Coal slurry spill pollutes West Virginia creek
There has been a large spill of coal slurry – a mix of coal dust, rock, and various chemicals – from a plant into a tributary of the Kanawha River in Charleston, West Virginia on Tuesday. Local officials said the impact of the spill is “significant”, estimating it to be more than 100,000 gallons. “The rock, coal and clays contain a wide range of heavy metals including arsenic, lead, cadmium, chromium, iron, manganese, aluminum and nickel,” according to the Sludge Safety Project. In areas that have experienced slurry contamination, people have suffered from “kidney and liver disease, tooth loss, skin rashes, diarrhea, and several different cancers,” the Sludge Safety Project stated. With multiple toxic spills occurring as a result of the negligence of coal companies in the past few weeks, will the EPA step in and take action?
Hawaii Is First State to Ban Plastic Bags
Why do we create bags made with a material that may never break down in the environment, only to use them once before throwing them away? Hawaii has provided their own response to this question by being the first state to completely ban plastic bags at grocery checkout counters. “Being a marine state, perhaps, we are exposed more directly to the impacts of plastic pollution and the damage it does to our environment,” said Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club’s Hawaii chapter. Restaurants and other businesses have been charging customers for plastic bags for a year on the Big Island of Hawaii. Although no other U.S. states have placed bans on plastic bags, several cities have, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Washington, DC.
China to set up $1.65 billion fund to tackle air pollution
On Wednesday, the Chinese government said it will set up a $1.65 billion fund to fight air pollution, even offering rewards for any companies that clean up their act. Air pollution and oppressive smog in China has made headlines across the world in the past year. Sources told Reuters that the Chinese government could grant its small environment ministry new powers over various resources, possibly giving it the ability to veto projects, and more influence to punish polluters. In the past, authorities have issued countless policies and orders in an attempt to curb pollution in the country. Enforcement of these policies has been patchy at the local level, where authorities often rely on taxes paid by the industries that do most of the polluting.
Common crop pesticides kill honeybee larvae in the hive
Penn State and University of Florida researchers have found that four pesticides commonly used on crops to kill insects and fungi also kill honeybee larvae within their hives. Jim Frazier, a professor of entomology at Penn Sate said, “We also found that the negative effects of these pesticides are sometimes greater when the pesticides occur in combinations within the hive. Since pesticide safety is judged almost entirely on adult honeybee sensitivity to individual pesticides and also does not consider mixtures of pesticides, the risk assessment process that the Environmental Protection Agency uses should be changed.” The researchers also found that N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), a chemical used as a pesticide additive, is very toxic to honeybee larvae. Colony Collapse Disorder, an increasingly-common phenomenon in which worker bees abruptly disappear from a beehive, is becoming a very serious problem around the world. Pollination from the efforts of bees helps at least 30% of the world’s crops. If all bees were to disappear from the Earth, we would lose much the food we put on our dinner tables every night. In some parts of China, workers are having to go out and pollinate their crops by hand.
Where Global Warming Went: Into the Pacific
Research has revealed that stronger equatorial trade winds bury “missing” heat under the surface of the ocean. These trade winds have been blowing stronger than usual over the Pacific for the past two decades. A lot of energy from global warming has been stored in the Pacific Ocean, and in the future it will come back out in a burst of heat. “In due course, the atmosphere will warm up as though the hiatus never occurred. But regardless of when it ends – in a couple of years or in a whole decade – our research suggests the warming will be quite rapid.” according to a researcher in England. Since 2001, the average air temperature has risen more slowly than it did in previous decades. Climate skeptics and different news agencies have stated that there has been a “pause” in global warming. Others have said that the current cold winter in the U.S. is further evidence to their argument. Global warming has not stopped. The ten hottest years on record have all happened since 1998, with 2010 being the hottest year on record. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not “pause” and suddenly stop trapping energy. The real question that scientists have been asking is where the extra energy goes. With new research like this, they are getting some answers.