Wind power, more than just talk

July 30, 2011

I missed Global Wind Day on June 15 — too much static from the ironically long-winded anti-winders.

Voice of America claims wind power offers great potential.  Climate denialists, used to denying all facts especially if they are hopeful, will deny it any way they think they can.*

These posts are for examples only, and should not be interpreted to mean that the blogs sampled are composed entirely of denials, or that the blog authors and editors are themselves pure denialists — certainly they will deny that.  We will gladly post links to posts at those blogs that promote benefits of harnassing wind energy, if anyone can find them.


Immigration policy in an era of globalization: U.S. needs more immigration, not less

June 11, 2011

Anathema to many partisans of the immigration debates:   What if we look at the real value of immigration?  The U.S. needs more to encourage immigration than to discourage it.  God, and devil, in the details.

From the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank:

In advance of an immigration policy conference, Dallas Fed Senior Economist Pia Orrenius discusses how immigration policy can help the U.S. economy and how the global competition for high-skilled immigrants is increasing. The Dallas Fed and the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University are co-sponsoring “Immigration Policy in an Era of Globalization” at the Dallas Fed on May 19-20, 2011.

This piece had only 329 views when I posted it.  Shouldn’t carefully studied views of immigration get more circulation on the inter’tubes?

Do you recall seeing any coverage of the May 19-20 conference  in your local news outlets, or anywhere else?  The conference included high-faluting experts who discussed immigration policies for the U.S., Canada, the EU, Europe, Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany.  One might think to find some value in the information there.

Can we get the immigration we need, legally?  Do present proposals in Congress offer to boost our economy, or hurt it?

More:


Story of Stuff tackles toxic wastes from modern electronics

November 10, 2010

Economics and environmental science teachers will want to view this and use it —  it may be useful for world geography and world history, too:

Annie Leonard’s group tackles a huge, nasty problem, in an entertaining and informative style.  At her website, The Story of Stuff, there is a lot more information, a more detailed presentation (you could stream it if you have a decent internet connection in your classroom), and ideas for classes.

For AP courses, be sure to look for point-of-view issues; for history, look to the drawbacks of technology; for economics and world history, note the heavy emphasis on global markets and world trade.

It’s almost a rant — but dead right, I think.  We’re all culpable.  Spread the word, will you?

Press release on the film:

FILM RELEASE:

New Story of Stuff Project movie demands a ‘Green Moore’s Law’ in the Electronics Industry

The Story of Electronics:  Why “Designed for the Dump” is Toxic for People and the Planet

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – At midnight Pacific on November 9th The Story of Stuff Project will release The Story of Electronics, an 8-minute animated movie, at http://www.storyofelectronics.org. Hosted by Annie Leonard, the creator of the hit viral video The Story of Stuff, the film takes on the electronics industry’s “design for the dump” mentality and champions product takeback to spur companies to make less toxic, more easily recyclable and longer lasting products.

Co-produced with the Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC)—a national coalition of over 30 environmental and public health organizations—and Free Range Studios, The Story of Electronics employs the trademark Story of Stuff-style to explain ‘planned obsolescence’—products designed to be replaced as quickly as possible—and its often hidden consequences for tech workers, the environment and us.

“Anyone who’s had a cell phone fritz out after six months already knows all about planned obsolescence,” said Ted Smith, Chair of ETBC. “Most of our electronics are laden with problematic substances like lead, mercury, PVC, and brominated flame retardants so when they break it‘s not just a bummer, it’s a global toxic issue. Instead of shipping our toxic trash across the world, product takeback ensures that electronics companies—not individual consumers, our governments, or worse, some poor guy in China—take responsibility for the stuff they put on the shelves.”

The film is being released in advance of the holiday season to get consumers thinking about the costs associated with that latest gadget and to show electronics companies that consumers want products that don’t trash people and the planet.  The film concludes with an opportunity for viewers to send a message to electronics companies demanding that they “make ‘em safe, make ‘em last, and take ‘em back.”

“If we can figure out how to make an iPhone remember where you parked your car,” said Annie Leonard, the Director of The Story of Stuff Project, “then we can figure out how to make electronics that aren’t filled with toxic chemicals and en route to the trash can just months after we buy them. Let’s apply some of that creativity and innovation to making products that are safe and long lasting!”

The Story of Electronics companion website, http://www.storyofelectronics.org, will serve as an interactive launch pad for information and action steps for viewers. The site provides opportunities to learn more about the issue, find safer products and responsible recyclers, and get involved with the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. The site also houses downloadable  resources and information about the film, including an annotated script.

