Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Quantum Factor" – Apr 10, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Galaxies, Universe, Intelligent design, Benevolent design, Aliens, Nikola Tesla (Quantum energy), Inter-Planetary Travel, DNA, Genes, Stem Cells, Cells, Rejuvenation, Shift of Human Consciousness, Spontaneous Remission, Religion, Dictators, Africa, China, Nuclear Power, Sustainable Development, Animals, Global Unity.. etc.) - (Text Version)


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“… 4 - Energy (again)


The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much….”



"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)
Google: Earthday 2013
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Friday, May 29, 2015

New species of human ancestor found in Ethiopia

Yahoo – AFP, Richard Ingham, 28 May 2015

A representative model of the skeleton "Lucy" at the opening of the new permanent
exhibition at the National Museum of Ethiopia on December 3, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Zacharias Abubeker)

Paris (AFP) - In 1974, anthropologists in Ethiopia found the astonishing fossilised remains of a human-like creature who last walked the planet some 3.2 million years ago.

Was "Lucy," as the hominid was called, the direct ancestor of Homo sapiens? Was she "The Mother of Mankind," as some headlines claimed?

Over the years, the dramatic assertion has come under attack by doubters, who point to ancient yet inconclusive finds in Kenya and Chad.

But a new fossil, reported on Wednesday, may have dealt Lucy's claimed status an irreversible blow.

Another species of hominid lived at the same time and in the same Afar region of Ethiopia, according to the paper, published in the journal Nature.

Named Australopithecus deyiremeda, the hominid and Lucy are probably only part of a wider group of candidates for being our direct forerunners, the finders said.

"The new species is yet another confirmation that Lucy's species, Australopithecus afarensis, was not the only potential human ancestor species that roamed in what is now the Afar," said Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

"Current fossil evidence... clearly shows that there were at least two, if not three, early human species living at the same time and in close geographic proximity."

The find, in the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region, comprises fossilised remains of an upper and lower jaw, dated to a range of 3.3-3.5 million years ago.

This overlaps with the range given to Lucy, of 2.9-3.8 million years ago.

The bones are clearly different from Lucy's, with teeth of different size, shape and enamel thickness and a more robust lower jaw, said the study.

They were found in March 2011 on top of silty clay in the Burtele area, about 500 kilometres (325 miles) northeast of Addis Ababa and 35 km north of Hadar, where Lucy was found.

The estimated age is derived from radioactive dating of the soil and "paleomagnetic" data, which traces changes in Earth's magnetic field, recorded in iron-bearing sediment, as a calendar.

The name "deyiremeda" means "close relative" in the language of the Afar people.

Heated debate

Understanding the human odyssey has always been a fraught business, complicated by the rarity of fossil finds and sometimes fierce squabbles about where -- or even if -- they should be placed in the family tree.

The same team had previously found the 3.4-million-year remains of a foot in the same region, but were unable to assign the fossil to a particular hominid species.

"Some of our colleagues are going to be skeptical about this new species, which is not unusual," Haile-Selassie admitted.

"However, I think it is time that we look into the earlier phases of our evolution with an open mind and carefully examine the currently available fossil evidence rather than immediately dismissing the fossils that do not fit our long-held hypotheses."

Only a week earlier, anthropologists shook the coveted position held by Homo habilis, the hominid deemed to have come before Homo sapiens.

Habilis -- "handy man" in Latin -- has traditionally been enshrined as a benchmark of hominid smartness, endowed with a bigger brain and greater dexterity than his predecessors.

But earlier hominids may have had some of his skills, if the May 20 study is right.

It reported finding the world's oldest stone tools in northwestern Kenya.

The implements date back to around 3.3 million years ago, which is some 500,000 years before Habilis emerged and 700,000 years before the first known Habilis tools.

Related Articles:


Several hundred thousand years ago, Humans began to form into the Human that you recognize today. That's just yesterday. Don't confuse this with Human development. You have had that going on for a very long time. But the DNA that is within your body is not the DNA that developed naturally on the planet. Yours is outside of the system of Earth-based evolutionary processes, and the scientists are starting to see this. The "missing link" that they speak of is not Human.

So again, we tell you that the ones who came to help seed you approximately 100,000 to 200,000 Earth years ago were the Pleiadians who had gone into graduate status and who had changed consciousness. They had become quantum with free choice, and you have parts of their DNA within you.

New information for you: The seeding process was not a one-time event. This is why we give you these large sections of time where the Pleiadians worked with you. It was done over time and in many places. It was not all simultaneous, and this was for reasons that will remain unknown to you for now, but will later explain why you will find other Human types that now are extinct. Now you only have one Human type, and that is counterintuitive to all mammal development on the planet. This was a design, and it took more than 100,000 years to create this for humanity as you know it.

