Archive for March, 2009

Bicycles + Colored Chalk = The prettiest revolution ever

March 31, 2009

I have yet to see this in the streets of Brooklyn, but a local product development firm, Studio Geraldi, has come up with Contrail – a device that attaches to the rear of your bike and deposits a colorful streak of chalk to the back tire as you ride along to your destination. This is how they put it:

“As you ride, contrail leaves a faint chalk line behind your bike. The goal is to encourage a new cycle of biking participation by allowing the biking community to leave a unique mark on the road and to reclaim this crucial shared space.”

I’m guessing that mass production will take a while (the project was a finalist/not a winner of the Design21 “Power to the Pedal” design competition last year) but I can’t imagine a better way to mark your territory and sure beats the gasoline stains on my street from the auto shop next door.

Article here.


Ban the Bottle! Skip the Styrofoam! Pack Your Sigg!

March 31, 2009

Ban the Bottle! Skip the Styrofoam! Pack Your Sigg! These are more than just empty slogans around UC Berkeley, which has just taken additional steps to encourage students to frequent local water fountains on campus instead of purchasing plastic, disposable water bottles. The I Heart Tap Water Campaign is promoting reusable water bottles and is making it easier to use them.

Article here.

NPR Sees Spike In Audience

March 31, 2009

As major news broadcasters are struggling with declining audiences, National Public Radio just released numbers showing it’s bucking that trend. NPR says its audience has grown to an all-time high.


Bag a Polar Bear for $35,000: the New Threat to the Species

March 31, 2009

Boyd Warner TREASURES the memory of killing his 1st polar bear. It was 2003. For days he had stalked his prey on the frozen wastelands north of Pond Inlet, one of Canada’s most isolated Inuit communities deep inside the Arctic Circle. His dog team picked up the scent of an 8ft adult male & they hurtled over the ice: the hunt was on.

“It was one of those beautiful Arctic days,” recalled Mr Warner. “We’d had about 14 hrs of sunlight and were completely surrounded by nature. “The moment of death comes QUICKLY for the bear”… USUALLY with a shot to the heart just behind the bear’s fore leg. “You might track one for days through the ice but a single shot to the heart kills IT instantly.”

For WEALTHY modern-day TROPHY hunters, ‘bagging’ a polar bear is the ultimate kill.
14 days in harsh conditions, requiring dog-sleds, Inuit guides & a heated tent camp, does not come cheap: the minimum bill comes to $35,000 (£24,000).

The latest US-led scientific surveys suggest that up to 2/3 of ALL POLAR BEARS could be LOST by 2050 – bringing the sustainability of hunting into question.

Article here.

Dirty ships may have to clean up act when closer to shore.

March 31, 2009

Change for ships could equal taking millions of cars off road.

Thousands of big ships calling at the Port of Houston each year would switch to cleaner low-sulfur fuel once they move within 230 miles of the coast under federal rules announced Monday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed the standards to curb harmful emissions from oceangoing vessels at the nation’s ports.

The new rules would cut the sulfur content of the fuels ships use in controlled areas along coasts by 98 percent over the next decade, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said at a news conference at Port Newark in New Jersey.

“This is an important—and long overdue — step in our efforts to protect the air and water along our shores, and the health of the people in our coastal communities,” Jackson said.

The proposed rules would have a significant effect on the bustling Port of Houston, where more than 8,000 vessels called last year, including tankers, container ships and cruise ships. The port is one of the reasons why the region’s air ranks among the nation’s dirtiest.

The switch to a fuel with less sulfur, as proposed by the EPA, would be the equivalent of eliminating 6 million cars that meet current emissions standards from Houston’s roads, according to a newly released report by a coalition of environmental and public health groups.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Elena Craft, a Houston-based air quality specialist for the Environmental Defense Fund. “It will be the most effective emissions reduction effort we have, and the beauty is that it doesn’t require us to do anything but ask for these restrictions.

Article here.

Do the Secret Bush Memos Amount to Treason? Top Constitutional Scholar Says Yes

March 31, 2009

In early March, more shocking details emerged about George W. Bush legal counsel John Yoo’s memos outlining the destruction of the republic.

The memos lay the legal groundwork for the president to send the military to wage war against U.S. citizens; take them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress.

It was as if Milton’s Satan had a law degree and was establishing within the borders of the United States the architecture of hell.

Article here.

Shampoo in the water supply triggers growth of deadly drug-resistant bugs

March 31, 2009

Fabric softeners, disinfectants, shampoos and other household products are spreading drug-resistant bacteria around Britain, scientists have warned. Detergents used in factories and mills are also increasing the odds that some medicines will no longer be able to combat dangerous diseases.

The warning has been made by Birmingham and Warwick university scientists, who say disinfectants and other products washed into sewers and rivers are triggering the growth of drug-resistant microbes. Soil samples from many areas have been found to contain high levels of bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes, the scientists have discovered – raising fears that these may have already been picked up by humans.

“Every year, the nation produces 1.5m tonnes of sewage sludge and most of that is spread on farmland,” said Dr William Gaze of Warwick University. That sludge contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria whose growth is triggered by chemicals in detergents, he explained. “In addition, we pump 11bn litres of water from houses and factories into our rivers and estuaries every day, and these are also spreading resistance.”

Article here.

How Much Oil Is Left?

March 31, 2009

World oil demand is surging as supplies approach their limits.

“Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline.”

Forecasts of peak oil are highly controversial – not because anyone thinks oil will last forever, but because no one really knows how much oil remains underground and thus how close we are to reaching the halfway point.

So-called oil pessimists contend that a peak is imminent or has actually arrived, hidden behind day-to-day fluctuations in production.

Optimists, by contrast, insist the turning point is decades away, because the world has so much oil yet to be tapped or even discovered, as well as huge reserves of “unconventional” oil, such as the massive tar-sand deposits in western Canada.

When the International Energy Agency released a forecast showing global oil demand rising more than a third by 2030, to 116 million barrels a day, several oil-company executives voiced doubts that production could ever keep pace.

French oil giant Total, flatly declared that the “optimistic case” for maximum daily output was 100 million barrels—meaning global demand could outstrip supply before 2020.

Royal Dutch Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of “easy-to-access” oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.

Discovery rates – Oil can’t be pumped from the ground until it has been found, and yet the volume discovered each year has steadily fallen since the early 1960s.

Political and Economic factors above ground, rather than geologic ones below, are the main obstacles to raising output.

War-torn Iraq is said to have huge underground oil reserves, yet because of poor security, it produces about a fifth as much as Saudi Arabia does.

And in countries such as Venezuela and Russia, foreign oil companies face restrictive laws that hamper their ability to develop new wells and other infrastructure.

“The issue over the medium term is not whether there is oil to be produced, but rather how to overcome political obstacles to production.”

Article here.

Cattle Ranchers Poisoning African Lions

March 30, 2009

The African lion is in danger of becoming extinct, with a population that’s diminished by as much as 85 percent over the past 20 years. As Bob Simon reports, cattle ranchers are poisoning them with a cheap American pesticide to protect their herds.

Watch video here.


March 29, 2009

This is great

Vodpod videos no longer available.