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Internet Television

YouTube Unveils New Features For Content Creators | Studio App, Crowdfunding, 60fps
YouTube would be nothing without content, and original content, no less. And the people who create that original content need as many tools at their disposal as possible. YouTube has delivered a new set of features to content
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Netflix & Co. will soon make more money than movie theaters 05 June 2014, 15.49 Internet Television
Netflix & Co. will soon make more money than movie theaters
Jun. 4, 2014 - 10:06 AM PDT Jun. 4, 2014 - 10:06 AM PDT Do you prefer a night in with Netflix over paying $8 for popcorn at the theater? You’re not alone: Box office revenue has been flat over the past few years while online
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ISP to Netflix: Please come to Hong Kong! 05 June 2014, 15.49 Internet Television
ISP to Netflix: Please come to Hong Kong!
Jun. 4, 2014 - 7:15 AM PDT Jun. 4, 2014 - 7:15 AM PDT Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) would love to offer its customers Netflix. The local ISP decided to make its love for House of Cards and other Netflix shows public with
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Longform journalism startup Byliner is in trouble and says its future is unclear
Jun. 3, 2014 - 6:09 PM PDT Jun. 3, 2014 - 6:09 PM PDT It’s no secret that I was bullish on Byliner, the e-singles startup that launched with a splash in 2011 with bestselling author Jon Krakauer’s “Three Cups of
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Cord Cutters: My review of Tablo, a DVR for over-the-air TV 05 June 2014, 15.49 Internet Television
Cord Cutters: My review of Tablo, a DVR for over-the-air TV
1 day ago Jun. 4, 2014 - 3:26 PM PDT Tablo is a new DVR for cord cutters that comes without any HDMI port, but with the ability to stream live and recorded TV to mobile devices, Roku boxes and Chromecast sticks. Check out our
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Earth News Reports

Pop culture heroes drawn as ukiyo-e characters 28 July 2014, 20.03 Green Architecture
Pop culture heroes drawn as ukiyo-e characters
Japanese artist Takao Nagawa took on the ukiyo-e classic style by mixing it with modern pop culture heroes like Super Mario or Darth Vader, among others. He drew the heroes in the Samurai poses, changing their facial
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Living sculptures by Mike Campau 28 July 2014, 20.03 Green Architecture
Living sculptures by Mike Campau
Strange abstract structures are given life by simply adding clothing to it. It’s interesting to see how a few pieces of clothing make some weird forms come to life. This series was created by combining studio photography
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Cute or scary? Anatomical illustrations of famous cartoon characters
Parts of me want to find these illustrations extremely cute, while another part of my brain finds these bones popping out a bit disguting. Anyway, these drawings are a great take on some famous cartoon characters. It was
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Funny street art on train tracks 28 July 2014, 20.03 Green Architecture
Funny street art on train tracks
Portuguese street artist Artur Bordalo decided to get a new playground for his art: train tracks. He uses the tracks as a grid and integrates it into bigger-than-life artworks. You can check out more of his great art on his
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Visual identity for FYI Network 28 July 2014, 20.03 Green Architecture
Visual identity for FYI Network
The TV channel FYI Network recently commissionned Sasha Vinogradova to design their visual identity. The graphic designer played with the 3 letters of the brand’s name and dressed it in 3D. Prints for new shows focus on
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Spectacular illustrated posters by Ken Taylor 28 July 2014, 20.03 Green Architecture
Spectacular illustrated posters by Ken Taylor
Based in Melbourne, Ken Taylor is an illustrator and designer who made himself a name in the music industry. His work that got my attention is the illustrated posters for movies. I really wish some movies would have so cool
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4 ways to extract images from PDF files 28 July 2014, 20.03 Green Architecture
4 ways to extract images from PDF files
When you get a PDF file and need to get the images included in it, here is how to extract images from PDF easily. We’ll look at several ways to do it, with paid or free software. Extract images from PDF online If your
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10 free paint Photoshop textures packs 28 July 2014, 20.03 Green Architecture
10 free paint Photoshop textures packs
A texture is the basic fundament which a designer must know in order to build a reliable basement for the attractive design work. The core task with the texture is to find the most appropriate way to combine colors and visual
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Upgrade your gaming empire: 10 best games WordPress themes 28 July 2014, 20.03 Green Architecture
Upgrade your gaming empire: 10 best games WordPress themes
Games create a second reality. They can turn a common office worker into a daemon-slayer or car races. They can make you a hero of a story worth reading, or let you communicate in the environment that never existed on Earth.
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TRMTAB Weaves Leather Waste Into Upcycled Laptop, Tablet Sleeves
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: PACT Unveils Fair-Trade-Certified, Organic-Cotton Clothing Line Retrend Alert TRMTAB Weaves Leather Waste Into Upcycled Laptop, Tablet Sleeves by Lori Zimmer , 07/28/14   filed under: Eco-Friendly
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Future News Reports

