What do you want? Read to the end for a special gift… When asked this question, we have big visions. Dreams. Those vacations, that Tesla, that husband, that wife, that place, this thing. On an individual level we have it covered. With visions of businesses, empires, fame, game and money. Sometimes our dreams are …
When you think of a world beneath your feet, you’re probably thinking of Will Ferrell’s mosquito bite in Land of The Lost. But what if I told you the secret sauce which will save us the trouble of rising ocean tides is below your feet right now. And it’s not Chaka. Our “savior” is a …
How would life have been for you if: Your parents could only afford to choose one member among your siblings to enroll in school The school was 10km away and When you get there teachers are unprepared or unable to attend due to the large number of children. It’s difficult to imagine, isn’t it? However; …
Rethink Your Toothbrush When you take the first steps to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle, it can be overwhelming as your research reveals the true impact we, as a society, are making on the environment. Most of which… isn’t good. A red flag that first arose for me was the fact 8,000,000 metric tons of …
Ron Finley, the Urban Gardener, isn’t your ordinary gangster, which is well and good for a chat with Marc Angelo. The two share a powerful discussion of the difference between promoting a cause and taking action on it, and there are few people in the world more qualified to have that talk. Ron’s moniker, […] …
We have never in history been exposed to the level of sugars we are ingesting today. The consequences of this is huge but it isn’t just sugars its all processed foods. From 1982 to 2012 in America we have seen a 100% rise in process food consumption. Yes ladies and gents we have DOUBLED our …
The Wampis people of Peru recently created the nation’s first Autonomous Indigenous Government, which does not seek independence from Peru but intends to protect their rights and their territory.
On November 29, in the town of Soledad, the Wampis announced the formation of their autonomous government that brings together 100 Wampis communities, representing over 10,000 people that reside in the northern Amazonian part of Peru which extends across 3.2 million acres (roughly the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut).
The process that lead to the formation of the new government took place over several years, with over 50 community meetings and 15 general assemblies according to Wampis officials. They were inspired to create the new government by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as Peruvian laws that acknowledged indigenous rights.
The motivation for the new government also grew out of frustration with how Wampis territory was being sold or given away, without their consent, to various businesses.
One of the Wampis leaders, Andres Noningo Sesen, explained some of their goals in a press statement released in December.
“We will still be Peruvian citizens but now we will have our own government responsible for our own territory. This will allow us to defend our forests from the threats of logging, mining, oil and gas and mega dams. As every year goes by these threats grow bigger,”
-Andres Noningo Sesen, Wampis Leader
One of the defense related examples given by Wampi leaders is their sustained resistance to gold mining operations in their territory by the Afrodita, S.A. Company which was finally ordered to suspend operations along the Cenpea and Maraño rivers. Both rivers suffered from severe mercury and cyanide stemming from mining activities in the area and indigenous resistance to the pollution is credited with forcing the suspension.
“This unity will bring us the political strength we need to explain our vision to the world and to the governments and companies who only see the gold and oil in our rivers and forests. For them, too often we are like a small insect who they want to squash. Any activity planned in our territory that will affect us will now have to be decided by our own government which represents all our communities,”
-Andres Noningo Sesen, Wampis Leader
The Wampis communities started the process towards autonomy by passing a statute known as the Statute of the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation, in which they outlined their plans for the future including protection of religion, spirituality, education, language and the recovery of ancestral place names.
While Peruvian officials have not publicly acknowledged or commented on the formation of the Wampis Autonomous Indigenous Government, Wray Perez Ramirez, the new President of the Autonomous Territorial Government has expressed confidence in their effort.
“We trust that the Peruvian State will support our initiative. This will assist in the compliance of their obligations to respect the fundamental rights of the Indigenous Peoples to determine their own future,” Ramirez said.
Ugandan engineers have built a solar-powered electric bus that they say is a first of its kind in East Africa and think it will revolutionize the automotive market in the region. The Kayoola, as its called, is a 35-seater that can run for up to 80 kilometers on two power banks that can also be recharged by solar panels installed on the roof of the bus.
Paul Musasizi, chief executive officer of Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), the state-funded company behind the vehicle, says with the potential for solar power in Uganda, it only made sense that engineers started to leverage the energy source for cars.
“The bus is purely electric and our idea is to test the strength of solar energy in enabling people to move,” he told a local newspaper.
The company built the prototype with funds from the Ugandan government. But KMC is hoping to attract investors to the project to start producing the buses for the mass market by 2018 at a retail price of $58,000. Typically, 35-seater buses retail between $35,000 to $50,000.
“As we continue with developing concepts, we are also studying the market,” Doreen Orishaba, one of the engineers in the project, told Uganda’s Observer newspaper. “We want to see that we don’t make vehicles for stocking but for production on orders.”
