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Friday, December 17, 2010
Peak Oil is upon us and alternative fuel sources like wind and sun will help us gracefully transition to electric vehicles. These vehicles are the current state of the art.
Clean Natural Gas:
Sunday, December 12, 2010
NIKA’S REUSABLE BOTTLES COULD HAVE YOUR DESIGN ON THEM
In an effort to be more Eco- Responsible, Nika is making their first line of stainless steel bottles and Nika wants your help!
Send in your full color design to be voted on by the Nika Community.
Your art can use elements of Nika’s branding and messaging, or be completely original.
Design must Include the Nika logo.
Design should be sized 3.75”h x 7.5”w
All entries must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 31st, 2011.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I just took action and hope you can too. California's Department of Pesticide Regulation is considering approval of methyl iodide, a carcinogenic pesticide, for use on strawberry fields. A panel of Nobel laureates and expert scientists called methyl iodide "one of the most toxic chemicals used in manufacturing," yet the State of California is considering allowing it to be sprayed and injected into the soil.
Will you join me in asking Governor-elect Jerry Brown to pledge to ban methyl iodide as soon as he takes office?
Governor-elect Brown has the power to decide whether or not methyl iodide should be allowed on California's strawberries. It's time to put our health, the health of farm workers, and children's health before the profits of the pesticide industry. The state should be finding safer, healthier ways to produce strawberries -- not allowing more toxins into our bodies and our environment. Please join me in signing the petition to Governor-elect Brown!
Take action here: http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5262
Friends, Collegues, Fellow Environmentalists,
Clear your calendars on the evening of December 8th!
As many of you know, our team at Below the Surface completed an expedition in September 2009 to better understand and film pollution sources along the Sacramento River, covering the nearly 400 miles of the Sacramento River and making our way down the nearly 450 miles of State Water Project.
San Diego Coastkeeper has invited me to be 1 of 4 panelists to speak about this at their annual Signs of the Tide event. The panelists will be discussing our team's observations on this expedition, the politics, science and at-home solutions for the water scarcity we find ourselves in as a region.
Check out the event at http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org/act/green-events-in-san-diego/signs-of-the-tide.html and join us on December 8th from 6-8 pm at the Urban Corps of SD 3127 Jefferson Street 92010
See you then!
Jared Robinson Criscuolo - Explorer and Founder
BELOW THE SURFACE
A coast-to-coast exploration of America’s waterways
203 887 3272
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How much biofuel was made from Algae in 2010?
Monday, November 29, 2010
Many have argued that Algal Biofuels hold promise as an alternative fuel source and that San Diego is well situated to become the "Green Houston".
Can biotechnology revolutionize the oil industry by creating algal biomass with high lipid content that can feed directly into industrial petroleum refineries?
Will San Diego County play a central role in this beyond the pilot plant?
Will refineries dot the horizon in the future and be colocated with the algal ponds so as to sequester the CO2 from the production process?
Modern algae research indicates many reasons to be hopeful that algae can play a competitive role in our alternative energy future.
With regards to cost, a recent study indicated that there are many benefits to co-location with wastewater treatment facilities equipped with decomposers that collect natural gas.
Like many chemical feedstocks in production today, there will be little waste as we will be able to utilize many aspects of the biomass created from Algae production and once we are able to realize some economies of scale, it seems that the price of Algal biofuels will come down as well.
With the hundreds of thousands of species of Algae in the world, and through modern genomic advances, we are nearing the brink of an Algae revolution.
One concern of note is with growing non-native Algae in our Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes. Given the risks of algal blooms and unknown consequences of some of these newly discovered and developed species, it seems that scale-up of non-native species should be performed in pilot plants and production facilities as this stage of research.
Growth of Algae in plastic bags with osmotic membranes is being researched as a means of containment, but hopefully not with non-native Algae. A genetically modified algae should be investigated and risks assessed before carelessly contaminating the Ocean's with significantly altered DNA. That's one massive experiment that could not be undone easily.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
By David Huang and Shweta Mukesh
Scripps graduate student Kristian Gustavson, and Professor Aaron Schwabach of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law were invited to UCSD to present their analysis of the BP oil spill from scientific and legal perspectives, respectively. Kristian Gustavson, who has made multiple trips to the Gulf region to conduct studies, specializes in the study of the Mississippi Delta. Professor Aaron Schwabach focuses his work on international environmental law, and has taught the subject for over 20 years.
