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Top 6 Common Myths About Smart Meter Danger Exposed | Earthtechling

Top 6 Common Myths About Smart Meter Danger Exposed | Earthtechling | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There’s a lot of talk about smart meters and how they can help communities use power more efficiently, conserving energy and thus reducing costs. However, some claim that smart meters are hazardous to human health, emitting dangerous high frequency radio waves that can cause illness and disease.

 

Unfortunately, all of this conflicting information can leave consumers very confused about whether they should embrace smart meters or avoid them at all costs (something that is nearly impossible as many utility companies have already made the switch). Before you start crafting your tinfoil hat, take some time to get the facts. The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) recently released an informative video and fact sheet designed to help consumers refute the most commonly circulated myths about smart meters.

 

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Design chosen for Washington, DC's 11th Street Bridge Park | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

Design chosen for Washington, DC's 11th Street Bridge Park | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Washington, DC's 11th Street Bridge Park will be "a place of exchange" with programmed outdoor spaces and active zones. The design, by OMA and OLIN, was chosen after a seven-month competition to design the new civic space. It was chosen unanimously by the competition jury and topped the public poll.

The existing 11th Street Bridges, which cross the Anacostia River between the Washington Navy Yard on one side and Anacostia Park on the other, are in the process of being replaced and will become defunct. Instead of demolishing them all, the decision was made to repurpose the downstream bridge as a public space in much the same way as has been done with the New York Central Railroad to create the High Line.

Designs by the four teams selected for the competition were unveiled last month. OMA and OLIN faced competition from a Balmori Associates and Cooper, Robertson & Partners team, a Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Höweler and Yoon Architecture team, and a Wallace Roberts & Todd and NEXT Architects team. A list of design principles and required facilities was drawn up via engagement with the community, and was used to help evaluate the competition submissions.


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Turning up the heat to make kelp a viable source of biofuel | Ben Coxwo0rth | GizMag.com

Turning up the heat to make kelp a viable source of biofuel | Ben Coxwo0rth | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Biofuels may indeed offer a greener alternative to fossil fuels, but they do raise at least one concern – crops grown as biofuel feedstock could take up farmland and use water that would otherwise be used to grow crops for much-needed food. That's why some scientists have looked to seaweed as a feedstock. Kelp is particularly attractive, in that it's abundant and grows extremely quickly, although its fuel yields haven't been particularly impressive. That could be about to change, however, thanks to a newly-developed hydrothermal process.

Khanh-Quang Tran, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), has been experimenting with heating kelp very quickly. More specifically, Tran and his team put a slurry of kelp biomass and water in sealed drinking-straw-like vessels known as quartz capillary reactors, then heated those reactors to 350º C (662º F) at a rate of 585º C (1,085º F) per minute, and held them at that temperature for 15 minutes.

A variation on a process known as hydrothermal liquefaction, the technique resulted in 79 percent of the biomass being converted into bio-oil. A previous UK study also explored the hydrothermal liquefaction of the same type of kelp (Laminaria saccharina), although it didn't incorporate the rapid heating aspect. In that case, the yield was only 19 percent and the oil was harder to refine, plus the addition of a chemical catalyst was required. No catalyst is necessary with the NTNU system.


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Australia: Modular off-the-grid cabin lands in the outback | Bridget Borgobello | GizMag.com

Australia: Modular off-the-grid cabin lands in the outback | Bridget Borgobello | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Modscape, the architectural studio responsible for the Cliff House concept, has created a modern off-the-grid home that took twelve weeks to complete. Located on the southern banks of the Murray River, in Victoria, Australia, the Tintaldra home is a single-module cabin that was prefabricated in Melbourne before being transported to its rural location.

"The construction process involved a 12 week off-site build in the Modscape factory, after which the home was transported to site and installed in one day," Jan Gyrn, managing director of Modscape tells Gizmag.

The modest home was specially designed to blend into its natural landscape while also being low maintenance and one hundred percent autonomous in order to suit the owners extended periods away.


