Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

A new Senate bill would prevent Crisis Pregnancy Centers from advertising themselves as providers of "abortion services":

Rep. [Carolyn] Maloney said, "Although I may disagree with their views, many crisis pregnancy centers are forthright and respectful and they have a right to exist. Unfortunately, some take a more underhanded approach to lure in women seeking abortions by using tactics that should be illegal. Many women who face unwanted pregnancies find themselves in a very difficult, very personal situation. They shouldn't have to face the added stress of deciphering whether or not the clinic they choose offers legitimate medical services."
The panty-sniffing faux-Christian ghoul Phill Kline has suffered a legal setback:
A Kansas agency has refused to turn over abortion records subpoenaed by Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline. And if Kline doesn’t get them, Planned Parenthood attorneys said Monday, Kline’s criminal case against Planned Parenthood could crumble.
A federal judge has ruled in favor of an endangered lynx:
A federal judge today ruled that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is in violation of the Endangered Species Act for allowing trappers to set traps and snares that catch, injure, and kill Canada lynx, a protected species. The case was filed on behalf of Born Free USA, united with the Animal Protection Institute, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The court ordered the state to take all action necessary to ensure that no further takings of lynx will occur by trapping activities within core lynx habitat.
In another victory for the CBD, the deranged Shadowrock development has been halted:
In March 2007, the Army authorized the Shadowrock developer to start grading in critical habitat for the Peninsular bighorn sheep and alter and fill in stretches of pristine Chino Canyon Creek, home to the endangered least Bell’s vireo, in order to construct luxury houses and golf courses. The Center for Biological Diversity challenged the authorization and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion in federal court in April 2007. That May, the Army Corps suspended the authorization and re-initiated consultation. Finally, this week, the Army Corps revoked the authorization.
I've said it before, but CBD is a remarkably effective organization. If you've got a bit of cash to spare, you might consider sending it their way.

Waterbirds in Cambodia have been making a comeback thanks to relatively modest protections:
According to a report released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), several species of rare waterbirds from Cambodia's famed Tonle Sap region have staged remarkable comebacks, thanks to a project involving a single team of park rangers to provide 24-hour protection to breeding colonies. The project pioneered a novel approach: employing former hunters and egg collectors to protect and monitor the colonies, thereby guaranteeing the active involvement of local communities in the initiative.

The report shows that some species, which include varieties of storks, pelicans, and ibises, have rebounded 20-fold since 2001, when WCS and the Ministry of Environment of the Royal Government of Cambodia established the conservation project.

A ban on soy production in the Amazon seems to be having good effects:
"Without a doubt the results show that soy moratorium is being respected and that is good news," Paulo Adario, coordinator of Greenpeace's Amazon campaign, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. The report found no new soybean plantations in any of the 193 areas that showed deforestation of 100 hectares (250 acres) or more between August 2006 and August 2007.
India's telemedicine partnership with Ethiopia seems to be promising, too (despite certain troubling aspects that are noted in the article):
"We want Africans to share expertise with each other and for areas with few doctors to be linked to hospitals in cities so doctors there can fill the gap," said Ratan Singh, project director for the Indian government agency responsible for implementing the technology and training Ethiopians to use it.
Clear Channel and CBS have been trying to argue that a list of their LA-area billboards comprises a trade secret; apparently, billboards stop being effective when people find out where they are. A judge has quite properly told them to bugger off:
“The city is obliged to give out public information,” said Judge James Chalfant at the April 2 hearing that included lawyers from Clear Channel and CBS, the Los Angeles City Attorney's office and the Weekly. Chalfant told the two advertising giants that, despite their claims that the locations and ownership of billboards in Los Angeles should be kept secret from competitors, “Your competitor has the same right to the list"....

