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“Wine Country” in the US Shaken After Massive Earthquake

Written on August 25, 2014 at 1:14 am, by

The city of Napa in California was engulfed in flames, damaged some century-old wineries and historic buildings, and sent more than a hundred people into hospitals after a magnitude-6.0 earthquake hit. It had ruptured water and gas lines. The earthquake struck at 3:20 AM.

Napa residents ran out of their homes and remained in open areas fearing aftershocks to return to their own homes. Napa’s downtown area saw huge boulders and broken glass littered all over the street. Some historic, Victorian-era buildings had huge holes, rendering them unhabitable.

About 120 people injured during the earthquake are now confined in the Queen of the Valley Medical Centre in Napa. To avoid disorder, the officials have set up a triage. Many of the injured had huge cuts, bumps and bruises. Twelve people were in critical condition.

Around 60 main water lines have been ruptured and six gigantic fires began in the city, which exhausted the Napa Fire Department’s efforts to contain the situation. The fires began at mobile home parks. The delayed arrival of the pumper trucks due to the ruptured water lines made it impossible to quickly put out the fires.

Many of the wineries have lost 300-400 bottles and the harvesting of grapes would be delayed a few more days.


Fracking Can Impact Wildlife According to FEE

Written on August 14, 2014 at 3:11 am, by

A peer-reviewed research by the Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (FEE) said that only a handful of research tackled the environmental consequences of fracking or hydraulic fracturing shale’s effects on the environment. As North America continues its fracking activities, the FEE’s study showed the impact of the fracking boom on wildlife and the environment.

According to the ecologists studying the effects of fracking, earlier researchers did not conduct analysis of water, air and wildlife impacts. According to University of Wisconsin Ecologist Sara Souther, one of the researchers, chemical contamination of the ground and surface water is happening with fracking, but the consequences of such are minimally explained due to the lack of analysis for water.

Souther also highlighted that local governments are not even asking fracking companies about reporting minor spills and accidents. They only encourage companies to report, but not to report mandatory.

Meanwhile, the industry said that no long-term water contamination effects is possible, but Souther became wary of the baseline studies that were not conducted in an area before fracking began.

The US Environmental Protection Agency also does not regulate the chemicals used in shale gas wells. According to researchers, about 75 percent of shale gas wells have used an undisclosed chemical in their wells, which could be a potential contaminant.

Shale gas accounts for 39% of natural gas production in the United States.


UK’s Energy and Environment Ministers Opposed Development of Green Energy

Written on July 17, 2014 at 10:58 am, by

The Energy Minister Matthew Hancock had called to cut wind power subsidies, which the new Energy and Environment Ministers echoed on Tuesday. The opposition of the development of renewable energy was the first in history. The Energy and Environment Ministers had also supported the development of fracking and agreed that Green subsidies are damaging the UK’s steady economic development.

Hancock said that he supports green and renewable energy, but he opposes the execution as it must give leeway for the economy in a way that it will also not destroy the environment. He also opposed the turbine instalment in Suffolk because it affects the aesthetic of the Suffolk rural region.

Liz Truss, the new Environment Secretary and Employee of Shell, said renewable energy was “extremely expensive.” She said that she would like to see the rollback of green taxes because she sees that the UK’s lead in implementing green taxes is alarming because the energy generation in the country is becoming greatly expensive.

Truss became more controversial when she said that she will support fracking and that shale gas is used in the country. She was also considering the use of nuclear power in the United Kingdom to help reduce the hazards brought about by conventional power generation. She had made no more mention of fracking, or the killing of badgers in different rural areas of the country, in her later statements.

Both Truss and Hancock have made no public statements about climate change and their plans to counter-act its continuing hazardous effects.


EU Pollution Limits Broken By UK’s Cities

Written on July 11, 2014 at 5:33 am, by

The UK streets are quite rife with Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), especially in London, Birmingham and Leeds. Environmentalists estimate that London will break the given EU pollution limit by the year 2030. However, UK had already broken the EU limit since 2010.

