I found a couple more comments relating to the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Pasco Phronesis offers this May 30, 2010 blog post, Cleaning With Old Technology, where the blogger, Dave Bruggeman, asks why there haven’t been any substantive improvements to the technology used for clean up,
The relatively ineffective measures have changed little since the last major Gulf of Mexico spill, the Ixtoc spill in 1979. While BP has solicited for other solutions to the problem (Ixtoc was eventually sealed with cement and relief wells after nine months), they appear to have been slow to use them.
It is a bit puzzling to me why extraction technology has improved but cleanup technology has not.
An excellent question.
I commented a while back (here) about another piece of nano reporting form Andrew Schneider. Since then, Dexter Johnson at Nanoclast has offered some additional thoughts (independent of reading Andrew Maynard’s 2020 Science post) about the Schneider report regarding ‘nanodispersants’ in the Gulf. From Dexter’s post,
Now as to the efficacy or dangers of the dispersant, I have to concur that it [nanodispersant] has not been tested. But it seems that the studies on the 118 oil-controlling products that have been approved for use by the EPA are lacking in some details as well. These chemicals were approved so long ago in some cases that the EPA has not been able to verify the accuracy of their toxicity data, and so far BP has dropped over a million gallons of this stuff into the Gulf.
Point well taken.
In the midst of this oil spill, it was good to come across a successful effort at regreening a desert. From the Fast Company article by Cliff Kuang,
Today, the Buckminster Fuller Institute announced the winner of its 2010 Challenge: Allan Savory, who has spent the last 50 years refining and evangelizing for a method of reversing desertification that he calls “holistic management.” The African Center for Holistic Management International, an NGO he helped found, will take home a $100,000 grant.
The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is meant to award big, sweeping solutions to seemingly intractable problems. …
… Savory’s prescription seems shockingly simple–and it’s taken him 50 years of work to convince others that he’s not crazy. The core of Holistic Management is simply grazing local livestock in super dense herds that mimic the grazing patterns of big-game (which have since disappeared). Those livestock in turn till the soil with their hooves and fertilize it with their dung–thus preparing the land for new vegetation in a cycle that was evolved over millions of years.
Savory works in Zimbabwe which is where the greatest success for this method is enjoyed but it has also been employed in the Rockies (between Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho Note: As a Canadian, I would not describe this area as the ‘northern Rockies’ as Kuang’s article does) and in the Australian outback.
… Savory’s African Center for Holistic Management has transformed 6,500 acres of land [in Zimbabwe]. There, even though livestock herds have increased by 400%, open water and fish have been found a half mile above where water had ever been known during dry season.
On a similar good news front, Nokia has announced a mobile phone charger that you can power up while riding your bicycle. From the Fast Company article by Addy Dugdale,
The Finnish firm’s [Nokia] Bicycle Charger Kit consists of a little bottle dynamo that you attach to the wheel of your bicycle to power up your phone as you pedal away. It comes with a phone holder that attaches to the handlebars using a hi-tech system composed of an elastic band and a plastic bag, in case of rain. Its price (in Kenya) is a little over $18 bucks, and it’s a wonder that no other phone manufacturer has thought of this before.
The Nokia Bicycle Charger Kit starts to work when you’re pedaling at just under 4mph and clicks off at 31mph. Hit 7.5mph and your bike will be charging your cell as quickly as a traditional charger would.
This reminds me a little of the projects where they try to create textiles that will harvest energy from your body that can be used to power mobile phones and other battery-powered devices that you carry around.