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Scientists Want Nebraska to Use More Renewable Energy | 1011now.com

Scientists Want Nebraska to Use More Renewable Energy | 1011now.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Climate scientists asked lawmakers to require the Nebraska Power Review Board to consider health, water and economic factors when deciding which power sourcesto use.

 

Malcolm Sen. Ken Harr said on Friday he wants the Legislature's Natural ResoucesCommittee to commission an in-depth study on the power generation issue.

 

State utility companies collaboratively opposed the measure, while 18 people supported it.

 

Coal provides more than 70 percent of electric power generation to Nebraska residents, according to 2011 data from the U.S.EnergyInformation Association.

 

Former meteorologist John Pollack says lawmakers should reduce coal reliance and shift to renewable energies, like wind and solar power. He says climate changeis real and shouldn't be ignored.

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Antarctica blows hot and cold – for now | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Antarctica blows hot and cold – for now | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

German scientists have identified a pattern of natural change in Antarctica. The discovery appears to suggest that human influence may not be a cause of apparent warming in the seas around the great, frozen continent. Instead, natural variability might have a role.

The finding doesn’t undermine the thesis that human burning of fossil fuels is enriching the atmosphere with greenhouse gases and triggering climate change: it might however account for the so-called pause in the rate of warming this century.

The verdict remains inconclusive. But new evidence published in the journal Climate Dynamics introduces a new layer of complexity in the understanding of the planetary climate system.

In brief, the rate of warming in the northern hemisphere is considerable, and highest in the Arctic Circle. Overall, the southern hemisphere remains colder, and evidence from the Antarctic has been ambiguous, although there have been widely reported fears of potentially dramatic change in West Antarctica. Rapid melting in the region would constitute a “climate tipping point” which would have consequences across the entire planet.


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World's mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak of 42m tonnes | The Guardian

World's mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak of 42m tonnes | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A record amount of electrical and electronic waste was discarded around the world in 2014, with the biggest per-capita tallies in countries that pride themselves on environmental consciousness, a report said.

Last year, 41.8m tonnes of so-called e-waste – mostly fridges, washing machines and other domestic appliances at the end of their life – was dumped, the UN report said.

That’s the equivalent of 1.15m heavy trucks, forming a line 23,000km (14,300 miles) long, according to the report, compiled by the United Nations University, the UN’s educational and research branch.

Less than one-sixth of all e-waste was properly recycled, it said.

In 2013, the e-waste total was 39.8m tonnes – and on present trends, the 50-million-tonne mark could be reached in 2018.

Topping the list for per-capita waste last year was Norway, with 28.4kg (62.5lbs) per inhabitant.

It was followed by Switzerland (26.3kg), Iceland (26.1kg), Denmark (24.0kg), Britain (23.5kg), the Netherlands (23.4kg), Sweden (22.3kg), France (22.2kg) and the United States and Austria (22.1kg).

The region with the lowest amount of e-waste per inhabitant was Africa, with 1.7kg per person. It generated a total of 1.9m tonnes of waste.

In volume terms, the most waste was generated in the United States and China, which together accounted for 32% of the world’s total, followed by Japan, Germany and India.

Waste that could have been recovered and recycled was worth $52bn, including 300 tonnes of gold – equal to 11% of the world’s gold production in 2013.

But it also included 2.2m tonnes of harmful lead compounds, as well as mercury, cadmium and chromium, and 4,400 tonnes of ozone-harming chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases.

“Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable ‘urban mine’ – a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials,” UN under secretary-general David Malone said.


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Siemens' world-record electric aircraft motor punches above its weight | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com

Siemens' world-record electric aircraft motor punches above its weight | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at Siemens have created a new prototype electric motor specifically designed for aircraft that weighs in at just 50 kg (110 lb) and is claimed to produce about 260 kW (348 hp) at just 2,500 RPM. With a quoted power five times greater than any comparable powerplant, the new motor promises enough grunt to get aircraft with take-off weights of up to 1,800 kg (2 ton) off the ground.

Researchers say they produced such a light but powerful motor by analyzing all of the components of previous electric aircraft motors and incorporating optimized improvements to these in their new prototype. Added to this, the researchers also utilized a range of computer simulation methods to model the motor prior to construction, before then applying the findings to produce the lightest and strongest set of components possible.

