Environment

 

Book Cover-01Book Cover-01 Chapter 2

  1. Panarctic Oils was formed in 1968 as a result of the Canadian government’s eagerness to encourage exploration of the Canadian Arctic islands, and to assert Canadian sovereignty in the region. That company consolidated the interests of seventy-five companies and individuals with Arctic Islands land holdings plus the Federal government as the major shareholder. It played an important part in the development of the petroleum industry in Canada. Exploration moved offshore when Panarctic began drilling wells from “ice islands”—not really islands, but platforms of thickened ice created in winter by pumping sea water on the polar ice pack. Oil was discovered in 1974 at Bent Horn N-72, the first well drilled on Cameron Island. Cameron Island is notable as being the only site which has been developed for commercial oil production in the Canadian Arctic islands. A total of 2.8 million barrels was produced until the field was abandoned in 1996. After abandonment, final clean-up occurred in 1999.

Chapter 4

  1. An adit is an entrance to an underground mine which is horizontal or nearly horizontal, by which the mine can be entered, drained of water, and ventilated.
  2. A Jimmy is a railroad freight car used for carrying coal. Coal Jimmies date to the start of railroading and continued in service until the end of the nineteenth century.
  3. Slope mining is a method of accessing valuable geological material, such as coal. A sloping access shaft travels downwards towards the coal seam. Slope mines differ from shaft and drift mines, which access resources by tunneling straight down or horizontally, respectively. In slope mining, an angled opening and air shaft are made in the side of a mountain to remove coal.
  4. A coal town, also known as a coal camp or patch, is typically situated in a remote place and provides residences for a population of miners to reside near a coal mine.

Chapter 5:

  1. Drift mining is either the mining of a placer deposit by underground methods, or the working of coal seams accessed by adits driven into the surface outcrop of the coal bed. Drift is a more general mining term, meaning a near-horizontal passageway in a mine, following the bed (of coal, for instance) or vein of ore. A drift may or may not intersect the ground surface. This kind of mining is done when the rock or mineral is on the side of a hill.

Chapter 11

  1. Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is based on the observed production rates of individual oil wells, and the combined production rate of a field of related oil wells. The aggregate production rate from an oil field over time usually grows exponentially until the rate peaks and then declines—sometimes rapidly—until the field is depleted. This concept is derived from the Hubbert Curve, and has been shown to be applicable to the sum of a nation’s domestic production rate, and is similarly applied to the global rate of petroleum production.
  2. Mountaintop removal mining is a form of surface mining that involves the mining of the summit or summit ridge of a mountain. Entire coal seams are removed from the top of a mountain, hill, or ridge by removing the so-called overburden (soil, lying above the economically desirable resource). After the coal is extracted, the removed material is put back on to the ridge to approximate the mountain’s original contours. Any overburden the mining company considers excess (that which it’s not able to place back onto the ridge top) is moved into neighboring valleys. Mountaintop removal is most closely associated with coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. Peer-reviewed studies show that mountaintop mining has serious environmental impacts, including loss of biodiversity, that mitigation practices cannot successfully address. There are also adverse human health impacts which result from contact with affected streams or exposure to airborne toxins and dust.

Chapter 15

  1. Anthracite iron is the substance created by the smelting together of anthracite coal and iron ore.

Chapter 16

  1. In recent years, human consumption of Orange Roughy has risen drastically due to increased supply through new deep-sea trawling techniques. Its recovery rate from fishing is slow because its long life cycle and sporadic reproduction make the fish prone to overfishing. Due to habitat damage of commercial trawling, some may not venture out during mating season. Studies have shown a decline in species associated with Orange Roughy, either indirectly through trophic interactions or directly through catching them, such as sea coral. In addition to the dangers for the species, bottom trawling has been heavily criticized by environmentalists for its destructive nature. The destructive nature of bottom trawling combined with heavy commercial demand has focused criticism from both environmentalists and media.

