 levels, and in 2003, 13.4% below. The provisional figures for 2004 show emissions are 12.6% below - just 0.1% underneath the Kyoto figure. The government says the main reason for the increase is growing energy demand; statistics show that emissions rose from industry, transport and the domestic sector. "The policy package they have isn't working," Bryony Worthington, climate change campaigner for Friends of the Earth UK, told the BBC News website. "They need to make radical changes to it, a completely different approach, much more top-down management of emissions across the economy. "If they don't do that, there's every sign that these trends will continue and we will miss our Kyoto targets.” [Quoted from newbuilder.co.uk]

The Kyoto target of 161.5 million tonnes minus 12.5%, that is 141.31 million tonnes, below 1990 carbon dioxide emission levels is a very easy target for the UK, after its vast off-shoring of manufacturing and with all its gas-fired generating stations enabled by the Thatcher privatisations.

But, as you can see in the first [peopleandplanet.net] link above, the 2006 (provisional) UK figure is 152.9 million tonnes, and 2008-2012 is fast approaching.

The rest of Europe, excluding Denmark, is doing worse, see this dubious and outdated ‘report’.

And yet dogmatists keep criticising the USA for not signing to the unrealistic Kyoto ‘treaty’ (A PR delaying tactic would be a better term than treaty).

Meanwhile, the USA is working to lead real reductions through serious negotiations and technology improvements:

“Rich and poor nations must get over their disagreements about how to fight climate change and forge a new pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Monday.

“Speaking at a United Nations conference on global warming, Schwarzenegger urged countries to stop blaming each other for rising temperatures and work together to solve the problem.

“ "The current stalemate between the developed and the developing worlds must be broken," Schwarzenegger said. "It is time we came together in a new international agreement that can be embraced by rich and poor nations alike.”

“ Schwarzenegger, who backed a landmark 2006 California law to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020, urged leaders to stop talking and start acting.” [Quoted from planetark.org]

In the meantime, Howard in Australia has changed course:

“By 2020, John Howard said, 15 percent of Australia's energy would come from "clean" sources including solar, wind, nuclear or clean coal, reversing his coalition government's previous reluctance to lift its renewable energy target from 2 percent.

“The promise also dropped "renewable" from the government's agenda, paving the way for a controversial switch to nuclear energy, backed by Howard as a greenhouse-friendly alternative.

“To win over voters Howard has promised a carbon emissions trading system, banned incandescent light bulbs and pledged A$200 million (US$173 million) to combat forest clearing in Asia.” [Quoted from planetark.org]

Like many leaders, Howard is fighting off the moonbat left’s constant ludditeist approach to nuclear power.

Marker at abelard.org

But in England, the catalogue of failure goes on and on.

There is a great deal that can be done, but the UK has a socialist government more interested in tax than good government.

Building standards can be vastly improved. I cannot keep up with the work being done in this area.

Meanwhile, energy security is treated with cavalier irresponsibility. As yet, I do not think they have even enabled microgeneration contribution.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#post_kyoto_gaps_250907

northwest passage opens - filthy fossil fuel industry claims it’s a illusion caused by al gore
This article has been transfered to Arctic melting ice,sea levels

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#nw_passage_170907

pressures on world metal supplies

“To get a feel for the scale of the problem, we have turned to data from the US Geological Survey's annual reports and UN statistics on global population. This has allowed us to estimate the effect that increases in living standards will have on the time it will take for key minerals to run out (see Graphs). How many years, for instance, would these minerals last if every human on the planet were to consume them at just half the rate of an average US resident today? [See table below.]

“The calculations are crude - they don't take into account any increase in demand due to new technologies, and also assume that current production equals consumption. Yet even based on these assumptions, they point to some alarming conclusions. Without more recycling, antimony, which is used to make flame retardant materials, will run out in 15 years, silver in 10 and indium in under five. In a more sophisticated analysis, Reller has included the effects of new technologies, and projects how many years we have left for some key metals. He estimates that zinc could be used up by 2037, both indium and hafnium - which is increasingly important in computer chips - could be gone by 2017, and terbium - used to make the green phosphors in fluorescent light bulbs - could run out before 2012. It all puts our present rate of consumption into frightening perspective (see Diagram).”

precious metal years left worldwide  
  uses at half consumption rate of USA at current consumption rate proportion presently recycled
copper wire, coins, plumbing 38 61 31%
nickel batteries, turbine blades 57 90 35%
tantalum cellphones, camera lenses 20 116 20%
silver jewellery, catalytic converters 9 29 16%
tin cans, solder 17 40 26%
uranium weapons, power stations 19 59 0%
zinc galvanising 34 46 26%
aluminium transport, electrical, consumer durables 510 1027 49%
gold jewellry, dental 36 45 43%
lead lead pipes, batteries 8 42 72%
phosphorus fertiliser, animal feed 142 345 0%
platinum jewellery,catalysts, car fuel cells 42 360 0%
chromium chrome plating, paint 40 143 25%
gallium LEDs, solar cells, lasers n/a n/a 0%
indium LCDs 4 13 0%
germanium infrared optics, semiconductors n/a n/a n/a
hafnium computer chips, power stations n/a n/a n/a
rhodium x-rays,catalytic converters n/a n/a n/a
antinomy drugs 13 30 n/a
world population, 1970: 3,700,000,000
world population, April 2007: 6,580,000,000
world population, 2050: over 9,000,000,000 projected
USA population, April 2007: 301,000,000
n/a = figures not available

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#world_metal_supplies_050907

new satellite data on the fossil fuel industry waste and filth from gas flaring and other air polluting practices [107-page .pdf] Five GoldenYak [tm) award.

Waste in the filthy fossil fuel industry.

Graph of gas flaring in 2004, by country.  Credit: ngdc.noaa.gov

“[...] Global gas flaring has remained largely stable over the past fourteen years, in the range of 150 to 170 billion cubic meters (BCM). In 2004 the gas flaring volume of 160 BCM was 25% of the natural gas consumption of the USA and an added 84,000 thousand metric tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere[...]”

“[...] Gas flaring is widely recognized as a waste of energy and an added load of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Because the flaring combustion is incomplete, substantial amounts of soot and carbon monoxide are produced, contributing to air pollution problems. Information on the spatial and temporal distribution of gas flaring have been available previously due the sparse and unverifiable nature of the reporting done by countries and petroleum companies.”

“ While Nigeria has been widely reported as the country with the largest volume of gas flaring, satellite data indicate that Russia has more than twice the gas flaring volume of Nigeria.”

It seems that the old habits of lying, secrecy and environmental filth die hard in Putin’s Russia. So Russia produces nearly one-third of the worlds total. I should get round to relativising these figures to production level.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0709.php#gas_flaring_020907


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