Obama's War Against US Energy Independence:  Give Away Oil Rich Alaskan Islands to Russia!
  By Joe Miller The Obama administration, despite the nation’s economic woes, effectively killed the job-producing Keystone Pipeline last month. The Arab Spring is turning the oil production of Libya and other Arab
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OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials 08 April 2012, 02.33 Administrator Energy
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials Visit for further information OSBIT Power (OP), Siemens Wind Power and Statoil have successfully completed offshore
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North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost 12 January 2012, 02.01 Administrator Energy
North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost
        North America’s EV charging infrastructure may soon see significant improvements, thanks to a recent agreement between Eaton Corporation and Coulomb Technologies. Under the deal, Eaton’s Level II and
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Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source? 28 May 2011, 01.34 Administrator Energy
Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source?
      Have scientists already unknowingly discovered the source for all atomic energy reactions, and could the discovery of the gravitomagnetic field be the ultimate energy source?  What if our understandings on how
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Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation 25 September 2011, 16.27 Administrator Energy
Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation
Physicists wary of junking light speed limit yet Physicist Antonio Ereditato poses before presenting the result of an experiment, which found a subatomic particle, the neutrino, seemed to move faster than the speed of
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STEORN ORBO  FREE ENERGY:  What's Next a Self Charging Unit for your Electric Car?
Steorn's Free Energy Orbo -- From Permanent Magnets to Solid State Systems   My associate, Hank Mills composed this for PESN, Saturday, February 12, 2011 6:17 Steorn is a small company based in Dublin, Ireland. For
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Cold Fusion, Releases Energy from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field 16 January 2011, 09.17 Administrator Energy
Cold Fusion, Releases Energy  from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field
Cold Fusion "In Bologna we did it" By Ilaria VENTURI, La Republica News, Bolona, Italy For the first time in Italy, in front of experts, the process was carried out using nickel and hydrogen. It 's the way to achieve
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Abu Dhabi Media Zone to generate renewable energy through its façade
Eco Factor: Sustainable development to generate renewable solar energy. Bernard Tschumi Architects have re-imagined their master plan for the new Abu Dhabi Media Zone, by incorporating several environmentally-friendly
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Latest Published Articles



NYCâs Bike Sharing: The de Blasio Administrationâs First Expansion of the Cityâs Sustainability Agenda PDF Print E-mail

Bike sharing in New York City has had a promising yet problematic start, but there is little question that it is a program worth keeping and expanding. It is clear that the de Blasio administration agrees and, in one of their first efforts to expand former mayor Bloomberg's sustainability agenda, are about to double the size of the city's bike sharing program. Bloomberg's legacy complicates de Blasio's task. As Matt Flegenheimer observed in a NY Times piece on Citi Bike, "Mr. Bloomberg's successor, Bill de Blasio, has been confronted with a... consequential choice: how aggressively to embrace -- and reimagine -- a program that remains inextricably linked to the last administration." His answer, fittingly enough, is to expand the program in the city's outer boroughs.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal's Andrew Tangel reported on a potential investment in New York's Citi Bike program by REQX Ventures, an affiliate of New York City and global real estate giant Related Companies, and Equinox Fitness. According to Tangel, REQX Ventures: close to hammering out an agreement that could enlarge the footprint of Citi Bike to upper Manhattan, into Queens and further into Brooklyn over the next few years, these people said. The number of bikes would nearly double, from 6,200 to about 12,000. The pact would allow Citi Bike's operator, Alta Bicycle Share Inc., more flexibility in raising the price of the $95 annual memberships, which could increase to $140 or more, these people said. More than 100,000 annual memberships have been sold.

As part of the tentative agreement, REQX Ventures would secure a controlling stake in Alta, these people said, thrusting the Related affiliate to the forefront of a budding industry spreading across the U.S. Alta, based in Portland, Ore., runs bike-share and rental systems in cities from Boston to San Francisco.

As Tangel reports in his piece, New York City's bike sharing program is unique because it does not rely on a public subsidy, although a contract with the city governs the program and has provided access to public space for bike rental stations. The original contract made inaccurate assumptions about the mix of resident and tourist rentals and:

Alta's original contract was ambiguous about whether the company could raise Citi Bike rates without city approval. Because the city wouldn't let Alta raise prices without first lining up new capital, Citi Bike's operator has left potential revenue on the table as it awaits a new agreement, current members renew and new ones sign up. Alta has said its $95 annual memberships were money-losers because riders used the bikes twice as much as projected.

The potential for attracting additional private capital to New York City's bike sharing program is significant and has been a test for the de Blasio administration. If public-private partnership is to thrive around urban sustainability issues, government needs to understand how to work with private developers like Related. Under the Bloomberg administration, that knowledge was assumed to be in place--even if it wasn't always present. Corporate leaders knew that the final decision maker in the deal was someone who came from their world: Mike Bloomberg. They do not know that now; Bill de Blasio has spent his career in public service. However, these early efforts at public-private partnership have begun to set a positive tone for relations between our progressive mayor and New York City's private sector.

