Tag Archives | Environment

Harmonia Macrocosmica — History’s Most Beautiful Star Maps

The Harmonia Macrocosmica is a star atlas written by Andreas Cellarius and published in 1660 by Johannes Janssonius.

The Harmonia Macrocosmica is a star atlas written by Andreas Cellarius and published in 1660 by Johannes Janssonius.

The Harmonia Macrocosmica is a star atlas written by Andreas Cellarius and published in 1660 by Johannes Janssonius.

 

The first part of the atlas contains copper plate prints depicting the world systems of Claudius Ptolemy, Nicolaus Copernicus and Tycho Brahe. At the end are star maps of the classical and Christian constellations, the latter ones as introduced by Julius Schiller in his Coelum stellatum christianum of 1627. The translations are by dr. Henry A.I. Stadhouders (Theological Institute, University of Utrecht).

In the foreword to his Chronologica, Gerard Mercator stated the intention to publish an atlas which would cover everything of the then-known cosmos, geography and history of the earth. During his life, Mercator published five volumes of his atlas, the last one being published by his son Rumold. After Mercator’s death, the Amsterdam cartographerJohannes Janssonius took over the project.… Read the rest

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Report Reveals $8.5 Trillion Missing From Pentagon Budget

David B. Gleason (CC BY-SA 2.0)

David B. Gleason (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via Crooks and Liars:

Yahoo Money’ The Daily Ticker  is reporting that is has discovered a Reuters investigation that reveals$8.5 trillion – that’s trillion with a “T” – in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996 that has never been accounted for.

You read that right. While Republican politicians rush to slash food stamps for the 47 million Americans living in poverty – the highest amount in nearly two decades –  Republican U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has the audacity to complain that $20 billion dollars in automatic sequester cuts to the massive and secretive $565.8 billion Defense Department budget are ” too steep, too deep, and too abrupt,” all while the Pentagon and the Defense Department are overseeing massive fraud, waste, and abuse.

For anyone wondering, Reuters reports that the D.O.D.’s 2012 budget totaled $565.8 billion, more than the annual defense budgets of the 10 next largest military spenders combined, including Russia and China.

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Many endangered species are back — but face new struggles

The restoration of formerly endangered species is raising conflict in some places. One example: the return of gray seals to coastal Massachusetts. Here, gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) bicker at a sandy haulout in Chatham Harbor, Cape Cod during the summer of 2013. A new study by scientists at the University of Vermont and Duke University explores strategies to better manage and celebrate the recovery of these animals.David W. Johnston under permit by NOAA

The restoration of formerly endangered species is raising conflict in some places. One example: the return of gray seals to coastal Massachusetts. Here, gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) bicker at a sandy haulout in Chatham Harbor, Cape Cod during the summer of 2013. A new study by scientists at the University of Vermont and Duke University explores strategies to better manage and celebrate the recovery of these animals.
David W. Johnston under permit by NOAA

University of Vermont via EurekAlert:

A study of marine mammals and other protected species finds that several once endangered species, including the iconic humpback whale, the northern elephant seal and green sea turtles, have recovered and are repopulating their former ranges.

The research, published in the June edition of Trends in Ecology and Evolution, suggests that some species, including humpback whales, have reached population levels that may warrant removal from endangered species lists.

But returning species, which defy global patterns of biodiversity loss, create an urgent new challenge for policymakers and communities, the study suggests.

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The Solution to Climate Change Right Under Our Feet

Healthy soil.  (Photo: Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Campaign/flickr/cc)

Healthy soil. (Photo: Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Campaign/flickr/cc)

Andrea Germanos writes at Common Dreams:

What if there were a risk-free way of helping to mitigate climate change while simultaneously addressing food and water security?

A new report from the Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign says that such an opportunity is possible, and it’s right below our feet.

Soil & Carbon: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems outlines how it is possible to take atmospheric CO2, which is fueling climate change, and plug it into the soil. Far from moving the problem from one place to another, this shift can reduce ocean acidification because the oceans are no longer the sink for vast amounts of CO2, and can regenerate degraded soils by providing needed carbon.

The report lays out the problem in this way:

Humans are altering the chemistry of where carbon is stored, and climate change is a manifestation of that alteration.

