Hypnotically Beautiful Map Lets You Stalk Whales Around Hawaii

Hawaii is practically overrun by humpback whales every October through May when they come from such far-flung places as Russia and Alaska to breed in the shallower and warmer waters. You can hear them sing underwater, watch them splash from the shoreline, and see them snuggle from the air.

But Scot McQueen, the chief strategy officer on GeoEngineers’ Smartmine team, wants you to know about the other whales that live and breed in Hawaii. Humpback whales might be the show-stoppers, but Hawaii sees “a lot of different species of whales,” he told The Huffington Post, such as false killer or beaked whales. “These whales aren’t that well known, and there is a ton of them that need help right now.”

In order to draw attention to these whales in a compelling way, McQueen had his software development team build the Smartmine Whale Tracking Map, which animates the paths of whales using data collected over recent months.

McQueen notes that, as government funding for whale research decreases, “a lot of people need to see what’s going on. It’s not just humpback whales off the coast of Hawaii, or all over world, but all these other whales that people need to understand.”

Eighteen species of toothed whales and six baleen whales are known to exist around Hawaii, but until recently, according to Cascadia Research, most studies have focused only on humpbacks and spinner dolphins. Hawaiian odontocetes (or whales with teeth, such as dolphins or sperm whales) face dangers evident in waters with human traffic, such as hook ingestion, Navy sonar pollution, and net entanglements.

The idea behind the map is, according to McQueen, that if it engages people with all the varieties of whales in a meaningful way, “from that consciousness rises new opportunities all the time.”

The map isn’t in real-time, but based on recent data collected by Dr. Robin Baird of Washington’s Cascadia Research, who tags and studies the behaviors of Hawaiian odontocetes.

With the Van Goghian lines of the wind currents and ocean swirls (using data culled from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the map is a hypnotic way to stalk your favorite whale — and it sure beats getting slapped by one.

from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1ikKNiJ


In 1954, the CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Guatemala. The reason why is bananas!

In 1954, the CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Guatemala. The reason why is bananas!

The United Fruit Company was more than a business—it was a humanitarian effort, according to some people. An American corporation that traded in tropical fruit grown in Central and South American plantations, the United Fruit Company brought thousands of jobs to countries like Guatemala. They also provided their workers with free housing, six years of schooling for children, and medical care.

Others saw the company as a thinly veiled attempt at capitalist Imperialism. The UFCO had a controlling interest in the country’s only railroad system and only port for trade. They discouraged the government from building highways, so they could continue to profit from their own methods of transportation—the only available. This furthered their market dominance.

However, their primary means of control was in the distribution of land. UFCO claimed to need hundreds of thousands of acres to grow bananas, even though much of it was uncultivated. With heavy influence on governmental decisions, the UFCO was able to prevent any land from being sold to Guatemalans who wanted a share of the banana trade.

In 1954, the democratically elected Guatemalan government of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzmn was toppled by U.S.-backed CIA forces led by Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, because Arbenz had implemented land reform that expropriated over 400,000 acres of UFCO’s uncultivated land. The UFCO was having none of this and lobbied the United States for help, claiming Arbenz was taking this land in order to closer ally himself to the Soviet Bloc.

Under the threat of U.S. Military intervention, the Guatemalan military forced Arbenz to resign and returned to ruling by tyrants. There was no happy ending for the UFCO either. After the governmental overthrow, their stock market value fell and profit margins plummeted.


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Keystone Pipeline Backers, Opponents Spar Ahead Of Vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supporters and opponents of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline jockeyed for position ahead of an expected Senate vote on legislation authorizing immediate construction of the project.

