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Spending on smart grids doubled in 2012 | The Clean Revolution

Spending on smart grids doubled in 2012 | The Clean Revolution | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Spending from utilities switching their networks to smart grids reached US$23.68 billion in 2012, a year total which represents almost double that of all smart grid spending to date.

 

Worldwide smart grid spending reached US$23.68 billion in 2012, up 47.1% from US$16.10 billion in 2011.

 

The figures come from a new report, Utilities and Smart Grids by ABI Research, which also said spending on smart grids will continue to increase over the next five years to top US$80.8 billion in 2018.

 

Jonathan Collins, Principal Analyst, ABI Research said: “Utilities are investing in the rollout of a broad assortment of new applications and spending is driving new services from a wide range of vendors and consultants. The complexity of the new hardware, applications, and the expansive array of suppliers vying to deliver services continues to ensure that systems integrators benefit with a significant share of the spending.”

 

This week, separate research was published further demonstrating smart grid growth. The Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online research shows that global investment in smart grid technologies rose 7% in 2012, reaching US$13.9 billion. This was driven by increasing shares of renewable energy in the electricity mix as well as nations’ need to update old grid infrastructure.

 

US led the way by spending US$4.3 billion on smart grid technologies in 2012, followed by China with US$3.2 billion. The European Union saw a 27% increase in spending to US$1.4 billion.

 

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Vivood retreat can be assembled within a day | GizMag.com

Vivood retreat can be assembled within a day | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Spanish architectural collective Vivood recently produced an eponymous shelter that could serve as glamping retreat, guesthouse, or basic tiny house. The prefabricated structure is delivered in "easy-to-fit" modular sections that have the electrics and plumbing already installed, and it can be assembled within a day by a small group of people.


Vivood is sparsely finished compared to many other similar models, like the ÁPH80, for example. It also appears better suited to an undemanding climate, but with the company offering its smallest unit from €6,800 (around US$9,160), can be considered a relatively inexpensive option.


The shelter is constructed from sustainably-sourced wood, and several sizes are on offer, ranging from 14.35 sq m (154.5 sq ft) to 33.1 sq m (356 sq ft). The small interior layout features one living space, with room for a bed, couch, and books, but little else.


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B-And-Bee shelter looks to comfort festival goers | GizMag.com

B-And-Bee shelter looks to comfort festival goers | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Each year, millions of people head to their festival of choice with tent and sleeping bag in hand. Belgian company Achilles Design aims to bring those festival goers a little extra comfort – and save space too – with its honeycomb-shaped B-And-Bee shelter.


Bearing some resemblance to the Japanese Capsule Hotels we covered back in 2011, the B-And-Bee features a modular, stackable design that takes up a relatively small physical footprint when compared to a large number of tents. The company also states that it's easily transported and assembled.


Access is gained via metal steps and a roll-up canvas sheet serves as a zip-up door. There's a king-size bed inside that converts to seating, and the snug interior also sports luggage storage, a locker, light, and a power supply.


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DIY Solar Pocket Factory Machine Can Print a Solar Panel Every 15 Seconds! | Inhabitat.com

DIY Solar Pocket Factory Machine Can Print a Solar Panel Every 15 Seconds! | Inhabitat.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Inventors Shawn Frayne and Alex Hornstein are looking to revolutionize the business of small-scale solar panels with The Solar Pocket Factory, a backyard photovoltaic panel printing system. Successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the two have placed themselves at the forefront of the micro solar movement, which aims to cheaply and quickly produce small PV panels.


Enthusiastic about all things solar, inventors Shawn Frayne and Alex Hornstein have built everything from lights to USB distribution grids. Through the process of designing and manufacturing their products, they found that the micro solar panels they used to power their devices were brittle, expensive, and poorly made.


Taking matters into their own hands, they traveled the world and spent months researching current models. They found that half of the cost of conventional panels lay in their assembly, as many parts of the body are pieced and soldered by hand. They also observed that 15% of panels contained flaws from imperfect soldering, and in many cases, the materials used were cut-rate and disintegrated over the period of a few years.


They figured that if they could automate the production, they could eliminate 25% of the price tag and reducing the number of defects.


