Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel attack on aid flotilla in international waters

Mobile phones responsible for disappearance of honey bee

(Telegraph, May 29, 2010)

The growing use of mobile telephones is behind the disappearance of honey bees and the collapse of their hives, scientists have claimed.

Their disappearance has caused alarm throughout Europe and North America where campaigners have blamed agricultural pesticides, climate change and the advent of genetically modified crops for what is now known as 'colony collapse disorder.' Britain has seen a 15 per cent decline in its bee population in the last two years and shrinking numbers has led to a rise in thefts of hives.

Now researchers from Chandigarh's Punjab University claim they have found the cause which could be the first step in reversing the decline: They have established that radiation from mobile telephones is a key factor in the phenomenon and say that it probably interfering with the bee's navigation senses.

They set up a controlled experiment in Punjab earlier this year comparing the behaviour and productivity of bees in two hives – one fitted with two mobile telephones which were powered on for two fifteen minute sessions per day for three months. The other had dummy models installed.

After three months the researchers recorded a dramatic decline in the size of the hive fitted with the mobile phon, a significant reduction in the number of eggs laid by the queen bee. The bees also stopped producing honey.

The queen bee in the "mobile" hive produced fewer than half of those created by her counterpart in the normal hive.

They also found a dramatic decline in the number of worker bees returning to the hive after collecting pollen. Because of this the amount of nectar produced in the hive also shrank.

Ved Prakash Sharma and Neelima Kumar, the authors of the report in the journal Current Science, wrote: "Increase in the usage of electronic gadgets has led to electropollution of the environment. Honeybee behaviour and biology has been affected by electrosmog since these insects have magnetite in their bodies which helps them in navigation.

"There are reports of sudden disappearance of bee populations from honeybee colonies. The reason is still not clear. We have compared the performance of honeybees in cellphone radiation exposed and unexposed colonies.

"A significant decline in colony strength and in the egg laying rate of the queen was observed. The behaviour of exposed foragers was negatively influenced by the exposure, there was neither honey nor pollen in the colony at the end of the experiment."

Tim Lovett, of the British Beekeepers Association, said that hives have been successful in London where there was high mobile phone use.

"Previous work in this area has indicated this [mobile phone use] is not a real factor," he said. "If new data comes along we will look at it."

He said: "At the moment we think is more likely to be a combination of factors including disease, pesticides and habitat loss."

The UK Government has set aside £10 million for research into the decline of pollinators like bees, but the BBKA claim much more money is needed for research into the problem, including studies on pesticides, disease and new technology like mobile phones.

According to the University of Durham, England's bees are vanishing faster than anywhere else in Europe, with more than half of hives dying out over the last 20 years.

The most recent statistics from last winter show that the decline in honey bees in Britain is slowing, with just one in six hives lost.

This is still above the natural rate of ten per cent losses, but a vast improvement on previous years.

There has been an increase in the number of thefts of hives across the world and in Germany beekeepers have started fitting GPS tracking devices to their hives.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Let's look at facts, not hot air, about wind power

Dot Sulack opines at the Asheville Citizen-Times (click here) in an effort to negate the problems with wind energy pointed out by another in an earlier opinion piece. Here are some quick notes about the issues she raises as not issues at all.

Intermittency: "if ... would ... would also ... would be ...." "If ... can ... when ...." How about a study of an existing system? Why so many "if's" when wind turbines are being built right now?

Cost: Most promoters actually want a feed-in tariff to force a higher price for wind. The target of 4 cents/kWh is required by competition and is only possible by taxpayers paying for three-quarters of the cost of building wind and by splitting off the "environmental benefit" as a separate product (i.e., "green tags" or "renewable energy credits"), a trick invented by Enron.

Birds: Birds killed by turbines aren't a problem because other things kill them, too? As pathetic (and potentially sociopathic) an argument as that already is, wind turbines uniquely affect raptors and bats (the latter to such a degree that even the industry shows concern) and tend to erected in migratory pathways, since that's where the wind is. And the more we build them, the worse the effect.

Good for the air and climate: Forgot to provide a link supporting that statement. How many fossil fuel plants have been shut down because of wind on the grid? How much less fuel is burned per unit of electricity consumed because of the addition of wind? I have been unable to find such evidence that wind is "good" for six years now.

Pickens Plan: Con job of the first order. When wind is added to systems without substantial hydro, it needs natural gas plants for the grid to be able to respond quickly to its fluctuations. Rather than replace natural gas for electricity, wind is a plan to use more of it.

The rest is a muddle of more wishful thinking and jingoistic non sequitur, which is par for such pieces.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

War criminals for Wind

Click the title of this post for a report of George W. Bush's keynote at the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference in Dallas. He received a rousing standing ovation for a speech that included defenses of his lies and wars — all forgiven in this crowd of industrialists for his "free market" philosophy as governor of Texas that, guided by pal Kenneth Lay of Enron, created the modern system of transfering millions of dollars of public money into private bank accounts and allowing the sale of wind energy twice (i.e., "green tags", yes a scam invented by Enron).

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No need for protein from corpses

"All proteins are made up of the same amino acids. ALL. No exceptions. The difference between animal and vegetable proteins is in the content of certain amino acids. If vegetable proteins are mixed, the differences get made up. Even if they aren't mixed, all you need to do to get the right amount of low amino acids is to eat more of that food. There is no 'need' for animal proteins at all."

—Marion Nestle, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University

Monday, May 24, 2010

Go BP !

'The Nature Conservancy has long positioned itself as the leader of a nonconfrontational arm of the environmental movement, and that position has helped the charity attract tens of millions of dollars annually in contributions. A number have come from companies whose work takes a toll on the environment, including those engaged in logging, home building and power generation. ...

