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.
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…
I 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!
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.
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!
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.
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
I love cool projects that really show science at work, especially when they include education for kids and the general public, and the Lost Ladybug Project is one that I really like. It seems that researchers noticed that native species of ladybugs are disappearing (largely being replaced by Asian ladybugs that were introduced into North America by the USDA to combat crop pests) and nobody knows for sure what happened to them. Especially of interest is a species known as C-9 (for its nine spots), which used to be so common that it was made the state insect of New York in 1989. Unfortunately, there hadn’t really been a confirmed sighting of C. 9 ladybugs since the 1970s and a survey in 1992 could not find a single one. However, one of the big problems with field surveys is that there is always too much ground to cover and not enough people, so entomologists at Cornell University came up with the idea of the Lost Ladybug Project, which is being supported by a large grant from the NSF. Basically, the idea is to get as many people out there looking for ladybugs, and documenting the specimens they find with pictures, which are then uploaded to the Lost Ladybug website. Anyone can help, and you can get all the particulars here
(There is a simple Google Maps mashup showing the locations of some of the ladybug finds, but there is so much more they could be doing with the mapping end of this project, so I hope there are plans to improve it)
We often talk about our ever greening ways in our daily lives at the VerySpatial office, but we are still pretty much light weights. Our lack of weightiness is reinforced when I watch Discovery’s newish channel, Planet Green. Topics cover the gamut from greening your home, your meals, and to your general lifestyle. If you have access to Planet Green (channel 194 on DishNetwork) check it out and see if it gives you any ideas on greening your life.
Another great art as education/activism has apparently been going on this summer and will be continuing through the fall and into next year. The project, CoolGlobes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet, is an exhibit that began in Chicago last summer (’07) that features sculpted globes, each about 5 feet in diameter which were intended to “to create awareness and provoke discussion about a potential solution to global warming”. Some of the globes are currently on display in Washington DC and San Francisco with an exhibit coming soon to San Diego and to London in 2009. If you see one of these exhibits, send us a picture of video.