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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Monday, September 1, 2014

Taiwan committed to developing renewable energy: President Ma

Want China Times, CNA 2014-09-01

Ma Ying-jeou speaks at the Youth Policy Forum in Taipei, Aug. 31.
(File photo/Fang Chun-che)

President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated Sunday that Taiwan remains committed to the development of renewable energy and will continue pursuing new energy resources.

"This is an era when people should not give up any energy options," Ma said, speaking before the national conference of the annual Youth Policy Forum held by the Ministry of Education. "Taiwan must spare no efforts to develop renewable energy," he said.

Ma added that Taiwan must determine what combination of energy resources are best for Taiwan and have the public's support.

He also said that the nation's renewable energy policy often faces a dilemma, since plans to build renewable energy-generating systems on land draw opposition from farmers, while creating sea-based power generation results in objections from fishermen.

Therefore, he has found that for a renewable energy development plan to be successful, the developer should first try to learn what local residents want and sign a mutually-beneficial agreement with local communities, Ma said.

In Taiwan, wind and solar energy are the main sources of renewable energy. The installed capacity of renewable energy-generated electricity accounted for 8.7% of the total, as of the end of 2013, according to the state-run Taiwan Power Company.

More than 300 young people attended the Sunday national conference of the Youth Policy Forum, for discussions on various issues ranging from culture, education and environmental protection to international and social matters.

Related Article:


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients

EcoWatch, Coach Mark Smallwood, August 22, 2014

In 431 B.C. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

More than 2500 years later, we are inundated with advertisements boasting the latest, greatest cure-all super drug. From a young age, we learn that it doesn’t matter how or what we eat, there is a quick fix around the corner for whatever ails us—whether we’re obese, have high blood pressure or bad cholesterol—just to name a few of the issues plaguing our society.

A sign directs visitors and patients to the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic
Farm, adjacent to the hospital. Photo credit: Bill Noll

It now seems almost revolutionary to think that we can change our health by changing the food we eat.

But, one hospital in Pennsylvania thought just that.

In 2014, Rodale Institute, in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network, launched a true farm to hospital food program.

The Anderson Campus at St. Luke’s has more than 300 acres of farmland, much of which had historically been farmed conventionally with crops like corn and soy. The hospital administration recognized the impact that providing fresh, local organic produce could have on patient health and approached Rodale Institute to transition the land to organic and farm vegetables to be used in patient meals as well as in the cafeteria.

The five acre farm at the St. Luke’s Anderson campus in Bethlehem,
PA. Photo credit: Bill Noll

Lynn Trizna, or Farmer Lynn, as she’s known around St. Luke’s, provides food to all six hospitals within the network. This year, she is growing five acres of vegetables with plans expand to ten acres in 2015. She estimates about 44,000 lbs of produce from her farm will be served in the hospital, just this season. She is paid a salary through Rodale Institute and has employed three staff members, all aspiring farmers.

Farmer Lynn Trizna. Photo
credit: Bill Noll
With a three-year plan in place, Rodale Institute and St. Luke’s see the potential for expansion. We envision growing the program to include fifteen to twenty farmers—supporting new farmers who don’t have access to land; greenhouses that allow for year round production of produce; and a small batch cannery, ensuring that we can enjoy the harvest, even in the coldest months of winter.

We have created this model with the belief that it can, and should, be replicated at every hospital throughout the U.S.

So, the next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather, stop—think of us and Hippocrates’ words of wisdom. Maybe you’ll then look to the garden for a cure, instead of the medicine cabinet.

Related Articles:



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Food banks in Taiwan launch alliance to share resources

Want China Times, CNA 2014-08-30

Food provided by 1919 Food Bank. (Photo/Kuo Chia-jung)

Six food banks in Taiwan launched an alliance in Taipei Thursday to share their resources and logistics more effectively and to push for legislation that encourages donations to food banks.

The founding of the Cozy Food Bank Alliance in Taiwan is aimed at "saying no to wasting resources," the alliance said in a statement.

