Monthly Archives: March 2016

China Emerges as World Leader in Solar Power

clean energy backgroundAccording to projections, China will triple its solar capacity by the year 2020, which will bring the country’s installed solar power up to more than 140 gigawatts.

Last year, China surpassed Germany as the world’s largest solar power market. The country added over 15 gigawatts of new solar capacity, bringing it to 43.2 gigawatts out of the world’s current 200.

China plans to add 15 to 20 gigawatts of solar power every year. The U.S. and Germany are not far behind. With over 135,000 installations within the first six months of 2015, nearly 784,000 American homes and businesses went solar, and the rate is increasing. Research shows that the United States is now installing one solar system every four minutes. It is estimated that the world’s total capacity will reach 320 gigawatts by the end of 2016.

When put in context, China’s solar capacity is only a very small fraction of its total energy use, as China also burns more coal than any other nation. However, China’s leaders are determined to meet targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the Paris climate accord. They are also anxious to reduce the amount of pollution found in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, where the air is virtually impossible to breathe.

While this progressive initiative is a step in the right direction for the environment, many Chinese workers are losing their job — and those losses are expected to continue.Approximately 1.8 million coal and steel workers will be laid off this year. The government promises to invest more than $15 billion in job placement for displaced workers; however, some of China’s big cities are completely dependent on the coal economy, and the layoffs are expected to cause severe social unrest. Already, coal miners in Anyuan are gathering by the hundreds to protest pay cuts and layoffs.

Environmental Group Claims ‘Fake Farm’ Being Used as Pollution Site by Power Plant

farm pollutionWhen the Clean Water Act was signed into law in 1972, it was meant to restrict businesses from polluting and contaminating their local environments. Whether or not the specifics of the legislation have done enough to satisfy environmental activists is an argument in itself, but one group of activists is claiming a power plant out west is using the land they own nearby to circumvent the nation’s laws.

According to ThinkProgress.org, a coalition of environmental activist groups have filed a lawsuit against PacifiCorp, one of the West’s leading energy suppliers, for allegedly using land the company owns as a research farm to dump toxic and harmful materials from their Huntington Power Plant, located about 110 miles south east of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that the Huntington Power Plant has been improperly disposing of coal ash and other pollutants for years. The plant has onsite landfills to dispose of coal ash, but according to Richard Webster, an attorney with Public Justice working on the case, they’ve been using a loophole in the system to get away with unregulated toxic dumping.

Natasha Geiling from Think Progress summarized the situation succinctly:

“The Huntington plant began intercepting water from two streams that drain the coal ash landfills in 2007. That water was then diverted to a holding pond used to irrigate the nearby research farm,” Geiling explained in her piece. “By diverting the contaminated water from the landfill into a holding pond, Webster said that the power plant is able to side-step the need for permits and pollution treatment required by the Clean Water Act, since Huntington Creek — into which the streams used to flow — is listed as an impaired waterway.”

The fact that a company would be engaging in this sort of activity shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone paying attention. Approximately 80% of the most serious hazardous waste sites in the U.S. have adversely impacted the quality of nearby groundwater, and legislation has proven to be woefully ineffective at combating the issue in many cases.

For its part, the power company claims that the entire controversy is a sham drummed up by misleading data and “unfounded” allegations.

“Rocky Mountain Power has a long record of excellent compliance with state and federal environmental laws,” PacifiCorp said in a statement. “We are committed to maintain[ing] this record. The company has taken proactive measures at the Huntington power plant to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and has obtained the appropriate permits to undertake these actions.”

Washington Entrepreneur Looking for Investors to Launch Her New Indestructible Dog Toy Invention

Dogs tend to chew on anything they can get their paws on, which forces pet owners to continually purchase expensive replacement toys. Now, an entrepreneur from Washington State is hoping to break this trend with an indestructible dog toy.

According to the Tri-City Herald, Hilary Kelsay spent more than $1,000 on dog toys in just a few months after adopting a scrappy Rhodesian ridgeback named Penny. While some may think she was spoiling the dog, Kelsay claims that the toys were necessary to keep Penny from gnawing on things inside her home.Two dogs playing with a ball.

“I’m buying a lot of dog toys to entertain her,” Kelsay said, “but within minutes the toys would just be destroyed.”

After trying several different varieties of dog toys, including those that are marketed as “indestructible,” Kelsay’s husband became frustrated with the amount of money being spent on Penny. When push came to shove, Kelsay used her entrepreneurial savvy to come up with an alternative solution that would appease both Penny and her husband.

When Penny began chewing on an old leather shoe, Kelsay got the idea to invent a near-indestructible dog toy of her own. After much experimentation, Kelsay invented Penny’s Loafer, an unbreakable dog toy that will be sold for just $29.99.

Penny’s Loafer resembles a shoe tree, which is placed inside of leather shoes to keep their shape. The heel of the toy features a removable plush piece that can be replaced with a squeaky insertable toy if needed.

Americans spent more than $50 billion on their beloved dogs and other animal companions, so Kelsay should have no problems selling her innovative new product. But first, Kelsay needs investors to fund the initial stages of manufacturing since vendors require cash to produce them in large quantities.

Hundreds of dog owners have already pre-ordered the toy online, proving that demand will be high for the product once it is made available. Considering the support she has already received, Kelsay feels confident that she will raise the needed funds within the next couple of months.

“As an entrepreneur, to only have this barrier is nothing,” she said.

Kelsay’s invention should be an immediate smash hit when it hits the market, particularly among people with young puppies. According to the FDL Reporter, young dogs are typically so full of energy that they chew on anything they can find, from pillows to electric cords.

To combat this constant biting, many dog owners have to spend several months training their puppies with reward-based activities and the occasional scolding. With Penny’s Loafers, some owners may forgo this intensive training altogether as their dog happily chews on an indestructible toy.

