Archive for New York
www.bbc.co.uk 22nd July 2011
Parts of the central and eastern United States have been hit by a strong heat-wave, which has caused 22 deaths already. Temperatures have peaked at 39 degrees C (99F) and as much as 50% of the entire country is under heat advisory, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The heat-wave has been caused by an unusually durable ridge of high pressure that is causing the air to sink, compress, and heat up. Due to the aridity of the phenomenon, cloud formation is low reducing the amount of solar radiation reflected back up into the atmosphere. The humidity at ground level however makes it very hard for human sweat to evaporate easily, disrupting our natural cooling system. As well as human fatalities, livestock have been hard hit with 1,500 head of cattle reported dead in South Dakota alone. Other effects of the heat-wave include power cuts in New York and unhealthy levels of smog in Chicago. Heat is the number one weather related killer in the US, according to the NWS, with an average of 162 people dying every year because of it.
www.nytimes.com 1st July 2011
In an attempt to reduce their reliance on Amazonian hardwoods, officials in charge of maintaining the Coney Island boardwalk have begun to replace sections of the walk with concrete instead of wooden boards. Pressure from conservation organisations such as Rainforest Relief has apparently succeeded with the boardwalk, constructed in 1923, now having two sections of concrete walkway. Amazonian hardwoods, such as ipe, are used in many of Brooklyn’s piers, benches, and walkways and can withstand the weight of a garbage truck. In recent times, supplies of hardwoods have been depleted to dangerously low levels. Concrete seems to be the cheapest and most durable alternative costing at $95 a square foot compared to $127 for hardwood. Native American hardwoods are not suitable as sturdy as their Amazonian counterparts. The next instalment of concrete will be, if plans drawn up by advisory body Community Block 13 are followed through, 5 blocks on the walk’s eastern edge costing $7.5 million. An other plan to replace just a central strip of the boardwalk with concrete, on which the garbage trucks could drive, and then use recycled plastic boards for the rest (costing $110 per square foot) was turned down by Community Board 13 at a vote of 21 to 7.
www.boston.com 16th February 2011
The northeastern states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont are all suing federal regulators for their decision to extend the storage time of nuclear waste in power stations from 30 to 60 years. The legal action highlights one of the main problems in President Obama’s plans to increase the United States’ use of nuclear energy. Despite the Nuclear Regulatory Commission declaring the nuclear waste storage extension safe, the plaintiffs in the case claim ‘violates requirements for a review of health, safety, and environmental hazards’. “I am committed to forcing the feds to take the hardest look possible at the risks of long-term, on-site storage, before they allow our communities to become blighted and our families, properties, and businesses threatened,’’ said New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman.
President Obama has outlined in his latest budget report and increase of $36 billion in federal loan guarantees to help finance the construction of new nuclear power plants across the country.
Independent on Sunday 21st November 2010
Plagues of wasps, cockroaches, moths, rats and bedbugs are sweeping across Britain as the cash-strapped local councils reduce extermination services. In 2002, 99%of the UK’s 402 councils offered extermination services, according to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, but now 1 in 10 have stopped with almost a third charging for the service. Private pest control is booming. Beaver Pest Control, based in London and the Home Counties, have experienced a 44% increase in rat and mice related call-outs in the past three years alone. With bedbugs, infestations have risen 38% since 1992, mostly due to an increase in the ‘upcycling’ of second hand furniture. Wasps have had the biggest increase in call-outs with a rise of 231% since last year. The rise has been attributed the warm summer, as well as the reduction in council extermination services. The problem may only get worse however. John Davison, chief executive of the National Pest Technicians Association, cited New York (see here) as an example of how bad things can get if local government cuts back on extermination. After scaling back five years ago, the problem is now so bad that Nike had to temporarily close its flagship store due to bedbugs.
www.nytimes.com 9th November 2010
Departing New York governor David Paterson has left his successors an ambitious plan of reducing the city’s carbon emissions 80% by the middle of the century. The plan follows on from a ten month consultation with ‘more than 100 experts from energy companies, utilities and labor and environmental groups’. It includes ‘doubling the state’s sources of renewable energy by 2030, setting stricter efficiency standards for all buildings, shifting private transportation toward electric vehicles and supporting the creation of jobs in research on energy technology and in clean energy industries.’ Although not legally binding, aides to Mr. Paterson hope that his successor Andrew Cuomo will use the plan it as a guide in developing shift to clean energy. Fortunately, the details of the plan are broadly in line with Mr. Cuomo’s energy policy during his campaign and both men are democrats. Mr. Paterson has not always been seen as a particular pro-Green politician however. He cut the budget to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and then fired its head, Alexander Grannis, when he protested. The governor has also dipped into environmental funds to fill in the state’s budget deficit.
