Photograph by Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of Nicholas Metivier, Toronto, and Howard Greenberg and Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.
Whether to build the international pipeline, designed to convey the Tar-sands oil from the massive deposits in Western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast for refining, has not only become an explosive issue in this year’s presidential election, it has become central to the debate over the future habitability of planet earth. A special report.
By John H. Richardson
When you arrive at night in Fort McMurray, the little Canadian town that might just destroy the world, the tiny airport looks smaller because of the snow and all the Explorers and Rangers and four-wheel drives in the parking lot. An ambitious ramp enters a highway so wide the shoulders must be in different time zones, and trucks the size of dinosaurs roar by belching clouds of steam and snow. The smaller trucks have buggy whips that hoist flags high above them so the giant trucks will notice their insignificant speck existence and avoid running over them. The giants are so large they need little pilot trucks to guide them, one ahead and one behind. Largest of all are the hauler trucks that pull hoppers piled with tons of black sand, the prize of all this furious enterprise. They look like props from Star Wars — you expect a turret to swivel and shoot out death rays. But what they actually do might turn out to be more deadly. Here, they gouge and siphon that black sand from deep in the earth and through an awesome alchemical process turn it into something resembling crude oil. A triumph of science and engineering. And nearby lie the beginnings of a nineteen-hundred-mile international pipeline — the Keystone XL, it’s called — that will carry a million barrels of the stuff every day, down through the breadbasket of America to the Gulf Coast of Texas, where it will be refined and shipped to the emerging economic powers of the world.
Already this little burg is the greatest source of imported oil into the United States, and now it also finds itself central to the fight over global warming and the future habitability of planet Earth, which has been sending scientists all over the world into a state of increasing alarm. Recently, National Snow and Ice Data Center director Mark Serreze said arctic ice is in a death spiral and “is not going to recover.” Lonnie Thompson, the world’s greatest glaciologist, says, “Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.” As the battle over the Keystone pipeline heated up last year, the world’s most distinguished climate scientists wrote a letter to Barack Obama raising a specific alarm about Canada’s tar sands: “Adding this on top of conventional fossil fuels will leave our children and grandchildren a climate system with consequences that are out of their control.” The signatories included James Hansen, the NASA climatologist who raised the first alarms about global warming back in the 1980s, as well as leading scientists like James McCarthy of Harvard; Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton; Raymond T. Pierrehumbert of the University of Chicago; Donald Kennedy of Stanford; Richard Somerville, research professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Ray J. Weymann, director emeritus at Carnegie Observatories; and George M. Woodwell, senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Center. “I’m a scientist who really thinks that climate change is going to be bad news all over the place, so I think it is time to bite the bullet and go off to the renewables in a big way,” says Richard A. Houghton of Woods Hole. “I’m not spending my life on this because it’s an interesting curiosity,” says Princeton’s Oppenheimer. “I think this problem is among a very small handful of problems that need to be solved, and if not solved correctly will head the human endeavor in the wrong direction.”
Read all HERE./
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Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959. The islands have an area of 6,459 square miles (16,729 square kilometers). The name is thought to derive from Hawaiki, the former name of Raiatea, one of the Society Islands, from which Polynesians sailed in voyaging canoes to settle after AD 1000. – Provided by Reference.com
Here is a well trained good policeman!
Congressional Group Calls for Cell Phone Study
The Government Accountability Office (GAO), an investigative arm of the US Congress, has released a report calling for regulators to reexamine cell phone safety standards. Current standards on cell phone radiofrequency emissions are 15 years old and may not take into account current research or phone usage. Therefore, the GAO has recommended that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally reassess emissions limits as well as testing requirements and procedures for mobile devices to ensure public safety. More …
World Trade Center Rebuild – The Truth About the World Trade Center
On this September 11th, 2012, for the first time, no public official will speak at the ceremony at Ground Zero. This may be due to last year’s tenth-anniversary event, when the crowd offered George W. Bush a brief yet rousing huzzah and gave Barack Obama the silent treatment. It may be that like the Oscars, the 9/11 commemoration tends to run long, what with the reading of nearly three thousand victims’ names, and stilling the pols will save time while offending absolutely no one. New York’s mayor, Mike Bloomberg, suggested the names need not be read, since each is etched into the parapets surrounding the memorial pools, but those names, read aloud by friends and family, will echo again across the sixteen acres where they died.