It's your Human bias that has the creation story of the knowledge of light and dark being given to Humans in one day in a garden involving a talking snake and other mythology. Spiritual logic should tell you that these stories are simply metaphors of a real truth, that indeed there was a major shift of consciousness, but over a longer period of time and not instantly. The same mythology has the earth created in seven days. However, this only represents a numerological truth [7 is the number of divinity], meaning that there was a divine design in the creation of the planet. It's time to start using spiritual logic within the teachings you have about spiritual history, for the revelations will be wonderful and lead to fuller understanding.

Now, what really is in your DNA? It's the Pleiadians' code, and it's the ones before them, and even the ones before them. You can't remember it, for that is not the set-up. The system is that your Akashic record is only from Earth, but your "divine remembrance" will take you back to the beginning, where system after system after system created that which you see as the divinity within the galaxy and the Universe.

Who are they? They're your "divine" parents. They're the seed divinity in you and they visit here. They're not all Pleiadians, did you know that? Instead, they're from all over the galaxy. You see, they also represent the seeds of the Pleiadians, and they keep you safe. You wouldn't have it any other way, would you? "Safe from what?" you might ask. ….”


“…. The First Look

About 200,000 years ago is when it literally began. The concept of the "divine seeding" of planet Earth happened at that point, and the fields metaphorically started to be ploughed. There is an issue and we're going to call it the way species work with Gaia. This is something that happened simultaneously with the grid creation of Gaia. For now we give you something that no one has thought about. When we speak of the grids of the planet, you make an assumption that these grids always existed on the planet. For the planet is old and you might say, "Well the grids have always been there." But I'm here to tell you that only one was always there, and that's the magnetic grid. But it was spiritually void. That is to say, it only had that which was created from the Earth's core movement. Today, when we talk about the grids of the planet, our conversation involves the consciousness of humanity, which is imbued upon the magnetic grid. We also tell you about the Crystalline Grid and about the Grid of Gaia consciousness. Both of these react to Human compassion.

Now, here is the puzzle: If you don't have divine Human consciousness, then what about the grids? Do they exist without the Human Being? The answer is that they needed to be created simultaneously with the seeding of divine DNA. So what the Pleiadians did was not only to start the seeds of humanity's change into divine DNA, but they created the conscious grids of Gaia as well. They had to, for the conscious grids of Gaia are a confluence of humanity's decisions brought to Gaia's energy. The consciousness that we are talking about is the spiritually sanctioned Human Being that exists with a piece of God inside him, and with DNA that has 23 chromosomes instead of the common 24 that all the others have through biological evolution.

Let us back up and say it again and make it simpler, my partner [admonition to Lee to speak more plainly]. The triad of grids on this planet that we have spoken of over and over are the consciousness grids of Gaia, and were created at the same time as the seeding of humanity with Pleiadian DNA. For all the teachings we've been giving, especially about the Crystalline Grid, these grids have been reacting to Human consciousness and compassion. Therefore, the very essence of the current Gaia energy is also related to the creation of humanity.

These are the attributes of the Pleiadians work 200,000 years ago, and it was done quantumly in ways that you have no conscious awareness of at the moment. For these things are beyond your ability to understand right now, since you are still in a single-digit dimensionality. But the result back then was "a conscious Gaia." So you might say Gaia itself was actually created quantumly from the Seven Sisters energy, just like you.

The Gaia that existed before then was still Gaia, but not as it is now. It was a Gaia that was creating the dirt on the earth and the energy of biological life of the earth. It was the mother of all life on the planet, but not a Gaia that responded to Human consciousness. That's very different. So Gaia greatly expanded when the Pleiadians came, and that was by design.

It took 110,000 years for this to settle itself, and for the ground to be ready for more than 16 species of Human Beings to leave so that only one was left. When that occurred at approximately 90,000 years ago is when you can start calibrating who Humans were and who they became.

The Others


Now, what about all of those other types of Humans, and how did they leave? I'm  going to give you an attribute of something that exists even today. This is difficult for my partner, for he has not heard this before. This information has not been brought in this fashion before. Go slowly, my partner.


The variety of species on this planet comes and goes accordingly as they are needed for the energy they create. So one of the tasks of Gaia is to create and eliminate species. When they are no longer needed for the purpose of Gaia's development, they cease to exist and they die out. If new life is necessary, if new concepts of life are needed, Gaia is cooperative and they are then created. The actual creation of species is something that environmentalists have not clearly seen. That is to say the mechanics of how it works is not fully recognized as something that is strongly coordinated with your weather. But you have already seen the mechanics of some of this in your long-term studies, for you have already noted the coming and going of many species through the ages. It's ongoing.


