Fish Endanger Great Lakes

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To those unfamiliar with lake ecology, a fish does not seem like the kind of thing that could endanger the Great Lakes; however, Asian Carp are doing just that. The set of species known collectively as Asian Carp were brought to North America in the 1970s for aquacultural and sewage treatment purposes. As with many such experiments, the introduction did not go according to plan. Since introduction, Asian Carp have spread the entire length of the Mississippi River, to a number of its tributaries, and now threaten to take hold in the Great Lakes. In 2007, the species were declared invasive by the United States Department of the Interior and are now being monitored by other United States and Canadian agencies.

The two primary aspects that make Asian Carp so dangerous to their non-native ecosystems are their mobility and diet. The Asian Carp’s ability to leap out of the water give them a distinct advantage when it comes to expanding territory. This ability allows them to not only leap over natural barriers, but also man-made ones. In 2010, Asian Carp penetrated an underwater electric fence that was put in place to keep them from spreading from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. They have also injured recreational boaters as flying fish collide with passengers on fast boats.

Without their appetite, the spread of these fish would not be of such great concern. Asian carp are veracious eaters, and their food of choice are the plankton that are at the base of the food chain. Asian Carp can grow to be 80 to 100 pounds and consume 40 percent of their body weight each day. This, in turn, is harmful to less aggressive native species, namely smaller fish and the young of larger fish.

Luckily, biologist report that most invasive species fail to take hold. We may be at an advantage against the Asian Carp since they have been detected before establishing a reproducing population. While not completely successful, the electric barrier between the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan has contributed significantly to their containment. Those who enjoy fishing are being encouraged to focus their efforts on Asian Carp. The fish are reported to have a good taste and produce a substantial amount of meat. Food and Water Watch, which as traditionally been very critical of the fishing industry, also backs focusing on the Asian Carp as a food source.

More information on this issue is available through the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee


Legal issues and shale gas boom

The shale gas boom and fracking revolution are having a significant impact on the economies of states like Ohio. Some environmentalists are also seeing the positive side despite the drinking water controversy as natural gas burns much cleaner that coal.

But many legal issues remain and loom on the horizon.

Ohio’s anticipated energy boom from hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits has oil and gas companies, investors and property owners scrambling for a piece of the action.

On the way to digging up the expected treasure, though, are legal sand traps that could slow or even stop production. They go well beyond the basic issue of who owns the buried oil and gas rights, disputes hashed out in courts since the start of the Utica shale rush in 2010.

Emerging battles concern possible threats to endangered species, Clean Air Act violations and claims that oil and gas drilling in Ohio is abnormally dangerous.

The Utica shale layer, centered in Ohio but stretching from Quebec to Tennessee, has been touted as holding hydrocarbons worth tens of billions of dollars — maybe $500 billion worth, if you believe the prediction of Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy Corp., the top driller in Ohio.

The Ohio Shale Coalition estimates that almost 2,000 fracking wells will be drilled in the state by the end of 2014.
Recent fracking-law discussions at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and the McDonald Hopkins law firm in Cleveland, as well as interviews with energy-sector attorneys, suggest a boom of another sort — in legal questions that riddle the shale play.

Stay tuned as this issue develops.


The Standard for Fuel Efficiency

Modern technology has come a long way to produce vehicles with better fuel economy, and with new government regulations, auto manufacturers could be facing drastic changes. You have seen some of those changes with smaller and safer cars with higher MPGs. There has been a demand for greener alternatives for some time now, but it’s only recently that the government has had to step in.

American Fuel Efficiency

If you’ve been around for long enough or have purchased a newer car, you’ll have noticed a steep increase in the number of fuel efficient cars. The government has set updated regulations that aim to set forth a plan that would increase fuel efficiency for all newly manufactured vehicles. The popularity of larger cars in America will not stop the government’s attempt to raise the bar.

Average MPG standards for cars and trucks in the U.S. combined is as follows:

2012 29.7
2013 30.5
2014 31.3
2015 32.6
2016 34.1


Gas Price

If you’re out today, you’ll notice gas prices fluctuating, though more than likely not in a direction you’re fond of. Then you probably won’t be surprised to discover that 63 percent of Americans have trouble with their pocketbooks as a result of rising gas prices. Around $2,000 a year is invested in gas alone by the average U.S. citizen.

