Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

The American Psychological Association will prohibit members from taking part in interrogations at illegal detention sites:

"The effect of this new policy is to prohibit psychologists from any involvement in interrogations or any other operational procedures at detention sites that are in violation of the U.S. Constitution or international law (e.g., the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture)," says the letter, from APA President Alan E. Kazdin, PhD. "In such unlawful detention settings, persons are deprived of basic human rights and legal protections, including the right to independent judicial review of their detention."

The roles of psychologists at such sites would now be limited to working directly for the people being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights, or to providing treatment to military personnel. The new policy was voted on by APA members and is in the process of being implemented.

For the past 20 years, APA policy has unequivocally condemned torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which can arise from interrogation procedures or conditions of confinement. APA's previous policies had expressed grave concerns about settings where people are deprived of human rights and had offered support to psychologists who refused to work in such settings.
California has passed a new law that protects farmers from being sued when their fields are contaminated with genetically engineered seeds:
AB 541 indemnifies California farmers who have not been able to prevent the inevitable - the drift of GE pollen or seed onto their land and the subsequent contamination of non-GE crops. Currently, farmers with crops that become contaminated by patented seeds or pollen have been the target of harassing lawsuits brought by biotech patent holders, most notoriously Monsanto....The bill also establishes a mandatory crop sampling protocol to level the playing field when biotech companies investigate alleged patent or contract violations.
A 100-year experiment proves the value of sustainable agriculture:
A plot of land on the campus of Auburn University shows that 110 years of sustainable farming practices can produce similar cotton crops to those using other methods.

In 1896, Professor J.F. Duggar at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (now Auburn University) started an experiment to test his theories that sustainable cotton production was possible on Alabama soils if growers would use crop rotation and include winter legumes (clovers and/or vetch) to protect the soil from winter erosion
Colorado is testing a new system that may help prevent animals from being hit by cars:
[H]ighway officials are testing a system that involves a cable buried parallel to the highway. The cable emits an electromagnetic field that is calibrated to detect large animals.

When an animal is detected, electronic signs are activated to warn drivers.
Scientists are looking into the possibility of sending electricity from parked hybrid cars to the grid:
Think of it as the end of cars’ slacker days: No more sitting idle for hours in parking lots or garages racking up payments, but instead earning their keep by providing power to the electricity grid.

Scientists at the University of Michigan, using a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), are exploring plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) that not only use grid electricity to meet their power needs, but return it to the grid, earning money for the owner....The concept, called vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration, is part of a larger effort to embrace large-scale changes that are needed to improve the sustainability and resilience of the transportation and electric power infrastructures. If V2G integration succeeds, it will enable the grid to utilize PHEV batteries for storing excess renewable energy from wind and the sun, releasing this energy to grid customers when needed, such as during peak hours.
A new device allegedly removes CO2 from the air, even though it's essential to life and therefore safe at any level.
University of Calgary climate change researchers say they are close to figuring out how to commercialize the capture of carbon dioxide directly from the air with a simple system that could be set up anywhere in the world.

If they can make it work, it would allow greenhouse gas to be removed from ambient air and reduce the effect of emissions from transportation sources such as cars and airplanes.
The EPA has withdrawn a plan to allow advertisements on pesticide containers:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has formally withdrawn a proposal to allow pesticide manufacturers to display “third-party endorsements” and charitable tie-ins on their labels. The agency acknowledged that these commercial displays on pesticide labels could confuse consumers and distract from safe usage directions on insecticides, herbicides, rat poisons and anti-microbial agents, echoing objections lodged by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
WorldChanging has an interesting article on recycling waste heat:
in a move that will save money and cut carbon emissions, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana has begun housing some of its computer servers in the nearby "Arizona Desert Dome," a conservatory for cacti and other desert plants. Computer servers create a lot of waste heat -- so much so that keeping them cool is a major cost driver and engineering challenge for data centers. Particularly in coal-fired Indiana, air conditioning for data centers equates to a lot of carbon emissions. Cacti, on the other hand, need a lot of heat, particularly in the winter, when South Bend is blanketed in snow.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have banned their most polluting trucks:
The ban on pre-1989 trucks immediately excludes more than 2,000 vehicles -- roughly 14 percent of the ports' combined fleet of diesel haulers -- that account for about half of the port area's total truck pollution, port officials say....