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Argentina: Buenos Aires new lighting can be monitored and controlled from a browser | GizMag.com

Argentina: Buenos Aires new lighting can be monitored and controlled from a browser | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

LED lighting offers a host of benefits for cities, such as reduced energy usage and costs. For Buenos Aires, which is in the process of having its lighting infrastructure upgraded, one of the benefits is the increased level of control it provides. Gizmag took a look at technology being used.


It was announced towards the end of last year that Philips had been selected to replace 91,000 street lights across Buenos Aires with LED lighting. That's more than 70 percent of the city's lighting. Philips says that it is the biggest city deployment of its kind. A total of 28,000 lights have now been replaced and are already being controlled remotely.


Once deployed, the lighting infrastructure is controlled by Philips CityTouch. CityTouch is a management console that provides a level of control and usage data not possible with traditional city lighting.


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Tokyo, Japan: BioSkin defies urban heat island effect to help keep buildings cool | GizMag.com

Tokyo, Japan: BioSkin defies urban heat island effect to help keep buildings cool | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The urban heat island effect, whereby the high concentration of heat-retaining concrete and bitumen causes metropolitan centers to be significantly warmer than the rural areas surrounding them, is a common problem around the world. The phenomenon is particularly prevalent in Tokyo, Japan, but among the sea of towering structures stands one beacon of hope. The BioSkin that coats the NBF Osaki Building integrates evaporative cooling to keep its surface temperature down and could inspire new solutions to rising city temperatures across the globe.


The 25-story NBF Osaki Building was completed in March, 2011 and is the first structure to use the BioSkin system. The urban facade is inspired by traditional Japanese air-cooling systems, such as the water-spraying Uchimizu and bamboo blinds known as Sudare. Using these methods as a foundation, researchers at the Nikken Sekkei architecture firm conceived BioSkin with the seemingly counter intuitive aim of improving the local environment through building large-scale architecture.


Rainwater is collected on the roof of the building and drained to a subsurface storage tank to be filtered and sterilized. It is then pumped through a network of special porous ceramic pipes which act as a sprinkler system. As the water evaporates, it reduces the surface temperature of the pipes and the air that surrounds them, with excess water is fed to the soil below. Solar panels are also fixed to the south side of the building, acting as shades and helping to reduce overall energy costs.


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The next big front for cloud competition: Location, location, location | GigaOM Tech News

The next big front for cloud competition: Location, location, location | GigaOM Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Now that we’re seeing intense competition in the cloud infrastructure market, each of the vendors is looking for as many ways to differentiate itself as possible.


Big wallets are required to build the infrastructure and picking the right locations to deploy that capital is becoming an important choice.


Cloud vendors can be innovative on a product or technical level, but location is just as important — which geographies does your cloud vendor have data centers in and why does that matter?


There are a number of reasons why a diverse range of locations is important:


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Canadian court forces Google to remove search results worldwide, as fears of "memory hole" grow | GigaOM Tech News

Canadian court forces Google to remove search results worldwide, as fears of "memory hole" grow | GigaOM Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A Canadian court took the unprecedented step this week of maintaining  global jurisdiction over Google and forcing it to delete search results not just for “google.ca” but for “google.com” as well. The move comes as lawmakers in Europe pressure Google to censor more pages under a controversial “right-to-be-forgotten” law, and could accelerate a recent trend of disappearing online information.


In the Canadian case, Google had urged a judge in Vancouver to suspend an earlier ruling that required it to remove any search links related to an e-commerce vendor accused of selling knock-off internet equipment. That ruling, which came out in June and gave Google 14 days to remove the results, is now in force after the judge concluded that applying the worldwide ruling would not create “irreparable harm.”


The ruling already appears to be rippling beyond Canada’s borders. For instance, when I searched in the U.S. for a product called “GW-1000,” Google shows that it has censored at least four webpages:


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A Toxic Tour: Violations, Lies, and Dangers of the Shale Gas Industry | Inhabitat.com

A Toxic Tour: Violations, Lies, and Dangers of the Shale Gas Industry | Inhabitat.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

“They say I’m not to be trusted,” said Vera Scroggins, a local fracking activist from Montrose, PA. Vera has recently been targeted by the industry for speaking out against shale gas extraction. She often leads groups through Dimock and Montrose on a ‘Toxic Tour,” explaining the history of drilling and fracking in the County. Since drilling began in Northeast PA, negative health and environmental effects have been increasing, and although it’s hard to find statistics for some of the resulting problems, Vera Scroggins is the best primary source.