An oil industry group that supports the pipeline launched a five-state ad campaign aimed at wavering senators, while an environmental group mobilized activists to urge lawmakers to vote against any attempt to force President Barack Obama to decide the pipeline’s fate. The lobbying by outside groups came as Democrats and Republicans bickered over whether to allow a vote on a bipartisan bill to end years of delay and build the proposed pipeline from Canada to the United States.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he is open to a stand-alone vote on a pipeline bill, although some Republicans said the vote should occur as an amendment to energy efficiency legislation that could reach the Senate floor as soon as Tuesday.

Republican senators have prepared a host of amendments to the efficiency bill, including one that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Lawmakers from both parties also support a measure to speed approval of terminals to export liquefied natural gas, another complication as Reid and other Democratic leaders consider when and how to allow a vote on the energy efficiency bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it was important to include Keystone and other issues in the bipartisan energy efficiency bill, which is sponsored by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio.

“We should be having a debate about how to develop policies that can actually lead to lower utility bills for squeezed families, put people back to work America’s coal country … and lead to a more effective use of North American energy supplies,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, noting that the Senate has not approved a comprehensive energy bill since 2007.

Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top lobbying group, announced it has begun TV, radio and online ads promoting the pipeline in five states: Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, New Mexico and South Dakota. The ads urge senators in those states— including at least three Democrats who are publicly undecided on the Keystone bill — to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tom Carper of Delaware all undecided on the Keystone bill, which was introduced last week by Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Mary Landrieu, D-La.

Landrieu and Hoeven said the legislation has the support of 11 Democrats and all 45 of the Senate’s Republicans, a total of 56 of the 60 that will be needed. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., also is expected to support the bill.

While pipeline supporters were taking out ads, an environmental group was organizing a blitz of Democratic senators by email, telephone and in-person protests. About 150 people turned up at Casey’s Philadelphia office on Monday, and a smaller number went to Carper’s office in Wilmington, said Jason Kowalski, policy director for 350.org. an environmental group that opposes the pipeline.

Demonstrators are expected Tuesday at the Denver offices of Udall and Bennet.

Pipeline supporters “are advertising on TV, while we are out on the streets,” Kowalski said.

The proposed pipeline would carry oil from western Canada to Nebraska, where it eventually would reach Gulf Coast refineries. Supporters say it would create thousands of jobs and help the U.S. move closer to a goal of energy independence. Opponents say the project would create few permanent jobs and reinforce the nation’s use of an energy source that worsens global warming.

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from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1j4Zpb0

Racism’s in the Air: Race Is the Determining Factor When It Comes to Who Breathes Bad Air

For decades the environmental justice movement has insisted that pollution is just another form of racism. Now a University of Minnesota study is conclusively confirming this painful reality.

The report found that, more than anything else, race is the determining factor in the levels of pollution that the country’s communities are exposed to. Researchers came to the conclusion that people of color breathe 46-percent more nitrogen dioxide (NO2) — a toxic compound resulting from the burning of coal and oil — than do non-Hispanic whites.

And what is most worrisome for our community: We are on top of the list of communities breathing the most polluted air.

“This is terrible,” says Kim Wasserman-Nieto, winner of the 2013 Goldman Prize, the Nobel Prize of the ecology world, and an environmental justice hero. “These are the realities of what our people are feeling on a day-to-day basis. Things are not getting any better. We are the ones producing the least amount of pollution and yet feeling the most impact.”

NO2 — which causes asthma, other respiratory diseases and heart conditions — is measured in parts per million (ppm). Among whites, the study found that exposure is 9.9 ppm. Among us, on the other hand, it is 15.6 ppm, and among black Latinos, 17.4 ppm, the highest in the country.

Wasserman-Nieto, who is also director of organizing and strategy at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), the South Chicago environmental justice group that has been fighting polluters for years, underlines that the study also spells out the true costs of coal and oil.

“Our communities are starting to put two and two together,” she says. “We are starting to see concrete evidence of how the fossil fuels industry is impacting our communities. Even if they aren’t mining right next door to us, they are hitting us with the air quality issue.”

