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I see London, I can’t see France : Paris bans cars, makes transit free to fight air pollution

Paris bans cars, makes transit free to fight air pollution

Evan Bench

Air pollution is about as romantic as wilted flowers, chapped lips, and corked wine, so the record-setting smog that has settled over the City of Love in the past few days is definitely dampening the mood.

Unseasonably warm weather has triggered unprecedented air pollution levels in Paris. Over the weekend, the city responded by offering free public transportation and bike sharing. (Similar measures were taken throughout nearby Belguim, which also reduced speed limits.) But that wasn’t enough to fix the problem, so Paris and 22 surrounding areas are taking more extreme steps, banning nearly half of vehicles from their roads.

Private cars and motorcycles with even registration numbers will be barred from the streets on Monday. Unless the air quality improves quickly and dramatically, odd registration numbers will be banned from the roads on Tuesday. Electric vehicles and hybrids will be exempted, as will any cars carrying at least three people. About 700 police officers will be stationed at checkpoints, handing out $31 (€22) fines to violators.

Agence France-Presse reports that Paris has tried the approach before:

Ecology Minister Philippe Martin said he understood the “difficulties, the irritation and even anger” over the move, adding: “But we just had to take this decision.”

Martin said similar measures in 1997 “had yielded results”, adding that he hoped that the number of vehicles on the roads would be “significantly lower” on Monday, without giving a figure.

Trains and buses will remain free while the car restrictions are in place, giving Parisians yet more public places where they can nuzzle and talk excitedly about government policies until the ugly smog burns off.

Polluted Paris prepares for partial car ban, Agence France-Presse
Paris offers free public transport to reduce severe smog, BBC

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

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I see London, I can’t see France : Paris bans cars, makes transit free to fight air pollution

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Which 9 Household Items Will Make Your Hormones Go Haywire?

Mother Jones

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The other day I found an old T-shirt that had been sucked into the vortex under my bed. When I pulled it out, it was covered with dust bunnies. I grimaced, picked them off, deposited them into the trash, and didn’t give them another thought.

That is, until I read a new report about the hormone-disrupting chemicals lurking in those dust bunnies—and in a whole host of other harmless-seeming things in my house. The Environmental Working Group along with the Keep-A-Breast Foundation just released the Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors list of chemicals that can seriously mess with your hormones, potentially leading to various cancers, growth and reproductive issues, metabolic malfunctioning, and many more health problems.

So I set out to identify some the items in my apartment that might be making my hormones go haywire. Here are just a few of the things that I found:

1. Receipts

I started by inspecting my wallet. According to the report, the thermal paper on which receipts are commonly printed contains BPA—a chemical found in certain plastics—which is known to imitate estrogen. BPA has been linked to breast cancer, reproductive problems, obesity, heart disease and has even been blamed for sparking early onset puberty.

2. Cans

I next wandered into the kitchen, tummy rumbling. First I glanced into the pantry, where I saw cans of chili, soup, beans, tuna, and even sauerkraut. Like the receipts, many cans are lined with BPA, EWG warns.

3. Bacon and eggs

With some hesitation, I next opened the fridge. From the mercury-laden fish in the freezer to the phthalates in the plastic containers storing leftovers, nearly everything in there was at some risk of contamination with hormone-altering chemicals, according to the report. Dioxin, a hormone disruptor produced during industrial processes, has tainted much of the American food supply. Exposure to low levels of the chemical in the womb and early life can permanently affect men’s sperm quality and count. Dioxins are also considered powerful carcinogens. They are extremely hard to avoid if you’re an omnivore like me, since dioxins lurk in many animal products including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.

4. Non-stick pan

My favorite breakfast seemed a lot less appetizing when I learned that the non-stick pan I use likely contains perflourinated chemicals, another endocrine disruptor known to lead to high cholesterol among other things.

5. Fruit

So maybe I’ll skip the meat products today and have some healthy fruit instead. Not so fast, says EWG: The fruit may be coated with pesticides. In fact apples topped the EWG’s other dirty dozen list of produce most likely to be exposed to pesticides. Those could include organophosphates, chemicals that don’t biodegrade. Exposure to them can negatively effect brain development, behavior, and fertility. Another pesticide, atrazine, may also be present. One of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States, the chemical made a splash a few years ago when scientists observed it turning male frogs into females. It’s been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals.