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China Turns From 'Pirate' Nation To Giant Patent Troll | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

China Turns From 'Pirate' Nation To Giant Patent Troll | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The West's constant push for stronger patent protection in agreements like TPP and ACTA is based on the belief that they will then be able to deploy their supercharged patents against the rising economic might of China. What this completely overlooks is the fact that China will be able to turn the self-same strengthened patent regime against the West by acquiring patents and suing Western companies.


Techdirt has already reported on how China is providing financial incentives for its companies to file huge numbers of patents overseas. Now it has taken another step in bolstering its patents strategy against the West by setting up a company called Ruichuan IPR Funds.


Here's a press release that the site Citizen Outreach has issued on this move:


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Infonetics: Momentum building in millimeter wave market, ignited by outdoor small cells | Yahoo!.com

Infonetics: Momentum building in millimeter wave market, ignited by outdoor small cells | Yahoo!.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Market research firm Infonetics Research released excerpts from its latest Millimeter Wave Equipment report, which tracks licensed and unlicensed millimeter wave equipment by market application (access, backhaul, and transport).

"Although the millimeter wave market is still modest in scale at this point, the enhanced capacity capabilities delivered by this technology will be invaluable as a backhaul aggregation solution for small cell deployments as they scale up," says Richard Webb, directing analyst for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics Research.

Webb continues: "We expect millimeter wave to play a significant role in outdoor small cell backhaul, which will become the primary long-term market driver."


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Drugs flushed into the environment could be cause of wildlife decline | Damian Carrington | The Guardian

Drugs flushed into the environment could be cause of wildlife decline | Damian Carrington | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Potent pharmaceuticals flushed into the environment via human and animal sewage could be a hidden cause of the global wildlife crisis, according to new research. The scientists warn that worldwide use of the drugs, which are designed to be biologically active at low concentrations, is rising rapidly but that too little is currently known about their effect on the natural world.

Studies of the effect of pharmaceutical contamination on wildlife are rare but new work published on Monday reveals that an anti-depressant reduces feeding in starlings and that a contraceptive drug slashes fish populations in lakes.

“With thousands of pharmaceuticals in use globally, they have the potential to have potent effects on wildlife and ecosystems,” said Kathryn Arnold, at the University of York, who edited a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. ”Given the many benefits of pharmaceuticals, there is a need for science to deliver better estimates of the environmental risks they pose.”

She said: “Given that populations of many species living in human-altered landscapes are declining for reasons that cannot be fully explained, we believe that it is time to explore emerging challenges,” such as pharmaceutical pollution.

Research published in September revealed half of the planet’s wild animals had been wiped out in the last 40 years. In freshwater habitats, where drug residues are most commonly found, the research found 75% of fish and amphibians had been lost.


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As Casualties Mount, Scientists Say Global Warming Has Been "Hugely Underestimated" | Dahr Jamail | Truth-Out.org

As Casualties Mount, Scientists Say Global Warming Has Been "Hugely Underestimated" | Dahr Jamail | Truth-Out.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As we look across the globe this month, the signs of a continued escalation of the impacts of runaway anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continue to increase, alongside a drumbeat of fresh scientific studies confirming their connection to the ongoing human geo-engineering project of emitting carbon dioxide at ever-increasing rates into the atmosphere.

A major study recently published in New Scientist found that "scientists may have hugely underestimated the extent of global warming because temperature readings from southern hemisphere seas were inaccurate," and said that ACD is "worse than we thought" because it is happening "faster than we realized."

As has become predictable now, as evidence of increasing ACD continues to mount, denial and corporate exploitation are accelerating right along with it.


This is the start of the paragraph.


The famed Northwest Passage is now being exploited by luxury cruise companies. Given the ongoing melting of the Arctic ice cap, a company recently announced a 900-mile, 32-day luxury cruise there, with fares starting at $20,000, so people can luxuriate while viewing the demise of the planetary ecosystem.


This, while even mainstream scientists now no longer view ACD in the future tense, but as a reality that is already well underway and severely impacting the planet.