The study also found something Wasserman-Nieto calls “astronomical.” When comparing the levels of exposure between low-income whites and high-income Latinos, the latter turned out to be in worse shape.

“When I read that sentence, I had to read it three or four time because I could not believe it,” she says. “It’s not about ‘pick yourself up by your bootstraps and move out to a better place.’ You can’t. Where are you supposed to go? The air quality is horrible in all of our communities.”

The reason, the researchers explained, stems from the fact that Americans tend to live in clusters by race, and in our barrios we all are much more exposed to high levels of NO2.

Another important factor is the proximity of our communities to freeways, what Wasserman-Nieto calls “toxic corridors,” because gasoline and diesel are the largest emitters of NO2.

According to a Centers for Disease Control study, more than 5 million people of color live close to these highways, especially in Southern California.

This was corroborated by this year’s American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report, which determined once again that the cities with the worst air quality are found in Southern California, where the country’s largest concentrations of Latinos live.

The University of Minnesota study underlines the magnitude of this injustice by stating that if we all were exposed to the same levels of NO2 as white Americans, every year we would prevent 7,000 deaths of coronary heart disease.

“This is a call to arms,” concludes Wasserman-Nieto. “I really hope, particularly for middle-class Hispanics who have seen this document, that this will be a wake-up call not only to become politically active but also to start supporting a lot of the organizations that are on the ground working to make it better.”

That would be a huge step forward to end this racism in the air.

from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1ol04oR

This simple NASA discovery helps the airline industry save billions every year!

This simple NASA discovery helps the airline industry save billions every year!

If you have booked an airplane ticket lately, you know that prices are sky-rocketing. There’s the increased price of fuel and the additional fees if you plan to travel with luggage, not to mention the increasingly *cozy* seating once onboard. However, it could be worse.

During the 1973 oil crisis, NASA’s Aircraft Energy Efficiency (ACEE) program looked for ways to conserve energy in aviation. Engineers considered ways to improve rocket aerodynamics.

The aerodynamics of an object are determined by lift and drag. Simply put, “lift” is what enables a plane to fly; it is created by unequal pressure on a wing as air flows around it. Drag is the resistance encountered as the object moves through the air. A significant source of drag occurs from the pressure under the plane’s wings which flows over the wing tip and then spins off in a vortex. These can be so powerful that they can disrupt aircrafts flying too closely to one another—one of the reasons why air traffic control is so careful about allowing adequate intervals between airplane take offs.

Richard Whitcomb, an aeronautical engineer at Langley Research Center, discovered that adding a vertical device to the tip of the wing, which he called a “winglet,” could diminish the wingtip vortices, thereby diminishing drag. This seemingly simple winglet design is now popular around the world.

Aviation Partners Boeing announced in 2010 that the winglet technology had globally saved 2 billion gallons of jet fuel and predicted by the end of 2014 there will be fuel savings of 5 billion gallons. So the next time you grumble about the price of flying, just know that it would be worse without the little winglet that saves big money.


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A Case Against Climate Engineering

What Is Climate Engineering?

Global warming is a real problem. As the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, of which I was a lead author, makes clear, Earth is warming, caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) and other “greenhouse gases” emitted by humans burning coal, oil, and natural gas and chopping down and burning forests. Climate scientists agree on this. And it will be bad in general for humanity, with threats to our food and water supplies, stronger storms, flooding from sea level rise, droughts, and spread of diseases and violence.

So what should we do about it? As the IPCC also makes clear, mitigation (stopping the emission of greenhouse gases) is the solution, and we can do it by switching to energy sources that do not pollute the atmosphere with these gases: solar and wind power. Current nuclear technology is not the answer, as I will discuss in a companion post. But what if the world cannot stop emitting carbon dioxide quickly enough? And what about all the CO2 we have already put into the atmosphere that will last for centuries? We will certainly have to adapt to some of the coming climate change. But can we somehow stop the climate change?

