The Catastrophic Effects of Man-made Pollution

beaches

According to the 24th annual report released by Natural Resources Defense Council, one in 10 U.S. beaches are dangerously polluted making them unsafe for swimmers. The environmental advocacy nonprofit collected 3,500 water samples from American beaches and evaluated the specimens using the Environmental Protection Agency’s new water safety standard known as Beach Action Value. The BAV sets the threshold for water quality at American beaches to protect swimmers from pollution mostly from sewage overflow and contaminated storm water runoff, the HuffPost’s Sara Gates reports in her article 1  In 10 U.S. Beaches Are So Polluted They’re Not Safe For Swimming. NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine explained to USA Today that: “Results in this year show uptick in failure rate at 10 percent nationwide, but this reflects a newer, more health-protected (standard of safety test). If we were to compare to the old defunct standard, it would have been about 7 percent of samples; which tells us we’re stagnating in terms of progress of water protection.” Gates reports, according to the finding, the NRDC found 17 repeat offenders or beaches that failed the public heath standard in more than 25 percent of its water quality samples in the past 5 years e.g. several polluted beaches in Indiana, New York and Ohio. Ranking the highest in polluted beaches was the Great Lakes followed by the Gulf Coast and New England. As for the least polluted, the NRDC labeled 35 U.S. beaches as all stars as they all met the national benchmark for water quality 98 percent of the time over the last five years including waterfronts in 14 states such as California and Virginia.

While water pollution is a major concern all over the world especially the United States, fracking has become increasingly worrisome as the frequency of earthquake increases in areas where earthquakes rarely happened, if at all, e.g vast stretches of prairie across Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. In recent years, Oklahoma has recorded nearly 150 earthquakes between January and the start of May with most being too weak to cause serious damage or endanger lives. However, these temblors have rattled nerves and raised suspicions enough to start to question their connection with the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater, according to Emily Schmalland Kristi Eaton’s article States Confront Worries About Fracking And Earthquakes. Due to the increasing complaints from residents over the years, governments in three states are confronting the issue by reviewing scientific data, holding public discussion and possibly implementing new regulations. The states with few earthquakes historically are trying to reconcile scientific data with the interests of their citizens and the oil and gas companies. Regulators from each state met in March in Oklahoma City to exchange earthquake information and discuss toughening standards for the lightly regulated business of fracking water disposal. In Azle, Texas where hundreds of small quakes have happened, the residents went to the state Capitol earlier in the year to demand action by the Railroad Commission who are the chief oil and gas regulators. In response, the commission hired the first ever state seismologist and lawmakers formed the House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity, reports Schmalland and Eaton. After Kansas had 56 earthquakes between last October and April, the governor appointed a three member task force to address the issue.

While the frequency of earthquakes is troubling, fracking also generates large quantities of wastewater even more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into injection wells sending it thousands of feet underground. Scientists wonder whether this process could trigger quakes due to increasing underground pressure or act as lubricant for faults. In addition, injection well operators could be pumping either too much water into the ground or pumping it at exceedingly high pressures e.g data published by the Railroad Commission earlier this month found ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy has pumped 281,000 gallons or 94 tanker truckloads of wastwater into Azle wells every day for two years. In recent weeks, Oklahoma has experienced 145 quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater from January to May 2,2014, the Oklahoma Geological Survey reports. Fortunately, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has approved new testing and monitoring regulation for injections wells that take effect in September requiring well operators to collect daily information on well volume and pressure. Nationwide, the United States has more than 150,000 injections wells and only a handful have been proven to induce quakes according to the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Moving from active drilling and pumping to derelict oil wells and gas wells, a study of the latter in Pennsylvania found that hundreds of thousands in the states may leak methane suggesting that wells across the country may be a bigger source of climate changing greenhouse gases than previously thought. According to Mary Kang’s study, a Princeton University scientist, 19 abandoned wells were found leaking various amounts of methane with hundreds of thousands of such oil and gas wells, abandoned and plugged, in Pennsylvania and many more across the country. The problem Bobby Magill reports, Derelict Oil Wells May Be Major Methane Emitters, is that these wells go unmonitored and are rarely checked for leaks. Over the past three years, numerous studies suggest that crude oil and natural gas development especially in shale formations are significant sources of methane leaks. Scientists believe that there is inadequate data available for them to know where all the leaks are and how much methane is leaking due to the fact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas inventory does not fully include these derelict sites as they are not monitored. Over a 100 year span, methane is 34 times more potent as a climate change greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Even more troublesome is its potency over 20 years which is 86 times. Of all the greenhouse gases emitted by humans worldwide, methane is more than 40 percent of all radiative forcing, a measure of trapped heat in the atmosphere and a measuring stick of changing climate. Kang found that the wells leak so much methane that if the leaks from all the abandoned wells in Pennsylvania are added up that the percentage would be between 4 and 13 percent of human caused methane emissions in the state, according to Magill. However, more studies need to be done to fully understand how common the leaking wells are in the state and how much methane they emit. According to the historical record and the study conducted, there are between 280,000 and 970,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania. Kang found that state regulations are inadequate at controlling methane emissions from abandoned wells due to the rules focusing on containing fluids, not gases and the plugged wells are not required to be monitored closely over time.

