Another oil rig explosion?

Thursday witnessed the explosion of another Gulf oil rig, this one in much shallower water than the Deepwater Horizon. According to Care2.com, the rig was undergoing maintenance at the time of the explosion, and all 13 workers evacuated safely, then were rescued by the Coast Guard a few hours later. Because the well was not producing at the time, it did not result in the kind of oil spill seen earlier this year with the BP well.

However — there is one small incongruity. When the explosion first occurred, the rig operator reported seeing a mile-long oil slick. The Coast Guard stated that when it arrived 2-3 hours later, there was no sign of a spill.

Which story is correct? Why did the operator report seeing a slick? I don’t see any motivation for that. On the other hand, the CG may have had a great deal of motivation for hiding the truth, considering what a huge debacle Deepwater Horizon was for everyone concerned.

I just wish I could hop on a ‘copter and see.

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Hazardous Waste — again

The number of deaths from cancer near the town of Frederick, MD, are reminiscent of the movie “Erin Brokovich,” and in fact, the law office where the famous lawyer works has been tapped to manage a class action lawsuit brought by Frederick residents against the nearby Army post, Fort Detrick.

Agent Orange, a well known defoliant and carcinogen, was researched and developed by the military at Fort Detrick (and other locations) during the ’70s.  Testing of groundwater near the fort has shown contamination by Agent Orange and other related chemicals.

Fort Detrick has just recently finished capping its hazardous waste dumps to prevent them from entering the groundwater — a task it began back in 1992.

This is another example of technology rushing ahead with no thought of the possible consequences.  Technology typically develops much faster than safe practices and morals; thus humanity is forever cleaning up messes that could have been prevented. The BP oil spill is another good example.

Right now there is a great debate on who should be responsible for making sure that safety rules are followed: should it be the company itself (or similar entity), or should a governmental agency set standards and provide accountability through inspections?

The question isn’t easy to answer. Government can get out of control, particularly if a gung-ho over the top employee is head of the agency. On the other hand, companies look out for their shareholders interests first. They have to. A conflict develops between doing things safely and doing them cheaply. Typically the scale tips towards cheaply, and the company just prays that nothing will ever happen….

Until it does, at which time they begin chasing their tails, trying to find someone to blame, and maybe spending a bit of time and money on fixing the actual problem.

I know that Stockholders Are People Too. I don’t disparage their right to make money in the stock market — that’s what it’s there for. However, companies and agencies (like Fort Detrick) cannot, must not forget that there is a larger world beyond their stockholders. And this larger world deserves consideration.

Iran’s New Bomber

Now that Iran has a nuclear power plant, the next logical step is making nuclear weapons. Forget for the moment that Iran’s leader, Ahmadinejad,  says they won’t make any.

Iran has, however, just unveiled its new unmanned drone bomber, named Karrar (Farsi for striker). Ahmadinejad calls it Iran’s “Ambassador of Death.” Is this the means by which Iran can attack Israel as well as other countries (even America)?

Msnbc reports,

“The scope of Iran’s reaction will include the entire earth,” said Ahmadinejad. “We also tell you — the West — that all options are on the table.”

As far as I’m concerned, this is clearly a warning to Western Europe as well as the U.S.  It is more likely that Europe would be hit rather than the US, but no possibilities can be excluded at this point.

Mankind’s Giant Puzzle

I have been reading news stories as well as watching the 3 main cable news channels, trying to piece together the puzzle of what is really happening on our planet. What would an alien race think of us if they were watching us invisibly, able to go everywhere and see everything?

They would see hypocrisy in the moralizing preachers and public figures who claim to stand for “family values” then are caught in adultery, prostitution, or pornography. And in particular, “Christians” whose life choices are so far from Christ’s –who welcomed foreigners rather than fearing them — that the term “Christian” seems like a travesty.

They would see the United States slipping in economic stability, infant mortality, civil rights (read the Patriot Act) and education while legislators play games of “musical  amendments” and “hot issue”. Childishly they guard their fortresses, the donkey and the elephant scarcely remembering that they are both animals.

They would see our impulsiveness and widespread inability to wait for anything. Perhaps they would wonder why we didn’t pay more attention to long term goals, and instead polluted the air, tore down the mountains, contaminated the water, and designed ever new and ready means to check out of life for awhile.

I doubt that they would consider us a threat to them, at least not at present. They would consider it much more likely that we would destroy ourselves.

China vs. Washington — Steve Wynn

I have no idea of Wynn’s breadth of knowledge on this particular subject, so I can’t judge the validity of his ideas. However, it “tastes” like truth to me.

Steve Wynn Takes on Washington

The Ghost of Groceries Past

Did you know that, according to a study by the USDA in 1997, the average American wastes 26% of food purchased every year?

In 2004, the University of Arizona estimated this value to be even higher, around 40-50%.

What is the importance of this?

1. Even considering the fact that some of that food is inedible, the rest could serve to feed people in the U.S. or outside that do not have enough to eat, especially children in poverty.

2. A valuable resource is lost when the percentage of the discarded food that could be composted, isn’t.

3. Wasted food in landfills decomposes and negatively effects the atmosphere.

Eric Steinman on Care2.com writes,

Once all of this decomposing food hits the landfill (whether it is contained in plastic bags or not) it continues breaking down and creating large amounts of methane gas, which is well known for contributing to the long dreaded greenhouse effect.

When food is wasted, the delicate balance of the food chain is disrupted. Earth’s ecology demands that every participant remain in the food chain through one means or another. In the case of food we do eat, this is done by processing sewage. But if uneaten food goes into a landfill — especially if it’s in a plastic bag — the food is less accessible to other organisms such as insects and bacteria that would normally return it to the food chain.

We’ve known for a long time that, like the Fellowship of the Ring, “the Quest (ecology) stands at the edge of a knife; stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all.” We hope that it has not already failed.

Addition: Visit the Green Info, Inspiration, and Action Blog for daily Green-up tips!

More Disasters — Natural and Man-made

I can’t be sure if this collection of natural disasters is unusual or just part of the normal cycles of nature. However, the man-made disasters are clearly the product of human failure to take care of our planet.

Natural

South American cold snap

Flash flooding in Kashmir

Pakistan flooding

Moscow smog from wildfires (may be man-made)

— and heatwave

Indonesian volcano erupts (others also erupted recently)

Man-Made

Cyber-terrorism and power plants

Oil spills — Gulf of Mexico and China (see previous posts)

Drug-resistant bacteria

6 Man-Made Disasters Just Waiting to Happen

Doesn’t look good, does it? And these are only a few. A notable disaster that has happened several times in 2010 is an earthquake. There have been so many earthquakes, it seems that Mother Earth has indigestion.

On the other hand, Discovery News reported in April that the elevated number of significant earthquakes was within normal limits, and according to seismologists, there was no reason to fear “the end.”

Time will tell.

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