The UK had faced several legal actions against the UK government, which potentially had it fined for £300m yearly for infractions.

New studies and projections indicate that UK NO2 emissions will be broken once again 5-10 years later, as levels in the Greater London Urban Area, West Midlands nad West Yorkshire urban area may be put in breach.

Environmentalists owe this to the high volume of vehicles in London’s highways and streets. Diesel vehicles are the major polluters of NO2 emissions.

NO2 could induce asthma in sensitive individuals, whereas it could also increase the risk of having lung cancer and heart failure. Public Health England said air pollution causes 29,000 deaths yearly in the country.

According to ClientEarth, a legal firm representing environmental issues, the UK seems not to comply with the limits, which would affect the country’s environmental future. Legal representative for ClientEarth Alan Andrews also pointed out that the UK government is hiding behind procedural rules to keep the environmental issue quiet.


US To Take Vital Action on Overfishing and Pollution in World Oceans

Written on June 18, 2014 at 1:49 am, by

According to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the world’s oceans are becoming a colossal security problem. He said that overfishing and ocean pollution should stop as soon as possible. Kerry had pointed out that mankind has damaged the oceans terribly and can make food shortage a big problem.

Speaking at a conference, Kerry had called on world leaders to take massive steps against environmental disasters. Large doses of aerial pollution and carbon dioxide are also affecting weather patterns and ocean chemistry, which could also kill water-based life. Kerry said that the protection of the ocean is an international security issue.

US President Barack Obama will be using executive powers to combat massive pollution and other environmental hazards to preserve and protect them.

Environmental groups are also looking to the US President for a new task force to guard against illegal fishing. They are also calling on the government to increase funding for ocean chemistry research.

Leaders are also asked to stop plastic waste from ending up in the sea and how to avoid possible ocean deadzones.

Poor countries were the ones suffering the most with regards to overfishing and pollution as developed nations have better management of fish stocks and lots. Some still use arcane methods of fishing, such as dynamite, which could destroy entire coral homes where fishes live.


IUCN Warns of the Impending Extinction of Lemurs

Written on June 13, 2014 at 1:53 am, by

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature reports that 90% of lemurs are now facing extinction as they are considered the world’s most threatened species. The lemurs have now joined the IUCN’s “red list”, which includes 73,000 endangered species of animals all over the world. Lemurs are now part of the 22,103 critically endangered species vulnerable to extinction.

The destruction of tropical forests in Madagascar, due to increased illegal logging increased by poverty and “politicking”, are leading to the lemur’s extinction. Almost 90% of Madagascar’s forests and vegetation have been destroyed. Locals also hunt lemurs as food.

According to the IUCN, lemurs must be preserved. They can contribute to the tourism ventures of Madagascar and they serve a big role in the ecosystems of Madagascar.

The Slipper Orchids in North America are also found to be facing extinction. About 70% of the world’s orchids are now facing a threat of over-collection and habitat loss. Despite preservation methods, the Orchids will need its own natural habitat.

The Japanese Eel, Banana Orchid and Brazilian Three-Banded Armadillo are also facing extinction on a critical level as the IUCN includes them in their red list. Many of these animals have lost their habitats due to industrial ventures and over-capturing or hunting of the species.


IUCN Denounces Tasmanian Forest Reduction

Written on May 19, 2014 at 3:07 am, by

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had denounced the Australian government’s plans to remove large parts o the Tasmanian forest from the World Heritage Zone. According to the group, the Australian government has no justification for removing 74,00 hectares of Tasmanian forest and it only provides “relatively scant information” to support its case.

According to the Australian government, there are more than 100 “degraded” areas from previous illegal logging activities in the protected zone. They only wish to open up the zone to the forestry industry to revitalize and boost the Australian economy.

The IUCN also blasted the proposals because they appear to reinstate threats noted by the World Heritage Committee. The proposals made potential increase in illegal logging activities and additional fire risks as something possible, despite the safety of the forest very eminent.

