Aug 042011

We live on a former Superfund site, so when I started planting in the garden a few months back, I was worried that there would still be some residual contamination from heavy metals and other deadly chemicals. I sent in a soil sample to the UMass Extension Service for testing, and just got back the results. The good news is that the dangerous stuff are all pretty low. Trace of lead (30ppm), very low cadmium (0.1ppm), etc. The interesting parts were actually the nutrients and soil composition. The pH turned out to be 7.5, with nitrates at just 3ppm, and extremely high calcium levels (20187ppm). The soil is buffered at a pH of 7.4, probably because of the high concentration [more . . .]

Feb 012009

Do a Google search for “Yellowstone.” The first result is is the National Park Service’s official Yellowstone National Park web site, as expected. The second site is, which promises to help you “plan your yellowstone vacation.” Still as expected. But the third is for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. Wait, what? Isn’t Yellowstone a volcanically inactive geothermal cluster? Why can’t we see black lava flows like on Kilauea or even St. Helens? The answer is complicated, but in a sentence, Yellowstone sits on top of a volcanic hot spot that enjoys blowing up in a “supereruption” every few hundreds of thousands of years, but in the meantime, keeps itself fit by spewing geysers, unleashing thousands of earthquakes, and triggering hydrothermal [more . . .]

May 112008

One of my new favorite blogs, Earth2Tech, has just posted on ClimateCounts’ release of the latest Climate Scorecard, scoring companies on their efforts at informing and taking action on climate change. Not sure exactly how accurate this is, as Dell is surprisingly low on the list, considering its now industry-standard recycling program and efforts at creating more eco-friendly laptops and servers. This is similar to the well-known “Guide to Greener Electronics” released by Greenpeace, which has a greater emphasis on the use and disposal of toxic materials and release of greenhouse gases in production.

May 072008

1. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), a longtime pet of congress and “clean coal” advocates, is shown to be infeasible in a report by Greenpeace. Of course, you skeptics out there will immediately point out that a report by Greenpeace is not to be trusted. While Greenpeace does have a tendency to employ radical campaigning and rhetorical strategies that are often more sensational than factual, their reports are, fortunately, always backed by solid facts and prominent researchers in the field. This report shows CCS has several problems, ranging from prohibitively high costs, lack of suitable storage, and a significant increase in non-CO2 emissions resulting from the capture process. Read it. It’s interesting.2. It’s not often that Human Rights Watch has [more . . .]