stayholden asked: Hello! I am studying International Relations with a Minor in Environmental Policy/Law. I am currently writing a paper on Hypoxia in Japan. Know of any good documentaries or places I could visit with good information?
Hey stayholden, Best I can think of is NOAA’s hypoxia projects. There’s also research on the Great Lakes, which I’m sure you’re aware of. But maybe check out the work being done on Lake Balaton in Hungary. Sounds like an interesting research project. Do keep in touch! m
Did you watch the Landsat 8 liftoff today?
It saw the Landsat-8 mission hurtle skywards on an Atlas rocket from the US Air Force base at Vandenberg shortly after 10:00 local time (18:00 GMT).
The spacecraft will maintain the longest continuous image record of the Earth’s surface as viewed from space. It is a record that now stretches back over 40 years - an invaluable tool for studying our changing world.
The latest spacecraft was lifted by the Atlas into a 680km-high polar orbit. It will take about three months for Nasa engineers to test the platform and get it ready for use at its operational altitude of 705km.
“Landsat is a critical asset,” said US space agency (Nasa) project scientist Dr Jim Irons. “land.
“In order for us to adapt to these changes and make sensible decisions about what we do to the surface of the planet, we need the information this satellite series gives us,” he told told BBC News.
The entire 40-year image archive is open and free. Scientists around the globe exploit the information in myriad ways - from monitoring the health of crops and the status of volcanoes, to measuring the growth of cities and the extent of glaciers.
One of uses best known to the general public will be on their phones and computers through Google, which incorporates Landsat data into its Earth and Maps applications.
A selection of gorgeous images captured by Landsat 7:
- Antarctic Pack Ice
- Antarctica’s Byrd Glacier
- Mount Etna, Italy
- The meandering Mississippi River
- Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland
Landstat 8 is launching this week. The stakes are very high because Landstat 7 is running out of fuel, and could possibly go offline. Landstat 8 will provide higher resolution images of the earth. The satellite project has provided scientists, researchers, private businesses, and governments with incredible wealth of data.
Landsat data has become a fundamental data source for addressing basic science questions. It is a valuable resource for decision makers in the fields of agriculture, forestry, land use, water resources and natural resource exploration.
Landsat has also played an increasing role in diverse applications such as human population census, growth of global urbanization and deletion of coastal wetlands.
As human populations increasingly dominate the Earth’s land areas, understanding changes in land cover and land use from year to year becomes increasingly important for both decision makers and human occupants of the Earth.
I’ll be writing more about Landstat over the coming months. It is one of the most important systems in shaping climate adaptation policy and other environmental decision making.
You can read the history of Landstat at NASA.
More on the new launch, via Wired.
Fed environmental agency tri-fecta complete. Obama has lost Chu, Jackson, and now Salazar.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who overhauled the federal government’s troubled offshore drilling agency after the BP oil spill and locked horns with Republicans over energy policy, plans to step down at the end of March.
Salazar, a former senator, will return to his ranch and family in Colorado, according to the Interior Department.
His tenure has included a heavy focus on developing solar power, wind and other green energy sources on federal lands.
He battled frequently with Republicans who say the Interior Department should allow faster oil-and-gas development on federal lands and make more offshore areas available for drilling.
Salazar’s departure is part of a wider turnover of President Obama’s energy and environment team.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson announced in December that she plans to depart sometime after Obama’s State of the Union Address, which will be delivered Feb. 12.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu is widely expected to leave as well, although he has not announced any plans.
Salazar, whose ever-present 10-gallon hat and bolo tie showed his Western roots, has been a colorful and sometimes combative chief of the agency that oversees conservation, recreation and oil-and-gas drilling on vast swaths of federal land.
Why Big Ag Loves the Drought
Seriously, they do.
Record profits in a drought year?
New Jersey Transit’s struggle to recover from Superstorm Sandy is being compounded by a pre-storm decision to park much of its equipment in two rail yards that forecasters predicted would flood, a move that resulted in damage to one-third of its locomotives and a quarter of its passenger cars.
