On Monday, President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Gina McCarthy as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency—a promotion for the deputy who has been behind some of the toughest new environmental regulations in the past four years.
As the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, McCarthy has helped implement a raft of new or improved national standards for pollutants such as mercury, sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions, and soot, and she oversaw the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.
“Every American is—or will soon be—breathing cleaner air because of McCarthy,” says Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.
Her appointment to the top spot at EPA is seen by enviros as good news for the future of greenhouse gas regulations. After rolling out emission limits for new power plants last year, the EPA is now expected to set rules for existing power plants—a huge task given the number of old, dirty plants around the country. That’s just one item on a long list of environmental regulations that were delayed until after the 2012 election. Now McCarthy will manage the implementation and/or drafting of these regs.
It’s time to add Mercury to the list of worlds where you can go ice-skating. Confirming decades of suspicion, a NASA spacecraft has spotted vast deposits of water ice on the planet closest to the sun.
Temperatures on Mercury can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit (427 degrees Celsius), but around the north pole, in areas permanently shielded from the sun’s heat, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft found a mix of frozen water and possible organic materials.
Evidence of big pockets of ice is visible from a latitude of 85 degrees north up to the pole, with smaller deposits scattered as far away as 65 degrees north.
The find is so enticing that NASA will direct Messenger’s observation toward that area in the coming months — when the angle of the sun allows — to get a better look, said Gregory Neumann, a Messenger instrument scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
Massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2012
About Vaccine denialism:
Vaccine denialism is a trend of mistrust of vaccination that is almost as old as the technique itself. “Anti-vaxxers”, “vaccine deniers”, or “anti-vaccinationists” blame vaccines, or their ingredients, for a range of maladies whose mechanisms are rejected or have not been explained by current scientific research. Some of these maladies can often be childhood illnesses in order to increase the emotive factor of the argument. The ubiquity of vaccination often makes it an easy target for blame.
Vaccine-preventable diseases have been a major cause of illness, death, and disability throughout human history. The advent of the modern vaccine era has changed this significantly; most North Americans and Europeans have little memory of a pre-vaccine era where diseases such as mumps and measles - to say nothing of smallpox or polio — were common and often deadly. In more recent times, there has been much debate in the press and in the doctor’s office regarding vaccine safety — namely what possible side-effect vaccines cause and whether these outweigh the risks of leaving a population without a vaccination program. Vaccines have been alleged to cause all manner of illnesses; autism is a prominent example, as its direct causes are still fairly mysterious and probably very wide-ranging, with no single cause or lifestyle risk-factor being identified. Some prominent Americans have spoken out vociferously about the supposed danger of vaccines.
Hat Tip: Interesting Times
Earlier this week we celebrated the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s orbital flight, marking our full entry into the space race with the Soviets. Signatory of the mission was our first use of an ICBM to launch Glenn into orbit — the previous missions had been suborbital and used the Redstone missile, itself an SRBM (operational range: 323 km) and not altogether too far removed from the V-2 (as well as a kissing cousin to the SCUD-series SRBMs). Modified SRBMs were all well and good for tossing ‘grapefruits’ (as Krushchev dismissively referred to the Vanguard satellite) into orbit, but to lift a nearly 4,000 lb space capsule (gross launch weight off the Mercury capsule w/escape tower) off the launch pad into orbit would require something much more powerful – and already designed to loft a nuclear warhead and RV weighing over 3,000 lb on a 5,500 mile trajectory as an ICBM. That missile was the SM-65 Atlas (and specifically for Project Mercury, the SM-65D), America’s first ICBM.
April 1946 – not even a year since the end of WWII and the after effects are still in play. The post-war, post-colonial era is well underway as Syria declares its independence from France, the League of Nations meets for the last time to dissolve itself and parts of East Prussia are absorbed into Russia. In the US, 400,000 miners go on strike, the Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 for the Stanley Cup and 11 players are named to baseball’s hall of fame. The boys ‘over there’ are very much anxious to be ‘back here’ and make no bones of it and in the Southwest desert of the US, the surviving output of half a decade of war industry begins to line up for the scrappers.
“Clean Coal” has always been an oxymoron, but it can be cleaner than it is now. Forget about the CO2 for just a moment and focus instead on the mercury, arsenic, and acid that coal power plants pump into the air.
