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Dangerous Ice Storm Leaves 20,000 Quebec Residents Without Electrical Power

KIRK’S FERRY, Quebec, Dec. 28 (UPI) — Thousands of residents of the Outaouais region of Quebec remained without electrical power Monday after a weekend ice storm, officials said.

Hydro Quebec spokeswoman Isabelle Knuckle said that as of late Sunday afternoon, some 11,000 power customers were still in the dark, down from as many as 20,000 Outaouais homes that had lost power when an ice storm struck Saturday night, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

She said most of the 11,000 customers who remained without power would have to wait until Monday afternoon before it is restored, the newspaper said.

One of the main differences between this week’s ice storm and the massive Quebec power outages caused by a similar storm 11 years ago is the what residents are most missing, Jeanne Gallagher of Kirk’s Ferry, Quebec, told the Citizen.

In 1998, Gallagher said, she felt the loss of her television the most.

“At this time tomorrow — since I won’t be able to charge my Blackberry — it will probably be the Internet,” she said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Snowpack & Ice, Television0 Comments

Five NASA Space Shuttle Flights Remain

HOUSTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) — NASA says space shuttle Endeavour will begin the last year of shuttle flights by delivering the final U.S. module of the International Space Station.

That STS-130 mission is targeted for launch Feb. 7 from the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA officials said they will preview the mission during a series of briefings Friday, Jan. 15, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA Television and the agency’s Web site will broadcast the briefings live.

Five shuttle missions are planned during 2010, with the final flight currently targeted for launch in September.

“Endeavour’s 13-day flight will include three spacewalks and the delivery of the Tranquility node, a connecting module that will increase the International Space Station’s interior space,” NASA said in a statement. “Tranquility will provide additional room for crew members and many of the space station’s life support and environmental control systems.

“Attached to the node is a cupola, which is a robotic control station and has seven windows to provide a panoramic view of Earth, celestial objects and visiting spacecrafts,” the space agency said. “After the node and cupola are added, the space station will be about 90 percent complete.”

George Zamka will command the Endeavour mission, joined by Pilot Terry Virts and astronauts Kay Hire, Steve Robinson, Nicholas Patrick and Bob Behnken. Virts will be making his first trip to space.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Television0 Comments

Climate Change is Damaging China's Yangtze River Basin

BEIJING, Nov. 12 (UPI) — Climate change is damaging the Yangtze River basin, scientists say.

The Yangtze River Basin Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Report released Tuesday by the World Wildlife Fund said temperatures in the basin, a lifeline for one-third of China’s population, have been rising since the 1990s.

The report’s lead researcher, Xu Ming of the Chinese Academy of Science, said next month’s negotiations on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, would have a direct impact on the Yangtze.

“Controlling the future emissions of greenhouse gases will benefit the basin, at the very least from the perspective of drought and water resources,” Xu said.

Over the next 50 years temperatures in the basin will climb by an average of 1.5 to 2.0 degrees Celsius, leading to an increased number of natural disasters, the report warns.

The basin, which includes some of China’s most productive agricultural areas, has already seen a sharp increase in flooding, heat waves and drought over the past two decades as temperatures rose by an average of 1.04 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2005, the report states.

Climate change will make coastal cities like Shanghai more vulnerable to sea level rises, extreme climate events, as well as natural and “human-induced disasters,” it warns.

Sea levels in Shanghai rose 11.5 centimeters over the last 30 years and will rise by an additional 18 centimeters by 2050, threatening the city’s water supply, the report states.

The report urges China to implement a series of adaptive measures to deal with the effects of climate change on the region’s fragile ecosystem, including strengthening the management of major hydro-engineering projects, adopting market-based water allocation and more flexible cropping systems.

In other developments related to the Yangtze, China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua reported Thursday that it is unlikely the water level of the Three Gorges Reservoir will reach its target before the end of the year because of drought. The target level of 175 meters, which symbolizes the completion of the massive project, had been expected late October or early November. The current water level is just over 170 meters.