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Climate renews famine risk to Africa’s Sahel| Alex Kirby | Climate News Network

Climate renews famine risk to Africa’s Sahel| Alex Kirby | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Sahel, the arid belt of land that stretches from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and separates the Sahara desert from the African savanna, is no stranger to drought and famine.

Now scientists in Sweden say the Sahel faces another humanitarian crisis even than in the recent past − with the changing climate partly responsible.

Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the researchers from Lund University say people in the Sahel need more food, animal feed and fuel every year. But demand, which has more than doubled over a recent 10-year period, is growing much faster than supply.


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TPP Leak Confirms Measures To Criminalize Corporate Whistleblowing | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

TPP Leak Confirms Measures To Criminalize Corporate Whistleblowing | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As Mike has reported, the core of the newly-leaked TPP chapter is about granting Big Pharma's wish-list, with other worrying stuff for the copyright industry's benefit thrown in for good measure. But hidden away in the chapter's 70+ pages there's something very different -- and very dangerous. Here's how the Australian newspaper The Age explains it:

The draft text provides that TPP countries will introduce criminal penalties for unauthorised access to, misappropriation or disclosure of trade secrets, defined as information that has commercial value because it is secret, by any person using a computer system.

That's clearly an incredibly broad definition of trade secret, and will allow a vast range of materials to enjoy this kind of protection. And by requiring criminal penalties, TPP aims to make that protection very serious indeed:

TPP countries may criminalise all such disclosures or, if they wish, limit criminal penalties to cases that involve "commercial advantage or financial gain"; are directed by or benefit "a foreign economic entity"; or are "detrimental to a [TPP] party's economic interests, international relations, or national defence or national security."

Notice that those are simply options: the default position is to criminalize everything. Moreover, even those "limited" cases could be applied very widely. Particularly troubling is the following aspect of the proposed text:


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How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking To The World | Mariah Blake | HuffPost.com

How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking To The World | Mariah Blake | HuffPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

ONE ICY MORNING in February 2012, Hillary Clinton's plane touched down in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, which was just digging out from a fierce blizzard. Wrapped in a thick coat, the secretary of state descended the stairs to the snow-covered tarmac, where she and her aides piled into a motorcade bound for the presidential palace. That afternoon, they huddled with Bulgarian leaders, including Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, discussing everything from Syria's bloody civil war to their joint search for loose nukes. But the focus of the talks was fracking. The previous year, Bulgaria had signed a five-year, $68 million deal, granting US oil giant Chevron millions of acres in shale gas concessions. Bulgarians were outraged. Shortly before Clinton arrived, tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets carrying placards that read "Stop fracking with our water" and "Chevron go home." Bulgaria's parliament responded by voting overwhelmingly for a fracking moratorium.

Clinton urged Bulgarian officials to give fracking another chance. According to Borissov, she agreed to help fly in the "best specialists on these new technologies to present the benefits to the Bulgarian people." But resistance only grew. The following month in neighboring Romania, thousands of people gathered to protest another Chevron fracking project, and Romania's parliament began weighing its own shale gas moratorium. Again Clinton intervened, dispatching her special envoy for energy in Eurasia, Richard Morningstar, to push back against the fracking bans. The State Depart­ment's lobbying effort culminated in late May 2012, when Morningstar held a series of meetings on fracking with top Bulgarian and Romanian officials. He also touted the technology in an interview on Bulgarian national radio, saying it could lead to a fivefold drop in the price of natural gas. A few weeks later, Romania's parliament voted down its proposed fracking ban and Bulgaria's eased its moratorium.

The episode sheds light on a crucial but little-known dimension of Clinton's diplomatic legacy. Under her leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe—part of a broader push to fight climate change, boost global energy supply, and undercut the power of adversaries such as Russia that use their energy resources as a cudgel. But environmental groups fear that exporting fracking, which has been linked to drinking-water contamination and earthquakes at home, could wreak havoc in countries with scant environmental regulation. And according to interviews, diplomatic cables, and other documents obtained by Mother Jones, American officials—some with deep ties to industry—also helped US firms clinch potentially lucrative shale concessions overseas, raising troubling questions about whose interests the program actually serves.