As a result, the new aircraft electric drive system achieves a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram. This ratio is an exceptional figure – especially if compared to similarly powerful industrial electric motors used in heavy machinery that produce less than 1 kW per kilogram, or even to more efficient electric motors for vehicles that generate around 2 kW per kilogram. The four electric motors in the Solar Impulse 2, by comparison, produce just 7.5 kW (10 hp) each.


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Australia: NBN Co to pilot faster fixed-wireless speeds | TeleGeography.com

NBN Co, the company overseeing Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) project, has outlined plans to begin a nationwide pilot in which it aims to ‘significantly boost broadband speeds available to families and businesses in rural and regional Australia’.


From May 2015 customers connecting via the fixed-wireless element of the NBN infrastructure will reportedly be able to experience increased wholesale downlink speeds of between 25Mbps and 50Mbps, double the current top wholesale offering, while wholesale upload speeds will rise to between 5Mbps and 20Mbps.

According to NBN Co, the pilot is currently expected to conclude 20 business days after the commercial launch of the 25-50Mbps/5-20Mbps wholesale speed tier product, which is scheduled to take place in Q4 2015.


Meanwhile, by the end of the NBN rollout more than 600,000 premises are earmarked to receive fast broadband via the Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based fixed-wireless network.


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Dear Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is not, and should not be the internet | Hindustan Times

Dear Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is not, and should not be the internet | Hindustan Times | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg began his piece defending Internet.org by talking about his visit to Chandauli, a small north Indian village newly connected to the Internet.

“In a classroom in the village, I had the chance to talk to a group of students who were learning to use the internet. It was an incredible experience to think that right there in that room might be a student with a big idea that could change the world - and now they could actually make that happen through the internet” he says.

To understand why Mr. Zuckerberg was so thrilled, substitute the word “Facebook” for “Internet” in the above quote, because that is the objective of Facebook’s loftily (and dare we say, maliciously) named “Internet.org”.

Ask Helani Galpaya, a researcher with policy think tank LIRNEasia, who in 2012 came across a curious anomaly while researching “bottom of pyramid” telephone users in Indonesia. When asked questions about the Internet, most of the respondents said they didn’t use it. But when asked about Facebook, most of them said they used it often.

“In their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook,” concluded Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia’s head.

This isn’t specific to Indonesia alone, as Christoph Stork, a researcher with Research ICT Africa would find out too. Stork was flummoxed when he saw that more Africans were saying they had used Facebook than they had the Internet, a statistical impossibility.

And that is exactly what Internet.org is - Zuckerberg’s ambitious project to confuse hundreds of millions of emerging market users into thinking that Facebook and the Internet are one and the same.


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Google's Project Loon close to launching thousands of balloons | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com

Google's Project Loon close to launching thousands of balloons | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Google says its Project Loon is close to being able to produce and launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet access from the sky.

Such a number would be required to provide reliable Internet access to users in remote areas that are currently unserved by terrestrial networks, said Mike Cassidy, the Google engineer in charge of the project, in a video posted Friday.

The ambitious project has been underway for a couple of years and involves beaming down LTE cellular signals to handsets on the ground from balloons thousands of feet in the air, well above the altitude that passenger jets fly.

“At first it would take us 3 or 4 days to tape together a balloon,” Cassidy says in the video. “Today, through our own manufacturing facility, the automated systems can get a balloon produced in just a few hours. We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons.”

Trials are currently underway with Telstra in Australia, Telefonica in Latin America and with Vodafone in New Zealand, where the video appears to have been largely shot. Maps tracking the path of balloons over the country are seen at several points in the video.

At a European conference in March, a Google executive said the balloons were staying aloft for up to 6 months at a time.

At some point they do come down, and Cassidy says the company has developed a system to predict where they will land and to retrieve them.

It has also worked on a reliable launching system.

“In the beginning, it was all we could do to launch one balloon a day. Now with our automated crane system, we can launch dozens of balloons a day for every crane we have,” he said.

Google hasn’t provided any details about what a commercial roll-out of the technology might look like.