Located near the middle reach of the Yangtze River, construction of the $27.2 billion Three Gorges project began in 1993. The aim of the project is to supply China’s economic development with clean and cheap energy and to tame the unruly river. It includes a dam and 32 turbines each with an installed capacity of 700,000 kilowatts.

Xu said the Three Gorges project is not the cause of the recent floods and droughts. The environmental impact of Three Gorges, he said, is “quite limited” and can only change the climate “in some parts” of the river basin. “At least there’s no proof so far to come to this conclusion,” Xu said, China’s Central Television reports.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Drought, Effects Of Air Pollution, Energy, Engineering, Global Warming & Climate Change, Natural Disasters, Other, Television0 Comments

Danish Fur Farmers Group Targets Media

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Oct. 24 (UPI) — A Danish fur farmers group says media coverage of conditions on mink farms led to break-ins and vandalism by activists.

The Danish Fur Farmers Association sent a 1 million-kroner ($200,000) bill to the television show Operation X and the Ekstra Bladet newspaper, The Copenhagen Post reported.

The association said the tab is for testing 100,000 animals for serious illnesses that could have been introduced by the activists.

About two weeks ago, authorities reported that 11,000 mink escaped from Danish farms targeted by vandals who destroyed fences.

Police said 6,000 mink escaped from a farm near Sondervig and 5,000 got away at Fousing.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Television0 Comments

Five Raccoons Attack Elderly Florida Woman

LAKELAND, Fla., Oct. 5 (UPI) — A Lakeland, Fla., woman was recovering from serious injuries she received in what sheriff’s department investigators called a “gang attack” by five raccoons.

Polk Count Sheriff Grady Judd said Gretchen Whitted, 74, was trying to scatter the raccoons from her front door when they turned on her, WTSP-TV, Tampa, Fla., reported.

“When she fell down, they enveloped her,” Judd said of the attack. “She’s literally bitten and scratched from face and the chest all the way down through the legs.”

Raccoons can be aggressive when going after food, but the sheriff called Saturday’s attack very unusual, the television station said

“Not in all my years in Florida have I known of a gang attack by raccoons on an individual,” Judd said Sunday during a news conference to warn of aggressive raccoons.

Polk County Animal Control officers placed traps throughout the neighborhood, hoping to trap the raccoons involved in the attack, Judd said, adding that officials won’t know if they catch the actual culprits. If caught, the animals will be tested for rabies and possibly destroyed.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Other, Television0 Comments

Gretchen Wilson Joins Farm Aid Lineup

Gretchen Wilson Joins Farm Aid LineupCountry star Gretchen Wilson has joined the lineup for Farm Aid at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Mo., organizers said Friday.

Wilson is to perform alongside Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews at the Oct. 4 all-day music and food festival.

Also slated to sing are Tim Reynolds, Jason Mraz, Wilco, Jamey Johnson, Phosphorescent, Billy Joe Shaver, Will Dailey, Ernie Isley & the Jam Band, Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses, The Blackwood Quartet, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real and Titty Bingo.

DIRECTV is to exclusively broadcast Farm Aid 2009 live and in high definition on The 101 Network beginning at 5 p.m. ET.

The satellite television company has pledged to match all of its customer donations up to $50,000 made between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31.

Posted in Other, Television0 Comments

Missing Cat Travels 2,000 Miles in 3 Years Across Australia

HOBART, Australia, Sept. 16 (UPI) — A long-haired cat named Clyde was returned to his family Wednesday in Tasmania after turning up at the other end of Australia three years after he went missing.

Television cameras recorded the reunion between the Himalyan and Katrina Phillips in the Derwent Valley near Hobart, The Tasmania Mercury reported. Phillips said she was excited, but Clyde appeared to be taking everything in stride.

“He was so relaxed it was like he never left home,” Phillips, 19, said.