This is not KMC’s first foray into energy efficient car-making. Last year, the company introduced the Kiira Smack, a petrol-electric hybrid that it said would come into the market by 2018 as well for a $20,000 price. But analysts were doubtful at the time of the project’s commercial viability. The price could prove prohibitive, they argued, in a market that sells an estimated 20,000 cars a year. Additionally, in a part of the world where electricity is not a widely available commodity, electric dependent cars could put undue pressure on national grids.
But by using solar as a power source for the Kayoola, KMC may have found a way to overcome that challenge in this instance.
“Uganda being one of the 13 countries positioned along the equator, gives us about eight hours of significant solar energy that can be harvested,” Musasizi says.
It happens to us all. We are doing our daily commute to work or school and we switch on the backlight of our smartphones to shop around. What have the creatives made this week? What new ingenious application can improve my life? – But, hold on, what if your next favourite app can not only improve your life, but simultaneously …
We believe that the Amazon is not for sale, nor is it for expanding a primitive source for fuel. Here is a link where you can join a petition by our good friends at AmazonWatch. – Valhalla mgnt
The report comes as oil pollution forced neighbouring Peru to declare an environmental state of emergency in its northern Amazon rainforest.
Ecuador owed China more than $7 billion – more than a tenth of its GDP – as of last summer.
In 2009 China began loaning Ecuador billions of dollars in exchange for oil shipments. It also helped fund two of the country’s biggest hydroelectric infrastructure projects, and China National Petroleum Corp may soon have a 30 per cent stake in a $10 billion oil refinery in Ecuador.
“My understanding is that this is more of a debt issue – it’s because the Ecuadoreans are so dependent on the Chinese to finance their development that they’re willing to compromise in other areas such as social and environmental regulations,” Adam Zuckerman, environmental and human rights campaigner at California-based NGO Amazon Watch, told the Guardian.
The seven indigenous groups who live on the land are not happy, especially because last year a court ruled that governments must obtain “free, prior, and informed consent” from native groups before approving oil activities on their indigenous land.
“They have not consulted us, and we’re here to tell the big investors that they don’t have our permission to exploit our land,” Narcisa Mashienta, a leader of Ecuador’s Shuar people, said in a report.
Dan Collyns of The Guardian reports that “indigenous people living in the Pastaza river basin near Peru’s border with Ecuador have complained for decades about … pollution,” which has been caused by high levels of petroleum-related compounds in the area. The Argentinian company Pluspetrol has operated oil fields there since 2001.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced the city’s official opposition to proposed Energy East pipeline project Thursday, saying the potential risks outweigh its possible economic benefits to communities including his.
Coderre was joined by mayors including Laval and Longueuil who make up the Montreal Metropolitan Community.
“We are against it because it still represents significant environmental threats and too few economic benefits for greater Montreal,” said Coderre.
The announcement follows extensive public consultations the organization did last fall, he said.
The City of Montreal’s official opposition is the latest challenge to TransCanadaCorp.’s proposed pipeline project, which would carry 1.1 million barrels a day of oilsands crude through Quebec to an export terminal in Saint John, N.B.
The project would include the existing TransCanada pipeline as far east as Montreal plus a new pipeline through Quebec.
Coderre has voiced concerns about the project in the past, but until now has not taken an official position on it.
Laval Mayor Marc Demers said in September that he is “firmly against” the proposed pipeline.
Earlier Thursday, Energy East spokesman Tim Duboyce said the company will wait to see precisely what the mayors have to say and take it from there.
“We see this as an opportunity to have a document to help lay out what those concerns are so we can continue to consult with elected officials and other stakeholders,” he said.
Southern California Gas Co.’s effort to plug its leaking natural gas well involves higher stakes than simply stopping the fumes that have sickened many residents of Porter Ranch.
The company also is trying to avoid a blowout, which state regulators said is now a significant concern after a seventh attempt to plug the well created more precarious conditions at the site.
If a blowout occurs, highly flammable gas would vent directly up through the well, known as SS25, rather than dissipating as it does now via the subsurface leak and underground channels.
State officials said a blowout would increase the amount of leaked gas, causing greater environmental damage. That natural gas also creates the risk of a massive fire if ignited by a spark. The risk of fire already is so high that cellphones and watches are banned from the site
California Department of Conservation spokesman Don Drysdale called the possibility of fire “a concern” even without a blowout. The department is the umbrella agency that oversees the oil and gas regulators responsible for well safety.
The chief deputy director of the department, Jason Marshall, and a senior oil and gas field regulator assigned to daily watch at Aliso Canyon, Scott McGurk, told The Times the site and wellhead were made more unstable by the gas company’s attempts to stop the leak by pumping a slurry directly into the well.
