Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging


The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that gay and straight Americans should have equal rights.

The Connecticut Supreme Court overturned a ban on same-sex marriage on Friday in a victory for gay-rights advocates that will allow couples to marry in the New England state.

The court found that the state's law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.
Ya don't say.

An ill-conceived relocation program for the desert tortoise has been suspended:
Fort Irwin officials on Thursday suspended their disastrous desert tortoise translocation program, in response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors. The flawed translocation project, undertaken to remove tortoises from an area where the fort intends to expand its training areas, has so far sustained huge losses. More than 90 relocated and resident tortoises have perished, primarily killed by predators, and more losses are expected due to healthy tortoises being introduced into diseased populations — against the recommendations of epidemiologists.
Black rhinos have been released into the wild for the first time in 25 years:
According to an article from ZSL the fifteen rhinos were sedated and had GPS transmitters installed in their horns before being moved to their new home. The fifteen individuals were selected from a single herd, so the animals would already be familiar with one another. If the release proves successful, ZSL hopes to take what is has learned in Kenya to Uganda and Tanzania for similar projects there.

Argentina has banned fishing and trawling in a sensitive coastal area:
Burdwood Bank is rich with endemic species and serves as an important feeding ground for sea lions, penguins, albatross and other marine life. The area is also a breeding site for southern blue whiting and Fuegian sardine and supports unique hard and soft coral species.

WCS reports that the Argentine Fisheries Secretary permanently banned all fishing activities in the area — including bottom trawling — on September 26th, 2008.
Hundreds of new species have been found off the coast of Tasmania, including this odd sea star.


Chevron has failed in its latest bid to avoid paying for clean-up efforts in the Ecuadorean rainforest:
The set back for Chevron comes after a July report revealed that the oil firm has hired lobbyists to persuade the Bush administration and Congress to threaten the use of trade sanctions against Ecuador to get it off the hook for damages.
According to The Sietch Blog, the environazis have taken another step towards dismantling civilization:
Solectria Renewables has completed delivery of more than 5 MegaWatts (MW) of 95 kW three-phase grid-tied inverters for multiple photovoltaic (PV) systems in South Korea. These systems were designed and installed by Hyundai Heavy Industries and Jarada Co. Ltd., Solectria Renewables’ distributor in South Korea. This is a great example of American made products being exported to other countries.
While we're on the subject of economic opportunity, consider this:
As the economic might of Japan faces up to the global banking crisis, a single cat has boosted the finances of a small Japanese city by millions of dollars, according to a study.

Tortoiseshell Tama is the master of the unmanned Kishi train station where she was born and raised, on the provincial Kishigawa Line. But it is not her labours on the platform which have seen the cash rolling in.

It is rather Tama's irresistible charm which has brought tourists flocking in their thousands to the western city of Kinokawa to see the feline worker patrolling in the uniform of her office -- a Wakayama Electric Railway cap.

With 55,000 more people having used the Kishigawa Line than would normally be expected, Tama is being credited with a contribution to the local economy calculated to have reached as much as 1.1 billion yen (10.44 million dollars) in 2007 alone, according to a study announced last week.
The path to our salvation is clear!


AIDG Blog links to a nice story about a remarkable urban garden in Milwaukee:
Will Allen already had the makings of an agricultural dream packed into two scruffy acres in one of Milwaukee’s most economically distressed neighborhoods.

His Growing Power organization has six greenhouses and eight hoophouses for greens, herbs and vegetables; pens for goats, ducks and turkeys; a chicken coop and beehives; and a system for raising tilapia and perch. There’s an advanced composting operation — a virtual worm farm — and a lab that is working on ways to turn food waste into fertilizer and methane gas for energy.

With a staff of about three dozen full-time workers and 2,000 residents pitching in as volunteers, his operation raises about $500,000 worth of affordable produce, meat and fish for one of what he calls the “food deserts” of American cities, where the only access to food is corner grocery stories filled with beer, cigarettes and processed foods.
Meanwhile, vertical gardens are springing up in LA's Skid Row:
“Bees and butterflies arrived within seconds after we put the walls up,” says Joyce Lewis, Urban Farming’s L.A. project manager, who organizes local volunteers to tend the vertical gardens. “They greened an environment that would otherwise just be concrete and steel.”
I like this idea quite a bit:
They are everywhere: images of animals and nature to market large corporations’ products. There is the simply-sketched penguin on every Penguin Book; the leaping silver jaguar from the car company of the same name; the jumping helmet-wearing dolphin of the Miami Dolphins’ football team; and the ubiquitous talking gecko used in Geico auto insurance commercials. Such logos have always been free; however a new campaign, Save Your Logo, will encourage corporations with animal or nature logos to support endangered species and their dwindling habitats.

