Light Bulbs to Get New Labels

The FTC is mandating that in 2011, light bulbs get new labels that emphasis luminosity more so that watts.  If you take a look at the labels shown at the link, it features quit a bit of new information to help buyers determine the best bulb for their needs.  The emphasis on lumens over watts is a good change, as it’s the actual measure of light instead of energy usage.  I personally like the “average yearly cost in electricity” of the bulbs.  From the example, I’m not sure $7.23 for a incandescent bulb will hurt many people’s wallet, but think how many light bulbs you have in your house.  The total can become a healthy chunk of change each month!

Oostvaardersplassen – The Pleistocene is just a train ride away

Previously we’ve posted about Pleistocene Park, and a similar project in Scotland that are aimed at recreating the fauna and flora of the Pleistocene Era by setting aside protected areas that are kept ‘wild’. Oostvaardersplassen, a park in the Netherlands, has created a similar preserve, using Konik horses and Heck cattle to give a feel for similar, but extinct, Pleistocene herbivores like the tarpan and European bison and elk. The landscape is mostly open grasslands, with small copses of trees. Currently, the Oostvaardersplassen is an isolated nature preserve, but you can take a train ride that passes through the park, and there are plans to open a natural corridor to a forest area in Zeewolde.

There is some controversy over efforts like Oostvaardersplassen, including issues of whether to truly leave these areas to nature, even when harsh winters might kill significant portions of the wildlife in such parks or when animals become sick and injured. What do you think? Do preserves like Oostvaardersplassen and Pleistocene Park really give a us a chance to glimpse a vanished landscape?

Here’s a short video of Oostervaardersplassen that gives you a good idea of what the landscape and wild horse herds are like:

Via io9 and Ark in Space

Gulf Stream not Slowing Down

Apparently Dennis Quaid was wrong… the gulf stream is not slowing down as some climate change models (and over the top eco-adventure movies) predict.  Apparently the belief this might happen is a victim of the age old measurement error.  Initial measurements suggested the slow down.  It turns out over a longer period of time, there is no slow down, just an awful lot of variability from year to year.  Scientists are continuing to monitor the flow in attempt to collect more data to confirm these latest findings.  On top of that, they hope to figure out what causes the variability, which in and of itself is rather puzzling.

As an aside, what I find fascinating is the sheer magnitude of these sorts of issues.  We’re talking attempts to understand and predict phenomena on a global scale and time scales approaching geologic time.  That’s a seriously challenging task and more power to all the scientists out there trying to tackle it head on!

Ice Age Took 6 Months to Form?

Who would have thought a Dennis Quaid movie could be right? (well, except for Enemy Mine, which I maintain is simply to awesome to not come true some day)  Geology researchers are now saying that the last ice age could have happened in an extremely short period of time, not the previously thought decade or so.  This is based upon some research done in Ireland on lake bed.  I’m not going to pretend I know the first thing about this stuff, but it is interesting to think that our climate is much more fragile than we thought.  Plus, anything that allows me to reference Enemy Mine I’m gonna post toot-sweet.

Climate friendly news stack

When I sat down with the BBC News site today I was struck by the number of articles that are related to attempts to create green energy or cut greenhouse gas emissions. I will start off with the one that I found most striking, Hatoyama’s pledge to cut Japan’s emissions by 25% (1990 to 2020). This progressive goal clearly outstrips the 8% that Prime Minister Aso sought, though the 25% is connected to other developed countries pledging similar cuts. With the EU offering a similar cut will the US and other countries step-up to support similar pledges? At the same time the proposed UN climate deal to be agreed on in an upcoming summit in Copenhagen could be hanging ‘in the balance‘.

A couple of technical articles focused on the use of floating wind turbines to allow for offshore wind power farms to be created, and an initial deal signed for the construction of the largest solar array in the world in China by 2019.

However, despite the policy discussions and technical movements afoot, another article suggests that our broadening knowledge of environmental issues is not necessarily translating to a reduced global eco-footprint. Just as with Japan and the EU’s attempts to generate a global movement, we need to support grassroot movements at a broad level as well. Now if there was just a bus that I could take to work…

NYC’s High Line Park opens – cool new use for abandoned urban rail line

highlineI was browsing through some blog entries this evening, and saw a post from Inhabitat about the opening of the High Line Park in New York City, which is an urban park created from an abandoned elevated train line. I had not heard of this before today, but after looking at the photo gallery, this is one of the coolest projects I have seen in awhile. How cool is it to be able to take a relaxing stroll a couple of storeys above the street level, take in the nice landscaping and greenery, and even lay back on some cool wooden chaises that are fitted in with casters so they can slide along the old rail. Neat!

If you are NYC resident, or are going to visit the city, the High Line Park should be a must see!

ToxicRisk – mapping Toxic Release Inventory data

Mike from MapCruzin sent us this comment based on our December 2007 post on the MapEcos project, in order to let us know about a project he’s working on called ToxicRisk. Our comment system apparently didn’t want to play nice, so I thought I’d post Mike’s comment in full below, so that you can read more about the ToxicRisk mapping project and the US Toxic Release Inventory:

“Two weeks ago we launched ToxicRisk. It is based on Google Maps, as is
MapEcos, but uses the most recent Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) 2007 data
released March 19, 2009 by EPA rather than older 2005 data. We wanted to
make the maps as easy to use and fast as possible so my son Aran did all of
the program in house. He has released some of this programming to the
public domain and you can access it at CPAN.
Continue reading “ToxicRisk – mapping Toxic Release Inventory data”

The Green Effect – A Chance to Win $20,000 for Your Green Project

Just got my latest MyWonderfulWorld e-newsletter, and National Geographic and SunChips are announcing a new initiative called the Green Effect, which will award $20,000 each to 5 individuals or groups to implement their community green project.

The contest opens on April 22nd and runs until June 8th. You’ll be able submit your green idea to the Green Effect website (the submission page isn’t live yet), and on July 7th, 10 finalists will be announced (Each of the finalists will get a Flip video camera!). The finalists will be judged again, and there will be online voting as well. The winners will be announced around July 21st.

So come on out there! Get your green thinking caps on and, if you’ve got an idea that can help your community become greener, write it up and submit it!

Time for Nuclear Power… again?

Ars Technica has a nice discussion about nuclear power discussions that took place at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.  The short of it is that several prominate scientists are arguing that nuclear power has a place in our future power needs.  Coming from a coal state, I’ve often wondered about which is the lesser of two evils – nuclear power or coal energy.  I’m certain strong and informed opinions can be made both in the pro and con column for each technology.  What I believe this strongly underscores is the notion that we will most likely use a mix of technologies to power ourselves in the future.

Using Remote Sensing to Spot Cholera Outbreaks

Scientists have figured out how to predict cholera outbreaks by looking at sea life. The idea pioneered at the University of Maryland is a rise in sea temperatures lead to the production of Phytoplankton, which are the root cause of cholera. As these phytoplankton get into the water supply, cholera pathogens are released and can lead to outbreaks. Obviously fore warned is fore armed, so this is will certainly help public health officials cope with these devastating outbreaks.

Via BBC News