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In the Beginning there were Simple Chemicals – New Evidence on the Origins of Life

Via Phys.org:

In the beginning, there were simple chemicals. And they produced amino acids that eventually became the proteins necessary to create single cells. And the single cells became plants and animals. Recent research is revealing how the primordial soup created the amino acid building blocks, and there is widespread scientific consensus on the evolution from the first cell into plants and animals. But it’s still a mystery how the building blocks were first assembled into the proteins that formed the machinery of all cells. Now, two long-time University of North Carolina scientists – Richard Wolfenden, PhD, and Charles Carter, PhD – have shed new light on the transition from building blocks into life some 4 billion years ago.

“Our work shows that the close linkage between the of amino acids, the , and protein folding was likely essential from the beginning, long before large, sophisticated molecules arrived on the scene,” said Carter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the UNC School of Medicine.

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Magic mushrooms ‘less harmful than thought’ and should be reclassified, says leading psychiatrist

RuthArt (CC BY 2.0)

RuthArt (CC BY 2.0)

Charlie Cooper via The Independent:

Psychedelic drugs including LSD and magic mushrooms are much less harmful than has been claimed, and should be reclassified to make it easier for scientists to research their potential benefits, a leading psychiatrist has said.

Promising medical research into psychedelics ground to a halt as long ago as 1967, when they were made illegal amid widespread concern about their psychological and social harms.

However, writing in the BMJ, psychiatrist Dr James Rucker, said that no evidence had ever shown the drugs to be habit-forming. There is also little evidence of harm when used in controlled settings, and a wealth of studies indicating that they have uses in the treatment of common psychiatric disorders, he said.

Researchers are beginning to look again at how LSD and psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – might be of benefit in the treatment of addiction, for obsessive compulsive disorder and even, according to one small Swiss study, to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety in terminally ill patients.

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Can Transhumanism Overcome a Widespread Deathist Culture?

Mort

Zoltan Istvan via IEET:

The rapidly growing field of transhumanism—an international social movement whose highest immediate priority is overcoming human death via science and technology—is facing a colossal challenge. About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something transhumanists often refer to as “deathist” culture.

In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.

So what are transhumanists to do in a world where science and technology are quickly improving and will almost certainly overcome human mortality in the next 30 years? Will there be a great civil rights debate and clash around the world?

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Finally! Some Climate Crisis Honesty

Nicola Jones (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Nicola Jones (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Dave Lindorff writes at CounterPunch:

A tectonic shift is occurring suddenly in the debate over climate change.

Only a year ago, at least in the US corporate media, there was always a rough equivalence accorded to those experts who were warning about a looming climate disaster facing mankind, and those who called the whole thing a “conspiracy” by corrupt scientists and politicians (albeit without ever explaining a motive).

Suddenly, though, that rough equivalence in the coverage is gone. The climate deniers are now exposed as charlatans in the pay of energy companies, and the coverage has shifted to talking about climate disaster being closer than we had been being told. If there is a “conspiracy,” we are now learning, it may be that climate scientists, afraid of creating a sense of hopeless and doom among the public, have been soft-pedaling their warnings, stressing the need to quickly cut back on the use of greenhouse-gas-producing fuels in order to try and keep global warming below 2 degrees centigrade (roughly 4 degrees fahrenheit), when they all really know that a 4-degree centigrade rise is already “baked into” the earth’s near-term climate future, perhaps by as early as 2100.

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Ruptured Pipeline Along California Coast Dumps Crude Oil into Pacific Ocean

birdrefugio

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Jon Queally posts here.

An oil pipeline that runs along the coast of central California broke on Tuesday, according to officials, dumping tens of thousands of gallons of crude onto local beaches and creating a 4-mile slick in the Pacific Ocean.

Initial estimates put the spill at about 21,000 gallons Tuesday, but the Associated Press cited a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson on Wednesday who said that figure is likely to change after a Wednesday morning flyover gave a better sense of the spill’s scope.

“Unfortunately with accidents and oil development, it is not a question of if, but of when.” — Owen Bailey, Environmental Defense Center

The pipeline, which runs parallel to Highway 101 near Santa Barbara, left a slick extending about four miles (6.4 km) along Refugio State Beach, extending about 50 yards into the water, explained Petty Officer Andrea Anderson of the USGC.Read the rest

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