Author: JerryMartinson

Are vibrations from offshore wind turbine farms killing whales … 0

Are vibrations from offshore wind turbine farms killing whales …

Environmentalists say navy sonar hurts whales, but ignore impacts of offshore wind farms Dead whale on European beach. For more such images see Paul Driessen and Mark Duchamp Between January 9 and February 4 this year, 29 sperm whales got stranded and died on English, German and Dutch beaches. Environmentalists and the news media offered multiple explanations except the most obvious and likely one: offshore wind farms.

Indeed, that area has the world s biggest concentration of offshore wind turbines, and there is ample evidence that their acoustic pollution can interfere with whale communication and navigation. However, Britain s Guardian looked for answers everywhere but in the right place. That s not surprising, as it tends to support wind energy no matter the cost to people or the environment.

After consulting with a marine environmental group, the paper concluded 1 : The North Sea acts as a trap. It s virtually impossible for whales to find their way out through the narrow English Channel. No it s not.

These intelligent animals would naturally have found their way to and through the Channel by simply following the coast of England or continental Europe. But the author seems determined to pursue his explanation, even when it becomes increasingly illogical. The trapped whales become dehydrated because they obtain their water from squid, he argues, before acknowledging that the dead Dutch and German animals were well-fed, and that the North Sea s squid population has increased in recent years.

The article discards Royal Navy sonar and explosives, because big naval exercises in UK waters are unusual in midwinter. Finally, the author concludes with this quote from his purported expert: When there s a mass stranding, it s always wise to look at possible human effects. But, at the moment, I don t see anything pointing in that direction.

He should look a bit harder. Not everyone is so blind. Indeed, researchers at the University of St.

Andrews have found that the noise made by offshore wind farms can interfere with a whale s sonar, and can in tragic cases see them driven onto beaches where they often die, a UK Daily Mail article 2 observed. It is certainly possible that permanent damage to the cetaceans middle and inner ears, and thus to their built-in sonar, can result from large air guns 3 used during seismic surveys and from violent bursts of noise associated with pilings being rammed into the rock bed. Wind promoters themselves admit that their pile-driving can be heard up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) underwater, and can be harmful to whales that happen to be nearby.

But unless these injuries cause external bleeding, they are very difficult to detect. Natural phenomena such as seaquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions and meteorites crashing into the oceans have likely been the cause of whale beachings throughout history, by injuring the animals inner ears and sonar organs, frightening and disorienting them, and causing them to seek refuge in shallow waters. In more recent years, military exercises using mid-frequency sonar have been linked quite clearly to the disorientation and death of beaked whales, says The Guardian .

Low frequency sonar can be even more dangerous, the Natural Resource Defense Council asserts. Some systems operate at more than 235 decibels, the NRDC has said 4 , producing sound waves that can travel across tens or even hundreds of miles of ocean. During testing off the California coast, noise from the Navy s main low-frequency sonar system was detected across the breadth of the northern Pacific Ocean.

The U.S. Navy itself has recognized the danger that sonar systems represent for marine mammals. As reported in Science magazine 5 : In a landmark study, the U.S.

Navy has concluded that it killed at least six whales in an accident involving common ship-based sonar. The finding, announced late last month by the Navy and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), may complicate Navy plans to field a powerful new sonar system designed to detect enemy submarines at long distances, despite how important that system and its submarine and surface ship counterparts are for national security.

It has been said the low-frequency active sonar from this system would be the loudest sound ever put into the seas, The Guardian states 6 . But wind turbines also emit low frequency noise, including dangerous infrasound. At sea, these vibrations are transmitted via the masts to the water, and via the pilings to the rock bed.

They can travel up to 31 miles (50 kilometers). Granted, the acoustic pollution caused by sonar particularly powerful navy systems is greater than that from wind turbines. But wind turbine noise and infrasound are nearly constant, last as long as the turbines are in place and come from multiple directions, as in the areas where the whales were recently stranded.

On land, although the wind industry continues to deny any culpability, evidence is mounting that low frequency and particularly infrasound waves emitted by wind turbines have significant adverse effects on local residents, including sleep deprivation, headaches, tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rates) and a dozen other ailments. Underwater, a milieu where sound waves travel much farther, it would be irresponsible and unscientific to argue that whales are not affected by operating wind turbines, all the more because cetaceans use their sonar to see what s around them As scientists have pointed out 7 , It is likely that acoustic masking by anthropogenic sounds is having an increasingly prevalent impact on animals access to acoustic information that is essential for communication and other important activities, such as navigation and prey/predator detection. Blinded by this masking, whales and dolphins could seek refuge in shallow waters, away from big ships and killer whales.