That damage is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars and take many months to repair, a Reuters examination has found.
The Garden State’s commuter railway parked critical equipment - including much of its newest and most expensive stock - at its low-lying main rail yard in Kearny just before the hurricane. It did so even though forecasters had released maps showing the wetland-surrounded area likely would be under water when Sandy’s expected record storm surge hit. Other equipment was parked at its Hoboken terminal and rail yard, where flooding also was predicted and which has flooded before.
Among the damaged equipment: nine dual-powered locomotive engines and 84 multi-level rail cars purchased over the past six years at a cost of about $385 million.
EXCLUSIVE: New Jersey railway put trains in flood zone despite warnings
A writer at io9 has rounded up and nicely packaged the question about “animal personhood.” From the perspective of my legal training, I just cannot see how animals could be considered “persons” beyond traditional conservation efforts. How, for example, would we tax animals to provide them with services? Would stealing someone’s pet be felony kidnapping (currently, pets are considered property)? And, for my law friends: How would state constitutions be updated to provide for the “health, safety, and welfare” of animals in the same way as people?
But, as the article shows, a group of researchers and legal scholars feel strongly about the issue. In fact, they’re trying to make it happen. What a great read. From the opening paragraphs:
A grassroots movement has recently emerged in which a number of scientists, philosophers, ethicists and legal experts have rallied together in support of the idea that some nonhuman animals are persons and thus deserving of human-like legal protections. Their efforts have subsequently thrown conventional notions of personhood into question by suggesting that humans aren’t the only persons on the planet. So what is a person, exactly? We spoke to two experts to find out.
To help with the discussion, we spoke to Lori Marino, Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience at Emory University and the Science Director for the Nonhuman Rights Project (not to be confused with the IEET’s Rights of the Nonhuman Persons Program, of which I am the founder and Chair), and John Shook, a Research Associate in Philosophy and faculty member of the Science and the Public EdM online program at the University at Buffalo.
As we learned through our conversations with them, it may be some time before we reach consensus on what truly constitutes a person, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that many nonhuman animals are smarter and more aware than previously thought — what will certainly upset our notions of their legal and moral standing.
It’s worth reading the rest: When does an animal count as a person?
Government crackdown on mining protest in Peru escalates.
A fifth person has died in this protest against the US majority-owned gold mining project, the largest-ever in Peru, that Andean people say will threaten their water supply. They have been protesting this mine for eight months now. The past two days have seen a violent crackdown by police, led by President Humala. From Reuters:
Humala took office a year ago urging mediation to solve hundreds of disputes nationwide over natural resources, but has lost patience with protesters and has suspended civil liberties to curb demonstrations at least three times.
Oscar Valdes, who led the last violent crackdown in November while he was interior minister, has since been promoted to prime minister.
Andean people protest against Newmont Mining’s Conga gold project during a march near the Cortada lagoon in Peru’s region of Cajamarca November 24, 2011. Peru’s prime minister on December 2, 2011, said Newmont Mining must set aside money to finance social projects and any environmental damage as a precondition for moving forward on a stalled $4.8 billion gold mine project. Opponents of Newmont Mining’s project refused to end their rallies, saying Peru must permanently cancel the proposed mine after temporarily halting work on it to avert violence. Protesters and farmers say the mine would cause pollution and hurt water supplies by replacing a string of alpine lakes with artificial reservoirs.
According to Reuters, there are some 200 such environmental protests in Peru right now that “threaten to delay billions of dollars in planned mining and oil projects.”
The president of Peru declared a state of emergency yesterday, suspending all civil liberties to try to stop the protest that’s managed to drive out Newmont, the American company behind the $4.8 billion gold mining project.
