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MIT - New library proposals meant to enhance “meaningful access to knowledge.”

MIT task force releases preliminary “Future of Libraries” report
New library proposals meant to enhance “meaningful access to knowledge.”

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office
October 24, 2016

An MIT task force is releasing a preliminary report featuring a set of proposals aimed at steering MIT’s library system toward becoming an “open global platform” enabling the “discovery, use, and stewardship of information and knowledge” for future generations.

The report, based on a year of work since the formation of the task force, contains general recommendations intended to develop “a global library for a global university,” while strengthening the library system’s relationship with the local academic community and public sphere.

“For the MIT Libraries, the better world we seek is one in which there is abundant, equitable, meaningful access to knowledge and to the products of the full life cycle of research,” the report states. “Enduring global access to knowledge requires sustainable models for ensuring that past and present knowledge are available long into the future.”

The task force is continuing to consult widely with the broader MIT community to refine its proposals. The preliminary report is intended to continue that dialogue, and to elicit additional input on the vision and recommendations it contains.

“The task force spent significant time ...

UPS truck w/ 2-cylinder range extender engine feeding lithium batteries = 4X MPG

UPS Adding Another 200 Hybrid Delivery Vehicles
by Andy Szal

The parcel giant announced that the trucks will be deployed, beginning in January, in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and potentially additional states.

UPS previously announced the purchase of 125 of the 2-cylinder engine, E-GENTM chassis trucks, manufactured by Workhorse Group, earlier this year.

"We are committed to developing alternative fuel vehicles that lessen our impact on the environment and reliance on petroleum based fuels," said senior vice president for global engineering and sustainability Mark Wallace. "That effort is helping to transform markets and communities."

(Image credit: UPS)

The trucks, which are powered with help from lithium ion batteries and range extender engines, boast about four times the fuel economy of a conventional truck....

It seems there is another billion dollar battery factory in the works - this one for "solid-state batteries".
British Vacuum Company Dyson Reportedly Plans Electric Car

Dyson planned to invest $1 billion in a new battery plant in the wake of its $90 million purchase of Sakti3, an Ann Arbor-based company that developed new solid-state battery technology.

Solid-state batteries, unlike conventional lithium-ion batteries, will not overheat and do not require expensive fire safety features. They could also last far longer and charge in a matter of minutes.
Although the new batteries are likely at least 10 years removed from hitting showrooms, experts believe they could eventually prove decisive to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Numerous other automakers, suppliers and tech companies are also working on similar technology.

One expert, however, predicted that Dyson could eventually challenge Tesla Motors, whose forthcoming mass-market electric vehicle is expected to exceed 215 miles of range on a single charge. A solid-state battery could extend that range to 350 miles....

‘True Scale’ of India’s Tuberculosis Problem: 2.8 Million New Cases

Source: NYT

NEW DELHI — Finally coming to terms with the enormity of its tuberculosis problem, India is preparing a radical overhaul and expansion of its national treatment program to fight an affliction that kills more adults worldwide than any other infectious disease.

The severity of the matter was underscored on Thursday when the World Health Organization substantially increased its estimate of the number of new patients afflicted with TB in India, to 2.8 million in 2015, compared with 2.2 million in 2014 — more than any other country in the world and more than a quarter of the world total.

The organization’s estimate of new global TB patients rose to 10.4 million, from 9.6 million a year earlier, in large part because of the revised numbers in India. But increases were noted in Indonesia and several other countries.

The revision in India follows a study published in August in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases that estimated the number of Indians afflicted with TB at around 3.6 million, about 50 percent higher than previous Indian government and W.H.O. figures for 2014....

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/world/asia/true-scale-of-indias-tuberculosis-problem-2-8-million-new-cases.html

Ohio judge nixes pipeline builder's eminent domain plans

Wood County judge nixes pipeline builder's eminent domain plans
Kinder Morgan has been negotiating with landowners in 14 Ohio counties

Nolan Rosenkrans Oct. 12, 2016

BOWLING GREEN — A Wood County Common Pleas judge ruled today that the company behind the Utopia East pipeline project does not have eminent domain rights, throwing a potentially expensive roadblock into the project’s path.

Judge Robert Pollex ruled that Kinder Morgan’s plan to pipe ethane from the Utica shale region in eastern Ohio to a chemical company in Windsor, Ont., is not necessary and not for a public use, and thus the company cannot use eminent domain to force Wood County landowners to give easements on their property.

Kinder Morgan, North America’s largest energy-infrastructure company, has been negotiating with landowners in 14 Ohio counties to build the 12-inch pipeline, which would transport the ethane — used in the production of plastics — to a pipeline in Michigan that then heads to Canada. The product would solely be used by NOVA Chemicals Corp., a Canadian company.

Wood County Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex ruled today that the company behind the Utopia East pipeline project does not have eminent domain rights, throwing a potentially expensive roadblock into the project’s path.