Last year, the Memorial Plaza opened on September 11, the first completed project on the site and one of very few feel-good moments during a decade of rebuilding marred by blown deadlines, public backbiting, and billions of dollars in cost overruns. The plaza finally provided the kin a mourning place, and it also seemed like solid evidence of momentum.
Is the Global Ocean Healthy? We Can Answer That Now
There are very few moments in science where years of work by dozens of people produces a single outcome, at a single moment in time. The “Eureka!” event for the Ocean Health Index project—which makes its public debut today in the journal Nature—occurred last spring when a global score emerged from a thicket of data.
More than a year ago we started writing a series in this magazine about the process of developing the Ocean Health Index, hoping to offer a window into the challenges of a complex research project that tackles big, pressing questions. In this case, we are trying to capture the idea that people are part of the ocean, so that measuring ocean health requires one to consider and combine both human and ecological concerns.
Brazil’s Indigenous Indians Find The Courage To Stand Up And Be Counted
RIO DE JANEIRO – She carries the weight of her people on her shoulders and that makes her beautiful. With her seashell and pearl necklace around the neck, her tanned tattooed skin, her feathers of different sizes and her bright and vividly colored skeins, Vangri Kaingang is a proud native and she’s not afraid to show it.
Descended from the Kaingang tribe from the south of Brazil, this urban indigenous woman lives in Rio de Janeiro. Vangri, 31, works as a bilingual Portuguese-Kaingang youth worker – which is just another way to claim and share her background. “The state has always ignored us, as if we did not exist,” she says.
Vangri is quite representative of this new generation of Brazilian indigenous people who refuse to be left out by history and have started to speak out. A recent census carried out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) in 2010 and published on Aug. 10 shows that 896,000 indigenous people live in Brazil – equivalent to 0.47 percent of the total population.
Why sex could be history
From artificial wombs to men and women being able to reproduce entirely alone, Aarathi Prasad says science is rewriting the rules of sex and human reproduction. What would that mean for our ideas of family and parenthood?
by Kira Cochrane
Aarathi PrasadAarathi Prasad: ‘Having a child in a place that’s not in your body is not necessarily bad for bonding.’ Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
Over tea at her north London home, Aarathi Prasad is talking calmly, coolly, about reproduction. But not sex. Specifically not sex. Her subject is technologies that would take intercourse out of the reproductive equation, advances that could challenge everything we know about family and the relationship between men and women. Their potential is summed up in the final paragraphs of her new book, Like a Virgin: How Science is Redesigning the Rules of Sex.
Here she describes the “ultimate solo parent” of the future. This woman can use her own stem cells and an artificial Y chromosome to produce healthy new eggs and sperm at any age, is capable of reproducing entirely alone by making one of her eggs behave like a pseudo-sperm that can be used to fertilise herself, and has no need to carry the embryo in her own body. Instead it gestates in an artificial womb, which acts as a highly evolved incubator. The same field of technology would enable gay couples to have children created from both their DNA, and make it just as easy for a man to become a single parent as a woman.
The Catholic church in America: Earthly concerns
The Catholic church is as big as any company in America. Bankruptcy cases have shed some light on its finances and their mismanagement
OF ALL the organisations that serve America’s poor, few do more good work than the Catholic church: its schools and hospitals provide a lifeline for millions. Yet even taking these virtues into account, the finances of the Catholic church in America are an unholy mess. The sins involved in its book-keeping are not as vivid or grotesque as those on display in the various sexual-abuse cases that have cost the American church more than $3 billion so far; but the financial mismanagement and questionable business practices would have seen widespread resignations at the top of any other public institution.
The sexual-abuse scandals of the past 20 years have brought shame to the church around the world. In America they have also brought financial strains. By studying court documents in bankruptcy cases, examining public records, requesting documents from local, state and federal governments, as well as talking to priests and bishops confidentially, The Economist has sought to quantify the damage.
“Nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do” – God
I sat down at yet-another coffee shop in Portland determined to get some work done, catch up on some emails and write another blog post.
About 30 minutes into my working, an elderly gentleman at least 80 years old sat down next to me with a hot coffee and a pastry. I smiled at him and nodded and looked back at my computer as I continued to work.
“Do you like Apple? As he gestured to the new Macbook Air I had picked up a few days prior.
“Yea, I’ve been using them for a while.” Wondering if I was going to get suckered into a mac vs. pc debate in a portland coffee shop with an elderly stranger.
“Do you program on them?
“Well, I don’t really know how to code, but I write quite a bit and spend a lot of time creating online projects and helping clients run their businesses.”
“I’ve been against Macintosh company lately. They’re trying to get everyone to use iPads and when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things. With a computer you can make things. You can code, you can make things and create things that have never before existed and do things that have never been done before.”
“That’s the problem with a lot of people”, he continued, “they don’t try to do stuff that’s never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there’s lots of things they can do that have never been done before.”
I nodded my head in agreement and laughed to myself – thinking that would be something that I would say and the coincidence that out of all the people in the coffee shop I ended up talking to, it was this guy. What a way to open a conversation.
The old man turned back at his coffee, took a sip, and then looked back at me.
“In fact, I’ve done lots of things that haven’t been done before”, he said half-smiling.
Not sure if he was simply toying with me or not, my curiousity got the better of me.
Oh really? Like what types of things?, All the while, half-thinking he was going to make up something fairly non-impressive.
I invented the first computer.\Read More
Tony Scott Did Not Have Brain Cancer: Now ABC Saying Its Claim “Appears In Doubt”
Tony Scott’s widow Donna has told police that the famed filmmaker/TV producer did not have brain cancer, informed insiders tell Deadline. That makes erroneous this morning’s Good Morning America report that he “had inoperable brain cancer” and quoting “a source close to him”. The ABC claim was widely picked up by media outlets globally and all the Hollywood press (but not Deadline) as the reason why Scott committed suicide Sunday by jumping off a Los Angeles County bridge at 12:35 PM. Within half an hour ABC was backing off its story (see below). This is the third time in a month that ABC News has erroneously reported on a sensitive news story. During the Aurora movie theater shooting tragedy, ABC News first claimed the gunman was a Tea Party member which was not true. And then the shooter’s mother accused ABC News of mischaracterizing a quote from her. The issues all seem the same: ABC News is not properly vetting its reporting.
Why Waiting Is Torture
SOME years ago, executives at a Houston airport faced a troubling customer-relations issue. Passengers were lodging an inordinate number of complaints about the long waits at baggage claim. In response, the executives increased the number of baggage handlers working that shift. The plan worked: the average wait fell to eight minutes, well within industry benchmarks. But the complaints persisted.
Puzzled, the airport executives undertook a more careful, on-site analysis. They found that it took passengers a minute to walk from their arrival gates to baggage claim and seven more minutes to get their bags. Roughly 88 percent of their time, in other words, was spent standing around waiting for their bags.
So the airport decided on a new approach: instead of reducing wait times, it moved the arrival gates away from the main terminal and routed bags to the outermost carousel. Passengers now had to walk six times longer to get their bags. Complaints dropped to near zero.
Apocalypse Not: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times
2012apocalypse.net. “super volcanos? pestilence and disease? asteroids? comets? antichrist? global warming? nuclear war?” the site’s authors are impressively open-minded about the cause of the catastrophe that is coming at 11:11 pm on december 21 this year. but they have no doubt it will happen. after all, not only does the mayan long count calendar end that day, but “the sun will be aligned with the center of the milky way for the first time in about 26,000 years.”
Case closed: sell your possessions and live for today.
When the sun rises on December 22, as it surely will, do not expect apologies or even a rethink. No matter how often apocalyptic predictions fail to come true, another one soon arrives.
Hitler looking at a 80 cm ‘Gustav’ railway gun, 1941-1944 via.