Monthly Archives: December 2006

Internet Archive (Veniaminov)

Happened to run across something else at the Internet Archive (Wayback Machine). They do a number of virtual library collections.
The russian orthodox church : organization, situation, activity

Pages which mention Veniaminov. The entire book can be downloaded in various formats.

The book was published about 1957-58 by the church in the Soviet Union, according to its introductory remarks.

Identifier therussianorthod00unknuoft
Call Number AMZ-3736
Media Type texts
Contributor Trinity College – University of Toronto
Title The russian orthodox church : organization, situation, activity
Date 19–?
Publisher S.l.] : Published by the Moscow Patriarchate
Language eng


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Toilets and Trash sanitation in the frontier

I’ve put the set of photos up on Flickr. These can be used to illustrate problems and solutions to solid waste management and sanitation. I have not finished the annotations, but Flickr members may go ahead and comment. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out a good way for non-Flickr members to add to the discussion there. I think what I can possibly do is to post here about sub-groups of photos and diagrams, with thumbnails, so readers may discuss here.

revised 2008-10-13 I set up a group for others to contribute to at Toilets and Trash in the Last Frontier (Alaska) – http://flickr.com/groups/786092@N20/ (I can’t afford to renew the Flickr Pro account yet, but I think the group should be accessible to other Flickr members to add to and for the non-Flickrs to view).

Neither trash nor toilets are insurmountable problems, despite what many believe. However, sanitation takes thought in order for the solutions to age-old problems to be sustainable for eons to come. In particular, whether for the arid and semi-arid regions of Alaska or New Mexico, the low-relief coastal areas of the south Pacific or of the south Bering, we must devise systems which are self-sufficient and appropriate to our communities and ecology. In addition, it is likely to involve some hard choices in how we live, especially as our population grows and our environment changes.

U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, An Alaskan Challenge: Native Village Sanitation, OTA-ENV–591 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, May 1994).
NTIS order #PB94-181013
GPO stock #052-003-01372-0
available in pdf format here

or here


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regional nuclear war climate change?

In 1985 I put together a panel of scientific experts to identify what the human effects of a nuclear weapons exchange might mean (as far as I know, still the only such report) and then assisted in the discussion in New Zealand.

I moved from the antipodes to the antipodes.

Star Wars or the Strategic Defense Initiative of the Reagan era moved north to Alaska (“north to the future” or the last gasp of yesterday?)

Missile defense system alters an outpost
Four years after President Bush ordered a limited missile defense system to be built and nearly a quarter century after Ronald Reagan first proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, this sub-Arctic outpost, once a Cold War training site and still a cold-weather training site, is where progress on the long-embattled missile system is perhaps most evident, military officials say….

Eleven interceptor missiles are installed in underground silos here, buried beneath the snow and a former forest of black spruce. This summer, when North Korea signaled that it planned to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, Fort Greely, which has never fired a test missile, was put on alert status, ostensibly ready to respond if necessary….

Fort Greely’s missile defense system has not been declared fully operational.

Even as questions persist about capability, the missile defense program is pushing forward at a cost of at least $9 billion a year…. Fort Greely is better situated to interrupt the likely flight path of a missile from Asia or the Middle East….

As noted previously, southwestern Alaska and the Aleutians are the (only) areas of the USA which are within range of missiles which might be tipped with the newest set of nuclear weapons.

Two updated research reports on the global effect of even a regional nuclear weapon explosion or exchange has been released. The original report was known as the TTAPS report, after the initials of its authors. The climatic effects were known then as Nuclear Winter. Two of those authors contribute to this newest modelling report. The first set of references below are to the three, slightly different press releases. Below them are how these press releases were followed up by the news media.

Like all models (even our own idea of how winter should progress each year) they are only good as predictors as our assumptions. However, most models, like our idea of winter weather, are designed to help us plan and be ready; to see the larger picture; to play experiment beyond our imagination. Modelling in the natural world isn’t causative; doesn’t cause the event to happen just because we think about it [despite what some academics believe.]

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Regional nuclear war would trigger mass death, devastating climate change

Even a small-scale regional nuclear war could produce as many fatalities as all of World War II, disrupt the global climate for a decade or more and impact nearly every person on Earth, according to two new studies by University of Colorado at Boulder, Rutgers University and University of California, Los Angeles researchers.

Presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco Dec. 11 and published Nov. 22 in the online journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, the two studies represent the first quantitative assessment of the consequences of a nuclear conflict between small or emerging nuclear powers, said CU-Boulder Professor Owen “Brian” Toon. Toon led the studies, working with UCLA Professor Richard Turco, Rutgers professors Alan Robock and Georgiy Stenchikov, CU-Boulder doctoral student Charles Bardeen and former Rutgers student Luke Oman, now a postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

“Considering the relatively small number and yields of the weapons, the potential devastation would be catastrophic and long term,” said Toon, chair of CU-Boulder’s atmospheric and oceanic sciences department….

