Stories by Ian Yarett

  • Green Rankings

    Leaner and Greener

    Newsweek’s annual rankings reveal the planet’s biggest protectors—and polluters.
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    The World's Greenest Companies

    As government efforts slow, our annual rankings show which companies are still carrying the eco-mantle. By Ian Yarett.
  • Chemicals May Be Another Food-Safety Concern

    The Food Safety Modernization Act reflects a growing national concern about bacterial contamination of foods. But while it would go a long way toward dealing with pathogens in our food supply, the bill largely ignores hazardous man-made chemicals.
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    The Lazy Person’s Guide to Being Ecofriendly

    There are things individuals can do to be green without breaking a sweat. If you happen to be on the fence about whether you can easily be a greener guy or gal, we'd like to respond with a resounding "yes, you can." We offer seven ways to get started.
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    Weird Science

    The program designed to assess the environmental effects of the BP spill may be skewed by the legal process, say scientists struggling to get funding for independent research.
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    How to Avoid 'Blood Gadgets'

    In Congo, a vicious war is financed in part by the mining of tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold—metals that make their way into phones, cameras, and computers.
  • What the New Report on the Gulf Spill Really Says

    Despite widespread media reports claiming that 75 percent of the oil from the gulf spill is gone, up to 50 percent—or nearly 2.5 million barrels—of the oil that was released could conceivably still be out there.
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    Five Unanswered Questions About the Gulf Spill

    More than 100 days after the BP oil-spill disater began, things are finally looking up. But scientists and government officials still have much to learn about the accident and its long-term impact.
  • BP Oil Leak Halted During Test

    For the first time since the accident nearly three months ago, no oil from the Deepwater Horizon well is escaping into the Gulf of Mexico. Officials cautioned that testing is continuing.
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    Cap Leak Delayed Pressure Test of Oil Well

    In the latest setback in efforts to end the spill, pressure testing of the well was delayed after a hydraulic leak in the new cap prevented BP from fully closing it. The test was originally scheduled to start midday Tuesday but was pushed back to late Wednesday, and will now begin “as soon as we can,” the company said.
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    BP Delays Test to Determine Oil Well’s Integrity

    After days of smooth operations, officials postpone a test to measure pressure within the well, saying they need more time to analyze what different results would mean and to minimize risk.
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    With New Cap in Place, What Now?

    Now that the sealing cap has been installed, all eyes turn to the well-integrity test, which BP is starting today. The test will involve completely "shutting in" the well so the full pressure of the oil gusher can be measured, giving the scientists and engineers a read on the structural stability of the piping that lines the 13,000-foot-long well.
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    BP Installs New Well Cap

    After days of preparation, BP’s effort to replace the loose-fitting cap that has been collecting oil for the last few weeks with a sealing cap appears to have gone successfully.
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    Did Oil Kill the Animals Washing Up in the Gulf?

    Determining an oil spill’s toll on wildlife is never an easy feat—and the challenging conditions of the current gulf spill make it all the more complicated. While most of the animals collected alive have been visibly covered in oil, the majority of those that have been found dead have had no oil visible on their bodies, making the cause of death difficult to ascertain.
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    Gulf Oil Spill by the Numbers

    The massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is already making history. The well has been hemorrhaging oil for more than two months and is without a doubt the largest offshore spill the U.S. has ever faced. Here's a numerical look at the magnitude of the disaster and the enormous response that has been staged.
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    Why Wasn’t There a Better Plan?

    By law, BP was required to plan for the worst-case scenario if it wanted to drill the gulf. But the report that it filed—and that the government approved—is alarmingly short on solutions.
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    BP Stays Positive Despite Report of Setbacks

    Due to stalled progress and mixed messages, the results of BP's ongoing efforts to carry out a "top kill" to stop the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are increasingly unclear.
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    The Oil Spill's Effects on Deep-Sea Ecology

    The deep water of the ocean is the largest habitat on earth but it’s also the least understood, making the effects of this deep-sea spill without precedent. As a result, scientists say, the impacts of this spill are likely to go far beyond oiled birds and dead sea turtles.
  • Does It Work? Kevin Costner's Oil-Cleaning Machine

    Kevin Costner has a machine that he says could help clean up the massive oil slick from the ongoing spill in the gulf. Developed with the help of his scientist brother, Dan Costner, the device uses centrifugal force to separate oil from water. It draws in an oil-water mixture at up to 200 gallons per minute, and spits out separate streams of oil and water from the other end. Kevin Costner has reportedly spent millions on the device over the years and believes that he has finally found a use for it. BP officials say the company plans to test some of Costner's machines in the coming days. ...
  • EPA Tells BP to Use Less-Toxic Dispersants

    Today, the EPA  directed BP to choose a less-toxic (but equally effective) dispersant for use in combating both the oil slick on the surface and the oil plume gushing from the broken riser on the sea floor.  More than 600,000 gallons of dispersant, a chemical solution that breaks the oil down into finer droplets that degrade more easily, have been applied on the surface, and another 55,000 gallons have been applied underwater.  These amounts are unprecedented—far more than has ever been applied to U.S. waters before.  It’s generally agreed upon that dispersants are toxic, but many argue that using them is better than not using them, since the toxicity of the undispersed oil can be greater.  Scientists have been debating many sides of the dispersant issue—including whether their benefit outweighs their risks in this case, whether it’s safe to use them in the deep sea at the source of the leak, and whether a better (less toxic and of equal or greater...
  • Oil Spill Answers: How Much Oil Is Really Leaking From the Deepwater Horizon Well?

    We still don't know exactly how much oil has been spilled into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, because there is no way to directly measure the flow. The oil is leaking out of at least two different points along the crumpled drill pipe that used to run between the wellhead and the rig, and estimating flow based on the size of the slick on the sea surface is an inexact science. But some independent experts believe that the official estimate of 210,000 gallons a day could be on the low end. BP itself admitted in a recent congressional briefing that the well could potentially spill as much as 2.5 million gallons of oil each day, more than 10 times the current estimate. If the official estimate is accurate, then the spill's magnitude will surpass that of Exxon Valdez by mid-June, but that milestone may already be past if the flow is actually higher. We may never know for sure, but in the meanwhile, here is...
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    BP's Plans to Stop the Oil Spill: So Crazy They Just Might Work?

    The failure of BP’s first containment dome has Gulf Coast residents despondent and BP engineers scrambling. Fortunately, officials from the beleaguered oil company have several other plans in the works to contain and ultimately stop the oil flow. Unfortunately, without hearing the details these plans all sound like ideas someone came up with in the midst of a fever dream, or at least at the tail end of a week of all-nighters. But a BP press conference today indicated that, ridiculous names aside, these plans are all well-reasoned solutions that could conceivably end the spill (of course, so was the containment dome). Read on for a list of BP's latest strategies: The 'Top Hat'This is also a containment dome, but it's substantially smaller than the one that failed this Saturday after it became clogged with methane hydrate crystals. The "top hat" will be placed over one of the remaining leaks and will channel the leaking oil through a pipe to the surface for collection. If all goes to...

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