If You Build It… They Will Pump?


The best f*@$%!*g news I’ve heard about the Gulf spill all week. And it involves Kevin Costner.

It was treated as an oddball twist in the otherwise wrenching saga of the BP oil spill when Kevin Costner stepped forward to promote a device he said could work wonders in containing the spill’s damage. But as Henry Fountain explains in the New York Times, the gadget in question — an oil-separating centrifuge — marks a major breakthrough in spill cleanup technology. And BP, after trial runs with the device, is ordering 32 more of the Costner-endorsed centrifuges to aid the Gulf cleanup.

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The “Waterworld” actor has invested some $20 million and spent the past 15 years in developing the centrifuges. He helped found a manufacturing company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, to advance his brother’s research in spill cleanup technology. In testimony before Congress this month, Costner walked through the device’s operation—explaining how it spins oil-contaminated water at a rapid speed, so as to separate out the oil and capture it in a containment tank:

There’s more…

An EarthEcho View of the Gulf Spill


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by Philippe Cousteau via EarthEcho International:

Another early morning, all the more early because we didn’t stop work till 2AM last night! Today we head off to Grand Isle about three hours away from Venice to visit with Louisiana Wildlife and Fish department. Oil has made its way into the mangroves which means some of our worst fears have been realized. These wetland habitats are some of the most fragile in the world and also some of the most important. 40% of all the wetlands in the lower 48 states exist along the coast of Louisiana and they are directly in the oil’s path. Look at the photos and you will see why once the oil gets into these tight intricate bodies of water, there is no getting it out.

There’s more…

EarthEcho International is a nonprofit 501c3 organization founded in 2000 by siblings Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., famous son of the legendary explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau. EarthEcho International’s mission is to empower youth to take action that restores and protects our water planet.

In The Gulf Spill, The Public Has No Right To Know? UPDATED


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Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are considering whether to bar BP from receiving government contracts, a move that would ultimately cost the company billions in revenue and could end its drilling in federally controlled oil fields.

Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action. Until now, the company’s executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways.

That strategy may no longer work.

There’s more…

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According to BP. What’s going on here?

BP hasn’t yet been able to stop the flow of oil, but it’s been more successful at controlling the information coming out about the Gulf disaster.

McClatchy reported on Tuesday that BP has been withholding the results of [1] “tests on the extent of workers’ exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning crude over the Gulf.” The data is important to determining whether current conditions are safe for workers in the Gulf, researchers told McClatchy. BP said it’s sharing the data with “legitimate interested parties,” but would not release it publicly:

“Why would one do it? Any parties with a legitimate interest can have access to it,” BP spokesman Toby Odone told McClatchy [2].

That’s not the only instance in which the company has restricted the media’s access to information.

There’s more…

Build Yourself A Bamboo Bike


The Bamboo Bike Studio is run by three men in their late 20s who know a lot about bamboo and a lot about bicycles. On a cool autumn morning, two of them are out on a bamboo harvest — in a dense grove near New Brunswick, N.J.

Justin Aguinaldo and Sean Murray carry a small Japanese pull saw and a caliper to find bamboo stems that are 1 1/2 inches thick. When they find stems that are just right, they tap the bamboo to make sure it’s not too soft: “If the bamboo’s too watery, it’s not as dense and it’s not as strong,” Aguinaldo explains.

Aguinaldo makes his living as a bicycle messenger. Sean Murray is a former schoolteacher whose voice mail greeting makes note of the fact that he is now living the dream of making bikes with his friends.

There’s more from NPR.

A Modern Ancient Home

Ziggy's cob home is now completed and occupied. Image courtesy of Brian Liloia
After nine months of full time labor, Ziggy's cob home is now completed and occupied. Image courtesy of Brian Liloia

The first thing that attracted me to this cottage was the way it seemed to grow out of the earth.

The walls of the home in northeastern Missouri, recently featured on TreeHugger, are built out of cob, “a building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth, similar to adobe,” according to Wikipedia. “Cob is an ancient building material, that may have been used for construction since prehistoric times.” The roof is of the living, breathing and growing variety — called reciprocal — capable of producing juicy strawberries.

So my first impression wasn’t that far off.

The second thing that I found appealing was the almost exclusive use of natural, recycled or donated building materials in an off-the grid setting. Not much new material went into the 360 square feet cottage, affectionately called GOBCOBATRON by owner Brian Liloia. Mr. Liloia, in turn, is affectionately called Ziggy by his friends.

Third in the list of favorite features was the per-square-foot cost: under $9.00 or about $3,000.00 for the one-room dwelling. This is not a typo. The actual cost was Three Thousand Dollars. The owner accomplished this by working himself full time (“I stomped 219 batches of cob for the walls of my house by foot…”) on the project for approximately nine months. Ziggy also secured the assistance of over 75 work exchangers, visitors, and friends. Here’s a list of materials and their costs:

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