Endeavour Arrives in Los Angeles, Sandy Bears Down on the East Coast, and the Cost of Coal Continues to Rise

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The second half of October saw the retired space shuttle Endeavour finally arrive at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, as well as the battering of the Eastern U.S. by ‰ÛÏFrankenstorm‰Û Hurricane Sandy.

The rising cost of coal mining in America’s Appalachian region also raised some interesting questions, while rhino populations continued to plummet under intense demand by somewhat dubious medicinal claims. Additionally, Environment News Service took us on a worldwide tour of our planet’s worst pollution problems.

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Photo of people moving throughout wreckage following Hurricane Sandy. Shannon Stapleton/ReutersHurricane Sandy Barrels Region, Leaving Battered Path – Originally Published by The NY Times

The New York region began the daunting process on Tuesday of rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a storm that remade the landscape and rewrote the record books as it left behind a tableau of damage, destruction and grief. Accidents claimed more than 40 lives in the United States and Canada, including 22 in the city.



Picture of the shuttle Endeavor being carted across the 405 highway. Credit: Getty ImagesShuttle rolls into history in LA – Originally Published by BBC

The retired US space shuttle Endeavour finally reached its new home in Los Angeles’ museum after long delays caused by trees along the route. It took the spacecraft that once reached 17,000mph (28,160km/h) three days instead of the expected two to travel just 12 miles (19km). Hundreds of trees, traffic lights, power lines and parking meters were removed to clear the path. Thousands of city residents turned out to see it pass.



Photo of a woman standing amidst rubble. (Image: Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)Thirst for groundwater caused fatal earthquake – Originally Published by New Scientist

On 11 May 2011, nine people were killed and dozens injured by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake near Lorca in southern Spain. Now it seems that the earthquake was triggered by human activity. What’s more, it may have been shallower, and thus more destructive, than if it had happened following a slow, natural build-up of stress.




Image of greenhouse gas visualization. Credit; ASURendering Greenhouse Gases Visible – Originally Published by IEEE Spectrum

Natural gas has no odor, but you can smell a leak thanks to the addition of an odorific mercaptam compound. Do carbon dioxide and other similarly odorless greenhouse gases (GHGs) require some analogous device to make their presence known and thus prompt evasive action? Yes, and for these ubiquitous gases, it will be a visual cue indicating the source and quantity of GHGs.




Image of the Earth with a footpring on it. Credit: Shutterstock.Degrowth Offers Alternative to Global Consumer Culture – Originally Published by WorldWatch Institute

If everyone lived like the average American, according to the Global Footprint Network, the Earth could sustain only 1.7 billion people—a quarter of today’s population—without undermining the planet’s physical and biological systems. Overconsumption in industrialized societies and among developing world elites causes lasting environmental and human impacts. In his chapter, ‰ÛÏThe Path to Degrowth in Overdeveloped Countries,‰Û Worldwatch Senior Fellow and State of the World 2012 Project Co-director Erik Assadourian describes the benefits and opportunities of proactive ‰ÛÏeconomic degrowth‰Û—defined as the intentional contraction of overdeveloped economies and more broadly, the redirection of economies away from the perpetual pursuit of growth.

Photograph of a white rhino. Thirteen/WNETMyths, More than Traditional Medicine, Driving Rhino Slaughter – Originally Published by the NY Times

Rhinoceros populations from Asia through Africa are plummeting in the face of burgeoning illicit trade in their horns, much of it driven by myths promoted by criminal smuggling syndicates and targeting the new wealthy in China and Vietnam. The Green blog and Dot Earth have explored these issues, but it’s worth a slightly deeper dive, here provided in a ‰ÛÏYour Dot‰Û contribution from Matthew Wilkinson, the founder and editor of the informative Safaritalk blog.


A NASA satellite image shows Hurricane Sandy battering the Caribbean on Thursday. Credit: Getty ImagesU.S. Satellite Plans Falter, Imperiling Data on Storms – Originally Published by the NY Times

The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews. The looming gap in satellite coverage, which some experts view as almost certain within the next few years, could result in shaky forecasts about storms like Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit the East Coast early next week.


Child scavenges a flooded dump, standing hip-deep in toxic water.(Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)World’s Worst Pollution Problems: 2012 – Originally Published by Environment News Service

Industrial pollution is a critical public health threat on a par with malaria and tuberculosis, but while 125 million people around the world are at risk from toxic pollutants, these causes of illness and death are underestimated, new research shows. Two nonprofit organizations ‰ÛÒ the New York-based Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland ‰ÛÒ today issued a report detailing their findings from the past year of research on thousands of polluted sites in dozens of low-income and middle-income countries.


Ed Reinke/AP - In this file photo, coal lies in piles around a conveyor system at a mine in Kentucky. Coal is deeply linked to the culture and economy in central Appalachia but the industry is facing an expected collapse in production over the next few years. Central Appalachia is where the political fight over the reasons for the coal industry's woes have been most intense.Cost of mining coal continues to climb – Originally Published by The Washington Post

Although it’s commonly said that the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal with more than 200 years worth of reserves, digging up those coal reserves and delivering them to customers has been getting more expensive. That’s because of rising costs of transportation, explosives, wages — and geology. In most areas, companies first dig coal from areas that are easiest to access and that have the thickest, richest seams. Over time, however, it becomes more expensive to mine — and more difficult to do so profitably.


Visible image of Hurricane Sandy from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite on Friday, Oct. 26 at 1415 UTC (10:15 a.m. EDT) and shows Hurricane Sandy's huge cloud extent of up to 2,000 miles while centered over the Bahamas, and the line of clouds associated with a powerful cold front approaching the U.S. east coast. (Credit: NASA GOES Project)Hurricane Sandy looks as the ‘Bride of Frankenstorm’ Approaching U.S. East Coast – Originally Published by ScienceDaily

NASA’s TRMM satellite revealed Hurricane Sandy’s heavy rainfall and the storm is expected to couple with a powerful cold front and Arctic air to bring that heavy rainfall to the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S. Some forecasters are calling this combination of weather factors “Frankenstorm” because of the close proximity to Halloween.