Its members include the Taiwan People's Food Bank Association, the 1919 Food Bank, the Andrew Food Bank, the Chinese Youth Peace Corps Food Bank, the Southern Airport's Jen Ji Shiang Food Bank and the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China's Taichung branch, which operates a food bank in the central municipality.

"We hope to send the supplies to people in need in the fastest and most efficient way," Lawrence Liu, president of the Taiwan People's Food Bank Association and the first secretary-general of the alliance, said at a press conference.

Members of the alliance will share resources, information and logistics with each other, and cooperate in disaster relief assistance, community development and care services, Liu said.

They will also push for legislation that gives tax breaks to individuals and companies that donate to food banks, allows food banks or the public to purchase excess farm produce at discounted prices to give to the needy, and better ensure the safety of the food being distributed, Liu said.

He said Taiwan wastes 2.75 million tons of food each year, enough to feed 260,000 low-income households for 20 years.

Anthony Kitchen, manager of network programs with the US-based Global FoodBanking Network, stressed that food banks create a "win-win" situation for all involved.

In addition to helping people in need, food banks benefit businesses and organizations that have a problem with surplus food, which could otherwise cost time and money to deal with, he said at the press conference.

A food bank collects and distributes surplus food to people too impoverished to adequately feed themselves and their families. The first food bank was established in the United States in 1967.

The Taiwan People's Food Bank Association became the 24th member of the Global FoodBanking Network in 2012.

Related Article:


Salt water-powered Quant e-Sportlimousine gets European approval

Gizmag, C.C. Weiss, July 18, 2014

Nunzio La Vecchia accepts the TÜV registration

After making a debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the Quant e-Sportlimousine has received approval from Germany's TÜV Süd. The car, which uses an electrolyte flow cell power system, is now certified for use on German and European roads.

As I stood around waiting for NanoFlowcell's Geneva Motor Show press conference in March, my eyes bounced back and forth between the exotic curves of the concept car at center dais, the oddly punctuated letters of the make and model and the bubbling tanks of water that looked like they were ripped off the wall of an after-hours lounge. Then Nunzio La Vecchia sauntered out, wearing his best jet black pompadour, and made a bunch of bold claims about the 912-hp, gull-winged 2x2 and its bleeding-edge flow cell technology.


Everything about the scene suggested that it might very well have been the last we heard of the NanoFlowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine. Promises of a magic bullet of energy storage, made by a three-month-old company, packaged with outlandish numbers like 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 236 mph (380 km/h), hinted, rather strongly, that this car's technology and performance would only exist on paper. Given that a similarly outlandish Quant car, centered in a similar black-walled booth, introduced by a very different Nunzio La Vecchia company, had vaporized years earlier, it seemed a responsible assumption that the e-Sportlimousine would do the same.

Just a few months after its debut, however, the car has resurfaced and taken a step forward. After an in-depth inspection of the car, the German TÜV Süd in Munich handed over the official registration plate this week. Now the company will be able to test the car on public roads in Germany and Europe as it prepares it for series production.

"We are delighted as pioneers to be able to present an automobile driven by flow cell technology on public roads, and one which achieves not only fantastic performance values but also zero emissions," said Le Vecchia, tossing out a slightly revised set of numbers, including "a projected top speed of over 350 km/h (217.5 mph), acceleration from 0-100 in 2.8 seconds, a torque of four times 2,900 Nm (2,139 lb-ft) and a range of more than 600 km (373 mi)."

The flow cell system powering the Quant e-Sportlimousine's four electric motors develops electricity from an electrochemical reaction created by two electrolyte solutions. This electricity is forwarded to super capacitors where its stored and distributed.


Beyond fancy supercars, NanoFlowcell sees its technology taking on a variety of applications. Presumably it will work its way down to more affordable cars, but its perceived potential reaches far beyond the road's edge.