Actually, if the current administration can't work with Related, it will be hard to imagine success with other developers. Fortunately, there are clear signs that the new administration gets it. They have already demonstrated an ability to work with private developers on affordable housing. Bike sharing is providing a high-profile opportunity to work with industry on sustainability issues. The success of this deal could lead to other opportunities as well.

Related has long been a leader in green building, and has also understood the importance of public-private partnership in New York City real estate development. Land is a scarce commodity in New York City. For many years, the city's land development has required rules and planning. Related is a very sophisticated player in the political economy of New York City, and is expert at navigating the very complex, but necessary, regulatory process required to build large-scale developments in New York. In that respect, New York's mayors are fortunate. They do not need to deal with a right-wing, anti-regulatory private sector, but with sophisticated companies that understand the need for government to play a central role in developing this complicated city.

It is significant that this leading developer sees the importance and potential in bike sharing. While some of the company's motivation appears to be public service and corporate responsibility, I assume they see the potential for making money here as well. New York City's government and people have an interest in the survival and expansion of bike sharing. Since the city cannot afford to invest its own capital in the program, it needs to attract private capital if bike sharing is to grow and thrive. It is good news to see that the relationship with Related and Equinox is being cultivated by the mayor and his team.

The great virtue of bike sharing programs is that they expand the mass transit system. You can bike to work, but take the subway home. You can bike part of the way to work and take mass transit the rest of the way. While bike commuting is not for everyone, the popularity of the Citi Bike program is undeniable. The problem has been that the rates are too low, the software too buggy, and the system too small. Raising the rates may decrease utilization, but expanding the number of neighborhoods served will increase it.

Bike riding has many virtues as a sustainable means of transport. Its only use of energy is in making and shipping the bikes. It improves public health and enables people to make more efficient use of time by combining commuting with exercise. In a growing number of cities, bikes are becoming a key transportation resource, and an integral part of a city's transportation system. While New York City's use of bike transport is still relatively small, it is growing. According to the New York City Department of Transportation:

New York City doubled bicycle commuting between 2007 and 2011, and aims to triple it by 2017. In New York City, 10% of auto trips are under one-half mile, 22% are under 1 mile and 56% are under 3 miles - distances readily served by bicycle. DOT has completed the City's ambitious goal of building 200 bike-lane miles in all five boroughs in just three years, nearly doubling the citywide on-street bike network while reshaping the city's streets to make them safer for everyone who uses them.

Combined with bike sharing, a system of bike lanes provides the infrastructure needed to support increased use of cycling as a means of transportation. The de Blasio administration's emphasis on traffic safety for drivers and pedestrians holds the potential of increasing the safety of cycling as well. It is true that there are between 50 and 100 days per year when weather conditions make bike riding less attractive and possibly more dangerous; nevertheless, there is significant room for expansion in New York and in many other American cities. The demise of Citi Bike would have been a significant blow to this small but important element of a sustainable transportation system.

The deal to save Citi Bike is a clear and tangible indication of Mayor de Blasio's commitment to expand the sustainability agenda begun by his predecessor. This is good news because it demonstrates that local sustainability initiatives have become a popular and permanent part of the services expected by New Yorkers and ensured by their government.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
Getting Rid of NYCâs Garbage PDF Print E-mail

One indicator of a more crowded planet is the growing cost and complexity of solid waste management. Here in New York City, we used to dump our garbage into holes in the ground called landfills. In Brooklyn and Staten Island, these dumps grew so high that we had to close them and start exporting our waste, sometimes sending it thousands of miles away. One of the goals of the city's sustainability plan PlaNYC 2030 has been to divert more and more of our waste away from landfills to recycling, waste-to-energy plants, and composting facilities. Some of New York's effort to recycle waste relies on technology to sort and process waste, but some requires people to change their behavior to sort and reduce their waste.

Most people in New York City live in apartment buildings, and so changing how people discard their waste requires the hard work of environmental professionals working door-to-door and building-to-building to convince residents and building staff to sort their waste. Last week, the New York Times profiled the two of these sustainability professionals, graduates of Columbia University and Pratt Institute's environmental management master's programs. According to the profile, written by the Times' Constance Rosenbaum:

They aren't what you might think of as typical sanitation workers, but Haley Rogers and Lisa Brunie-McDermott, two Sanitation Department employees, are women with a mission: to persuade New Yorkers to separate orange peels, eggshells and other organic waste from the rest of their trash... The "organics collection" program is up and running in all five boroughs, embracing 100,000 households that are home to about 250,000 people. It is also operating in some 350 schools, one result being that children come home and urge their parents to sign up... And there's no question that Ms. Rogers and Ms. Brunie-McDermott bring considerable zeal to the task at hand.