Public comments on the document, at nyclimatechange.us/InterimReport.cfm, are being accepted for 90 days.
www.nationalgeographic.com 13th October 2010
A recent survey by the University of Columbia has discovered surprising insect diversity on Manhattan Island in New York City. 13 different species of ant alone meander the streets and seem to live in perfect harmony, not only between themselves, but with the concrete jungle around them. They range from the tiny Thief Ant, which steals food to feed ts colonies, to the ‘fiercely territorial’ Pavement Ant, which nests under cement. There are even foreign ants who live alongside the natives quite happily, probably being brought to the city through potted soil for gardens and parks. The Asian Nylanderia flavipes and the poisnous Asian Needle ant are examples of these. There seems to be a species of ant for every medium in the Big Apple, from the parks to the pavements and the trees to underground (where some species herd aphids much like humans care for cattle). The study’s leader Marko Pećarević predicted that further investigation could reveal further species of ants bringing the total to around 30. The idea of urban environments being suitable for wildlife is a new one and research is limited. Eric Lonsdorf, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, has been interested in how species adapt to city life. For example, house ants living in cities set up larger colonies and have multiple queens.
www.theglobeandmail.com 21st September 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Scientists, experts and exterminators are holding an extraordinary summit in a suburb of Chicago today to deal with the growing problem of bedbugs. While the bloodsucking bugs are a nuisance, they’re taking an increasing bite out of retailers, particularly in New York City, where several stores have been forced to shut down temporarily. It’s the first North American Bedbug Summit, and comes amid what ABC News says is an alarming increase in complaints, almost 11,000 in New York alone. The problem has affected apartment buildings, university dorms and several retailers, including Nike, which closed its flagship outlet in New York temporarily, Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie and Fitch.’
news.sky.com 18th September 2010
Two tornados have struck New York City, becoming the 9th and 10th to do so since 1950. With winds of up to 125 mph, the 30 minute storm caused one death and a large amount of structural damage. The tornados stampeded 14 miles through Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn causing 14,000 to lose power. According to Kyle Struckmann, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, it was a miracle that more people didn’t die. The one victim, 30 year old Aline Levakis, was killed when a falling branch crushed the car she was in with her husband, 60 year old Billy. Mr. Levakis escaped with minor scrapes.
Sources: news.nationalgeographic.co.uk 2nd September 2010
In recent weeks there has been a chorus among the media about the presence of small organisms, or copepods, in New York city’s drinking water. The see-through creatures are around 1-2mm and live in most clean-water sources such as reservoirs that supply public drinking water. Although many of the country’s cities filter their drinking water New York does not as its water exceeds federal standards. A spokesman for New York’s Department of Environmental Protection stated that the creatures are ‘pose no risk to human health. It’s not something that’s regulated because there’s no harmful effects from them.’ There are several other cities in the US that do not filter their water including Boston, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.
The copepods are plankton, which are the base life-form in the world’s oceans, but are also technically crustaceans raising several potential problems. The first is with people with allergies to crustaceans although Clifford W. Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NYU School of Medicine has said that it is probably not a concern. The second problem involves the large Jewish population in New York as crustaceans are not a kosher foodstuff. However, such a suggestion “offends our deepest instincts about the character of both the (Jewish) Law and its Author,” said Rabbi David Berger in the Jewish Press.
Sources: http://www.cnn.com 3rd September 2010
North Carolina’s Governor, Bev Perdue, has stated that her state has ‘dodged the bullet’ as hurricane Earl continued northwards having inflicted little damage upon the state. High winds and large waves buffeted North Carolina’s coast earlier today. However no injuries have been reported and structural damage appears to be minimal. The news will be welcome to more northern regions such as New York and New England who are next in line to be hit. Earl has now been downgraded from a Category 4 storm a couple of days ago to a Category 1 as winds dropped to 85 mph. The storm is moving North-Northeast at a pace of 23 mph. Although there are signs that hurricane Earl is dissipating (the eye has now collapsed according to CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf), residents of Cape Cod have been warned to be careful. No official evacuation has been ordered but one Sheriff’s Office (Barnstable County) has told people living in low-lying areas to leave their homes for the duration of the storm.