"We've got major plans, and not just within the automobile industry," says NanoFlowcell AG Chairman of the Board Prof. Jens-Peter Ellermann. "The potential of the NanoFlowcell is much greater, especially in terms of domestic energy supplies as well as in maritime, rail and aviation technology. The NanoFlowcell offers a wide range of applications as a sustainable, low cost and environmentally-friendly source of energy."

We'll wait to see the Quant e-Sportlimousine live up to its billing before we get too excited about that future expansion.

Source: NanoFlowcell
Related Article:


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New 'skin' makes 1960s terraced home super energy efficient

DutchNews.nl, Monday 25 August 2014

Solar panels allow the house to become energy self-sufficient. Photo: TU Delft

Students from Delft University have turned an ordinary 1960s terraced house into an energy-neutral home by giving it a ‘new skin’ involving solar panels, glass walls and smart technology.

The project shows how 1.4 million similar terraced homes in the Netherlands could be made energy self-sufficient and won top prize for sustainability at the 2014 Solar Decathlon event in France earlier this summer.

The home, a replica of the house lived in by one of the students as a child, has been rebuilt in Delft with all the high-tech modifications. The project is called Prêt-à-Loger – ready to be lived in – because the residents are able to remain living there while renovations are carried out.

Delft researchers will use the house as a test site for improving the indoor environment in homes and for the further development of consumer products, systems and fittings within buildings and solar cells.

The house is the first building in The Green Village, a Delft initiative to develop a living laboratory for sustainable innovations on the university campus.

The house was formally opened on Monday by housing minister Stef Blok.


It is the first time that an old house in this way energy is made ​​neutral 

End of the line: GMO production in China halted

RT.com, August 21, 2014

Reuters / StringerReuters / Stringer

In a surprise U-turn, China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to continue with a program which developed genetically-modified rice and corn. Some environmentalists say public concerns about GM crops played a key role in the decision.

On August 17, when these permits were up for renewal, the Ministry of Agriculture decided not to extend them. In 2009, the ministry's Biosafety Committee issued approval certificates to develop the two crops, rice and corn.

Developed by the Huazhong Agricultural University, near Wuhan, it was hoped that the GMO strains would help to reduce pesticide use by 80 percent, while raising yields by as much as 8 percent, said Huang Jikun, the chief scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Reuters in 2009. It is illegal to sell genetically-modified rice on the open market in China.

However in July, GM rice was found on sale in a large supermarket in Wuhan, which is just across the Yangtze River from the Huazhong Agricultural University, where the product was developed, which caused a public outcry.

"We believe that loopholes in assessing and monitoring [GMO] research, as well as the public concern around safety issues are the most important reasons that the certifications have not been renewed," Wang Jing, a Greenpeace official based in Beijing, wrote in an email to ScienceInsider.

According to the South China Morning Post, state television commissioned tests on five packets of rice, which were picked at random, and found three contained genetically-modified rice. It is illegal to sell or commercially grow GM rice in mainland China. The safety certificates issued in 2009 only allowed the rice to be planted for research purposes, but never for sale on the open market.

The strain, which was found, was one of two developed by Dr. Zhang Oifa, who is a professor at the Huazhong Agricultural University. He said, "it was not impossible" for the seeds to be put on to the open market.

"You can't say [the seeds] were leaked on purpose. It's possible the seed companies have taken away the seeds and reproduced them illegally," he said, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

However, Huang Jikun also believes that public opinion was not the only reason why the project was shelved. He stated that China is reaching self-sufficiency in terms of rice production, so therefore there was no point in producing genetically modified versions. China exports very little rice as almost all of it is consumed within its domestic market. Huang also admitted, "rising public concerns [about the] safety of GM rice" likely also played a role.

Cong Cao, who is an associate professor at the University of Nottingham in the UK, was scathing of the decision. Writing in ‘The Conversation’ journal, he said the move “signals a major blow to the fight to establish GM food in China.”

Cao believes there is no logic behind the judgment adding that “Anti-Western sentiment has been judged more convincing than a raft of studies endorsing the merits of agro-biotechnology. Government support for GM food is dwindling fast, and it seems safe to say that the opportunity to commercialize GM rice – and with it the chance to help address some of China’s most urgent problems – is all but gone.”

