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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Monday Toon Roundup 1- Rhymes With Rump

Kenya is building Africa’s biggest wind energy farm to generate a fifth of its power

Kenya set in motion the construction of Africa’s biggest wind power farm this week, near Laisamis, 550km north of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

Known as the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, the wind farm site covers 40,000 acres (162km2), which will be powered by the ‘Turkana Corridorwind.’ It is a low-level jet stream originating from the Indian Ocean and blows all year round.

The project will consist of 365 turbines and expected to achieve 68% load capacity factor, which will make it the most efficient wind power farm in the world.

It is one part of Kenya’s ambitious project to add 5,000 MW of power on the national grid in the next three years. Like many African countries Kenya has been primarily dependent on hydro and fossil fuels but wind energy is expected to insulate the country’s power tariff by providing a low cost and consistent power source.


US Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Congratulates Greek People

US Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has sent a congratulatory message to the people of Greece for their historic “no” vote in today’s referendum.

“I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity for the the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly.”

“In a world of massive wealth and income inequality Europe must support Greece’s efforts to build an economy which creates more jobs and income, not more unemployment and suffering.”

Sanders has taken every opportunity to blast the creditors of Greece for their harsh treatment and the impact of their policies on average people.



Toon: New Not so Comic Characters

The GOP’s pathetic crybaby agenda: Trump, Scalia and the whiny, paranoid new face of the right

Republicans have no agenda. America won't fall for culture/religion wars anymore. Petulance is all they have left

We are numbed by Charleston; by its irrefutable proof of our still virulent racism and violent, gun-crazed culture, by being made to stare once again into the face of evil. Yet when the families of the slain stood up in court to voice forgiveness of Dylann Roof, we were startled and suddenly it was harder to divide us. Our politics is small to begin with; next to such staggering grief, it seems smaller still.

Like everyone on Facebook, Roof told us his life story in pictures. Absent the shots of him sporting the insignia of the Confederacy, apartheid and Nazi Germany, it’s hard to conceive of the Confederate flag being banished from Wal-Mart, let alone the ground of his state Capitol. Some may fly it out of mere nostalgia, but its core messages, now as always, are racism and sedition. It’s the flag of those who loved slavery more than their country; who sent hundreds of thousands to die rather than let one slave go free. A hundred and fifty years after Appomattox it is at last coming down. Long indeed is the arc of the moral universe.

The victory is more than symbolic. Fifty years ago as part of their post-Civil Rights Act national membership drive, Republicans began beaming coded racial messages to white voters. That code just got easier to crack. Fifteen years ago they began to amp up voter suppression under cover of absurdly inflated claims of voter fraud. If challenged on their motives or their facts they hurl furious denials. They can hurl all they want now. Debate has shifted. We’ve seen the pictures.

The slaughter of the Emanuel innocents was the most savage in a line of white-on-black slayings that pricked the nation’s conscience. The list of martyrs is long: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and countless others, known and unknown. Their deaths, though tragic, were not in vain. America is at last sifting through the evidence. A decade ago, most whites rejected every claim of racial disparity in our law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Now sentencing reform and cameras on cops are popular policies amongst all voters. We’ve a long ways to go, but there’s less doubt about where we’re headed.



New coal plants 'most urgent' threat to the planet, warns OECD head

by Fiona Harvey

Governments must rethink plans for new coal-fired power plants around the world, as these are now the “most urgent” threat to the future of the planet, the head of the OECD has warned.

In unusually strong terms for the organisation – best known as a club of the world’s richest countries – its secretary general Angel Gurria, told governments to think “twice, or three, or four times” before allowing new coal-fired plants to go ahead.

“They will still be emitting years from now,” he warned. As a result, many could turn into “stranded assets”, having to be mothballed decades before their economic lifetime had expired. “We are on a collision course with nature,” he warned.

New research, published by the OECD on Thursday, has found that, on current trends, coal-fired power generation will result in more than 500bn tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere between now and 2050. That is the equivalent of about half of the “carbon budget” – the amount of greenhouse gas that we can safely pour into the atmosphere – for this half-century, if we are to stay within the 2C limit that is widely agreed as the threshold for dangerous climate change.



Why democracy needs higher education

by Dr. Michael C. Behrent

The defunding of public higher education currently underway across the country is troubling for many reasons. It is more than just bad policy: gutting public higher education weakens the democratic principles upon which our society is founded—specifically, liberty, equality, and civic participation.

