Jack Dini

Jack Dini photo
Jack Dini is author of Challenging Environmental Mythology. He has also written for American Council on Science and Health, Environment & Climate News, and Hawaii Reporter.

Most Recent Articles by Jack Dini:

China’s Drive For Global Resources

Jul 13, 2017 — Jack Dini

Across the globe, on nearly every continent, China is involved in a dizzying variety or resource extraction, energy, agricultural, and infrastructure projects—roads, railroads, hydro-power dams, mines—that are wrecking unprecedented damage to ecosystems and biodiversity reports, William Laurance. 1

It is difficult to find a corner of the developing world where China is not having a significant environmental impact. China is the world’s biggest financier and builder of hydroelectric dams, many of which are being constructed in biologically diverse regions where the dams and their associated roads and power lines will open up new lands for exploitation.

According to a major World Bank analysis of nearly 3,000 projects, Chinese foreign investors and companies often predominate in poorer nations with weak environmental regulations and controls, causing those nations to become ‘pollution havens’ for Chinese enterprises. 1

Coal Boom Worldwide

Jul 10, 2017 — Jack Dini

In a world where more than 1 billion people have no electricity and a much larger number live in deep energy poverty, only the fossil fuel industry has developed the ability to produce energy for electricity, fuel and heat for those in need. The politically popular alternatives, solar and wind, are expensive, unreliables that depend on reliable sources, mostly fossil fuels for life support reports Alex Epstein. 1

Overall, 1,600 coal plants are planned or are under construction in 62 countries. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent. The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord. 2

Leading the pack is China with 11 of the 20 biggest coal plant developers.

Even though China claimed to halt plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants this year as President Trump vowed to ‘bring back coal’ in America, the contrast seemed to confirm Beijing’s new role as a leader in the fight against climate change.

But new data on the world’s biggest developer of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade reports Hiroko Tabuchi. 2

Low Dose Radiation Revisited

Jul 6, 2017 — Jack Dini

Radiation is a natural process that is occurring at all times all around us. It is measured in units called millirems (mrems). The average person experiences a dose of about 620 mrems per year. International Standards consider exposure to as much as 5,000 mrems (5 rem) a year safe for those who work with and around radioactive material.

Most people assume all radioactive materials are dangerous, if not deadly. But a recent study on the radiation emitted by everyday objects highlights the fact that we interact with radioactive materials every day. 1

“We did this study understanding how much radiation comes off common household items to help place radiation readings in context—it puts things in perspective,” says Robert Hayes of North Carolina State University. “If people understand what trace levels of radiation mean, that understanding may help prevent panic.” (2)

Questioning Recycling Of Wind Turbine Blades

Jun 28, 2017 — Jack Dini

Although wind power achieved just 0.39% of the world’s total energy consumption as of 2013, it is assumed that a rapid expansion of wind power will ultimately be environmentally advantageous both due to its reputation as a ‘clean’ energy and because of the potential to contribute to reduced CO2 emissions.1

Besides reducing wildlife populations, perhaps one of the most underrated negative side effects of building wind turbines is that they don’t last very long before they need to be replaced.

The blades, made with composites, are currently regarded as unrecyclable. With the first wave of early commercial wind turbine installations now approaching their end of life, the problem of blade disposal is just beginning to emerge as a significant factor for the future.

Scientific Expeditions Get Stuck in Arctic and Antarctic Ice

Jun 25, 2017 — Jack Dini

The science team of Canadian Research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen involving 40 scientists, five universities and $17 million in taxpayer funding to study climate change canceled the first leg of the 2017 Arctic expedition due to extreme ice condition in the south. This meant the ship would arrive too late on site to meet research objectives.

The decision to terminate the 2017 program has significant impacts on partners and the large number of graduate students involved.

Our Sense Of Smell Is Better Than Originally Thought

Jun 20, 2017 — Jack Dini

Biology textbooks are riddled with passages relating how bad humans are at perceiving odors. As the oft-quoted statistic goes, humans can only perceive ‘10,000 odors’, a number that sits particularly well with some dog-lovers, who like to remind us that canines have 300 million odor receptors, while humans only sport 6 million. But a study in 2014 revealed that humans might not be as olfactorily challenged as we once thought because, as it turns out, we can perceive more than 1 trillion odors—and that’s a conservative estimate. 1

The original belief that humans’ sense of smell is worse than that of other animals—dogs, mice, moles and even sharks was based on a 19th century hypothesis about free will that has more in common with phrenology than with our modern understanding of how brains work. John McGann, a neuroscientist who studies olfaction at Rutgers University, recently revealed how we ended up with this myth. The truth is humans are actually pretty good at smelling our world. 2

Questioning Carbon Accounting For Lakes And Rivers

May 24, 2017 — Jack Dini

People are willing to set up a two trillion dollar global market to read carbon, but their carbon models are so primitive that giant ‘oops’ moments are now happening on a regular basis reports Joanne Nova. 1

A Yale-led study in 2015 estimated that there are more than 3 trillion trees on Earth, about seven and a half times more than some previous estimates. Previously, the only global estimate was just over 400 billion trees worldwide, or about 61 trees for every person on Earth. The Yale study used a combination of appaoiches to reveal that there are 3 trillion trees—roughly 422 trees per person. 2

Productive Energy Workers Are In Coal And Natural Gas, Not Solar

May 17, 2017 — Jack Dini

Last year, the solar industry employed more Americans (373,807) than coal (160,119), while wind power topped 100,000 jobs.