Chapter 21

  1. Original mine railways used wax-impregnated wooden rails attached to wooden sleepers, on which drams were dragged by men, children or animals. This was later replaced by L-shaped iron rails, which were attached to the mine floor, meaning that no sleepers were required, hence leaving easy access for the feet of children or animals to propel more drams.
  2. Hillerich & Bradsby Company is a company located in Louisville, Kentucky that produces the famous Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Most of Hillerich and Bradsby’s wood bats are made from Northern White Ash grown in proprietary forests on the New York/Pennsylvania border. Ash trees in the United States are now under attack from the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect species native to Asia and first detected in Michigan in 2002. While H&B’s forests are not yet infested by the beetle, the area being destroyed is growing and moving closer to them. The company is making plans to utilize other woods in the event North America’s ash forests are totally destroyed.

Chapter 22

  1. The two dominant influences on the climate of the North York moors are the shelter against the worst of the moist westerly winds provided by the Pennines and the proximity of the North Sea. Late, chilly springs and warm summers are a feature of the area but there are often spells of fine autumn weather. Onshore winds in spring and early summer bring mists or low stratus clouds (known locally as sea frets) to the coasts and moors.
  2. Maldives, officially the Republic of the Maldives, and also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls, oriented north-south, that lie between Minicoy Island (the southernmost part of Lakshadweep, India) and the Chagos Archipelago. The chains stand in the Laccadive Sea, about 700 kilometers (430\mi) south-west of Sri Lanka and 400 kilometers (250\mi) south-west of India. As one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of just three feet in sea level would submerge the 1,200 islands of the Maldives enough to make them uninhabitable.

Chapter 24

  1. Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom (large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms) when it is caused by a few species of dinoflagellates and the bloom takes on a red or brown color. Red tides are events in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column, resulting in coloration of the surface water. It is usually found in coastal areas. Any metaphorical resemblance to broadcasts featuring Nancy Grace is purely coincidental.
  2. A Föhn or Foehn is a type of dry, warm, down-slope wind that occurs in the lee (downwind side) of a mountain range. It is a rain shadow wind that results from the subsequent adiabatic warming of air that has dropped most of its moisture on windward slopes. As a consequence of the different adiabatic lapse rates of moist and dry air, the air on the leeward slopes becomes warmer than equivalent elevations on the windward slopes. Föhn winds can raise temperatures by as much as 32\﹉C (58\﹉F) in just a matter of hours. Central Europe enjoys a warmer climate due to the Föhn, as moist winds off the Mediterranean Sea blow over the Alps.

Chapter 26

  1. A pit pony was a type of pony commonly used underground in coal mines from the mid-eighteenth until the mid-twentieth century. Ponies began to be used underground, often replacing child or female labor, as distances from pit head to coal face became greater. The first known recorded use in Britain was in the Durham coalfield in 1750. The use of ponies was never common in the United States, though ponies were used in Appalachian coal fields in the mid-twentieth century. The last pony mine in the United States closed in 1971.

Chapter 27

  1. The Tunguska event was a large explosion which occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, at about 7:14 on June 30, 1908. The explosion occurred at an altitude of three to six miles at 60.886N, 101.894E. It is classified as an impact even though the asteroid or comet is believed to have burst in the air rather than hit the surface. Different studies have yielded widely varying estimates of the impacting object’s size, on the order of sixty meters (two hundred feet) to one hundred ninety meters (six hundred twenty feet). It is the largest impact event on or near Earth in recorded history.