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Internet.org: delivering poor Internet to poor people | Cory Doctorow | BoingBoing.net

Internet.org: delivering poor Internet to poor people | Cory Doctorow | BoingBoing.net | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Mark Zuckerberg's Internet.org project bribes corrupt, non-neutral carriers in poor countries to exempt Facebook and other services of its choosing from their data-caps, giving the world's poorest an Internet that's been radically pruned to a sliver of what the rest of the world gets for free.

Internet.org characterizes its goals as charitable and development-oriented. In their framework, poor people either face severe data-caps that limit their access to the Internet to almost nothing, or they get unlimited access to some of the Internet, thanks to Internet.org's largesse.

That framework ignores the alternative: using the organization's might and millions to fight corruption in the telco sector, demanding network neutrality for everyone, not just people in rich countries.

The idea of "zero-rated" services from non-neutral carriers isn't a new one. In countries like India, it's long been normal for carriers to accept bribes to exempt certain services from data-caps. This phenomenon has been widely studied, and the conclusion is stark: zero-rated services do not contribute to poverty-eradication or other development goals.

People in India can join the fight for a neutral Internet there -- over 750,000 people have already signed on.


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In 2017, Norway will be first country to shut down FM radio | Lizzie Plaugic | The Verge

Norway will shut down FM radio in the country beginning in 2017, Radio.no reports. The Norwegian Ministry of Culture finalized a shift date this week, making it the first country to do away with FM radio entirely. The country plans to transition to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) as a national standard.

A statement released this week by the Ministry of Culture confirms a switch-off date that was proposed by the Norwegian government back in 2011. The government has concluded that the country is capable of meeting all the requirements necessary for a smooth transition to digital.

"Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio-content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality," Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey said in a statement. "Digitization will also greatly improve the emergency preparedness system, facilitate increased competition and offer new opportunities for innovation and development."

DAB currently offers 22 national channels as opposed to FM's five, and has the capacity to host almost 20 more. The cost of transmitting radio channels through FM is also eight times higher than the cost of DAB transmission, the ministry reports.


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Kenya: Universities Can Help Build Unnovative Cities | Alex Awiti Opinion | All Africa

Kenya: Universities Can Help Build Unnovative Cities | Alex Awiti Opinion | All Africa | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

That our kind has entered the Urban Age is unequivocal. In 2008 we became Homo urbanus. About 54 per cent of our kind - circa 3.95 billion people - now live in cities of various sizes. By 2030, about five billion people will live in cities. This is perhaps the most consequential social transformation in the history of our civilisation.

The Urban Age presents the most important development challenge in the 21st century. This is especially true in the developing world, where the rate of urbanisation is most rapid. In Africa, especially, rapid urbanisation seems to be inextricably bound with massive expansion of squalor, poverty and isolated pockets of odious wealth.

Today, with very few exceptions, African cities are characterised by poor physical planning, lack of basic services such as water, sanitation, housing, transportation, health and education. Here in East Africa, the major cities of Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Nairobi are bursting at the seams. These cities are sprawling uncontrollably, strangulated by traffic gridlock, choking in poisonous air and plagued by slums. This apparent dystopia is largely due to failure in planning and governance.

Despite crippling governance failure, East Africa's premier cities are resilient concentrations of ingenuity and innovation. They, like hundreds of smaller cities and towns across Africa, represent the continent's potential and promise. For instance, in February Nairobi was crowned the city with the greatest capacity to prosper in the broadband economy, hence the most intelligent city in Africa. Dar es Salaam, according to a 2013 report by Oxford Economics, will lift more citizens into the middle class (earning $5,000 to $20,000 [Sh465,327 to 1.8 million] per annum) than any other African city. Home of East Africa's oldest university, Kampala has been transformed from a looted shell during the long civil war to a thriving modern city.

Cities, more than rural spaces, will shape the future of East Africa. Cities present our best chance at building a more energy efficient, prosperous and equitable society. The future of our cities is especially bright in a knowledge-based economy. The competitive advantage of our cities is contingent on effective utilisation of a super high concentration of intangible assets such as knowledge and skills.

Coincidentally, in this knowledge economy, we are witnessing an unprecedented urbanisation of higher education.


