Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis time-lapse HD - Tromsø 2010 from Tor Even Mathisen on Vimeo.
Time-lapse aurorae in Norway. As the Sun wakes back up after its recent quiet period, we should see more spectacular ones in the next three years or so.
Definitely click on the image or link to see the original in full screen high definition. Either that or click on the four arrows icon next to the word Vimeo in the bottom right corner of the image.

Snippets from the Interwebs 3

China is installing the world's largest system (click link for Technology Review article) for generating electricity by collecting methane gas emitted by fermenting cow manure. Anaerobic digestion systems are very highly favoured in future to digest not only manure, which is what everyone is familiar with but also green and food waste – even special energy crops. It’s true that capturing methane and burning it produces CO2 but the carbon is from the planet’s “currrent account”, not the fossil fuel “deposit account” that contributes to altering the climate. Methane is also 23 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2 so it makes sense to collect and burn it anyway, particularly if by doing so, the obtained energy substitutes for and displaces the use of fossil fuel carbon.
If all the toilet roll inner tubes produced every year in the United States were placed end to end they would stretch for a million miles, or 4 times further than the Moon
Scott paper have announced a new “tube free” toilet roll – click link to see original story
Ocean acidification
This article from the geological society (yes, the original British, established in 1807, one) has more on ocean acidification. Scientists, from the University of Plymouth and the University of Santa Catarina, Brazil have studied the effect, on foraminifera (a species of plankton with a calcium carbonate shell) of increased levels of CO2 in the ocean. They state that at a mean pH of 7.8, the pH level predicted for the end of the century, calcified organisms begin to disappear, and non-calcifying ones take over. The current level is about 8.07. The pre-industrial level was about 8.18, thus ocean acidification is actually a reduction in alkalinity. Sea water des not need to actually become acidic before very serious effects happen.
Unless we curb CO2 emissions (forget climate change for the time being) we risk mass extinctions, degrading coastal waters and encouraging outbreaks of toxic jellyfish and algae. Similar lowering of ocean pH levels were closely associated with massive extinctions in the past.  Plankton are right at the bottom of the ocean food chain and they also sequester colossal quantities of CO2 in their shells, not to mention replenishing the oxygen supply of the atmoshere. We shouldn’t do anything to change them - but we sure as h*ll are doing.
Peak Everything
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development reported, back at the end of last year, that an expert group had been set up by the European Commission  to screen a list of forty-nine "potentially critical" raw materials whose availability to industry could come under threat as global competition for natural resources intensifies. Of particular worry to Europeans are rare earths, collections of metals and elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods, including batteries used in electric cars. The Chinese are developing a stranglehold on supplies of many of the most important ones. Recycling will never mean as much as it will do when we can’t get enough stuff to make our stuff.
Blade Runner meets Babylon
27 story house
Text and picture adapted from from the New York Times 29/10/2010 (click picture for link to original story)
One family are going to live in this 27 story house in Mumbai. All five of them.
The tower, known as Antilia, is the new home of India’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani, whose $27 billion fortune also ranks him among the richest people in the world. And even here in the country’s financial capital, where residents bear daily witness to the stark extremes of Indian wealth and poverty, Mr. Ambani’s building is so spectacularly over the top that the city’s already elastic boundaries of excess and disparity are being stretched to new dimensions.
Here’s the understatement of the year:
A gawking city has greeted the new tower with a mixture of moralizing and astonishment, envy and condemnation, all sprinkled with Freudian analysis of the most basic question: Why did he do it?
“We are all sort of perplexed,” said Alyque Padamsee, a long-time advertising executive and actor in the city. “I think people see it as a bit show-offy.”
One way to do “food security”
Land grabbing… or at least buying up land.  South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, India, Saudi Arabia, China, Qatar, Kuwait. are buying up large areas in Africa to supply themselves with food and other agricultural products. Also leading the rush are international agribusinesses, investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds as well as UK pension funds, foundations and individuals attracted by some of the world's cheapest land.  Here’s a link to an Observer investigation of this trend.
LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Scotland should produce enough renewable electricity to meet all its power demand by 2025, First Minister Alex Salmond said. "I'm confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100 percent of our electricity needs from renewables alone, and together with other sources it will enable us to become a net exporter of clean, green energy”

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Plastic Fantastic starting to pall

Here’s another video with a catchy song, based upon Empire State of Mind by Jay Z/Alicia Keys.  I don’t particularly like most rap, but I’ll make an exception for this one.

Newsflash – Excerpt from - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a preliminary ordinance that bans plastic bags at supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. In addition to banning plastic bags, the ordinance would require stores that provide recyclable paper bags to charge 10 cents per bag.



AshEl Eldridge - Rapper
Jenni Perez - Singer


Spoof news report about the problems with plastic


Here’s a cute TV ad from Animal planet TV


And, just because I liked it, I’m republishing this Tim Minchin video that I first aired in a post in June 2010 – the existential life and not death of a plastic bag





That was then. What now?

A five minute video from the Post Carbon Institute.  Just about everything we have become used to over the last 300 years is dependent upon cheap, easily available, energy. What do we do now that “old road is rapidly aging” (Bob Dylan)?

In case people are thinking I’ve become lazy(ier) by just posting other peoples’ vidoes etc, rest assured I have loads of “draft” posts that just need a bit of polishing before they get posted. If other people can say stuff better, or in a different form, than I would, I’ll post them as well. The more the merrier.





Saturday, 13 November 2010

Double Crock of the week. Truth, lies and the Oregon petition and warnings about global warming go further back than many think

The famous “Oregon petition” of 32,000 so called scientists is roundly debunked.



This “Climate Crock” below resurrects an old warning from 1956 (54 years ago!!). This is an old science program recording, featured in the video. It portrays a few bits of the science in  rather misleading way but it is mostly correct by today’s knowledge – mainly the bit about water vapour is a bit shaky.

I reproduce Pete Sinclair’s introduction:

“Many climate deniers still seem to think global warming was invented by Al Gore, in 2006.  As this recently uncovered recording from 1956 shows, the outlines of climate change science have been clear for many decades.

I showed this to my 25 year old son, who happened to be home from school. He watched in silence, but I knew what he was going to say. ”It makes me angry. They’ve known about this for all these years.” I don’t have a good answer for him. I hope I have an answer for his children.”


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Zeitgeist - trailer

There seems to be a growing realisation (obviously not amongst our Treasury type politicans!) that the current economic woes of the world are not simply a blip or a simple recession or even a “double dip” recession or even a depression. Major thinkers consider that we have come to the end of a period of history and what we are seeing are simply the symptoms of the death throes of the existing economic system. Zeitgeist means the “spirit of the times” and here is a trailer to a movie to be released in January 2011.

As with most of the doom and gloom scenarios around, I am not saying we’re all doomed. We are not helpless in the face of these things. There are solutions to avoid the worst outcomes and come through to the other side in a better way but people have to listen, be aware of the truth and decide to do something about it. Above all else they have to realise that they are going to have to resist the siren voices telling them that everything will be rosy again if we just plan for more of what has brought us to this point.


SYNOPSIS: Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, by director Peter Joseph, is a feature length documentary work which will present a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical "life ground" attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a "Resource-Based Economy". THEATRICAL RELEASE - Zeitgeist: Moving Forward is planned to be released in 60+ countries and in 20+ languages starting January 15th 2011. This large scale release is not associated with any major distributor.



Sunday, 7 November 2010

LIVE FROM THE TED TALKS - the Great Pacific Garbage patch conference



tedxgp2 on Broadcast Live Free