An MIT study predicts great things for geothermal energy.
A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.You can read the full report here.
It turns out that investing in preventative medicine saves money as well as lives:
A new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) finds that polio vaccination in the United States has resulted in a net savings of over $180 billion, even without including the large, intangible benefits associated with avoided fear and suffering.Behold the soul-annihilating horror of the Nanny State!
Apropos of saving money, WorldChanging discusses the PowerCost Monitor:
If you can see your pennies piling up on account of a light you left on in the bathroom, you can bet you'll remember to turn it off. It's the real-time feedback that's key. Reading a steep bill at the end of the month can't compare. It's also key not only to be able to know how many kWh -- but also how many dollars -- are burning away with your lightbulb.I'm pleased to learn about a new collaborative site called Howtopedia:
Combining all these digits onto one little screen is the PowerCost Monitor from Blue Line Innovations, a Canadian start-up focused specifically on developing real-time energy feedback products for domestic energy consumers. According to their research, immediate feedback can result in 10-20% energy savings.
Howtopedia's building a wiki-style library of DIY recipes that promote sustainability by helping us all become a little more independent....You can find a number of "low-tech innovations" on a wonderful site called Afrigadget, which compiles Africans' ingenious solutions to everyday problems.
Howtopedia is teeming with entries about truly useful tools and low-tech innovations, many of which we've covered on Worldchanging in the context of appropriate development in rural non-industrialized areas, such as the Roundabout Pump, small-scale wind power, the pot-in-pot [desert] refrigerator, and the Rocket Stove. And it's not just hands-on projects, but also strategies and skills for things like improving one's entrepreneurial approach or activating one's community towards a common goal.
I've expressed some skepticism here about hydrogen-powered cars, but hydrogen-powered lawnmowers seem comparatively feasible:
The researchers believe the first applications for their technology will be in smaller engines. Fuel cells are currently inefficient on such scales due to the need for fuel recycling and excess hydrogen in standard designs. The researchers' new design is closed, so 100 percent of the fuel is used and there is no need for a costly fuel recycling system.California has banned perchloroethylene, a move I heartily support. The usual mob of Chicken Littles is predicting ruin for small dry cleaners. That's nonsense, by and large, but to the extent that it's true, it's quite possible to mitigate the effects (I took a tentative stab at the math and logistics here, and also described what I think is a sensible approach to phaseout).
"The system is ideal for small internal combustion engines that lack emissions controls and are highly polluting," said Benziger. "There is also no need for an extensive hydrogen distribution system for these small motors; the hydrogen could be supplied in returnable tanks such as the propane tanks used for gas grills."
California has also banned the purchase of electricity generated by coal-burning power plants:
The rules - aimed at reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming - could have a far-reaching effect on the energy market across the West.Five hundred cosmetics manufacturers have agreed to stop using potentially unsafe ingredients in their products. Here's a list of signatories.
Congolese rebels have agreed to stop killing endangered gorillas:
[O]ne of Nkunda's commanders known as Colonel Makenga had met senior Congolese national park warden Paulin Ngobobo, and agreed a truce on gorilla killings.A new species of rodent has been discovered in a Peruvian cloud-forest; it goes by the appealing name of Isothrix barbarabrownae:
"This is a very positive result. We weren't expecting to succeed given the overwhelming odds against," Wildlife Direct's statement quoted Ngobobo as saying.
The nocturnal, climbing rodent is beautiful yet strange looking, with long dense fur, a broad blocky head, and thickly furred tail. A blackish crest of fur on the crown, nape and shoulders add to its distinctive appearance.Here's an illustration:
Another recently discovered creature, the chestnut-capped piha, has gained some protection thanks to efforts by the American Bird Conservancy and other groups:
"Thanks to the generous support of Conservation International, the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, Robert Wilson, and Robert Giles, ABC has funded the purchase of an additional 1,310 acres, to be owned and managed by Colombian partner Fundación ProAves," said George Fenwick, the ABC president....The piha is known locally for its song, which you can listen to here.
In addition to the piha, the reserve also contains populations of many other rare and restricted birds, including the black tinamou (known from one other site in southern Colombia, and one in central Peru), sharpbill, Stiles' tapaculo, Parker's antbird, semi-collared hawk, red-bellied grackle, multicolored tanager, black-and-gold tanager, and a wintering population of the rapidly declining cerulean warbler – a migratory songbird that nests in North America.
Speaking of birdsong, here's an x-ray movie of a singing cardinal. It's a little unsettling, but not nearly as unsettling as the sounds of termite head-banging.
Next up, the University of Hawaii's Infrasound Laboratory offers a gallery of "sounds recorded by a variety of infrasound recording systems. Signal processing algorithms were used to make them audible and occasionally pleasant. Many of the sound files are complex, and superpose breaking waves, distant storms, aircraft, and volcanoes." For starters, here's Kilauea.
Carthage Underground, a gallery featured at Underground Ozarks, comprises over 100 photos taken during the exploration of an abandoned quarry in Carthage, Missouri.
Also from the Ozarks, a haunting collection of Photographs from the Arkansas State Prison 1915-1937.
Last, via BLDGBLOG, a breathtaking series of wideangle photos by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, entitled Turkey Cinemascope.
(Photo at top via Museum of the History of Science, Ghent.)