More than 20 years ago, Congress ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic air pollution. It’s done that for most industries, but not the biggest polluters — coal and oil-burning power plants.
The EPA now plans to change that later this week, by setting new rules to limit mercury and other harmful pollution from power plants.
When Congress first told the EPA to regulate toxic air pollution in 1990, pediatrician Lynn Goldman was investigating the impact of mercury from mining operations on Native American families living near a contaminated lake.
“We had children that had levels that were many times higher than levels that are considered to be safe,” Goldman says.
Their families caught and ate a lot of local fish, and Goldman says she had to advise them to stop. The fish had too much mercury.
From The Plant To Plate
Goldman, now dean of George Washington University’s school of public health, says mercury damages children’s developing brains, impairing their verbal ability.
On Feb. 20, 1962 at 9:47 am EST, Glenn launched from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 14 to become the first American to orbit the Earth. In this image, Glenn enters his Friendship 7 capsule with assistance from technicians to begin his historic flight.
Before joining NASA, Glenn already had a distinguished career as a pilot, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, Navy Unit Commendation for service in Korea, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy’s Astronaut Wings, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, among others.
Glenn rejoined NASA in 1998 as a member of the STS-95 Discovery crew. This 9-day mission, from Oct. 29-Nov. 7, supported a variety of research payloads including deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Test Platform and investigations on space flight and the aging process.
The State of Maryland finally takes ‘emergency action’ against Mark Geier and his Lupron autism protocol
For over five years, I’ve been wondering just how in the world the Geiers got away with such unethical pseudoscience and how they got away with it for so long. I couldn’t figure it out. Not only did they ply their quackery on autistic children, but David Geier appeared to be functioning as a diagnostician, somehow fooling the State of Maryland’s Autism Commission into appointing him to its committee as such, even though he completely lacked expertise to be practicing medicine and does not have a medical or clinical degree of any kind. Meanwhile, the Geiers appeared to be playing fast and loose with insurance companies by making lots of diagnoses of “precocious puberty,” a very uncommon diagnosis. Truly, I wondered what was wrong with the State of Maryland…until yesterday afternoon. For it was yesterday afternoon when online acquaintances, not to mention some of you, my readers, started sending me the news that Mark Geier has had his medical license suspended by the State of Maryland, as outlined in this 48-page court order. Kathleen Seidel, as usual, is already on the case as well.
Yes, the Maryland State Board of Physicians has finally acted. All I can say is: It’s about time the State of Maryland pulled the wings off of this quack. Let’s take a look at some of the relevant sections of the order. First, here’s the money section, namely the summary statement, which I cite nearly in its entirety:
Planet Mercury Photos From NASA’s Messenger Probe | Mercury & Solar System | MESSENGER Mission, NASA Space Photos | Space.com
NASA’s Mercury Messenger probe captured this historic image of Mercury, the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the solar system’s innermost planet. The photo was taken on Tuesday (March 29) at 5:20 am EDT.
In an unusual health study, researchers analyzing toxin levels in tens of thousands of toenail clippings determined that mercury from eating fish does not raise the risk of heart disease or stroke.
Health experts have long urged people to eat fish to lower heart risks, but some have worried that the mercury in certain types of fish like shark and swordfish might offset any benefits. Earlier studies on mercury and heart problems in adults have yielded contradictory results.
The latest government-funded work is the largest to look at this question. Instead of relying on what people said they ate, it measured mercury in their toenails — a good gauge of long-term exposure to the metal from fish consumption.
No differences were seen in the rates of heart and stroke among those with the highest concentrations of mercury compared to those with the lowest.
“The average person should eat fish as part of a healthy diet,” and not worry about ill heart effects, said Harvard School of Public Health cardiologist Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, who led the research published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
Mercury occurs naturally in soil and rocks, including coal. It gets into the air from coal-fired power plants and other sources, and settles into water. Small fish absorb mercury when they feed on plankton, and they, in turn, are eaten by bigger fish. Older and larger predator fish — like shark, swordfish and king mackerel — tend to accumulate the highest mercury levels.
Seems that elevated mercury in the environment increases homosexual behavior among birds.
That means people who want to weaken the EPA are really secretly working to advance the gay rights agenda.
I hope somebody gets a really good video of some Teabagger’s head exploding from the irony.