Two separate techniques, sucking the CO2 out of the atmosphere and burying it (carbon dioxide reduction, or CDR) and blocking sunlight to cool the planet (solar radiation management, or SRM), have both been called “geoengineering” or “climate engineering” but are quite different in terms of risk and effectiveness. CDR would basically be a good idea, but it is currently very expensive and would only slowly cool the climate. On the other hand, SRM, by creating a cloud of sulfuric acid droplets in the stratosphere like volcanic eruptions occasionally do, could potentially be quick and cheap. But this is a big question, since it has never been done and the equipment to implement either cloud brightening or creation of stratospheric clouds does not exist.

Proposed methods of stratospheric aerosol injection. A mountaintop location would require less energy for lofting to stratosphere. Drawing by Brian West. (Figure 1 from Robock et al., 2009: “The benefits, risks, and costs of stratospheric geoengineering.” Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L19703, doi:10.1029/2009GL039209. Used by permission.)

I have calculated that it would only cost a few billion dollars per year to lift enough sulfur into the stratosphere with airplanes to create a cloud to reflect enough sunlight to counteract the global warming we will experience in the next several decades, but with a big “if.” The “if” is the question of whether we could create a cloud of small sulfuric acid droplets like volcanic eruptions occasionally do. But research shows that if we continued to inject sulfur into an existing cloud, as we would have to do to maintain it, the existing particles would grow rather than having new particles form. This means that for the same amount of sulfur, they would scatter less sunlight and would fall out of the atmosphere faster. We may have to inject 10 times as much sulfur, or even more, and this would be very expensive and impractical. Prof. David Keith later verified our estimates of the cost of airplane injection of sulfur into the stratosphere.

Prof. Keith has recently made a case for SRM climate engineering, but I beg to differ. His book is entitled A Case for Climate Engineering, so I title this essay “A Case Against Climate Engineering,” but I need to emphasize that it is only one of many potential cases. We need much more research before we can decide on whether to ever implement human control of Earth’s climate on purpose, to make sure that the risks are much less than the risks of not doing it, and we are very far from that point now. My argument is against implementing climate engineering now, and particularly in the way suggested by Prof. Keith.

The Risks of Climate Engineering

If SRM climate engineering could be implemented (which is a big question, for reasons explained above), it would have the following benefits:

  1. A reduction in surface air temperatures, which could reduce or reverse some of the negative impacts of global warming, including floods, droughts, stronger storms, sea ice melting, land-based ice sheet melting, and sea level rise.
  2. An increase in plant productivity.
  3. An increase in terrestrial CO2 sink.
  4. Beautiful red and yellow sunsets.
  5. Unexpected benefits.

But I have identified at least 26 possible risks of stratospheric SRM:

  1. Drought in Africa and Asia.
  2. Perturbation of natural ecology and farmed vegetation with more diffuse radiation.
  3. Ozone depletion.
  4. Continued ocean acidification.
  5. Impacts on tropospheric chemistry.
  6. Whiter skies.
  7. Less solar electricity generation.
  8. Degradation of passive solar heating.
  9. Rapid warming if stopped.
  10. An inability to stop effects quickly.
  11. Human error.
  12. Unexpected consequences.
  13. Commercial control.
  14. Military use of the technology.
  15. Societal disruption, with conflicts between countries.
  16. Conflicts with current treaties, such as the UN Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques.
  17. Whose hand would be on the thermostat? (How could the world agree on a climate that would satisfy all?)
  18. Effects on airplanes flying in the stratosphere.
  19. Effects on the electrical properties of the atmosphere.
  20. The environmental impacts of implementation.
  21. Degradation of terrestrial optical astronomy.
  22. Impacts on stargazing (no more Milky Way).
  23. Impacts on satellite remote sensing.
  24. More sunburn.
  25. Moral hazard: The prospect of it working could reduce drive for mitigation.
  26. Moral authority: Do we have the right to do this?

