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Locomotive pollution train

We all know about the damaging impact that Man has on the natural environment, but even some of the most pessimistic didn’t realise the extent of it. It has been found that some of the world’s deepest sea trenches have been polluted with highly toxic substances over the years. The presence of these man made chemicals in this remote area of the planet has shown the serious extent of the human impact on the environment.

The Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean, where the pollution has been discovered, is 10 kilometres deep and is the most inaccessible place on planet Earth. A robotic submarine discovered small crustaceans living in the trench, which contains 50 times more toxic chemicals than the most polluted rivers in China. However, the Far East isn’t the only place where the rivers have been significantly affected. Take a look at this story on salmon in Seattle on http://www.thealternativedaily.com/puget-sound-salmon-contain-drugs/. The results of the Mariana study were considered particularly startling as the toxins were discovered miles away from any industrial sources.

To get a scale of how deep the trench is, imagine Mount Everest flipped upside down and then add a further two kilometres onto the top. No sunlight can penetrate any of the trenches so all the surviving organisms have to rely entirely on dead organic material from above. It took a custom built submarine to reach all the way down to this area, which collected various samples to test and draw conclusions from.

Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University in the UK led the research, and commented on the “devastating impact that mankind is having on the planet.” Two of the types of chemicals that were discovered were banned in the 1970s, but stay in the environment as they do not break down. These persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been found in the deepest parts of the ocean, and are also water-repellent. Once substances flow into the trench, they cannot escape again which was the basis of this research being conducted in the first place.

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It’s thought that the trench’s closeness to a large whirlpool known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is the reason that it has accumulated so many toxins. This whirlpool has accumulated huge quantities of plastics over the years, and POPs have been found to bind to this material.

Ultimately, this latest piece of research is ground-breaking as it has shown that no part of the Earth’s surface is completely protected from the activities of Man. This is something that will impact all of us, as well as future generations. Protecting the environment is one of the biggest challenges that remains for human beings to tackle. With a growing population and more nations joining in to become fully industrialised, this is a challenge that will only become greater in the coming years. This is something that should bind us all together as a species, regardless of political beliefs or any other affiliation.

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Environment

Personal Injury Risks Push Officials To Find A More Suitable Route For Oil Pipeline

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Alaska oil pipeline

Whether you are for or against the Trump Administration’s promise to increase energy resources, it is hard to argue that they haven’t taken action to increase the production of natural resources across the US. After finally passing the pipeline that was blocked by the Obama Administration for nearly a decade, it isn’t going to be smooth sailing going forward for oil workers or the oil industry.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a battle in court at the beginning of this year that sought to block a pipeline built near their reservation. The reason for the diversion was that the Army disallowed the pipeline to be drilled on a section of the Missouri River that is dammed.

The Army began looking for alternative routes for the pipeline that, to date, has cost more than 3.7 billion dollars for the Dakota access. The construction plans that had the pipeline running right through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation have continued to be a point of major contention since their proposal. The site of the pipeline would leave many on the reservations displaced and thousands of Sioux people with nowhere to relocate their camps. That would lead to a personal injury lawsuit against the construction of the pipeline.

The only way to address the situation, according to Jo-Ellen Darcy, who was the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works, is to find an alternative route for the pipeline. However, that could lead to a hold up that costs millions and puts millions who are currently working on the pipeline at a standstill. It is estimated that rerouting the pipeline could lead to halting construction for anywhere from months to years.

President Trump tried to overturn the provision for relocation initiated by the Obama Administration, believing that it was more important to complete the nearly two thousand mile pipeline that spans four states. Proclaiming that it is for the greater good, President Trump tried to push through the plans to reroute and stay the course through the reservation.

The Army’s decision through the Obama Administration was to have an environmental study initiated to find an alternative route that would be more “environmentally friendly.” Whether Trump will go with the measure to relocate the pipeline through commissioning an environmental investigation or not is anyone’s guess. His administration has failed to comment.

A sticking point is that Trump’s holdings own stock in the building of the pipeline, which may cause a conflict of interest. His involvement with the Energy Transfer Partners alignment, he maintains, has nothing to do with whatever the Administration intends to do or not do regarding the rerouting alternatives.

Energy Transfer Partners, however, has maintained that they are unwilling to reroute the pipeline, which seeks to transport over 550,000 barrels a day of oil to supply from North Dakota all the way to Illinois. Protesters from Greenpeace are very happy with the court’s decision to disallow the pipeline to destroy the reservation land, while those who want progress and energy to flow, as well as jobs, believe that it is a poor decision.

A spokesman for the MAIN Coalition, which is a pro-infrastructure group, has condemned the decision as being nothing more than politically motivated and in no way good for the common welfare of those people that the oil piping would service. Not based on any real rule of law, they maintain, it was a decision guided by politics and should not stand.

According to an oil field injury attorney, the legal challenges to the pipeline were made on the demonstration that the tribe was not only not consulted about the pipeline or the problems that it might create for the reservation, but that it would severely negatively impact their quality of life. If the pipeline were to run under the Missouri River reservoir, it would jeopardize the water source that is primary to the reservation. If the water is contaminated by oil, that could lead to a personal injury lawsuit. It was also argued that the construction itself would disrupt the sacred sites that rest near the lake, which would be violating tribal treaty rights.

The fight continues to wage over the legalities of the pipeline and its route through the reservation. As of April, the US Army Corps of Engineers maintained that there are no such historical properties that would be affected by the routing of the pipeline as was previously argued. There are no recorded cultural sites anywhere along the pipeline according to the Army, and the construction would not pose a threat to any drinking water.