Donna Weber, a veterinarian in Cloncurry in the Queensland Outback more than 2,000 miles north of Hobart, identified Clyde from a microchip in his ear earlier this week, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The cat wandered into the grounds of the Cloncurry Hospital a few months ago, and staffers there had been taking care of him.

“We don’t know where he’s come from to get to the hospital, if he’s run away from some tourists traveling through or if he’s been walking all the way from Tasmania,” Weber said.

Weber said Phillips and her family plastered the area around their home with signs after Clyde disappeared but heard nothing of him.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Other, Television, Walking0 Comments

Old Electronics Seen as Major Environmental Threat

BUFFALO, N.Y., Sept. 14 (UPI) — U.S. landfills are filling up with unwanted old electronic items and posing an increasing environmental threat, experts say.

Experts said the used televisions, music players and other electronics sitting in landfills can result in heavy metals leaking into soil and ground water, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News said Monday.

“It’s a huge problem. It’s literally poisoning communities,” said Barbara Kyle, national coordinator for the non-profit Electronics TakeBack Coalition.

Jim Simon, the University at Buffalo Green Office’s associate environmental educator, blamed the rising number of unwanted electronic items on regular advancements in technology that make such products outdated.

“In an age when there’s a new iPhone or television every other week, it seems, people are hemorrhaging their old electronics,” Simon said.

The Buffalo News said some advocates support increased recycling of electronic items by consumers while some states imposing limits on the disposal of such items.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Electronics, Landfills, Office, Other, People, Recycling, Recycling & Waste, Science, Space, & Technology, Television0 Comments

Humanity's Prosperous Destiny

Something we don’t hear often enough amidst this era’s turbulent convergence of cultures and challenging disruptions of technology is this: Humanity is destined within a tantalizingly few decades to achieve a level of prosperity that can scarcely be imagined today. The ongoing conflicts of nations, continued destruction of the environment, heartbreaking poverty, ruthless injustice – these all constitute a dark fog of tribulations that can appear inpenetrable. But this fog that can seem so thick and toxic is actually disappearing with breathtaking speed.

It is often easy to overlook the many positive forces of history, forces that can be identified with Euclidean precision, immutable forces that will deliver to humanity abundance in all forms, wealth to conquer poverty, cleanse the planet, and satiate the longings of peoples and nations. As the world urbanizes, voluntarily and en-masse, rural lands and wildernesses are relieved, and open space becomes abundant. As technological innovation advances at exponential rates, energy and water will also become abundant. The most important natural resource in the world is human creativity, and it is inexhaustible and will find a way to alleviate any scarcity.

The data to back up these audaciously optimistic claims is not terribly complex. It is based on two trends which taken together pretty much prove the point. The first is that the human population on Earth has nearly reached its maximum. Projections from the U.N. Office of Economic & Social Affairs indicate it is unlikely that the total human population will ever exceed 10.0 billion, and since there are already nearly 7.0 billion people in the world, most of the growth in human population has already occurred.

The second trend is the total economic output of the planet, measured in constant dollars, continues to increase. There is a fascinating 1998 study by J. Bradford DeLong, an economics professor at UC Berkeley, entitled “Estimating World GDP, One Million B.C. – Present.” that uses constant 1990 international dollars to estimate the per capita income of humans beginning over a thousand years ago and projecting through the year 2000. With this data, updated with more recent data through 2005 from the World Bank, and converting everything into 2005 international dollars, the table below provides estimates of per capita income as well as global GDP in fifty year increments from 1750 through the year 2000 and beyond. Assuming a modest annual rate of 3.0% for future global economic growth, on this table one can examine what happens when GDP continues to grow, but human population stablizes. The results are striking.
post resumes below image


ESTIMATED GLOBAL POPULATION, GDP, AND
PER CAPITA INCOME FROM 1750 THROUGH 2150
When increasing global productivity no longer competes with
population growth, per capita income improves dramatically.