For property owners who have not been willing to sell, or sell at the price Kinder Morgan proposed, the company has petitioned Ohio courts for the right to appropriate the property at fair value. Some of those cases are in Wood County, including one involving PDB Farms of Wood County, which is south of Pemberville.

Several dozen landowners have ...

Preparing the country for nuclear terrorism

7 OCTOBER 2016
Preparing the country for nuclear terrorism
Jerome M. Hauer
Jerome M. Hauer has served in cabinet-level positions at the local and state level and as an acting assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Hauer is currently an associate editor of the Journal of Special Operations Medicine and president elect of the Homeland Security Section of the Health Physics Society. He earned his doctorate at Cranfield University, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, has a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University..

The candidates for president of the United States continue to discuss preventing nuclear proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism, yet we hear little about how well prepared the nation is to manage the aftermath of terrorist use of an improvised nuclear device. Some may think the notion of such an attack is apocryphal. So allow me to explain just how likely such a possibility is, how devastating the result of such a detonation would be, and—in particular—just how poorly prepared the United States is to respond.

In 2005, Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, said, “Nuclear terrorism is still often treated as science fiction. I wish it were. But unfortunately we live in a world of excess hazardous materials and abundant technological know-how, in which some terrorists clearly state their intention to inflict catastrophic casualties. Were such an attack to occur, it would not only cause widespread death and destruction, but would stagger the world economy ... a second death toll throughout the developing world.

In 2007, US Sen. John McCain was quoted as saying, “My greatest fear is the Iranians acquire a nuclear weapon or North Korea and pass enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) to a terrorist organization. And there is a real threat of them doing that. Just 55 kilograms, roughly 122 pounds of HEU, can be used to make a 10 kiloton IND, similar to the bomb dropped over Hiroshima."

In 2005, Graham Allison, director of Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, asked, "Is nuclear mega-terrorism inevitable? Harvard professors are not known for being subtle or ambiguous, but I'll try to the clear. Is the worst yet to come? My answer: Bet on it. Yes.

Matthew Bunn, also at the Belfer Center, argued in 2007...

50 years after 'we almost lost Detroit,' America's nuclear power industry faces even graver doubts

50 years after 'we almost lost Detroit,' America's nuclear power industry faces even graver doubts
The history of nuclear power in the United States has been marked by numerous milestones, many of them bad — accidents, construction snafus, engineering incompetence, etc., etc.

One anniversary of an incident that has cast a long shadow over the nuclear power industry’s claim for safety will be marked this week. On Oct. 5, 1966 — that’s 50 years ago Wednesday — Detroit Edison’s Fermi-1 nuclear plant suffered a partial meltdown, caused by a piece of floating shrapnel inside the container vessel.

According to subsequent inspections, no radioactivity escaped to the environment. No injuries were reported inside or outside the plant. The worst case scenario of a “China Syndrome” incident in which melted fuel pooled within the containment vessel and reached critical mass didn’t even come close to occurring.

The good intention of making the plant safer actually compromised its safety.
— David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists

Nuclear industry apologists long have resented the public attention given to the Fermi-1 meltdown, especially through novelist John G. Fuller’s 1975 book about the case, “We Almost Lost Detroit” (which itself prompted the song of the same name by the late Gil Scott-Heron). Even industry critics have faulted Fuller’s book for technical inaccuracies and an overly theatrical tone. But it did put its finger on the bureaucratic and ideological forces that gave birth to America’s nuclear power industry and set the stage for decades of wretched management.

In many ways, the accident underscored the flaws in planning and operation of the industry that have dogged it ever since, all but destroying nuclear power’s reputation as a sustainable energy source that might supplant fossil fuel generation and help combat climate change....

Notorious U.S. Coal Executive Remains Blindly Unrepentant for His Part in the Deaths of 29 Miners

Don Blankenship Is an American Criminal
A Notorious U.S. Coal Executive Remains Blindly Unrepentant for His Part in the Deaths of 29 Miners

Donald Leon “Don” Blankenship, the former head of Massey Energy who is serving federal prison time for his role in the deaths of 29 coal miners six years ago in West Virginia, got beaucoup headline treatment this week for issuing a “manifesto” in which he pronounces himself an “American political prisoner.”

Give the man kudos for a stunt that got traction.

There’s his phrase “American political prisoner” on top of a story published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday and on an article disseminated far and wide by the Associated Press. It appears over and over again in the state where it hurts the most — on far-reaching West Virginia Public Broadcasting, on West Virginia Metro News (the “voice of West Virginia) and on small-town news sites hither and yon across the state.


He conspired to violate mining health and safety standards in the run-up to the explosion that claimed those 29 lives on April 5, 2010, at the Upper Big Branch mine south of Charleston. That’s why he’s behind bars now, albeit for not that long a time or at that hard core a prison. Blankenship is already midway through his one-year stretch at Taft Correctional Institute, a minimum-security facility in sunny Southern California. He gets out in April.

He was the best-paid U.S. coal-industry executive ...

