Recent Entries in Eco

  The stars are right

At least if you're in the southern hemisphere. If you're up here, you get a very angry-looking upside-down face.


And Azathoth insanely smiled down on Earth and its sleeping inhabitants, blissfully unaware that they would soon be eaten.

Three brightest objects smile down from the night sky - Telegraph

Over the last week the two planets moved closer together so that they appeared no more than two degrees apart, which equates to a finger's width when held out at arm's length.

As they were joined by the moon on Monday night photographers around the world â.. from Bangkok to Kenya â.. captured the image.

"This certainly is an unusual coincidence for the crescent moon to be right there in the days when they are going to be closest together," said Alan MacRobert, senior editor of Sky and Telescope magazine.

  The Methane Timebomb

Slightly disturbing news on the climate change front.

Exclusive: The methane time bomb - Climate Change, Environment - The Independent

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

  All about hurricanes

Cool information from Mental Floss about hurricanes. Good to know with all the recent meteorological occurrences going on these days.

mental_floss Blog - How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names? (And Other FAQs)

Military meteorologists started giving female names to storms during World War II, and in 1950 the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) adopted the method. The WMO devised a system of rotating, alphabetical names. (Names can be retired at WMO meetings by request from a nation that has been hit by the storm. The name is then not used for 10 years, which makes historic references and insurance claims easier.)

In 1979, the system was given a dose of political correctness: male names were added to the list, as were French and Spanish names, reflecting the languages of the nations affected by hurricanes.

Today, the WMO uses six lists of 21 names (Q, U, X, Y and Z names are not used) that it cycles through every six years, with the gender of the seasonâ..s first storm alternating year to year, and genders alternating through the rest of the hurricane season. If there are more than 21 named storms in a year, as there were in 2005, the rest of the storms are named for letters in the Greek alphabet.

Occasionally, a storm suffers something of an identity crisis and has its name changed. This happens when a storm crosses from one ocean to another, or if it dies down and then redevelops.

Aw, come on, this is funny.

Think Progress - Global warming deniers forced to cancel meeting due to Tropical Storm Fay.

This week, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) planned to have town hall meetings in Ft. Myers and West Palm Beach, FL. As the Wonk Roomâ..s Brad Johnson notes, â..AFP is a front group for the right-wing pollution company Koch Industries, with an agenda of attacking â warming alarmismâ.. and promoting increased offshore drilling.â. In an ironic twist, AFP has canceled its meetings because of Tropical Storm Fay.

Bush is such a dick.

President George Bush: 'Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter' - Telegraph

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

Mr Bush, whose second and final term as President ends at the end of the year, then left the meeting at the Windsor Hotel in Hokkaido where the leaders of the world's richest nations had been discussing new targets to cut carbon emissions.

  No ice at the North Pole

Well, this isn't very good.

Exclusive: No ice at the North Pole - Climate Change, Environment - The Independent


It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic â.. and worrying â.. examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

"From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water," said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.

Of course, Fox News goes on about how cool it will be to be able to sail to the North Pole:

The unique prospect of sailing in open waters at the North Pole during the minimum ice cover in August and September has about a 50-50 chance of becoming reality, says one climate scientist's prediction holds true.

This is terrible. I love teff. I wonder what it'll mean for getting it here in North America.

Israel's Ethiopians Forced to Give Up Traditional Bread

Tens of thousands of the expatriates are being forced to abandon their traditional diets because of the skyrocketing cost of teff grain.

Teff, a nutritious and hardy cereal domesticated in Ethiopia thousands of years ago, is the primary ingredient in injera, a round flatbread that accompanies most Ethiopian meals.

A drastic shortage has caused the price of teff to jump by some 300 percent over the past year.

  Rating the pain

The Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index is a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by different kinds of stings. Like the Scoville scale, which measures the heat index of chili peppers, the Schmidt Pain Index increases as the pain does. His descriptions are rather like trying to define the various flavours in a glass of wine, and bring horrific imagery to the index.

