Supreme Court again denies measures to protect Great Lakes

Great LakesThe Supreme Court has again rejected a request from Michigan to close two Chicago-area waterway locks to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.

The high court, along with the federal government, the state of Illinois and Chicago’s sewer authority opposed Michigan’s initial request on the grounds that closing the locks could cause massive flooding and hurt shippers by preventing the continued navigation of vessels on the Chicago waterway system.

Michigan based its second request on its discovery of carp DNA in water samples taken from the Calumet Harbor on Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Calumet River.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan opposed the request, telling the Supreme Court an injunction could “substantially affect the regional and national economies and greatly disrupt transportation systems on both land and water on which those economies rely.”

Asian carp have already desimaed the Mississippi's marine ecology

Asian carp are already dominating the Mississippi's marine ecology

Environmentalists say the carp, already dominating sections of the Mississippi and its tributaries, could potentially devastate a $7 billion fishery in the Great Lakes and severely impact the lakes, which hold one-fifth of the world’s fresh water.

It’s this writer’s humble opinion and view that the high court seems to be unable to distinguish between protecting the initial economic benefits versus the larger picture – that the invasion of this non-native species could and will substantially damage the ecology o  the Great Lakes in a fashion that may not allow for recovery. And then watch the lawsuits fly!

Big picture – little picture. Hmm . wonder who will win this no-win game?


NYU to install energy-harvesting revolving door

The Revolution Revolving door

The Revolution Revolving door

In August 2008, I wrote about a revolutionary concept – The Revolution Door – a revolving door that generates energy that can be used to help power a building.

New York architects Carmen Trudell and Jenny Broutin created a glass enclosure of lightweight panels joined at a central core, attached at the top to a circular array of wire coils, with a rotating magnet array and a gear/flywheel Revolution Door 1assembly. Push the doors and the the gear amplifies the motion of the wire coil in the magnetic array, producing electricity.

Until now, this has been a fascinating concept. New York University recently gave the architects a grant to install a working prototype on its campus. It will be interesting to see how much electricity – and PR – this experiment generates over the coming months.

Organic Coffee with a twist

coffeeWe’re a country of coffee drinkers. And organic, Fair Trade coffee is, well, like adding good cream to an already good cup o’ joe.

But there are things that while sounding healthy may not actually be healthy. Check out the latest Green Gadget Spotlight and you’ll see what I mean.

Recycling Plastics Breakthrough could be near

Water BottlesResearchers from IBM and Stanford University are working to create a new kind of plastic, one that can be recycled multiple times and that’s biodegradable.

Most plastics can only be recycled once as the metal catalysts they contain break down, contaminating and degrading it, affecting the material’s recyclability. Organic catalysts such as are being worked with at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, leave no residue, can break down the plastic’s polymers to their original state and are cheap to produce.

Also, organic catalysts break down plastic at room temperature – a much lover level than currently possible, where higher temperatures and greater energy are required.

This breakthrough could allow plastics to b recycled over and over in the future.

In Saudi Arabia, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology is working with IBM and Stanford to establish a pilot recycling program for PET (the common plastic used in drink bottles, identified as #1 plastic) using the organic catalysts.

This development, if realized, could have exciting new applications, including for healthcare, particularly in drug delivery devices and replacing synthetic computer materials with greener alternatives.

NASA discovers life under the Antarctic ice

Shriimp in Antarctica

A small shrimp-like creature under the Antarctic ice, as seen in a NASA video from December 2009 (AP Photo/NASA)

In a surprise discovery, a NASA team has found life 600 feet below an Antarctic ice sheet, where it’s been presumed no life could exist.

After lowering a video camera below the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf, the team was stunned to see a shrimp-like creature come swimming into view and attach itself to the cable.  The scientists were further amazed when they pulled up a tentacle believed to be from a foot-long  jellyfish.

In an environment with no perceivable light or obvious food source, scientists are faced with an enigma with the appearance of the three-inch long orange  Lyssianasid amphipod, a distant relative to shrimp.

According to a story by Seth Borenstein, this amazing and exciting find presents many questions to scientists.

“We were operating on the presumption that nothing’s there,” said NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler, who will be presenting the initial findings and a video at an American Geophysical Union meeting Wednesday.

This is an exciting glimpse of marine life and habitat we know so little about. Time for scientists to reevaluate their thinking about what they think they know.

Green Trends on the radio!

A moment for shamless self-promotion here.

A new voice for green hits the radio waves

Eco Trends logoEco Trends with Debra Atlas debuted on March 9th. 

This new fun radio segment presents the latest, coolest eco-innovations to hit the marketplace. Airing at 3:20 pm Pacific every Tuesday and Thursday, it covers everything from awesome jewelry made from trash, a product that revives soggy electronics, to a headband that helps block out snoring!

Keep up with what’s cool, green and affordable with Eco Trends. And spread the word!

Santa Monica restaurant charged with serving whale meat

The Typhoon Restaurant is charged with selling illegal whale meat to customers

The Typhoon Restaurant is charged with selling illegal whale meat to customers

A Santa Monica sushi restaurant and one of its chefs have been charged with federal criminal charges of selling meat from an endangered whale.

According to the L.A. Times, a video sting was orchestrated by a producer of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove”, assisted by federal agents and animal activists.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, named Typhoon Restaurant Inc., owner of the Hump, and chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, 45, of Culver City.

The Hump, a popular hangout at Santa Monica Airport, immediately said through attorney Gary Lincenberg that it accepted “responsibility for the wrongdoing charged by the U.S. attorney” and would pay a fine and resolve the matter in court.

Santa Monica Councilman Richard Bloom, chairman of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and a recent appointee to the California Coastal Commission, said the city “will do everything in our power to make sure the situation is corrected and never happens again.”

“The first thing I would want to know is where the whale meat came from,” said Councilman Bloom.

How DID the whale meat get into this country? And, a better question, are there other restaurants that are serving it that we don’t know about?