And a whole lot more. . .
First, a microbial invasion, via the Japan Times:
Highly pathogenic bird flu virus detected in Shimane
A highly pathogenic strain of bird flu has been found in Yasugi, Shimane Prefecture, the Environment Ministry said Thursday.
The H5N8 subtype was detected from two samples of droppings of migratory Bewick’s swans that were collected on Nov. 3, the ministry said.
The ministry has designated 10 km from the spot in question as an intensive wild bird monitoring area and decided to send an emergency investigation team there.
The H5N8 subtype is the same virus strain as the bird flu that broke out at a poultry farm in Kumamoto Prefecture in April.
From BBC News, a watershed moment:
World is crossing malnutrition red line, report warns
Most countries in the world are facing a serious public health problem as a result of malnutrition, a report warns.
The Global Nutrition Report said every nation except China had crossed a “malnutrition red line”, suffering from too much or too little nutrition.
Globally, malnutrition led to “11% of GDP being squandered as a result of lives lost, less learning, less earning and days lost to illness,” it added.
And from ABC Australia, via Journeyman Pictures, a troublesome question:
Catalyst: Extreme Weather – How our climate is not just becoming warmer, but also increasingly extreme and unpredictable.
The world has undergone some frightening weather extremes in recent years: from scorching heat waves in Europe to apocalyptic floods in Australia and blizzards in the Middle East. Record temperatures, both high and low, are constantly being smashed across the world. At first glimpse, the emission of greenhouse gases may only seem to account for high temperatures. But as Anja Taylor discovers, warmer average temperatures are tampering with the mechanics that drive all kinds of weather events across the world. It seems like the term ‘global warming’ may be misleading, since mankind will need to face up to more frequent extreme and unpredictable weather in the future.
A fracking fatality, via the Los Angeles Times:
Fracking accident leaves 1 dead, 2 injured in Colorado
The rupture of a pipe at a Colorado fracking site left one Halliburton employee dead and two seriously injured Thursday morning, law enforcement and company officials said.
Workers were trying to warm a frozen pipe at a site near Fort Lupton, Colo., about 30 miles north of Denver, when it burst around 9:30 a.m., Sgt. Sean Stanridge, public information officer for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, told the Los Angeles Times.
One person died at the scene and the injured were taken to area hospitals. One underwent surgery, and both are expected to survive, Stanridge said.
The industrial site is operated by Anadarko Petroleum Corp., and Halliburton employees are contracted to work on the grounds, Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen said.
Another fracking hazard from the Denver Post:
Fracking sand in oilfields stirs up a serious health risk for workers
Health concerns about oil field fracking have been focused on the mixed brew of chemicals injected into wells. But it is another innocuous-sounding substance — sand — that poses a more serious danger to workers.
Government overseers of workplace safety first highlighted the problem three years ago and issued a hazard alert a year later warning that high levels of fine quartz sand around fracking operations could lead to silicosis and other lung illnesses.
But efforts to update the 44-year-old exposure limits on sand dust are dragging on. Engineering solutions to the problem are still being researched. And, while many energy companies are taking steps to lessen the amount of what is referred to as “respirable crystalline silica” by scientists or “frac sand” by oilfield workers, the industry, with support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is also opposing much in proposed new regulations.
From EcoWatch, a fracking fail:
Fracking Support Plummets Among Americans
Fracking is quickly losing favor with Americans, a new Pew Research Center poll finds.
As more stories emerge about the dangers posed by the toxic fallout from the aggressive drilling process to communities near the operations, support for fracking tilts negative for the first time, with 41 percent favoring increased use of fracking and 47 percent opposing it. That’s a huge swing from 20 months ago. In Pew’s March 2013 poll 48 percent supported more fracking while only 38 percent opposed it.
Support for fracking has dropped most steeply among women and people under 50, whose opinions turned against it by 10 points, while shifting slightly against it among those over 50 by two points. Fifty-four percent of women now oppose fracking, with only 31 percent supporting it. Among men, 52 percent support it with 40 percent opposed, representing a three-point drop from March 2013. People 18-29 moved from 49/41 in support to 53/39 against, while those 30-49 who formerly favored it 48/41 now oppose it 50/38.
Tar sands heat up, via BBC News:
Keystone XL pipeline to get vote in Congress
The House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The move comes as Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu has pushed for a similar vote in the Senate as she fights a runoff campaign for her seat.
The 875-mile (1,408km) pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the US state of Nebraska where it joins pipes running to Texas.
President Barack Obama could find the approved bill on his desk next week. The White House has not directly threatened a veto of the legislation if it passes both chambers.
More from Reuters:
Keystone bill unlikely to rescue Landrieu in U.S. Senate runoff
A push by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu to pass a bill authorizing the contentious Keystone XL pipeline is unlikely to give the Louisiana Democrat a significant boost against her Republican challenger in a December runoff, political analysts said on Thursday.
Landrieu, who faces an uphill battle to win a fourth term against Republican congressman Bill Cassidy, is renewing efforts to pass the measure unpopular with many Democrats as she fights to retain her seat in a state increasingly inhospitable to her party.
