Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sustainability News for the week ending June 4, 2011: National commercial sources

Earlier today, I wrote:
I'll split this into two parts for a grand total of three, with the stories from commercial sources in the next part, which I'll post presently.
Time for part three of this week's linkspam. All of these stories were orginally posted at Daily Kos in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Endeavour lands, Atlantis rolls out edition), as were nearly all the stories in part one and all the stories in part two.

Wow, three posts in one day--looks like I'm not so burned out any more.  I guess taking a couple days off helped!

General Sustainability

Green diary rescue: Delay in toxin regulation will kill
by Meteor Blades

Green Diary Rescue is a regular Saturday feature at Daily Kos. Inclusion of a particular diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement with it.
Green Diary Rescue is a digest of all the primarily environmental diaries on Daily Kos from the preceding week. If you want to see a good sample of what national progressive activists are writing about the environment and the issues that concern them, this series is a good place to start.

Reuters: EPA seen delaying rules on greenhouse gases
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON | Fri Jun 3, 2011 12:45pm EDT

Facing opposition from Republicans and many in the energy industry, the Environmental Protection Agency will likely delay proposing rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, expected in July, by at least a month, sources said.

"We would not be surprised if it does not come out at the end of July, if it slips by a month or so," a source at an environmental think tank, who works with states and federal agencies on strategies to tackle climate change, and wished to remain anonymous, said Thursday.

The EPA said late last year it would propose rules on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants -- known as performance standards -- in July. It plans to set rules on oil refineries in December.
Welcome to a political decision that is trying to balance economy and the environment.

Environment, including science and technology

Tonight, I'm not even going to make you guess the theme that developed all by itself; it's what ancient climates can tell us about modern and future climates. My original scientific training is as a geologist, which means that I'm intimately familiar with the concept of uniformitarianism, which states that anything observed in nature can be explained by modern processes acting over enough time. The slogan version of this is "the present is the key to the past." The flip side of this slogan is that understanding the past allows one to understand the future as well.

Discovery News: Under the Ice, Antarctic Land Comes Into Focus
Analysis by John D. Cox
Fri Jun 3, 2011 03:16 PM ET

Employing new ice-penetrating radar over a key area of Earth's largest body of ice, scientists are able to see a vast expanse of mountainous terrain and fjords that were carved by flowing glaciers when sea levels were some 200 feet higher than today.

The shape of this landscape beneath a broad region of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet known as the Aurora Subglacial Basin is critically valuable to researchers trying to figure out how quickly -- and when -- the ice burying this land will respond to rising air and sea temperatures in a warming world.

The first map of this previously uncharted region has been developed by an international research team led by geophysicist Duncan A. Young of the University of Texas at Austin and published this week in the journal Nature. Collaborators included British and Australian scientists.
The Daily Journal: Scientists dig for hints of ancient hurricanes
Paleotempestologist leads project on Pine Island site

A sea turtle bone protruded from the wall of an archaeological excavation at the Pineland Site Complex on Pine Island.

That bone, along with other evidence found in the pit, might prove that an intense hurricane pounded the island 1,700 years ago, said University of Florida graduate student Melissa Ayvaz, who is conducting the excavation.

"We have evidence from one portion of the site that most likely a storm happened, but we don't know the extent of it," Ayvaz said. "My work is to characterize the extent of the storm and determine if it was one event or multiple events."
Earth Times: Climate change killed off Viking settlement on Greenland
Posted Tue, 31 May 2011 14:50:00 GMT by Colin Ricketts

Climate change - although it was cooling rather than warming - probably helped end the Viking settlements on Greenland according to the latest evidence discovered by a Brown University team of researchers.

The team, who publish their research in the new edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), have taken the first historical survey of temperatures where the so-called Vikings of the so-called Western Settlement lived by using measurements from two lakes in Kangerlussuaq which have enabled them to reconstruct 5,600 years of climate change.

The Norse settlers on Greenland disappeared some time in the late 14th or early 15th centuries and there is no written evidence of why the colony vanished and archaeology has so far been unable to come up with all the answers.

Now climate scientists say that the Little Ice Age of the 15th Century which was previously thought to be one of the reasons why the settlement failed was preceded by an earlier cooling.
This story is particularly apt for this blog, as it is one of the examples used by Jared Diamond in his book Collapse of a society that responded inappropriately to environmental stress, in this case, climate change.