We need more research to understand the risks of SRM compared with the risks of not doing SRM so that society can make informed decisions in the future about implementation. But how should we do this research? I support indoor research, using computer models of the climate system and studying the impacts of past volcanic eruptions and of ships on clouds. But outdoor research needs strict governance to prevent dangerous pollution in the name of science. And such a governance system does not now exist.

In A Case for Climate Engineering, Prof. Keith suggests we gradually ramp up a stratospheric cloud, checking as we go along for negative impacts. But this would not work, given the natural variability of the climate system. One of the potential problems with SRM, as seen in climate model simulations and responses to previous large volcanic eruptions, is increase in drought. But the climate system is quite noisy, chaotic, and variable, and there are always droughts somewhere. Because of this, we would need many decades to see whether drought frequency has been changed by SRM implementation. We could not adjust it as we go along without excellent climate models to tell us what the climate would have been without the stratospheric cloud. And if we have those models, we can use them for the experiment and have no need to do it outdoors.

Furthermore, it’s not hard to imagine a country suffering droughts or floods blaming it on the geoengineers and demanding that it stop now. That they could not prove it would be beside the point. If it were halted at once, we would have faster and more dangerous climate change than we have now without geoengineering. For these reasons, such a large-scale deployment of climate engineering, whether labeled an experiment or actual implementation, will produce unmanageable governance challenges.

Some experiments are much too risky to do outdoors on the only planet in the universe known to sustain life, with nuclear weapons testing being a prime example. Climate engineering research needs to remain indoors (in data studies and computer simulations) for a long time before it ever makes sense to do on a large scale outdoors.

The world has the resources to solve the climate change problem. But we need to start now. If we divert resources that are currently going into military budgets and continued fossil fuel infrastructure, we clearly can do this. There are tipping points in human behavior, and we need one now to stop global warming so we don’t end up having to consider much worse problems with an engineered climate system.

from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1fNyYXZ

Hear Michael Jackson Freak Out Over a Lying Lover in ‘Chicago’

The funky Timbaland-produced love song “Chicago” a “contemporized” track off Michael Jackson’s upcoming posthumous album Xscape has come out With a deep-bass groove and some Auto-tuned vocals Jackson sings about picking up a woman on a trip to Chicago before bursting into a frenzied chorus The hook finds Jackson singing…

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The first scientist to propose the Big Bang Theory was actually a man of God! Check out his story

The first scientist to propose the Big Bang Theory was actually a man of God! Check out his story

Whether you’re on the side of God creating the universe over the course of a week or whether you believe that a singular explosion started everything in motion to what it is today, it turns out you may have more in common with the other side than you thought. The Big Bang Theory was actually proposed by a Roman Catholic priest!

Monseigneur Georges Henri Joseph douard Lemaitre (what a mouthful!) was born in 1894 in Belgium. His resume had plenty of professions you wouldn’t normally see together, such as Roman Catholic priest, astronomer, and professor of physics at the Universite catholique de Louvain. He studied at the University of Cambridge where he earned a PhD. Because he followed the stars just as closely as he did God, we have suitable theories for the origins of the universe.

Unfortunately, Lemaitre’s name doesn’t come up quite as often as it should. Many of his theories are attributed to Edwin Hubble who published similar theories two years after Lemaitre. Lemaitre was also the first to derive what is known as Hubble’s Law and the first to come up with Hubble’s constant. It seems as though we named our magnificent space telescope after the wrong guy!


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Stream the Black Keys’ Trippy New Album, ‘Turn Blue’

A week before its release the Black Keys’ eighth album Turn Blue is streaming in full on iTunes Radio The record co-produced by Danger Mouse contains 11 tracks ranging from bluesy big-beat pop-rock tracks (“In Time”) to shimmery soulful earworms (“Year in Review”) The album is their first full-length since…

from RollingStone.com: All News http://ift.tt/1o001RX
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