Tag Archives: Environmental

Dominican Republic: The Lake That Burned Down A Forest


VICE News travels to the Dominican Republic, site of a looming environmental and economic crisis many experts believe is the result of climate change.

Lake Enriquillo is the largest lake in the Caribbean — and for the past 10 years, it’s been getting larger. Having already doubled in area, the lake is destroying everything in its path and displacing local residents who are being forced to take extreme measures to survive.

The Lake That Burned Down A Forest (Part 1)

After seeing the devastation Lake Enriquillo’s massive growth has inflicted on the region, VICE News meets residents who have lost everything and finds out what they’re now doing in order to survive.

The Lake That Burned Down A Forest (Part 2)

VICE News heads into the hills near Lake Enriquillo to see how people whose livelihoods have been ruined by the lake’s unstoppable expansion are now surviving. What we find is that many have become involved with the black-market charcoal trade. As they cut down and burn trees to make the charcoal — labor-intensive work that isn’t very lucrative — they actually contribute to the climate change that probably led to the lake’s growth in the first place.

The Lake That Burned Down A Forest (Part 3)

In response to Lake Enriquillo’s rapid rise and expansion, a black-market charcoal trade has flourished, and Haiti is the Dominican Republic’s biggest customer. In part 4, VICE News heads to the Dominican Republic’s largest open-air market, on the border between the two countries, to witness this trade in action.

The Lake That Burned Down A Forest (Part 4)

As with all catastrophes it is the poorest nations that suffer the most.

Vice News.

Fracking firm ‘underplayed’ heavy lorries needed for Sussex drilling


Shale gas site picture by DECC

Fracking company Celtique Energie presented data that hugely underplayed the number of heavy lorries needed for its planned drilling operations in Sussex, according to local highway officials. Other experts for the South Downs national park, in which Celtique plans to drill, said the company’s claims about noise were “opaque” and underestimated the increase in noise levels.

Celtique denies submitting misleading environmental statements. But it has sought to delay meetings at which its planning applications are decided while revised statements are put forward. If the delay is not granted, the company has said it will withdraw and re-submit the application, which would drive up planning costs. Ministers have repeatedly stated that the UK has “the most robust regulatory regime in the world for shale gas”.

As part of its planning application, Celtique claimed heavy goods vehicle (HGV) traffic would increase by 11-13 per cent at its Wisborough Green site, but highway officials from West Sussex council concluded the actual increase would be 50-64 per cent. The council made a similar objection about Celtique’s nearby Fernhurst site, with officials concluding the traffic assessment was not “a realistic or accurate representation”.

“It beggars belief and it is very concerning,” said Marcus Adams, who lives a few hundred metres from the Fernhurst site. “If Celtique can’t even do a traffic survey properly how can they drill safely? The government says we have gold-plated regulation for fracking, but I don’t believe it.”

Simon Clydesdale, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “The pollution and disruption from industrial lorries clogging up small country lanes is one of people’s main concerns about the impact of fracking. This is an area where energy firms should be scrupulously upfront and transparent with local communities. This is a major blow to Celtique’s credibility and their efforts to win the trust of local people.”

A company spokesman said: “Celtique have been very careful not to be misleading. We believe we have been overly cautious in our environmental statements and presented the ‘worst case’ in all areas. Our reputation is important to us as a responsible operator. We are confident this will all be demonstrated soon.”

In September 2013, the chief executive of Celtique, Geoff Davies, said: “We recognise that the vehicle movements associated with the proposals has been a key issue for many.” He said the environmental statements submitted at that time were “comprehensive”. However, the company now says it will submit a new traffic analysis shortly. “Celtique are currently preparing a response to these objections and are confident that the points raised can be adequately addressed in our response,” the spokesman said.

The planning decision meeting for the proposed Wisborough Green well is due to take place on Tuesday, unless Celtique’s request for a delay until September is granted. The main objection raised by West Sussex highways officials centred on the fact that Celtique’s baseline traffic survey had counted any vehicle over 1.5 tonnes as a heavy goods vehicle, despite the official Design Manual for Roads and Bridges giving 3.5 tonnes as the minimum weight of an HGV. “[Celtique's] interpretation and conclusions included 4×4 vehicles, such as a Range Rover, as HGVs which serves to inflate ‘baseline’ figures for existing HGV movements,” the officials said.

The planning decision for Fernhurst was due on 10 July, but has already been delayed to September after West Sussex highway officials made a similar objection. The Fernhurst site lies in the South Downs national park and its governing authority commissioned an expert analysis of Celtique’s environmental statement.

The report concluded: “We have concerns regarding the adequacy of the groundwater and noise assessments and do not believe that these are sufficiently robust to allow the impact to be assessed with an appropriate level of rigour.” The report’s authors said the noise impact calculations were “opaque and not reproducible” and that their own calculations suggested noise “levels exceed the adopted limit, suggesting that those reported in the environmental statement may be underestimates.”

In May, Celtique abandoned plans to drill horizontally out from its Fernhurst site and under other people’s land, but still plans to drill vertical wells.

This article first appeared at the Guardian

News from BusinessGreen.

IBM accidentally invents self-healing recyclable plastic


IBM has accidentally discovered an entirely new class of thermosetting polymer that is lightweight, stronger than bone, 100 percent recyclable and can self-heal. Today, most of the widely used polymers that are strong and lightweight tend not to be recyclable. These experimental polymers could be cheaper, lighter and decrease waste in landfills.