6. Drinking water

I head to the sink to draw a glass of water. But EWG says my water could contain atrazine contamination from runoff in croplands, along with traces of perchlorate, lead, and arsenic. Perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, can alter the thyroid gland which regulates metabolism and brain and organ development. Arsenic is a powerful poison that in trace amounts can disrupt the glucocorticoid system, which can lead to weight loss or gain, immunosuppression, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. And lead, as you probably have heard, is just the worst.

7. Dust

In the living room, I found the TV stand coated with dust bunnies like the ones I found under my bed—not ideal, since polybrominated diphenyl ethers could be clinging to the dust particles. PBDEs, the chemical in fire retardants, are known to mimic thyroid hormones and can lead to lower IQ among other health effects. The EWG (and my parents) advise keeping the house spick and span.

8. Cleaning products

Under the sink is a stockpile of cleaning products. I pick out a blue-tinted all-purpose cleaner and check the label. One of the ingredients is 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE), a glycol ether linked to severe reproductive problems: Guys, think shrunken testicles. Glycol ethers are also found in paints, brake fluid, and cosmetics.

9. Couch

OK, I’m done. There are hormone altering toxins in my food, in the dust in the house, and in the products I use to clean. I sit down on the couch and feel defeated. Then I remember that the foam in the cushions is also likely filled with fire retardants. And I’m forced to face the facts: My once cozy, safe home is a veritable mine field of endocrine disruptors. Short of moving to the wilderness, how can I keep my hormones safe? It would be difficult to avoid all of the chemicals the EWG names, but luckily the group does have a few practical resources; for starters I’ll be perusing the guide to healthy cleaning, advice on finding a good water filter, and a safe cosmetics database.


Which 9 Household Items Will Make Your Hormones Go Haywire?

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5 Actions To Take During Non-GMO Month

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5 Actions To Take During Non-GMO Month

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Ted Cruz Gets a Lesson in Schoolhouse Rock, Senate Style

Mother Jones

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Sen. Ted Cruz has been howling for weeks about a “surrender caucus” in the Republican Party that’s insufficiently dedicated to the holy cause of defunding Obamacare. So it’s only natural for Drudge to ask the question on the right. If the Senate tries to pass a budget bill that doesn’t defund Obamacare, will Cruz mount a filibuster?

Funny you should ask. Sarah Binder, who actually understands all the arcane details of Senate procedure, explains how things are going to work once the House transmits its bill, which includes language defunding Obamacare. It’s hard not to laugh once you figure out what it all means for poor old Ted. Here’s the process:

  1. Harry Reid offers a motion to proceed and then files cloture. Will Cruz filibuster? How can he? At this point, the bill under consideration is the one the House sent over, which includes the defunding language. He can hardly filibuster that.
  2. Reid then offers an amendment to strike defunding from the bill.
  3. Now Reid files cloture on the bill itself. Will Cruz filibuster? Again, how can he? At this point, this is still the original House bill, complete with the provision to defund Obamacare.
  4. So cloture will succeed, at which point the Senate has 30 hours to debate the bill. Reid’s amendment comes up for a vote, and since amendments only require a simple majority, it passes.
  5. At the end of 30 hours, the bill itself gets a vote, and a simple majority is enough to pass it. So the bill, with defunding struck out, passes easily.

In other words, there’s no point at which Cruz can filibuster, because he’d be preventing a vote on the very bill he wants to pass. Then, once the defunding clause is struck out, subsequent votes require only a simple majority.

House Republicans are pissed off at Cruz for conceding on Wednesday that Reid “likely” has the votes to strip the defunding language from the House bill. Cruz is surrendering! But my guess is that a little birdie explained the facts of life to Senator Ted, and once the light bulb went off he realized that he was trapped. He had talked a good game, but there was nothing he could do that wouldn’t make him look like an idiot. So he begain the painful but inevitable process of backing down. Poor Ted.

