Health News

Ebola Outbreak Should Spur Mining Companies to Improve Sustainability

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The deadliest outbreak in the history of Ebola virus in West Africa has already claimed more than 900 lives. Governments across the world have stepped up surveillance and quarantine measures. Global businesses with mining activities in West Africa are evaluating the potential impact on their ability to sustain operations while also safeguarding their employees and their families against the outbreak, which is spreading faster than anyone anticipated.

Beijing to Ban Coal Burning

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - We all know that there are a number of people in this country who are not inclined to do anything to try and mitigate the impacts of climate change. These people have too often sought refuge in the notion that “if China is not doing anything, why should we?” Well, it’s starting to look like these folks might not have China to kick around much longer, when it comes to this issue.

New Study Highlights Bisexual Men’s Specific Needs

(3BL Media/Just Means) - Bisexual men make up only two percent of the population, but they are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV due to specific social and cultural conditions, says a new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP).

Kaiser, Inova and Dignity Promote Greener Healthcare

 

  

Sanofi Foundation for North America Shares its Story through Inaugural Review

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – In recent years, a growing number of corporations have been integrating their previously discrete CSR and philanthropic activities to make a greater impact. Sanofi, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, established a Patient Assistance Foundation nearly two decades ago to support its patient assistance program. In November, 2011, it re-named the Foundation as the Sanofi Foundation for North America.

Poverty Tracker & Michael Weinstein: Exclusive Interview

The official poverty estimate for New York City is about 21 percent. It's wrong. Michael Weinstein explains.

MetLife Foundation Awards Top Researchers Pursuing a Cure for Alzheimer’s

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Alzheimer’s disease has a devastating effect on human life. Recent estimates indicate that in absence of treatments that can delay the onset or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, possibly as many as 200 million people across the world will be afflicted with this disease by 2050. The time spent caring for the patients of Alzheimer’s will be counted in billions of hours, and the cost in trillions of dollars.

Keystone XL is a "Historic Decision"—New Book

A new book, Keystone and Beyond by New York Times reporter John H. Cushman Jr., attempts to put the Keystone pipeline project in a historical context. The book, which was published by Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning organization, is subtitled: Tar Sands and the National Interest in the Era of Climate Change.

In it, the author argues that Keystone XL is a relic of Bush-era energy policy and that the energy landscape has changed sufficiently in the intervening years to warrant reconsideration. At that time, the question of cutting back oil imports was prominent, while the president was noncommittal on the subject of climate change. Since then,  oil imports have fallen from a peak contribution of just over 60% of supply in 2005, to 45.6% in 2011. It is expected to fall to 28% this year.

Tar sands as an energy source, have several disadvantages over conventional oil stemming from their unique characteristics. While the supply might be abundant, the challenges of extracting and transporting it are considerable, particularly in light of climate disruption. There was a time when this hydrocarbon source was considered “not economically recoverable” because it has to be heated in order to get it to flow. The net energy return on investment, per barrel, is roughly half of that realized from conventional oil production. But as oil prices have risen, the economics have become more palatable.

Ten years ago George W. Bush signed an executive order expediting cross border pipelines. Two years later, in 2006, Bush’s Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman toured the Canadian tar sands and concluded that, “no single thing can do more to help us reach that goal than realizing the potential of the oil sands of Alberta."

Cushman, who worked at the Times’ Washington Bureau for 27 years, said that when he looked at the mountain of expert documents pertaining to the pipeline, “I saw before me a mountain of contradictory analysis and heard a cacophony of firmly voiced assertions from all sides.”

The book, rather than taking a comprehensive look at the issue, chooses instead, to look at it primarily as a decision required by a leader in a historical context.

In the author’s words,” The Keystone story has been told by many others, from various vantage points. Our telling, while informed by theirs, omits many facets of the debate. It does not examine important environmental issues in Canada, such as the tailings ponds associated with bitumen production, or the possible health effects of water pollution and toxic deposition. It does not reflect the intense concern over pipelines among Native Americans and First Nations. It does not give full attention to all the individuals and organizations that have engaged in the fight over this pipeline or paint a full picture of the hazards of oil pipeline spills, or the feasibility and safety of moving oil by rail. What I have done, however, is try to "think in time," as Neustadt and May [authors of Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers] recommended, using the past to illuminate a decision.

If We Can't Make Fracking Unnecessary, Can We At Least Make It Safer?

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - Russell Gold’s pragmatic piece about fracking in the Wall Street Journal makes a number of excellent points. First, our economy has such an enormous appetite for energy, that there is no way we can simultaneously give up coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas, as much as the environment would like us to, without bringing things to a screeching halt. So pick your poison.

Conventional wisdom has been that gas is the lesser of the four evils, especially after Fukushima, where nuclear lost most of whatever remaining luster it had. Even the esteemed Rocky Mountain Institute said we could wean ourselves off the other three, while growing the economy, so long as we had natural gas as a “bridge fuel.” That was before the precipitous drop in gas prices due to the discovery of Marcellus Shale and before the realization of the many issues associated with fracking.

Gold mentions several of them: the leaks, the lack of water testing or understanding as to what constitutes a safe and suitable site, and the lack of quality control throughout the process.

He does not mention several other issues including the question of earthquakes triggered by fracking, and the presence of radon in the gas. Radon has a radioactive half-life of 2-3 days. The means that by the time it reaches New York from places like Louisiana, it is no longer radioactive. But it can get to New York a lot faster from Pennsylvania.

Mr. Gold focuses more on pre-testing water before drilling in order to protect companies from “abusive false claims” of water contamination, than he does on legitimate claims.

As to the question of leaks, which the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently found were serious enough to make natural gas less climate-friendly than diesel fuel (though still more benign than coal), he says it’s just a matter of finding the leaks and fixing them. That could be easier said than done, considering the shoddy state of much of our infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines. There is also the fact that some of the leakage is intentional. Many natural gas wells operating in remote areas without electricity use pneumatic controllers that are powered by a flow of gas that spins a turbine before being released into the atmosphere. Annual releases of as much as 50 billion cubic feet have been recorded in recent years. The EPA has begun regulating these releases under the Clean Air Act, which has led to newer designs with lower emissions that are now being deployed. But these emissions could be cut to zero if solar powered electric units with backup batteries were used instead.

But perhaps the biggest omission is any discussion of any of the work that is currently taking place to actually make fracking safer.

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