The issue of New York's garbage is considered by many to be intractable due to the size, scale and the fast-paced lifestyle that this city is famous for. The city that never sleeps seems to be either too busy or too tired to sort its garbage. One strategy for pushing the food waste program has been to present it as a way to reduce the rat population. New Yorkers may be indifferent to waste management, but all of us hate and fear rats.

One key element of the Sanitation Department's strategy is to break the city down into manageable pieces. To visitors, New York is a huge, undifferentiated mass of people like the crowds trying to navigate Times Square. To New Yorkers, our city is a collection of neighborhoods--each distinct from (and of course better than) the other ones. Trying to change behavior citywide all at once can be very tough. Trying to change behavior family by family or building by building is hard work, but is doable and can lead to lasting change. A waste recycling competition between Park Slope and Astoria, for example, might actually work.

New York City has two different waste collection systems. Commercial businesses, like restaurants, pay private companies to cart away their garbage. Private residents and nonprofits have their garbage disposal handled by the city's Sanitation Department. That is one reason that the pilot program profiled by the Times focused on residents. A program directed toward residents and communities requires that we think about our waste management problem as an issue of culture and social change. The food waste program profiled by the Times might have been possible in Portland, Oregon a decade ago, but New Yorkers were not ready for it back then. It is significant that the department that calls its workers "New York's strongest" has taken on a pilot project in food waste sorting. It is an indication that New York may be ready for an approach to waste management that requires finesse as well as muscle. It is another sign that the world is changing and that sustainability management has gone mainstream.

Even in the multi-cultural "gorgeous mosaic" of New York City's diverse population, where many folks are simply trying to understand America, people are starting to think about where their garbage goes. The composting program's connection to schools is no accident. Particularly in immigrant families it has long been the school system and children who have helped their newly arrived parents understand the city and its ways. For those of us who have been here a little longer, it was often our kids who led us to sort waste, connect to the Internet, buy cell phone service, and undertake other "critical" activities they learned about in school.

The move to a renewable economy requires that we think about what we consume and what we throw away. While thought alone does not translate into action, behavior change still requires new learning and evolving values. In the case of waste management, it also requires government programs. If a New Yorker wants to recycle food waste, it's not the same as a rural resident starting a compost heap in the yard. In the case of New York's program, it requires distinctive colored large plastic bins and a place to keep them in a building's basement. The city also needs to have a well-managed system to collect and process the organic waste. This requires integration of individual behavior, government standard operating procedures and the work of private contractors.

The sustainability benefit in the case of food waste is closing the cycle of food production and consumption. Some of the waste generated by food consumption can be used to create the fertilizer for new food production. Unfortunately, a problem with closing this cycle is that it requires energy to transport and process the waste. Only when the energy itself is renewable is this process truly sustainable. But the long journey to a renewable economy begins with small steps, such as setting up a process for collecting food waste and convincing people to use that process.

The idea that individual behavior alone can lead to a sustainable economy is one that I have always rejected. But that does not mean that we do not need changed behavior. As in this case, we need changes in attitudes, values, and behavior, linked to new technologies and changes in public policy and management routines. We need to learn from our successes and our failures and recognize that the process we are engaged in is nothing less than the one we saw when we transformed ourselves from an agrarian, rural society to an industrial, urban one.

I am encouraged by New York City's food waste program and proud of the role of one of our graduates in making that program work. When you read the piece in the New York Times, you can't help but recognize the spirit of public service and dedication of the two environmental professionals who are profiled. Their energy and brainpower multiplied across their generation is what I am counting on to make this transition real.

But I am also counting on large-scale public policy and government programs. The food waste program will need to grow to serve more of the city and eventually cover the entire city. The city also needs help from the state of New York. At the state level, it's time to raise the deposit on beverage containers. While New York is one of only 11 states that has a deposit law, the state's bottle bill was enacted in 1982 and the nickel deposit has not been raised since then. A nickel is worth a lot less than it was three decades ago. Deposits should also be charged for all beverage containers including those used for milk and juice. We should begin to consider other types of packaging fees to reduce unnecessary packaging and with it the volume of waste we are generating. Modern waste management requires creative, proactive public policy. New York City's food waste program is a great initiative. Let's build on it and do more to reduce the heaps of garbage we still bury in the ground.

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Amazon Oil Spill Kills Fish, Sickens People PDF Print E-mail


By Barbara Fraser
Environmental Health News

July 23, 2014

CUNINICO, Peru – On the last day of June, Roger Mangía Vega watched an oil slick and a mass of dead fish float past this tiny Kukama Indian community and into the Marañón River, a major tributary of the Amazon.

Community leaders called the emergency number for Petroperu, the state-run operator of the 845-kilometer pipeline that pumps crude oil from the Amazon over the Andes Mountains to a port on Peru’s northern coast.