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CA: Big Oil Company Donates $250,000 to Yes on Prop. 1 campaign | Dan Bacher | DailyKos.com

CA: Big Oil Company Donates $250,000 to Yes on Prop. 1 campaign | Dan Bacher | DailyKos.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Top contributors to water bond donated over $8 million

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) revealed on October 17 that Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, has contributed $250,000 to the Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign.

The total of money donated by top contributors for Governor Brown Prop. 1 and 2 campaign has risen to $8,026,015 to date, according to the FPPC. (http://fppc.ca.gov/...)

Aera Energy LLC is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company’s website. (http://www.aeraenergy.com/...)

“Formed in June 1997 and jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, we are operated as a stand-alone company through our own board of managers,” the website stated.

“We are industry leaders that specialize in tapping heavy oil and other unconventional light reservoirs. With headquarters in Bakersfield, most of our production is centered in the San Joaquin Valley. We also have oil field operations in Ventura and Monterey counties. Aera produces about 131,000 barrels of oil and 36 million cubic feet of natural gas each day and has proved oil and gas reserves equivalent to approximately 712 million barrels of oil,” the website said.

Opponents of Proposition 1 say Governor Jerry Brown’s $7.5 billion water bond is an expensive and unfair taxpayer giveaway to special interests, including Big Oil and Big Ag, that won’t solve the drought or help secure California's water future. They see the latest contribution as one of many by powerful corporate interests to pay for slick campaign ads to trick the voters into approving the controversial measure.

The Con argument in the California Progressive Voter Guide states: “It allocates over $3.6 billion, without oversight by the legislature, to build dams and pay for water transfers for corporate agribusiness. Prop 1 with interest will cost CA taxpayers $14.4 billion or $360 million per year for 40 years out of our State’s general fund, money that could be used for other needs like education and healthcare."

It’s hard not to note the irony of a big oil company contributing $250,000 to a campaign for a water bond that allocates $900 million for alleged “groundwater sustainability” less than two weeks after the Center for Biological Diversity released state documents revealing that almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater were illegally dumped into Central California aquifers that supply drinking water and irrigation water for farms. (lhttp://www.water.ca.gov/...)


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Fracking for the Cure? | David Sirota | Truthdig.com

Fracking for the Cure? | David Sirota | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Helping find a cure for cancer or “pinkwashing” carcinogenic pollution?

That is the question being raised upon the news that one of the world’s largest fossil fuel services firms is partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation on a breast cancer awareness campaign, despite possible links between fracking and cancer.

According to energy services firm Baker Hughes, “The company will paint and distribute a total of 1,000 pink drill bits worldwide” as a “reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening and education to help find the cures” for breast cancer. The firm, which is involved in hydraulic fracturing, is also donating $100,000 to the Komen Foundation in what it calls a “yearlong partnership.”

The announcement comes in the same month Baker Hughes agreed to begin disclosing the chemicals it uses in the fracking process, publishing them at fracfocus.org, the industry’s website. Health advocates and environmental activists have long prodded the industry for full disclosure - especially since scientific studies have raised the prospect of a link between oil and gas exploration and cancer.


For example, Texas regulators reviewing cancer rates in an area of heavy natural gas development recently concluded that “consistent with previous analyses, female breast cancer had a higher than expected number of cases in the area.”


The Los Angeles Times reported that a recent government study found that “some workers at oil and gas sites where fracking occurs are routinely exposed to high levels of benzene,” a chemical scientists believe is a carcinogen that may be linked to breast cancer. And a 2012 study by University of Colorado researchers found “higher cancer risks for residents living nearer to [gas] wells as compared to those residing further [away].”

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Aaron O.'s curator insight, October 20, 1:41 PM

not again...

why why why why why why why why why why why why why why 

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NYC: The QueensWay will be New York's second High Line | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

NYC: The QueensWay will be New York's second High Line | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Inspired by the creation of the city's High Line, a group in the Queens area of New York is looking to follow suit. Friends of the QueensWay wants to transform a portion of the abandoned Rockaway Rail Line into 3.5 mi (5.6 km) of recreational walking and biking trails.