'The Environmental Defense Fund, which has a policy of not accepting corporate donations, joined with BP, Shell International and other major corporations to form the Partnership for Climate Action, which promotes “market-based mechanisms” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

'And about 20 energy and environmental groups, including the Conservancy, the Sierra Club and Audubon, joined with BP Wind Energy to form the American Wind and Wildlife Institute, which works to protect wildlife through “responsible” development of wind farms.'

Heaven

Whatever can it be like, do you suppose, an eternity of worshipful servitude? To know that it never can, that it never will come to an end? The horror of it — can you imagine the horror of it, sir?

The House in the High Wood, by Jeffrey Barlough

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are Wind Turbines Hazardous to Your Health?

To the Editor, Seven Days:

In "Are Wind Turbines Hazardous to Your Health? Docs Disagree" (May 12), Andy Bromage reported that Dr. Robert McCunney wonders how wind turbines can be any worse than other industrial noises.

The mechanisms may be in dispute, but the very papers McCunney cited in his work for the American and Canadian Wind Energy trade groups emphasize that disturbance from wind turbines occurs at much lower noise levels than from other sources. The significance of the published European studies is not that adverse health impacts are low but, since the turbines are much smaller and farther from homes than those going up today, that the impacts are so high.

It should also be noted that wind turbine noise is especially intrusive at night, when other artificial noises usually take a break, particularly in the rural places targeted by industrial wind developers.

The article closed with a classic change of subject, describing an audience member asking about wind power impacts compared with those of coal, oil, and nuclear. Bromage editorialized McCunney's utterly meaningless response as "good": "None of us needs to be reminded of the health implications and environmental consequences of oil in light of the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico right now."

Oil is used for only 1% of our electricity. Nuclear provides base load with which wind's intermittent and variable infeed is not a competitor. And the use of coal has not been reduced anywhere in the world because of wind on the grid, again because wind is intermittent, highly variable, and nondispatchable. Other sources have to stay on line, burning fuel on standby or ramping and switching and thus burning fuel less efficiently than they would without wind. Hydro, in fact, provides the best pairing for wind, thus not affecting fossil fuel use at all, one renewable simply displacing another.

None of us indeed needs to be reminded of the impacts of oil, coal, or nuclear. But many of us apparently need to be reminded that industrial wind has no effect on them and only adds negative effects of its own.

As an illustration of wind's limitations - both a poor source of energy and a disproportionate source of adverse impacts - Denmark has not installed any new on-shore capacity on shore since 2002. As wind production in Denmark (including one off-shore facility opened in 2003) more than doubled from 1998 to 2004, carbon dioxide emissions remained flat and remain so, unaffected by adding even a huge proportion of wind to the grid.

Eric Rosenbloom
President, National Wind Watch (wind-watch.org)

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms

Monday, May 17, 2010

Correction

(Ironic Times)

An article about money spent on investigations said that $30 million had been spent to investigate the financial crisis and $8 million had been spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In fact, $8 million was spent investigating the financial crisis and $30 million on investigating the Monica Lewinsky scandal. We apologize for any confusion caused by the error.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Civility

Sam Smith writes:

You know things are going poorly for the establishment when it starts appealing for civility, as Obama did the other day, asking for a "a basic level of civility in our public debate."

That means they've pretty much run out of arguments to defend the way they're screwing things up and are now attempting to pass on the blame for anger to the victims. It is interesting that Obama barely mentioned the employment situation when talking at the University of Michigan graduates, something that even quite civil students would have been interested in.

I also like civility, however, and in the interest of improving my relations with the Obama administration I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to increase the amount of civility in our land:

- Get out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq now.

- Stop bailing out Wall Street and start helping endangered homeowners and the unemployed.

- Stop letting oil companies determine when their rigs are safe.

- Stop unconstitutional spying on people through wiretaps and other means.

- Stop trying to find ways to cut Social Security and Medicare for seniors.

- Stop calling for civility and start practicing it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Paul Krugman and the straw man

In his New York Times column today (click the title of this post), Paul Krugman explains that disasters like the BP oil well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico are necessary to keep environmentalism alive. Which is exactly what Rush Limbaugh said in his paranoid speculation that environmentalists themselves blew up the drilling platform.

Krugman further allies himself with Limbaugh:
But there was also an attempt to construct a narrative in which advocates of strong environmental protection were either extremists — “eco-Nazis,” according to Rush Limbaugh — or effete liberal snobs trying to impose their aesthetic preferences on ordinary Americans. (I’m sorry to say that the long effort to block construction of a wind farm off Cape Cod — which may finally be over thanks to the Obama administration — played right into that [latter] caricature.)
Krugman is the one playing right into that caricature. He has joined Limbaugh in deflecting any debate about Cape Wind by mocking its opponents. This is a sure sign of weakness in any case, but the fact is that a very broad coalition of Cape Codders and others are fighting Cape Wind, and their arguments are about preserving a treasured natural resource and noting the minuscule potential benefit of even such a huge facility. If rich beachfront property owners spearheaded the fight against offshore oil drilling, would Krugman join Limbaugh in supporting it?

Or would he look at the facts and agree with their findings that the environmental harm, immediate and potential, could not be justified by the insignificant benefits? That offshore drilling is merely a symbolic bone thrown to the so-called right? Then he would also have to agree with the clear evidence that large-scale wind power is merely a symbolic bone thrown to to the so-called left and false environmentalists ("invertomentalists"?).

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, ecoanarchism