By late afternoon, Mangía and a handful of his neighbors – contracted by the company and wearing only ordinary clothing – were up to their necks in oily water, searching for a leak in the pipe. Villagers, who depend on fish for subsistence and income, estimated that they had seen between two and seven tons of dead fish floating in lagoons and littering the landscape.

“It was the most horrible thing I’ve seen in my life – the amount of oil, the huge number of dead fish and my Kukama brothers working without the necessary protection,” said Ander Ordóñez Mozombite, an environmental monitor for an indigenous community group called Acodecospat who visited the site a few days later.

This rupture of Peru’s 39-year-old northern crude oil pipeline has terrified Kukama villagers along the Marañón River. People’s complaints of nausea and skin rashes are aggravated by nervousness about eating the fish, concerns about their lost income and fears that oil will spread throughout the tropical forest and lakes when seasonal flooding begins in November. Cuninico, a village of wooden, stilt-raised, palm-thatched houses, is home to about 130 families but several hundred families in other communities also fish nearby.

Three weeks after they discovered the spill, the villagers still have more questions than answers about the impacts.

"It sounds like an environmental debacle for the people and the ecosystem,” said David Abramson, deputy director of the National Center of Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York.

“There is a need for public health and environmental monitoring at a minimum of four levels – water, fish, vegetation and the population," he said.

Company officials at Petroperu did not return phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Government officials have not officially announced how much crude oil spilled. However, in a radio interview, Energy and Mines Minister Eleodoro Mayorga mentioned 2,000 barrels, which is 84,000 gallons.

Indigenous leaders noted that the pipeline, which began operating again July 12 after the repairs, has a history of leaks.

Leaders of at least four neighboring communities said masses of dead fish appeared in lagoons and streams in the week before the oil spill was reported, indicating that it could have been leaking for days before it was spotted.

Even fish that escaped the worst of the spill could be poisoned, experts said. Fishermen who traveled an hour or two up the Urituyacu River, a tributary of the Marañón, in search of a catch unaffected by the spill returned with fish that they said tasted of oil.

Some Amazonian fish migrate long distances, and ongoing monitoring will be important for determining how fisheries recover, said Diana Papoulias, a fish biologist with E-Tech International, a New Mexico-based engineering firm that advises indigenous Peruvian communities on oil-related issues.

Key concerns include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are classified as probable human carcinogens and can cause skin, liver and immune system problems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exposure to PAHs in the womb has been linked to effects on children’s brain development, including learning and behavioral changes.

“The rule of thumb is that during the spill it’s a horrible mess, and two or three years later it’s hard to find evidence.” Edward Overton, Louisiana State University   For pregnant women, the fish become a “double-edged sword,” Abramson said. “They need that protein source to enhance the neurological development of the fetus, but at the same time, you don’t want them ingesting things that have unknown impacts.”

Mothers said children and adults in their families are suffering from stomachaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, and small children have skin rashes after bathing in the rivers.

In this part of the Marañón valley, the nearest health center is more than an hour away by boat and does not have a doctor.

The government’s Environmental Evaluation and Oversight Agency (Organismo de Evaluación y Fiscalización Ambiental, OEFA) has taken no samples of fish tissue for testing, according to Delia Morales, the agency's assistant director of inspection.

Much of the oil settled in pools along the pipeline during the flood season, creating a viscous soup where dying fish flopped weakly. Government officials said damage was limited to a 700-meter stretch along the pipeline. The ground and tree trunks in the forest on both sides of the pipeline were also stained with oil, in a swath local residents estimated at up to 300 meters wide. When that area begins to flood again in November, villagers fear that contamination could spread.

Petroperu hired men from the village of Cuninico to find the leak and raise the pipeline out of the canal to repair it. Several of the men said they were up to their necks in oily water, working in T-shirts and pants or stripped to their underwear. They said they received protective gear only when a Peruvian TV crew arrived more than two weeks later. The July 20 newscast led to a shakeup in Petroperu’s leadership.

Meanwhile, the workers’ wives wash their clothes in the Marañón River, squatting on rafts moored along the bank. Besides being the only transportation route in the area, the river is the source of water for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing.

Within a week after the spill, the local fish market had dried up. Women who normally sold 10 to 20 kilos of fish a day said their usual buyers shunned them. Children in Cuninico told a reporter from Radio Ucamara, a local radio station, that fish had disappeared from the family table and they were eating mainly rice and cassava, a root.

Abramson said the villagers' mental health can be undermined by poor diet, income loss and conflicts between community members.

The pipeline has been repaired and the oil is flowing to the port again, but the long-term impacts of the spill are uncertain.

Light and bacteria help break down oil naturally, said Edward Overton, a chemistry professor in Louisiana State University’s Department of Environmental Studies who has studied the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Volatile substances in the oil, which dissolve readily in water, could have caused the fish kills if the pipeline had been leaking for a time before the spill was reported, he said.

