Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

The Senate has voted to repeal the HIV travel ban:

Language added to the Senate bill by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., would reverse a policy that has made it difficult for HIV-positive foreigners to visit or seek residency in the United States.

"For 20 years, the United States has barred HIV-positive travelers from entering the country even for one day," said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. "Today the Senate said loud and clear that AIDS exceptionalism must come to an end."
And the Massachussets Senate has voted to repeal a 1913 law that denies marriage licenses to out-of-state couples:
The law prohibits couples from obtaining marriage licenses if they couldn't legally wed in their home states.

After Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay marriages in 2004, then-Gov. Mitt Romney ordered town clerks to enforce the little-known law and deny licenses to out-of-state couples.
The Santa Fe National Forest will get some much-needed protection from off-road vehicles:
“The proposed travel plan is a good first step toward protecting wildlife and natural resources from off-road vehicles,” said Cyndi Tuell at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But we think protecting imperiled species will require going beyond what’s been proposed.”

The travel plan will reduce roads in the forest by 47 percent, protecting habitat for the Mexican spotted owl, goshawk, Jemez Mountain salamander, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The Santa Fe currently has one of the highest road densities of any forest in New Mexico.
Ontario claims that it will protect 55 million acres of the Northern Boreal Forest:
Monday, Primer Dalton McGuinty announced that Ontario will set aside 55 million acres of Northern Boreal Forest for permanent protection from development. The area, one of the world's largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems, is roughly the size of the United Kingdom.

More than 1,500 scientists worldwide sent letters to inspire the Canadian government to initiate the legislation, which, once enacted in 10 to 15 years, will work to protect the forest as well as its more than 200 sensitive animal species from oil, mining and logging interests.
(But what about the scientists who didn't send letters? They're obviously being suppressed! Teach the controversy!)

Wal-Mart claims that it will "participate in the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), an effort to rein in illegal and unsustainable logging."
Under the terms of the agreement, Wal-Mart has one year to complete an assessment of where its wood furniture is sourced and whether the wood is from legal and well-managed forests. Following the assessment, Wal-Mart will eliminate wood from illegal and unknown sources within five years. The company will also jettison wood from forests that are of "critical importance due to their environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values and that aren't well-managed."
Trust, but verify, as the saying is.

A Kenyan court has temporarily blocked a plan to produce sugar and biofuels in a coastal wetland:
The government and the country's biggest sugar miller, Mumias, wants to plant cane on 20,000 hectares in the Tana River Delta to create jobs and plug an annual 200,000-tonne sugar deficit.

But the Malindi High Court ruled on Friday that environmentalists and groups representing local livestock keepers could apply for a judicial review, according to a copy of the order seen by Reuters on Sunday.
The discovery of a new migration route for the endangered leatherback turtle could aid conservation efforts:
"Given that the turtles seem to move in a predictable way from the nesting beach through the equatorial region from roughly February through April, we could potentially suspend fishing in certain areas while the leatherbacks are passing through that part of the eastern Pacific," George Shillinger said, a member of the large team who conducted the study and a doctoral candidate at Stanford.
In other turtle-related news, villagers in Madagascar have voted to protect green turtles:
In a move unprecedented in southwest Madagascar, residents of the remote village of Lamboara have now voted to protect surrounding beaches, outlawing turtle nest raiding and targeted turtle fishing.

The emergence of 92 live hatchlings marks the success of an awareness-raising campaign launched by Blue Ventures two years ago. This aims to find and protect turtle nests along a 50km stretch of coastline south of Morombe.

"The impact of a small amount of education on the lifecycle and biology of the turtle has been amazing," says marine biologist Charlotte Gough, campaign co-ordinator. "People here understand their resources are being overexploited, and that they need to do something to preserve them for future generations. The residents themselves put forward the idea of protecting whole beaches during the nesting season."

(Photo courtesy of Blue Ventures.)

This just in: No-take zones help overfished species to recover.
Five years without fishing around Lundy Island off the coast of Devon have brought a significant revival in sea life, scientists report.