Chapter 31

  1. Orogeny refers to forces and events leading to a large structural deformation of the Earth’s lithosphere (crust and uppermost mantle) due to the engagement of tectonic plates. Orogens or orogenic belts develop while a continental plate is crumpled and is pushed upwards to form mountain ranges, and involve a great range of geological processes collectively called orogenesis.
  2. Volcanic eruptions considered to be large enough to affect the Earth’s climate on a scale of more than one year are those that inject over 0.1 megaton of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. This is due to the optical properties of sulfur dioxide and sulfate aerosols, which strongly absorb or scatter solar radiation, creating a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. On average, such eruptions occur several times per century, and cause cooling (by partially blocking the transmission of solar radiation to the Earth’s surface) for a period of a few years.
        The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, the second largest terrestrial eruption of the twentieth century, affected the climate substantially, subsequently global temperatures decreased by about 0.5 C (0.9 F) for up to three years. Thus, the cooling over large parts of the Earth reduced surface temperatures in 1991-93, the equivalent to a reduction in net radiation of four watts per square meter.
        Much larger eruptions, known as large igneous provinces, occur only a few times every fifty to one hundred million years, and caused global warming and mass extinctions in Earth’s distant past. A review of published studies indicates that annual volcanic emissions of carbon dioxide, including amounts released from mid-ocean ridges, volcanic arcs, and hot spot volcanoes, are only the equivalent of three to five days of human-caused output. The annual amount put out by human activities may be greater than the amount released by supereruptions, the most recent of which was the Toba eruption in Indonesia 74,000 years ago.
  3. The year 1816 is known as the Year Without a Summer (also the Poverty Year, the Summer that Never Was, the Year There Was No Summer, and Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death), because of severe summer climate abnormalities that caused average global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 C (0.7–1.3 F). This resulted in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere. Evidence suggests that the anomaly was caused by a combination of an historic low in solar activity with a volcanic winter event, the latter caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), the largest known eruption in over 1,300 years.
  4. Number of active gas wells in the United States in 2010: 487,627.
    - From the U.S. Energy Information Administration
  5. “A government-industry study found that up to eighty percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing allows access to formations, like shale oil and shale gas, that had not been assessable before without the technology. It also allows more oil and natural gas to be brought to the surface from wells that had been produced without this technology.”
    - From the American Petroleum Institute
  6. The worldwide average monthly production of crude oil in 2009 was 72,670,000 barrels, for an annual total of 872,040,000 barrels. This is equal to 36,625,680,000 gallons.
    - From Energy Information Association, Monthly Energy Review, November, 2014
  7. 20,000,000,000,000 (twenty trillion) gallons = 75,710,000,000 (seventy-five billion) cubic meters. A cylinder of this volume with a depth of one hundred meters has a base area of 378,600,000 square meters, or 146.2 square miles.
  8. The Marcellus Formation (also classified as the Marcellus Subgroup of the Hamilton Group, Marcellus Member of the Romney Formation, or simply the Marcellus Shale) is a unit of marine sedimentary rock found in eastern North America. Named for a distinctive outcrop near the village of Marcellus, New York, in the United States, it extends throughout much of the Appalachian Basin. The shale contains largely untapped natural gas reserves, and its proximity to the high-demand markets along the East Coast of the United States makes it an attractive target for energy development and export.
  9. Niagara Falls is located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50\m). The volume of water approaching the falls during peak flow season may sometimes be as much as 225,000 cubic feet (6,400\cubic meters) per second. The average annual flow rate is 85,000 cubic feet (2,400\cubic meters) per second. (2,400 cubic meters) * (60 seconds per minute) * (60 minutes per hour) * (24 hours per day) * (365.24 days per year) = 75,740,000,000 cubic meters annually, or 20,010,000,000,000 (twenty trillion) gallons.
  10. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission conducted a study assessed forty one products used in fracturing operations and found that seventy three percent of the products had between six and fourteen different adverse health effects, including skin, eye, and sensory organ damage; respiratory distress including asthma; gastrointestinal and liver disease; brain and nervous system harms; cancers; and negative reproductive effects.
    - Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Bourgui- gnon JP, Giudice LC, et al. “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an Endocrine Society scientific statement.” Endocr Rev. 2009:30(4):293–342.
  11. An injection well is a device that places fluid deep underground into porous rock formations, such as sandstone or limestone, or into or below the shallow soil layer. The fluid may be water, wastewater, brine (salt water), or water mixed with chemicals.
  12. Fissility or fissionability refers to the property of rocks to split along planes of weakness into thin sheets. This is commonly observed in shales, which are sedimentary rocks, and in slates and phyllites, which are foliated metamorphic rocks. The fissility in these rocks is caused by the preferred alignment of platy phyllosilicate grains due to compaction, deformation or new mineral growth. A highly fissile rock splits easily along the cleavage.
  13. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout) began on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect. It claimed eleven lives and is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, an estimated eight percent to thirty-one percent larger in volume than the previously largest, the Ixtoc I oil spill. Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, a sea-floor oil gusher flowed for eighty-seven days, until it was capped on July 15, 2010. The US Government estimated the total discharge at 4.9 million barrels (210\million US\gal; 780,000\cubic meters). After several failed efforts to contain the flow, the well was declared sealed on September 19, 2010. Some reports indicate the well site continues to leak.
  14. Tailings, also called mine dumps, culm dumps, slimes, tails, refuse, leach residue or slickens, are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the uneconomic fraction (gangue) of an ore.
  15. In mining and in archaeology, overburden (also called waste or spoil) is the material that lies above an area of economic or scientific interest. In mining, it is most commonly the rock, soil, and ecosystem that lies above a coal seam or ore body.