The J-Walk Blog: Rating The Sting Pain (Comments)

Case in point:

2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.

  Breathing Earth

Very cool "live" map of the Earth, showing births, deaths, and CO2 emissions per country, based on statistical information.



Huh oh!

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Vast cracks appear in Arctic ice

According to another scientist on the expedition, Dr Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa, the new cracks fit into a pattern of change in the Arctic.

"We're seeing very dramatic changes; from the retreat of the glaciers, to the melting of the sea ice.

"We had 23% less (sea ice) last year than we've ever had, and what's happening to the ice shelves is part of that picture."

When ice shelves break apart, they drift offshore into the ocean as "ice islands", transforming the very geography of the coastline.

Yes, it's a great headline, but not what you might think.

Actually SFW.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Great tits cope well with warming

Researchers found that great tits are laying eggs earlier in the spring than they used to, keeping step with the earlier emergence of caterpillars.

Writing in the journal Science, they point out that the same birds in the Netherlands have not managed to adjust.

  Dirty keyboards

I've often thought about the kind of crap that's on my keyboard. But what can I, as just one person, do about this horrible problem?

BBC NEWS | UK | Keyboards 'dirtier than a toilet'

Consumer group Which? said tests at its London offices found equipment carrying bugs that could cause food poisoning.

Out of 33 keyboards swabbed, four were regarded as a potential health hazard and one harboured five times more germs than one of the office's toilet seats.

Microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson said a keyboard was often "a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut".

The only bad part about this is you can't buy it in Canada. It fits 20 cases of beer, dammit!


ZENN Motor Company

Here's a pretty awesome electric motorcycle that uses advanced gyros for steering and speed control. I think I want one.


mental_floss Blog - The Uno

Yikes! Literally. It won't be long before they start experimenting with atomic-powered supermen.

China down to 12 days of coal stocks - earth - 23 April 2008 - New Scientist Environment

At the end of a cold and stormy winter, the country has just 12 days of coal reserves at most power stations. Some provinces, including Hebei, bordering Beijing, have less than a week's coal left. This is a record low, the state electricity regulatory commission revealed on Tuesday.

China relies on burning coal for 70% of its electricity. Even though Chinese coal production in the first quarter of this year was up almost 15% on the same period last year, it has apparently not been enough to meet rapidly growing demand.

Coal imports, which started last year, have also failed to meet the difference between supply and demand. Such is the demand for power from an economy that has been growing by 10% a year for more than two decades.

Yes, but what does it say about eating at your local Denny's?

"Eating Local" Has Little Effect on Warming, Study Says

On average, food racks up about 1,000 food miles (or 1,650 "food kilometers") traveling from farms to processing or packaging plants before reaching Americans' dinner plates, the study estimates.

The whole supply chainâ..including delivering grains to feed cattle and delivering fuel to farms, for exampleâ..adds another 4,200 miles (6,750 kilometers).

Yet all that shipping, driving, and flying accounts for only a sliver of foods' climate impactâ..just 11 percent of the totalâ..compared with the impact from producing the food itself, the study showed.

Well, this did what it was expected to, I guess, though I don't think we actually saved a lot of resources in the long run. For that, every day should have an Earth Hour.

If the effect was to increase awareness, then that's good. If it was to instill some good conservation habits in hydro users, that's something we can't really determine at this point.

If you're a slob like myself, you should at least sign up with Bullfrog Power. This way, the more electricity you use, the more attention you can attract to alternate energy providers. That's what I keep telling myself when I turn on another light. | Earth Hour | Toronto hits energy target

Toronto hit its energy reduction target during Earth Hour, as thousands of residents and businesses made a clear statement about climate change.

Just before 9 oâ..clock, the meter at the Toronto Hydro control centre hit a low of 2,738 megawatts - 5 per cent below the demand an hour earlier and about 8.7 per cent less than a typical late March Saturday night.

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