“The rule of thumb is that during the spill it’s a horrible mess, and two or three years later it’s hard to find evidence,” Overton said.

But that may not be the case in Amazonian wetlands, where clay soil and high water limit the oxygen available to oil-eating microbes, said Ricardo Segovia, a hydrogeologist with E-Tech International.

The government’s environmental agency is expected to issue its report on the spill by the end of this month and could levy fines, Morales said.

Villagers are waiting to see whether the government will sanction its own pipeline operation and pay damages.

“It sounds as though the state is in a precarious position,” Abramson said. “It [the government of Peru] has to monitor and assure the health and well-being of the population, but it may be one of the agents that is liable [for the spill]. They have to monitor themselves and decide what is fair and equitable.”

EHN welcomes republication of our stories, but we require that publications include the author's name and Environmental Health News at the top of the piece, along with a link back to EHN's version.

For questions or feedback about this piece, contact Editor in Chief Marla Cone at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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How Climate Science Gets Done in Icy Fjords of Greenland PDF Print E-mail

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Indigenous Mountain Farmers Unite on Climate Change PDF Print E-mail

Courtesy of Sci Dev Net

Farmers from 25 indigenous mountain communities in ten countries have come together to share traditional knowledge that could help them to mitigate climate change and to lobby governments for greater recognition of their unique knowledge.


The International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples was formed at a workshop in Bhutan last month (26 May-1 June). It includes communities from Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan, Tajikistan and Thailand.

Member communities from Bhutan, China and Peru had already agreed to exchange seeds at a meeting held in Peru earlier this year (26 April-2 May). The agreement was extended to the other members at the most recent meeting.

The farmers say the network will enable communities to access new seed varieties that are more resilient to pests and drought; will help increase their crop diversity; and will reduce their dependence on corporate-owned seeds.

“This network is a good initiative to fill the knowledge gap and address similar problems between mountain communities with similar farming systems, altitudes and ecological conditions.”

~ Krystyna Swiderska, IIED

“Learning about experiences and strategies from other farming communities — based on local knowledge systems — through this network reaffirms people’s beliefs and faith in their own systems, values and traditional knowledge,” says Reetu Sogani, an activist who works with the International Institute for Environment and Development’s (IIED’s) Smallholder Innovation for Resilience project, which was involved in the workshop.

The meeting also developed what it calls The Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigenous Peoples. The declaration calls on governments to: support climate change adaptation measures based on traditional knowledge; promote indigenous languages; and bridge local knowledge and science to create effective solutions for conservation, food security and climate adaptation.

“Mountain environments are characterised by harsh natural conditions which are being exacerbated by changes in climate,” says Krystyna Swiderska, principal researcher at the IIED, which co-organised the Bhutan workshop.

Swiderska says that a lot of adaptation funding never reaches communities or goes towards developing high-tech solutions, which can replace local crop diversity and knowledge — thereby undermining a community’s adaptive capacity in the longer term.

The 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report also recognises the role and value of local and traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation, noting that such knowledge is often not included in adaptation planning.

The member communities have initiated a seed exchange programme with the International Potato Centre’s (CIP) Potato Park, in Peru, a conservation initiative where indigenous people protect traditional seed varieties and agricultural knowledge.

The programme will focus initially on the exchange of potatoes between mountain communities in Bhutan, China and Peru, with support from scientists at CIP, using in-vitro material (as opposed to seeds) to breed new varieties of potatoes that are both more resilient to local conditions and more productive, says Swiderska.

Manohara Khadka, gender specialist at the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, says: “Local policymakers have failed to recognise and conserve mountain people’s traditional knowledge in agriculture and adaptation”.

She adds that the other factors that are leading to the loss of traditional knowledge include loss of indigenous languages, which are not always taught in schools; young people discontinuing farming; and migration to cities.

Khadka says: “This network is a good initiative to fill the knowledge gap and address similar problems between mountain communities with similar farming systems, altitudes and ecological conditions.”

Link to The Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigenous Peoples

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Sewage discharges keep threatening British surf spots PDF Print E-mail

10 July 2014 | Environment

Godrevy: great waves, polluted waters | Photo: Alice Rosen

The British non-governmental organization has been warning the surfing community for the alarming number of sewage spills in the country, but the latest threats can put in danger the health of beach users, especially in summertime.

South West Water, the company which provides water for Cornwall, confirmed that "unfortunately, during periods of intense rainfall, the system can sometimes become overloaded."

Surfers Against Sewage believes there should be approved tighter regulation of sewer overflows to protect British surf spots from raw sewage pollution. The institution led by Hugo Tagholm is creating the Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to ignite debates in the House of Commons.

There are over 500,000 regular surfers in the United Kingdom. The number of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) in the country is of 31,000. Many of these are completely unregulated.

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Large barrel jellyfish spotted in Cornwall PDF Print E-mail

08 July 2014 | Environment

Barrel jellyfish: it weighs 20 kilograms

Matt Slater, marine conservationist at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, was swimming in the Percuil Estuary with his dog, when he spotted a large "Rhizostoma pulmo" just a couple of meters underwater.