Researcher Jeannette Garcia had been working on another type of polymer when the solution in her flask suddenly and unexpectedly hardened — she had forgotten to add a reagent to the mix of chemicals. When the milk material hardened into a chunk, gluing her stirring bar into place, she tried to grind it with a pestle and mortar before hitting it with a hammer, but the chunk would not smash. “It was one of those serendipitous discoveries,” Garcia told Popular Mechanics.

Garcia wasn’t entirely sure how the new polymer had been created and so worked with IBM’s computational chemistry team — led by James Hedrick — to work back to the mechanism that caused the reaction.  Continue reading

UKIP U Slip

Environmental: What climate denial, oil addiction and xenophobia have in common: Neocons


In February, Roy Greenslade reported that US conservative media outfit Breitbart News Network was expanding into the British media scene with the establishment of a London office. Heading up Breitbart’s new UK operations are executive editor James Delingpole and managing editor Raheem Kassem.

The expansion – which Delingpole himself effectively concedes is about “pandering to readers’ prejudices” to maximise profits – reveals the worrying extent to which the forces behind climate denial and racism are one and the same: “American conservativism” of the “right-wing libertarianist” kind.

Anti-science

Given Delingpole’s track record of fundamentalist opposition to climate science at the Telegraph, it is hardly surprising that Breitbart UK’s environmental reporting standards sink to an unprecedented low.

In one story this month, for instance, Delingpole lauded a new US poll which found that: “More Americans believe in God than in man-made global warming.” Only thirty-three per cent of respondents, the poll showed, are confident that average global temperatures are rising mostly due to human-caused greenhouse gasses.

Breitbart comes to London, and the results are a sorry stain on British journalism

Delingpole mockingly dismissed the explanation of Nobel Prize winning biochemist, Prof Robert Leftkowitz: that public opinion is being misled by “the force of concerted campaigns to discredit scientific fact” – largely funded by the fossil fuel industry, as documented in a recent extensive study in Climatic Change.

Rather, said Delingpole:

“Perhaps he should venture out of the biochemistry lab a bit more often. If he did so, he would realise that the 67 per cent who had doubts about greenhouse gas theory are almost certainly correct.”

Delingpole’s scientific evidence for this is the alleged inability of broadly accurate if conservative (rather than alarmist) computer models to account for “real world data” – data which he completely fails to understand, hence his endorsement of the fictional “pause in global warming since 1997.”

Anti-activism

Similarly, another story this month by Breitbart political correspondent, Andre Walker – a former Tory political aide who resigned after being caught plotting to smear a deputy council leader lent unwarranted credence to a new report by the anti-climate policy advocacy group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

One of GWPF’s funders is Tory Party donor Michael Hintze, head of $5bn hedge-fund CQS which operates in the oil finance industry, among other areas. The report claimed that “environmentalism” had come to “permeate school curricula across the UK,” resulting in children being “brainwashed” by climate change activism.  Continue reading

oil test at Balcombe

Environmental: Cuadrilla gets green light for oil test at Balcombe


A view of the drill site operated by Cuadrilla Resources LtdA view of the drill site operated by Cuadrilla Resources Ltd on 17 August, 2013 in Balcombe, West Sussex. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

UK shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla has been given the green light to test oil extraction in Balcombe, the West Sussex village that saw major anti-fracking protests last summer.

Shale gas explorer gets approval from county council to test oil flow rates at site that saw anti-fracking protests.

At a planning committee meeting that had to be adjourned at one point due to people disrupting it, West Sussex county council approved the company’s application to undertake tests to see how fast oil would flow at a site on the outskirts of the village.

The committee’s decision at County Hall North in Horsham on Tuesday was reportedly announced to cries of “shame on you” by some residents. Over 100 people attended the meeting.

Heidi Brunsdon, chairman of the committee, said: “I thought the debate was robust. Members gave all the issues a good airing and the further conditions we agreed might not go as far as some would have wanted, but we feel they were proportionate and fair in addressing the issues that members of the committee had surrounding this application.” Monitoring of light and sound from the site were two of the conditions imposed on the approval.

Cuadrilla submitted a planning application in January for an oil flow test at the well it drilled last year.

The company has said it will not conduct fracking, the controversial process of injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to release shale gas, at the Balcombe site. “Cuadrilla will not be carrying out hydraulic fracturing at the Lower Stumble site now or in the future,” it said in a recent statement.

Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth’s south east campaigner, told the Evening Argus: “We are extremely disappointed that councillors have not listened to local people. This is an attempt by Cuadrilla to set the wheels in motion for dirty fossil fuel extraction. We need the council and our government to push forward with clean energy solutions.

Keith Taylor, the Green party MEP for south-east England, said he was disappointed by the decision. “Residents had raised very serious concerns about air and water pollution, noise and traffic, as well as the impacts on the countryside and the community. I fear that today’s decision will open the door to the dangerous dinosaur fossil fuel industry across south east England.”

Charles Metcalfe, spokeswoman for Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association, said: “For the Weald [which runs across Sussex], this Balcombe planning application is a thin end of the wedge. This will be an emblematic planning decision that may determine whether a whole lot of other oil and gas companies pile in afterwards – or think twice. It’s a decision that will affect communities right across Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Hampshire, and of course beyond. We shall fight.”

Source The Guardian.