In his account of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Kristian Gustavson highlights the level of disorganization and the coordination failures from both local and national level agencies. He characterized the initial response to the oil spill as inefficient and "an overall mess". He attributed the inefficiencies to the recklessness and impatience of politicians. Instead of waiting and listening to the scientific community, government officials and agencies pushed solutions and ideas which had well-known repercussions.
"A lot of people there have asked me, 'How bad is the oil spill?'", Gustavson said, "People always want answers, but science won't always have answers right away. It is the job of science to take the time to do research to come up with rational and most importantly, the correct answers."
In his presentation, Gustavson cites numerous follies of actions taken by local and national agencies to mitigate the problem. One of the key mistakes, Gustavson contends, was dumping dispersants into the contaminated water, which diffuses the concentration of the oil, but at the cost of stratifying it in different levels of the water column and causing greater harm to the biota.
"I've never seen a dead sea turtle or a dead dolphin in my life, so to see the two right next to each other on the beach was nothing short of a rude awakening," said Gustavson.
Gustavson largely attributes the headstrong behavior of various agencies to leaders' desires to appease a disgruntled public. He sees much of the mitigation techniques such as oil burning, dispersants and sand barriers as counterproductive methods of temporarily pacifying a constituency whose livelihood was at risk.
Yet, looking forward, Gustavson maintains an optimistic view on the future of the recovery and restoration process following the disaster. In addressing the steps needed to go forth today, six months after the spill, Gustavson emphasized the importance of collective action of American society as a whole in reducing waste and cutting down on pollution, which compounds the current problems in the Gulf. He also stressed that preserving the Mississippi Delta is just as large, if not larger, of a priority as cleaning up the Gulf.
"The real problem in this region cannot be simplified to just land loss or oil pollution—it's that it's been underexplored and overexploited in the last century," Gustavson says.
Professor Aaron Schwabach further highlighted the detrimental impact that the Deepwater Horizon spill has had on the environment. "The [BP incident] is not an oil spill like other oil spills. The order of magnitude in this situation is much larger, and hence, much more serious", said Schwabach.
Professor Schwabach drew comparisons between the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the Trail Smelter case in the 1930s wherein the apple crops of Stevens County, WA suffered due to sulfur dioxide emissions from a smelting plant in Trail, British Colombia. The Trail Smelter case resulted in compensation by the Canadian government to the U.S. government for damages claimed by residents of Stevens County.
"Every state has responsibility to prevent acts within its territory that will cause harm to another state," said Schwabach, "Has Britain committed an international environmental violation against the United States? Of course it has. Something happened in London—plans were made—and harm fell upon the United States."
Professor Schwabach explained the compensation procedure, which BP has been undertaking in the previous months as part of BP's liability as creators of externality. Citing the "Polluter Pays" principle, Schwabach explains that external costs, such as pollution, created by an organization should be internalized by the polluter. In the BP case, since environmental costs have been born by residents of the Gulf Coast, the BP Company, and by association, the United Kingdom, are obligated to pay reparations to those harmed by the oil spill.
PROSPECT had the chance to interview the two speakers after the talk.
PROSPECT: If countries followed the standards set by international treaties, would the number of oil spills be reduced and clean-up efforts become more efficient?
AS: UN treaties and most international treaties are not enforceable. Yet to a large extent, nations abide by them because they want other countries to follow international law. Treaties are like contracts. From a legal standpoint, I do not believe that rectifying international law will aid clean-up efforts in the Gulf. In this case, BP cheated. The U.S. was being treated like a resource colony. What BP did was illegal in both the U.S. and in Britain. No amount of regulation or international law can limit events like this.
PROSPECT: How has the Gulf oil spill changed the way we treat and respond to environmental law?
AS: I do not believe that the magnitude of the Gulf has sunk into people yet. The BP oil spill is the largest spill in the U.S. and it occurred in a touristic area. Given the above, environmental law has become increasing popular and valued.
PROSPECT: Currently, the U.S. is not pressing charges against the British government nor is the U.S. government taking BP to the International Court Justice (ICJ). If the U.S. chose to make the oil spill an international legal issue, what would be the procedure and ramifications?
AS: U.S. cannot take Britain to the ICJ. Both America and Britain have had different policies towards others in matters of international justice. As a result, the only option available would be arbitration. In a case of arbitration, there would be three mediators–in this case, there would be one representative from the U.S., one representative from Britain, and one neutral representative chosen by both nations. The neutral representative would decide which nation is guilty and a certain amount of money would be given to the victimized nation. The current policy involves corporate liability. BP is paying a total of 20 billion dollars in different installments. This money will be kept for later damages, claims, and clean-up efforts.