"These creatures are incredibly beautiful when you get a close look at them. The tentacles really look like soft coral, and round the edge of the jellyfish's umbrella like bell there is a deep blue line punctuated every twenty centimetres or so with a tiny dot, a sensory statocyst," Slater tells the Cornish Guardian.

"Jellies are more aware of the watery world around them than you may imagine. They are constantly swimming up and down in the water column looking for profitable patches of plankton. The statocysts are their sensory cells that enable them to orientate and tell up from down."

The barrel jellyfishes are totally harmless and feed on plankton. They do have stinging cells, but they are not able to get through human skin.

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5 Questions For Jeffrey Sachs on Decarbonizing the Economy PDF Print E-mail

15 July 2014

Thirty scientific institutions from 15 countries last week released a report for the United Nations outlining how the world’s major carbon dioxide-emitting nations can slash those emissions by mid-century. Called the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, the initiative aims to provide government leaders with a plan of action in advance of a UN climate summit in September and climate negotiations in Paris in late 2015. Yale Environment 360 asked Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a key player in the decarbonization project, five questions about the initiative and the prospects for global action on the climate front.

1. Why do you believe the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project has a chance of succeeding where other global carbon-cutting initiatives have failed?

It is COP21 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that has the chance of succeeding. COP21 is the meeting in Paris in December 2015 where governments are committed to adopting a new

climate agreement. There are signs that for the first time, all major emitting countries – the U.S., the European Union, China, India, and others – are prepared to take real actions together. This is by no means assured, but it is possible. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) can help this process by showing the way to deep decarbonization at the country level, and by emphasizing that developments in low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies should be incorporated into the COP21 agreement.

2. What practical incentives does the project offer to governments, citizens, and businesses to embrace “bold” emissions reduction targets despite the economic costs?

The report charts out the depth of energy transformation that will be required, and the major pillars of that transformation. Three are most important: zero-carbon and low-carbon electricity, electrification of vehicles and the heating and cooling of buildings, and great strides in energy efficiency. In order to have these adopted at large scale, we will need three things: carbon pricing, to reflect the social cost of carbon; improved technologies through research, development, and demonstration projects; and clear national pathways giving regulatory and policy guidance to private investors.

3. What is the scale of the research and development effort needed to develop game-changing, low-carbon energy technologies, and how will the costs of these efforts be paid for?

Currently the U.S. government spends around $30 billion per year on biomedical research, but only around $3 billion on low-carbon energy. The world as a whole should increase the RD&D on low-carbon energy systems by roughly one-order of magnitude (that is, a factor of 10), to perhaps $100 billion per year, shared by the public and private sectors. These are very rough estimates. Next year’s DDPP report will consider this issue in quantitative and qualitative detail.

4. What are the main guiding principles in the developing world of simultaneously lifting people out of poverty while reducing the carbon intensity of these emerging economies?

We must distinguish between groups of countries. The poorest countries play almost no role in energy-related CO2 emissions. They simply need modern energy, especially electricity and clean cooking fuels. The main goal of the global community should be to support these impoverished countries to achieve modern energy for all. The middle-income countries, by contrast, have large and growing energy sectors that often contribute heavily to global CO2 emissions (notably China). These countries will need to define and implement national deep decarbonization pathways that are specific to their resource base (e.g. wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy), economic structure, public attitudes (e.g. to nuclear power), and economic prospects. The high-income countries should support these middle-income countries mainly through cooperative efforts on the research, development, demonstration, and diffusion of low-carbon technologies.

5. In light of disappointing climate negotiations in the past, why do you think the global community will be more inclined to agree to serious reductions in CO2 emissions at talks that culminate in Paris next year?

There are several factors that give cautious optimism for agreement next year. The first, ironically, is that the evidence of global climate disruption is becoming far more evident and frightening around the world. Second, the U.S. and China are much more disposed to move forward on a cooperative and meaningful basis than was true just a few years ago. Third, low-carbon technologies (e.g. photovoltaics, electric vehicles, smart grids) continue to improve. Fourth, the concepts of the carbon budget (consistent with the 2-degree Celsius limit on temperature increase) and long-term transformation pathways are much more widely understood today than just a few years ago.

None of this suggests that a solid agreement is assured. There are still huge obstacles to overcome, including powerful vested interests, e.g. within the global oil industry; the unwillingness of the U.S. and some other high-income countries to commit to a clear and ambitious program of climate financing for the poorer countries; the lack of global trust; and the undue short-termism of politics and finance. Some politicians will want an agreement of any kind, for a successful “photo-op.” This will be little better than no agreement. It’s our responsibility to work overtime until December 2015 to ensure that we have not only an agreement, but also an agreement that supports the globally agreed limit of 2-degrees C.