Gun Control Controversy: Looking at the Numbers Since Newtown

As of June 11, 2014 reported by Katy Hall and Jan Diehm of HuffPost:
“Clarification: Everytown used the following methodology: Incidents were classified as school shootings when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in publicly reported news accounts. This includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings. Incidents in which guns were brought into schools but not fired there, or were fired off school grounds after having been possessed in schools, were not included. This list includes incidents meeting the above criteria that were brought to our attention after our School Shootings Analysis was issued on February 10, 2014. Incidents were identified through media reports, so this is likely an undercount of the true total.”

According to the article, All 74 School Shootings Since Newtown, In One Depressing Map, at least 74 school shooting have occurred during the 18 months since Newtown as tallied by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group fighting to pass gun control laws. The longest gap between shootings occurred during summer breaks from mid June to mid August with the most recent being at the beginning of June at a high school in Portland, Oregon where the gunman a student were reported dead. After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, President Obama pushed for gun reform calling for stricter background checks that garnered great public support, but failed in the senate last year and Congress since has no plans to pass any gun legislation.

Besides the many school shooting in the news it seems every day, there have also been several domestic disputes and random shootings that have occurred as well begging the question: Why is no one doing anything to keep us safe? HuffPost reporter Kim Bellware reported on the 16th of June with the headline, Man Kills His Ex-Wife And Her Boyfriend At High School Reunion, about an Illinois man who shot and killed his ex-wife and her new boyfriend in front of a 100 witness while she was at her high school reunion. Another tragic shooting occurred at a Phoenix church fatally wounding and killing a clergyman. Associated Press reports that on June 11 a homeless ex-convict with a history of violence and drug abuse allegedly killed a clergyman with a handgun retrieved by another priest after he was hit with an iron rod.

Poverty has an Expiration Date?

According the World Bank, it does. What is the difference between extreme poverty and poverty? Who defined it? While the governments of the world figure this out, the World Bank has set a deadline for 2030 to end extreme global poverty emphasizing that the poorest benefit from strong growth and rising prosperity in developing nations Reuters reports. According to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on Saturday following a meeting of the World Bank’s Development Committee, “For the first time in history we have committed to setting a target to end poverty. We are no longer dreaming of a world free of poverty; we have set an expiration date for extreme poverty.”  The goal plans to reduce extreme poverty to 3 percent and target the bottom 40 percent of people living in each country of the developing world.

The target of the World Bank aims to guide the institution and work with the United Nations to make plans post-2015 poverty strategy to replace existing goals. The developing world has seen a growth of about 6 percent annually in their economies with millions of people being lifted out of poverty creating a new global middle class which has also allowed for increases in growing inequality. As the Committee explains, “We recognize that sustained economic growth needs a reduction in inequality. Investments that create opportunities for all citizens and promote gender equality are an important end in their own right, as well we being integral to creating prosperity.” This week the World Bank released figures that show extreme poverty has plunged since 1990 with 21 percent from 43 percent and that most of the poor are heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, while China has slashed extreme poverty according to Reuters. Kim also said climate change and investments in heath and education were discussed as well.

