Friday, October 13, 2017

Ya gotta laugh! Plastic rubbish in oceans due to "large rivers"

That almost all of the plastic rubbish in oceans comes from Third World countries they could not bear to say.  Western countries dispose of their garbage properly.  Banning plastic bags from Western supermarkets will achieve nothing as they were not the problem in the first place

Up to 95 per cent of plastic polluting the world's oceans pours in from just ten rivers, according to new research. The top 10 rivers - eight of which are in Asia - accounted for so much plastic because of the mismanagement of waste.

About five trillion pounds is floating in the sea, and targeting the major sources - such as the Yangtze and the Ganges - could almost halve it, scientists claim.

Massive amounts of plastic bits that imperil aquatic life are washing into the oceans and even the most pristine waters.

But how it all gets there from inland cities has not been fully understood.

Now a study shows the top 10 rivers - eight of which are in Asia - accounted for 88 to 95 per cent of the total global load because of the mismanagement of waste.

The team calculated halving plastic pollution in these waterways could potentially reduce the total contribution by all rivers by 45 per cent.

Dr Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, Germany, said: 'A substantial fraction of marine plastic debris originates from land-based sources and rivers potentially act as a major transport pathway for all sizes of plastic debris.'

His team analysed data on debris from 79 sampling sites along 57 rivers - both microplastic particles measuring less than 5 mm and macroplastic above this size.

Rivers which flow from inland areas to the seas are major transporters of plastic debris but the concentration patterns aren't well known. The findings could help fill in this knowledge gap.

Dr Schmidt pooled data from dozens of research articles and calculated the amount in rivers was linked to the 'mismanagement of plastic waste in their watersheds.' He said: 'The 10 top-ranked rivers transport 88-95 per cent of the global load into the sea.'

The study follows a recent report that pointed the finger at China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam for spewing out most of the plastic waste that enters the seas.

The Yangtze has been estimated in previous research to dump some 727 million pounds of plastic into the sea each year. The Ganges River in India is responsible for even more - about 1.2 billion pounds.

A combination of the Xi, Dong and Zhujiang Rivers (233 million lbs per year) in China as well as four Indonesian rivers: the Brantas (85 million lbs annually), Solo (71 million pounds per year), Serayu (37 million lbs per year) and Progo (28 million lbs per year), are all large contributors.

Previous research has also suggested two-thirds of plastic comes from the 20 most contaminated rivers. But Dr Schmidt reckons this can be narrowed down even further.

He said: 'The rivers with the highest estimated plastic loads are characterised by high population - for instance the Yangtze with over half a billion people.

'These rivers are also in countries with a high rate of mismanaged plastic waste (MMPW) production per capita as a result of a not fully implemented municipal waste management including waste collection, dumping and recycling.

'The data shows large rivers are particular efficient in transporting plastic debris. Large rivers like the Yangtze transport a higher fraction of the MMPW that is generated in their catchments than smaller rivers.

'These three factors lead to the estimated concentration of most of the plastic load to large rivers with a large population living in their catchment.

'Countries with high MMPW generation such as China or India could greatly reduce the plastic pollution of rivers by implementing proper waste management.

'In industrial countries, although they have a well developed waste management infrastrcuture, one way for plastic waste entering the environment is littering.'

More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the United States at No. 20.

The U.S. and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.

While China is responsible for 2.4 million tons of plastic that makes its way into the ocean, nearly 28 percent of the world total, the United States contributes just 77,000 tons, which is less than one percent, according to the study published in the journal Science.


Obama’s Climate Plan Was a Failure on All Ways

The Trump administration is dismantling President Barack Obama’s climate legacy piece by piece, and this week it’s taking an axe to arguably the biggest piece.

In an expected move, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt officially began the process of rolling back the incorrectly named Clean Power Plan.

If the Trump administration is intent on achieving 3 percent economic growth and rescinding costly regulations that carry negligible climate benefits—and if it is concerned about preserving our energy grid—the Clean Power Plan is a must-go.

Under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the Obama EPA formalized regulations to reduce carbon dioxide from existing power plants.

Using a name that surely message-tested well, the Clean Power Plan had nothing to do with eradicating hazardous pollutants from power generation. The U.S. already has laws on the books to protect Americans’ health from emissions that have adverse environmental impacts.

Instead, the Clean Power Plan regulated carbon dioxide, a colorless, odorless, nontoxic gas, because of its alleged contribution to climate change.

From Day One, Obama’s Clean Power Plan was fraught with problems—economically, environmentally, and legally.

For starters, families and businesses would have been hit with more expensive energy bills.