Chapter 32

  1. Wilkes-Barre’s economy took a major blow from Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. The storm pushed the Susquehanna River to a height of nearly forty-one feet (twelve meters), four feet above the city’s levees, flooding downtown with nine feet of water. While no lives were lost, 25,000 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed; damages were estimated to be $1\billion, with President Richard Nixon sending aid to the area. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Wilkes-Barre attempted to repair the damage from Agnes by building a levee system that rises forty-one feet; it has successfully battled less threatening floods of 1996, 2004, and 2006. However, from September 6 to September 8, 2011, heavy rains from the inland remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katia offshore funneled heavy rain over the Wyoming Valley and into the Susquehanna River watershed. The Susquehanna swelled to record levels across the state, and in Wilkes-Barre crested on September 9 at an all-time record of 42.66 feet (13.00\meters), nearly two feet higher than the previously disastrous water levels from 1972’s Hurricane Agnes. Wilkes-Barre was spared from any major flooding by the levees built on the river banks of the city.
  2. The Barnett Shale is a geological formation located in the Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin. It consists of sedimentary rocks dating from the Mississippian period (354–323 million years ago) in Texas. The formation underlies the city of Fort Worth and underlies 5,000\square miles and at least seventeen counties. As of 2007, some experts suggested that the Barnett Shale might have the largest producible reserves of any onshore natural gas field in the United States. The field is thought to have 2.5x1012\cu\ft (71\cubic kilograms) of recoverable natural gas, and 30x1012\cubic feet (850\cubic kilograms) of natural gas in place. Oil also has been found in lesser quantities, but sufficient (with high oil prices) to be commercially viable.
  3. The Chicxulub impactor, also known as the K/Pg impactor and (more speculatively) as the Chicxulub asteroid, was an asteroid or comet at least ten kilometers (six miles) in diameter which impacted a few miles from the present-day town of Chicxulub in Mexico, after which the impactor and its crater are named. Because the estimated date of the object’s impact and the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (K–Pg boundary) coincide, there is a scientific consensus that its impact was the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event which caused the demise of the planet’s non-avian dinosaurs and other species. Geological evidence shows that the impact dates from the end of the Cretaceous Period, approximately sixty-six million years ago. The impact is implicated in causing the mass extinction event at that time, as suggested by the K-Pg boundary, the geological boundary between the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods. Some scientists doubt whether the impact was the sole cause, and others debate whether the Chicxulub impactor was one of several that may have struck the Earth at around the same time.
  4. Mount McKinley, [native name Denali Koyukon Athabaskan for “The High One”) is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,237 feet (6,168\meters) above sea level. At some 18,000 feet (5,500\meters), the base-to-peak rise is considered the largest of any mountain situated entirely above sea level. Measured by topographic prominence, it is the third most prominent peak after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Located in the Alaska Range in the interior of US state of Alaska, McKinley is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve. The first verifiable ascent to McKinley’s summit was achieved on June 7, 1913 by climbers Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, and Robert Tatum, who went by the South Summit. In 1951, Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, considered to be the safest and easiest route and therefore the most popular currently in use.
  5. The mesosphere is the third highest layer of Earth’s atmosphere, occupying the region above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere. It extends from the stratopause at an altitude of about fifty\kilometers (thirty-one\miles; 160,000\feet) to the mesopause at eighty to eighty-five\kilometers (fifty to fifty-three\miles; 260,000–280,000\feet) above sea level. Temperatures drop with increasing altitude to the mesopause that marks the top of this middle layer of the atmosphere. It is the coldest place on Earth and has an average temperature of around −85\﹉C (−120\﹉F; 190\K). Just below the mesopause, the air is so cold that even the very scarce water vapor at this altitude can be sublimated into polar-mesospheric noctilucent clouds. These are highest clouds in the atmosphere and may be visible to the naked eye if sunlight reflects off them about an hour or two after sunset or a similar length of time before sunrise. They are most readily visible when the Sun is around four to sixteen degrees below the horizon. The mesosphere is also the layer where most meteors burn up upon atmospheric entrance. It is too high above Earth to be accessible to jet-powered aircraft, and too low to support satellites and orbital or sub-orbital spacecraft. The mesosphere is mainly accessed by rocket-powered aircraft and unmanned sounding rockets.
  6. The Seveso disaster was an industrial accident that occurred around 12:37 pm July 10, 1976, in a small chemical manufacturing plant approximately fifteen kilometers (nine miles) north of Milan in the Lombardy region in Italy. It resulted in the highest known exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in residential populations, which gave rise to numerous scientific studies and standardized industrial safety regulations. The EU industrial safety regulations are known as the Seveso II Directive.
  7. The Kuwaiti oil fires were caused by Iraqi military forces setting fire to a reported 605 to 732 oil wells along with an unspecified number of oil filled low-lying areas, such as “oil lakes” and “fire trenches,” as part of a scorched-earth policy while retreating from Kuwait in 1991 due to the advances of Coalition military forces in the Persian Gulf War. The fires were started in January and February 1991, and the first well fires were extinguished in early April 1991, with the last well capped on November 6, 1991. During the second US invasion of Iraq in 2003, approximately forty oil wells were set on fire in the Persian gulf within Iraqi territory, ostensibly to once again hinder the invasion.
  8. The Sidoarjo mud flow or Lapindo mud (informally abbreviated as Lusi, a contraction of Lumpur Sidoarjo wherein lumpur is the Indonesian word for mud) is the result of an erupting mud volcano in the subdistrict of Porong, Sidoarjo in East Java, Indonesia that has been in eruption since May 2006. It is the biggest mud volcano in the world. Responsibility for it was credited to the blowout of a natural gas well drilled by PT Lapindo Brantas, although some scientists and company officials contend it was caused by a distant earthquake. At its peak, Lusi spewed up to 180,000\cubic meters of mud per day. By mid August 2011, mud was being discharged at a rate of 10,000\cubic meters per day, down significantly from the previous year, when mud was being discharged at a rate of 100,000 cubic meters per day. It is expected that the flow will continue for the next twenty-five to thirty years.

