‘Intersex Fish Of The Lower Potomac’ Is Not A Reality Show. It’s A Reality.

Intersex smallmouth bassBack in 2003, a male smallmouth bass was caught in the south branch of the Potomac River that had both male and female parts – intersex. Since then, wildlife biologists have discovered that 50-100% of the fish in various tributaries leading into Chesapeake Bay have become intersex . Here’s a USGS explanation why fish become intersex:

“Intersex is one manifestation of endocrine disruption in fish. Endocrine disruption can result in adverse effects on the development of the brain and nervous system, the growth and function of the reproductive system, and the response to stressors in the environment. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have documented the presence of endocrine disrupting contaminants in rivers and streams across the nation. Additionally, USGS scientists and others have demonstrated that exposure to endocrine-active contaminants can cause endocrine disruption, which can have ruinous impacts on fish populations.”

What’s causing the endocrine disruption is still a mystery. In addition to stormwater overflows loaded with sewage and pharmaceutical waste, pesticide pollution and manure with natural hormones from upstream farms are also considered a cause of the he-fish to he-she-fish transformations. There are currently two new bills in the Maryland House and Senate that would require farmers to better track what pesticides they’re using on their farms. [Washington Post]

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Australian Study Finds That Groups Opposing Wind Farms Are The Cause Of Wind Farm Sickness.

Wind farm sickness.

Do you speak cow? The anti-wind farm lobby may need you to spread the word.

According to a study from Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health at Sydney University, the spread of the non-illness known as wind farm sickness is via anti-wind activists and lobbyist. From the Guardian:

“[Professor Chapman’s] report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.”

Sounds like the anti-wind lobby is sending out wind farm syndrome Mary and wind farm syndrome Harry to use some magic, a little voodoo and the power of suggestion to spread the unrecognized, not-illness. Sounds about right. [Guardian]


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Engineers At Lockheed Martin Create Perforene: More Efficiently Converts Saltwater To Clean Freshwater.

John Stetson - Lockheed MartinLockheed Martin has announced that they’ve created an atom-thin carbon membrane that will significantly reduce the cost and energy required to convert saltwater to freshwater. It’s called perforene and its one-nanometer sized holes are large enough to let water flow through but small enough to filter out salt from seawater. From Lockheed Martin engineer John Stetson:

“It’s [perforene] 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger. The energy that’s required and the pressure that’s required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less [than reverse osmosis].”

Perforene, if it reaches the market, would be a great solution for coastal areas that have limited access to freshwater and that may not be able to afford building and operating an expensive desalinization plant. The downside: mo water mo people. [Reuters]

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Non-Food ‘Cellulosic’ Ethanol Could Be Price Competitive With Gasoline By 2016.

Cellulosic ethanol production.According to research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), ethanol produced from non-food materials (inedible parts of plants, woods, and grasses) will be price competitive with corn-based ethanol and gasoline by 2016. It’s a second generation biofuel called cellulosic ethanol and for years, figuring out how to cost effectively produce ethanol from non-edible plants has been a challenge. From BNEF:

“The survey collected data and predictions on the production costs of 11 leading players in the cellulosic ethanol industry. All use a technique, commonly called enzymatic hydrolysis, to break down and convert the complex sugars in non-food crop matter, and a fermentation stage to turn the results into ethanol. The results showed that in 2012, the cost of cellulosic ethanol production was $0.94 per litre, around 40% higher than the $0.67 per litre cost of producing ethanol from corn, which dominates the US biofuel market and is competitive with US gasoline. By 2016, respondents thought the price of cellulosic ethanol would match that of corn-based ethanol.”

Why is the move to cellulosic biofuels so important? From BusinessGreen:

“Cellulosic biofuels are widely regarded as critical to the development of the biofuels industry, as they allow developers to produce fuels from waste material or fast-growing grasses removing the need for energy crops that have been blamed for eating into agricultural land and driving up food prices.”

Another benefit of cellulosic ethanol is that its production can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 85% over reformulated gasoline according to a study conducted by Michael Wang of the Argonne National Laboratory. Starch-based ethanol made from corn reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 18-29% over reformulated gasoline. [BusinessGreen and BNEF]

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What Would It Take To Power New York State On Only Wind, Water And Sunlight?

Wind, water and sunlight power.

“We must be ambitious if we want to promote energy independence and curb global warming,”
Study co-author Robert Howarth, Cornell University

Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy, led a study to calculate what it would take to power the State of New York by 2030 with only renewable energy generated from wind, water and sunlight. Currently, almost all of New York’s power comes from gas, oil and coal.

Based on power demand forecasts for all industries, here’s what Professor Jacobson and his team determined would be needed:

  • 4,020 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 12,770 offshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 387 100-megawatt concentrated solar plants
  • 828 50-megawatt photovoltaic power plants
  • 5 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 500,000 100-kilowatt commercial/government rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 36 100-megawatt geothermal plants
  • 1,910 0.75-megawatt wave devices
  • 2,600 1-megawatt tidal turbines
  • 7 1,300-megawatt hydroelectric power plants, of which most exist

Looks like a lot and it is but it’s an investment. If installed, renewable energy would be the fuel source for vehicles, home heating and all industries in the state – it would be powering everything. Check out the full article on the study and find out how the plan, if implemented, would save billions in pollution related healthcare costs and help mitigate the future costs of climate change. [EurekAlert via e360]

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The Cape Wind Project Will Kill Our Views… Did I Say ‘Views’? I Meant Sea-Life.

Cape Wind project map.The Cape Wind offshore wind turbine project was federally approved in 2010 but it’s grounded today. Why? Because attorneys representing well funded groups are still fighting the project and now they’re bringing sea turtles and other sea-life into the fight. Attorney Eric Glitzenstein, who’s representing Cape Wind opponent Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, emailed Tom Zeller Jr. of Huff Po to explain how Cape Wind will adversely affect marine mammals and sea-life around Nantucket Sound. From Mr. Glitzenstein’s legal brief (in HuffPo):

“… [Cape Wind will kill] migratory birds, including endangered and threatened species, harass federally listed sea turtles, and place the gravely endangered North Atlantic right whale at increased risk of ship strikes – the leading cause of the species’ imperilment. In the course of approving the project, defendants contravened the safeguards that Congress established for the affected wildlife.”

It’s very noble to defend marine life pro bono but it’s way too easy to see-through his statement. Here’s my translation:

“…[Cape Wind will kill] our views, including our endangered and threatened views [of Nantucket Sound], harass our views, and gravely endanger our views…”

[Read more…]

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