Category Archives: Articles – Our Fragile Environment

The Continued Legal Use of Chlorpyrifos is Unconscionable

“The chance to prevent brain damage in children was a low bar for most of Scott Pruitt’s predecessors, but it apparently just wasn’t persuasive enough for an administrator who isn’t sure if banning lead from gasoline was a good idea…

“Instead, in one of his first major decisions as head of the EPA, like a toddler running toward his parents, Pruitt leaped into the warm and waiting arms of the pesticide industry.”

Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook

Though deadly to human health, wildlife and to the environment, chlorpyrifos has been the most widely used pesticide in the United States for decades. A neurotoxic pesticide manufactured by Dow Chemical, chlorpyrifos is acutely toxic and associated with extreme neurodevelopmental harm in children and prenatal exposure has been found to cause lower birth weight, reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, and delayed motor development. Direct exposure, by inhalation, skin contact or ingestion, as happens to both farm workers and residents living in proximity to agricultural areas, and to others even further away, causes convulsions, respiratory paralysis, and, in some cases, death. As to the “others” referenced, they can and do include anyone who consumes agricultural products that contain a residue of chlorpyrifos, as well as people whose drinking water has been contaminated with the pesticide and people breathing air exposed to a toxic spray of wind-blown chlorpyrifos. (“What You Should Know – Chlorpyrifos The toxic pesticide now harming our children and environment”)

Due to its overwhelming and overpowering risk of harm, residential use of chlorpyrifos was outlawed by the EPA almost two decades ago, but its widespread commercial use continues.

Recent studies have shown that a minimal degree of prenatal exposure causes permanent harm and an EPA human health risk

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assessment released in November, 2016 found that there are NO safe levels of chlorpyrifos exposure. The study found that Continue reading

What is Really Happening at Hanford?

Is US Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry smart enough to engineer a coverup of a massive radiation leak in the state of Washington, or is he being kept out of the loop by other department officials, or is there really “nothing to see here”?

My guess is the middle scenario, based on the likelihood that Perry couldn’t care less about knowing what is going on as to storing the country’s nuclear waste or how “his” department responds to urgencies.

But first, let’s back up a bit. What is now generally referred to merely as the “Hanford Site”, was built as part of the Manhattan Project, and in the mid-1940s, it included the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor where plutonium for the world’s first nuclear bomb was manufactured. As nuclear weapons’ development mushroomed during the Cold War, Hanford was expanded to include

eight additional nuclear reactors, and the site produced the bulk of the plutonium used in the entire US nuclear arsenal, said to at one time number over 60,000 weapons. The Hanford Site has a long history of failures, however, and over the years unknown amounts of radioactive material have escaped into the air and into Washington State’s rivers. With the end of the Cold War and the end of nuclear weapons’ production, reactors were decommissioned, leaving the site with 53 Million gallons of high-level radioactive waste, 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste and 200 square miles of land with contaminated groundwater, in all amounting to two-thirds of the high-level radioactive waste existing in the United States, making Hanford the most contaminated nuclear site in the country. Continue reading

Tesla Solar Roof Tiles Are Here

Tesla Solar Roof Slate Roof TilesTesla is now taking orders and next month will begin installation of their solar roof tile systems, transforming homes first in California and then across the country into energy-producing, money-saving stylish homes that give no outward appearance of traditional solar panels. Instead, Tesla has created standard and upscale-looking roof tiles in a variety of styles and colors that look just like the roof tiles on the traditional house next door.

Their solar roof tile system includes Tesla’s Powerwall home battery that stores solar energy allowing the home’s residents to use solar energy whenever they choose, yes including at night, and providing uninterrupted electricity during grid outages.

The system is designed to include both solar tiles and non-solar tiles, which are indistinguishable when seen from the street after installation. Customized power needs for residents is easily created Continue reading

Solar Roadway Panels – The Future is NOW!

I first read about and began writing about Solar Roadways almost two years ago, and I had the opportunity of bringing this new technology to the attention of some of the consultants working on the new General Plan for the future of my city of residence, West Covina, Ca. While little has been heard regarding advances in the development of Solar Roadways recently, at least in the United States, this week a significant new development has occurred, with the state of Missouri now involved in a plan to redevelop an existing and popular roadway with this new technology. This would be a significant advance in Green Living and pro-environment benefits for all of

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today’s society, as a single popular road rebuilt in this fashion could spur the widespread utilization of Solar Roadway panels and the further reduction of the demand for fossil fuels.

The Missouri project, a test that is very limited in scope, will involve the rebuilding of a portion of historic Route 66 near Conway, MO, with the solar panels, with the promise of producing
enough energy to power a nearby rest stop. Continue reading

Fukushima Five Years Later and US Nuclear Energy

Five years after the earthquake-tsunami caused destruction of Japan’s Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant, the world seems to have put the issue of nuclear contamination and the hundreds of time bombs percolating in most corners of the world out of sight and out of mind. Unfortunately, this is a monumental mistake on the part of most people, but it is tempered by by clearer thinking officials who, at least here in California and in some other US states, are taking some needed, though slow-motion, actions.

While little about Fukushima has been seen in the main stream US

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media over the past few years, the tragedy continues virtually unabated, and the risks are now greater than ever, with no viable solution or resolution in sight.

Today somewhere beneath the three devastated nuclear reactors are over 600 tons of melted radioactive fuel, and officials have neither any real idea exactly where the 600 tons are located, nor how to proceed
with removal and decontamination. Remember, Fukushima is on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, and since March 11, 2011, debris and radiation have been continually released in to the waters of the Pacific, Continue reading

Plastic in the Oceans – Far Worse Than Imagined

Back in December of 2013, I wrote “The Plastisphere”, about the giant colonies of microbe-infested plastic remnants that have grown and continue to grown in the world’s oceans. This is a monumental problem as sea life and water fowl feed off of them, leading to their suffering and death, and spreading bacteria even to humans.

But now recent studies have determined new and additional crises in the growing contamination of the oceans by plastic.

Several studies recently conducted through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation have investigated this ongoing process, including the latest one, “The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the future of plastics”, a product of Project MainStream, conducted under the auspices of the World Economic Forum.* Their reports of these studies advocate for the New Plastics Economy initiative and the “circular” economy, making the re-use of plastics a singular priority. Their reports show that goods worth over $2.6 trillion annually are sent to the world’s landfills and incineration plants, including 32% of plastic packaging that escapes collection systems. And much of this eventually ends up in the world’s oceans. Continue reading

Climate Change and Adapting For Our Future: Food Sources

First in a series

Back in 2012, I wrote an article for entitled “The Wine Industry and Climate Change”, discussing how many in the wine industry have accepted the reality of global climate change and were adapting to increased temperatures in wine growing regions.

Today, at a time when reactionary political forces who unfortunately retain positions of power in the United States continue to deny the existence of climate change and its worsening effects on the lives of all citizens, we are fortunate that scientists and progressive politicians are working together to find solutions to some of our most pressing needs. Continue reading

Solar Energy, Now and Forever

Recent news reports have uncovered the massive campaign financed by the Koch Brothers to stop the progression away from their cash cow of oil and gas energy and towards the cheapest and most abundant source of renewable energy, the sun. As state after state has made it possible, and profitable, for consumers to convert to solar power, reducing their power bills and selling excess energy back to utilities, the campaign has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to stop this.

In Oklahoma, for example, their efforts have resulted in the passage into law of SB 1456, creating a “Sun Tax”, new fees to be imposed on residents who install and obtain their household energy from solar panels. In Arizona, regulators last year gave the state’s largest utility authorization to Continue reading