Society, including culture and politics

Science News: Information flow can reveal dirty deeds
Analysis of Enron e-mails reveals structure of corrupt networks
By Rachel Ehrenberg
Web edition : Friday, June 3rd, 2011
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Political thrillers that portray a “web of corruption” get it all wrong, at least according to an analysis of e-mails between Enron employees. The flow of the famously corrupt corporation’s electronic missives suggests that dirty dealings tend to transpire through a sparse, wheel-and-spoke network rather than a highly connected web.

Employees who were engaged in both legitimate and shady projects at the company conveyed information much differently when their dealings were illicit, organizational theorist Brandy Aven of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh reported June 1 at an MIT workshop on social networks. The distinction is visible in the network of e-mails among employees, which takes the shape of a wheel with a central hub and isolated spokes when content is corrupt, rather than a highly connected net of exchanges.
There are technological and economic aspects to this, as well as social, so I could have placed this article under general sustainability (after all, Enron is a watchword for an unsustainable business model and it was an energy company), but I decided that this was primarily a social story and the economic and technological aspects were secondary. These findings might just apply to any criminal conspiracy, regardless of the goal and technology used.

Speaking of corruption...

Reuters via The Daily Star (Lebanon): Egypt’s revolution may save neolithic site
June 03, 2011 02:15 AM
By Patrick Werr

LAKE QARUN, Egypt: Egypt’s popular uprising may have arrived just in time to save a Neolithic site that holds the country’s oldest evidence of agriculture and could yield vital clues to the rise of Pharaonic civilization.

The site lies in a protected nature reserve along the shore north of Lake Qarun that until recently had remained untouched, even though it lies only 70 kilometers from fast-expanding Cairo.

A month before the protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak erupted in January, the Egyptian government carved 2.8 square kilometers of prime land from the reserve and awarded it to property developer Amer Group for a tourist resort.

Since Mubarak was ousted, three government ministers who sat on a committee that approved the sale have been jailed, while they battle corruption charges not related to the Amer deal.
Here, the social reform has helped with the preservation of a cultural and scientific resource.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Racism still contaminating science
May 30, 2011
By Faye Flam, Inquirer Staff Writer

When a Psychology Today magazine blog appeared under the headline "Why Are African American Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?", some dismissed it as an isolated incident of racism and misogyny creeping into science. But history shows that racism has poisoned certain areas of science intermittently for several hundred years.

Here in Philadelphia in the early 1800s, one of the world's leading anthropologists, Samuel Morton, was measuring human skulls and using his results to justify the continued enslavement of Africans. "Physical anthropology played a very large role in ways by which race and the institution of slavery was seen - and was either supported or argued against," said Princeton anthropologist Alan Mann.
Yet another example of how science is a social enterprise with all of the advantages and disadvantages that entails.


Reuters: Exclusive: Dow Chemical delays launch of solar shingle
By Ernest Scheyder
NEW YORK | Fri Jun 3, 2011 1:40pm EDT

Dow Chemical Co has delayed the launch of its Powerhouse solar shingle until the fourth quarter.

The new timing means the largest U.S. chemical maker will miss the 2011 summer construction season and have to wait until 2012 to see if the solar shingle, which is installed on roofs like ordinary shingles and can generate electricity from sunlight, will be popular with roofers.

Dow said last fall it expected the solar shingle to be available in some U.S. markets by the middle of 2011.

"Previously announced launch timing for the Powerhouse solar shingles represented early estimates which have continually been refined to reveal that fourth quarter is the best time for our market introduction," Dow told Reuters on Friday.
Reuters: Ford plans its smallest engine ever
By Deepa Seetharaman
DEARBORN, Michigan | Thu Jun 2, 2011 4:03pm EDT

Ford Motor Co is developing its smallest engine ever as part of its push to wring out greater fuel savings as gasoline prices rise and federal standards on fuel economy grow stricter.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker will introduce a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine within the next two years. The engine will have the same performance as the widely used four-cylinder engine, but would save more fuel and lower emissions, Ford said.

"We just keep trying to find fuel economy improvements," Derrick Kuzak, Ford's head of product development, said on Thursday. "The only way you keep doing that is by finding new technologies and attention to detail."
Both of these are Michigan companies, even if the first story had New York as part of its dateline.

That concludes this week's linkspam. Now time to find something worth linking from Kunstler's blog. ETA: It's up.

Detroit as a travel destination? The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times think so.

No comments:

Post a Comment