The Appropriateness of the Elimination of Species


Now, along come Humans and they see all this coming and going of living things, but they want to save them all - all the species that exist. For in their linear mind, all species should remain and exist, since they are here. The attribute of Gaia, however, is to eliminate them, cull them out, to bring in new ones. I just gave you the mechanics of the reasons species come and go. It's appropriate and is a natural building process for new species.


When the Pleiadians started to create the grids of the planet, Gaia cooperated in what was to come, knew the purpose, and what was needed for survival of this new spiritual Human. Gaia knew this since the energy of Gaia had seen it before [reason given below]. So the old attribute, which needed many kinds of Human Beings, slowly died out. It was natural. There was not a war. There were no horrible plagues. There were no volcanoes or tsunamis that consumed them. Through attrition, appropriateness, and 110,000 years, they disappeared.


So approximately 110,000 years ago, there was only one kind left, and this is science, for everything that you study will bear this out, and anthropologists have already seen it and have asked, "What happened back then at this time that would have eliminated these other kinds of Human variety?" It's a puzzle in science that I have just answered, for science looks only for physical events as triggers. But instead, it's the marriage of Gaia consciousness that you call "Mother Nature," which facilitated this. It's the same today when you see a variety of species diminish as Humans take over a greater portion of the earth. I'll call this "the appropriate elimination of unique life forms, which allow for the growth of global awareness and quantum evolution." Some species only exist to allow others to climb the ladder of nature, then they disappear. Gaia knows what the ladder looks like. You don't. ... 




“ …You're a young civilization, dear one, so young that it's difficult to even give you a perspective of how young you are. Your solar system, with your civilization as part of it, hasn't even orbited the galaxy one time yet! It has only moved a fraction of the distance of one revolution [rev]. It takes almost 200 million Earth years to travel around the center of the galaxy one time [one rev]. How does it make you feel to know that there are societies and civilizations on other worlds far from you who have been around three revs? The Pleiadians (your seed biology) – half a rev. This is just to show you how old some life is in this galaxy. Some of them visit you, but none of them, none of them are able to influence you to the degree that you can influence yourselves. The galaxy teams with life and you're well hidden, by the way. Until now.

We've seen planetary maturity happen before, so I want to give you a bigger picture. Your age as a Human on this planet starts to explain why the earth has been through such a horrendous time. Historic Earth civilization history looks ugly to you, doesn't it? Your past and your history are filled with survival energy: killing, ugly weaponry, mass destruction and no elegance or respect for life at all. Torture was common, and public execution was a sport. Dear one, all those planets went through that! They all did, because civilization does this; it builds itself through time and growth. Part of growth doesn't always go the way of maturity. It has the ability to destroy itself, or the seeds of its knowledge, along the way. Sometimes that happens, and sometimes it does not. As you know, your Earth just passed a point where that was a possible scenario. …”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Norway's sovereign wealth fund will sell off its coal assets

Business Insider, AFP, May 28, 2015

Norway's state pension fund, the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund,
will have to sell its stakes in companies with a significant exposure to the
global coal sector, a parliamentary committee said. (AFP/File Vasily Maximov)

Oslo (AFP) - Norway's state pension fund, the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund, will have to sell its stakes in companies with a significant exposure to the global coal sector, a parliamentary committee said.

The fund -- which is valued at 835 billion euros ($885 billion) and fuelled by Norway's state oil revenues -- will be required to divest its holdings in companies that generate more than 30 percent of their output or revenues from coal, according to a proposal unanimously agreed by the finance committee.

The law still needs to be approved by parliament with the final vote scheduled for June 5.

"Investing in coal companies poses both a climate risk and a future economic risk," said finance committee deputy Svein Flatten.

The minority right-wing government has previously resisted pressure by opposition parties to require the fund to divest of all holdings in companies linked to fossil fuels, instead proposing criteria "to exclude companies whose conduct to an unacceptable degree entail greenhouse gas emissions".

But Wednesday's announcement was nonetheless hailed as a victory by the opposition and environmentalists.


"Coal is in a class by itself as the source with the greatest responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions, so this is a great victory in the battle against climate change," opposition Labour MP Torstein Tvedt Solberg said.

"We won! Norway divested! Politicians throw coal out of the oil fund," tweeted Greenpeace's Norway branch.

A report by experts published in December recommended that the fund act on a case-by-case basis rather than adopting a blanket ban on fossil fuel-linked companies and that it use its role as a company shareholder to improve corporate practices.

The sovereign wealth fund, which at the end of December controlled the equivalent of 1.3 percent of world market capitalisation, has in recent years divested its holdings in several dozen companies, including coal and cement producers, whose business models were deemed no longer tenable because of climate change or environmental costs -- moves that were made for strictly financial reasons.

The fund is already bound by strict ethical regulations that bar it from investing in "particularly inhumane" weapons makers, the tobacco industry and companies that are found guilty of violating human rights, causing serious environmental damage, or corruption. 

