Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Hope Blogging

I hope you're all prepared to live in a cave and subsist on roots and bracken, because the End of Civilization is nigh:

The Environmental Protection Agency concluded Friday that greenhouse gases linked to climate change "endanger public health and welfare," setting the stage for regulating them under federal clean air laws.
There's a 60-day comment period; it'd be a very good idea to express your support for this decision, because you can be sure that the denialists and inactivists will be out in force. Here's the contact info.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced steps to protect U.S. waters from the threat of ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act. Today, EPA issued a notice of data availability to be published in the Federal Register that calls for information and data on ocean acidification that the agency will use to evaluate water-quality criteria under the Clean Water Act.

The notice responded to a formal petition and threatened litigation from the Center for Biological Diversity that sought to compel the agency to impose stricter pH criteria for ocean water quality and publish guidance to help states protect American waters from ocean acidification. EPA’s notice marks the first time that the Clean Water Act will be invoked by the agency to address ocean acidification.
In related news, the US and Mexico have agreed to work together on reducing emissions:
President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, meeting in Mexico City, agreed to broaden political and technical cooperation on those issues by forming a "US-Mexico Bilateral Framework on Clean Energy and Climate Change," the statement released by the White House said.

"The Bilateral Framework will focus on: renewable energy, energy efficiency, adaptation, market mechanisms, forestry and land use, green jobs, low carbon energy technology development and capacity building," it said.
And a federal judge has refused to halt the clean truck program at Southern California ports:
A federal judge in Washington refused Wednesday to halt the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach's clean-truck program, which aims to phase out 17,000 polluting big rigs that shuttle freight to and from rail terminals and other transport hubs.

In denying a preliminary injunction sought by the Federal Maritime Commission, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said the regulators had presented "weak" arguments that the program threatens to cause irreparable harm or to unreasonably increase shipping costs. The busiest ports in the nation, Los Angeles and Long Beach handle 40% of the United States' import and export container traffic.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has made an important decision on whistleblower protections:
On April 2, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit delivered an opinion that should be considered nothing less than a victory for openness and accountability in government and for the protection of free speech. At the core of the court's decision was the affirmation that government workers who speak up against injustice inside their agency are protected by the First Amendment. Thanks to this ruling, public employees seeking to point out abuse or incompetence inside government can feel a little more secure when they blow the whistle.
Saudi Arabia claims that it will place restrictions on child marriages:
Days after a Saudi judge upheld the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a man 39 years her senior and blocked a divorce, the kingdom's justice minister said he plans to enact a law that will protect young girls from such marriages, according to local media reports.

The law will place restrictions on the practice to preserve the rights of children and prevent abuses, Justice Minister Mohammed Al-Issa told Al-Watan, a daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia, where all newspapers require government permission to publish.
Washington state is moving towards equal rights for same-sex couples:
ame-sex domestic partners would have all the rights and benefits that Washington state offers married couples under a bill passed Wednesday by the state Legislature.

The Democratic-controlled House approved the Senate-passed measure on a mostly party-line 62-35 vote after nearly two hours of debate. It next goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who said she will sign it into law.
This is a great idea:
Santa Monica officials say there are simply too many would-be gardeners and too little public garden space.

So gardeners and officials have come up with an idea they call the frontyard and backyard registry. The idea would connect gardeners with homeowners who are interested in hosting gardens but don't have the time to care for them.

They are now developing the registry and looking for homeowners willing to allow a stranger with garden tools and seeds to tend a section of their yard.
This idea isn't so bad either:
Today, humans perform visual inspections every two years of most of the nation's older bridges. But with a scarcity of inspectors and tens of thousands of bridges, that process can be long and laborious....

To address the issue, a team of University of Miami College of Engineering researchers are implementing a self-powered monitor system for bridges that can continuously check their condition using wireless sensors that "harvest" power from structural vibration and wind energy.
Florida will protect sea turtles from commercial harvest:
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Wednesday published a proposed rule to ban the commercial harvest of wild freshwater turtles in both public and private waters. Agency staff advised the Commission at its April meeting to accept language of a proposed rule to close turtle harvest in both types of waters after receiving an emergency rulemaking request in March 2008 from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, and the St. Johns Riverkeeper. The conservation and public health groups asked the Commission to prohibit turtle harvest for two reasons: (1) in order to protect human health; and (2) for the conservation of native turtle species.

Peter Galvin, conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity, stated, “We commend Florida for taking this historic action to protect freshwater turtles.”
A very rare bird has hatched in Bermuda:
A fuzzy fledgling of Bermuda's national bird, spotted on a secluded offshore sanctuary this week, may help bring the rare creature back from the brink of extinction.