Since its redevelopment of the New York Central Railroad's West Side Line spur, the High Line, where the third and final section was recently opened, has inspired a number of other similar projects across the world. Sydney's Goods Line is another example that has repurposed a disused railroad. Like both the High Line and the Goods Line, the QueensWay project is looking to create public value from a piece of infrastructure that is defunct and disrepaired.


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Best of British: Liverpool's Everyman Theatre wins RIBA's Stirling Prize | Adam Williams | GizMag.com

Best of British: Liverpool's Everyman Theatre wins RIBA's Stirling Prize | Adam Williams | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Liverpool's Everyman Theatre, by Haworth Tompkins, has won the Royal British Institute of Architecture (RIBA) Stirling Prize.


Other notable winners announced during the awards show last night include the Manser Medal for best new British home, and the Stephen Lawrence Prize for outstanding architecture on a relatively low budget.


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BYD Motors outs world's largest battery electric vehicle | David Szondy | GizMag.com

BYD Motors outs world's largest battery electric vehicle | David Szondy | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

When we think of electric vehicles, we generally think of conveyances down the lower on of the size spectrum, like cars, bikes and maybe even skateboards. But at this year’s American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo in Houston, BYD Motors took things in the other direction with the premiere of what it claims is the world’s largest battery electric vehicle – the Lancaster eBus.

Billed as America's first electric articulated bus, the Lancaster eBus is named after the California city where it was designed and built after over two years of development. From the outside, the 60-ft (18.2-m), articulated, battery-electric vehicle looks like any other bendy bus, but it hides some advanced electric drive technology. This includes in-wheel motors that can handle gradients of up to 21 percent and make it suitable for hilly urban areas, and give it a range of over 179 mi (288 km) with a load of 120 passengers.

Based in Pingshan, China, BYD specializes in batteries rather than buses, so the company’s philosophy has been to build the bus around the battery rather than select the battery for the bus. The Lancaster eBus uses BYD’s iron phosphate batteries also found in its cars and non-articulated buses. The company says these carry enough charge to complete a full day’s work without needing a top up, meaning the bus can be charged exclusively at night, when rates are lower.


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How Google Search is changing to fight online piracy | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

How Google Search is changing to fight online piracy | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Google's dominance of the online search market has often put it at odds with copyright holders, who argue the company should hide results likely to contain pirated content. On Friday, the search engine giant announced new efforts in response to that concern, saying that it would do more to reduce the visibility of pirated content in search products -- including testing a new ad format and tweaking its autocomplete search feature.

According to Google, the company received more than 224 million requests last year to remove search results under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- and ultimately removed 222 million of them. The average turnaround for copyright notices was less than six hours last year, the company says.

One of Google's strategies for fighting online piracy is to promote legal ways to access content. On that front, the company says it is testing a new ad format that pops up in search results for music and movies. When users search for such content using words such as "download," free or "watch, for example, Google's search results will automatically direct them to legitimate content sources, such as Amazon, Netflix or its own Google Play store, in a prominent position at the top of the page. The search engine is also trying out a right-hand panel in search results for the same kind of listing. The tests are only being run in the United States right now, but the blog post suggests an international rollout may be in the cards down the line.


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Scripps Inks Channels Deal with Liberty across Europe | Leo Barraclough | Variety.com

Scripps Inks Channels Deal with Liberty across Europe | Leo Barraclough | Variety.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Scripps Networks has inked a multi-territory, multi-year distribution deal with international cable operator Liberty Global for Food Network, Travel Channel and Fine Living across Europe.

The deal, which will start in 2015, sees the renewal of existing Scripps Networks channels across Liberty Global’s territories, as well as providing the option for Liberty Global to add Food Network and Fine Living in a number of the markets where they are not carried.

Food Network is a global food, entertainment and lifestyle channel, while Fine Living showcases lifestyle gurus, innovative home and designs experts, and chefs from around the world. Travel Channel is one of the world’s leading international travel broadcasters.