There, low tides could surprise them, as large pelagic species have limited experience with tidal flows. In September 2012, 19 pilot whales, a minke whale and a large sei whale beached on the coast of Scotland opposite an area where air guns were being used by ships surveying the ocean floor, as a prelude to installing offshore wind farms. A second pod of 24 pilot whales was spotted in shallow water by Cellardyke around the same time, but it returned to sea without beaching, the article noted 8 .

Offshore turbines were also associated with 9 many stillborn baby seals washing up onshore near the UK s Scroby Sands wind farm in June 2005. It s hard not to conclude the wind farm is responsible, the author concluded. Many more similar deaths may well have been caused by wind farms at sea.

The scientific and environmental literature abounds in warnings about risks to marine mammals from man-made noise. Modern 8-megawatt offshore turbines are 656 feet (200 meters) above the waves; their rotating blades sweep across a 538-foot (164-meter) diameter. Those enormous blades create powerful pulsating infrasound and exact a toll 10 on many species of marine birds, and even on bats that are attracted 11 to the turbines as far as 9 miles (14 km) offshore.

In a February 2005 letter, the Massachusetts Audubon Society estimated that the proposed Cape Cod wind project alone would kill up to 6,600 marine birds each year, including the roseate tern, which is on the endangered list. Do we really want to add marine mammals to the slaughter of birds and bats, by expanding this intermittent, harmful, enormously expensive and heavily subsidized energy source in marine habitats? In addition, having forests of these enormous turbines off our coasts will greatly increase the risk of collisions for surface vessels, especially in storms or dense fog, as well as for submarines.

It will also impair radar and sonar detection of hostile ships and low-flying aircraft, including potential terrorists, and make coastal waters more dangerous for Coast Guard helicopters and other rescue operations. The offshore wind industry makes no sense from an economic, environmental, defense or shipping perspective. To exempt these enormous installations from endangered species and other laws that are applied with a heavy hand to all other industries and even to the U.S.

and Royal Navy is irresponsible, and even criminal. Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( 12 ) and author of Eco-Imperialism 13 : Green power Black death. Mark Duchamp is president of Save the Eagles International 14 .

Images related to this article: Locations of major UK wind farms and projects Bleeding ear on porpoise Like this: Like Loading… .

References ^ the paper concluded ( ^ Daily Mail article ( ^ large air guns ( ^ NRDC has said ( ^ Science magazine ( ^ The Guardian states ( ^ pointed out ( ^ the article noted ( ^ associated with ( ^ exact a toll ( ^ bats that are attracted ( ^ ( ^ Eco-Imperialism ( ^ Save the Eagles International (

How Westminster helped squander Scotland's black gold 0

How Westminster helped squander Scotland's black gold

As an illustration of why the Labour party in Scotland might be wandering in the wilderness for many years to come, last week was a classic. The new party machine seems to have decided that the SNP government is vulnerable on collapsing global oil prices. This strategy is underpinned by a narrative that says: If Scotland 1 had voted for independence we d have been up thon creek of ordure without a propellant.

Perhaps, but it s a risky strategy and one that has quite palpably not been thought through properly. The gross mismanagement of Scotland s North Sea oil bounty by successive UK governments has left this country more vulnerable in the face of collapsing oil prices than it otherwise ought to have been. If there was ever an argument for gaining Holyrood control over North Sea oil revenues then this was it.

Kezia Dugdale 2 , deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party, has continued to bait the SNP over the oil price, as she did in a wretched debate on the issue at Holyrood last week. Instead, she ought to be more concerned by the thousands of jobs that may be at risk in the sector and about the concomitant threat to the general economy of the north east. For another senior Labour figure, the Lanarkshire MP, Frank Roy 3 , the prospect of many people losing their jobs seemed to be a source of some glee.

Following BP s announcement that several hundred jobs are to go in its North Sea operations Roy, the MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, had this to say: BP are announcing job losses tomorrow. How can that be? Swinney told us a massive oil boom was on the way.

Labour in Scotland needs to stop using this threat to the jobs and the economy of one of Scotland s most robust economic regions for political point-scoring. Instead, it should acquaint itself with its own complicity in Westminster s deception in concealing the real extent of the oil revenues it finagled from Scotland for three decades. In 2013, Denis Healey, the former chancellor of the exchequer, revealed what many had all along suspected.