Mapping coal's decline and the renewables' rise (interactive)

Mapping coal's decline and the renewables' rise
June 23, 2016 by Francesca Mccaffrey

CoalMap is an online tool that allows users explore the potential effects of various market factors on the cost-competitiveness of coal versus renewable energy. Here, the variable being tested is a carbon price, set to $50/ ton. The map shows the number of coal plants (red dots), wind farms (green dots), and solar photovoltaic plants (yellow dots) that could exist in the market at this price point. Gray dots represent coal plants in the process of retiring, and black dots represent those that have already retired. Credit: Coalmap.com

Even as coal-fired power plants across the U.S. are shutting down in response to new environmental regulations and policy mandates, defenders of the emissions-heavy fuel still have cost on their side. Coal, after all, is cheap—or so it seems. This perception makes it difficult for alternative, low-carbon energy sources like solar and wind to compete.

A new study from MIT researchers, however, shows that coal's economic edge may soon be far thinner than we think. In a working paper for the MIT Energy Initiative, graduate students Joel Jean, David C. Borrelli, and Tony Wu show how replacing current coal-fired power plants with wind and solar photovoltaic generation facilities could provide benefits for the environment and for bottom lines in the near future.

The online tool they've created to help illustrate this argument is CoalMap, a web application that compares the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)—that is, the minimum electricity price a power plant must receive to break even on investment costs over its lifecycle—of existing U.S. coal-fired plants with the expected LCOE of potential new utility-scale solar and wind generation in the same locations. The tool draws on publicly available data sets from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Users view CoalMap as a map of the continental United States showing the locations of current coal plants, with markers indicating each plant's nameplate capacity and relative cost. As users apply different carbon prices, deployment subsidies, and rates of cost decline for solar and wind, they can observe the effects of these changes on the cost-competitiveness of renewable energy across the country....

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-06-coal-decline-renewables.html

Nature: Upward revision of global fossil fuel methane emissions based on isotope database

Edited for readability and emphasis. Nothing removed except reference numbers.

Upward revision of global fossil fuel methane emissions based on isotope database

Stefan Schwietzke, Owen A. Sherwood, Lori M. P. Bruhwiler, John B. Miller, Giuseppe Etiope, Edward J. Dlugokencky, Sylvia Englund Michel, Victoria A. Arling, Bruce H. Vaughn, James W. C. White & Pieter P. Tans

Nature 538, 88–91 (06 October 2016)

Methane has the second-largest global radiative forcing impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gases after carbon dioxide, but our understanding of the global atmospheric methane budget is incomplete.

The global fossil fuel industry (production and usage of natural gas, oil and coal) is thought to contribute 15 to 22 per cent of methane emissions to the total atmospheric methane budget.

However, questions remain regarding methane emission trends as a result of fossil fuel industrial activity and the contribution to total methane emissions of sources from the fossil fuel industry and from natural geological seepage which are often co-located.

Here we re-evaluate the global methane budget and the contribution of the fossil fuel industry to methane emissions based on long-term global methane and methane carbon isotope records.

We compile the largest isotopic methane source signature database so far, including fossil fuel, microbial and biomass-burning methane emission sources.

We find that total fossil fuel methane emissions (fossil fuel industry plus natural geological seepage) are not increasing over time, but are 60 to 110 per cent greater than current estimates owing to large revisions in isotope source signatures.

We show that this is consistent with the observed global latitudinal methane gradient.

After accounting for natural geological methane seepage we find that methane emissions from natural gas, oil and coal production and their usage are 20 to 60 per cent greater than inventories.

Our findings imply a greater potential for the fossil fuel industry to mitigate anthropogenic climate forcing, but we also find that methane emissions from natural gas as a fraction of production have declined from approximately 8 per cent to approximately 2 per cent over the past three decades.

Full article behind paywall, but Supplementary Information is available with the abstract:

Financial Ties Between Fossil Fuel Industry and Clean Power Plan Opponents

New Report by Top Senators Details Financial Ties Between Fossil Fuel Industry and Clean Power Plan Opponents
Sharon Kelly | September 28, 2016

On September 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in a major challenge to the Clean Power Plan, West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — an enormously high-stakes legal battle, that could determine whether Obama's climate plan is ever put into effect.

The stakes are high not only for the environment, but for fossil fuel companies — and those companies have poured enormous sums of money into efforts that would help ensure the Clean Power Plan never goes into effect, according to a report issued this week by four members of Congress.

The report is formatted as an amicus curie — or friend of the court — brief but was not filed with the court, and it takes a detailed look at the money that has moved behind the scenes. It's entitled, “The Brief No One Filed.”


“The American public is aware of and alarmed by the massive influx of special interest money and considers this a top problem with elected officials in Washington,” the four senators wrote. “More than 80 percent of Americans believe the government cannot be trusted to do what is right most of the time.”

Large sums of money — over $100 million — have been funneled from the fossil fuel industry to key players in the litigation, the report concludes. ...
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