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Obama to mark Earth Day with climate change speech at Everglades | Jesse Byrnes | The Hill

President Obama is celebrating Earth Day this year with a visit to the Everglades, where he will argue that climate change threatens the U.S. economy.

Obama will travel to the nation's largest subtropical wilderness in southern Florida on Wednesday, he announced in his weekly address, to underscore an issue central to his administration.

"Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure, and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry, at risk," Obama said in his taped address released Saturday.

"Climate change can no longer be denied or ignored. The world is looking to the United States, to us, to lead. And that’s what we’re doing," Obama said.

Obama will be in the backyard of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who is expected to launch his White House bid and acknowledged Friday he is "concerned" about climate change.

Obama could invoke a report last month that Florida's Department of Environmental Protect had been forbidden from using the terms "climate change" and "global warming" in official records.

Later next week, Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Canada, where the U.S. will take over at the helm of the Arctic Council for a two-year term that is expected to focus on climate change.


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Colorado Fracking Wastewater Injection Site Up In Flames | Jennifer Baker | Revolution-News.com

Colorado Fracking Wastewater Injection Site Up In Flames | Jennifer Baker | Revolution-News.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Around 1:15 this afternoon a fracking waste-water injection site in Greeley Colorado went up in flames causing several large explosions. The Greeley Tribune reported that Fire-fighters waited to engage until around 5:30pm ” until the explosion risk subsided before going in with the foam fire suppression agent to subdue the fire.”

Explosions and fireballs erupted from the fire throughout the afternoon, spewing black smoke into the sky, which was visible for miles. The roar of the fire sounded like a freight train rumbling past.

A little after 3 p.m., the fire spread south toward a grouping of tanks, a loud whistling sound preceded a large explosion that launched a tank into the air. The tank landed about 60 feet from the site.

That afternoon, several tanks became airborne in the same fashion.

Greeley Fire Marshal Dale Lyman said “A lot of oil tanks failed.” Minor explosions rocked the site and fireballs erupted from the site during the day as tanks failed, caught on fire or started to leak, he said.

Doug White, vice president of NGL Water Solutions suspects that lightning may have struck one of the tanks sparking the blaze and resulting explosions during a passing storm sometime shortly after 1pm. The Denver Post reported that three homes near the well were evacuated during the early stages of the blaze and no injuries have been reported. Officials say they don’t know how the fire began.


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Warning: Heat waves can (and do) kill—and climate change is sending more our way | Clara Chaisson | onEarth.org

Warning: Heat waves can (and do) kill—and climate change is sending more our way | Clara Chaisson | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It's only April and the warm temperatures of 2015 are already grabbing headlines. But I doubt anyone is out there quaking at the prospect of sweltering through another "hottest year ever." You see, as extreme weather events go, heat waves don’t have much flair for the dramatic. Tornadoes leave a violent trail of flattened houses in their wake. Flotillas of kayaks take to the streets during major floods. Even cold waves inspire BuzzFeed listicles showing how boiling water can freeze in midair. But heat waves just…make us sit around and sweat.

Though unassuming, extreme heat is deadly, which is why it’s often referred to as a silent killer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 2006 and 2010, heat contributed to 666 deaths per year (hot as hell, indeed).

“People have a sense that ‘There’s always been heat waves, what’s the big deal?’ ” says Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist with NRDC’s health and environment program (disclosure). “The big deal is there’s a lot more of them, and they kill people.”

Extreme heat is insidious in more ways than one. Not only does its health impact take people unawares, it’s also not always obvious when heat factors into someone’s death. In the summer of 2003, Europe sweated through its hottest temperatures in 500 years. At the time, it was reported that about 20,000 people had died from the heat—15,000 in France alone. A later epidemiological study that compared the number of people who actually died that summer to the number of expected deaths, however, put the toll closer to 70,000. That’s no minor rounding error.


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Familiar fish find northern seas too warm for comfort | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Familiar fish find northern seas too warm for comfort | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Some of Northern Europe’s favourite suppers may be about to swim off the menu altogether. Global warming could change the future catch, according to new research.