In an interview with Holyrood magazine 4 he said: I think we did underplay the value of the oil to the country because of the threat of nationalism but that was mainly down to Thatcher. Thatcher wouldn t have been able to carry out any of her policies without that additional 5% on GDP from oil. For several decades, the Westminster machine concealed the fact that Whitehall persistently broke rules on impartiality by providing the Labour party with information to combat SNP claims on Scotland s ownership of North Sea oil.

Bernard Ingham, talking of his days as director of information at the Department of Energy, admitted he had sought for a long time in briefing to undermine SNP claims to North Sea oil. Indeed it is part of my standard sales patter . Neil Kinnock, David Steel and Alistair Darling have all recently admitted the irresponsibility of Westminster s refusal to establish an oil fund from North Sea oil revenues when times were good.

This act of folly, in which all of them were complicit, has left a part of Scotland s economy exposed. George Osborne s oil tax strategy throughout the last decade screw as much out of the bastards as possible has cost a lot of people their jobs. Three years ago, in an interview with the BBC, Malcolm Webb, the chief executive of Oil 5 and Gas UK, said: We ve had three massive tax hits in the last nine years; that just cannot go on and it s given this country a terrible reputation for fiscal instability.

Margaret Thatcher s so-called economic miracle was more a lie than a miracle and rested almost entirely on North Sea oil revenues, a fact that both she and Labour, in collusion, concealed from Scottish voters. These revenues allowed her to pay off entire workforces in the coal-mining, manufacturing and steel industries, thus destroying these communities. She used around 75bn in oil revenues to help solve the UK s balance of payments deficit and then sat back and oversaw huge economic growth in the south-east even as the north-east and north-west were twisting in the wind after the redundancy cheques ran out.

Even a cursory glance at how Norway managed its oil resources shows how incompetent and morally bankrupt was the Westminster government s North Sea oil management. Both discovered oil in the same difficult marine environment and both are subject to the same effects of oil prices declining at the same periods. Therefore, if the argument used by opponents of independence is to be believed, then the economy of Norway, with a population size similar to Scotland s, should suffer more than the UK s following a slump.

Let s face it they don t have Westminster s broad shoulders or deep pockets to protect them. Crucially, though, they also don t have the greed, stupidity and venality of Westminster. Each time the price of oil has fallen in the last 30 years, Norway emerged not only not only richer the year after the trough but became richer still than the UK.

Between 2008 and 2009, the oil price fell by nearly 50% per barrel to an average of nearly $60 a barrel. Yet the following year Norway s wealth had increased yet again. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, and someone who really ought to know better, also clumsily stuck the boot in.

It is a negative shock to the Scottish economy, but it is a negative shock substantially mitigated by the fiscal arrangements in the UK, he said. Learn the history of the North Sea, Mr Carney, and in particular the dismal performance of the government that employs you. And while you re at it you could tell us why in the years following a low oil price Norway s economy has been in far better shape than the UK s.

References ^ Scotland ( ^ Kezia Dugdale ( ^ Frank Roy ( ^ Holyrood magazine ( ^ Oil (

Owlstone doubles space and triggers Cambridge … 0

Owlstone doubles space and triggers Cambridge …

Sensor technology pioneer Owlstone has doubled its Cambridge Science Park space and launched a recruitment campaign for 17 new UK hires to handle major defence contracts for the US and Taiwan. The company is also expanding its capability in the medical sensor field and is close to sealing multi-million pound funding from several sources as its technology proves increasingly successful in detecting cancers and other diseases. Co-founder Billy Boyle said the medical-military mix was being topped up by contracts in the world of industry and demonstrated the wisdom of a multi-faceted growth strategy.

The company started out 10 years ago targeting homeland defence markets as its sensor can detect explosives. But Boyle and co-founders Andrew Koehl and David Ruiz-Alonso decided that with long government procurement timelines it would be sensible to expand potential applications for its dime-sized detector. Boyle said the new military deals with a US government department and a Taiwanese customer were not only financing the upsurge in Cambridge jobs but also allowing the business to probe fresh frontiers in the medical arena.