Scripps Networks has granted rights to Liberty Global allowing its content to be delivered across multiple platforms to include cable, catch-up, SVOD and mobile.

Liberty Global has cable distribution throughout Europe in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and the U.K., as well DTH services in five Central and Eastern European countries.

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CO: Windsor moves to annex land eyed for drilling | Adrian Garcia | Coloradoan.com

CO: Windsor moves to annex land eyed for drilling | Adrian Garcia | Coloradoan.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Windsor may annex property where Great Western Oil and Gas Co. wants to starts drilling, before the Denver-based company receives state permits for the project.

On Monday, the Windsor Town Board voted to move forward with an ordinance that would bring a nearly 50-acre parcel near the Bison Ridge subdivision into west Windsor. The board is scheduled to make a final decision on the enclave annexation Oct. 27.

If Windsor completes the annexation before Great Western is permitted to drill, the oil and gas company will be forced to work with the city on the project, Mayor John Vazquez said Monday.

Vazquez and residents have continually voiced concerns about Great Western not working with the town on the project, despite the oil and gas company’s repeated claims that it will meet with residents and voluntarily accept Windsor’s land-use regulations and best management practices for drilling operations.

This summer, Great Western notified Bison Ridge residents that drilling and exploration will begin during spring 2015 on the 40- to 50-acre lot south of the their subdivision, near Colorado Highway 392 and Larimer County Road 13. During Monday’s board meeting, nine residents from Bison Ridge and the surrounding area said they want the planned drilling to be stopped, moved or at least regulated by Windsor.


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A Fracking Mess! | Podcast | Center for Environmental Health

A Fracking Mess! | Podcast | Center for Environmental Health | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The fracking boom is promising a rich trove of fossil fuels to bolster our energy independence and take us to a cleaner energy future.


But health experts say fracking is damaging communities, and scientists say the fossil fuels from fracking will doom the planet.


Hear why fracking can’t work, and how we can protect our children and families from fracking risks!

This podcast features: Goldman Prize winner Helen Slottje, fracking critic Professor Anthony Ingraffea, CEH’s Energy and Health expert Ansje Miller, and Professor Mark Jacobson of the Solutions Project.


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MasterCard demos a prototype contactless card with a fingerprint sensor | Loek Essers | ComputerWorld.com

MasterCard demos a prototype contactless card with a fingerprint sensor | Loek Essers | ComputerWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

MasterCard is testing a contactless payment card with a built-in fingerprint reader that can authorize high-value payments without requiring the user to enter a PIN.

The credit-card company showed a prototype of the card in London on Friday along with Zwipe, the Norwegian company that developed the fingerprint recognition technology.

The contactless payment card has an integrated fingerprint sensor and a secure data store for the cardholder's biometric data, which is held only on the card and not in an external database, the companies said.

The card also has an EMV chip, used in European payment cards instead of a magnetic stripe to increase payment security, and a MasterCard application to allow contactless payments.

The prototype shown Friday is thicker than regular payment cards to accommodate a battery. Zwipe said it plans to eliminate the battery by harvesting energy from contactless payment terminals and is working on a new model for release in 2015 that will be as thin as standard cards.


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Qatar: Minister attends key ICT meeting in South Korea | The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar: Minister attends key ICT meeting in South Korea | The Peninsula Qatar | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Minister of Information and Communications Technology H E Dr Hessa Sultan Al Jaber attended the 2014 Busan ICT ministerial meeting in Busan, South Korea.

It was held under the theme ‘The Future Role of ICT – Sustainable Development through Inclusive ICTs.

The annual meeting sets the future direction for the development of ICT sector and provides a venue to discuss ICT-related issues and challenges. It also serves as a venue for sharing future vision based on ICT policy experiences of each country.

The meeting precedes the 19th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) to be held in Busan from October 20 to November 7 where ITU states will decide on the future role of the organisation, determining ITU’s ability to influence and affect the development of information and communication technologies worldwide.