"The ports will see a 50 percent reduction (in truck emissions) overnight," said Jessica Lass, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which helped formulate the clean-air plans after suing the ports to block expansion until public health issues were addressed.
Inhabitat reports on an interesting new modular rainwater collection system:
Simply put, the Rainwaterhog is a system of 100% recyclable, 1/4″ thick, UV stabilized, food-grade plastic 50 gallon units that can be connected with standard 1″ brass fittings to create a custom, DIY system. The modular nature of the system allows homeowners to place the HOG tanks at several different locations throughout the property, thereby lowering pumping and electricity costs and avoiding unsightly and/or costly large central collection units.
In the Netherlands, 90,000 homes will be powered by chicken manure:
The biomass power plant is more than merely “carbon neutral”. If the chicken manure were to be spread out over farm land, it would release not only CO2, but also methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. By using the manure for power generation, the release of methane is avoided.
The cheetah population has stabilized in Namibia:
Viewing the world's fastest land animal as a threat to their livestock, in the 1980s farmers killed half of Namibia's cheetah population. The trend continued into the early 1990s, when the population was diminished again by nearly half, leaving less than 2,500 cheetah in the southern African country. Today cheetah populations have stabilized due, in large part, to the efforts of the Cheetah Conservation Fund....
Also in Africa, conservation efforts are helping the painted dog:
While the outlook is not good in many countries, there are emerging signs of hope, particularly in Zimbabwe where the efforts of a community-based conservation project has nearly doubled the population of the dog to 700 individuals.

Photograph by Chris Johns

A frog long thought to be extinct has been found in Honduras:
A rough-skinned frog species thought to have gone extinct more than 20 years ago has been found alive in a Honduran rain forest, experts said. Craugastor milesi—also called the miles' robber frog—was considered "locally abundant" in Honduras until the 1980s, when attempts to find the frog proved unsuccessful.
Mexico has banned all parrot sales in order to crack down on smugglers:
The government has been unable to control the clandestine capture and sale of the protected birds, environmentalists say.

The new ban—an amendment to Mexico's wildlife law—will eliminate the parrot and guacamaya market completely.
China is stepping up efforts to protect its freshwater dolphins:
The key initiative of the new Yangtze Dolphin Network is to connect existing reserves established for the Baiji dolphin, the world's most endangered member of the whale family, and the finless porpoise.
Toshiba's e-waste recycling program will now accept electronics from other manufacturers:
Toshiba now has one of the most comprehensive trade-in programs when it comes to e-waste. The program now accepts e-waste that has no market value for recycling without requiring consumers to purchase Toshiba products.
Low-Tech Magazine expresses some timely "doubts on technology," and explains the history of the optical telegraph (via Plep).

In other news: The Geology of the Civil War. King Alfonso XIII's bathing machine. A human-powered ferris wheel from India. Epilectic Seizure Comparison, "an ongoing location wherein non-epileptic persons may begin to experience, under 'controlled conditions,' the majestic potentials of convulsive seizure." And photos by Rick Dingus.

Not enough for you? Then watch this incredible movie in which magnetic fields are "revealed as chaotic ever-changing geometries" (via Coudal). Afterwards, you can imagine how the fields would look around these Modernist gas stations (via things). Or in these photographs by Victor Prevost.

Still not enough? Danger Dogs of Nepal. Photographs of the Scottish Highlands. And Circus Slang (all via Plep).

Last, Carlsbad Caverns in the 1920s.

(Illustration at top: "Durack Range" by Sidney Nolan, 1950.)


chris said...

"Currently, farmers with crops that become contaminated by patented seeds or pollen have been the target of harassing lawsuits brought by biotech patent holders, most notoriously Monsanto.."

Poor guys. Monsanto, I mean. First getting whupped by an elderly Canadian farmer and now the state of California.
Percy Schmeiser has a website.

Phila said...

Percy Schmeiser has a website.

Yeah, I went to see him speak about five years ago at a function in SF. They definitely fucked with the wrong guy that time!







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