PROSPECT: In late July, Time Magazine published an article downplaying the ecological damage caused by the oil spill. The central source of their article, Ivor van Heerden, a former LSU professor, likened the damage of the spill on the environment to "a sunburn on a cancer patient," suggesting that the impact of the oil spill is more or less inconsequential in the face of preexisting ecological problems of the gulf. What is your evaluation of this view?
KG: During my visits to the Gulf area, I have had the chance to work with [Ivor van Heerden]. And in certain respects, I believe there is merit to his statement. It is true that in relation to preexisting problems in the Mississippi delta, such as land loss, the BP oil spill is only a temporary problem. However, I would not discount the gravity of the spill simply because larger problems loom in the background. The Mississippi Delta is an area that has been underexplored and overexploited. If anything, due to the fragility of the ecosystem, the impact of the oil spill is augmented.
PROSPECT: What is your evaluation of BP's handling of the oil spill?
KG: BP has technological and financial capability. However, that advantage was lost in the initial stages of the spill. BP chose to compromise transparency- they consistently chose to under-report the volume of oil spilled. It's true that there was lots of pressure to keep things out of the spotlight, but practices like underreporting kept us from responding appropriately. Certainly in this case, downplaying and quelling our fears did not make things better.
PROSPECT: Did we know the negative effects of dispersion, burning oil, and other clean-up efforts? If so, why did the government choose these strategies?
KG: Yes- we knew the negative effects. However, people wanted to see the government making efforts to clean the gulf. Oftentimes, the best environmental solution is to leave the oil there. If you remove oil, more oil will come back to the shore. The public did not want to see oil on the shore and government inaction. As a result, the government chose to pursue clean up efforts which were not effective and caused further environmental damage.
PROSPECT: What should have been done to better the clean-up efforts?
KG: We needed to bring more consultants. There were multiple research groups that wanted to study and aid the cleanup efforts. However, they did not get needed funds to conduct experiments and create an optimal solution. In an ideal world, we should not have let BP decide what needs to be done. We needed their equipment. However, there should have been more transparency and the U.S. government and scientists should have been dictating and directing the efforts. There was a lot of pressure to keep the oil spill out of the limelight. Officials were openly bribing scientists and preventing researchers from entering the region.
PROSPECT: Looking towards the future, what should be the next steps to clean up this area?
KG: The only large-scale solution is to use the Mississippi River. We need to clean the river and lower the levies. We should allow the Mississippi River to flow into the Gulf. This would dilute the concentration of oil and other pollutants. However, we are not doing this. We are washing away the only probable solution we have and downplaying the situation at hand.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Very interesting discussion with Bill Toone, the co-founder of ECOLife regarding water management. The discussion covers a broad variety of topics and provides some very useful links to internet resources to help Xeriscape your lawn and use rainwater harvesting and long-term strategies to save you money on your utility bills by using High Compact Flourescent bulbs, which are more expensive up front but save you money in the long run.
The TEDx San Diego event is this Monday and will be broadcast via Ustream and you can join the discussion online at www.TEDx-SanDiego.com , you can join the discussion on water issues with ECOLife founder Bill Toone and other great speakers like Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Director, Tony Haymet.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Closest city: Ottowa Canada
Mission: Speak at Laurentians in Residence.
Below the Surface Co-founder Jared Criscuolo is heading off to the northern-most reaches of New York State on October 26th to speak at his Alma Mater, St Lawrence University. He'll be joining in the Laurentians in Residence panel to discuss the work he, Below the Surface Co-Founder Kristian Gustavson and their team have been doing to change peoples thinking on water pollution.
Hopefully this honor is ample evidence that his judgement at 29 is a bit more sound than it was at 21.
Friday, October 1, 2010
I’m not a lawyer, but think there’s probably a policy guru out there that can tell us if this is better or worse than before?
More or less, intentional discharges are fined civilly, with these exceptions:
“A person shall not be liable under subdivision (b) if the
discharge is caused solely by any one or combination of the
(1) An act of war.
(2) An unanticipated grave natural disaster or other natural
phenomenon of an exceptional, inevitable, and irresistible
character, the effects of which could not have been prevented or
avoided by the exercise of due care or foresight.
