Archive for the ‘Air, Water & Other Superfluous Stuff’ Category

PBS Zombie Highway Story Online

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

If you missed Monday’s Blueprint America story on the proposed Northern Beltline, you can watch it online here.  Although there is a brief visual of the route, no one points out that this supposed completion of the I-459 loop doesn’t come close to I-459 on the east side.

The follow-up story on Birmingham’s underfunded public transit system did not air as scheduled on Tuesday night, so if you want to see it, leave a comment at the link or give feedback here (choose Programming Inquiries).

Greening the Holidays

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Okay, I know I asked you not to shop today, but if you must:

Join us Wednesday, December 10, at the Red Rain Environmental Store (2803 18th Street South, Homewood, AL 35209) – with light refreshments served from 4 – 7 p.m. Red Rain will donate a portion of sales to Cahaba Riverkeeper, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the ecological integrity of the Cahaba River, its tributaries and watershed.

Red Rain Environmental Store sells eco friendly and predominantly local products such as rain barrels, organic skin care, baby gifts, holiday ornaments, journals, vitamins, art, soap, pottery, jewelry, local jams, jellies, hot sauce, honey, and more.

If you prefer to maintain today’s boycott, check out Cahaba Riverkeeper’s website and consider a direct contribution. And remember to shop Red Rain another day.

h/t Blues reader Peggy

Council Re-Approves Malcolm Pirnie Contract

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

It took a while, but I finally found a news report that details yesterday’s Birmingham City Council re-vote on the Malcolm Pirnie contract. I think Sansou was right; the Trinity announcement was a great diversion that kept this story off the evening news.

The measure, redesigned so it wouldn’t require a super-majority, passed 4-3-2.  Councilors Smitherman, Witherspoon, Royal, and Montgomery voted yes.  Duncan, Abbott, and Hoyt voted no.  Parker abstained, as did Bell (appropriately, as he is a former Malcolm Pirnie employee).

I’m just going to quote from Scott Douglas’ comment to this post:


City Council to Reconsider Vote on SWMA, Malcolm Pirnie

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

If you have followed this story at all, you know the Council voted to withdraw from the Storm Water Management Agency, pretty much tanking what has been an effective regional vehicle for monitoring storm water runoff into our waterways, and pay Malcolm Pirnie half a million to re-invent the wheel.  The Council approved the Malcolm Pirnie contract 4-2 two weeks ago, but it turns out the measure required five votes to pass.

The Council will reconsider a redrawn measure this morning, one that supposedly requires only a simple majority.  William Bell was out of town for the previous vote; we’ll see if the former Malcolm Pirnie employee recuses himself today.

If you can get to today’s City Council meeting, go and let your opinion be known.

Ronald McDonald, pull tabs, and American giving

Friday, July 18th, 2008

I just filled out a survey from kiva, a charity I admire and support, and that got me thinking about something I’ve been half-intending to post about, so here goes. A while back, a friend of mine said a group she belongs to was going to collect pull-tabs from soft drink cans for the Ronald McDonald house. She said she’d heard that the pull tabs weigh more than the can. I said I’d heard that too, but when I got home I thought “that just can’t be true” so I looked it up, and it’s not.

But this where it gets complicated – there’s been an urban legend circulating for years that if you bring sacks of these tabs to the recycle center, the Reynolds people will use them to fund dialysis. Or something like that. You may have seen the emails. So, the Ronald McDonald people decided that if people were going to save the darn things anyway, they might as well get in on it, so now you can drop them in the lid of cute little houses, and the Ronald McDonald people get a little bit of cash, eventually.

There are many sites where this whole confused issue is discussed, but I found this post, and its comment thread, fascinating. There’s the whole issue of the McDonald Houses using the pull tab thing to “build goodwill” since even they have to admit that at $1.49 for 4,175 tabs, they’re not going to get rich off of it. Then there’s the lady staunchly defending her nine-year-old, who led his entire school in the effort to yield $38 for Ronald. Who can put a price on the value of teaching a child to give?! etc.