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Ted Cruz Gets a Lesson in Schoolhouse Rock, Senate Style

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Thousands of Dolphins And Whales Will Get in the Way of the Navy’s Bombs, Says the Navy

Photo: St. Petersburg / Clearwater

A pair of reports put out by the Navy today outline how the Navy is going to “inadvertently kill hundreds of whales and dolphins and injure thousands over the next five years,” says the Associated Press, “mostly as a result of detonating explosives underwater.”

On top of the underwater bombings, the Navy says that its “testing and training” exercises are also probably going to temporarily deafen millions of marine critters. The detrimental effects of sonar on whales and dolphins has been a controversial topic for the past decade or so, since at least 2001 when another Navy report found that sonar had contributed to the deaths of “at least six whales.”

The Navy does the bulk of its training in four places: off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and off Southern California and Hawaii, and it would like to continue doing so. But, in order to get the permit it needs to do field training for the next five years, the Navy has to study how its activities could affect marine life. That’s where these new environmental impact assessments came from.

For their part, an official blog post from the Navy says that they are very sorry not sorry for the forthcoming deaths and deafenings:

Active sonar operation and underwater explosive ordnance handling are perishable skills that require training at sea under realistic conditions that cannot be replicated by simulation alone. Newly developed systems and ordnance also must be tested in the same conditions under which they will be operated. Without this realistic training and testing, our Sailors cannot develop and maintain the critical skills they need or ensure that new technology can be operated effectively.

We have proactively coordinated with regulatory agencies and adopted their suggestions for standard operating procedures to protect marine species and the environment wherever possible, such as using trained lookouts to avoid marine mammals while underway and ramping down or halting sonar if marine mammals approach our ships within certain safety zones. With the care and diligence of Sailors like you, we have been able to protect marine life without jeopardizing our ability to conduct essential training and testing.

“Rear Adm. Kevin Slates, the Navy’s energy and environmental readiness division director, told reporters this week the Navy uses simulators where possible but sailors must test and train in real-life conditions.” – AP

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Thousands of Dolphins And Whales Will Get in the Way of the Navy’s Bombs, Says the Navy

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Graphene: The 21st-Century Miracle Cure for Out-of-Work Lawyers

Mother Jones

Graphene is an exceptionally thin, strong, and transparent material that’s a good conductor of heat and electricity. Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won a Nobel Prize in 2010 for its discovery. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports on what this means:

“As soon as I find something, boom! I file a patent for it,” says James Tour, a graphene expert at Rice University in Houston.

Apple has filed to patent graphene “heat dissipators” for mobile devices. Saab has filed to patent graphene heating circuits for deicing airplane wings. Lockheed Martin this year was granted a U.S. patent on a graphene membrane that filters salt from seawater using microscopic pores.

….”It’s a land grab,” says Mr. Tannock of Cambridge Intellectual. By trying to patent just about every finding, “you have the option for suing your competitors later and stopping them.” Many graphene patent filings appear legitimate, but some seem speculative and others may be decoys to mislead rivals, he says.

Perhaps one of graphene’s other miracle properties will turn out to be the ability to end the horrible job market currently faced by law school graduates.

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Graphene: The 21st-Century Miracle Cure for Out-of-Work Lawyers

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8 Ways to Reuse and Upcycle Milk Jugs

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8 Ways to Reuse and Upcycle Milk Jugs

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Why Establishing A Do It Yourself Aquaponics System Is Good

In this process, water animals such as fish, snails, and prawns often placed in containers are fed from the plants grown in the water. To decrease the results of the spread of waste, the infected water is after that transferred to the plants, which becomes their resource of nourishment. The cycle finishes with the plants transferring the filtered byproduct back to the water organisms as healthy and balanced water which the fish could use for themselves.

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There are alreadying existing DIY aquaponics systems to set up at residence, and this is simple compared to most individuals believe. The system is offered in an assortment of dimensions, depending on how the individual desires it to be. Third, users could rapidly customize their systems according to their inclinations and purpose, so they could make a system that flawlessly provides to their requirements.

The Web is an excellent resource to look for guides in developing aquaponics systems at residence or for an organisation.

Learn more about basics of aquaponics, Aquaponics system is a new way to provide fruits, vegetables, and fish using the same media. Get more information from guide to aquaponics if you are interested in building your own backyard aquaponics system.

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