Thursday, October 06, 2011

Lake Offers Clues to Climate Change

Lake Agassiz Demise; Long-Lost Lake Offers Clues to Climate Change

Quoting from the latter:

“My work focuses on abrupt or rapid climate change,” Lowell said. “The Younger Dryas offers an opportunity to study such change. The climate then went from warming to cooling very rapidly, in less than 30 years or so.”

Scientists noted that the Younger Dryas cold spell seemed to coincide with lower water levels in Lake Agassiz. Had the lake drained? And, if so, had the fresh water of the lake caused this climate change by disrupting ocean currents? This is the view of many scientists, Lowell said.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Proposed Alaska Coal Mine Divides Community, Elicits Racism

Proposed Alaska Coal Mine Divides Community, Elicits Racism

The Wishbone Hills coal mine, a controversial project proposed by the Usibelli Mine Company five miles west of the small community of Sutton, Alaska, and Chickaloon Village of the Chickaloon Tribe, is driving a wedge between local community members.

At a contentious September 7 town hall meeting that overflowed the building’s capacity to discuss the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ mining renewal permits for the project, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly favored positively. The borough’s petition cited the mine as a 'God given resource.' A Chickaloon Tribal resolution was against, said Ahtna Athabascan/Suqpiat and Chickaloon tribal member Shawna Larson, a spokesperson for Chickaloon Village Coal.

A news story September 8 in the Anchorage Daily News elicited a racist rant in the comments section that ran for at least one day before the newspaper pulled it.

This reminds me of the Brockton Power plant project - "Neighborhoods have sprung up since the original remote mine went into operation, and since the last small scale mining in the 1980s, and now lie within a half mile of the proposed project." Just because it made sense at one point, or was environmentally reasonable at one time, doesn't mean it is now.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cosmic Weight Watching Reveals Black Hole-Galaxy History

Cosmic Weight Watching Reveals Black Hole-Galaxy History

Using state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated data analysis tools, a team of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has developed a new and powerful technique to directly determine the mass of an active galaxy at a distance of nearly 9 billion light-years from Earth. This pioneering method promises a new approach for studying the co-evolution of galaxies and their central black holes. First results indicate that for galaxies, the best part of cosmic history was not a time of sweeping changes.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Hydropower in China With Devastating Consequences

Liu Zhi: “Chaos reigns in China’s river valleys”

Despite fatal mudslides, disappearing fish stocks and parched riverbeds, China’s headlong dam-building rush shows no signs of slowing. Liu Zhi, of the Beijing-based Transition Institute, examines why. He argues that government control of rivers, rewards for ‘growth’ and bribes from dam-builders give local governments incentives to approve dams willy-nilly. Since the losses are borne by the public, while the profits go to local officials, they get built anyway. The situation won’t change, Liu writes, until Chinese governments face the rule of law.

Overdoing anything, or doing it in the wrong spot, even something as green-seeming as hydropower damages an ecology (or multiple ecologies, as in this case). Development, even of green energy projects, without close examination of the environmental impacts of that development, helps no one.