Lobsters are seven times more abundant within the protected zone than outside.
New coral reefs have been discovered in Brazil:
Scientists have announced the discovery of reef structures they believe doubles the size of the Southern Atlantic Ocean's largest and richest reef system, the Abrolhos Bank, off the southern coast of Brazil's Bahia state. The newly discovered area is also far more abundant in marine life than the previously known Abrolhos reef system, one of the world's most unique and important reefs.
Red pandas bred in captivity have been released into the wild. You can see a video here.

Scientists at MIT have come up with an interesting new solar array:
MIT’s solar concentrator maximizes its mileage by using an efficient expanse of light-collecting glass to guide sunlight into a minute array of potent photovoltaics. The glass panels are coated with a dye that absorbs sunlight and channels it along the pane’s edges while altering its wavelength to reduce energy loss from light transportation. The result is a system that can collect light over a very large area, but requires a very small array of solar cells.

The versatile panels can be roof mounted or installed as windows, and their inherent design negates the need for a solar tracking system. Since little complex circuitry is required, the panes are very tolerant to defects, plus the dye used is extremely inexpensive, and it is easily “painted on” the glass panels. The development could be implemented as soon as three years from now.

At Purdue, meanwhile, researchers claim to have made a breakthrough in LED lighting:
LED lights now on the market are prohibitively expensive, in part because they are created on a substrate, or first layer, of sapphire. The Purdue researchers have solved this problem by developing a technique to create LEDs on low-cost, metal-coated silicon wafers....
Metaefficient reports on rainwater harvesting at a high school in Arlington, VA:
The building captures 280,000 gallons of water a year. Regrettably, the rainwater is only used for onsite irrigation, sidewalk washing, and other non-potable uses. However, the center does have waterless urinals which result in a 23% reduction in potable water use.

Nearby in Maryland, the Philip Merrill building (headquarters of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation), captures even more rainwater — 402,461 gallons a year — the rain provides almost all the water used in the building.
I don't know why these stupid hippies go to all this trouble, when you can get perfectly good water out of the tap!

Detroit's City Council may soon rescind its dubious sludge-recycling deal with Synagro:
The council voted 5-4 to pay Synagro $47 million a year to dispose of sewage sludge from the city's waste-treatment plant. Some of the sludge would be converted into fertilizer and the rest incinerated at a newly built burner....

Federal authorities are investigating whether bribes occurred to secure approval of the deal. At least four council members, staff, departmental personnel and people outside government are under investigation, sources have said.
NASA has released a useful carbon map of the United States:
The Vulcan Project, named after the Roman god of fire, found that different areas have different reasons for being at the top of the list.

"Consider the top three counties," says Kevin Gurney, referring to Harris, Texas, Los Angeles, California, and Cook County, Illinois. "Around Houston, it's industrial emissions that pushes them to the top of the list. In Los Angeles, it's cars. In Chicago, it's residential and commercial heating—because the temperatures are cold and the houses and buildings are old."
When you break the problem down this way, it seems quite a bit easier to address. The next step should be even more illuminating:
Project Hestia, named after the Greek goddess of home and hearth, proposes to create a global inventory of carbon emissions that will have information at the micro-level of neighborhoods.
To put things in a bit more perspective, here's all the water and air on earth.

That said: Grotesque Figures Carved on Modern Skyscrapers. A video Periodic Table. The sound of wobbling jelly (via Coudal). A somewhat gruesome survey of the "fascinating mold" Empusa (Entomophtora) muscae, and a veritable Grand Tour of Viper's Bugloss.

Agence Eureka explains how to make a rather frightening species of puppet. And BibliOdyssey has a collection of rare art by Beatrix Potter...very much worth looking at, even if you think you know her work all too well.

Also on display at BibliOdyssey, the remarkable work of Edward Bawden, which I hadn't come across before:

Last, "The Fugitive Futurist," from 1924. It's a little long, but stick with it.

(Photo at top by Irene Suchocki, via wood s lot.)


Anonymous said...

Behbeh turtles cute!


Anonymous said...

In the story about green turtle hatchlings you have used one of our (Blue Ventures') photos without permission and without crediting us. We would be most grateful if you could either mention that the photo is courtesy of Blue Ventures, put a link to our website ( or remove the photo.

Many thanks for your help,

Phila said...

Sorry about that, Charlotte! Will fix it right now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Philia, and we do appreciate you spreading the news of the turtle hatchings, it's a huge success for us!