Jack Dini

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:

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Pollution

Mar 14, 2018 — Jack Dini

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Pollution
Many folks worldwide live in constant fear of chemicals. High up on the list are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as hydrocarbons, which vaporize easily. VOCs come from gasoline combustion and from evaporation of liquid fuels, solvents, and organic chemicals such as those in some paints, cleaners, nail polish remover, soaps, pesticides, and even we humans.

Here are a number of everyday emitters of VOCs:

Raw Drinks and Food

Mar 8, 2018 — Jack Dini

Raw Drinks and Food
Raw Milk

There are many reasons why some people think about drinking raw milk, which is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful germs. Some people want to eat less processed food. Others have heard that raw milk contains more of certain nutrients than pasteurized milk, or that it can prevent or even solve various health problems. Still others think buying raw milk is one way to support local farmers and sustainable agriculture. 1

Tuvalu is Rising, Not Shrinking

Feb 16, 2018 — Jack Dini

Tuvalu is Rising, Not Shrinking
Tuvalu, the poster child for sea level rise, is not shrinking but rather is actually growing!

Tuvalu’s prime minister has said that Tuvalu was ‘the world’s first victim of climate change,’ and that ‘the greenhouse effect and sea level rise threaten the very heart of our existence.’ 1

How wrong he was!

Health Aspects of Alcohol

Feb 14, 2018 — Jack Dini

Health Aspects of Alcohol
There are a lot of mixed messages about alcohol. On the one hand, moderate amounts have been linked to health benefits. On the other hand, it is addictive and highly toxic when we drink too much of it.

The truth is that the health effects of alcohol are actually quite complex. They vary between individuals and depend on the amount consumed and the type of alcoholic beverage. 1

Whiskey’s Complex Chemistry

Feb 4, 2018 — Jack Dini

Whiskey's Complex Chemistry
Whiskeys contain hundreds of compounds, including fatty acids, esters, alcohols and aldehydes, in a wide range of concentrations. The most important flavors in a whiskey come from the raw materials, the distillation process, and the maturation. 1

Chemist Thomas Collins and his team have identified about 4,000 unique compounds in 70 American whiskeys. 2

Whiskeys come in different variants (scotch, bourbon, rye, and so on) but are all essentially produced with just three simple ingredients; water, grain, and yeast. As part of the process, distillate is transferred into charred oak barrels for aging, where flavors such as vanilla, coconut and butterscotch are extracted into the whiskey. 3

Germany’ Failing Energy Policy

Jan 4, 2018 — Jack Dini

Germany' Failing Energy Policy
Germans like to think of themselves as the most environmentally friendly people on earth. They see their sophisticated recycling programs, their love of forests, and, most recently the country’s drive to replace both nuclear and coal-fired power production with renewable sources—the so-called Energiewende,—or ‘energy turn’ as evidence of their strong environmental consciousness, especially compared to top polluters like the United States and China. 1

Notes Pierre Gosselin, “Sometimes you have to wonder which is the biggest fraud: Germany’s claim that its cars are clean, or its claim of being a leader in climate protection. Both, it turns out, are very fake and even downright frauds. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German activists like going around and scolding Donald Trump for his ‘irresponsible’ stance on ‘greenhouse ’ gas emissions, it is coming to light that Germany’s climate posturing is indeed a total swindle.”2

Concerns About Algae

Dec 29, 2017 — Jack Dini

Concerns About Algae
Algae is sickening people, killing animals and hammering the economy.  The scourge is escalating from occasional nuisance to severe, widespread hazard, overwhelming government efforts to curb a leading cause: fertilizer runoff from farms. 1

Pungent, sometimes toxic blobs are fouling waterways from the Great Lakes to Chesapeake Bay, from the Snake River in Idaho to New York’s Finger Lakes and reservoirs in California’s Central Valley. Tourism and recreation have suffered. An international water skiing festival in Milwaukee was canceled in August; scores of swimming areas were closed nationwide.

Solar’s Dirt and Toxic Issues

Dec 19, 2017 — Jack Dini

Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is a key chemical agent used to manufacture photovoltaic cells for solar panelsGlobal solar energy production is taking a major hit due to air pollution and dust. The first study of its kind showed airborne particles and their accumulation on solar cells is cutting energy output by more than 25 percent in certain parts of the world. The regions hardest hit are also those investing the most in solar energy installations—China, India and the Arabian Peninsula. Data showed a noticeable jump in efficiency each time the panels were cleaned after being left alone for several weeks.1

China is already looking at tens of billions of dollars being lost each year, with more than 80 percent of that coming from losses due to pollution. Lead researcher Mike Bergin said, “With the explosions of renewables taking place in China and their recent commitment to expanding their solar power capacity, that number is only going to go up.” 2

Joanne Nova observes, “Either way, real pollution and natural dust will slow the clean energy future in India and China until we get auto cleaning panels. Unfortunately, cleaning panels also risks damaging them, so the price of solar power really needs to include the cost of windscreen-wipers, electricity losses, damage to panels, and damage to panel cleaners too.” 3

Solar’s Dirty Secret

Dec 17, 2017 — Jack Dini

Solar's Dirty Secret
Solar energy is touted as clean, however, The Associated Press has reported that many panel makers are grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of toxic sludge and contaminated water. To dispose of this material, the companies must transport it by truck or rail far from their own plants to waste facilities hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away. The fossil fuels used to transport that waste, experts say, is not typically considered in calculating solar’s carbon footprint, giving scientists and consumers who use the measurement to gauge a product’s impact on global warming the impression that solar is cleaner than it is. 1