The Story of Electronics is the fourth in a series of new movies that The Story of Stuff Project is releasing this year with Free Range Studios (www.freerangestudios.com) and more than a dozen of the world’s leading sustainability organizations. Our previous short films—The Story of Cap & Trade (December 2009), The Story of Bottled Water (March 2010) and The Story of Cosmetics (July 2010)—have collectively been viewed more than 2.2 million times since their releases.

To schedule an interview with the following experts, contact:
Allison Cook, Story of Stuff Project, at (213) 507-4713 or allison@storyofstuff.org

More, Resources:


Newseum’s interactive map of today’s headlines

June 2, 2010

This is cool.

Pam Harlow, an old friend from American Airlines, and a map and travel buff, e-mailed me with a link to the Newseum’s interactive headline map.  I can’t get a good screen shot to show you — so you gotta go to their site and see it for yourself.

When it comes up in your browser, it features a map of the continental 48 states, with dots marking major daily newspapers across the nation.  Put your pointer on any of those dots and you see the front page of the newspaper for today from that city.

Using the buttons at the top of the map, you can check newspapers on every continent except Antarctica.

How can I use this in class?

Update:  Here’s a screen shot of the Newseum feature:

Newseum's interactive front-page feature - showing the front page of the Idaho Statesman-Journal of Pocatello, Idaho, on December 15, 2013

Newseum’s interactive front-page feature –  on December 15, 2013


Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds poisoned by DDT

May 24, 2010

You can read about it here, at Instapundit.

Reynolds wants DDT back because dengue fever showed up at Key West.  News for Reynolds:  We see it in Texas all the time, but usually among poorer people with Hispanic heritage who live along the Rio Grande.  (Funny how these conservative nutballs all worry about people, so long as they’re white, and rich enough to travel to tropical vacation spots; where’s Reynolds to worry about the people who supply his fruits and vegetables?)

One solution:  Improve health care to cure humans with dengue, and then mosquitoes that spread it have no pool of infection to draw from — mosquito bites become just mosquito bites.

Other preventives:  Drain mosquito breeding areas (tires, flower pots, potholes, etc.) within 50 yards of human habitation.  Mosquitoes don’t fly far, and if they can’t breed where people are, they won’t travel to find human victims.

Stupid, destructive solutions:  Spray DDT.  DDT kills insects, bats and birds that prey on mosquitoes much more effectively than it kills mosquitoes, and mosquitoes evolve resistance faster, and rebreed faster. DDT is especially deadly against brown pelicans — maybe Reynolds figures we don’t need to worry about them any more, since they’re under assault from the oil slick that threatens to kill the estuaries of Louisiana.  Were he concerned about the birds, surely he’d have realized his error, right?

So, why did Glenn Reynolds get stupid about DDT?  Why is he promoting DDT, instead of promoting ways to fight dengue?

____________

But, then, Glenn Reynolds has been a fool for poisoning (anyone but himself) for a long time:

_____________

United Conservatives of Virginia swallow the DDT poison, too.  Don’t these people ever study history?

Transmission of Dengue Fever

Transmission of Dengue Fever

Help Glenn Reynolds recover from DDT poisoning, let others know the facts:

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Kicking U.S. butt even when we’re trying to study their language

May 10, 2010

Who gets the most out of this exchange?

“This country doesn’t value teachers, and that upsets me,” she said. “Teachers don’t earn much, and this country worships making money. In China, teachers don’t earn a lot either, but it’s a very honorable career.”

Ms. Zheng said she spent time clearing up misconceptions about China.

“I want students to know that Chinese people are not crazy,” she said. For instance, one of her students, referring to China’s one-child-per-family population planning policy, asked whether the authorities would kill one of the babies if a Chinese couple were to have twins.

Some students were astonished to learn that Chinese people used cellphones, she said. Others thought Hong Kong was the capital.

Barry Beauchamp, the Lawton superintendent, said he was thrilled to have Ms. Zheng and two other Chinese instructors working in the district. But he said he believed that the guest teachers were learning the most from the cultural exchange.

“Guest Teaching Chinese and Learning America,”  Sam Dillon, New York Times, May 9, 2010, page A14.


Arctic Ocean gives up more methane than scientists predicted

March 4, 2010

Here’s another point of science that will give rational people concern, and which cannot in any way be explained as “no problem” by stolen e-mails:  Methane releases from the floor of the East Siberian Arctic are much larger than predicted.

