The Navy has abandoned plans to build a landing field near a wildlife refuge that "hosts more than 100,000 snow geese and tundra swans, and other waterfowl each winter":
“This is a tremendous victory for the local community and the wildlife refuge that would be devastated by the operation of a landing field at the proposed site. We salute the Navy’s ultimate recognition that this was not the place for an OLF,” said Derb Carter, director of the Carolinas office of the Southern Environmental Law Center which represented the environmental interests in the case.In related news, a judge has ruled that the DoD's proposed airstrip in Okinawa violates the National Historic Preservation Act:
The lawsuit sought to compel the U.S. Department of Defense to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act by conducting a complete public assessment of the impacts of the proposed project on the dugong — a relative of the manatee sometimes known as “sea cows” — so that actions could be taken to avoid or mitigate any adverse affects. The National Historic Preservation Act requires agencies of the U.S. government to consider the impacts on cultural and historic resources in other nations when undertaking activities outside the United States.Saudi Arabia claims it will allow women to drive:
Saudi Arabia is to lift its ban on women drivers in an attempt to stem a rising suffragette-style movement in the deeply conservative state. Government officials have confirmed the landmark decision and plan to issue a decree by the end of the year.In partnership with several other corporations, IBM is creating an Eco-Patents Commons:
The Eco-Patent Commons will start with the donation into the public domain of 31 patents that cover everything from a manufacturing process that reduces volatile compounds to a natural coagulant used to purify industrial waste water.There's talk of using rain to generate electricity:
On Monday, a Web site that hosts the patents is scheduled to launch. The patent commons will be administered by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a Geneva-based organization devoted to promoting sustainability in business.
Jean-Jacques Chaillout and colleagues at the atomic energy commission (cea) in Grenoble, France, have shown that piezoelectric materials, which generate voltage in response to mechanical force, can be made to produce useful amounts of electrical power when hit by falling rain. “we thought of raindrops because they are one of the still-unexploited energy sources in nature,” Chaillout says.Orion has a long article on anti-coal activism:
Can the environmental movement muster the necessary clout to overcome the combined forces of Big Oil and Big Coal? To Big Green advocates like Hawkins and Thompson, it’s a fantasy to think that America won’t continue using coal and oil. To grassroots activists like LaPlaca, Overland, and Muller, the fantasy lies in the opposite assumption: believing that the world can survive without a radical shift away from fossil fuels. “Big Green has the resources,” said Muller, “but the grassroots is where it’s happening in terms of leadership, in terms of work, and in terms of results. To anybody who’s following this, I’d say don’t bet too much money on coal right now.”Just for the record, more than 50 proposed coal plants were canceled or delayed in 2007.
AIDG Blog explains its Rocket Box stove:
The Rocket Box uses 50-60% less firewood than traditional cookstoves and fires. This provides a huge costs savings for families that buy fuel wood. For instance, women we interviewed at San Alfonso, a cooperative in Guatemala, reported spending 28-56% of their monthly income on wood.Behold the economy-annihilating horror of renewable energy standards:
This stove design shows similar fuel efficiency to masonry stoves, but is up to 50% cheaper. Being portable, it is particularly useful in communities where residents are living in temporary housing and/or want more flexibility in where the stove is placed in their home. Like most good ‘improved’ stoves, it comes equipped with a chimney that vents smoke out of the home and thus cuts exposure to the ‘killer in the kitchen’.
SCHOTT solar is opening a brand new solar energy technology production facility in the Mesa del Sol region of Albuquerque, NM....SCHOTT was attracted to New Mexico thanks in part to the State’s commitment to the consumption of renewable energy....The long-term economic impact of the site is expected to exceed $1 billion for the state of New Mexico.Other frightening steps towards neotroglodytism: Whole Foods has vowed to stop using plastic bags by April, and Ontario is ending its ban on clotheslines.
Cuba has banned the hunting of marine turtles:
The decision was applauded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a lifeline to all turtle species hatching on beaches throughout the Caribbean, but above all the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.
The ban took effect this weekend, said the Cuban Fisheries Ministry's director of regulations, Elisa Garcia. She said it would remain in effect "until it is scientifically proven that the species is recovering."
Revere has some modest good news about avian flu:
For some time the absence of mild or inapparent infections has been worrying. It means that the current case fatality ratio of over 60% is the real CFR, not one based on just the most serious cases coming to the attention of the surveillance system. Now scientists gathered in Bangkok at one of the many gatherings of those studying the disease have heard some new data involving 674 people in two Cambodian villages exposed to influenza H5N1 ("bird flu") by infected poultry in their households. Seven children were found to have been infected using a test of their blood for antibodies. Seven is 1% of these exposed people, so it is still consistent with low transmissibility to humans. But scant data from previous investigations of health care workers or villagers in infected areas had not turned up evidence of mild infection, so this is good news. Not all H5N1 cases are serious or fatal disease.Also, the universal influenza vaccine has reportedly been tested successfully in humans:
The British-American biotech company Acambis reports the successful conclusion of Phase I trials of the universal flu vaccine in humans. The universal influenza vaccine has been pioneered by researchers from VIB and Ghent University. This vaccine is intended to provide protection against all ‘A’ strains of the virus that causes human influenza, including pandemic strains. Therefore, this vaccine will not need to be renewed annually.This is fascinating:
A study of how female lark buntings choose their mates, published this week in Science, adds a surprising new twist to the evolutionary theory of sexual selection. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, discovered that female lark buntings show strong preferences for certain traits in the males, but those preferences change from year to year.And this is funny.
I was impressed this week by Kevin Cooley's eerie photos of Southern California (via Coudal). And by Matt Callow's pinhole photographs.
But that's nothing compared to Kolmanskop, a ghost town buried in sand:
You'll also want to visit Doodles, Drafts and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian (via Things).
Plep alerted me to an exhibition of Victorian Sheet Music at BibliOdyssey, which I'd somehow overlooked.
Last things last: Preliminary Flickr sets from the Library of Congress. Nu-real: a timeline of fantastic photomontage and its possible influences, 1857 - 2007. And a haunting survey of Japan's scarecrow mannequins.
(Photo at top via Good.)