How so? The plan set specific limits on greenhouse gas emissions for each state based on the states’ electricity mix and offered “flexible” options for how states could meet the targets.

But no matter how states would have developed their plans, the economic damages would have been felt through higher energy costs, fewer job opportunities, and fewer energy choices for consumers.

The EPA’s idea of flexibility would not have softened the economic blow. It merely meant that Americans would have incurred higher costs through different mechanisms.

Environmentally, the climate impact of the Clean Power Plan would have been pointless. According to climatologist Paul Knappenberger:

Even if we implement the Clean Power Plan to perfection, the amount of climate change averted over the course of this century amounts to about 0.02 C. This is so small as to be scientifically undetectable and environmentally insignificant.

Legally, the Clean Power Plan was on shaky ground, to say the least. The regulation grossly exceeded the statutory authority of the EPA, violated the principles of cooperative federalism, and double-regulated existing power plants, which the Clean Air Act prohibits.

Take it from Laurence Tribe, Harvard University professor of constitutional law and a “liberal legal icon” who served in Obama’s Justice Department.

Tribe stated in testimony before Congress that the “EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the states, Congress, and the federal courts—all at once. Burning the Constitution should not become part of our national energy policy.”

It’s no surprise that more than half the states in the country petitioned the Supreme Court to pause implementation of the regulation, and judges obliged, issuing a stay in 2016.

Pruitt, who led the charge against a rogue EPA as attorney general in Oklahoma, will respect the limits of the EPA as head of the agency. The EPA will now go through the formal rule-making and public comment period in order to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

What comes after that remains to be seen. State attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts, as well as environmental activist groups, are lining up to sue. The EPA could offer a far less stringent replacement regulation, which some industry groups are pushing for to buttress against lawsuits.

If members of Congress are fed up that policy continues to be made through the executive branch with a phone and a pen, they should step to the plate and legislate.

In this case, the solution is clear. The Clean Air Act was never intended to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Congress should pass legislation prohibiting the EPA and other agencies from implementing harmful regulations that stunt economic growth and produce futile climate benefits.


Rolling Back Obama EPA Rule Could Save $33 Billion

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, answers a question during the Concordia Summit on Sept. 19 in New York. (Photo: Jeenah Moon/Reuters/Newscom)
Reversing an Obama administration energy regulation will save energy companies $33 billion in compliance costs through 2030—costs that would have otherwise been borne by consumers, senior Trump administration officials said in providing details about scrapping the plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan, placing the proposed repeal in the Federal Register and giving stakeholders 60 days to submit public comment.

The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce carbon emissions by one-third by 2030. However, it ran into multiple lawsuits from more than 150 entities, including 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric cooperatives, and three labor unions, according to the EPA. On top of that, 34 senators and 171 House members filed an amicus briefing arguing the Clean Power Plan was illegal. On Feb. 9, 2016, the Supreme Court halted the implementation of the program.

The Trump administration argues the Obama policy intruded on “cooperative federalism.” Previously, the EPA would set the process for regulating carbon emissions and states would decide on standards and implementation. Under the Obama rule, the EPA decided on state standards and implementation, the Trump EPA contends.

The EPA will review what the next step after the repeal of the rule is and if any further regulation is warranted, according to a summary from the agency. The agency states that the Clean Air Act is a source for authority but is also carefully crafted to limit what the agency does.

On March 28, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to establish a national policy on energy independence. The executive order was to promote the developing U.S. energy sources and reduce regulation. That day, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed four Federal Register notices in response to the executive order that included a review of the Clean Power Plan.

On Monday, Pruitt was in coal country in Hazard, Kentucky to announce the plan to roll back the regulation, where he reportedly said, “The war on coal is over. … I’ll be signing a proposed rule to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration and thus begin the effort to withdraw that rule.”

The environmental lobby reacted angrily, as Greenpeace Climate Director Kelly Mitchell called Pruitt “a dangerously corrupt fossil fuel errand boy” in a prepared statement.

“Pruitt is trying to gut the EPA’s Supreme Court-confirmed power to regulate dangerous climate pollution so these same companies can avoid accountability for fueling climate chaos,” Mitchell said. “Fortunately, utilities, cities, Fortune 500 companies, and people around the world are all moving towards renewable energy despite Scott Pruitt’s cynical attempt to delay the inevitable.”


Environmentalist Lobby Goes After Another Trump Nominee For Being A Christian

It looks like it’s open season for anti-Christian bigots to hunt down and destroy any Christian nominated to public office—especially environmental free thinkers.

Remember when Bernie Sanders passionately attacked budget office nominee Russell Vought because Vought believes salvation comes only by faith in Jesus Christ—something Christianity has taught for two millennia?