Pending the results of her investor search, Kelsay plans on officially launching Penny’s Loafers in June or July. If all goes well, indestructible dog toys could completely change the way that pet owners do their shopping.

West Virginia Lawmakers Legalize Raw Milk, Immediately Get ‘Mystery’ Stomach Illness

west virginia raw milkLawmakers in the West Virginia capital of Charleston got a taste of their own medicine after a mysterious “stomach bug” made the rounds.

Recently, a group of West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill making it legal for West Virginians to consume raw milk and dairy products. At least one delegate brought in raw milk for the legislators, who cheerfully toasted to their victory.

Now, the state’s Department of Health has received an anonymous tip that the raw milk caused a vicious stomach bug, debilitating many of those same lawmakers. State health officials are investigating what West Virginia lawmakers say is probably just a coincidence.

“Some other colleagues that have similar symptoms that I’ve been experiencing,” said Republican Delegate Pat McGeehan. “[Delegate Scott Cadle] caught me in the hallway, offered a cup to me, and you want to try to be a gentleman…I had a small sip and walked away and tossed the rest of it.”

Raw milk advocates claim the beverage contains more nutrients, vitamins, and is a more ethical product. Yet few people now deny that raw dairy products can be very hazardous to public health.

The Food and Drug Administration “strongly discourages raw milk consumption due to the serious dangers of harmful microorganisms present in unpasteurized milk.” Plus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in all dairy product-related outbreaks reported between 2007 and 2012, fully 81% of the incidents involved raw milk or cheeses.

Typically, raw dairy products are pasteurized before being sold to the public. Most often, the milk is heated or subjected to high pressures, killing the dangerous microorganisms that can live in dairy items.

Still, even though raw dairy can be dangerous, West Virginia lawmakers and others say that prohibition is not the answer. Alcohol and tobacco are dangerous, and can still be bought by adults who understand the risks.

It’s a free country, and at least in West Virginia, that means the freedom to drink raw, unpasteurized milk.

Just be prepared to stomach the consequences.

Image Source: WSAZ

A Man and His Bible Survive a Flaming Car Wreck

After witnessing a driver and his Bible survive a potentially horrific car crash that resulted in the car bursting into flames, many on the scene are reporting that they saw a miracle — or rather, an act of divine intervention.

Car accidents can happen for a number of reasons. For example, while oil technology has made it so cars don’t have to change their oil every 3,000 miles, neglecting to change it can lead to accidents. In the case of this particularly holy incident, a man operating a Jeep on Memphis, Tennessee’s State Route 385 was sideswiped, causing it to fall off the road and tumble down a hill, where it hit a pole. The car quickly caught fire.

According to reports, several drivers immediately stopped and ran to the scene of the accident, trying their best to pull the man from the flaming vehicle. They soon discovered that the man was trapped in the driver’s seat, with the steering wheel pressed against his chest.

Luckily, an officer arrived on the scene and removed the driver from the clutches of the engulfed vehicle.

And somewhat miraculously, the man left the scene in non-critical condition.

What some would say is even more of a miracle is the only other item that was recovered intact from the accident: the man’s Holy Bible. Meanwhile, the rest of the car ended up in ashes.

Holy Bible

Many witnesses are now calling the close call and act of god.

“I just saw GOD on 385,” one witness posted on Facebook.

Another witness, Anita Irby wrote, “THE ENTIRE EXPRESSWAY STOPPED and people ran from their cars trying to break the windows and open the doors of this mans car to free him; as they were, the others went up in prayer for God to deliver this man from the paws of the devil.[…] None of the flames touched him.”

Certain Glass Art Colors Are Unavailable As Bullseye Glass Factory Deals With Adjusting Emissions Standards

A U.S. Forest Service study of heavy metals found trapped in moss tipped environmental regulators off to serious problems with toxic emissions coming from Bullseye Glass in Portland, OR.

Upon further investigation of documents released under Oregon’s open records law, it was revealed that the artistic glass manufacturer had been receiving complaints for decades.

Complaints ranged from reports of plumes of dark smoke and glass particles and hot ash escaping to the air to suspicious smells coming from the factory.

One glass maker expressed concerns about the lack of air pollution controls for the metals coming out of the facility’s furnaces. No investigation of the Bullseye emissions had been completed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

In 2005, Fred Cresswell, the founder of Seaview Art Glass in Cazadero, Cailiforn, wrote to EPA regulators, highly critical of the Bullseye facility and its “gross violations of emissions standards as well as the contaminated wash down water into and on to the City of Portland.”

Yet the complaints that Cresswell continually filed were lost in a bureaucratic paper trail, and he died in 2011 before they any actual investigations.

However, in February of this year, both Bullseye Glass and Uroboros Glass in North Portland, announced that they would alter their production processes this week in response to the growing serious concerns about the factory’s effects on air quality and health.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality believes that Bullseye was responsible for high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the area, levels of which raise the cancer risk from one in a million people, to one in only 10,000.

Since Bullseye has passed two DEQ tests in the past year, officials are investigating why the existing environmental standards don’t properly control the emissions of metal.

The cutbacks in the use of certain chemicals could have far reaching effects on the glass studio art industry, which was founded by Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino at the Toldeo Museum of Art in 1962.

Since Bullseye, the lead supplier in art glass for fusing projects, suspended the production of 26 colors on Feb. 4, many studios have been running low on supplies.

Brenda Page, who runs Blue Dog Glass in Australia said, “The story broke around in the colors that were being suspended. We’re pretty much sold out of our reds and yellow glasses at the moment.”

Both Bullseye and Uroboros are working on solutions to their furnace emissions while glass artists, teachers, and studio spaces wait for a new shipments of their dwindling colors.