The last of those efforts, which stretched over several days beginning Dec. 22, expanded a crater around the wellhead, state and gas company officials said.
The crater is now 25 feet deep, 80 feet long and 30 feet wide, those officials said. The wellhead sits exposed within the cavernous space, held in place with cables attached after it wobbled during the plugging attempt, Marshall and McGurk said. The well pipe and its control valves are exposed and unsupported within that hole, atop a deep field of pressurized gas.
Southern California Gas is now attempting to stop the leak by drilling relief wells to intercept the damaged well. Workers are not expected to reach the base of the well, 1.6 miles below ground, for at least six weeks.
“If the wellhead fails, the thing is just going to be full blast,” said Gene Nelson, a physical sciences professor at Cuesta College. “It will be a horrible, horrible problem. The leak rates would go way up.”
Sempra Energy, which owns the gas company, declined repeated requests from The Times to discuss current conditions at SS25. A gas company spokeswoman said the utility “would not speculate” on those questions.
At a meeting with community representatives last week, the gas company’s senior vice president for operations, Jimmie Cho, said attempts to plug the well from above were halted “for safety concerns.”
“As much as what’s going on is not a good thing, we don’t want to take a risk of that wellhead being lost,” Cho said.
State officials agreed.
“If one pushes too hard … and breaks the well in its entirety, we, the public residents, the operator, have a much bigger problem,” Marshall said.
The gas company would not provide current photos of the site or allow media access. It did not provide a reason.
Aerial photographs obtained by The Times, taken by a pilot who slipped through no-fly zones imposed after the leak began, show the tension cables strung to hold the jeopardized well in place.
The photos, taken five days before the final plug attempt Dec. 22, show that the earth and the asphalt pad that directly surrounded the well are gone, scoured out by the backwash of mud repeatedly forced at high pressure into the leaky well in an attempt to plug it.
Statements by gas company officials and regulators, and descriptions found in internal records describe the conditions around the well. A bridge was cantilevered into place when the crater cut off access to the exposed “Christmas tree” of valves and ports that allow operators to control the well, those officials and documents show.
That wellhead is the only control operators currently have on a well that features a 2 7/8-inch pipe surrounded by a 7-inch casing. Engineering schematics show that the pipe and casing pierce an underground reservoir of gas and that both were used to insert and remove gas from the storage cavern. For all but the top 990 feet, there was no larger pipe to contain a leak if either pipe ruptured.
The two-mile long depleted oil reserve that houses the gas is the largest natural gas storage field west of the Mississippi River. Each fall it is pumped with as much as 86 billion cubic feet of natural gas to run power plants and heat homes in Los Angeles during the winter.
The gas company reported Oct. 23 that gas was escaping through small cracks in the rocky ground around well SS25, which is among 112 former oil extraction wells that have been converted for the natural gas storage operation.
In November, efforts to force heavy mud into the well resulted in blasting open a small vent in the ground from which gas could escape more readily.
By early January, state air quality regulators estimate, the leak had released more than 77 million kilograms of methane, the environmental equivalent of putting 1.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the air.
Independent health impact studies are not yet complete. Mercaptan added to allow gas to be detected by smell has sickened residents more than a mile away, and Southern California Gas is paying to house more than 2,500 in temporary lodging and has installed air purifiers into the homes of a similar number who chose to stay.
Data captured by aerial surveys commissioned by the state Air Resources Board, which monitors pollution, show the amount of methane released increased over the first three weeks of November to 58,000 kilograms per hour from 44,000.
During that time, a Texas well control company was attempting to plug a suspected hole in the 7-inch well casing by pumping it with increasingly heavier slurries of mud. The mud was pushed against pressurized gas in the well, and the slurry began to find its own escape routes, gouging out a growing hole around the well, according to descriptions provided by Marshall, McGurk and by Cho.
During one of those attempts Nov. 13, a hole in the ground opened 20 feet north of the well, McGurk said last week. Gas that had seeped through diffuse rock fissures on the western side of the narrow ridge began streaming instead from the new vent, he said.
In one internal state report obtained by The Times, an agency official described that kill effort as a “blowout to surface.”
“A large column of gas, aerated mud, and rock formed a geyser around the wellhead,” the state observer wrote. “Mud brine also began to flow from around the wellhead fissures.”
McGurk said the vent allowed a “serious amount of gas” to escape, at which point the state began requiring a state regulatory official to be at the site every day.
Three more efforts to plug the well were made in November, with increasing amounts of backwash and scouring along the wellhead itself that left the well jutting out of a deep hole, without surface support, according to interviews, descriptions contained in agency records and company statements.
During that time, a pilot taking weekly readings for the state Air Resources Board noted a spike in the rate of gas being released to the air from that location.