The meeting also called for donor fundraising campaigns by the World Bank’s fund for its poorest borrowers urging strong participation by all countries. Every three years according to Huff Post, donors from rich and developing economies alike raise funds for the Bank’s International Development Association or IDA, while the United States, Britain and Nordic nations are usually the biggest funders for the past several years Brazil, India, China, Chile, Argentina and Peru have also donated funds. However with the current financial climates in Europe and the United States, the World Bank will be more restrictive when it comes to how the money is used so not to impact the poor. The emphasis according to Kim should be on helping fragile  and conflict hit countries.

Oldest Family Business In U.S. Profits Without Layoffs Or Outsourcing

Oldest Family Business In U.S. Profits Without Layoffs Or Outsourcing – Careers Articles.

With the sequestration in full effect and no sign of any deals anytime soon, companies are finding ways to cut costs in order to make the hefty profits pre-recession by outsourcing, automating, and downsizing, but one company refuses to do so. The story of Avedis Zildjian Company sounds like something of a myth especially since in its 390 year history of cymgal manufacturing has never laid off a worker at least in recent history. Instead of laying off employees, the company retrains them for a new position when their jobs are automated plus offers incentive pay for increase productivity. The CEO Craigie Zildjian told NBC about the relationship with workers explaining, “It comes down to trust doesn’t it? You take care of us, and we take care of you.” Being the oldest family owned business in the U.S., the Zildjian company made cymbals in Turkey during the Ottoman Empire, then in Massachusetts during the Great Depression and can trace their history to Avedis Zildjian who was an Armenina alchemist whose secret formula for metals created cymbals with such an entrancing sound that he was invited to live with the sultan in the palace according to AOL jobs. Today, the facotry in Norwell, Mass., is run by 14th generation embers of the family and the Zildjian cymbals have been used by everyone from 19th century composer Richard Wagner to big band drummer Gene Krupa and Ringo Starr. The company currently controls 65 percent of the cymbal market with Craigie Zildjian as CEO and her sister Debbie Zildjian as vice president of Human Resources. The company’s commitment to retraining employees for new jobs is in stark contrast to employers who have cut back on training for decades which increased during the recession leaving only 1 in 5 workers with new skills from employer provided training in the past five years, according to a recent survey. For the past fifteen years, the company has offered 125 employees incentive pay for greater productivity and accuracy which has lead to only two months in 15 years where employees haven’t received a bonus according to Debbie Zildjian. This explains why so many employees are lifers who have been with the company for decades. Zildjian has been inviting music legends to test out their products and help them innovate for decades and to this day they send good tidings and birthday wishes to their artists on their twitter account which almost has 50,000 followers. The company has evolved with time as Craigie and Debbie Zildjian are the first women to run the company. The company’s success may also be due to the special rules for family management which requires as BBC reports that no family member can report to another, everyone must have job experience, college degrees are required, and no spouses allowed.

John Kerry, U.S. Secretary Of State, Defends Americans’ Right To Be Stupid

John Kerry Syria

John Kerry, U.S. Secretary Of State, Defends Americans’ Right To Be Stupid.

Scary enough I actually agree with the logic here, hey here me out before you decide otherwise. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defended the freedom of speech, religion and thought on Tuesday by telling German Students that in America “you have the right to be stupid if you want to be”, according to Reuters. When you first read it I know sounds insulting but let him explain. Kerry continued to tell the students in Berlin that, ” As a country, as a society, we live and breathe the idea of religious freedom and religious tolerance, whatever the religion, and political freedom and political tolerance, whatever the point of view.” He continued with “People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it’s the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another.” Oh you want a reason then I suppose, well he gives that to”The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In American you have a right to be stupid – if you want to be.”  As the students laugh, he then said, “And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be….And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for. The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view.” You know John Kerry I like you more now than I have in the pass purely because he is the first person to admit that. As a country, we are forced to tolerate everything regardless of whether we agree or not with what is being done or said to us it is a part of Americana. The reasoning has played out in our favor at times and sometime to our detriment but in the end I am glad we have the freedom to express ourselves and opinions even if it is not in the majority.