The production of GM corn has not received as much skepticism, as it is mainly fed to livestock, according to Huang Jikun. Nevertheless, like rice, it has also not had its license renewed.

Related Article:


Friday, August 22, 2014

Giant crack in Mexico seen by drone raises earthquake fears

News.com.au, August 22, 2014

Random crack ... Earthquake speculations as this amazing drone footage reveals
a giant crack in Mexico. Picture: Hermosillo Desde El Cielo Source: YouTube

SCIENTISTS and locals have been left stunned after a giant crack, almost one kilometre long, appeared in remote farmland in Mexico.

The eight-metre deep trench opened up last week and severed Highway 26 between Hermosillo and the coast in the north of the country.

Filmed by a drone controlled by Hermosillo Desde El Cielo, the spectacular footage takes viewers along the length of the trench, which is up to five metres wide.

Missive crack ... The one kilometre crack appeared in remote farmland in
Mexico last week. 
Picture: Hermosillo Desde El Cielo Source: YouTube

It has baffled locals, as well as officials, with many speculating that an earthquake at the San Andreas Fault may have been the cause.

However, geologists at the University of Sonora, have blamed collapse of land on an underground stream.

Farm workers and vehicles have been forced to go around the area due to the unstable ground. Another crack was reported to have opened up in same area.





New Mini Ice Age

“… So now we've refreshed that which we have said before, a review. You are in the middle of a cycle that will bring cooling to the planet. It is not a heat cycle, but rather a cooling cycle. But it always starts with a short heat cycle. It has been here before. It will come again. It is a long cycle - one generation plus five years. That's how long it's going to last. It starts with the melting of the ice caps, which is far more than any of you have seen in your lifetime or those of your ancestors. It is a cycle whose repetition is thousands of years long, but one that has not yet been recorded to the books of Human record. But it's definitely been recorded in the cores of the ice and in the rings of the trees.

Thousands of years old, it is, and it happens in a cyclical way. It's about water. It starts with that which is the melting of the ice caps to a particular degree, which has a profound effect on the planet in all ways. You can't have that happen without seeing life change as well as Gaia change and you've seeing it already. What happens when you take that which is heavy on the poles [ice] and you melt it? It then becomes cold water added to that which is a very, very gentle and finite balance of temperature in the seas of the planet (1). The first thing that happens is a redistribution of the weight of water on the thin crust of the earth from ice at the poles to new water in the seas. The results become earthquakes and volcanoes, and you're seeing them, aren't you? You are having earthquakes in places that are not supposed to have earthquakes. Volcanoes are coming to life in a way that you've not seen before on a regular basis. There will be more. Expect them.

Is it too much to ask of a Human Being that if you live by a volcano that you know might erupt, maybe you ought to move? Yet there will be those who say, "It hasn't erupted in my lifetime or my parents' lifetime or my grandparents' lifetime; therefore, it won't." You may have a surprise, for all things are changing. That is what is happening to Gaia. ….“

Greenland ice melting at record speed

Satellite data shows ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are declining at record speed. The annual loss of ice has doubled in the case of Greenland and tripled in the West Antarctic compared to figures from 2009.

Deutsche Welle, 21 Aug 2014


Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven mapping elevation changes of Greenlandic and Antarctic glaciers have found ice sheets are melting at record pace. Per year, the ice sheets dump some 500 cubic kilometers (132,000 gallons) of ice into the oceans. The researchers say that compares to an ice sheet that's 600 meters (1970 feet) thick and covers an area as big as the German city of Hamburg - or the Southeast Asian nation of Singapore.
The research team headed by Veit Helm used around two years' worth of data from the ESA CryoSat-2 satellite to create digital elevation models of Greenland and Antarctica. The results were published in the online magazine of the European Geoscience Union (EGU) "The Cryosphere".


