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The Basel Convention is a United Nations treaty that was signed in 1989 to control the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. The treaty helped define hazardous wastes, outlined how hazardous wastes are disposed and set guidelines such as approved facilities by city governments.

 

It’s been said that one event that prompted the Basel Convention was the Khian Sea waste disposal incident from 1986-2000. The Khian Sea cargo ship (which was registered in Liberia) was loaded with 14,355 tons of non-toxic ash from waste incinerations from the US. The story goes that a US company that handled the waste subcontracted a shipment to dump the ash in the Bahamas, however, the Bahamian government turned down the ash and so, for over one year the Khian Sea searched for a place to dump the ash. Many regions of the world refused to accept the ash and since the ash was even refused from the original area in the US from where it was received, in 1988 the crew dumped about 4,000 tons of the waste in Haiti as “topsoil fertilizer” and fled before they could pick up the ash as the Haitian commerce minister ordered. The Khian Sea then moved on to regions such as Morocco, Sri Lanka and Singapore where the captain testified to dumping about 10,000 tons of ash into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

 

Here is an image of the home port of the Khian Sea in Philadelphia:

 

Philadelphia_port_Green_Halo_Waste_Tracking_Khian_Sea

 

(Source: http://www.basel.int/Home/tabid/2202/Default.aspx and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khian_Sea_waste_disposal_incident )

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A list of kids’ responses on the KidsCom® Web site showed what many kids thought would be a great invention for the earth:

http://www.parentstalk.com/kidseyes/ke_wkt_apr01.html

One thing that we found of particular interest from this list is that an overwhelming amount of children wrote in about how robots and machinery should be used to save the planet.

kids with robots

(Pictured above are children who built robots out of recycled materials in their first grade class)

It makes sense that since being responsible for our waste is extremely important to many but not necessarily to all, that robots could help pick up what others left out. Litter is an unsightly, and devastating issue that many cities have, and truth be told the main method of picking up others’ litter (clean-up crews) is usually not enough. The solution of having people pick up waste for community service hours is a good remedy but clean up and being responsible for our waste in the first place should be improved.

robot

In a world where robots are being used to assemble cars, package goods and to perform numerous other functions, it seems reasonable to consider building more robots that benefit our environment.

Peruvian researchers have collaborated with an ad agency to create an unusual billboard that generates drinking water from thin air. While the billboard fulfills its traditional role as an advertising tool—in this case for courses at Lima’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC)—it harvests moisture directly from the air, which is then processed through a filtration system. Capable of producing 25 gallons (96 liters) of water a day during summer, the billboard has produced 9450 liters of clean drinking water for a nearby community in the three months since it was first installed.

Lima, Peru’s capital city, receives less than one inch of rain each year, forcing some residents to get their water from dirty wells. Despite the lack of rain, the high humidity makes it possible to harvest water directly from the city’s air, providing a sustainable, alternative source of drinkable water.

The researchers at Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology teamed up with Mayo DraftFCB advertising agency to create the billboard. The panel consists of five machines which convert humidity into water through use of air and carbon filters and a condenser. The water is stored in five tanks located at the top of the structure. The filtered water flows into a pipe at the bottom of the billboard, supplying the neighboring community with clean water. In the three months since it was first installed, the billboard has produced 9450 liters of water.

Video:

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It may seem like just yesterday that the wildfires in California finally died down, but experts in the state are already worried about the upcoming fire season after a long, hot winter comes to a close. If recent weather is any indicator, the state – and the entire Western U.S. – could be in for an even hotter summer. Almost 95 percent of the state is currently in a drought even after recent rain, and after last year’s fires the budget for fighting fires has been spread thin.

Green Halo - How Will the Western U.S. Prepare for Upcoming Fire Season After Hot Winter & DroughtLast year some of the most destructive fires in California started as early as May and ended later than normal as well. Some experts expect this year to be similar in terms of length. Recent fire maps show only a small portion of the state at risk right now, but over the next few months that risk will spread to cover two-thirds of the state. What’s particularly concerning is that trends are moving in the wrong direction for fires in the west. With the wood getting drier and the weather getting hotter, fires are more likely to start and spread quickly, but there is an added danger as people continue to build more homes in forested areas.

Although fire fighters have learned to expect these sort of extreme fire seasons, their budgets haven’t kept up. Last year’s suppression budget was exceeded by about a half a billion dollars for the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. That means little money is left over for prevention efforts, which adds another risk factor to the mix. This year lawmakers in the west are hoping to pay for fires out of the federal emergency fund, which is used for other natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. Regardless of how it is paid for, the area is likely in for a difficult fire season.

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A common misconception about hurricanes is that wind is your worst enemy:

“Most people, when they hear hurricane, think wind first and maybe water second,” said Jamie Rhome, storm surge specialist at the National Hurricane Center. “Given the fact that water is killing more people, we’ve got to start thinking water first.”

On Friday, the National Hurricane Center announced that it will add storm surge maps to text warnings when the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season begins in June.

The color-coded maps will show geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and how high water might reach. The maps will be updated every six hours during a threat.

“A lot of coastal residents, including those vulnerable to storm surge, simply don’t understand storm surge,” Rhome said. “This map is one of several steps aimed at improving communication and better highlighting the risk.”

Storm surge — an abnormal rise of water pushed onto shore by a hurricane — was the culprit in the three deadliest storms in U.S. history: the Galveston hurricane of 1900 (more 8,000 killed), the Lake Okeechobee hurricane of 1928 (2,500 killed) and Hurricane Katrina of 2005 (more than 1,800 killed).

While those tragedies were all major hurricanes, Superstorm Sandy in 2012 proved that even a post-tropical cyclone can still produce catastrophic storm surge. Sandy caught many people off-guard when the storm drove a 9-foot surge of water above ground in parts of New Jersey and New York.

For the last few years, meteorologists and emergency managers have been working on ways to get the public to think beyond wind-strengths associated with hurricane forecasts.

The National Weather Service says the maps will be used on an experimental basis for at least two years while they collect feedback from emergency personnel and the public. Heller says he knows the amount of planning that has gone into the maps and doesn’t doubt their value.

Green Halo 2014 Hurricane Warning Flooding Map

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