According to an article on the IUCN website, the initiative is apart of a new partnership of the IUCN, The Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the World Bank with additional cooperation from the Belgian NGO, Noe Institute.
Consumer Reports has created a new website called Full Frontal Scrutiny in order to keep tabs on industry front groups.
[W]e created this site...to focus public attention on the people and organizations who function in our society as hidden persuaders. You'll find them at work posting to blogs, speaking before city councils, quoted in newspapers and published on the editorial page, even sponsoring presidential election debates. All this while pretending to represent the grassroots when in fact they are working against citizens' best interests. We call these organizations front groups. One of the best ways to put their agendas in proper perspective is to expose their work. That's what this website is for. We hope you'll use it, tell your friends about it, even contribute to it.
There's more here.

A recordsetting 61 Nobel laureates have endorsed Barack Obama.
We especially applaud his emphasis during the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation’s competitiveness. In particular, we support the measures he plans to take – through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research – to meet the nation’s and the world’s most urgent needs.
An adobe pyramid has been discovered in Peru:
"We know that many buildings are still buried under Cahuachi's sands, but until now, it was almost impossible to exactly locate them and detect their shape from an aerial view," Masini told Discovery News. "The biggest problem was the very low contrast between adobe, which is sun-dried earth, and the background subsoil."

Ethiopia will build Africa's biggest wind farm:
Ethiopia has been chronically hit by droughts, affecting the humanitarian plight of millions as well as crippling its electricity production, which is heavily reliant on hydroelectric dams.

The landlocked Horn of Africa country -- Africa's second most populous -- is currently experiencing a severe drought and has been plagued by incessant power cuts in recent months.
Indigenous forest dwellers in Borneo will not allow an oil palm plantation on their land:
In a two-hour meeting Saturday in the city of Miri, representatives from the Berawan-Tering ethnic group officially rejected an overture to turn their land over to a private firm for oil palm development. About 90 percent of community members opposed the deal which would have given the oil palm a 60-year concession to their land, according to former Baram District Councillor Philip Ube, who represented the native.
Indonesian officials have agreed to protect Sumatra's forests:
The ten governors of Sumatra — along with four federal ministers — have signed an agreement to protect forests and other ecosystems on the Indonesian island, according to WWF. The announcement is significant because Sumatra is a biodiversity hotspot — home to rare and endemic wildlife — that is under great threat from logging and expansion oil palm plantations. The island has lost 48 percent of its forest cover since 1985.
Inhabitat reports on a clever new bicycle design:
[T]he Aquaduct is “a pedal-powered concept vehicle that transports, filters, and stores water.” Pedal to the well, fill up the tank and by the time you’re home you have 8 liters of purified water....It works by using a pedal-driven peristaltic pump to drive water from its trunk through a filter into a clean tank. The bike can carry enough water for an entire family, and can filter while moving or stationary.
Scientists have reportedly found a way to identify sources of mercury pollution:
For the past eight years, Blum and co-workers have been trying to develop a way of reading mercury fingerprints in coal and other sources of mercury. The hope was that they could then find those same fingerprints in soil and water bodies, much as a detective matches a suspect's fingerprints to those found at a crime scene, and use them to figure out exactly what the sources of mercury pollution are in certain areas.

"For some time, we weren't sure that it was going to be technically possible, but now we've cracked that nut and have shown significant differences not only between mercury from coal and, say, metallic forms of mercury that are used in industry, but also between different coal deposits," Blum said.
This is pretty amazing:
Four months after a successful hand transplant -- 35 years after amputation in an industrial accident at age 19 -- a 54-year-old man's emerging sense of touch is registered in the former "hand area" of the his brain, says a University of Oregon neuroscientist.
Geoff Manaugh makes some interesting and timely points about the fixation of the American political elite on rural "authenticity":
If the United States – if the entire world – is rapidly urbanizing, then it would seem like literally the last thing we need in the White House, in an era of collapsing bridges and levees, is someone whose idea of public infrastructure is a dirt road.
Read the whole thing, by all means. It ties in with some speculations of my own, which I may eventually get around to posting here, or chez Echidne. (In the meantime, let's consider tea as a North/South litmus test.)

Things you lived long enough to see: The colors of the moon (via Plep). A prehistoric hedgehog figurine. The craters of Mercury.


In addition, if not multiplication: The not inconsiderable virtues of sandbag houses. The quietest place on earth, an unsettling locale for which the Western Soundscape Archive is a reliable antidote. Ice cliffs in foreclosed malls: one possible outcome of five failed political axioms, and a possible haven for Antarctic botany (this could save countless local economies, especially if the caretaker is a cat in snow goggles).


Furthermore: Junk Drawers and Medicine Cabinets (via things). The Routefinder, a strange and beautiful precursor to handheld GPS. And some evocative photos from the Moscow Zoo, 1920 (also via Plep).


Here's a movie to end with. Don't watch it all in one place!



(Photo at top: "Agar Plate of Fluorescent Bacteria Colonies" by Roger Y. Tsien.)

9 comments:

four legs good said...

That was epic!

this always cheers me up.

Xan said...

One of your greatest weeks ever. Hope is definitely on the rise...:)

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