Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spill Baby Spill Takes A Turn For The Worse

So I've been fooling myself into thinking that at least there's a silver lining to the Louisiana oil rig explosion and leak in that it will give pause to advocates of increased off shore drilling.

Now word comes that the leak remains uncontained and continues to spread rapidly. This picture is from April 25 so just imagine that slick bigger and closer to shore...The image is from a NASA MODIS instrument (follow the link for more info).

The latest word is even more troubling, we're going to turn Spill Baby Spill into Burn Baby Burn. Is there any way this is actually a good idea? Burning off an oil slick just doesn't seem like the best way to deal with it to me. I suppose that the folks making the decision know what they're doing, but then again do we have any evidence that they do?

That does bring me back to the fact that this incident demonstrates exactly why we shouldn't be drilling for oil along our shorelines.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Green It Up

So I threw together some 30 second videos for the Nicholas School's Green In 3 video contest. Needless to say I didn't win, some dude with a helicopter did, but I thought I would share all the same...

Worth mentioning that the best thing I saw associated with this project was one of the countless posters advertising it on Duke's campus with "waste less paper" scrawled on it. Brilliant, and oh so apropos.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I finally have the internet at my house again- and now I have time to find totally rad videos like this one:

Mine Fuenerals

I have some major issues with coal mining and coal power, but that doesn't prevent me from feeling for the families of the miner's killed recently in West Virgina.

President Obama attended the service for the 29 miners who lost their lives in the tragedy, and his attendance has received plenty of media attention. You know who wasn't able to attend the service? Friends of the victims who work in mines owned by Massey Energy, owner and operator of the mine in question no less. Seems that Massey told the folks working in their non-union mines that they better show up for work instead of attending the funerals...

Makes me wonder how the safety levels and precautions in Massey's mines compare to unionized ones? The violations that Massey has racked up recently, and since the deaths in one of its mines are a good spot to start.

(via TP)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Still The Best Thing On The Internet

XKCD continues its excellence, and not just in making me laugh...

As the scroll over says(you'll need to click through to be able to see it), mapping and exploring what's already hear is pretty exciting and important. We still have better maps of the Moon than we do of the bottom of the oceans, which only cover about 70% of the Earth's surface.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Breaking The Ban - Go F*ck Yourself Fox News

So we have an un-official ban on embedding Comedy Central shows on this blog because their code sucks and they pulled out of Hulu.

Of course when I went to embed this video to share with you it didn't work, so I won't send you to Comedy Central's site but another one where you can watch Jon Stewart lay it down...

Navy Goes Green

The Navy will be flying some of its F-18's on a biofuel blend for Earth Day. It isn't just a stunt either, the Department of Defense is very interested in alternative fuel sources that reduce it's reliance on foreign oil and increase the military's efficiency.

The changes eventually could spread to civilian life. The size of the military's investment will create economies of scale that help bring down the costs of renewable energy, and military innovations in energy technologies could spread to civilian uses, just as the Internet did. In addition, military innovations could help reduce the nation's overall emissions of heat-trapping gases from fossil fuel use.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the Defense Department looks at energy changes as "one of America's big strategic imperatives — to reduce our reliance on foreign sources of fossil energy, to make us better war fighters and to get us more down the road to energy independence. We also feel the military can lead in this regard."

He said there also were added benefits — "making us better stewards of the environment and helping our country move toward a different economy, which we cannot afford to fall behind in."

Make sure to read the whole article which details some of the other service's plans. The military is big enough and burns enough fossil fuel that its reductions alone are noteworthy, but what's really exciting is the potential for trailblazing for the public. If alternative fuel sources and increased efficiency are good for the military aren't they good for the rest of us as well?

(via BD)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pick A Font, Any Font

So I still can't get huge infographics to show up in blogger right. I'll put this one up and see what happens, I recommend clicking on the image to get taken to a full view of it.

A nifty little tool for choosing a font from Julian Hansen via JB's FB page...

Read This Now - Tea Party Nonesense Is Overblown

Could we get back to reporting on stuff that actually matters instead of hearing over and over again about a bunch of misinformed, angry, outspoken, individuals who really aren't representative of any large chunk of the electorate?

Oh wait, given our mainstream media why am I even bothering to ask this question?

At least E.J. Dionne managed to make this point in a major outlet, the WaPo's op-ed page...

The Tea Party is nothing new. It represents a relatively small minority of Americans on the right end of politics, and it will not determine the outcome of the 2010 elections.

In fact, both major parties stand to lose if they accept the laughable notion that this media-created protest movement is the voice of true populism. Democrats will spend their time chasing votes they will never win. Republicans will turn their party into an angry and narrow redoubt with no hope of building a durable majority.