(3) Negligence on the part of the state, the United States, or any
department or agency thereof. However, this paragraph shall not
be interpreted to provide the state, the United States, or any
department or agency thereof a defense to liability for any
discharge caused by its own negligence.
(4) An intentional act of a third party, the effects of which could
not have been prevented or avoided by the exercise of due care or
(5) Any other circumstance or event that causes the discharge
despite the exercise of every reasonable precaution to prevent or
mitigate the discharge.
(d) The court may impose civil liability either on a daily basis
or on a per gallon basis, but not on both.
(1) The civil liability on a daily basis shall not exceed fifteen
thousand dollars ($15,000) for each day the violation occurs.
(2) The civil liability on a per gallon basis shall not exceed
twenty dollars ($20) for each gallon of waste discharged.
(e) The state board or a regional board may impose civil liability
administratively pursuant to Article 2.5 (commencing with Section
13323) of Chapter 5 either on a daily basis or on a per gallon basis,
but not on both.
(1) The civil liability on a daily basis shall not exceed five
thousand dollars ($5,000) for each day the violation occurs.”
GOVERNOR SIGNS CRUCIAL BILL TO IMPROVE REGIONAL WATER SELF SUFFICIENCY
Yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Planning and Conservation League's co-sponsored bill, Senate Bill 918 <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=6ET6vGtEnRBDIWRIvnQKDfqGcj%2BGV4%2Bx>.
The bill, authored by Senator Fran Pavley and co-sponsored by the WateReuse Association, directs the State Department of Public Health to develop criteria for safely using recycled water to supplement groundwater basins and reservoirs.
The legislation offers a unique solution to California's water crisis, enabling millions of acre-feet of water to be cost-effectively reused every year, rather than simply discharged to the ocean. This new law will improve California's water management record and point the way to a more sustainable holistic water management plan.
SB 918 had no recorded opposition and was supported by traditional water interests like the Association of California Water Agencies and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund, and municipalities like the cities of San Diego and San Jose.
PCL is proud to have built support for this landmark legislation and thanks Senator Pavley for her leadership and Governor Schwarzenegger for his support, the WateReuse Association for their diligence, and all of the bill's many supporters for their partnership in securing passage for SB 918.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
This is a little dated, but a great project worth noting. The Massachusetts Oyster Project is using this authors favorite shellfish to help clean up sewage overflows in the Charles River. Incredible what nature can do to clean up our problems when we put it to work!
Click Here for the Boston Globe Blog Post!
Friday, September 24, 2010
Tony Haymet from Scripps Research Institution is speaking at TEDxSanDiego 2010 The Next Wave: November 8th at Anthology - TEDxSanDiego.com
Monday, September 20, 2010
TAKE YOURSELF to the RIVER. Congratulations! How many rivers are connected between you and the ocean? How can you celebrate rivers today? What did you do, where did you go, who did you meet, etc?
Challenge: How do you feel now that you have completed this program? Continue to produce a positive RIPPLE EFFECT, this is only the beginning. What you do today ripples on to tomorrow. The journey continues…
For More Information:
DETERMINE if THE 90-DAY PLAN was HELPFUL for you to better understand and care for water and for the world in which you live.
What did you like about the program?
What did you dislike about the program?
What were some unexpected things that happened to you as you were going day to day?
What conservation tips have you been consistently using? Can you stick with at least 10?
Do you have any suggestions or ideas to make it better?
Saturday, September 18, 2010
(Email address has not been verified.)
BP to conduct test to show if Gulf well dead - Yahoo! News
Design a conservation project or presentation to inform others about what you have learned over the last three months. Consider the importance of getting other people involved and why it is critical to raise awareness.
Challenge: Write a letter to the editor (any editor), as to what role people should play in addressing water pollution in your community.
BLOW the WHISTLE on pollution. If you don’t speak up, who will? If you have questions about safe water call: (800) 426-4791. Simply put: if something is not right, it is wrong.
Challenge: Who is Rachel Carson? Volunteer and become a trained to monitor water.
Extra Challenge: Are you registered to vote? Why is this important?
For More Information:
Thursday, September 16, 2010
To stop receiving these email updates, click here.
Using the link below, REGISTER (or adopt) YOUR WATERSHED and take some level of personal responsibility for keeping it healthy.
Challenge: Where does your watershed begin? How far does it extend? What are current concerns facing your watershed? What solutions, if any, are being implemented to correct any damage done? Organize a clean-up effort for your local waterway.
For More Information: