Tag Archives | Environment

Armed With ‘Advanced Killing Technology,’ Humans Act as Planet’s ‘Super-Predators’

Brown bear eating salmon at Katmai National Park.   (Photo: Christoph Strässler/flickr/cc)

Brown bear eating salmon at Katmai National Park. (Photo: Christoph Strässler/flickr/cc)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Andrea Germanos’ articles here.

Humans are exceeding the bounds of natural systems and acting as “super-predators,” a new report finds.

The analysis by researchers from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, University of Victoria (UVic), and the Hakai Institute, and published in the journal Science, looked at over 300 studies that compared human hunter predation and that of non-humans. Whereas other predators are largely able to hunt at sustainable rates, humans, equipped with “with advanced killing technology and fossil fuel subsidy,” are killing adult prey at a much higher—and unsustainable—rate.

“Our wickedly efficient killing technology, global economic systems, and resource management that prioritizes short-term benefits to humanity have given rise to the era of the human super predator,” stated Dr. Chris Darimont, science director for Raincoast and Hakai-Raincoast professor at the UVic.… Read the rest

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Two major US aquifers contaminated by natural uranium

The intensity of groundwater contamination via uranium (red) and nitrate (blue) is shown in two major aquifers and other sites through out the nation. UNL researcher Karrie Weber says the availability of uranium data pales compared to that of nitrate. Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The intensity of groundwater contamination via uranium (red) and nitrate (blue) is shown in two major aquifers and other sites through out the nation. UNL researcher Karrie Weber says the availability of uranium data pales compared to that of nitrate.
Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of Nebraska-Lincoln via ScienceDaily:

Nearly 2 million people throughout the Great Plains and California above aquifer sites contaminated with natural uranium that is mobilized by human-contributed nitrate, according to a study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Data from roughly 275,000 groundwater samples in the High Plains and Central Valley aquifers show that many Americans live less than two-thirds of a mile from wells that often far exceed the uranium guideline set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The study reports that 78 percent of the uranium-contaminated sites were linked to the presence of nitrate, a common groundwater contaminant that originates mainly from chemical fertilizers and animal waste.

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the nAiL

There’s a nail in the wall.
Well, no. Actually, it’s in a beam.
Across the alley on my neighbor’s roof.

I always liked that nail.
Sticks out about three inches.
It’s just so straight. So carefully hammered. With Love.

Sometimes, you can see its shadow on the beam, as the sun creeps across the sky over our roofs.
A jealous sundial.

Except, it’s not jealous.
It’s a nail.


Check out Alex’s book San Francisco TAXI: A 1st Week in the ZEN Life…
And Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for your non-practicing Buddhist one-offs. 

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The Future of Work: We Have Been Here Before

Nana B Agyei (CC BY 2.0)

Nana B Agyei (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Saffo via Pacific Standard:

The latest entry in a special project in which business and labor leaders, social scientists, technology visionaries, activists, and journalists weigh in on the most consequential changes in the workplace.

This is not the first time society has fretted over the impact of ever-smarter machines on jobs and work—and not the first time we have overreacted. In the Depression-beset 1930s, labor Jeremiahs warned that robots would decimate American factory jobs. Three decades later, mid-1960s prognosticators offered a hopeful silver lining to an otherwise apocalyptic assessment of automation’s dark cloud: the displacement of work and workers would usher in a new “leisure society.”

Reality stubbornly ignored 1930s and 1960s expectations. The robots of extravagant imagination never arrived. There was ample job turbulence but as Keynes forecast in 1930, machines created more jobs than they destroyed. Boosted by a World War, unemployment dropped from a high of 25 percent in 1933 to under two percent in 1944.

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Bombshell Study Reveals Methane Emissions Hugely Underestimated

A methane flare at a natural gas drilling site. (Photo: WildEarth Guardians/cc/flickr)

A methane flare at a natural gas drilling site. (Photo: WildEarth Guardians/cc/flickr)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Lauren McCauley’s articles here.

The amount of methane being leaked from natural gas production sites has been hugely underestimated, according to a “bombshell” new study released on Tuesday.

In a paper published at Energy & Science Engineering, expert and gas industry consultant Touché Howard argues that a much-heralded 2013 study by the University of Texas relied on a faulty measurement instrument, the Bacharach Hi-Flow Sampler (BHFS), causing its findings to low-ball actual emission rates “by factors of three to five.”

“The data reported by the University of Texas study suggest their measurements exhibit this sensor failure, as shown by the paucity of high-emitting observations when the wellhead gas composition was less than 91% CH4, where sensor failures are most likely,” Howard writes, “during follow-up testing, the BHFS used in that study indeed exhibited sensor failure consistent with under-reporting of these high emitters.”

Jamie Henn, communications director for 350.org called Howard’s findings a “bombshell,” adding: “The more we learn about fracking, the worse it is for the environment.”

If Howard is correct, the study throws into question countless other estimates of methane emissions from natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has been hailed as a low-emission energy solution.

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Obama Unveils ‘Biggest Step Ever’ In Climate Fight – Today

What could this biggest step ever be? (Hint: it involves emissions from power plants.) President Obama is set to unveil a major new strategy to combat climate change today, per AFP:

US President Barack Obama will Monday unveil what he called the “biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken” to fight climate change, a sensitive issue central to his legacy.


The White House will release the final version of America’s Clean Power Plan, a set of environmental rules and regulations that will home in on the pollution from the nation’s existing power plants, setting limits on power-plant carbon emissions for the first time.

Plants will have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Laying out how climate change is a threat to the economy, health, wellbeing and security of America, and adding that time was of the essence, Obama said in a video released early Sunday: “Climate change is not a problem for another generation.

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The Mystery of the Kentucky Meat Shower

No, not the third installment of the Magic Mike Trilogy, but something weirder and more wondrous than Channing Tatum’s butt gyrations.


Shower Meat- it’s what’s for dinner. If you’re starving. Or Kentuckian.

Let’s cut the chatter and get right to the- uh- meat of the matter:

According to Today I Found Out,

On March 3, 1876, one Mrs. Crouch was working in her yard in Bath County, Kentucky, making soap, when suddenly “meat which looked like beef began to fall all around her. The sky was perfectly clear at the time.” Falling like large snowflakes and settling all around the 5000 square foot yard, pieces of flesh ranging in size from about two inches square to four, dotted the ground and were even stuck on the fences. When it first appeared, the meat was said to be fresh, and, accordingly, two unidentified (but brave) men even sampled it.

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The Oil Industry is Going Solar


Zachary Shahan writes at Climate Crock of the Week:

There’s no way around it — the future of energy is solar energy. But here’s the fun part: the future starts now.

Solar panels have been on the market for decades, but saying solar panels of today are the same as solar panels of the 1990s is like saying phones of today are like phones of the 1990s. True, you can’t play Tetris on your solar panels or listen to music via them, but who wants to climb onto a record-hot roof to do that anyway? Getting back to the central point here, it’s that the cost of solar has fallen off a cliff, and solar power is increasingly the cheapest option around. (see graph above).

Solar power prices are falling so fast that it’s hard for just about anyone to keep up. Last year, many of us jumped for joy as a record-low solar PPA was signed in Austin, Texas (for 5 cents/kWh).

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EmDrive Back in the News


Paul Gilster via Centauri Dreams:

Martin Tajmar (Dresden University of Technology) offers a paper entitled “Direct Thrust Measurements of an EmDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects” in his presentation on apparent thrust produced by the test device. As he told WIRED (which announced that The ‘impossible’ EmDrive could reach Pluto in 18 months), the current work will not close the story. From the paper itself:

The nature of the thrusts observed is still unclear… Our test campaign can not confirm or refute the claims of the EmDrive but intends to independently assess possible side-effects in the measurements methods used so far. Nevertheless, we do observe thrusts close to the magnitude of the actual predictions after eliminating many possible error sources that should warrant further investigation into the phenomena. Next steps include better magnetic shielding, further vacuum tests and improved EmDrive models with higher Q factors and electronics that allow tuning for optimal operation.

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