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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Monday, January 11, 2010

11 Jan - Quick Picks

Chemicals in flasks (including Ammonium hydrox...Image via Wikipedia
New Solvent Technologies to Replace Use of Harmful Toxic Acids
Scientists at the University of Leicester are spearheading the development of new ways to replace harmful, carcinogenic, toxic acids and electrolytes which are currently used in many commercial metal finishing and energy storage processes.

A team of academics, PhD students and PostDoc researchers from the University of Leicester's Department of Chemistry has received over รข‚¬1 million funding to develop and apply environmentally friendly solvents.

The researchers have developed ionic liquids solvents which provide a safe, non-toxic, environmentally friendly alternative to harmful solutions. These new liquids can act as "drop-in" replacement technology, and perform as well as, or even better than, existing processes.

Freak Current Takes Gulf Stream to Greenland
You've Been Warned...

2010-01-01 14:05:45
Global warming denial on top of a conspiracy theory about it is a bannable offense. Do not repeat.
I understand the above warning (posting is no longer allowed until this is acknowledged).

A coal mine in Wyoming. Coal, produced over mi...Image via Wikipedia
Black lung on the rise among US coal miners
A picture of a mountaintop removal siteWork co...Image via Wikipedia
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/blac-j11.shtmlSince 1997, both the rate and number of US coal miners with black lung disease have been rising, reversing decades of decline. In addition, the severity of the disease and the rapidity of its progression are increasing, and it is occurring more frequently among younger miners.

In recent years, the number of black lung cases has doubled. Its rise among younger workers is especially troubling, since they have spent their entire careers supposedly protected by safety standards developed in the 1970s to prevent the disease.

Health officials cite the longer hours miners are working, worsening conditions in the mines, and the drive to get coal from more difficult locations as reasons for the increase.

More than 10,000 miners have died from black lung in the past 10 years, compared to 400 miners who have died from accidents over the same period. The number of fatalities is expected to rise as more miners become incapacitated by this debilitating disease.

Scientists in U.S. call for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining

QIANWEI COUNTY, CHINA - OCTOBER 5:  Workers un...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
‘In a paper published today in the journal Science, the researchers say mountaintop removal, widespread in West Virginia, southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky, is destroying extensive tracts of biologically rich forest and degrading hundreds of streams. Fish and drinking-water wells are being contaminated, while the air downwind is fouled with high levels of hazardous dust.’
Valley fill - Mountaintop removal coal mining ...Image via Wikipedia

–The Baltimore Sun

Contributing factors such as environmental degradation, human and ecological health, conservation, water quality and deforestation have spurred scientists in the United States to come together and demand a halt to destructive mountaintop removal coal mining. The practice, which is common in the mountainous region of Appalachia in the Eastern United States, involves blasting the peaks of mountains in order to get at the coal seams within. The resulting rock, earth and dust are then bulldozed into streams and the land leveled. The topography is transformed from forested mountains into bleak wasteland, and many residents and scientists claim that the waterways and environment become dangerously contaminated. Mountaintop removal mining exists in several states including Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania, but is most common – and controversial – in the traditional coal state of West Virginia.

This environmental blog from the Baltimore Sun newspaper has more information from a regional perspective. A similar piece in the Guardian highlights the scientists’ pressure on the Obama administration to end the destructive mining practice in the form of an article published by the scientists in the journal Science.

‘The article described river and forest systems that have been disrupted well downstream from the original dumping spot of mining debris. It also said there was virtually no chance of restoring mountain, forests or streams once the mining companies have moved on to new seams.’


The presence of deformed, poisoned fish, manifold dangers to human health, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s continued approval of new mining projects prompted the scientists to act with as much emphasis and strength as they could muster.

‘Margaret Palmer, an ecologist at the University of Maryland Centre for Environmental Science, who led the study, said the science left no excuse for the Obama administration not to ban the highly destructive practice.’

Egypt tombs suggest pyramids not built by slaves

New tombs found in Giza support the view that the Great Pyramids were built by free workers and not slaves, as widely believed, Egypt's chief archaeologist said on Sunday.

Films and media have long depicted slaves toiling away in the desert to build the mammoth pyramids only to meet a miserable death at the end of their efforts.

"These tombs were built beside the king's pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves," Zahi Hawass, the chief archaeologist heading the Egyptian excavation team, said in a statement.

"If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king's."

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