British scientists report in the journal Nature Climate Change that popular species such as haddock, lemon sole and plaice could become less common as the climate changes and the North Sea warms.

The North Sea is relatively shallow – during the height of the Ice Age, much of the sea bed was dry land – which means that fish that would otherwise find deeper waters to keep cool have nowhere to go.

The North Atlantic is warming fast. The mean annual North Sea surface temperatures have increased by 1.3°C in the past 30 years. This is four times faster than the global average. But fish evolved to make a living in the temperatures that suit them best, and the evidence is that the North Sea is increasingly host to species that were once characteristic of the Mediterranean.


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Carbon storage hopes rise again | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Carbon storage hopes rise again | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Two groups of US scientists are exploring new ways of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One technology mimics the tree by using artificial photosynthesis. The other exploits a membrane that is a thousand times more efficient than any tree.

Although the nations of the world agreed in 2009 to attempt to limit the global warming temperature rise this century to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, colossal quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide are still being emitted into the atmosphere.

So some researchers have been exploring the technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS): ways of trapping CO2 as it leaves the power station chimney or machinery exhaust and storing it for burial or reuse. Others have proposed “artificial trees” that could remove the gas from the atmosphere.

Now a team from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of California at Berkeley report in the journal Nano Letters that their “potentially game-changing” technology could capture CO2 emissions before they get into the atmosphere and then use solar energy and water to turn the captured gas into the chemical substance acetate.

Once in acetate form, the substance could be the basis of pharmaceutical drug manufacture, biodegradable plastic feedstock, or even liquid fuel.


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ESA's GOCE gravity satellite data helps produce tool for geothermal energy development | Chris Wood | GizMag.com

ESA's GOCE gravity satellite data helps produce tool for geothermal energy development | Chris Wood | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

ESA's Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite might have burned up in Earth's atmosphere back in November 2013, but the wealth of data gathered by the probe before its demise is still being utilized to great effect. A team of scientists has used the readings to produce an online tool designed to make it easier than ever to locate potential geothermal energy extraction sites.

Launched on March 17, 2009, the GOCE was the first Earth Explorer mission satellite to reach orbit. The mission studied the variations in the force of gravity on the surface of the Earth, brought about by both the rotation of the planet and the position of geological features such as mountain ranges and ocean trenches. Over its four and a half year lifespan, the satellite mapped variations in the gravity field with great accuracy and detail.

The recorded data is now making possible a new tool, created by a team of scientists from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), that it is hoped will help mankind better harness a form of subsurface heat known as geothermal energy. Originating from sources such as magma and hot springs, the energy can be harnessed as a sustainable resource, but the locating, exploring and measuring of the underground sites can be problematic and expensive.

Using gravity measurements recorded as part of the GOCE mission, the online tool consists of two informative maps that combine to depict characteristics unique to geothermal reservoirs, making it easier to identify target areas with high geothermal potential.


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Netizen Report: What if Tech Companies Cave to the Kremlin’s Data Demands? | Global Voices Online

Netizen Report: What if Tech Companies Cave to the Kremlin’s Data Demands? | Global Voices Online | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

Russian state media outlet RBC reported last week that US companies including eBay and Google had begun storing Russian user data on servers located in Russian territory.

Google called the reports “inaccurate” but has said nothing more about the claims. Meanwhile, eBay Russia representative Vladimir Dolgov confirmed the reports and explained that the company has been meeting with Russian regulatory authorities in an effort to come into full compliance with data localization legislation passed last July. The law requires Internet companies to store Russian users’ data in Russia, presumably with the goal of sustaining stronger state control over Internet users and their data. It goes into effect on September 1, 2015.

The policy would mark a big shift for users, creating new vulnerabilities when it comes to personal data sent to and stored using services based outside of the country. For example, right now, if Russian authorities wish to access Google user data, they must present a court order to the United States Department of Justice, which will determine its legitimacy. Google’s Law Enforcement guidelines explain that if the order satisfies US law and Google’s policies, it will be fulfilled—but if not, the user's data will remain undisclosed. The same would be true for a host of other US companies that do business in Russia. But if outside companies should comply with the new policy, there would be a much lower threshold for Russian authorities to obtain user data.

