Friday, August 27, 2010

Welcome to our gridlocked nightmare

Epic Traffic Jam in China Enters Its 9th Day

By: Megan Gibson (3 days ago)

Cars sit in a traffic jam as they make their way along a main road in central Beijing

Image by © David Gray/Reuters/Corbis

Nothing is worse than sitting in traffic, right? How about sitting in traffic for nine days?

A 100-kilometer-long traffic jam in China's Heibei Province has left thousands of truck drivers stuck on the interstate heading towards Beijing since August 14. What's worse, officials are saying that the jam could continue for up to a month!

The original jam was caused by roadside construction work, but has been made worse by minor car accidents and breakdowns. (See the 50 worst cars of all time.)

The traffic jam has sparked some entrepreneurial spirit for local residents, which has added to traffic-hostages' annoyance. One truck driver complained that vendors were selling instant noodles for “four times the original price while I wait in the congestion.”

Makes that twenty-minute wait for the bus seem a little better, eh? (via the Global Times)

Read more:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Biofuels: Worse than useless

Renewable energy, for example, is a crucial part of every national and international strategy for curbing emissions, including plans to promote biofuels. However, rising ethanol production has been linked to losses of grassland habitats, while booming demand for palm oil, some of which is turned into biodiesel, is fuelling the clearance of biodiverse-rich forests across south-east Asia. TheEcologist

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oceans die. Car production continues. Oil wars continue.

One of the most destructive and swift coral bleaching events ever recorded is underway in the waters off Indonesia, where water temperatures have climbed into the low 90s, according to data released by a conservation group this week. livescience

Permafrost Melting Releases Mercury Into Swedish Lake

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY on 08.17.10
Science & Technology (science)

permafrost photo
photo: Rob Lee via flickr

Lots of environmentally bad stuff is happening as the world's permafrost melts, mostly in the realm of releasing stored greenhouse gases. But, as Conservation points out, a new report in the journal Science of the Total Environment finds that as a permafrost melts in northern Sweden, stored mercury has begun leaking from a peat bog into a nearby lake--something which could expand as temperatures continue to rise.

In addition to storing large amounts of greenhouse gases, peatlands also store mercury--some from natural sources, most coming from the emissions of burning fossil fuels. As you hopefully know, mercury and water is a highly toxic mix for life.

The study finds, "there is a very real potential that a substantial amount of mercury, and other organically bound and stored contaminants, might be released into arctic and sub-arctic surface waters from thawing permafrost."

Sediment Mercury Levels Rising at Rate Not Seen in Centuries
To come to that conclusion a team of researchers used core samples from a peat bog and lake-bottom sediments from northern Sweden to determine shifting mercury concentrations and compare them to past climate data. They found that "sediment mercury levels are now rising at 8.3 micrograms per square meter per year, a rate not seen in several centuries."

Read the original: Climate driven release of carbon and mercury from permafrost mires increase mercury loading to sub-arctic lakes

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Death of the Car

I’m delighted by Blake Morrison’s prediction of the imminent extinction of that small-brained, armoured, toxic, invasive and murderous species, the private car (“Silence, vroom, vroom, silence”, August 1 [])

Cars are a lie. The real costs of the mobility, freedom, comfort and power that they promise include environmental and cultural mayhem in oil-producing regions like the Niger delta; the Iraq war; the 1.2 million people who die every year at the hands of the motoring Moloch; ecological disasters caused by oil spills; and the fouling of earth, air and water during all phases of the life-cycle from the extraction of raw materials to the eventual disposal of the corpses.

As much as 35% of urban land is colonised by cars - by noise, toxic fumes and acts of violence waiting to happen. This appalling monoculture has turned our cities into wastelands, and displaced our primary needs for peace and beauty on to ever more remote and threatened patches of wilderness. Car-based mobility has trumped not just community but common sense; divide the time spent driving, paying for, servicing and grooming a car by the distance travelled and the answer is walking speed.

A quarter of all carbon emissions are generated by road transport. Our addiction to cars is holding the future hostage and driving a planet to death.

Annie March - Letter to the Guardian Weekly

[With thanks from]