Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Hope Blogging

According to the Global Gender Gap Index, the United States actually made a little progress toward gender equality in 2009:

The world is moving toward greater equality between men and women, with Iceland keeping its lead in a ranking of 134 nations and the U.S. climbing into the top 20, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

The U.S. rose to No. 19 -- jumping 12 positions -- in part because women now hold 33 percent of leading jobs in the administration of President Barack Obama, compared with 24 percent in 2009, the report showed. Still, the country ranked 40th in political empowerment, with Iceland claiming the top spot.

The European Court on Human Rights has fined Russia for banning gay pride parades in Moscow:

The European Court of Human Rights has fined Russia for banning gay parades in Moscow, in an important victory for the country's gay community.

A leading activist, Nikolai Alexeyev, brought the case after the city authorities repeatedly rejected his requests to organise marches....

"This is a crippling blow to Russian homophobia on all accounts," Mr Alexeyev said after the verdict was announced.

In related news, let's hear it for gay embryos!

It looks as though the United States has finally scrapped its plans for an "invisible" border fence:
The Department of Homeland Security, apparently ready to cut its losses on a so-called invisible fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, has decided not to exercise a one-year option for Boeing to continue work on the troubled multibillion-dollar plan involving high-tech cameras, radar and vibration sensors.
The USGS has drastically lowered its estimate of Alaska's NPRA oil reserves:

The National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA) is a piece of land owned by the United States federal government located west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). While it gets less press than ANWR, it is another target of the "drill baby drill!" crowd. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just released a revised estimate on the amount of "undiscovered" oil and gas that is likely to be found in the area, and let's just say that it is a cold shower for fans of more drilling in Alaska....

Considering that the world consumption of oil has been hovering around 85 million barrels per day, and the U.S. represents about a quarter of that, there's only enough oil in NPRA to fuel the world for about 10-12 days, or the US for about 45 days.

Drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation is on hold, temporarily:

Governor Rendell declared the Marcellus Shale tax dead for 2010 last week, due to Republicans being assholes who wouldn’t agree to anything higher than a 1.5% tax. One-point-five percent. Jesus. That’s what we get for subjecting our state to fracking and the threat of erupting natural gas wells?

Anyway, the Governor today decided that if we’re not taxing it, they’re not drilling it, so he signed an executive order at Penn Treaty Park today halting new drilling in Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania.
(h/t: Karin.)

Geothermal energy is expected to grow 78 percent by 2015:

According to ABS Energy's research, only 10 projects, totaling 405-megawatts, were commissioned in 2009. The geothermal power projects were located in the United States (181 MW), Indonesia (137 MW), Turkey (47 MW), and Italy (40 MW). The report states the requirement of high up-front investment along with high risk associated with developing geothermal projects as the chief catalysts for the tough year.

Nevertheless, the Geothermal Report says the overall outlook for the geothermal industry is positive. ABS Energy expects the global geothermal market to increase 78% between 2010 and 2015; this would bring global capacity to 19,016 MW.

England may use its old waterwheels to generate power:

[O]ver the next ten years, thousands of homes and communities will be encouraged to restore dilapidated water wheels and mills – or build small-scale hydro-electric power plants as part of a drive for green energy.

According to Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, our rivers and streams are ‘a great untapped source of power’ and could generate as much electricity as a nuclear power station.

A federal judge has ruled that the US Army must inform residents of Oahu's Makua Valley about the environmental effects of its live-fire training:

U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled that the Army failed to give the community crucial information on how military training at Makua Military Reservation on the island of Oahu could damage Native Hawaiian cultural sites and contaminate marine resources on which area residents rely for subsistence.

Palestine and Israel have both signed a cooperative agreeement on climate change:
Israel and the Palestinian Authority are among 15 Mediterranean nations who have just signed a historic agreement to work together to combat the effects of climate change, one month ahead of the next United Nations conference on climate change, meeting at Cancun in November....

Both Israel and Palestine are acutely aware of their vulnerability to climate change, which is expected to make water resources even more scarce for what is already the most water-stressed highly populated area in the world.

Sierra Leone has withdrawn its flag of convenience for fishing vessels:

Sierra Leone is closing its international shipping registry to foreign-owned fishing vessels in a move intended to reduce illegal catches in its seas and around the world, the fisheries minister said on Thursday.

Officials said the West African country -- notorious as a so-called "flag of convenience" with minimum enforcement of maritime regulations -- was the first such nation in the world to implement the measure.

Palau has established a huge new marine sanctuary:
Dolphins, whales, and dugongs will be safe from hunting in the waters surrounding the Pacific nation of Palau. At the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan, Palau's Minister of the Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism, Harry Fritz, announced the establishment of a marine mammal sanctuary covering over 230,000 square miles (600,000 square kilometers) of the nation's waters, an area the size of Ukraine....

"Palau, which once supported the Japanese position on commercial whaling, now supports conserving marine mammals, along with sharks and other species. By aiding economic development through ecotourism, Palau recognizes the importance of keeping these species alive and thriving," Dr. Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, said in a statement, adding that "we call on other countries large and small to follow Palau's example."
Worldwide cases of polio are dropping:

The world's largest, most intractable source of polio may be on the brink of elimination. In India the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have produced more polio cases this decade—nearly 5,000—than any other location worldwide that has an active immunization campaign. Nigeria saw a handful more cases than the two Indian states because it effectively ceased immunizing in 2003 for a time due to false fears of the vaccine.

Now, even at the peak of polio season, new cases in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and indeed all of India hover near zero—unprecedented, historic lows.
No Tech Magazine directs our attention to a modest proposal for a value extracted tax:
In our society, high taxes on labor drive businesses to minimize the number of employees. Resources remain untaxed, so we use them unconstrained. This system causes both unemployment and scarcity of resources.

Eckart Wintzen (1939-2008) proposed a system change called Value Extracted Tax. VET brings tax on resources up and tax on labor down. This creates an incentive to use abundant and recycled materials. Lower taxes on labor make services more affordable. Every sector requiring manpower, craftsmanship and creativity will benefit from lower labor costs.
Russia has donated copies of ten American silent films to the Library of Congress, none of which are in US archives:
Russia tended to keep the films that were sent to it for distribution, whereas American studios all too often disposed of their silent features once they no longer had any commercial value. The Library of Congress is negotiating not only with Russia but with archives in France, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands, so we can look forward to many more such happy homecomings.
Also, luminous Orientalism. Bird photos by Gerry Sibell. Animated mechanisms. Anaglyphic stereoviews. And via wood s lot, the Dutch Nationaal Archief:

For sale: One 70-ton map, used only on Sundays. Metro maps and salt paper prints. Microphotography and the pigeon post. Vintage linen postcards. And collages by Kiyoshi Yamashita.

Jenny Odell's Satellite Collection (via things). A free and frank exchange of views with a tea-partier. More matchbox labels. And various subjects from the material world:

That's about as much as I can manage today, except for this:

(Photo at top: "Niagara Falls" by Hugh Lee Pattinson, 1840. Via Luminous Lint.)


liliannattel said...

The bird photos are amazing. I wish Canada would take a page out of the UK's book. We have lots of water, and the overruns for fixing the as yet unfixed nuclear plant in the Toronto area are in the billions.

charley said...

the bird photos might not be fake, but i suspect serious digital manipulation.

well done, i might add.

charley said...

and i might add, tho i only skimmed it, the pigeon post was a nice addendum.

photography has always been amazing.

so common now we forget.

i want one of those apple phones.

roger said...

thanks for keeping up the friday hope blogging. what could i comment, other than wow! keeps me busy for days.

Elliott said...

I always hope to find you every Friday.