The Australian Coalition government has plans to re-draw Tasmania’s world heritage map. However, it is a huge setback for the government if the World Heritage Committee decides against the government’s plan. The WHC’s decision also considers the IUCN’s recommendations very heavily.

According to an Australian senate query published the previous week, less than 5% of the 74,000 hectares have been disturbed, and justifying the removal of large portions of the forests is not possible with having only such information.


Studies Confirm that Irreversible Ice Sheet Collapse Has Begun This year

Written on May 14, 2014 at 3:16 am, by

NASA and the University of Washington had conducted two separate studies, which showed evidence that the Antarctic ice sheets have begun melting and collapsing at a rate faster than expected.  The irreversible ice sheet will completely melt within more than several centuries, at least 1,000 more years away, according to scientists.

The loss of the Antarctic ice sheet could cause an increase of up to 13 feet of sea water globally, which could harm coastal areas all over the world.

The two separate studies confirmed that the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has started even if greenhouse gas cuts become implemented.

The studies also suggest sea levels will rise higher than the IPCC report’s prediction earlier this year.

NASA’s study showed that Antarctica’s glaciers, around six of them, have retreated and thinned, contributing to current global sea-water rise of about 1.2m or four feet around the world.

The University of Washington detailed the Thwaites Glacier may be lost in just a few centuries with the increasing trend in global warming. It alone can increase the sea levels to 10-13 feet globally.

The two studies indicate the collapse is inevitable. Geologists also advise that the abnormal sea levels may affect the temperatures of oceans in different parts of the world, which may potentially affect the global climate changes gradually as well.


Consistent Global Warming Climate Changes Shows in IPCC Report

Written on April 14, 2014 at 8:08 pm, by

With severe weather changes occurring everywhere in the world as it continues to become warmer, an IPCC report shows the damages and exposes the lacklustre motivation of governments to act.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third major climate assessment report, greenhouse gas emissions cuts must be enacted as soon as today as the world may experience the worst effects of climate change quicker than expected. A 40-70% reduction within the next half-century will be needed to preserve the world’s environment and slow down the effects of global warming.

The report describes the steps needed to reduce global warming and severely changing weather. It also recommended revolutionizing the systems of energy production and consumption in all countries, which is a “long, hard and costly undertaking” according to Energy Expert Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California.

Economists said that reducing greenhouse and carbon emissions will mean a great effort to instantly “reverse a cruise ship that is firing full steam ahead.”

The report outlined that humanity’s influence on a warming climate is clear and that it has accelerated since the 1950’s because of the industrial age, namely burning oil, coal and other fossil fuels, which electricity and other energy-generating mechanisms use as sources.


PPI Claims: You Might Be A Victim of Alternative Redress

Written on April 9, 2014 at 4:55 am, by

UK media recently exposed that some of the big four banks, namely Lloyds, RBS and Barclays, have used a regulatory provision called “alternative redress” or “comparative redress” to justify replacing single-premium PPI with regular-premium PPI for many consumers, which had saved them millions of pounds. According to ex-finance and now journalist Cliff D’arcy, it was a “scandal coming out of a scandal.”

Mis sold PPI has a current total of £28.5 billion earmarked for refunding millions of UK consumers swindled to buying the policy. Around £13.3 billion had been paid out to consumers. However, the total amount set aside might increase in the next few years because of the new developments discovered by UK investigators and journalists.

It was found that Lloyds Banking Group had used the provision from February 2013, allowing them to save 50% off of many consumer repayments. Some consumers who approached UK news and media said that they questioned the validity of “alternative redress” found in their PPI refund letters.

According to D’Arcy, many of the refunds by Lloyds were uncontested since the claimants or their PPI claims company did not forward the case to the Ombudsman.

The FOS advises consumers to call their bank and ask if they were given alternative or comparative redress and they should demand to get their full recompense. They can forward the situation to the Financial Ombudsman if the banks do not agree or fail to take action within four weeks regarding the refund.