The rupture of an Apache pipeline has spilled 60,000 barrels of drilling waste over 42 hectares of forest. This is Alberta’s third major spill in recent months.
The Exxon spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, this past spring sparked more debate over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The residents in Mayflower, Arkansas, continue to feel the effects of the spill there. (Photo, left.)
Both spills are dwarfed by the Macondo disaster, and its lingering damage.
Whether the XL pipeline is laid or not, we will continue to drill wells, push oil through pipes, and move it around by ship. The question is: Why do we tolerate oil spills? Under current procedure, spills of this sort are just a part of doing business. Why isn’t this the right place for a legal policy of zero tolerance? I suspect we could go a long way toward that by aligning incentives, through financial penalties on the companies involved.
Penalties greater than now levied.
Humongous penalties that cause CFOs to blanch any time they hear that a pipeline has breached or that a well has blown out. Paid out of equity, Begin with 0.1% of company capitalization for the first 10,000 barrels spilled, and work up to 10% for a large spill. Levied separately on the company extracting or shipping the oil, the company that owns the oil, and any company that has the oil under contract. Double that, if the spill is under the sea.
This won’t stop exploration or production. Nor is it meant to. What it will do is instill in the companies involved a zero tolerance culture: put more resources to pipeline maintenance, increase safety engineering and organizational visibility of it, spur the creation of fail-safes and back-ups, and create an petrochemical industry that doesn’t have any major spills.
Martin Lewis looks at India, and finds that while economics and education play a role in the demographic transition, TV may be the thing that most propagates a changed way of thinking about life.
Calah Alexander well describes the the innate misogyny of abstinence-only sex education, turning on Elizabeth Smart’s criticism of the same.
The most important issue brought to the fore by the (not so) recent revelations of NSA snooping is how Congress and the courts have been neutered in providing oversight to that. The notion of “secret law” is offensive to democracy, so let’s hope that Sen. Jeff Merkley and Sen. Mike Lee succeed in their push to reform FISA.
Congressional oversight is weakened when administration officials, civil servants, or members of the military lie to Congress. Even if he is unlikely to be convicted, James Clapper should be prosecuted and his career ended.
Carl Levin is trying to keep an obscuring shadow around sexual assault in the military. Shame on him.
A study at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that yoga improved the mental function of undergraduate coeds. This article doesn’t explain if this works away from cornfields.
Researchers at NYU found that yoga improves the behavior of children who have been diagnosed somewhere in the autism spectrum.
For a contrary view, E. W. Jackson, the GOP’s nominee for Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, says that yoga leads to Satan.
Charles Krulak, former commandant of the Marine Corps, and Joseph Hoar, former CiC of U.S. Central Command, have penned a letter to Maine’s senators, asking them to push for the declassification of the Senate’s latest report on torture. The Senate’s previous report, in 2009 (pdf), highlighted the fact that the torture practices under Bush had included stress positions and enforced hypothermia, and infamously, that some prisoners had been tortured to death.
Jane Mayer, one of the indispensable writers on this, describes how the military tribunals were botched. Joe Nocera describes the forced feeding now practiced at Guantanamo, points out that it, too, is illegal torture, and that Obama is fully responsible. The government’s continued walk on the dark side should scandalize Americans far more than the political charades currently filling the channels. The Senate Republicans continue to insist on that walk.
If we had to rely on what we actually see to hit a baseball or avoid a tiger, our species would long since have died out, much less hold a World Series. Researchers at UC Berkeley have peered into how the brain projects forward a model of the near future — where moving objects will be in the next fraction of a second — so that we can react faster than otherwise would be possible, given the speeds of our neurons. The interesting thing is that we don’t see that as a projection, but as actuality. The short-visioned philosophical implication is just Plato’s: we don’t see the world, but images our brain creates for us. The deeper implication is that the “me” watching the shadows is also one of the shadows. The brain creates the image you see as “you.”
Johns Hopkins researchers found that people who never smoke, eat a healthy diet, regularly exercise, and maintain a normal weight significantly decrease their probability of dying over the subsequent eight years. Surprisingly, only 2% of the population meet all four criteria. Unsurprisingly, smoking was the most salient factor.
Vegetables such as celery and parsley contain a compound, apigenin, that prevents cancer cells from “going immortal.” There’s no mention of cilantro. But surely cilantro is twice as good as parsley?
A Loma Linda study further buttresses the health benefits of a vegetable-based diet. Though all the study participants were Seventh-Day Adventists. If they asked the question, Did you eat any meat this week? right after the question Did you drink any alcohol this week?… well, figure half lied.
Jo Robinson argues that we have been breeding low-nutrition vegetables for thousands of years. So gather your wild nopalito, dandelion, chili pequin, and Texas persimmon (photo shown). And boletes, when they spring from the ground. Robinson may not be right. But there is an appeal to food from the wild, vegetable, fish, or game. And it is a bit of exercise, to gather it. Most importantly, it gets you into the wild.