Vera was speaking to a group of college students with Eco Practicum; an environmental education group that “take[s] a wide approach to understanding systems that guide societal decisions regarding food, animals, energy, and land.” Most of the members were underclassmen, preparing for their next semester in environmental-related majors, many of them unaware of the true horrors of fracking.


“The gas industry has advertisements to indicate how good they are, but they never mention “water buffaloes“, violations, and the water filtration systems they provide to families whose water they contaminate,” Vera said. “And then they attack those who oppose them. The gas companies then insist that they themselves are not a danger.”


“We were a rural community before the gas companies came,” Vera explained. “The land men who came in to obtain the leases said, ‘oh you’ll have one well in Dimock… don’t worry.’ Now there are over 950 and they want 100,000 [according to Fox News.] We’ve got compressor stations every two to four miles. And they say the economy will be better and we’ll have a whole bunch of gas, but 90% or more of the gas is leavingthe county to go to other areas. This is not what we want in rural Pennsylvania.”

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Australian Government Proposes New Copyright Law: Basically Hollywood's Wishlist | Techdirt.com

Australian Government Proposes New Copyright Law: Basically Hollywood's Wishlist | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

We've been covering the discussion around copyright reform down in Australia for a while, and it's continuing to get worse and worse. As you may recall, after a long and detailed process, involving careful input from a variety of stakeholders on all sides of the equation, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) came out with a set of proposals that were actually pretty good, including things like introducing fair use to Australia.

Of course, rather than pay attention to this detailed and thoughtful process, the current Attorney General, George Brandis, decided to only listen to Hollywood. This created quite a telling discussion when Senator Scott Ludlam asked Brandis if he had consulted any consumer rights groups or other copyright experts concerning his copyright plans, and Brandis refused to answer, instead getting angry and insisting that Hollywood's interest is the public interest. Brandis also claimed -- totally incorrectly -- that Australia has no laws against online piracy and is "the worst offender of any country in the world when it comes to online piracy." That's simply bogus, and appears to just be a Hollywood talking point.

Given all that, it was fully expected that Brandis would basically obey Hollywood's orders -- especially given that the main discussions he'd been having came with the "Australian Screen Association," which is a rebranded version of AFACT, which a Wikileaks State Department cable revealed was 100% controlled by Hollywood interests in the US.


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3D Printed Headliners at Farnborough Airshow | Inside3DP.com

3D Printed Headliners at Farnborough Airshow | Inside3DP.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

So 3D printing may not be as useful to space travel as soon as we had hoped, but it’s certainly flying up up and away into sub-mesosphere skies. At the annual Farnborough Airshow, which was held July 19-20 this year in Farnborough, England, 3D printing took a front seat and was brought to the attention of attendees in a number of ways.


UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced at the airshow that one of the main targets of the country’s £154 million investment in aerospace research will be to successfully build fully functional 3D printed airplane parts. Around £49 million of the investment will be dedicated entirely to exploring the use of 3D printing to create lightweight metallic parts. Clegg believes the investment and research will prove very beneficial to the UK economy and various other sectors.


“I want to ensure the UK remains at the cutting edge of aerospace innovation, which is why I am pleased to announce that we are investing £154 million for research to explore new technologies like the 3D printing of plane parts and creating lighter, greener aircraft,” said Clegg.


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UK: Living in style 12 meters from a busy railway line in East London | GixMag.com

UK: Living in style 12 meters from a busy railway line in East London | GixMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Architects Pitman Tozer have built a 7-story housing block in Mint Street, east London, for Peabody housing that combines market-rate and subsidized apartments in a modern, stylish, efficient building located only 12 meters (40 ft) from a busy railway viaduct. In a departure from the harsh functional towers usually associated with such tight urban sites, the Mint Street building is a pleasant, colorful, curved form that offers living spaces with plenty of light and humane proportions.


This difficult site in east London is a former car park, sandwiched in a constricted urban spot between the viaduct, existing housing and a large light industrial building that was being retro-fitted for creative office "hub" use at the same time. Peabody (formerly the Peabody Trust), a social housing organization that has been active in the UK since the late 19th century, acquired the land and the light industrial building behind it and decided to develop both in parallel.


Pitman Tozer’s winning scheme creates 67 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and embraces the site outward, rather than trying to exist in isolation from its surroundings. The building curves with the shape of the rail line, and windows at the frontage face boldly onto the trains, rather than being turned away, with entrances opening toward the viaduct.