“It’s really too little, too late,” said G. Pearson Cross, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette political scientist. “Doing this only when her job is in peril will be seen as not significant – or desperate.”
Still more from The Hill:
Senate nears 60 on Keystone
Supporters of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are nearing 60 votes in the Senate ahead of a vote next week on whether to approve the project.
With passage of a pipeline bill in the House all but assured, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) says she is “confident” she can rally the 60 votes needed for a filibuster-proof majority in the upper chamber.
“It is ready for a vote and we have the 60 votes to pass it,” Landrieu said on Wednesday.
From RT, costly ignorance:
Shell ignored ‘risk & hazard’ of Nigeria pipes, downplayed size of 2008 spills – court documents
Royal Dutch Shell was aware that its Nigerian pipelines were poorly maintained prior to the 2008 Bodo oil spills, and later underestimated the size of the leaks to avoid paying compensation, Amnesty International reported after studying court documents.
Fifteen-thousand members of the Bodo community are suing Shell in London’s High Court, claiming the two oil spills in 2008 devastated an area of up to 90km in Ogoniland, southern Nigeria. The oil giant earned $450 billion in revenues last year.
“The result was an environmental catastrophe for the Bodo Community and the biggest loss of mangrove habitat in the history of oil spills. The 40,000 residents of the Bodo Community primarily relied on fishing and their way of life and source of livelihoods has been destroyed for years to come,” said Martyn Day, a senior partner at Leigh Day, which is representing the plaintiffs.
Among the documents obtained by Amnesty from the ongoing case is an internal note written by an employee eight years before the spills, which says “the remaining life of most of the Oil Trunklines [in the area] is more or less non-existent or short, while some sections contain major risk and hazard.”
From BuzzFeed, another fuel, another court:
CEO In Charge Of West Viriginia Mine That Killed 29 People Could Get 31 Years In Prison
Don Blankenship is facing conspiracy charges for his role in the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years.
In 2010, a mine in West Virginia exploded, killing 29 people. Now, the boss of the company in charge of the mine is facing criminal charges and up to 31 years in prison.
Don Blankenship was the chairman and CEO of Massey Energy Company in April 2010, when an explosion tore through Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. The mine included a maze of passageways more than 1,000 feet underground, and none of the miners who were inside at the time survived. The death toll ultimately climbed to 29, making the explosion the worst mining disaster in 40 years.
Investigations traced the source of the explosion to worn out cutting gear that created a spark and ignited coal dust and methane.
And from Yale Environment 360, black lung returns:
A Scourge for Coal Miners Stages a Brutal Comeback
Black lung — a debilitating disease caused by inhaling coal dust — was supposed to be wiped out by a landmark 1969 U.S. mine safety law. But a recent study shows that the worst form of the disease now affects a larger share of Appalachian coal miners than at any time since the early 1970s.
Experts at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that, by 2012, the rate of severe black lung had reached 3.2 percent of workers in the Central Appalachian coalfields of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. That’s a nearly tenfold increase over the disease prevalence 15 years earlier — a shocking statistic. In a brief report published in the September 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, NIOSH researchers said, “Each of these cases is a tragedy and represents a failure among all those responsible for preventing this severe disease.”
Black lung is caused by inhaling coal dust. The accumulation of dust particles in the lungs makes it hard to breathe. As the disease progresses, victims develop a cough or shortness of breath.
“Living with black lung is thinking about every breath you take,” former miner Robert Bailey Jr. told a congressional committee earlier this year.
And from MintPress News, another occupational hazard:
EPA Finally Updating Pesticide-Use Guidelines For Farm Workers
- Advocates say a draft of the updated Worker Protection Standard is imperfect, but still offers greater protections to laborers in one of the country’s most hazardous industries
U.S. regulators are moving into the final stages of a major update to guidelines on the use of pesticides by agricultural workers, changes that labor advocates have been urging for more than a decade.
Indeed, it’s been almost a quarter-century since the Environmental Protection Agency updated the guidelines, known as the Worker Protection Standard. These rules not only have a direct impact on the health and well-being of the country’s estimated two million farmworkers but also on their families and communities. Pesticides and related residues, which can easily be brought home on clothing, are a key example of the broader impact of agricultural regulations and guidelines.
When the EPA released a draft of its update to the Worker Protection Standard in February, the agency’s administrator Gina McCarthy lauded it as a “milestone” for farmworkers. She also noted that protecting agricultural laborers from pesticide exposure “is at the core of EPA’s work to ensure environmental justice.”
After the jump, an Eurocratic GMO supporter’s job eliminated, warm waters melting Antarctic icecap, a bag ban not in the bag, Australian environmental policy diminished, on to Fukushimapocalypse Now! and hot waste bagged up with no permanent place to go, decades of work ahead and little cause for hope, hot water woes and complications tunneling in, and a hot head at the moment of crisis, public opposition ignored, a new nuclear plant gets an operational deadline, and an aging plant’s operator asks a four-decade operating extension, and a costly retirement plan for two hundred reactors. . . Continue reading