However, by reporting that the solar industry employs lots of Americans, more than twice as many as the number of coal miners and utility workers at electric power plants using coal, is only telling a small part of of the story reports Mark Perry. 1

To start, despite a huge workforce of almost 400,000 solar workers, that sector produced an insignificant share, less than 1 percent of the electric power generated in the United States last year.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables—Don’t Believe The Scaremongers

May 11, 2017 — Jack Dini

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower calorie intake, reduce risks for heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and protect against certain cancers.

With all these benefits, why do some consumers choose to avoid produce? Approximately three-quarters of people in the US don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Keith Ayoob notes that a lot of factors could explain the shortfall, including fear. Media stories about topics such as GMOs and pesticides may convince some consumers that it’s not safe to eat certain fruits and vegetables. There’s no question that negative news about produce can affect consumer choices. One survey found that among low-income shoppers, those who heard messages about pesticide residue on produce were less likely to purchase any type of fruits and vegetables. 1

Too Many Elephants at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park

Apr 22, 2017 — Jack Dini

Elephant numbers across Africa have been declining rapidly under the onslaught of ivory poachers. However, one national park faces an entirely different problem. Hwange’s elephant population just keeps growing. But what, on the face of it, might appear to be good news has become an equally serious problem, one that is more a threat to the elephants long-term survival than ivory poaching. Quite simply, Hwange has too many elephants reports Martin Dunn. 1

Zimbabwe’s Hwange National park is a six thousand square mile area founded in the 1920s as a hunting preserve. Right at the start waterholes were dug and pumps were installed to increase big game.

Save Cormorants- Kill Eagles—A Double Standard

Apr 17, 2017 — Jack Dini

The new eastern span of the bridge which crosses the San Francisco Bay between Yerba Buena Island and Emeryville was officially opened in September 2013.

As crews demolished the 10,000 foot long steel previous structure where birds roosted, they had to navigate around broadly interpreted state and federal environmental laws designed to protect the feathered critters.

To provide homes for the estimated 1,600 double crested cormorants that nested annually on the old span, 2-1/2 foot wide stainless steel nesting platforms were built at a cost of $709,000.

Asian Air Pollution Is Our Pollution

Apr 14, 2017 — Jack Dini

Air pollution from China, India and several other Asian countries has wafted across the Pacific Ocean over the past 25 years, increasing levels of smog in the western US according to recent research. 1

Smog, also know as ground level ozone, is harmful to human health because it can exacerbate asthma attacks and cause difficulty breathing. It also harms sensitive trees and crops.

Since 2000 smog forming emissions have decreased by approximately 50 percent in the US due to Clean Act Air enforcement, pollution controls on large emitters and regulations on cars and trucks.

Listeria Pathogen Can Be Fatal

Apr 10, 2017 — Jack Dini

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can cause a potentially fatal disease in people with vulnerable immune systems. Listeria infection is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning in the United States. About 1,600 people get sick from Listeria each year and about 260 die. 1

A number of food borne outbreaks in recent years have been attributed to Listeria. In 2016, a total of 358 frozen food products were recalled amid a Listeria outbreak that hit at least three states. 2

In 2011 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 146 people in 28 states were infected, 30 people died, and one person miscarried from cantaloupes contaminated with Listeria. It was the deadliest food borne illness outbreak in over 25 years. FDA officials concluded that new processing equipment and the decision to use a packing and washing technology involving non-chlorinated water were two probable causes of the outbreak. 3

Bacteria Are Everywhere

Mar 24, 2017 — Jack Dini

Bacteria are tiny, one-celled organisms—generally 4/100,000 of an inch wide (1 micron) and somewhat longer in length. What bacteria lack in size, they make up in numbers. We can’t avoid them. The air around us is teeming with them. With every breath we take, we inhale thousands of bacteria, viruses and fungi. A teaspoon of productive soil generally contains between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria. That is as much mass as two cows per acre. 1

Green Lunacy—Wood Biomass

Mar 9, 2017 — Jack Dini

The use of wood for electricity generation and heat in modern technologies has grown rapidly in recent years. For its supporters, it represents a relatively cheap and flexible way of supplying renewable energy, with benefits to the global climate and to forest industries. To its critics, it can release more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere than the fossil fuels it replaces, and threatens the maintenance of natural forests and the biodiversity that depends on them.  1

Wood pellets are claimed to be carbon-neutral partly because the forests from which they come are replanted. New trees would eventually absorb as much carbon as was emitted when mature trees were harvested and burned. However, this process could take centuries—too late to contribute to preventing climate change over coming decades.