Seoul elevates gardening to high art

Yahoo – AFP, Park Chan-Kyong, 27 May 2015

From stylish, manicured creations to small vegetable plots, gardens are 
taking to the rooftops of the South Korean capital Seoul (AFP Photo/Danny Kim)

Seoul (AFP) - From stylish, manicured creations to small vegetable plots, gardens are taking to the rooftops of the South Korean capital Seoul -- bringing dashes of spontaneity and colour to the skyline of one of the world's most densely populated cities.

With help from the municipal government, otherwise largely drab buildings are being crowned with flower beds, allotments and trees, where the scent of fresh blossoms in the springtime can briefly mask the fumes from the traffic below.

The project has produced one of the largest rooftop gardens in Asia, Garden 5, which is spread across the top of four 10-storey buildings and linked by skywalks, with a total surface area equal to three football fields.

Rooftop garden of the 'Garden 5' 
shopping mall, pictured in Seoul, 
South Korea (AFP Photo/Danny Kim)
Inter-M Corp., a broadcasting and audio equipment maker housed in a grey, nondescript, seven-storey office building in northern Seoul, decided to convert their roof several years ago.

Completed in late 2013 at a cost of 110 million won ($100,000) -- half provided by City Hall -- the 450 square meter (4,840 square feet) garden boasts azalea, lilies, maple trees, herbs and two small pavilions.

Company spokesman Bae Seung-San said staff used it to unwind, while potential customers were taken to the roof as part of a sales pitch.

"When we have foreign buyers, we throw barbecue parties here, with music playing on our equipment," Bae said.

The municipal financial support comes with a rider -- any garden must be properly maintained and opened for public use within five years of its completion.

The green fund

Since the project began in 2002, the city government has spent more than 60 billion won ($57 million) helping to bankroll rooftop gardens, allotments or small ecological parks on more than 650 buildings around the city.

"We need more green, but don't really have the budget to buy the land for urban parks," said Bang Seong-Weon, a municipal official in charge of the Green Roof Construction programme.

"If you green the rooftops, land prices cease to be an issue," Bang said.

Home to 20 percent of South Korea's 50 million people, Seoul is a modern, thriving city with a population density nearly twice that of New York and eight times greater than Rome.

Largely destroyed in the 1950-53 Korean War, Seoul was rebuilt at a time of rapid industrialisation and laissez-faire urban planning that resulted in an uninspiring landscape of cookie-cutter apartment blocks and utilitarian office buildings.

In the last 10 to 15 years, efforts have been made to revitalise the city architecturally and environmentally with varying degrees of success.

Bang is keen to highlight the economic as well as environmental benefits of the roof gardens which both absorb heat and act as insulators for buildings, reducing energy needed to provide heating and cooling in Seoul's freezing winters and hot, humid summers.

Seoul's government has spent more than 60 billion won ($57 million) helping to 
bankroll rooftop gardens, allotments or small ecological parks on more than 650
buildings around the city (AFP Photo/Danny Kim)

"And they improve the landscape, giving people a sense of the changing seasons," he added.

A roof for all seasons

While other high-density Asian cities have also seen a turn to rooftop gardens, the scale of Seoul's programme sets it apart.

"I've never seen anything like this before," said Choi Da-Yeon, a 20-year-old student as she strolled among the garden's flower beds and trees with her boyfriend at Garden 5.

"We don't have enough green spaces in Seoul. Somewhere like this give you a real breathing space," Choi said.

A leading proponent of the rooftop movement is Han Moo-Young a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Seoul National University.

At a cost of 200 million won provided by City Hall, corporate donations and his own money, Han laid a rooftop flower and vegetable garden that covers an 840 square meter rooftop on one of the main campus buildings.

University staff, local residents and an organisation for disabled people tend the vegetables growing on one half of the roof, and the flower beds on the other half which also host six beehives.

"We hold music concerts here and make kimchi together with students and residents. It's a community," Han said.

"You see the bees and butterflies and you get that sense of being in nature," he said.

'Garden 5' in Seoul is one of the largest rooftop gardens in Asia, spread across
 the top of four 10-storey buildings and linked by skywalks, with a total surface 
area equal to three football fields (AFP Photo/Danny Kim)

Seoul Skygarden

While the rooftop project was designed as a cooperative effort involving government, corporates and individuals, the Seoul authorities are about to start work on a far larger undertaking to convert a half-mile stretch of abandoned 1970s highway into an elevated park.

The city has engaged Dutch architects MVRDV to design the Seoul Skygarden, due to be completed in late 2017, partly inspired by the success of New York City's elevated High Line.

In total, the pedestrian park spanning Seoul's main station will be home to 254 species of flora, as well as an nursery arboretum to provide cuttings and saplings that can be transplanted to other rooftop gardens around the city.