It looks like it’s open season for anti-Christian bigots to hunt down and destroy any Christian nominated to public office—especially if that Christian doesn’t toe the line of environmental political correctness. Forget Article 6 of the Constitution insisting “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Michael Dourson, whom Trump has nominated to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) chemical safety office, is taking the same kind of fire. Dourson is an environmental health professor in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine. He’s a “board-certified toxicologist with an international reputation for excellence in environmental risk assessment.” He’s co-published more than 150 papers on risk assessment methods and chemical-specific analyses.

But he’s also a Christian who, like any serious Christian, tries to integrate his faith with all his life. That just doesn’t sit well with some folks.

Cue the Outrageous Outrage

Raymond Barfield, a professor of pediatrics and Christian philosophy at Duke University, is upset. It seems Dourson wrote that chemical analysis provides some evidence that the Shroud of Turin—which allegedly wrapped Jesus in his burial—might be authentic. Dourson’s not sure. Sounds like the attitude of a good scientist to me.

But there’s more. Dourson isn’t convinced that the chemical risks from flame-retardant fabrics outweigh the fire-prevention benefits. He points out that “exposures from consumer products were much lower” than those involved in a study claiming significant risk. That’s a fairly typical weakness of many environmental risk studies. They expose laboratory animals to extremely high levels of a suspect chemical, discover ill effects, then try to extrapolate to human risk at much lower exposure levels.

Barfield disagrees, and seeks to discredit Dourson because he made $10,000 consulting for a flame retardant industry group. Dourson had questioned a study warning of potential harm from flame retardant chemicals because it hadn’t been replicated yet. That’s confusing, because replication is the hallmark of good science.

As a professor of philosophy, which usually requires some knowledge of logic, Barfield should know that attacking Dourson’s motives because of money commits the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem circumstantial. He further labeled Dourson’s argument that the risks from fires are higher than the risks from fire-retardant chemicals as “pure utilitarianism.” That label’s red meat for Christians.

At the root of the philosophy of utilitarianism is a denial of moral absolutes, which makes it incompatible with Christian faith. But Christian ethics doesn’t forbid all consideration of consequences.

Yes, Christianity teaches that some acts are wrong in principle because they transgress the moral law (1 John 3:4) and therefore cannot be justified by any appeal to consequences. But it also teaches that attention to consequences is part of wisdom: “For which of you,” Jesus said, “intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28, New Revised Standard Version). “The prudent see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3).


Weather-company CEO is Trump's pick to lead climate agency

Barry Myers would bring private weather-forecasting experience to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Barry Myers, the chief executive of weather-forecasting firm AccuWeather, is US President Donald Trump's pick to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the White House said on 11 October.

Myers, an attorney by training, has led AccuWeather — based in State College, Pennsylvania — since 2007. This experience could prove useful if the US Senate confirms Myers as NOAA's chief, given that the agency includes the US National Weather Service. But some scientists worry that Myers' ties to AccuWeather could present conflicts of interest, and note that Myers has no direct experience with the agency’s broader research portfolio, which includes the climate, oceans and fisheries.

“I think the science community has real cause for concern,” says Andrew Rosenberg, head of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Rosenberg notes that Myers was an early proponent of carving out a larger role for the private sector in providing weather services. And in 2005, while Myers served as executive vice president and general counsel, AccuWeather lobbied for legislation to prevent the National Weather Service from competing with private firms in providing products including basic weather forecasting. “Is he going to recuse himself from decisions which might potentially be of interest to his company down the road?” asks Rosenberg.

A different perspective

Myers will probably advance efforts to bring commercial weather data into the national weather-forecasting system, says Bill Gail, chief technology officer for the Global Weather Corporation in Boulder, Colorado. Still, Gail says, Myers respects the importance of the public sector in such activities. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him, and I think he could do a pretty good job,” adds Gail, the co-chair of a decadal survey of US Earth-science satellites being conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

If Myers ascends to NOAA's top job, he will lead an agency facing an uncertain financial future. Trump has proposed slashing NOAA's budget by 17% in fiscal year 2018, compared to the 2017 level of $5.7 billion. While Congress has so far rebuffed Trump's attempts to cut funding for several key science agencies, funding for the 2018 budget year — which began on 1 October — is still up the air. The government is currently running on a stopgap spending bill that will expire on 8 December, prompting another round of budget negotiations.

Ultimately, Myers will need to build a solid team to handle the full NOAA portfolio, says Antonio Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. “He’s going to face a lot of challenges, but the bottom line is that Barry does bring a lot of relevant experience to the table.”




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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