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August 03, 2014

Toxic algae blooms threaten the Great Lakes' water

The good people of Toledo are currently without municipal drinking water, because Lake Erie is full of toxic algae. 7 Things You Need To Know About The Toxin That's Poisoned Ohio's Drinking Water | ThinkProgress
Approximately 400,000 people in and around Toledo, Ohio are being warned not to drink their tap water after high levels of a dangerous toxin were discovered in the water supply Saturday, according to the Toledo-Lucas County Department of Health. The toxin is called microcystin, the high levels of which were caused by massive increases in algae on Lake Erie. The increases in algae, called “algae blooms”, are poisonous if consumed — causing abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness, and dizziness. Boiling the water doesn’t help — in fact, it increases the presence of the toxin. As of now, it’s unclear when Toledo residents will have clean water again. According to the Toledo Blade, fresh water samples are being flown to a specialized U.S. Environmental Protection Agency laboratory in Cincinnati, which will determine the extent of the contamination. Here are 7 things you need to know about microcystin — what it does, why it’s there, and why it’s spreading in the five Great Lakes that form the largest system of fresh water in the world.

June 23, 2014

Physicist Offers $10,000 To Anyone Who Can Disprove Climate Change

I'm always a fan of offering people money to prove their utter bullshit. Physicist Offers $10,000 To Anyone Who Can Disprove Climate Change | ThinkProgress
When not refuting the 97 percent of scientists who believe in human-caused global warming, climate change deniers often draw upon the conspiracy that it’s is a fabricated theory invented by those in a position to gain financially or otherwise from efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A Texas-based physicist is turning that notion on its head by offering $10,000 of his own money to anyone who can disprove mainstream, accepted climate science. Dr. Christopher Keating, a physicist who has taught at the University of South Dakota and the U.S. Naval Academy, says in his blog post that the rules are easy: there is no entry fee, participants must be over 18, and the scientific method must be employed. “Deniers actively claim that science is on their side and there is no proof of man-made climate change,” Keating told the College Fix by email. “You would think that if it was really as easy as the deniers claim that someone, somewhere would do it.” Keating is planning to post entries on his blog along with comments. He is willing to field a wide array of submissions and is also offering $1,000 to anyone that can provide any scientific evidence at all that climate change isn’t real. “They are even free to find proof on the Internet and cut and paste it,” he said.

June 13, 2014

Michigan lawmaker wants to classify "burning toxic waste" as a renewable energy source

This could be an Onion headline, but it's not. Michigan Lawmaker Wants Tar Sands Waste To Count As Renewable Energy | ThinkProgress
A Michigan lawmaker wants to change his state’s renewable energy standard to include some rather unconventional fuels. State Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R) is sponsoring a bill that would alter Michigan’s definition of renewable energy to include plastic waste and petroleum coke, a byproduct of tar sands refining. The aim of the bill is to “remove unnecessary burdens on the appropriate use of solid waste as a clean energy source.” Nesbitt told Midwest Energy News that he thinks burning things like plastic waste and petcoke for fuel would be a logical alternative to storing them in a landfill or having them pile up along rivers. “I find it extremely troubling that some groups do not believe we should be encouraging or allowing for the development of utilizing our waste stream or preventing it from going to landfills,” he said. “If they want to support increased landfill use, that can be their position.” Nesbitt is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that’s fought hard to repeal or weaken renewable energy standards like Michigan’s across the country. Most recently, ALEC, whose donors include billionaires Charles and David Koch, backed a bill that sought to weaken Kansas’s RPS.