Exposed to strong sunlight, the elevated gardens need more care and frequent watering, while taking a bit more effort to get to, acknowledged Seo Jin-Sook who grows vegetables atop the university.

"However, looking at the beautiful scenery on top of the rooftop while gardening is a healing experience for me," she said.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

India heatwave kills 800 as capital's roads melt

Yahoo – AFP, May 27, 2015

India heatwave kills 800 as capital's roads melt

Hyderabad (India) (AFP) - At least 800 people have died in a major heatwave that has swept across India, melting roads in New Delhi as temperatures neared 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

Hospitals were on alert to treat victims of heatstroke and authorities advised people to stay indoors, with no end in sight to the searing conditions.

India's Meteorological Department said it had issued heat warnings to several states where temperatures were forecast to top 45 degrees Celsius over the next few days.

"As of now, we don't predict any respite from the extreme heatwave for the next few days," said spokesman B. P. Yadav.

Hundreds of people -- mainly from the poorest sections of society -- die at the height of summer every year across the country, while tens of thousands suffer power cuts from an overburdened electricity grid.

Streets were deserted in Hyderabad, capital of the worst-hit state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India where 551 people have died in the last week.

"The state government has taken up education programmes through television and other media to tell people not to venture into the outside without a cap, to drink water and other measures," said P. Tulsi Rani, special commissioner for disaster management in the state.

"We have also requested NGOs and government organisations to open up drinking water camps so that water will be readily available for all the people in the towns."

Hyderabad street vendor P. Gangamma said the heat was making her head pound, but she had no choice but to stay outside.

"For the past three days hot wind has been coming in," said the 65-year-old, who sells cigarettes on a busy intersection.

"I am a diabetes patient, but I have no husband and no sons, so I have to stay here and keep shop."

'Bad business'

Large parts of India, including the capital New Delhi, have endured days of sweltering heat, prompting fears of power cuts as energy-guzzling air conditioners work overtime.

The Hindustan Times daily said the maximum temperature in the capital hit a two-year high of 45.5 degrees Celsius on Monday -- five degrees higher than the seasonal average.

The paper carried a front-page photo of a main road in the city melting in the heat, with the white pedestrian crossing stripes curling and spreading into the black asphalt.

"It's baking hot out here -- our outing has turned into a nightmare," said Meena Sheshadri, a 37-year-old tourist from the western city of Pune who was visiting Delhi's India Gate monument with her children.

"My throat is parched, even though I've been constantly sipping water."

Delhi street food vendor Hari Om said business was slow, with few people venturing out in the furnace-like conditions.

"All the food is getting spoilt even though I prepared it fresh in the morning. It's bad business but what to do," he said.

"People are not coming out and they also don't feel like eating. All they want is to sip cold water all day."

In Telangana state, which borders Andhra Pradesh in the south, 231 people have died in the last week as temperatures hit 48 degrees Celsius over the weekend.

In the western state of Orissa 11 people were confirmed to have died from the heat.

Another 13 people have died in the eastern state of West Bengal, where unions urged drivers in the city of Kolkata to stay off the roads during the day.

India's power industry has long struggled to meet rapidly rising demand in Asia's third largest economy, with poorly maintained transmission lines and overloaded grids.

The Hindustan Times warned that some of the hot, dry conditions could plunge the worst-affected states into drought before monsoon rains arrive.

The monsoon is forecast to hit the southern state of Kerala towards the end of this month before sweeping across the country, but it will be weeks before the rains reach the arid northern plains.


Vehicles are left stranded on Interstate 45 in Houston, Texas on May 26, 2015,
after heavy rains put the city under massive amounts of water (AFP Photo/
Aaron M. Sprecher)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Man who forced French supermarkets to donate food wants to take law global

Arash Derambarsh, a local councillor who kickstarted fight against food waste in his Paris suburb, wants to convince more countries to follow France’s example

The Guardian, Kim Willsher in Paris, Monday 25 May 2015

People shop in a supermarket in southern France. Photograph: Rremy
Gabalda/AFP/Getty Images

A councillor whose campaign against food waste led to a law forcing French supermarkets to donate unwanted food to charity has set his sights on getting similar legislation passed globally.

Arash Derambarsh.
Photograph:
Bertrand Guay/AFP
Arash Derambarsh said it was “scandalous and absurd” that food is wasted and in some cases deliberately spoiled while the homeless, poor and unemployed go hungry.

Derambarsh – a municipal councillor for the “Divers Droit” (diverse right) in Courbevoie, north-west of Paris – persuaded French MPs to adopt the regulation after a petition gained more than 200,000 signatures and celebrity support in just four months.

The amendment was approved as part of a wider law – the Loi Macron – that covers economic activity and equality in France and is expected to be passed by the national assembly on Tuesday, entering the statute books shortly afterwards.