This was a deliberate decision by the architects, who could have chosen to have all of the windows twist in a different direction or face inward in some kind of courtyard arrangement, which would have been darker and much less engaged with the neighborhood. The plan works to maximize the natural light and expansive views, which are unobstructed, except when trains are passing.


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Inner city vertical farm concept designed using shipping containers | GizMag.com

Inner city vertical farm concept designed using shipping containers | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Vertical farming and building with shipping containers have been touted as solutions to dwindling space in cities and costly construction, respectively. A new concept wants to combine the two as a means of re-localizing food production. The Hive-Inn is a modular and adaptable city farm design proposed for New York.


Gizmag has featured many vertical farming projects, shipping container builds and concept designs for both over the years. In 2009, we asked whether or not vertical farming could solve a global food crisis and last year we featured 10 of our favorite shipping container-based structures.


Other related ideas include Eugene Tsui's two-mile-high termite nest concept, designed as a solution to the world's burgeoning population, and the composting islands proposed for New York by Present Architecture.


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Drones take flight over Belize coastline to monitor illegal fishing activity | GizMag.com

Drones take flight over Belize coastline to monitor illegal fishing activity | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Unsustainable fishing in Belize has placed growing pressure on local anglers and the country's celebrated coral reef systems. Decades of decline has led to the introduction of catch limits and even the European Union blacklisting seafood imports from Belize for a perceived lack of action against illegal fishing. In an effort to better regulate the industry, the Belize Fisheries Department has begun using drones to monitor coastal areas for unlicensed and unlawful activity.


Working with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Conservation Drones, an organization that develops low-coast UAVs for conservation efforts, the Fisheries Department began testing the vehicles in July 2013. Following full implementation of the program last month, the drones will now be used to locate fishing vessels operating illegally in marine protected areas.


"Belize has been a leader in the establishment of marine protected areas, including the world-famous Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, but fishing regulations are difficult to enforce on the open sea," says Julio Maaz, Communities Fisheries Coordinator for WCS’s Marine Program in Belize. "Drones offer a means of improving the rate of detection of illegal activities at a fraction of the cost required for patrol vessels."


The drones in question are able to fly autonomously for more than an hour at a time within a range of 50 km (31 mi). Capable of capturing high-resolution photo and video, the aircraft will enable government officials to monitor areas along the coastline that are often obscured by mangrove forests, where fishermen stash illegal catches. By using the drones to detect such activity, authorities can more efficiently conduct searches and deploy patrol vessels.


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Tallest chimney at Sellafield to be demolished using self-climbing platform | GizMag.com

Tallest chimney at Sellafield to be demolished using self-climbing platform | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Sellafield is Europe's largest nuclear site and although operations including spent fuel management and nuclear waste storage continue on-site, power generation ceased in 2003. As part of the decommissioning process, the site's tallest chimney will now be demolished.


"This is part of a whole program of decommissioning work that is being carried out at Sellafield to clean-up historic nuclear facilities, many of which were built in the 1940s and 1950s in support of the defense industry," explains Ali McKibbin of Sellafield Ltd, the company responsible for delivering the decommissioning, to Gizmag.


The chimney is 61 m (200 ft) tall and sits on top of an 11-story reprocessing plant. The entire structure reaches 122 m (400 ft) above the ground. Its location, atop the reprocessing plant and surround by other nuclear facilities which are still in operation, means that the demolition of the chimney be undertaken without explosives.


"The job of bringing down the stack is going to be a delicate operation to ensure 100 percent safety of all personnel and surrounding nuclear plants," explains project manager Matthew Hodgson. "Because we can’t use explosives, we will use an ingenious self-climbing platform which will [allow us to] bring the chimney down bit by bit in a controlled manner."


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Deeper Dive into EFF's Motion on Backbone Surveillance | EFF.org

Deeper Dive into EFF's Motion on Backbone Surveillance | EFF.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Yesterday we filed a motion for partial summary judgment in our long running Jewel v. NSA case, focusing on the government's admitted seizure and search of communications from the Internet backbone, also called "upstream." We've asked the judge to rule that there are two ways in which this is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment:


  1. The admitted seizure of communications from the Internet backbone, for which we have government admissions plus the evidence we received long ago from Mark Klein.
  2. The government's admitted search of the entire communications stream, including the content of communications.