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LeBron James, Place and the Search for Sustainable Communities PDF Print E-mail

My Columbia colleague, Professor Mark Taylor, recently published a wonderful book about his home in western Massachusetts entitled, Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill. It is a distinctive and remarkable volume on the importance of place, design, and meaning. The book is beautifully produced and includes many superb photographs of this very special place. Mark begins his volume with an observation that is key to understanding the human impact of the steamroller, global economy in which we live:

Place is disappearing. The accelerating intersection of globalization, virtualization, and cellularization is transforming the world and human life at an unprecedented rate. The fascination with speed for speeds sake is creating a culture of distraction in which thoughtful reflection and contemplation are all but impossible...As processes of globalization expand, localization contracts until place virtually disappears in a homogeneous space that is subject to constant surveillance and regulation (Taylor, 2).

The accepted wisdom of today's elite is that one should pursue personal financial gain first and worry about other values later. If you manage to get the order wrong and, like Bill or Hillary Clinton, seek public service or political power first, at some point you need to correct your "error" and cash in on a lucrative speaking tour or tell-all book to generate the moola needed to support a fabulous, material-laden lifestyle.

Personally, I'm not poor but I'm not rich either. And I've reluctantly come to understand the role that work and cash play in making the world safe for the people I love. My summer home is a 1,000-square-foot bungalow a block and a half from the ocean in Long Beach, New York. My year-round home is an apartment on Morningside Drive in Manhattan that is owned by my employer. My wife and I bought the Long Beach house in 1987--rebuilding its ground floor after Superstorm Sandy--and moved into our apartment on Morningside Drive in 1990. The point is, I have two homes and I have been fortunate to live in them for decades. Like my colleague Mark Taylor, place is important to me. I note the time passing by the size of the trees in Morningside Park, and the color and texture of the sky in Long Beach. The James Taylor song "The Secret of Life" is never far from my mind. As James correctly observes, "The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time". I try very hard to hit the pause button every once in a while. I worry about the threats to place and perspective that Mark Taylor has correctly identified as the deal we've made with modernity and the costs we incur for the lifestyles we enjoy.

And while commerce will always make its demands, humans have other needs and values. Last week, LeBron James clearly articulated some of those other needs and values in his Sports Illustrated statement about his return to Cleveland. According to James:

Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It's where I walked. It's where I ran. It's where I cried. It's where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I'm their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now...

But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I'm from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there's no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get. In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I'm ready to accept the challenge. I'm coming home.

One of the great paradoxes of a global economy and a global communication system is that everything is accessible to everyone. There are no secrets. Opportunity and inequality has gone global. Sometimes we find that when we strive to meet the very human need to fit in and be an accepted part of a group, the need to stand out and be unique must be sacrificed. LeBron James stood out and became a winner, but winning came at a price. It is obvious that a maturing LeBron James realized this. Place, community and home provide a counterweight to the homogenization of culture, ideas, image, food and speech. Escaping to a wealthier and glitzier neighborhood like South Beach bought LeBron championships, but cost him a piece of his sense of place. Last week he reclaimed that part of himself and managed to inspire us in the process.

That sense of place is not a material resource. It is in many ways the most sustainable and renewable resource we have. It is the power of love, loyalty, shared history, and human bonding. It cannot be bought for any amount of money. No matter how smart you are or how great an athlete you might be, you still must earn loyalty every day by your acts and the care and feeding of relationships that are important to you.

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton catch the spirit of this sentiment with their recent duet "You Can't Make Old Friends." The song's lyrics are a simple and moving account of the importance and durability of friendship:

What will I do when you are gone?
Who's gonna tell me the truth?
Who's gonna finish the stories I start,
The way you always do?

When somebody knocks at the door,
Someone new walks in.
I will smile and shake their hands,
but you can't make old friends.

You can't make old friends
Can't make old friends
It was you and me, since way back when.
But you can't make old friends.

In the video of the song, Kenny Rogers specifically discusses the need to step back from the pressures of the music business and reflect on friendships and important values. That is, of course, what LeBron James has done with his statement and his move home.

The communities of the Rust Belt have infrastructure, access to food and water, low-cost housing, and room for growth. What is sometimes missing is the energy and sense of purpose that attracts people, business and new ideas. What remains present is what LeBron James is valuing: history, friendship, comfort and familiarity. The cynic searches for some hidden hustle here, but I sense LeBron's genuine growth and sense of admirable purpose. As we move our economic world from "all material consumption all the time," engaging in community life and engaging in social and intellectual discourse are ways that we can enrich ourselves without damaging the planet.

LeBron James is not rejecting the glitz and glamour that we shower on the world's greatest basketball player, but he is allowing another value to enter into the mix, something bigger than cash, championships, and fame: the value of community, and taking responsibility for leading that community. No matter what happens on the basketball court, he has really stepped up where it really matters. And that is very good news in a very challenging world.

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