The results represent the first comprehensive analysis of the consequences of a nuclear conflict between smaller nuclear states, said Toon, who noted even the smallest nuclear powers today likely have 50 or more Hiroshima-sized weapons. In addition, about 40 countries possess enough plutonium, uranium or a combination of both to construct substantial nuclear arsenals. “A small country is likely to direct its weapons against population centers to maximize damage and achieve the greatest advantage,” Toon said….

The second paper, titled “Climatic Consequences of Regional Nuclear Conflicts,” looks at the effects of the smoke produced in a regional war between two opposing nations in the subtropics, said lead author Robock. The researchers modeled the effects on each country using 50 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons to attack the most populated urban areas of an enemy nation.

Because of the complexity of the problem and limited amount of data available, the research team assessed uncertainty factors at each step in their analysis and emphasized further research is needed to improve the paper’s predictions.

Regional nuclear war could devastate global climate

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, with environmental effects that could be devastating for everyone on Earth, university researchers have found.

As in the case with earlier nuclear winter calculations, large climatic effects would occur in regions far removed from the target areas or the countries involved in the conflict.

When Robock and his team applied their climate model to calibrate the recorded response to the 1912 eruptions of Katmai volcano in Alaska, they found that observed temperature anomalies were accurately reproduced.

The papers are: “Atmospheric Effects and Societal Consequences of Regional Scale Nuclear Conflicts and Acts of Individual Terrorism,” O. B. Toon, R. P. Turco, A. Robock, C. Bardeen, L. Oman and G. L. Stenchikov, and “Climatic Consequences of Regional Nuclear Conflicts,” A. Robock. L. Oman, G. L. Stenchikov, O. B. Toon, C. Bardeen and R. P. Turco.

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Regional nuclear war could spark climate change

12 Dec 2006 Source: Reuters, By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 11 (Reuters) – New scientific modeling shows that a regional nuclear conflict between countries such as India and Pakistan could spark devastating climate changes worldwide, a team of researchers said on Monday.

“We are at a perilous crossroads,” said Owen Toon of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. “The current combination of nuclear proliferation, political instability and urban demographics form perhaps the greatest danger to the stability of society since the dawn of humanity.”

Toon was one of the scientists who warned in the 1980s of a “nuclear winter” should the United States and Soviet Union engage in a nuclear conflict.

The demise of the Soviet Union has reduced such a threat, but using supercomputing analysis not available two decades ago, the team calculated a devastating impact from the exchange of 100 nuclear weapons — an amount they said represented the potential of India and Pakistan….

“This is not a solution to global warming because you have to look at the devastating climate changes,” said Alan Robock of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers, who has studied the impact of climatic change from regional nuclear war.

“The main point here is that while most people think that we are on a path of reduced probability of war with the build down of the superpowers and we are on a trend toward a peaceful century, we actually have the opposite situation going on.”…

Scientists say even a regional nuclear war could do severe environmental damage

(2 comments; last comment posted Today 04:26 pm) By ALICIA CHANG | Associated Press, December 11, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Some of the scientists who first advanced the controversial “nuclear winter” theory more than two decades ago have come up with another bleak forecast: Even a regional nuclear war would devastate the environment…. Using modern climate and population models…

Some climate experts not connected with the research questioned some of the assumptions made in the studies.

For example, the studies assume that smoke is mostly made up of soot. But other organic particles could cause smoke to scatter and not stay aloft in the atmosphere as long, lessening the impact…

The late astronomer Carl Sagan and four colleagues developed the nuclear winter theory…

The cooldown would shorten the growing season by about a month in parts of North America, Europe and Asia. Normal rainfall patterns such as summer monsoons in Africa and Southeast Asia would be disrupted, possibly causing huge crop failures.

In addition, the ozone layer, which keeps out harmful ultraviolet radiation, would shrink more than 20 percent, with the poles seeing a 70 percent reduction.

Small nuclear conflict could affect globe, report says

By John Johnson Jr., Times Staff Writer, December 12, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO — Even a small nuclear conflict could have catastrophic environmental and societal consequences, extending the death toll far beyond the number of people killed directly by bombs, according to the first comprehensive climatic analysis of a regional nuclear war…

While a small nuclear exchange might not trigger a life-ending “nuclear winter,” it could cause as much death as was once predicted for a nuclear war … “These results are quite surprising,” Toon said…. Regional nuclear conflicts “can endanger entire populations” the way it was once thought only worldwide conflict could…

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There are other papers, too at the “ACPD – Papers in Open Discussion”, including one on Asian dust composition (which also reaches southwest Alaska

American Geophysical Union


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little red hen

For those of you interested in recycling and environmental health and learning from your elders, I recommend this web log.

the world’s smallest kitchen composter – used for travel

Adverse birth outcomes associated with open dumpsites in Alaska Native Villages

Adverse birth outcomes associated with open dumpsites in Alaska Native Villages.
Gilbreath S, Kass PH
Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Sep 15; 164(6): 518-28