Likely, the battle will wage on for quite a while between the Trump Administration and environmental groups. In the meantime, the government is shelling out millions for a project that is at a standstill until the legalities can be ruled on. A matter of personal injury and tribal treaties, there are many hurdles in sorting through it all.

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Business

Three Ways that Businesses Can Benefit from Renewable Energy

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Wind mill renewable energy

The market for renewable energy is developing apace, and it is little wonder that more and more businesses are looking at it as a viable option for powering their production lines and keeping their work spaces working.

So what it is that’s drawing so many entrepreneurs to exploring new sources of energy? Aside from the flexibility offered by the many different options you can choose from (see this list from OVO for more on that), it also has numerous financial benefits, both in terms of reducing your outlay and boosting your profits.

If you’re interested in learning more about what it could do for your enterprise, let’s take a look at a few of these below…  

1: Consistently Lower Energy Bills

Those who use traditional energy sources like oil and natural gas can guarantee that they will have a pretty large monthly bill, especially as these finite resources are becoming harder and harder to come by. This is a trend that is only set to continue, with the cost of accessing power likely to grow even greater as time passes. Renewable energy can therefore offer you a more cost-efficient alternative, with prices likely to drop lower still as it becomes more widely used and more people invest in the market for it.     

2: A Positive Public Relations Boost

Switching to renewable energy may be a purely altruistic decision on your part, but whether or not this is the case, it will still indicate to your clients, customers, and collaborators that you take environmental issues seriously, and look beyond your own interests when making business decisions. Many will only choose to buy or work with those whose values are in line with their own, and if this makes you so, you’ll have a whole new audience who are drawn to your company and its eco-friendly ethos. 

3: It Will Give You a New Marketing Angle

On that last note, switching to a renewable energy provider is something that you can use to market yourself going forwards. If you’re looking to attract new customers and clients and have run out of ideas to differentiate your company from its closest competitors, it gives you a great angle to work with. With more people than ever looking to make conscious purchasing choices, make sure that you milk the change you’ve made as far as you possibly can. 

Although switching to renewable energy may seem like more hassle than it’s worth, it really could have some major benefits for your business. Why not change today to take advantage of them?

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Are Civil Rights Violations At The Heart Of Flint Water Contamination?

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Many were horrified with the fallout from Flint, Michigan. What stunned the nation so much are the youngest victims and the families who have forever been altered. At the heart of the lead contamination of waterways in Flint might not just be poor planning and resources. Some are insisting that it might be more about civil rights and a systematic racism at play than about any municipal failure.

Civil rights water contaminatin

According to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and a civil rights attorney, the contaminated water systems of the city are deeply rooted in historical racism that continues to plague America. A public health catastrophe of grand proportions, it is unfortunately not the first time that this type of widespread fallout has befallen poor neighbourhoods in America.

The report calls not just for major changes to be made in operational procedures for the downtown area, but also for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission fashioned after one used in South Africa when the government was trying to do away with apartheid and rebuild government trust. On the same scale of credibility, Michigan residents no longer believe that the government or its employees care about their well-being or address their needs.

The Commission calls for Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan, to devise a cabinet to delve into the implicit bias that exists in Flint, and to require all agencies within the state, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Environmental Quality, to do the same. 

The hope is that organizations will tackle the prejudice that exists in operations around the Michigan area, specifically in the poorer communities. The Commission insists that a systematic change is needed to influence the way that decisions are made to help the disadvantaged communities of Flint so that they are given the same opportunities, services, and safety assurances as other areas and big cities in Michigan.

Specifically, the Commission calls for a locally-elected official who is given a state-appointed managerial position to make decisions about the community. That official is to report to an emergency manager, who is elected directly by the governor instead of the state treasurer. That way, the person who is responsible for choosing the official is elected into office and has accountability for their appointment to the communities they serve.

The belief is that the same contamination and cover-up would never have happened in a more affluent part of Michigan, like Ann Arbor. The 135-page report outlines how the incident occurred specifically because the surrounding community was occupied by poorer residents, predominantly African American individuals. The report maintains that Flint is tantamount to segregation, and therefore the problems experienced in the community should be tackled in the same manner as breaking up South African apartheid.

The Commission found that the residents of Flint were subjected to hardship and harm that was the result of systematic and structural discrimination at a government level, not just a mistake made by a careless municipality. When you have poor neighbourhoods that aren’t privy to the same rights and safety, what results is water pipes that leak lead and other harmful contaminants into the water.

It also leads to fewer jobs, fewer retail establishments, and fewer opportunities that only further perpetuate the poor conditions experienced in Flint. The residents of Flint were not afforded the same protections as other residents of Michigan simply because of the colour of their skin and the size of their bank accounts.

There is no doubt that a lot of trust has been lost and will have to be built back up. That won’t happen overnight or with the same system of protections, environmental and otherwise being the structure of Flint Michigan. If Michigan residents are ever going to feel safe and have faith in the government who they look to for help, there is going to have to be some real change made at all levels. 

Flint is a city known for hard times and bad fortune. Once it was one of the most affluent cities in the US, thanks to automobile manufacturing, but when the plants went away they took the affluence with them. What remained was people without jobs and no one looking out for them, and just as the city was making a resurgence, here is another catastrophe that will have to be rebuilt one brick at a time. A change has to start with trust and assurances that the colour of your skin doesn’t define your worth.

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