"The new elevation maps are snapshots of the current state of the ice sheets," Helm said. "The elevations are very accurate, to just a few meters in height, and cover close to 16 million square kilometers of the area of the ice sheets." Helm says this includes an additional 500,000 square kilometers that weren't covered in previous elevation models from altimetry.

Space technology shows declining ice mass

Helm and his team analyzed all data from the CryoSat-2 radar altimeter SIRAL in order to come up with these detailed maps. The satellite with this new radar equipment was launched in 2010. Satellite altimeters measure the height of an ice sheet by sending radar or laser pulses which are then reflected by the surface of the glaciers or surrounding areas of water and recorded by the satellite.

The researchers used other satellite data as well to document how elevation has changed between 2011 and 2014. Ice sheets gain mass through snowfall and lose it through melting and accelerating glaciers, which carry ice from the interior of the ice sheet to the ocean.

"We need to understand where and to which extent the ice thickness across the glaciers has changed. Only then can we analyze the drivers of these changes and find out how much ice sheets contribute to global sea level rise," lead author Helm said.

Rapid ice loss over a short period of time

The team used more than 200 million SIRAL data points for Antarctica and some 14 million data points for Greenland to create the elevation maps. The results show that Greenland alone is losing around 375 cubic kilometers of ice per year.

Compared to data which was collected in 2009, the loss of mass from the Greenland ice sheet has doubled. The rate of ice discharge from the West Antarctic ice sheet tripled during the same period.

85 percent of Greenland is covered with ice - melting ice sheets
contribute to rising sea levels

"If you combine the two, they are thinning at a rate of 500 cubic kilometers per year. That is the highest rate observed since altimetry satellite records began about 20 years ago," said glaciologist Angelika Humbert, who co-authored the AWI study.

The researchers detected the biggest elevation changes at the Jakobshavn Glacier in West Greenland and Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. This corresponds with other scientific research on both areas.

Whereas the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Antarctic Peninsula, on the far west of the continent, are rapidly losing volume, East Antarctica is gaining volume. However, the scientists stress that this is happening at such a low rate that it does not compensate for the losses on the other side of the continent.

Related Articles:

“… So now we've refreshed that which we have said before, a review. You are in the middle of a cycle that will bring cooling to the planet. It is not a heat cycle, but rather a cooling cycle. But it always starts with a short heat cycle. It has been here before. It will come again. It is a long cycle - one generation plus five years. That's how long it's going to last. It starts with the melting of the ice caps, which is far more than any of you have seen in your lifetime or those of your ancestors. It is a cycle whose repetition is thousands of years long, but one that has not yet been recorded to the books of Human record. But it's definitely been recorded in the cores of the ice and in the rings of the trees.

Thousands of years old, it is, and it happens in a cyclical way. It's about water. It starts with that which is the melting of the ice caps to a particular degree, which has a profound effect on the planet in all ways. You can't have that happen without seeing life change as well as Gaia change and you've seeing it already. What happens when you take that which is heavy on the poles [ice] and you melt it? It then becomes cold water added to that which is a very, very gentle and finite balance of temperature in the seas of the planet (1). The first thing that happens is a redistribution of the weight of water on the thin crust of the earth from ice at the poles to new water in the seas. The results become earthquakes and volcanoes, and you're seeing them, aren't you? You are having earthquakes in places that are not supposed to have earthquakes. Volcanoes are coming to life in a way that you've not seen before on a regular basis. There will be more. Expect them.

Is it too much to ask of a Human Being that if you live by a volcano that you know might erupt, maybe you ought to move? Yet there will be those who say, "It hasn't erupted in my lifetime or my parents' lifetime or my grandparents' lifetime; therefore, it won't." You may have a surprise, for all things are changing. That is what is happening to Gaia. ….“

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Green power blooms as Japan unveils 'hydrangea solar cell'

Yahoo – AFP, 19 Aug 2014

Hiroshi Segawa, a professor at University of Tokyo's Research Centre for Advanced
Science and Technology (RCAST), displays a prototype model of an organic
solar power cell at his laboratory on July 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

Tokyo (AFP) - A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good.