Above American Standards

Despite Europe struggling financially, they have managed to consistently keep their fuel efficiency standards well above the United States. As far back as 2006, Europeans have set regulations for newly manufactured vehicles to 40 mpg and beyond. Their projected average in 2012 is around 48 mpg, while Japan is only slightly behind them with roughly 46 mpg for new passenger vehicles.

Recent efforts by President Obama have led to an increase in fuel economy of new vehicles, which are projected to be running at 54.5 mpg by 2025.


It may have impacted you a great deal to fill up at the gas pump, and hopefully these standards will lessen the blow in the future. The good news is, analysts predict the price of gas to drop soon. Until then, you might be paying more than $4 per gallon in some areas, which could eventually account for 5% of your total expenditures a year.


Blow to climate change deniers

This is pretty interesting, as all of the global warming skeptics will now have to face this study from a former skeptic.

Climate change deniers thought they had an ally in Richard Muller, a popular physics professor at UC Berkeley.

Muller didn’t reject climate science per se, but he was a skeptic, and a convenient one for big polluters and conservative anti-environmentalists — until Muller put their money where his mouth was, and launched the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, in part with a grant from the Charles G. Koch foundation.

After extensive study, he’s concluded that the existing science was right all along — that the earth’s surface is warming, at an accelerating rate. But instead of second-guessing themselves, his erstwhile allies of convenience are now abandoning him.

“When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find,” Muller wrote in a Friday Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections. Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate.”

This does not speak to the issue of whether humans are causing the warming, but it’s another persuasive set of data on this issue of warming itself.


How Classifieds are Saving the Planet

Online classified ads are the best thing to happen to the Earth since the hybrid. With a classified ad, resources can be reduced, reused, and recycled with minimal fuss or difficulty. Let’s look at how online classifieds are saving the planet in more detail.

The average item’s lifecycle consists of many stages:
1. Gathering raw materials
2. Shipping materials to a factory
3. Producing a new item
4. Shipping item to stores
5. People taking the item home
6. The item’s usage
7. Item disposal
8. The item being shipped to a junkyard
9. If the item is not biodegradable (think plastic or metal), it will sit in the junkyard indefinitely

When items are sold in classifieds online, or ‘reused,’ their lifecycle is different:
1. Gathering raw materials
2. Shipping materials to a factory
3. Producing a new item
4. Shipping item to stores
5. People taking the item home
6. The items usage
7. Item given to new owner
8. The items usage
9. Item given to new owner
10. The items usage
11. Repeat

The joy and excitement people feel when they crack open the packaging of a new electronic device or open the box that contains a new bed frame is often the only reason people are willing to pay much more to be the first to own an item. Pragmatically, is there a reason to pay 100% more for something ‘new,’ when gently used electronics or furniture serve the same purpose?
Here are some great points to consider before you go to a store to buy something that could be obtained from a website like eBay. Remember: you can always package your gently used item in plastic wrap and open it like a ‘new’ item.

Reducing Waste
Classified ads save tons of waste every single day, literally. Every time someone decides to sell or give away a piece of technology, a bicycle, or an article of clothing, more space in a landfill stays open. While it might not seem like a few sweaters and a laptop computer or two will make any difference, the small things in life add up.

Cutting Down Paper Usage

Paper usage.

Paper takes up a lot of space in a landfill (about 28 percent!), and paper production kills trees. Because the factories and other equipment used in harvesting and processing wood into paper use petroleum-based fuel, using paper is bad for the environment. When you use online classified ads, you save a lot of paper-production pollution.

Saving Fuel
Raw materials have to be delivered, items are produced in pollutant-expelling factories, and then items are shipped to stores (often across the globe) for consumption. That’s a lot of fuel usage for your new iPod!

In Conclusion
The online classified ad is a beautiful thing. With it, you can make friends in the forest by saving paper, and you can save a lot of fuel that’s wasted in the production of new goods. Overall, online classified ads are good for the environment in every possible way. Rather than adding to a landfill when you’re done with an item, pass it on to the next owner who will love it, and find yourself something affordable and gently used in turn!


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