Brazilian Indians threaten mass suicide over loss of land
October 24, 2012
Approximately 100 adults and 70 children members of the indigenous tribe Guarani-Kaiowa announced this week that they prefer collective death to leave the Cambar’s farm in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, where they settled, than to accept the Federal Court rule that everyone should leave immediately.
The collective death threat, interpreted as a warning of collective suicide, was made in a letter to the Indigenous Missionary Council, which reaffirms that the Indians will not abide by the decision of the court. The Indians say they are not going to leave the region. They call this region ‘tekoha’ which means ancestral cemetery.
According to the Federal Court’s decision, the Indians must leave the farm and if they do not, the National Foundation of Indians, FUNAI, will have to pay a fine of approximately $ 250 per day.
According to the Indians Missionary Council, the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe is known for continuing acts of suicide and almost every six days, one tribesman kills himself, because of the stress of the threat of being evicted from their land.
In the letter sent to Federal Court, they demanded that the decision be over ruled, for the reason that they won’t leave the grounds of their ancestors. They also ask that the Justice secure their rights to be buried in these lands, so that even in their dead bed, they will continue to occupy their territory.
This is heartbreaking. We’ll continue to track the story & post updates.
Regional planning. Very sexy intro to how your living situation could be improved.
Back to School: Peter Calthorpe at PennDesign - “Reflections on Urbanisms - New, Traditional, and Global”
Really great interactive map. Hover your mouse over nearly any country to view stats on ag production and needs. There’s also a drop down menu to help show various densities by color on the map. Straight forward and well researched. Check it out and follow the center for investigative reporting.
The United States is the world’s biggest economy and the leading exporter of wheat, corn, beef and many other commodities. It also has the most unequal wealth distribution of all major developed countries. Economic woes in the U.S. have led to one in seven Americans to rely on food assistance.
Get more information on world food statistics from the U.S. and countries around the world in our interactive map.
Energy independence is a tough pill to swallow for America’s environmentalists (and many of my lovely readers). But, it is more closely regulated here than practically any other country on the planet. It’s not perfect (and I’m well aware of the consequences, thank you), but drilling and fracking in North America is comparatively cleaner and safer. Drilling at home does provide jobs (not as many as politicians claim), contributes to the economy, is an Obama campaign promise, and (generally) helps prevent oil money from going to nefarious groups in the middle east, Russia, and Africa.
This project shines a bright light onto an issue that nearly all Americans don’t normally experience. It also serves to force environmentalists to make better arguments.
Photographing the Invisible
Marcellus Shale Documentary Project is a collaborative effort by photographers to document the effects of fracking throughout Pennsylvania. Its director considers it a modern-day equivalent to the 1935-1944 Farm Security Administration mission that sent photographers across the United States to document the challenges of rural poverty.
A profile by the New York Times though gets to a singular difficulty: “The problem facing [the] photographers… is that what they wish to describe cannot be seen — an invisible gas buried deep underground.”
Solution? Focus on people, places and processes. Via the Times:
The group’s photographs depict a heavy industrial process scattered across a rural landscape: amid miles of lush green forest or farmland, suddenly there is a shaved patch. Atop the clearing is a battery of drilling equipment: a tall derrick, bright klieg lights and lined troughs full of chemical wastewater. In some photographs, a long, steel pipeline snakes through the frame. In others, the flare from a drill rig lights the night sky. There are pictures of people, too: farmers who leased their land for drilling, homeowners with enough methane in their groundwater to light a tap on fire; and here and there, an industry employee.
Image: A natural gas pipeline under construction in Franklin Township, by Noah Addis, via the New York Times.
“In the worst wildfire season on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service ran out of money to pay for firefighters, fire trucks and aircraft that dump retardant on monstrous flames.
So officials did about the only thing they could: take money from other forest management programs. But many of the programs were aimed at preventing giant fires in the first place, and raiding their budgets meant putting off the removal of dried brush and dead wood over vast stretches of land — the things that fuel eye-popping blazes, threatening property and lives.”
Read the rest at WaPo