In a country badly scarred by the tsunami-sparked nuclear disaster at Fukushima three years ago, the hydrangea-inspired solar offering is small beer alongside one of the world's biggest offshore wind power farms now floating off the country's east coast.

But Hiroshi Segawa, a professor at University of Tokyo's Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology, is hoping his dye-sensitised solar cell, which meshes floral beauty with cutting-edge technology, will brighten the scene.

Segawa's Annabelle, named after a type of white hydrangea, is made up of flowery stained glass-like solar cells built into a latticed wood box modelled on traditional Japanese doors.

While the 20 centimetre (8 inch) wide box might make a pretty addition to a sunroom, it can also store enough energy to charge your smartphone twice.

The leaves generate electricity, which is stored in the flower. As the device charges up the petals turn increasingly blue. But as Annabelle discharges, those blue petals turn white, just like the real-life hydrangea.

'Enjoyable energy'

"People do not have a very good image about things related to energy, such as nuclear power," Segawa told AFP.

"Thermal power generation conjures up images of blistering hot dirty coal while solar panels take up a lot of space.

Hiroshi Segawa, a professor at University of Tokyo's Research Centre for Advanced
 Science and Technology (RCAST), displays prototype models of organic solar power
cells at his laboratory in Tokyo on July 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

"Even wind power generation has problems with bird strikes and noise, but (Annabelle) doesn't harm the environment."

While Segawa is not expecting to topple the dominant silicon-based solar panels, he is hoping the fast-growing sector has room for "enjoyable energy" that adds a splash of colour to an otherwise drab industry.

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan has been pushing to boost the use of alternative energy.

The country's solar power generation is rapidly growing, but it still only represents a small share of the overall power mix.

In Japan, the share of power generated from renewable sources, excluding hydropower, lags other developed economies at 4.7 percent of the total, far less than 10.4 percent in Britain or 20.1 percent in Germany, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

All of Japan's nuclear plants were shuttered after the 2011 atomic accident -- yanking away a power source that once supplied more than one quarter of the nation's energy.

Despite Tokyo's efforts to develop the solar sector, the weather --- particularly a lack of reliable sunlight -- is among the factors holding back wider use.

But Segawa says Annabelle works even in weak indoor light.

It also has a myriad of design possibilities. Segawa has already experimented with a cell that looks like French President Francois Hollande and one of the computer-generated Japanese pop star Hatsune Miku.

"You can make solar cells out of animated characters, portraits of real people and lots of other stuff," he said.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

SeaWorld park to redesign controversial whale tank

BBC News, 16 August 2014

The new tanks will be twice the size as the current ones, which
animal rights groups say are too small

Related Stories

US marine theme park SeaWorld has announced it is to build a bigger tank for its killer whales, amid criticism of its treatment of the animals.

But the Florida company said that the plans were not in response to last year's documentary film "Blackfish".

The film suggested that captivity and SeaWorld's treatment provoked violent behaviour in the killer whales.

The high profile death of a trainer in front of a live audience in 2010 sparked worldwide outrage.

SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchinson said in a statement on Friday that the new tank, to be completed by 2018, would "transform how visitors experience killer whales".

The 2013 film 'Blackfish' argued that whales in captivity become
traumatised and turn violent

"Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean, or a bird's eye view from above."

The new tank will be almost twice the size of its current orca tank, with 10 million gallons of water and a new depth of 50 feet (15m), and will include larger viewing points for visitors.

But Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) criticised the plans, calling them a "desperate move".

"A bigger prison is still a prison," it said in a statement.

The animal rights group warned that nothing but moving the orcas to seaside sanctuaries to feel and experience the ocean again and hear their families would "save the company", which has seen its profits slump in the past year since it went public.

Dawn Brancheau was killed by the whale 'Tilikum', whilst performing
in a show at SeaWorld in 2010

Peta filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld in 2012 and named five killer whales as plaintiffs, arguing that they deserved the same constitutional protection from slavery as humans.