Methane hydrates releasing methane gas in bubbles in the ocean - i.treehugger image

Underwater methane gas plumes, Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013

Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Frozen forms of methane dot the bottoms of our oceans.  Warming of the oceans might be able to trigger an explosive thawing of the methane hydrates, as the frozen forms are known, seriously adding to our worldwide greenhouse gas problems.

Story here at Global ChangeScience article on which that post is based, here.

Cool SONAR pictures of methane bubbling up from the floor of the Arctic Ocean, but scary once you realize what they are, at this vintage post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Is there any chance this research will merit a mention at the climate denialist blogs?


“The GOP used to be the party of business”

September 10, 2009

Santayana’s Ghost notes there’s an 1852 Whiggy smell about the Republican Party these days.

Thomas L. Friedman writes at the New York Times:

The G.O.P. used to be the party of business. Well, to compete and win in a globalized world, no one needs the burden of health insurance shifted from business to government more than American business. No one needs immigration reform — so the world’s best brainpower can come here without restrictions — more than American business. No one needs a push for clean-tech — the world’s next great global manufacturing industry — more than American business. Yet the G.O.P. today resists national health care, immigration reform and wants to just drill, baby, drill.

“Globalization has neutered the Republican Party, leaving it to represent not the have-nots of the recession but the have-nots of globalized America, the people who have been left behind either in reality or in their fears,” said Edward Goldberg, a global trade consultant who teaches at Baruch College. “The need to compete in a globalized world has forced the meritocracy, the multinational corporate manager, the eastern financier and the technology entrepreneur to reconsider what the Republican Party has to offer. In principle, they have left the party, leaving behind not a pragmatic coalition but a group of ideological naysayers.”

Drum up some business:

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Alaska’s salmon go missing. Why?

August 21, 2009

It’s one of those environmental mysteries that would be fun and intrigueing, were it not so worrisome.

Alaska’s King Salmon disappeared from traditional river runs this year.  Again.

From Reuters:  A sockeye salmon scurries through shallow water in the Adams River while preparing to spawn near Chase, British Columbia northeast of Vancouver October 11, 2006.  REUTERS/Andy Clark

From Reuters: "A sockeye salmon scurries through shallow water in the Adams River while preparing to spawn near Chase, British Columbia northeast of Vancouver October 11, 2006. REUTERS/Andy Clark"

Reasons could be one of many, or several:  Changing ocean currents, pollock fishing accidental catches of salmon, plankton blooms, conditions on the rivers, competition from “ranched” salmon.

Consumers may see only the rise in price and a change in labeling in the supermarket.

Effects on employment and food supply in Alaska are huge, and crippling.

Canada fisheries are affected, too.

Climate change probably plays a role, in any scenario anyone poses:

“It’s quite the shocking drop,” said Stan Proboszcz, fisheries biologist at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “No one’s exactly sure what happened to these fish.”

Salmon are born in fresh water before migrating to oceans to feed. They return as adults to the same rivers to spawn.

Several theories have been put forward to try to explain the sockeye’s disappearance:

* Climate change may have reduced food supply for salmon in the ocean.

* The commercial fish farms that the young Fraser River salmon pass en route to the ocean may have infected them with sea lice, a marine parasite.

* The rising temperature of the river may have weakened the fish.

The Canadian government doesn’t know what’s killing the fish, but believes the sockeye are dying off in the ocean, not in fresh water, based on healthy out-migrations, said Jeff Grout, regional resource manager of salmon for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

In this case, even a small change in climate can have huge effects on ecosystems and specific populations of animals.  It’s one of those climate change issues that climate change skeptics and denialists prefer not to talk about at all.  If, as they allege, concern over climate change is entirely political, driven by bad information and false claims from over-active environmentalists, these problems should not exist at all.

But the problems do exist.  A fishery that had been stable for 50 years previously, the entire time it was tracked so carefully, suddenly becomes fishless.  Watch those rivers and fisheries.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pamela Bumsted.

Help save the salmon; tell others:

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India accepts climate junk science; U.S. suffers

July 25, 2009

It would be good news were it not so bad:  India, usually considered a threat to U.S. dominance in science, has turned its back on climate science and instead, citing junk science claims, rejected overtures to reduce pollution that affects climate.  India appears to have fallen victim to the hoaxters who claim climate change is no big deal.

From the Financial Times:

A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.

India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.

He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.

“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.

As if the atmosphere of the Himalayan range is unaffected by emissions from Europe or Asia.  As if the glaciers in the Himalayas, and the snowfall,  and the water to India’s great rivers, come independent from the rest of the world.