Democracy thrives on liberty, and liberty requires free minds. This is one reason why education is so central to democracy: it provides citizens with the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that promote independent (and critical) thought, without which democracies wither away. For all their faults, universities are some of the few spaces in our society that remain dedicated to free inquiry, questioning prejudice and authority, and open debate between competing perspectives.

A recent Pew poll found that in Eastern Europe, the staunchest defenders of democratic liberties were those with a university education: “more highly educated people consistently place greater importance on freedom of speech, the press and religion, and honest elections than do those with less education.” This is what Thomas Jefferson was getting at when he wrote that taxes paid towards public education are “not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests & nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.” Ensuring that as many Americans as possible can cultivate their intellectual autonomy at public universities is vital to our democracy’s health.

Another cardinal virtue of democracy is equality. At a time of unprecedented income disparities, this is something that many public officials overlook. Higher education has long been a pathway to equality for historically excluded and oppressed groups. The strides made by African-Americans towards greater equality have always marched in lockstep with greater access to education, particularly higher education. The Civil Rights movement made possible such critical watersheds as Brown vs. Board of Education, Hawkins v. Board of Control (launching desegregation in higher education), and the Higher Education Act of 1965 (which provided aid to low-income students and minority institutions). Though complete equality in access to higher education remained elusive, the number of African-Americans attending universities—particularly public universities—increased significantly from the 1960s until the mid-1970s.

- See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/07/02/why-democracy-needs-higher-education/#sthash.nXOMwRel.dpuf

Our Bernie Sanders moment: This July 4, remember only true independence and revolution brings change

Tectonic change comes when people are hopeful and sense something new is possible. Here's how we build on victories

One of the things progressives often get wrong has to do with how fundamental change comes about. The standard reasoning is that people are stirred when they hit the bottom of the bottom—a condition of diminished expectations. It takes an economic depression, or a lot of political repression, to prompt people to rise. We need things to get worse before they get better. Let the suffering come.

This appears to be an entirely logical dialectic. But politics as desperation, as we might call the thought, rarely, if ever, proves out. Almost always it turns out to be an error.

Follow this line, and you want the Kochs to smash what remains of the political process to smithereens. You want the Supreme Court handing down ever more irrational judgments, you want more cops-in-camo shooting African-Americans, you want more unemployment and more reckless ambition among the foreign policy cliques. Then, you declare, people will be stirred out of the stupefied apathy that grips this nation.

We ought to ask ourselves this July 4 the extent to which we are given to this argument. Speaking only for myself, I made the mistake too many times too many years ago not to have learned how wrong it is.



An Alternative Approach to Nuclear Fusion: Think Smaller

Nuclear fusion is the energy of the Sun and the stars, and there’s a worldwide scientific quest to produce it as a clean, sustainable energy source.

In Europe, the international scientific community has supported large fusion reactors like the Joint European Torus (JET) experiment in the UK and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) currently being built in France.

But one group of UK researchers says that the key is to think smaller, and to mash together spherical reactors (a squashed-up version of regular-shaped reactors) and high temperature superconductors to accelerate the development of fusion energy. Their early prototype devices have a 1.2m diameter, and next up, they’re are aiming to build machines that are 3m high with a 2.5m diameter.

“The mainstream view with these devices is that you have to get bigger and bigger in order to produce fusion energy. But we set about trying to use these high temperature superconductors,” David Kingham, physicist and CEO of Tokamak Energy, told me. “Instead of making bigger reactors, you go to a higher field that enables you to contain the plasma in an effective way.”



Banned, but Bountiful: Marijuana Coveted by NFL Players as Invaluable Painkiller

Jamal Anderson was a talented NFL running back with a bruising style who rushed for over 5,000 yards while playing for the Atlanta Falcons. It was a more physical league during Anderson's time, and he retired in 2001 after an eight-year playing career. It was nastier. More punishing. More measures taken by players to ease the pain of playing in the sport.

Anderson remembers the prevalent use of marijuana when he was in the game. It was used for enjoyment but also as treatment for the aches and bruises caused by professional football.

"When I played, 40 to 50 percent of the league used it," Anderson said recently.

Anderson stays in regular contact with players now, and he believes the number of NFL players who use marijuana has grown significantly since he was a Falcon. He's not alone. Current players say marijuana use in the sport is extensive, with many using the drug to deal with the ramifications of head trauma. One player said in an interview he believes smoking marijuana helped prevent him from attempting suicide.


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