Dawn Brancheau, 40, who had more than 16 years of experience in killer whale shows was killed whilst performing with "Tilikum".

She died from drowning and traumatic injuries after the whale bit and dragged her underwater in front of an audience.

Related Articles:





Killer whales have been thrilling whale watchers this week in Puget Sound. But
they were especially exciting Tuesday when nearly three dozen orcas surrounded
 the ferry from Seattle as it approached the terminal on Bainbridge Island. NOAA
Fisheries Service photo by Candice Emmons

California Moves Toward Historic Statewide Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags

EcoWatch, Anastasia Pantsios, August 15, 2014
    
You’ve heard about the plastic detritus polluting our oceans. You’ve likely seen plastic bags from grocery stores hanging from trees and telephone poles. Some localities have already banned those single-use plastic bags, including 115 in California. In that state, plastic bags are one of the five most common items littering its beaches, according to Ocean Conservancy’s beach cleanup data.

Plastic bags are one of the five most common items littering California
beaches. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Now the entire state is moving toward a ban on the bags.

SB 270 proposes a big step toward reducing the use of the bags by prohibiting their use in supermarkets and drugstores by July 1, 2015 and in smaller groceries and convenience stores by July 1, 2016. Paper, reusable and compostable plastic bags would carry a minimum ten cent charge if the bill passes. The bill also includes provisions that encourage manufacturers of one-use bags to transition to reusable bags. If it passes, it would make California the first state to enact a statewide ban on the single-use bags, although Hawaii has bans in all four of its counties.

The bill, which was introduced in February, passed the California Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee in May and cleared its Appropriations Committee yesterday, the last step before moving  to the floor for a full vote of the Assembly. That vote could come as early as next week. The bill would then go back to the state Senate for a concurrence vote.

“Appropriations was probably the easiest place for the opposition to block the bill,” said Nathan Weaver of citizen environmental advocacy group Environment California. “The fact that they didn’t succeed is very exciting, in my opinion.”

“This important step forward shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” he said. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”

Currently over a third of California residents live in a community that prohibits plastic bags, thanks to bans in large communities like Los Angeles, Oakland and San Jose.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mexico probes copper mine spill, waterways polluted

About 40,000 cubic meters of wastewater from a copper mine has contaminated rivers in Mexico. Federal officials are restricting water deliveries to urban areas, including northern Sonora state's capital of Hermosillo.

Deutsche Welle, 11 Aug 2014



Mexico's National Water Commission said on Monday it had been monitoring for chemicals in the Sonora river and its tributary the Bacanuchi since an August 7 spill caused by heavy rains at the Buenavista copper mine at Cananea. The extraction site lies about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Mexico's border with the United States.

Mexican media said 10 million gallons of wastewater had turned the 420-kilometer-long waterway orange, affecting 800,000 people.

Miner blamed, remedial work ordered

Mexico's environmental agency, PROFEPA, blamed the company Buenavista del Cobre and ordered the neutralization of toxins, construction of dams to prevent further incidents, and an analysis of the water's contamination level, among other measures.

“In addition to ordering the implementation of a total remediation plan, PROFEPA initiated proceedings against Buenavista del Cobre to determine possible sanctions,” the agency announced on its website.

According to Sonora state's water agency, the affected towns include Arizpe, Banamichi, San Felipe de Jesus, Aconchi, Baviacora and Ures, as well as Hermosillo, the state capital, which derives a limited 3 percent of its fresh water from the river. Fish and livestock have died from the poisoned water.

Accident follows privatization drive

Sonora is home to more than a quarter of Mexico's mining industry. Companies regularly dig deep into the state's geological surface structures to extract gold, copper, graphite and other metals and minerals.

Mexico's federal government recently opened up the country's vital energy sectors such as electricity generation and petrol production to private companies.

Several hundred kilometers north, in the US state of Ohio, private agricultural firms were accused recently of making the water in the Great Lake Erie unsuitable for drinking and bathing for several days.

mkg/ipj (AFP, AP)