The contradictory claims of Russian media remain unresolved however. Media studies scholar and Global Voices Russian editor Tanya Lokot commented on the matter in a recent post for Global Voices:


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California drought spurs protest over 'unconscionable' bottled water business | Andrew Gumbel | The Guardian

California drought spurs protest over 'unconscionable' bottled water business | Andrew Gumbel | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Californians facing the prospect of endless drought, mandated cuts in water use and the browning of their summer lawns are mounting a revolt against the bottled water industry, following revelations that Nestlé and other big companies are taking advantage of poor government oversight to deplete mountain streams and watersheds at vast profit.

An online petition urging an immediate end to Nestle’s water bottling operations in the state has gathered more than 150,000 signatures, in the wake of an investigation by the San Bernardino Desert Sun that showed the company is taking water from some of California’s driest areas on permits that expired as long as 27 years ago.

Last month a protest at a Nestlé Waters North America bottling plant in Sacramento, the state capital, forced a one-day closure as protesters brandishing symbolic plastic torches and pitchforks blocked the entrances. The revelations have agencies from the California State Water Resources Control Board to the US Forest Service scrambling to justify a regulatory framework that is poorly policed and imposes almost no requirements on the big water companies to declare how much water they are taking.

Nestlé itself insists its water use is efficient and has minimal impact on the environment – something the activists reject out of hand.

“While California is facing record drought conditions, it is unconscionable that Nestlé would continue to bottle the state’s precious water, export it and sell it for profit,” says the petition, which is sponsored by the political activist organisation the Courage Campaign.


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Australia Considers New Copyright Law That Could Be Interpreted To Ban VPNs | Tim Geigner | Techdirt

Australia Considers New Copyright Law That Could Be Interpreted To Ban VPNs | Tim Geigner | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Some months back, our own Glyn Moody wrote about the music industry in Australia and its attempt to basically broadly multiply copyright protections, routing around the public's representatives in government to get ISPs to act as judge, jury and executioner. Then, because Glyn Moody is a witch who turned my sister into a newt, he wondered aloud whether VPNs would be the next target in the copyright industry's crosshairs.

Well, it turns out that yes, yes they are. Only this time, the industry lobbyists are going right to the Australian legislature to act as their bullies with the Copyright Amendment Bill 2015.


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Indoor Atlas: Smartphones can navigate inside buildings using magnetic fields | Mark Gibbs | NetworkWorld.com

Indoor Atlas: Smartphones can navigate inside buildings using magnetic fields | Mark Gibbs | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Navigating outdoors is easy with GPS and when augmented augmented by WiFi the the accuracy and availability of geolocation increase significantly … until you step inside a building.

Once you’re inside and there’s no GPS signal WiFi geolocation might give you a rough fix though usually you’re effectively “off the grid.” But knowing where you are inside a structure can be crucial in large factories or office buildings. It may also be crucial for others to be able to locate you.

If you want to build an app that’s capable for geolocation within a building you should take a look at Indoor Atlas, an SDK for iOS and Android, which uses magnetometer data from your smartphone and cloud-based mapping data to locate you to within 2 meters or less in real time.

The idea behind Indoor Atlas is that buildings have predictable magnetic fields caused by structural steel, wiring, machinery, ductwork, etc., and by recording the variations and filtering out magnetic noise, you can characterize an entire building and use that data to figure out where the device might be within that environment. WiFi and Bluetooth data can also be used to improve accuracy.


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Saving What’s Left of Utah’s Lost World | David Roberts Opinion | NYTimes.com

Saving What’s Left of Utah’s Lost World | David Roberts Opinion | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Cedar Mesa is one of the most sublime and culturally evocative landscapes on Earth. Since 1987, I’ve made more than 60 trips to that outback in southeastern Utah, hiking, camping and backpacking on forays lasting as long as 10 days. Nowhere else in the Southwest can you find unrestored ruins and artifacts left in situ in such prodigal abundance. And though roughly 75,000 enthusiasts visit Cedar Mesa each year, that’s a drop in the bucket compared with the four and a half million who throng the Grand Canyon. By wending my way into the more obscure corners of the labyrinth, I’ve gone days in a row without running into another hiker, and I’ve visited sites that I’m pretty sure very few or even no other Anglos have seen.

