Why I think the energy companies need to frac off…

Fracking causes tap water to burn

Sometimes you can look at people, and wonder just what their problem is. However until you take the time to educate yourself in an issue you are in no position to judge. Now I’ve seen the news about fracking in the UK, along with the protests against it, personally I knew nothing so I didn’t see the problems so didn’t pay much attention. Until last night when this video popped up during a break from revising inflammation.

Now that is impressive, just what does it take to make your tap water go up in flames? In this case it was fracking… I knew that they used water under high pressure to crack the shale bed, I didn’t know that they pumped it full of a massive long list of the chemicals (poisons) that came up in Toxicology last semester such as glycol ethers (aka antifreeze which is highly fatal in pets). In fact some of these chemicals are so bad in laboratories you cannot put it down the drain, and instead have to pay loads of money for it to be disposed of by special companies.

Now being honest, its gotta be pretty much common sense that if you put something into a box, close that box, and come back ages later that the thing you put into it is still there. Now if the fracking cowboys put chemicals into the ground, only remove around a 1 third of them for disposal, it is logical that the remaining 66% remain in the ground to find its own way out. And with the entire objective being to create cracks as passages for the gas to be extracted these cracks also act as a distribution system for these highly dangerous chemicals.

Reading a little more I came across the Gasland documentary which looks at the problems in America caused by fracking, and Gasland 2 which looks at recent progress including the government coverup (oil companies pay for elections apparently) and how it has affected Australia as well. I honestly urge you to take a few hours to watch these (or at least the first one) and educate yourself on why we need to tell the energy companies to frac off!

Gasland Documentary 1 on Youtube

Gasland Documentary 2 on Vimeo

The Anatomy of bee’s, and the environment of fish (Day 177)

Bee sting showing barbs under the electron microscope

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World

What a day, to be honest I am sitting here wondering how I could possibly fit it all into my 500 word daily target. It’s a shame really that I have 3 subjects that I could talk about for hours in a single day and other days where I am really left with not much to say at all. I am actually considering splitting my diary for Tuesdays over both Tuesday and Thursday which will let me go into more  depth, and give me more to talk about Thursdays – what do you guys think of this?

Well today started with diseases of bee’s, and the major part of it went to look at the difference in anatomy of bee’s. Now this is pretty interesting as the bee is so small yet has several differences, the first of which is that it has an open circulatory system. Basically instead of having capillaries to carry the blood to organs the heart pumps it directly into body cavities to surround organs before it then diffuses back to the circulatory system. In fact even bee blood itself is different as the bee does not have erythrocytes (red blood cells); instead it has something known as haemolymph which is made up of haemocytes and is a yellowish colour. The bee also has several specialised glands which help produce the honey and wax, in addition to the poison gland which is located next to the stinger.

It’s pretty common knowledge that a bee with die after it stings you, whats not so common is the understanding of why this is. Below you can see an image of the bee sting under the electron microscope and see that it has barbs each side which hook into the skin when a bee stings you. Now these means it takes time for the bee to remove it after however our first instinct is the brush the bee of us, and when we do this the stinger and attached poison glands are ripped from the bee’s abdomen causing its death.

Bee sting showing barbs under the electron microscope
Bee sting showing barbs under the electron microscope (via http://www5.pbrc.hawaii.edu/microangela/bsting.htm)

Onto fish now today we started looking at the effect of the environmental conditions on the fish. Now the environment includes both the physical and chemical characteristics of the water that is home to the fish. Whether that is the temperature, viscosity, density, pH, salinity, oxygen saturation or even the electric conductivity.Today I will look at the oxygen in terms of the environmental conditions as without it there is no life. Fish take oxygen dissolved within the water into their body through the gills where it then enters the blood. Now the temperature of the water does really affect the level of oxygen that can be saturated within the water (the graph below is for an indication only and does not have a complete dataset!).

Oxygen saturation vs the temperature of the water
This chart is produced from an incomplete dataset, consult other sources for full values!

As you can see water at 100 degrees celsius cannot contain oxygen, ideally most fish live in conditions with the temperature between 15 – 30 degrees celsius. Now oxygen enters waters through two routes, the diffusion of oxygen from the water/air barrier at the surface, and through the process of photosynthesis. The majority of oxygen in water does actually come from photosynthesis of plant matter, this requires sunlight so on average there is 12 hours where photosynthesis does not take place. This leads us into a daily cycle of variation in the oxygen concentration with the oxygen level in water being lowest just before dawn, and highest at sunset.

During winter when the days are shorter (so less light), and with many water areas being frozen (preventing the diffusion of oxygen into the water) many fish enter a low metabolic state (aka use less oxygen to live) in the bottom layer of the water. During this period of low energy fish are extremely vulnerable to disease. On that note I will leave you for today!

Something I found, but very true…

Paying at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own bags because plastic carrier bags weren’t good for the environment. I apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right about one thing — our generation didn’t have the green thing in “Our” day. So what did we have back then…? After some reflection and soul-searching on “Our” day here’s what I remembered we did have…. Back then, we returned milk bottles, drinks bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every shop and office building. We walked to the supermarket and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go half a mile. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s nappies because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the Isle of Wight. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right. We didn’t have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest shop.But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then? Please recycle this on your Facebook profile so another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smarty-pants young person can add to this.