The news media's incessant focus on the Tea Party is creating a badly distorted picture of what most Americans think and is warping our policy debates. The New York Times and CBS News thus performed a public service last week with a careful study of just who is in the Tea Party movement.

He goes on, so be sure to check out the whole piece. It's also worth clicking through the link Dionne offers to the survey story.

Then again, who reads the WaPo op-eds these days...

(via TPL)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Towards Better Aqualculture

Our oceans are rapidly running out of fish, bluefin being just the most publicized example. Aquaculture has long seemed as though it might hold the key to the future, not only of seafood, but of feeding a growing world as well.

Unfortunately most aquaculture is rife with issues, chief among them the fact that even the most efficient operations must feed their fish two or more pounds for every pound that the fish puts on. Add to this the fact that much of that feed comes from wild caught seafood that is just lower on the food chain and aquaculture is pretty much shot before you even get to pollution and antibiotics use issues.

True there are some forms that are pretty good, vegetarian fish kept in inland closed containers can do quite well. Also most shellfish aquaculture is quite good and can help return depleted stocks and the ecosystem services they provide to impaired water bodies.

At this years TED Talks Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill Farms told of another way...

The Veta la Palma site is here, go poke around (I even gave you the English version link). I haven't had the chance to really look into yet, but I'm willing to take Barber's word for it to a large extent, the dude does good work.

Read This Now - Darkening Skies

A couple of cool pieces on the Icelandic volcano...

Der Spiegel has a nice overview on the volcano itself, why the ash is such a problem, and touches on the issues for airlines.

NRC Handelsblad says this is nothing compared to the 1783 Icelandic eruption, which killed 10,000 Icelanders and led to famine and revolution in Europe proper.

And Alain de Botten imagines a world without planes for the BBC while stuck at Heathrow...

The wise elders would explain that inside the aircraft, passengers, who had only paid the price of a few books for the privilege, would impatiently and ungratefully shut their window blinds to the views, would sit in silence next to strangers while watching films about love and friendship - and would complain that the food in miniature plastic beakers before them was not quite as tasty as the sort they could prepare in their own kitchens.

Anyone want to try and pronounce Eyjafjallajokull? (that o should have an umlaut over it)

(via BOTM)

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Best Thing About Sarah Palin

Probably the only good thing actually, is that as long as Palin is on TV we'll keep getting Tina Fey SNL appearances...

Read This Now - Catching Up

I've been on the run and busy with end of the semester commitments and deadlines of late, so I really shouldn't be taking the time to catch up on my NYT reading but I did anyway...

Last Thursday's piece on Eliot Spitzer's life after scandal is worth a look, while I don make a habit of reading his Slate column, when I have I've enjoyed it. Overall he seems to be doing pretty alright, and I do think it's a shame that he isn't able to be more involved in revamping our financial regulation morass.

Last week's lead Business article seemed a bit out of date leading with From AT&T, at-Home Cellular 'Towers', when we've had a Verizon one for about 6 months now as have several of our family and friends. Skimming the article appears to be more about AT&T's network problems and the iphone. Once again it looks like the outside headline writer probably screwed the pooch a bit.

And Bullet Trains are hot in China, and they'd like to help the US get on board. I haven't read this piece from last Thursday's Business section yet, but high speed rail is an integral part of our future travel and energy portfolio and just manning up and getting help with the technology from any one of the countries who do it quite well (Japan, France, and Spain come to mind as well) could get the US there much more quickly.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fisheries Management That Works

It should come to no surprise to you that America, and the World's, fisheries management has a pretty poor track record.

Particularly disheartening has been the recent failure to protect bluefin tuna under the CITES convention, which was seen by many as the last ditch effort.

There was good news this week for a change though. From the Chesapeake Bay comes the news that blue crab populations increased by 70% from 2008 to 2009. While the Bay itself still suffers from a myriad of pollution issues the bounce back for one of the Bay's iconic fisheries is welcome news.

You want to know what the difference was? Virginia finally banned the taking of pregnant female blue crabs during the winter.

To a large extent fisheries management is made much more difficult than it needs to be. If you catch all the pregnant females, the population will decrease dramatically and won't be able to recover, that shouldn't be hard to understand or figure out.

Admittedly, making sure that watermen don't lose their livelihood and protecting working waterfronts are also important considerations, but if we run out of fish then it ceases to matter whether regulations are popular or not or what level of hardship they impose.

The Bay saw great success with the complete moratorium on rockfish in the late 1980's which led to a fairly complete recovery and thriving commercial and recreational fisheries. With some luck the new crab rules, which are already proving effective, will be similarly successful in the long run.

You should also check out the 2009 Bay Barometer Report, they made videos to make it easier to digest.