Los Angeles officials have long suspected that 40 percent of the 11,000 billboards in L.A. are illegal. Many activists and city leaders have demanded that a list be made public so that activists and others can fight the visual blight problem.
As part of its deadly plot to emasculate honest and vigorous men like Al Smith, PG&E is dramatically expanding solar-thermal power in the Southwest:
Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced today that it has entered into a series of contracts with BrightSource Energy, Inc. for renewable solar power. The first three contracts are for a total of 500 megawatts (MW) of power to be supplied from three solar thermal electric generating projects. PG&E also signed two contracts for options on an additional 400 MW of solar power, which would bring the total amount of power purchased under these five agreements to 900 MW.
Meanwhile, SoCal Edison has noticed that unused roofs are a good place for solar panels (this is an idea that your humble correspondent, who is no slouch when it comes to discovering the utterly fucking obvious, has been shrieking about for years). Here's a Flash animation detailing the project.

One the thing that sun can't do, it turns out, is take the blame for climate change:
New research has dealt a blow to the skeptics who argue that climate change is all due to cosmic rays rather than to man-made greenhouse gases. The new evidence shows no reliable connection between the cosmic ray intensity and cloud cover.

Lauded and criticised for offering a possible way out of the dangers of man made climate change, UK TV Channel 4's programme "The Great Global Warming Swindle", broadcast in 2007, suggested that global warming is due to a decrease in cosmic rays over the last hundred years....The new research shows that change in cloud cover over the Earth does not correlate to changes in cosmic ray intensity. Neither does it show increases and decreases during the sporadic bursts and decreases in the cosmic ray intensity which occur regularly.
While the Denial Industry wastes time, energy and money trying to spin this PR disaster, Inhabitat reports on a factory that runs on waste oat husks:
Scott’s Porage Oats, a Quaker Oats Factory at Uthrogle Mills in Scotland is installing a combined heat and power biomass boiler that will enable the factory to become carbon-neutral, running entirely on waste oat husks. The husks, removed from the oats during the milling process, will provide 9,709 MWhrs of electricity and 10,902 MWhrs of steam a year, reducing its emissions by 9,000 tonnes a year—equivalent to the annual emissions of 3,000 cars.
It also discusses an interesting new type of solar panel:
The development utilizes specially calibrated ROYGBIV panels to collect solar energy over a broad spectrum of wavelengths, yielding an unheard-of energy efficiency rating that is 7 times greater than conventional panels.
Hydrokinetic turbines on the Mississippi could reportedly generate 1600 megawatts:
Swing by the Mississippi River a few years from now, and you may be surprised to see hundreds of thousands of miniature electric turbines dotting the fast moving river's bed. All the electricity generated by this massive "in stream" hydrokinetic project - around 1,600-MW - would be enough to power up to 1.5 million homes, according to Daniel R. Irvin, the chief executive of Massachusetts startup Free Flow Power Corp.
Siting and wildlife protection are concerns, course, but the basic idea is a good one.

Meanwhile, Grist has compiled a nice timeline of defeats for the coal industry over the last year.

Five endangered kakapo chicks have hatched in New Zealand:
A species of flightless parrot edged back from extinction with the hatching of five new chicks in New Zealand in recent weeks and two more on the way, officials said Monday.

The latest births of owl-like kakapos in southern New Zealand brought the population of the rare bird to just 91, said Emma Neill, a senior official of a Department of Conservation program to save the parrot.

And on Santa Cruz Island, a pair of bald eagles has hatched two chicks:
Russell Galipeau, superintendent of the park, said it was thrilling to see the birds' recovery on the island.

"In just six years we have progressed from releasing birds to the wild to birds being born in the wild," he said.
You can spy on them by clicking here.

A dam has been breached in Montana so that toxic sediment can be removed from its reservoir.
Its breaching represents the first time a dam has been taken out specifically as part of a multiyear process to clean up a toxic river bottom. The lower water level with the dam gone will allow engineers easier access for cleaning.

Contractors will spend several years digging up toxic sediments 25-feet-(eight meter)deep in some places. Eventually, the former reservoir is slated to become a recreation area.
Orion has an interesting article on the debate over what to do with an urban wilderness in Brooklyn:
This is not a park, or a piece of preserved nature, but a previously developed area in the process of reverting to wildness. Urban wildernesses tend to happen by mistake. In a city like New York, where space is at such a premium that former synagogues, sugar factories, and schools have all been reborn as luxury condos, a wilderness can only be the result of inattention.
See also: The Mathematics of Preservation and the Future of Urban Ruins at BLDGBLOG.

