Portable headphones come in two main styles: in-ear and on-ear. The former comprise the ultratiny earbuds and canalbuds that you place at least somewhat inside your ears, while the latter often feature a headband and circular earpads that rest over the ears. iPod accessories maker iFrogz offers several models in both varieties, including the in-ear Ear Pollution Plugz headphones featured here. Unfortunately, this $15 set rather lives up to its name, offering audio quality about on par with the stock 'buds included with most MP3 players. On the plus side, the earphones offer a hint of style, an ultracompact design, … Read more
Portable headphones come in two main styles: in-ear and on-ear. The former comprises the ultratiny earbuds and canalbuds that you place at least somewhat inside your ears, while the latter often features a headband and circular earpads that rest over the ears.
iPod accessory maker iFrogz offers several models in both varieties, but the on-ear Ear Pollution Toxix headphones are the subject here. Thankfully, the $20 set doesn't totally live up to its name, but neither does it sound particularly good. The earphones offer a hint of style and a lightweight design, so they could work in a pinch … Read more
When 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and his crew went to China to record the black market dismantling of electronic waste, or e-waste, the experience was almost as hazardous for the 60 Minutes team as working with the toxic material is for poor Chinese workers.
Jumped by a gang of men overseeing the e-waste operations who tried to take the CBS team's cameras, Pelley's crew managed to escape and bring back footage of the hazardous activities. Pelley's investigation will be broadcast this Sunday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
The Chinese attackers were trying to protect a lucrative business of mining the e-waste -- junked computers, televisions and other old electronic products -- for valuable components, including gold. "They're afraid of being found out. This is smuggling. This is illegal," says Jim Puckett, founder of the Basel Action Network, a group working to stop the dumping of toxic materials in poor countries that certifies ethical e-waste recyclers in the United States. "A lot of people are turning a blind eye here. And if somebody makes enough noise, they're afraid this is all going to dry up."
E-waste workers in Guiyu, China, where Pelley's team videotaped, put up with the dangerous conditions for the $8 a day the job pays. They use caustic chemicals and burn the plastic parts to get at the valuable components, often releasing toxins that they not only inhale, but release into the air, the ground and the water. Potable water must now be trucked into Guiyu and scientists have discovered that the city has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Pregnancies in Guiyu are six times more likely to result in miscarriages, and seven out of 10 children there have too much lead in their blood. … Read more
In a rare independent study of China's energy sector, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that the problem with China's coal power generation is not that its power plants lack cleaner technology.
The emissions are definitely higher than they could be, the report found, but the culprit is usually low-quality coal rather than low-tech plants. As an MIT statement explains:
Lower-grade coal, which produces high levels of sulfur emissions, can be obtained locally, whereas the highest-grade anthracite comes mostly from China's northwest and must travel long distances to the plants, adding greatly to its … Read more
Much has been made of Beijing's decision to keep a lighter version of its Olympics traffic restrictions, not least because whatever the city did to clean the air seemed to have worked in August. But the renewed measures are weaker and the probable effect is unclear.
Alex Pasternack at Treehugger points out that the sustained restrictions, which took effect October 1, will be weaker than during the Games. Only one fifth of cars will be pulled from the road on weekdays, versus half under the Olympics rules.
According to The Beijinger (also via Alex), the city's other restrictions … Read more
So-called "short-lived" gasses and black particle pollution from power plants in Asia and transport in the United States could have a greater influence than previously predicted on temperature changes in North America and elsewhere on Earth, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week. But is the headline the whole story?
While the general press and blog coverage of the report emphasizes Asia as a cause of warming in the United States, scientists also emphasized that better practices in energy-intensive economies with less-than-clean power plants could be an equally large opportunity for stabilizing the climate. … Read more
A sampling of green-tech news with quick commentary.
Is first eInk magazine an e-waste misstep? - Fast CompanyEsquire's experimental eInk issue will make an ecological mess, according to a Fast Company calculation, which says producing the magazine would lead to electronics waste and emit as much carbon dioxide as 15 Hummers over a year.
Tying wind power to power lines - Greentech Media Wind energy can be cheaper than solar, but tying it to the grid remains a costly challenge. Still, some investors see the problem as an opportunity to profit.
Despite advertised measures to decrease pollution, as the one-month countdown to the Beijing Olympics approaches, the government's numbers rank Beijing as having the dirtiest air in China.
With a rating of 98, officially a "blue sky day" but only by two points, Beijing yesterday had the dirtiest air among monitored cities according to the Chinese government Web site that releases daily pollution figures.
Only four other cities, including the capitals of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Liaoning Provinces, ranked above 90 on the scale.
This does not mean that the air will not get cleaner this month. Large numbers … Read more
A chemical used to make LCD televisions and semiconductors could cause more global warming than coal-fired power plants, a report warns.
Nitrogen trifluoride is a "missing greenhouse gas," according to a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters on June 26. It's used in chemical vapor deposition, which makes liquid crystal displays, semiconductors, and synthetic diamond.
Production of the chemical could double to 8,000 metric tons in 2009, atmospheric chemist Michael Prather, who co-wrote the report, told New Scientist.
Nitrogen trifluoride's globe-warming effect reportedly could be 17,000 times stronger than that of carbon … Read more
Sailing 4,000 miles on the Pacific Ocean made Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal sick. It wasn't waves that turned their stomachs, but the amount of plastic garbage they encountered on a voyage with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation earlier this year.
The activists wanted more people to share their disgust about plastic litter that swirls, relatively unexplored, in continent-size patches of ocean.
To that end, they have built a motor-less craft from 15,000 recycled beverage bottles, fishing nets, and the cockpit of a Cessna, and are sailing it more than 2,000 miles from southern California to … Read more