As the table indicates, global GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.0% or less until the industrial revolution, then picked up to around 2.0% per year until about 1950. During the period from 1950 to 2000, however, the rate of growth increased dramatically, to an annual rate of over 4.0%, as the momentum of the industrial revolution was catalysed by the information technology revolution, and rolled out from the Western Nations to begin to embrace all the world’s peoples.

Examining global population indicates similar trends, increasing growth rates as global wealth increases, with the the last half of the 20th century showing an unprecedented annual rate of population growth of 1.7% (ref. U.S. Census Bureau’s “Historical Estimates of World Population,” and Wikipedia’s “World Population.” Looking ahead, however, for the first time in history, the impact of wealth is so great that it is empowering individuals to shrink the size of their families instead of expanding them. The next fifty years through 2050 will see the average annual rate of global population growth reduced to 0.8%, less than half the rate of the preceding years, and after that, to virtually zero. The factors that cause humans to opt for smaller families – female literacy, access to contraception, and reduced infant mortality – are all the result of wealth, and as per capita wealth increases, everyone in the world becomes their beneficiary.

What is most encouraging is just how dramatic the increases to per capita income are going to be in the decades preceding 2050, and even more so in the 2nd half of the 21st century. As the table indicates, and these are constant units of currency, even at a realistic 3.0% rate of real annual growth in global economic output, which now easily and dramatically exceeds rates of population growth, by 2050 per capita income will be over $25K, which equates to an average household income of over $100K. By 2100 per capita income will be over $100K; an average household income of over $400K using 2005 dollars.

In many respects, just how so much wealth will benefit humanity is impossible to visualize. Just as cave dwellers couldn’t possibly imagine spending whatever might have passed for currency back then on a television, it is quite likely there are things we will do with our wealth in 100 years that we can’t imagine today. Things we can imagine are many, however, and fascinating: personal androids that will care for us when we’re old, life extension therapies that will delay getting old to begin with, treatment and prevention of currently incurable diseases, remediation programs to restore ecosystems, and exploration programs to colonize the solar system. With the kind of innovation and wealth creation that defines being human, ten billion people will not nearly exceed the carrying capacity of planet earth, and 100 years is not a very long time. It is helpful to remember this inspiring path we are on, and the bright destiny that awaits humanity, as we strive to make our way today through the fog.

Posted in Business & Economics, Energy, Population Growth, Remediation, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Television11 Comments

An Environmentalist's Review of Al Gore's "Assault on Reason"

It would be fitting, after just reporting on a recent appearance by Former Vice President Al Gore (ref. Al Gore and Innovation), to review his latest book “The Assault on Reason.” The premise of the book is that modern mass media constitutes a relentless march towards “one way conversations,” where money and power dictate what radio, then television, have force-fed into the minds of vulnerable and impressionable human psyches. Gore then offers hope that the internet and the Democratic party can reverse this trend.

Al Gore
Will his greentech revolution save the
earth, or merely revive socialist tyranny?

Gore’s concerns about mass media are certainly not unfounded, but what struck me again and again when reading the book was how easily you could substitute the canards he accuses his Republican political adversaries of manipulated the media into brainwashing into the body politic, with Gore’s own canards.

“Our systematic exposure to fear and other arousal stimuli on television can be exploited by the clever public relations specialist, advertiser, or politician.” – Al Gore

One of the favorite arguments of global warming alarmists is the so called “precautionary principle.” If some future scenario is sufficiently horrific, then taking steps to prevent it, even if it isn’t likely it will happen, is simply prudent and rational behavior. But Gore himself debunks the precautionary principle:

“Another psychological phenomenon that is important to understanding how fear influences our thinking [is] ‘probability neglect.’ Social scientists have found that when confronted with either an enormous threat or a huge reward, people tend to focus on the magnitude of the consequence and ignore the probability.” – Al Gore