It will bar supermarkets from throwing away food approaching best-before dates and deliberately poisoning products with bleach to stop them being retrieved by people foraging through bins.

Now Derambarsh wants to convince European countries and the wider world to adopt similar bans. “Food is the basis of life, it is an elementary factor in our existence,” he told the Guardian.

Arash Derambarsh began his drive to fight food waste and food
Poverty in Courbevoie. Photograph: Bertrand Guay/AFP

“I have been insulted and attacked and accused of being naive and idealistic, but I became a local councillor because I wanted to help people. Perhaps it is naive to be concerned about other human beings, but I know what it is like to be hungry.

“When I was a law student living on about €400 a month after I’d paid my rent, I used to have one proper meal a day around 5pm. I’d eat pasta, or potatoes, but it’s hard to study or work if you are hungry and always thinking about where the next meal will come from.”

Derambarsh started his campaign by collecting and distributing unwanted food from his local supermarket. “Every day we’d help around 100 people. Half would be single mothers with several children, pensioners or public workers on low salaries, the other half would be those living on the streets or in shelters,” he said.

Derambarsh is planning to table the issue – via the campaign group ONE, founded by U2 singer Bono – when the United Nations discusses its Millennium development goals to end poverty in September as well as at the G20 economic summit in Turkey in November and the COP21 environment conference in Paris in December.

An estimated 7.1m tonnes of food is binned in France each year – 67% of it by consumers, 15% by restaurants and 11% by shops. The figure for food waste across the EU is 89mtonnes while an estimated 1.3bn tonnes are wasted worldwide.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Urban growth: Vertical farming offers solutions for China's cities

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-05-19

The design of a vertical farm shown during an expo at the Hainan
International Creative Harbor in Haikou, Hainan province in 2011.
(File photo/CFP)

Lin Jinyi plants 800 head of lettuce in his 15 square meters of living space in Hangzhou and can harvest as much as 500 kilos of the vegetable at a time. Without using any growth hormone or chemicals, all the 39-year-old Lin does is hang the plants on poles. It is the purest form of soil-free cultivation.

A former employee of Google China, Lin is now a "modern farmer" who guides Chinese farmers in building vertical farming systems.

Vertical farming is a concept proposed by scientists as a way to resolve a potential lack of resources in the future as the global population surges. The idea behind the concept is to take full advantage of resources and space to maximize the output of a particular crop.

People from around the world who research and practice vertical farming attended the Association for Vertical Farming (AVF) Summit 2015 in Beijing on May 9-10. Most of the participants could not speak Mandarin but were excited to discover that China could be one of the world's best places to develop vertical farming.

The summit was held in China in recognition of the country's fundamentals, AVF chair Christine Zimmermann Loessl told Guangzhou's Southern Weekly.

It is estimated that by 2030 there will be 800 million people living in China's cities who need a safe and stable supply of nutrients. By that time, vertical farming practices in cities may play a role in contributing to the supply, according to Loessl.

It was a major drought in five southwestern provinces in 2010 that prompted Lin to seek a water-saving, economic and environmentally friendly farming model. During the drought, he saw farmers watering tomato plants on dry land with water they preferred to use on their crops rather than themselves, Lin said.

The concept of vertical farming was proposed by ecologist Dickson Despommier, who saw the possibility of growing food in buildings with plenty of sunlight.

According to Despommier, 80% of the global population will live in cities by 2050. By that time, the population will increase to 9.2 billion people, most of whom will live in developing countries, making food supplies a problem.

Under Despommier's plans, a 30-story skyscraper with vertical farming practices could offer food for 50,000 Manhattan residents. And the food from 160 such buildings could feed all New York City's residents.

Southern Weekly said that while commercial applications of the vertical farming model are not yet mature in China, many property developers have taken notice of the potential of such projects.

If urban communities have their own vertical farms, their residents can harvest their own crops after work, saving time and energy shopping at supermarkets or malls. The planting, transportation, consumption and waste processing can all be handled at one location, the weekly said.

The cost of building a vertical farm is extremely high, however, ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 yuan (US$800-$1,600) per square meter. A high-quality farm of its kind could run into the billions of dollars to build, a far cry from the traditional farming costs Chinese are used to.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Singapore Urges SEA Lenders to Implement Eco-Friendly Policies

Jakarta Globe, Erwida Maulia, May 17, 2015

Palm oil plantations in Indragiri Hulu district in Sumatra's Riau province.
(EPA Photo/Bagus Indahono)

Singapore. The Singaporean government has called on financial institutions operating in Southeast Asia to exercise caution in funneling funds to palm oil producers, saying scrutiny on the sector continues to intensify with recurring problems in transboundary haze.

Banks have acted as an important source of capital for the region’s palm oil industry, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said last week.