The baby bird — found nestled in an artificial concrete burrow on protected Nonsuch Island by scientists — is the first recorded Bermuda petrel chick seen on the 16-acre (6-hectare) site for centuries, Bermuda's Department of Conservation said Thursday.

Just 300 of the endangered birds, commonly known as Cahows, exist in and around Bermuda. They breed nowhere else in the world.
Photo by Louis Mowbray.

There's talk of a cure for colony collapse disorder:
In a study published in the new journal from the Society for Applied Microbiology: Environmental Microbiology Reports, scientists from Spain analysed two apiaries and found evidence of honey bee colony depopulation syndrome (also known as colony collapse disorder in the USA). They found no evidence of any other cause of the disease (such as the Varroa destructor, IAPV or pesticides), other than infection with Nosema ceranae. The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.
Researchers have found a huge forest of black coral:
A new survey of the Mediterranean sea bed discovered what is thought to be the world's largest black coral forest, a rare species. It's located in the strait of Messina, between Italy and Siciliy, in the Mediterranean sea.
And a colony of orangutans has been found in Borneo:
With roughly 50,000 orangutans thought to remain in the wild, the new find could add 5 percent to the world's known orangutan numbers, said Erik Meijaard, senior ecologist for the Nature Conservancy in Indonesia.
This is fascinating:
Scientists have found life in an ecosystem trapped underneath a glacier in Antarctica for nearly 2 million years. The microbes, they suggest, are surviving the dark, oxygen-free waters by drawing energy from sulfur and iron. The findings provide insight into how life may have survived "Snowball Earth"--periods when some scientists speculate that the planet was entombed in ice--and hint at the possibility of life in other inhospitable environments, such as Mars and Jupiter's icy moon Europa.
Nokia is apparently making an effort to improve its sourcing of raw materials:
We hear a lot about companies like Apple, Dell or HP working to take toxic materials out of their devices, or use recycled materials in the products. We also talk a lot about supply chain emissions reporting. But we don't as often talk about - but should - is the sourcing of the raw materials. Bringing a little focus to this and expanding the spotlight out to other materials is a great way to remind consumers and companies that the whole product from cradle to cradle needs to be ethically and sustainably processed.
Germany has banned Monsanto's GM corn:
Under the new regulations, the cultivation of MON 810, a GM corn produced by the American biotech giant Monsanto, will be prohibited in Germany, as will the sale of its seed. Aigner told reporters Tuesday she had legitimate reasons to believe that MON 810 posed "a danger to the environment," a position which she said the Environment Ministry also supported. In taking the step, Aigner is taking advantage of a clause in EU law which allows individual countries to impose such bans
Speaking of bans, Abunga Books, which used exciting new Web 2.0 capabilities to bring book-banning within reach of anyone with a computer and a grudge against diversity of opinion, has gone out of business. Which is as it should be.

In conclusion: Tweenbots. A frost flower. Digital books on early cinema, available online. French bridges and aqueducts. Photos by Nancy Rexroth. Paste-ups by Barbara Kruger.

Matchbox labels from eastern Europe. The Phillips Glass Plate Negatives Collection and the Clyde Engineering Collection. A close-up view of the white oak. And close-up views of sand by Gary Greenberg.

Random images from the Heartland. An infinite photograph and a History of Ballooning. Wolf Vostell's La Tortuga. Pictures by Xavi Heredia. Sounds of an Icelandic geyser. And a collection of Photochroms from the Library of Congress.

And, of course, a movie.

(Illustration at top: "Untitled (Tilly Losch)" by Joseph Cornell, 1935.)


Anonymous said...

The Barbara Kruger paste-ups take me back to a very specific time and place, with very specific people, many of whom are no longer alive. Thank you so much for that link!

I'm a bit stunned at the various bits of EPA news, I have to say.

And I'm always happy to see Monsanto getting kicked in the fucking teeth.

You're a peach AND a plumb, phila!


Cheryl Rofer said...

EEeeep! My very favorite little animals, the rotifers.

Fellow Oregonian said...

Appreciate the FHB. Thank you.

Xan said...

{{sighs in relief}}. I can well imagine what a task this is for you, and am delighted every friday (so far!) to see another FHB. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It's so good to hear all this, especially with so much negativity in the news. I don't know how you do it!

Phila said...

I don't know how you do it!

It's a simple matter of ignoring all my other responsibilities for six to eight hours....

Of course, it usually cheers me up too, given the stuff I normally blog about.

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