Deadly air pollution obscures the India Gate, New Delhi, India, November 2008 - NowPublic.com

Deadly air pollution obscures the India Gate, New Delhi, India, November 2008 - NowPublic.com

It’s interesting to see these issues play out politically.   India and China both understand that the U.S. and Europe have much more to lose from climate change than either of those nations.  Climate damage to the U.S. wheat belt, for example, would chiefly close off U.S. production of wheat for export, opening markets for others — like India and China.  Critically, such damage also hurts U.S. ability to offset balance of payments issues, providing economic and finance advantages to China’s banks.  U.S. ports are much more vulnerable to climate change damage, from increase storms and changing ocean levels, than are ports in India and China — and there are more ports that are vulnerable in the U.S. and Europe.

India’s inaction and recalcitrance should not be used as justification for the U.S. to do nothing, thereby slitting its own patriotic throat.

But watch:  Climate denialist blogs, “hate-America-first” outlets like World Net Daily, and Osama bin Laden will hail India’s inaction.

Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, lest we run out of cooler heads.

Shake of the old scrub brush to Brown Hell and Watt’s Up With That.

If this is important to you, please share it; click on the button you choose below.

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Fixing education at the top

June 9, 2009

No, Harold Levy doesn’t get it all right.  He’s a former chancellor of schools in New York City, so even if he did manage to get most what he says right, there would be enough people on the other side of some issue to say he did not, that if I compliment him too effusively, someone will say I’m wrong.

Among the greater products of the United States of America — and Canada, let’s face it — is the grand array of nearly 4,000 colleges and universities that set the pace for education in the world.  Our greatest export is education, the idea that education almost by itself can solve many great and vexing issues, the idea that education is a great democratic institution, and the education systems themselves, the methods of education used no matter how little backed by research.

Higher education makes up the better part of what we get right.

In an opposite-editorial page piece in the New York Times today Levy proposes some significant but eminently doable changes in how we work education in high schools and colleges.  Maybe surprising to some, he has good things to say about the University of Phoenix and their $278 million advertising campaign, about high-pressure tactics to reduce truants, and about the GI Bill.


The energy policy speech the candidates should give

September 14, 2008

It emphasizes conservation and development of alternatives, but conservation mostly.  Conservation has already been tried and shown to work.

The crises in Iran and Afghanistan have dramatized a very important lesson: Our excessive dependence on foreign oil is a clear and present danger to our Nation’s security. The need has never been more urgent. At long last, we must have a clear, comprehensive energy policy for the United States.

Sounds like this guy has the proper perspective.  Who advocates a policy designed to keep us from war in the ‘Stans and the Middle East?

Jimmy Carter.  In 1980.  In his State of the Union speech.

Check it out at Patriots and Peoples. Carter’s policy is compared to McCain’s, and Obama’s.

And then consider the price of lost opportunities, and whether we can ever learn enough to avoid the punishing sword of Santayana’s Ghost, when we don’t learn from history.


Rapping physics in the Bathtub

September 3, 2008

Now it’s gone big time, with NPR’s Morning Edition and Pharyngula on the bandwagon, remember you saw the Large Hadron Collider Rap second here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

You saw it first at Tommaso Dorigo’s A Quantum Diaries Survivor.

Geography teachers, have you figured out how to use this in your classrooms yet?

Related NPR stories:


Dr. Doom

August 17, 2008

Alone among economists, Nouriel Roubini of New York University accurately predicted the current economic woes of the United States.

Nouriel Roubini, NYU photo

Nouriel Roubini, NYU photo

Who knew? Do you know anything about what he predicts now?

Read this profile from The New York Times.

Roubini contributes to RGE Monitor.

Other resources:


Particle physics rap: Making the Large Hadron Collider sing

July 30, 2008

In the tradition of Richard Feynman’s ode to orange juice, but spiced with actual information: Tommaso Dorigo at A Quantum Diaries Survivor found a video on YouTube showing a rap about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Katie McAlpine, on temporary assignment to CERN, put the rap and video together in her spare time. (CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research)

The video fills an educational need. It explains some of the work in high-energy particle physics going on there on the border between France and Switzerland.

Will it quiet the internet worries about whether the creation of tiny, disappearing black holes might accidentally lead to the end of the planet? Don’t bet on it.

This video could make a key part of a geography warm-up, noting research in the European Union. CERN’s premier position in nuclear particle research is due to the cancellation in 1993 of the Superconducting Super Collider, which was then under construction near Waxahatchie, Texas. A little bit of digging could produce a lesson plan on government funding of research, especially in nuclear physics, or on geography of such massive cyclotrons, or on the history of particle physics, black holes, or uses for atom splitting.

Other resources:


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