Hiking through such slick-rock gorges as Grand Gulch, Fish, Owl and Slickhorn Canyons would immerse the wanderer in breathtaking scenery in its own right, even if those places were devoid of prehistoric human presence. But to stand beneath the dwellings, kivas and granaries of the Ancestral Puebloans, as well as the hogans in which Navajos once lived, and to stare at hallucinatory panels of rock art engraved and painted on the cliffs as long as thousands of years ago, is to plunge into a spiritual communion with the ancients, even if the meanings of those sites and panels lie in the limbo of the lost.

What’s still there may soon be lost, as well. Cedar Mesa embraces tens of thousands of archaeological sites that chronicle a 13,000-year history, from Paleo-Indian times until the late 19th century. Administered by the woefully understaffed federal Bureau of Land Management, the mesa is hammered every year by rampant looting that a small number of rangers are powerless to stop. The plateau and canyons remain, in the words of Josh Ewing, executive director of the group Friends of Cedar Mesa, “undoubtedly the most significant unprotected archaeological area in the United States.”

More ominously, perhaps, the Utah State Legislature has its eye on the roughly 500,000 acres of pinyon and juniper forests and its twisting sandstone canyons.

Last month, Gov. Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, signed a resolution passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature opposing additional protections for Cedar Mesa and another area, the equally pristine San Rafael Swell, and asserting that livestock grazing and energy and mineral extraction could be done in a way that would preserve the area’s “scenic and recreational values.” Before it was amended, the measure had declared livestock grazing and “environmentally sensitive energy and mineral development” as the “highest and best use” for those two areas.


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Tory Manifesto Vows To Make UK 'Technology Centre Of EU' | Steve McCaskill | Tech Week Europe

Tory Manifesto Vows To Make UK 'Technology Centre Of EU' | Steve McCaskill | Tech Week Europe | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Conservatives have vowed to make the UK the “technology centre of Europe” if it wins the General Election on May 7, claiming the industry would stimulate regional development and create jobs across the country.

The party’s manifesto says more tech firms are setting up in the UK than any other country on the continent and details plans for better education, more apprenticeships and loans for entrepreneurs.

The document also outlines modified broadband and mobile ambitions, pledges to improve public services through technology and the promise of greater surveillance powers to the UK’s intelligence agencies.


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Thanks to the BP oil disaster, this Louisiana barrier island is washing away | Susan Cosier | onEarth.org

Thanks to the BP oil disaster, this Louisiana barrier island is washing away | Susan Cosier | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

At this time five years ago, Cat Island, off the coast of Louisiana, was getting ready for breeding season. In spring, rare and endangered birds, like brown pelicans, come from all over to nest on this 5.5-acre spit in the sea, the Gulf region's fourth-largest rookery. After hatching, chicks would imprint on the place and later return to lay their own eggs in its eight-foot mangroves. Then on April 20, 2010, disaster struck. The Deepwater Horizon blowout began to spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days straight.

As this National Geographic video shows, oil infiltrated Cat Island, killing the root system of its mangrove forest. Without those roots to hold the island together, the sea began to wash the island’s sediment away. Cat Island is disappearing. The birds that now return to their hatching grounds have nowhere to raise their chicks. Instead of flying elsewhere, they just don’t breed at all. If only this island had nine lives.


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One weird trick prevents bird deaths at solar tower power plants | Susan Kraemer | RenewEconomy.com.au

One weird trick prevents bird deaths at solar tower power plants | Susan Kraemer | RenewEconomy.com.au | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

America’s second solar power tower, the 110 MW Crescent Dunes project, the first US power tower to include storage, has been undergoing final commissioning (testing) at Tonopah in Nevada, where it will supply power for Las Vegas till midnight.


So SolarReserve is putting the thousands of heliostats (mirrors) through their paces to make sure everything works.


One of the tests is of standby position. (Standby is when the heliostats are waiting to go to work making electricity by focusing on the tower receiver. During standby they are not aimed at the tower receiver, but somewhere in the air.)


Originally, the standby position was to create a tight circle of solar flux you can actually see above the tower.