A new meteor crater has been discovered in Australia...on Google Maps:
Hickman found the crater whilst exploring the satellite imagery of the area on Google Earth. The crater is 270m across but had not been previously discovered. Arthur Hickman has been rewarded for his eagle eyed discovery by having the crater named after him. It is now known as the Hickman Crater.

Also: Ontario's Rural Ruins (via things). The mortal remains of the Newell Telescope. Sound sculptures by Bill Fontana (check out Pigeon Soundings and Oscillating Steel Grids Along the Brooklyn Bridge).

The Bioscope alerts me to The Open Video Project, which includes "187 Edison production from the Library of Congress, dating from the 1890s and 1900s." It also recommends this book, which I'm going to stumble out and buy this very day; I know of at least one occasional reader who'll be tempted to do likewise.

Message in a Bottle allows you to track the progress of seafaring bottles via GPS:
Several of the bottles are being tracked using GPS technology and are programmed to send
their longitude and latitude coordinates back to Ramsgate every hour. The information they transmit is used to create a real time drawing of their progress.

Each non-GPS bottle contains a message from residents of Ramsgate to the residents of The Chatham Islands, a pencil and an instruction leaflet which requests anyone finding a bottle to report to this website and record where and when the bottle was found. In addition they are requested to document their find on
a form inside the bottle before returning the bottle to the sea to continue its journey. Details of found bottles may be viewed on the view found bottles page.
If you're in Los Angeles, be sure to visit Birdfoot, a photo exhibit on the Mississippi River Delta (the book version is available here). If that sounds interesting, you'll probably also enjoy this map-based artwork by Sue Beyer.

The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection "brings together a remarkable selection of digitised letters, notes, articles and even some of the insect specimens he collected on his travels." It also includes some of his architectural drawings for a proposed natural history museum:

I'll leave you with this scene from the life of Chip, The Wooden Man, circa 1928.

(Illustration at top: "Edward Henry Windred (1875-1953) was a popular painter of racing pigeons between the wars. In the 1920s and 1930s, owners of prize winning pigeons would often commission a painting of them. Windred was one of the most prolific painters, and also ran a barbers shop in New Cross where he lived at 352 New Cross Road. People would bring their pigeons to the shop where he would paint them." Via Transpontine.)


The Kenosha Kid said...

As part of its deadly plot to emasculate honest and vigorous men like Al Lewis

The link goes to an article written by Al Smith, not (Grandpa Munster) Al Lewis.

Phila said...

Oops. Smart boy wanted. Thanks!

AJ Kandy said...

also, unless this was intentional, the solar panel article is an April Fool's hoax. 7 times more efficient because there are...7 colours in ROYGBIV?

res ipsa loquitur said...

The Phill Kline setback made my day! That man is a menace. Thanks, Phila.

Phila said...

also, unless this was intentional, the solar panel article is an April Fool's hoax. 7 times more efficient because there are...7 colours in ROYGBIV?

Yep. Just thought it was funny....

Ali said...

I prefer despair, but thanks anyway.

Doodle Bean said...

Even though I posted on Thursday, I have a hopeful quotation from Dickens and a kinda hopeful doodle as my contribution to Friday Hope blogging...

Forgive the blogwhoring if it makes you feel despair.

four legs good said...

YAY!! I can haz hope.

Anonymous said...

Atrios linked here, and this is one of the best blog posts ever. I love the positive news, giving hope to the cynical blogging masses.

I like hearing about other species--Homo sapiens are a bit tiresome and depressing after a long week. Thanks Bouphonia! (what is bouphonia?)

Phila said...

Thanks, Anon! If you click the "hope" tag at the bottom, you can read earlier installments.

Thanks Bouphonia! (what is bouphonia?)

Here are the gory details.

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