Okay, this is what I think. (You knew I’d be getting to that.) (more…)

Del, Perhaps We Should Consider Moving

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

The Environmental Protection Agency published a study today warning Southern states to expect serious consequences from the ongoing effects of global warming. Gulf Coast states are most at risk.

…The Gulf Coast states, in particular, will be hit with more flooding and other problems from more frequent and intense storms and forest fires, according to the federal report. Other effects expected in the South include higher air pollution and a longer pollen season…

Commenters at immediately showed their less than stellar reading comprehension by going on the attack against Al Gore and “bed wetting wackos”. Those are presumably the liberal, environment-lovin’ wackos of the Bush Administration’s EPA. I wasn’t aware they had hired Al Gore.


Scientists To Use Locks To Ferry Fish

Friday, June 6th, 2008

This is cool!

Scientists have a plan to stop the greatest chain of aquatic extinctions in the United States, which began when Alabama’s rivers were dammed in the 20th century and river creatures were cut off from everything they needed.

Scientists say they can reunite parts of the Alabama River system, using locks built for navigation to move the ecosystem’s most important species upstream during migration.

Ultimately, they believe they can reconnect the Cahaba River to the Gulf of Mexico using the two southernmost locks on the Alabama River.

In the spring, many fish in the state’s rivers swim from the Gulf of Mexico hundreds of miles upstream to spawn. Many fish will not spawn without a long migration, and others need to travel to find good habitat.

Along the way, they often carry juvenile mussels that live on the fish as parasites for a few weeks before they drop off. Some fish are more important in providing food for bigger fish or birds.

But those connections have been halted by dams and locks for decades, leaving graveyards of shells of extinct mussels on riverbanks and fish that are rarer with each generation.

The Army Corps of Engineers has successfully used the lock systems for the Appalachicola River to move fish in Florida and Georgia.

Now, scientists say it may be simple and free to reverse much of that damage. They are proposing to begin by using the locks at the Claiborne Lock and Dam to ferry migrating fish upstream in the spring.

…Before the locks and dams were put on the rivers, Alabama shad traveled as far upstream as Iowa, millions of the fish populating the nation’s rivers. Before the program to move them upstream, as few as 9,000 Alabama shad may have survived in the Apalachicola. They are listed as a federal species of concern.

Studies on the Apalachicola showed that as many as 40 percent of those fish would get on the locks and go upstream if the locks were filled with water the night before.

An easy, cheap approach that will help to maintain the amazing diversity of Alabama’s rivers. I can get behind that.

Express Yourself

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

NBC-13 wants to know what we think about an elevated Highway 280. Actually, the poll question is, “Will an elevated highway solve the 280 traffic problem?”

I think a world of no. Thought so before, but rapidly increasing gas prices make the idea of encouraging more development further from the city center even worse. And adding capacity will encourage development, likely to the point that traffic will actually be worse by the time the project is completed. Just think of it — even more SUVs sitting bumper-to-bumper spewing emissions into our already out of compliance air.

Click here to vote in the poll.

h/t Blues reader Peggy

Getting Off Cheap

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Remember this post from about three weeks ago, all about how the Alabama Department of Transportation had botched a road construction project and contaminated Mobile’s water supply with massive amounts of sediment? And how the intrepid Alabama Department of Environmental Management didn’t even notice till newspaper reporters and Mississippi officials pointed out the problem?

Then I’m sure you’ll be shocked and stunned to discover that said ADEM, when tasked with determining an appropriate punishment for ALDOT, levied a whopping fine of……$75,000. That’s less than 2/10 of 1 percent of the total cost of the road that ALDOT was building. Wow, that’ll hurt.

The department could have levied a higher fine, up to $250,000, according to state documents, but “compromised the amount of the penalty the department believes is warranted in this matter in the spirit of cooperation and the desire to resolve this matter amicably.”

What’s the problem — are ADEM officials afraid that the ALDOT people will get mad and pout? Or maybe take their toys and go home? Not to worry, though; this severe punishment also means that ALDOT will have to clean up after itself. Well, sort of.