A study by Environmental Progress (EP) warns that toxic waste from used solar panels now poses a global environmental threat. Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a stark warning: the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces every year will rise from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the nation has no plan for safely disposing of it. Neither does California, a world leader in deploying solar panels. Only Europe requires a solar panel maker to collect and dispose of solar waste at the end of their lives. 2

Solar Industry Financial Woes

Dec 6, 2017 — Jack Dini

Solar Industry Financial Woes
Germany’s last remaining major solar manufacturer, Bonn-based Solarworld, earlier this year announced it would file for bankruptcy. Solarworld’s demise was the last in a spectacular series of solar manufacturer bankruptcies that swept across Germany over the past year, with names like Solon, Solar Millennium and Q-Cells going under. 1

Up to 100 solar PV firms in Japan could face bankruptcy this year, with more than double the number of firms going bust in the first half of the year than in the same period in 2016.2

EU Carbon Capture Project A Massive Financial Failure

Nov 20, 2017 — Jack Dini

EU Carbon Capture Project A Massive Financial Failure
Ten years ago EU leaders said that a technology called carbon capture and sequestration, also known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be deployed with new fossil-fuel power plants by 2020. 1

This technology supposedly would reduce the negative impact the extensive use of energy sources coal, oil and gas have on the earth’s climate.

Wind Energy Issues

Nov 9, 2017 — Jack Dini

Wind Energy Issues
The drumbeat for a fossil fuel free energy utopia continues. But few have pondered how we will supposedly generate 25 billion megawatts of total current global electricity demand using just renewable energy,  wind turbines, for instance. For starters, we’re talking about some 830 million gigantic 500 foot tall turbines requiring a land area of some 12.5 billion acres. That’s more than twice the size of North America, all the way through Central America reports Paul Driessen. 1

Spencer Morrison addresses two questions: 1- Are renewable energies making a difference, and 2- Are they sustainable?

Wind Speed Is Slowing Down

Nov 6, 2017 — Jack Dini

Wind Speed Is Slowing Down
Worldwide wind speeds have slowed down by about half a kilometer per hour (0.3 miles per hour) since the 1960s according to researchers. 31

The phenomenon is known as ‘stilling’, and scientists are not sure why it is happening. They speculate that it may have something to do with urbanization, climate change and cumulus clouds. But then researchers admit: “Or it could be due to aging wind speed instruments producing inaccurate results.”

Surprising Pollution From Trees

Oct 14, 2017 — Jack Dini

Forests have been called the lungs of the Earth because growing trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with oxygen. Planting trees is often touted as a strategy to make cities greener, cleaner and healthier.

However, there is some degree of pollution associated with trees.

Wood Burning Pollution

Oct 10, 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 global climate and to forest industries. For its critics, Duncan Brack adds this important observation, “Overall while some instances of biomass energy use may result in lower life-cycle emissions than fossil fuels, in most circumstances, comparing technologies of similar ages, the use of woody biomass for energy will release higher levels of emissions than coal and considerably higher levels than gas.” 1

Hockey Stick Revisited

Oct 6, 2017 — Jack Dini

The hockey stick is the nickname given to a temperature graph that became the central icon of the 2001 publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It purported to show that temperature had been roughly stable from the year 1000 AD until the 20th century—after which it began to shoot up dramatically. The flattish part of the line reminded people of the long handle of an ice hockey stick at rest, while the uptick resembled the blade, reports Donna Laframboise. 1

The 2001 graph profoundly influenced world energy and environmental policies. It has appeared in a variety of government documents and featured prominently in the documentary film version of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Notes On Tricky Use Of Math

Sep 29, 2017 — Jack Dini

A bat and ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

Almost everyone who reads this question will have an immediate impulse to answer ‘10 cents.’ I surely did. As Dan Gardner says, “It just looks and feels right. And yet it’s wrong. It’s clearly wrong—if you give it some careful thought—and yet it is perfectly normal to stumble on this test. Almost everyone we ask reports an initial tendency to answer ‘ten cents,’ write psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Shane Frederick. Many people yield to this immediate impulse. People are often content to trust a plausible judgment that quickly comes to mind.” 1

Renewables and Electricity Prices

Sep 25, 2017 — Jack Dini

Wind energy is ‘free’ but countries with the most wind power are also the most likely to get to the top of the Prize Pool for exorbitant electricity prices. It’s not even close. South Australian households pay the highest power prices in the world at 47.13 cents per kilowatt hour, more than Germany, Denmark and Italy, countries also noted for high ‘free’ wind energy concentration reports Joanne Nova. (1)
The US pays 15.75 cents per kilowatt hour.

Could there be a message here?

Temperature Record Shenanigans

Sep 15, 2017 — Jack Dini

If you heard that a temperature record had been set, how long would you expect that temperature to hold: 1 hour, 30 minutes, 10 minutes,1 minute? In 2008, Lin and Hubbard argued it should be 7 minutes, that even a 5 minute averaging was not long enough to avoid some warming bias in maximums and cooling bias in minimals. 1

No so in Australia! There the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) will write it in Australia’s record books even if the heat lasts one second, and if the temperature a minute before was more than a whole degree cooler. 2

Zinc- An Important Nutrient

Sep 1, 2017 — Jack Dini

You might know that zinc, element number 30 on the periodic table, is used for galvanizing iron and steel. Here are some things you might not know.

Zinc is ubiquitous in our bodies and facilitates many functions that are essential for preserving life. It plays a vital role in maintaining optimal childhood growth and in ensuring a healthy immune system. Zinc also helps limit inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies, which are associated with the onset of chronic cardiovascular diseases and cancers. 1