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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(6)
Plague/Virus:(3)
Climate Chaos:(12)
Resource Depletion: (8)
Biology Breach:(7)
Recovery:(6)
This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
climate impacts  ~ global warming  ~ contamination  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ water issues  ~ unintended consequences  ~ superbugs  ~ massive die-off  ~ arctic meltdown  ~ pandemic  ~ stupid humans  



ApocaDocuments (7) for the "Biology Breach" scenario from this week
[see full week] ~ [see full Biology Breach scenario and stories]
Sun, Mar 22, 2009
from Merced Sun-Star:
Overrun by waste: Large agriculture operations add billions to our economy but what price are we paying?
Welcome to one of the most serious tradeoffs of the 21st century: as America and the world gird to become green, they're finding that ecology and economy sometimes don't stroll hand in hand into an unpolluted sunset. The cost of cleaning and greening has to come from somewhere. Increasingly, that cost is being paid by consumers in the form of higher prices passed along by businesses trying to meet ever-stricter environmental regulations. Another factor is that residents of communities where some companies may pollute have to decide whether the jobs offered at those companies are enough to offset any environmental harm that may occur. With an unemployment rate pushing 20 percent, Mercedians have to ask themselves whether the fate of a fairy shrimp or more chicken guano in their soil matters more to them than a world-class research university or a decent-paying blue-collar job. ...


Me... I'd always be on the side of the fairy shrimp.

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Sun, Mar 22, 2009
from The Japan Times:
Oceans awash in toxic seas of plastic
Go down to the beach today and you'll find plenty of garbage among the sand but that's nothing compared with the continent-sized whirlpools of lethal waste out there beyond the horizon... Umbrella handles. Pens. Popsicle sticks. Lots and lots of toothbrushes. These are just a few of the items that make up the approximately 13 million sq. km Eastern Garbage Patch, an immense plastic soup in the Pacific Ocean that starts about 800 km off the coast of California and extends westward. Sucked from the coasts of Asia and America by ocean currents, or discarded at sea, plastic debris accumulates there in an ever-growing mass that does not biodegrade and is said to be already larger than the United States. Scientists have long known that plastic in the garbage patch and elsewhere is stuffing the stomachs of seabirds and causing them to starve, suffocating fish and choking marine turtles. But what is now becoming clear is that when pieces of plastic meet other pollutants in the ocean, the results can be even more toxic. That's because, as a growing number of studies are showing, the plastic debris absorbs harmful chemicals from the seawater it floats in, acting like a "pollution sponge" that concentrates those chemicals and poses a different, more insidious threat to marine and other life. ...


Perhaps we're just building a plastic Pangea!

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Sat, Mar 21, 2009
from AP News:
Critics question safety of storing coal slurry in mines
Regulators in a handful of Appalachian states that let coal companies inject slurry into abandoned mines say they're confident the practice is safe, but an Associated Press survey shows they lack scientific data to answer citizens who believe aquifers, water wells and their own health are at risk. None of the five states contacted by AP has studied the chemical composition of slurry, a byproduct left when clay, sulfur and other impurities are removed from coal to make it burn more efficiently. For decades, slurry has been injected into abandoned, underground mines in Appalachia as a cheap alternative to building massive dams or filtration and drying systems. But hundreds of West Virginians are suing coal companies in two cases, claiming chemicals and metals in the slurry have leaked into aquifers, contaminated well water and caused health problems ranging from kidney disease to cancer. ...


Seems like maybe we should just burn it instead. I'm confident that's safe.

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Tue, Mar 17, 2009
from Reuters:
Facemasks may help shield the heart from pollution
Heavy air pollution can have immediate effects on the heart and blood vessels, but a simple facemask may offer some protection, new research suggests. In one study, researchers found that when young men were exposed to air polluted with diesel exhaust, their arteries temporarily stiffened. Meanwhile, a second study showed that healthy adults had higher blood pressure and a less healthy heart-rate pattern when they walked through the streets of Beijing without a facemask. The good news, the study found, was that the cardiovascular effects were diminished when volunteers donned a facemask like those worn by construction workers to keep from breathing dust. ...


It might help my health... but girls are gonna think I look stupid!

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Tue, Mar 17, 2009
from Montreal Gazette:
Brain cancer linked to youngsters using cellphones
An international group of scientists is calling on Canada and other countries to bring in tougher safety standards for cellphone use after a Swedish team found a fivefold elevated risk of malignant brain tumours in children who begin using mobile phones before the age of 20. The plea and the science underlying it is published in the forthcoming edition of Pathophysiology, devoted to peer-reviewed research about the biological effects of the global explosion of wireless technologies and devices like cellphones, cordless phones, wireless Internet and cell towers. The findings of 15 studies from health researchers in six different countries, looking at the effects of electromagnetic fields and radio frequency radiation on living cells and on the health of humans, should jolt government agencies into action as a precautionary measure, Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health & the Environment at the University at Albany, and one of the co-authors, said in an interview. ...


Yeah right -- governments are sooooo geared toward "precautionary measures."

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Mon, Mar 16, 2009
from The Oregonian:
Oregon kids face hazard getting to school: diesel fumes
Tens of thousands of Oregon schoolchildren who ride buses are exposed to potentially harmful fumes because of fuel system defects, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality. But two bills in the Legislature that aim to help fix the problem may not advance out of committee, state officials and environmental activists said. "I don't think most parents realize that when they're sending their children off to school, how dangerous it can be," said Dana Kaye, executive director of the American Lung Association of Oregon, which is helping the DEQ encourage school districts to retrofit faulty buses. More than 3,700 diesel-powered buses, including hundreds in the Portland area, leak fumes into buses through a hole in the crankcase or through tailpipe emissions, said Kevin Downing, coordinator of the DEQ's Clean Diesel Initiative, which aims to reduce health risks from diesel exhaust from any engine in the state. ...


Spare the exhaust, spoil the child.

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Mon, Mar 16, 2009
from Queen's University, via EurekAlert:
Cleaning up oil spills can kill more fish than spills themselves
A new Queen's University study shows that detergents used to clean up spills of diesel oil actually increase its toxicity to fish, making it more harmful. "The detergents may be the best way to treat spills in the long term because the dispersed oil is diluted and degraded," says Biology professor Peter Hodson. "But in the short term, they increase the bioavailability and toxicity of the fuel to rainbow trout by 100-fold." ... [The dispersion] increases the transfer of hydrocarbons from oil to water, Dr. Hodson explains. The hydrocarbons pass easily from water into tissues and are deadly to fish in the early stages of life. "This could seriously impair the health of fish populations, resulting in long-term reductions in economic returns to fisheries," he says. ...


Jeez, you mean adding more shit won't fix the stew?

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