The PP-14, the world’s largest meeting of international policymakers from the ICT sector, expected to attract around 3,000 participants, including heads of state and around 130 VIPs from over 160 countries, including government ministers and CEOs. It is held every four years to set the strategic direction of ITU, develop policies and recommendations that address the evolving needs of the union’s members, elect the senior management team, ITU Council members and members of Radio Regulation Board.

The Busan ICT ministerial meeting was attended by around 50 ministers from around the world to explore ways to achieve the four goals identified in the ITU’s Strategic Plan 2016-2019, branded as ‘Connect 2020’, which will be discussed and endorsed at PP-14.

The four goals are growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, and innovation and partnership.


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Scientists refute lower emissions claim for fracking | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network

Scientists refute lower emissions claim for fracking | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The argument that fracking can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is misguided, according to an international scientific study, because the amount of extra fossil fuel it will produce will cancel out the benefits of its lower pollution content.

The study, published today in the journal Nature, recognises that technologies such as fracking have triggered a boom in natural gas. But the authors say this will not lead to a reduction of overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Although natural gas produces only half the CO2 emissions of coal for each unit of energy, its growing availability will make it cheaper, they say, so it will add to total energy supply and only partly replace coal.


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CA: A sprinkle of compost helps rangeland lock up carbon | Carolyn Lochhead | SFGate.com

CA: A sprinkle of compost helps rangeland lock up carbon | Carolyn Lochhead | SFGate.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A compost experiment that began seven years ago on a Marin County ranch has uncovered a disarmingly simple and benign way to remove carbon dioxide from the air, holding the potential to turn the vast rangeland of California and the world into a weapon against climate change.

The concept grew out of a unique Bay Area alignment of a biotech fortune, a world-class research institution and progressive-minded Marin ranchers. It has captured the attention of the White House, the Brown administration, the city of San Francisco, officials in Brazil and China, and even House Republicans, who may not believe in climate change but like the idea that “carbon farming” could mean profits for ranchers.

Experiments on grazing lands in Marin County and the Sierra foothills of Yuba County by UC Berkeley bio-geochemist Whendee Silver showed that a one-time dusting of compost substantially boosted the soil’s carbon storage. The effect has persisted over six years, and Silver believes the carbon will remain stored for at least several decades.

The experiments were instigated by John Wick and his wife, Peggy, heiress to the Amgen biotech fortune, on a 540-acre ranch they bought in Nicasio. What began as a search for an artist’s studio turned into a seven-year, $8 million journey through rangeland ecology that has produced results John Wick calls “the most exciting thing I can think of on the planet right now.”


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GE Membrane Technology Generates Renewable Energy from Wastewater | Environmental Leader

General Electric’s latest membrane-based wastewater treatment technology combines anaerobic digestion technology with its ZeeWeed 500 membranes to create anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR).

As industrial customers seek greater water reuse, while facing more stringent discharge limits, AnMBR offers lower costs, better performance and the ability to generate renewable energy from industrial wastewater, GE says.

The new technology is a good solution for industrial wastewater with high biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand concentrations that result in higher aerobic treatment operational expenses. GE says its AnMBR provides reduced energy consumption, energy recovery and reduced sludge production.

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South Korea: Leaning House tilts upwards to offer a great view | Adam Williams | GizMag.com

South Korea: Leaning House tilts upwards to offer a great view | Adam Williams | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Architecture firm Praud decided upon an interesting approach when commissioned to build a home near Seoul, South Korea. To ensure its clients could enjoy a choice view of a nearby lake and catch all available southern sunlight despite the hilly landscape, the firm tilted a section of the home upwards – thus inspiring the name Leaning House.

Somewhat reminiscent of the ZEB Pilot House in the way in which it tilts, Leaning House doesn't, alas, sport any green features whatsoever. The home is clad in zinc and takes up a physical footprint of 96 sq m (1,033 sq ft) on a plot measuring 482 sq m (5,188 sq ft). Its overall design is simple and comprises two boxes: one horizontal, and another that tilts upwards and cantilevers over the main body of the structure.

The tilting design offers the benefit of creating a small shaded terrace area towards the front of the home, though also appears to limit the available sunlight in the ground floor living area too.


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