This retrospective cohort study evaluated adverse birth outcomes in infants whose birth records indicated maternal residence in villages containing dumpsites potentially hazardous to health and environment. Birth records from 1997 to 2001 identified 10,073 eligible infants born to mothers in 197 Alaska Native villages. Outcomes included low or very low birth weight, preterm birth, and intrauterine growth retardation. Infants from mothers in villages with intermediate (odds ratio (OR) = 1.73, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.06, 2.84) and high (OR = 2.06, 95% CI: 1.28, 3.32) hazard dumpsites had a higher proportion of low birth weight infants than did infants from mothers in the referent category. More infants born to mothers from intermediate (OR = 4.38, 95% CI: 2.20, 8.77) and high (OR = 3.98, 95% CI: 1.93, 8.21) hazard villages suffered from intrauterine growth retardation. On average, infants weighed 36 g less (95% CI: -71.2, -0.8) and 55.4 g less (95% CI: -95.3, -15.6) when born to highly exposed mothers than did infants in the intermediate and low exposure groups, respectively, an effect even larger in births to Alaska Native mothers only. No differences in incidence were detected across exposure levels for other outcomes. This is the first study to evaluate adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with open dumpsites in Alaska Native villages.

Read the full paper on-line

or available as

I’m reading this now in more detail. Some of the important details to analyze are

Over 95 percent of Alaska Native villages use open dumpsites for solid waste disposal rather than landfills. An open dumpsite is a solid waste site that is not maintained, contains uncovered wastes, and has no boundaries. Open dumping can enable water and soil contamination, disease transmission, fire danger, and injury to site salvagers. In an attempt to reduce waste volume, dump fires are set, or nonseparated wastes are burned in metal containers in approximately 75 percent of villages, releasing potentially toxic fumes. Many Alaska Natives have subsistence diets, and there are concerns about contaminants getting into food and water supplies. Many villages lack waste management services and are responsible for disposing their own wastes, resulting in potential exposures to hazardous wastes and disposal methods. Approximately 45 percent of villages do not have running water to homes, and villagers must haul their own wastewater, often discarded at or near open dumps, increasing risks of exposure to pathogens when disposing of trash.

Negative birth outcomes were selected to evaluate potential environmental hazards posed by these dumpsites. The purpose of the study was to determine if women living in villages with open dumpsites ranked high hazard have a higher incidence of negative birth outcomes than do women living in villages with sites that have lower hazard rankings.

Some things to examine

  • open dumps are ubiquitous in most rural US and Alaska communities
  • not every rural/remote Alaska community is an Alaska Native ethnic population
  • the data come from
    Birth records were obtained from the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics for all births to women living in federally recognized Alaska Native villages during 1997–2001.

  • open dumps had to be rated to be included in the study
    the women had to reside in villages for which there existed an evaluation of the hazard potential of the community dumpsite(s)… The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium ranks dumpsites on the basis of waste contents, average rainfall, distance to drinking waster and domestic water source, site drainage, potential to create leachate at site, accessibility and exposure to the public and vectors, frequency of burning, and degree of public concern over the site

At the time of the study, the state and the federal (ANTHC) databases were not integrated. The inspections used different but somewhat similar criteria. Often the sites listed are not the same. I found the state data to be more comprehensive, but even then, as with New Mexico, there are dumps which are in one dataset but not in the other and many more dumpsites exist than are logged into the databases.

With the ADEC database, many older or “closed” dumps/landfills won’t show up in the database (they are in the old folders in the file cabinets) because they are listed as “closed” or as federal sites or otherwise inactive. One of the ironies of developing community-run solid waste programs (Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council) was that the information was too poor or non-existent from BIA, IHS, or other sources that we could use. I once asked for a list of dumps recorded by BIA (so we could compare to what we were discovering). A few days later I got a request, from IHS I believe, for a list of dump sites in our villages. The feds went to us in order to answer our question.

As the study authors note, the data and results are not very precise,

Future studies examining the potential health effects associated with open dumpsites in Alaska Native villages should include measurements that are more precise in nature. Misclassification errors are inherent in studies with crude exposure measurements.

One cannot say that open dump sites cause problems in pregnancy and birth. However there is a tendency for Alaska Native communities with the worse solid waste dumping to also have problems with pregnancy and births.

The most important aspect of this study is that it is the first to attempt to characterize the relation of these adverse pregnancy outcomes among residents of Alaska Native villages to open dumpsites.

This is true. But to understand whether there is any cause and effect we need to do more (could be only a relationship to tribal status or those places with less private cash or those dependent on federal health services???)

Mothers in villages with low hazard-ranked dumpsites tended to have had fewer short interpregnancy intervals and previous pregnancies, were more frequently Caucasian and between 20 and 39 years of age, completed more years of education, more often had access to acute care medical facilities, and were more likely to have households in their villages completely plumbed compared with mothers from villages with intermediate and higher hazard-ranked dumpsites.

What is needed is better study of actual community dump sites (location, number, age, contents, etc.), better integration of good quality data, more precise identification of behaviors in solid waste exposure (mothers), etc. This means each community must be the central arbiter or quality control for studies of its own local environment. Then, make sure that same quality of information can be shared with others to understand what is actually occurring and how to improve our living.

What do you all think, the ones who have to come up with integrated solid waste management plans for your own village?


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