Citing a 2010 report by BankTrack, he said lenders provided an estimated 24 percent of the total financing needed for the sector globally, with more than $50 billion invested in the Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil sectors alone during the decade prior to the release of the study.

“The number has grown significantly since then. And this includes local sources of capital from within Indonesia and Malaysia,” Balakrishnan said in a keynote speech during the second annual Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources held last Wednesday.

With the recurring issue of transboundary haze, he added, calls have intensified for companies and individuals “all the way down” the supply chain to be held accountable for deforestation — the main culprit behind recurring forest fires in Indonesia and haze affecting neighbors Singapore and Malaysia.

“Due to the environmental scrutiny and the campaigns by environmental NGOs, banks have now also become part of the watch list,” the minister said.

“And my plea to you, therefore, is please pay attention to this and remember the questions will be asked not only of the companies involved, but also of the financiers and the banks behind the industry.”

Balakrishnan added that lenders and other financial institutions are now expected to be more responsible in conducting background checks on palm oil companies. It is not enough to merely see whether their clients would be able to pay their loans and interest rates, he said.

How the companies derive their resources, their methods of production, the environmental, social and even political risks they face all must be assessed before banks decide whether they should invest in the business.

“These [steps] have to become part and parcel of standard due diligence,” Balakrishnan said.

Financial institutions, including banks and investors, have significant influence over the market and the proper behavior of producers, he added.

Representatives from the financial sector speaking at Wednesday’s dialogue conceded that more banks are gradually recognizing the opportunities in sustainable financing. They are also beginning to understand the need to assess their clients’ environmental and governance records to protect themselves from potential reputation damage.

“It makes good business sense, not just from a reputational perspective, but also from a credit prospective. Generally, a company that actually does good from an environmental perspective would be in better financial health,” said Vincent Choo, chief risk officer of OCBC Bank.

However, Jeanne Stampe, the Asian finance and commodities specialist of environmental group WWF International, sees  domestic banks from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations lagging behind in implementing environmental, social and governance standards.

Both bank management and shareholders simply don’t see the need or urgency to take action, she said.

Stampe added that she also recognizes a lack of senior-level prioritization, a lack of capacity and lack of pressure coming from both regulators and company stakeholders to take the issue seriously.

The Singapore dialogue raised concerns that sustainability, which should be a new basis for growth in the region, has instead become a greater challenge amid falling commodities prices across the globe, as well as the constant need to create more jobs in Southeast Asia.

However Simon Tay, the chairman of Singapore Institute of International Affairs, the organizer of the event, said there was still hope for a better outcome.

“If we look at the industry itself, we see signs of change,” Tay said during his opening speech.

“More larger and leading companies among us here today recognize and are responding more strongly to the sustainable challenge as a business issue; not merely as public relations.”

Minister Balakrishnan added that there was an increasing trend among consumers to demand for environmentally friendly products — and that this was not just a phenomenon in developed countries.

He cited a Nielsen survey conducted last year, which reported that 55 percent of the online consumers across 60 different countries said they were willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to providing positive social and environmental impacts.

“This propensity of willingness to buy socially responsible brands is actually strongest in the Asia-Pacific region, where 64 percent of respondents [had] this preference. And I believe this preference will stay, with their wallets that will grow stronger in the years to come,” Balakrishnan said.

“The industry sectors that can first develop standards and labels on sustainable products will have a head start,” the minister added.

Arief Yuwono, the Indonesian Environment Ministry’s deputy for environment degradation control and climate change, said promoting sustainability would also be a key priority for President Joko Widodo and his administration.

The Indonesian government is currently seeking to extend the moratorium on granting new land concessions for plantations and mining activities, which expired on Wednesday.

“We’re working on the final draft, and we hope it will be issued very soon,” said Arief, who also addressed the audience at Wednesday’s dialogue.

He conceded that several issues still needed to be addressed before the new moratorium draft could be finalized, including law enforcement, synchronization with other related, existing regulations  and the one-map reference issue.

Overlapping maps of concessions, community forests and protected forests have caused problems in implementing the deforestation moratorium since it was first introduced by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2011.

Joko has agreed to extend the moratorium, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya revealed after a meeting with the president at the State Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“Proposals to strengthen [clauses in the moratorium] from Walhi, Kemitraan, Sawit Watch, WRI and others are very much appreciated and will be summarized by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for a follow-up,” ministry spokesman Eka W. Soegiri said in a press statement on Wednesday, naming Indonesia’s leading environmental groups.

Internet ecosystem; Big data could help the environment in China

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-05-17

A worker at a sewage treatment plant in Liuzhou, Guangxi, June 7, 2014
(File photo/Xinhua)

The capital market has recently taken note of the realizable value of environmental information as the age of big data for environmental information has arrived with the potential to help resolve environmental issues via the application of big data in China, Shanghai's China Business News reports.