That might be Saddam’s nukes. Then again, it might be the spectre of sea level rising 300 feet, too. Fear indeed is a powerful selling tool. Once again, to quote Gore:

In the immediate run up to the election campaign of 2002, a new product – the war against Iraq – was being launched. For everything there is a season, particularly in the politics of fear.” – Al Gore

Now we’re in the election season of 2008, and what high profile $300 million advertising campaign is about to be launched – in the “immediate run-up to the election campaign?” None other than Al Gore’s climate change advertising blitz. Look for footage of extreme storms, burning deserts, endangered mega-fauna, and starving children. Yet when it comes to co-opting media by using hype to trump logical analysis, Gore is at his outraged best:

“I don’t remember a single newspaper, commentator, or political leader ever questioning the president’s claim that our nations objective should be to ‘rid the world of evil.’ Further, I heard precious little questioning of the preposterous logic by which the president and vice president had conflated Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It was as if the nation had decided to suspend the normal rigors of logical analysis…” – Al Gore

Well how many newspapers, commentators, or political leaders are questioning global warming alarm? How many are pointing out that the reality of climate change, the reasons for climate change, the severity of climate change, and the steps to mitigate climate change – are all worthy of vigorous debate? Gore’s propaganda machine has silenced them all, using the same tactics he deplores throughout his new book. It is as if we have “suspended the normal rigors of logical analysis.” Climate change alarm has become a secular faith. And speaking of faith, what about this?

“Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged.” – Al Gore

If the absolute intolerance of the global warming alarmists, who dominate the media and call those of us who simply call for reasoned discussion “deniers,” isn’t evocative of religious extremists, I don’t know what is. Similarly, if making Americans pay punitive prices and endure rationing of government controlled energy, water and land – so attorneys, CPAs, Wall Street traders, huge and heavily subsidized corporations, well-heeled environmentalist nonprofits, the U.N., and academia can harvest the proceeds to enrich themselves – isn’t being seen as “the most radical effort in American history to take what belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged,” it is only because Gore’s media machine has done its work well.

These are just a few examples of how Gore’s criticisms of media and Republicans could just as easily apply to his own campaign. Indeed Gore slips at one point and pretty much admits he’s cut of the same cloth, when he writes “there are, of course, many historical examples of vivid imagery producing vicarious traumatization that has been used for positive purposes.” Such as those Polar Bears perched precariously on a rapidly melting fragment of sea ice, perhaps? Or New York City covered with mountains of glacial ice? Apparently Gore doesn’t really mind the assault on reason represented by modern media one bit. He just minds when he can’t control it.

Not to worry. Gore’s vision is on the ascendancy these days. Ever seen the bumper sticker that says “Endless War,” with a few letters crossed out so it actually reads “End This War”? That is how anyone who can see what Gore and the radical environmentalists – who now control the environmental lobby here in the USA and most other places in the world – should view the war on anthropogenic “greenhouse gas.” They won’t succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to anywhere near where those supposedly accurate “general circulation models” indicate they need to go in order to avert planetary catastrophe. But that isn’t the point. The objective is to take over huge new sectors of the economy, to put America on a war footing, to ration energy, land and water, and as with all socialist totalitarian states, this will benefit the rich and hurt the poor. This is the “endless war” we should all fear. Gore’s remarks on page 143 of his new book summarize the threat of reinventing our political economy according to the gospel of global warming alarmism quite well:

“There are also reasons for concern this time around that what we are experiencing may no longer be the first half of a recurring cycle, but rather the beginning of something new. For one thing, this war is predicted by the administration to last for the rest of our lives. So we are told that the conditions of national threat that have been used by other presidents to justify arrogations of power will persist in near perpetuity…it will become a more or less permanent struggle that occupies a significant part of our law enforcement and security agenda from now on. If that is the case, then when – if ever – does this encroachment on our freedoms die a natural death?” – Al Gore

Posted in Energy, Global Warming & Climate Change, History, Other, Religion, Television1 Comment

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