But when the engineers focused 3,000 heliostats there on January 14th, 115 birds were killed as they flew through the concentrated solar flux at the focal point where all the reflections met.

According to the compliance report filed by Stantec with regulators as required by the BLM:

“Approximately 3,000 heliostats were staged in a position which reflected light and heat to a concentrated point above the central tower. A halo above the tower was visible from the ground (Figure 1). The heat was so intense that birds flying into the halo were immediately burned and smoke was clearly evident. Approximately 115 mortalities were noted between 11:15 AM and 3:30 PM. Appropriate agencies, including BLM, were notified of the situation around 12:27 PM when bird mortalities associated with the halo were confirmed.”

SolarReserve shut down the test and brainstormed how to solve the problem to reduce solar flux in standby position. The engineering team recalibrated the standby algorithm and the next day they put this into effect. Their new algorithm was designed so that no more than four ‘suns’ would hit any one focal point during standby.

“The difficulty is that that was a concentrated solar energy in that area above the tower,” SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith told me this week.

“So what we did is we spread them over a several hundred meters of a sort of ‘pancake’ shape so any one point is safe for birds — it’s 4 suns or less.”


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New UN report finds almost no industry profitable if environmental costs were included | Michael Thomas | Exposing Truth

New UN report finds almost no industry profitable if environmental costs were included | Michael Thomas | Exposing Truth | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If you haven’t been paying attention, I don’t blame you for at first not believing this. After all, companies go to great lengths to greenwash their image and present themselves as progressive and environmentally responsible, even while they turn you land to deserts and your oceans into dead zones. Unfortunately, as Mark Twain once famously said: “‘It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”


The truth is that our current system allows pretty much every coroporation to externalize both environmental and social costs. In this article, we won’t even be touching on social costs. If you don’t know what cost externalization is, you can imagine it as making someone else pay part or all of your costs. For example, BP externalized the environmental costs of the Deepwater Horizon disaster by consuming all of the profits but making the government pay for anything beyond the most shoddy and superficial attempts at stopping the crisis.

A new report by Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program, examined the money earned by the biggest industries on this planet, and then contrasted them with 100 different types of environmental costs. To make this easier, they turned these 100 catagories into 6: water use, land use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste pollution, land pollution, and water pollution.

The report found that when you took the externalized costs into effect, essentially NONE of the industries was actually making a profit. The huge profit margins being made by the world’s most profitable industries (oil, meat, tobacco, mining, electronics) is being paid for against the future: we are trading long term sustainability for the benefit of share-holders.


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Apple buys a forest the size of San Francisco for conservation, will build 2 new solar farms | Michael Richard | TreeHugger.com

Apple buys a forest the size of San Francisco for conservation, will build 2 new solar farms | Michael Richard | TreeHugger.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Just yesterday, I was writing that we're in the middle of a solar revolution, with the pace of progress accelerating as costs plummet, guaranteeing big change on the horizon. One more example of the beginning of this solar era came today when Apple, the biggest company in the world (by market cap), announced that it will build two more solar farms, this time in China (they already have a few in the US, and are planning to build more there).

In a joint venture with SunPower, Apple is building two new 20 megawatt solar farms. Construction has already begun and 2 MW of solar capacity are already sending power to the grid. "The technology combines single-axis tracking technology with rows of parabolic mirrors, reflecting light onto high efficiency SunPower Maxeon cells, which are the world's most efficient commercially available mass-produced solar cells. Completion of the projects is expected in the fourth quarter of 2015. [...] The projects are expected to provide up to 80 million kilowatt-hours per year while also protecting the ecosystem."


The fruit company also wants to make sure that the packaging for its products comes from sustainably managed forests, so it has partnered with the Conservation Fundto manage 36,000 acres of forest that it has bought in Maine and North Carolina. These forests will be protected from development, staying forests forever, though some wood will be sustainably harvested from them.


“Apple is clearly leading by example—one that we hope others will follow,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “By all accounts, the loss of America’s working forests is one of our nation’s greatest environmental challenges. The initiative announced today is precedent-setting.”


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Eduardo Vaz's curator insight, April 20, 10:10 AM

#Apple is giving back and investing in renewable energy and forest conservation. #ygk