Kerry made the comment in Berlin his second stop on his inaugural trip as Secretary of State which began Feb.1 and will take in on one night stops to London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Doha before returning to Washington March 6. Kerry also did a little reminiscing with the student talking about his 1950s adventures in Berlin being a son of a diplomat roaming through the streets of East Berlin with his bike. He said, “I used to have great adventures. My bicycle and I were best friends. And I biked all around this city. I remember biking down Kurfuerstendamm and seeing nothing but rubble. This was in 1954 … the war was very much still on people’s minds…One day, using my diplomatic passport, I biked through the checkpoint right into the east sector and noticed very quickly how dark and unpopulated (it was) and sort of unhappy people looked…that hit this 12-year-old kid…I kind of felt a foreboding about it and I didn’t spend much time. I kind of skedaddled and got back out of there and went home and proudly announced to my parents what I had done and was promptly grounded and had my passport pulled.” Time will tell if Kerry will be able to fill the shoes of his predecessor Hilary Clinton, but for now we will have to wait and see.

Meteor Explosion: Russian Region Begins Recovery In Frigid Weather

 Meteor Explosion: Russian Region Begins Recovery In Frigid Weather.

On Saturday as many begin to repair and replace acres of windows caused by a meteor explosion, many residents joked about what happened saying the residents of the meteor were terrified to see Chelyabinsk approaching. The situation has brought together people in the area to fix damage done by the meteor explosion and many residents together on the Internet to find out more about the meteor and to have a laugh. The temperature during winter drops to minus 30 Celsius or minus 22 Fahrenheit making it very important for the repair to be completed.

The concern from Friday’s meteor hit surrounds the dangerous facilities located near Chelyabinsk. The fireball itself reportedly injured 1,200 people by the shock wave from the explosion which is the equivalent to 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs. In 1957, the Mayak nuclear weapons plant had one of its waste tanks explode contaminating 9,200 square miles and causing the evacuation of 10,000 residents. It is now Russia’s main disposal facility and only 50 mile east of the city.

This one traumatic event has brought more than  24,000 people from all over the region to help with the relief efforts. The goal for them is to cover windows, gather warm clothes and food, and other efforts as well according to the governor’s office. Glass companies adjacent to the region were also flown in. Gov. Mikhail Yurevich on Saturday said that the damages are at 1 billion rubles or $33 million, but he promises that all broken windows will be fixed within the week as temperatures in the region are dropping. The immediate task by midday in Chelyabinsk where temperatures dropped to minus 12 Celsius or 10 Fahrenheit  was to cover the windows with plastic sheeting and boards until they can be repaired.

 

 

As the search for the meteor fragments in Chebarkul continue, other places in the world are experiencing something similar to Chelyabinsk. In the town of Chebarkul, divers explore the 20 foot wide hole left by a meteor fragment that hit the lake and haven’t found anything yet according to the Emergency Ministry spokeswoman Irina Rossius. Residents of San Francisco on the other side of the planet experienced lights in the sky on Friday night as reports to the science institute in Northern California. In Cuba, residents described a bright light and loud explosion similar to that in Russia that shook windows and walls. There were no reported injuries or damages like the Russian meteorite.

 

 

Hazard Shooting: 2 Killed At Community College Shooting In Kentucky

 

Hazard Shooting: 2 Killed At Community College Shooting In Kentucky.

A gunman fired into a vehicle killing two people and wounded a juvenile Tuesday in the parking lot of an eastern Kentucky community college, Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard. The campus was on lock down for over an hour and students were not allowed to leave until the premises was cleared by police to ensure no further danger. At the time of the shooting, there was 30 student students on campus. Three hours after the shooting at a news conference, no suspects have been identified and the semiautomatic pistol used was recovered. A male and female were dead already when the police arrived at 6 pm while the wounded female juvenile was taken to University of Kentucky Hospital. The police as well as college officials do not believe the violence was directly connected to the school and may have been the result of a domestic dispute. The relationship between the victims and shooter are not known.