Owlstone s new medical division has developed a cancer breathalyser which has progressed through alliances with research and academic partners. Life science researchers are increasingly finding that specific chemical compounds are present in the breath or bodily fluids of people with certain medical conditions, such as TB, cancers or diabetes. This suggested a new way of diagnosing these diseases early without the need for costly and invasive medical procedures Owlstone s sensor can simply test for the presence of these tell-tale chemicals.

Funded by an SBRI Healthcare development contract, Owlstone has also been conducting research into the diagnosis of lung cancer by measuring volatile organic compounds in patients’ exhaled breath. Phase I of the project is complete and the application process for funding for Phase II is underway. Boyle said early lung cancer detection through screening had the potential to save 10,000 lives and the NHS 245 million within three years of launch.

And in a joint project with Warwick University and University Hospital Coventry and Warwick, utilising funding from the Technology Strategy Board, Owlstone has been seeking a means to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease using its Lonestar detector. Boyle said that initial results from one of the techniques, after software analysis, had demonstrated great potential as a rapid diagnosis method, with promising sensitivity, selectivity obtained in a non-invasive test. At present, chemical analysis of breath is usually performed in a laboratory, using large, expensive and relatively slow mass spectrometry-based equipment.

Lonestar is a less expensive, ion mobility spectrometry-based system that is already small enough to deploy in doctors surgeries. The nanotechnology solution provides results in minutes so has the potential to revolutionise patients healthcare experiences, Boyle said. Owlstone has put its nano-detectors in the hands of researchers and academics across the UK and internationally for example, in Amsterdam, Florida, Miami and Australia and Boyle reports not only positive feedback from the partner community but also huge interest in the technology.

Boyle said: We are making good progress towards significant fundraising we re talking many millions of pounds. We are pretty far down the pipeline with discussions but until those signatures are on paper and the cash is in the bank we won t be tempting fate. What I will say is that in the medical field it is a hundred times better to be funded by the Government and industry for projects than to use venture capital.

Government and industry partners are focused on their objectives and how our technology can help hit those targets so the whole process is technology and patient focused rather than financial. All Owlstone s R & D is handled in Cambridge hence the urgent need for more engineers while the Connecticut topco deals with sales and commercial functions. Forty of the 46 or so staff are in Cambridge before the 17 new technicians, managers and engineers are recruited.

The Owlstone Cambridge staff work on innovation across all the three main segments defence & military, medical and industrial. Boyle said the medical side of the business was proving especially attractive to staff. I am not decrying apps or gaming technology which must be a lot of fun to work on and give pleasure to millions of people but to work on a device that can detect disease so early and help save people s lives while sparing them a lot of indignity and pain is proving extremely rewarding for our people.

Asia is on the radar as a long-term market but the US continues to provide bread, butter and jam. When we set up we targeted the US from Day One, said Boyle. Homeland defence was the obvious first target market for our sensor but we have expanded into industrial applications for the detector in the US, such as in oil & gas in addition to the military contracts.

Companies are still pumping oil and need to check the quality of the product and our technology does that. The range of applications for the technology justifies our strategy from the day we started 10 years ago. We looked at the procurement process and timelines for military and security contracts and realised we couldn t just sit on our hands waiting for the next opportunity to come up.

We had to live. We never wanted a model where we shot from zero turnover to $50m, say, on the back of one or two contracts in one sector. We wanted to spread the opportunity and the risk.

But we also knew and this has been borne out throughout our 10 years to date that America set the pace in pretty much most markets we were likely to become involved in. We had the sense that even the MoD watches what Uncle Sam does first before implementing new defence technology. That s why the US remains our No.1 target market.

Boyle and his co-founders all Cambridge University alumni are personally thrilled that they have been able to manage the growth of the company from a predominantly Cambridge R & D base, even though the parent is in the States. Boyle said: Finding the right skills is always a challenge in a technology hotspot such as Cambridge but we can t think of a better place to start and build a business such as ours. It is particularly exciting to see the new generation of young entrepreneurs coming though in Cambridge.

The app and software specialists now have the technological tools required to build a product, develop it into a business and engage with customers. It frees them up to focus on the core product and business and not have to worry so much about raising big chunks of angel or VC finance at the outset. Owlstone is casting the recruitment net UK-wide and internationally for the current crop of jobs and Boyle believes there will be more opportunities in the pipeline.

For now the company is seeking reliability, firmware, manufacturing, mechanical & mechanical design, electronics, systems and software engineers as well as analytical chemists, project managers and data analysts.

Details are at 1 References ^ Owlstone website (