Chapter 33

  1. The Kermode bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), also known as a “spirit bear” (particularly in British Columbia), is a subspecies of the North American Black Bear living in the Central and North Coast regions of British Columbia, Canada. It is noted for about one-tenth of their population having white or cream-colored coats. This color morph is due to recessive genes common in the population. They are not albinos and not any more related to polar bears or the “blonde” brown bears of Alaska’s “ABC Islands” than other members of their species. Sometimes a black mother can have a white cub. The kermodei subspecies ranges from Princess Royal Island to Prince Rupert, British Columbia on the coast, and inland toward Hazelton, British Columbia. It is known to the Tsimshian peoples as Moksgm’ol. It is estimated that there are fewer than four hundred Kermode bears in the coast area that stretches from Southeast Alaska southwards to the northern tip of Vancouver Island; approximately one hundred twenty inhabit the large Princess Royal Island.
  2. Coal dust suspended in air is explosive—coal dust has far more surface area per unit weight than lumps of coal, and is more susceptible to spontaneous combustion. As a result, a nearly empty coal store is a greater explosion risk than a full one. The worst mining accidents in history have been caused by coal dust explosions, such as the disaster at Senghenydd in South Wales in 1913 in which 439 miners died, the Courrières mine disaster in Northern France which killed 1,099 miners in 1906, the Luisenthal Mine disaster in Germany, which claimed 299 lives in 1962, and the worst: the explosion at Benxihu Colliery, China, which killed 1,549 in 1942.