Beijing Jinkong Automatic Technology Co is offering its more than 100 corporate clients a platform of data mines related to water plants, water-related enterprises and companies offering services, products and technologies, which will share all kinds of information via the platform, said Jinkong chair Yang Bin.

Via the platform, sewage treatment plants can know beforehand whether equipment should be replaced and other related information via monitoring so equipment providers can step in in a timely manner, Yang said.

On April 3, the State Council published the key points for the opening of government information, which called for the further opening of information related to air and water quality, pollutant emissions and sources of pollution, among others.

The capital Beijing has already followed the national standard to release quarterly the results of its monitoring of state-owned enterprises, beginning to release the data on 27 main polluting companies and listed enterprises from early 2015.

CITIC Securities, in a recent report about the internet and big data for environment, said the government's overall controls related to environmental quality, monitoring of pollutants and reduced emissions will help expand the internet for environmental protection, transform equipment sales to resolution projects, as well as further the connection of environmental consultancy and follow-up work.

Moreover, the government is likely to accelerate the promotion of emissions trading, a market-based approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving emissions reductions.

The nature of the internet is to connect with everything, and only via sharing and opening can the industry establish a real ecosystem, said Yang. He said however that before a big data system is established, some fundamental problems such as standard procedures must be followed closely.

Kflow Environmental Technology Co has set up water quality monitoring into its water purifiers and has sent these monitoring results via Wi-Fi to cloud platforms, making its water purifier not only a product but also a monitoring facility, according to its chairperson Yan Ling.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Renewable energy vital for Internet lifestyles: Greenpeace

Yahoo – AFP, Glenn Chapman, May 12, 2015

A Greenpeace report charges utilities with hampering efforts to use renewable
 energy to power data centers needed for services hosted in the cloud (AFP
Photo/Martin Bureau)

San Francisco (AFP) - A Greenpeace report released on Tuesday charged utilities with hampering efforts to use renewable energy to power data centers needed for services hosted in the cloud.

Greenpeace praised moves made by Apple, Google and other Internet titans to fill a skyrocketing demand for electricity with solar, wind or other environmentally-friendly sources but lamented expansion of data center capacity in places where utilities reliant on carbon-spewing coal fuel dominate markets.

"A growing number of companies have begun to create a corner of the Internet that is renewably powered and coal free," the report said in an executive summary.

A Greenpeace activist sets miniature
 windmills in front of Strasbourg's railway
 station during an action aimed at 
increasing public awareness of 
energetical transition on February 11,
2012 (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)
Internet companies that have committed to being completely powered by renewable energy sources include Apple, Facebook, and Google, according to Greenpeace.

Those commitments have driven growth of renewable power in several key markets, and caused some utilities to invest more heavily in that kind of electricity generation to meet demand, the report stated.

However, some locations that have attracted data center investments are in markets ruled by utilities with generation powered mostly by coal, gases from which are a culprit in climate change.

Examples listed included Duke Energy in North Carolina, Dominion Resources in Virginia, and Taiwan Power Company in Taiwan.

"These utilities represent the biggest obstacles to building a green Internet, and will require collaborative pressure from data center operators and other electricity customers to secure the policy changes needed to open the market up to competitors that offer meaningful options for renewable energy," Greenpeace said.

Apple leads the charge

Apple continued to "lead the charge" in using clean energy to power Internet operations even as the California-based company rapidly expanded, according to the report.

Apple on Sunday announced broadened renewable energy and environmental protection initiatives in China, including a project with the World Wildlife Fund to promote responsible forest management.

The forestland project aims to protect up to a million acres of working forests used for fiber for paper and wood products, according to Apple.

The project is expected to generate as much as 80 million kilowatt hours annually of clean electricity, enough to power about 61,000 Chinese homes.

About 87 percent of Apple's global operations run on renewable energy, and the Sichuan Province solar farms will move the company closer to 100 percent, according to the maker of iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macintosh Computers, and Apple Watch.

Apple continues to "lead the charge" in using clean energy to power Internet 
operations even as the California-based company rapidly expanded, 
according to the report (AFP Photo/Philippe Huguen)

Google is also pushing to rely on renewable energy, but its progress is under threat by monopolies held by coal-using utilities in some data center locations such as Georgia, Singapore, Taiwan, and the Carolinas, according to Greenpeace.

Amazon, Microsoft, eBay, and Oracle were among technology giant's who scored low grades from Greenpeace when it came to green energy deployment and advocacy.

"The magic of the Internet seems almost limitless," Greenpeace said. "But each new internet enabled magic trick means more and more data."

Increasing demand for data, particularly streaming video, and processing power in the cloud means ramped up demand for power by data centers doing the online work.

"While there may be significant energy efficiency gains from moving our lives online, the explosive growth of our digital lives is outstripping those gains," Greenpeace said.