We're very proud of this motion (especially the infographic), and we're hoping that this shifts the conversation around the world to how the surveillance actually happens, rather than the U.S. government's self-serving word games about it. 


As this motion progresses, here are a few points to keep in mind:


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MIT: New device generates electricity from condensation | GizMag.com

MIT: New device generates electricity from condensation | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

MIT researchers have found a way to generate small amounts of electricity from condensation, by having electrically-charged droplets jump between superhydrophobic (water-repelling) and hydrophilic (water-attracting) metal plates. The advance could be especially useful in remote areas or developing countries, not least because it produces clean water as a side product.


While pulling electricity out of thin air is a physical impossibility, producing it from water droplets in the atmosphere is very much within our reach. We have known for years that droplets are capable of carrying an electric charge, so properly harnessing this phenomenon under controlled conditions could lead to an exciting new source of renewable energy.


Now, a team led by Nenad Miljkovic at MIT seem to have done just that, by finding a way to generate electricity simply by harnessing the humidity in the air.


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Plans for Qatar's second World Cup stadium unveiled | GizMag.com

Plans for Qatar's second World Cup stadium unveiled | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Modeled on a traditional nomadic tent and featuring a removable top tier, the Al Bayt Stadium is the second of 12 new venues Qatar plans to build for the 2022 World Cup.


While some of the ambitious ideas floated prior to the success of Qatar's controversial bid to host FIFA's flagship event in 2022 – like the solar powered Lusail Iconic Stadium and the use man-made clouds to provide shade – seem to have, err, evaporated, one thing that you can bet on is the stadiums that are built will be well worth a look.


The 40,000 capacity Al Wakrah stadium, just south of Doha, has already been unveiled with a pearl-inspired design, temperature-cooled climate and targeted Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) 4 Star and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certifications.


The GSAS was launched by the Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD) in 2012 and is aimed at being the the standard for excellence on sustainability in the Middle East and North Africa region. It takes into account eight different areas, including energy, water and materials.


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Governor Jerry Brown hopes to sell Mexico on following California's green path forward | LATimes.com

Governor Jerry Brown hopes to sell Mexico on following California's green path forward | LATimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

When California launched its most ambitious effort to combat climate change nearly two years ago, there were fears it would cost workers their jobs and handicap businesses with burdensome regulations.

Since then, the state's economy has rebounded from a damaging recession even while operating under tighter restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.


It's a track record Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to highlight when he travels to Mexico on Sunday to begin a high-profile effort to bolster California's relationship with its southern neighbor and encourage the nation's nascent efforts to slash pollution.


The potential for merging economic growth and environmental preservation is a key issue in Mexico, which is facing a balancing act shared by other developing countries, including China and India. With California's assistance, experts say, Mexico has an opportunity to demonstrate a greener path.


"Mexico has to start thinking about the future," said Blas Pérez Henríquez, director of the UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Public Policy. "If there's a place that can help with that, it's California."


Officials in Mexico and California have discussed ways to put cleaner vehicles on the roads, reduce air pollution, link energy grids across the border and jointly urge other countries to take stronger action during upcoming global summits on climate change.


"I'm going to explore, on this trip, all the ways we can work with Mexico," Brown told reporters last week. "There's a lot of things we can do on the whole area of climate change."


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8 Ways Technology Makes You Stupid | Tech News | HuffPost.com

8 Ways Technology Makes You Stupid | Tech News | HuffPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

People assume that iPhones, laptops and Netflix are evidence of progress. In some ways, that's true. A moderate amount of Googling, for instance, can be good for your brain, and there are apps that can boost brain function and activity.


Yet tech advancements also come with some unintended consequences. Our brains being "massively rewired" by tech, says neuroscientist Michael Merzenich in The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, a Pulitzer-nominated 2011 book by Nicholas Carr. Merzenich warns that the effect of technology on human intelligence could be “deadly.”


That got us thinking. How exactly is technology messing up our brains?


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Study: 'Shocking' Water Loss in Western U.S. | CommonDreams.org

Study: 'Shocking' Water Loss in Western U.S. | CommonDreams.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The  drought-stricken Colorado River Basin has experienced rapid and significant groundwater depletion since late 2004, posing a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought, according to a new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine.


The research team used data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin, which is the water source for more than 30 million people and 4 million acres of farmland. The satellites showed the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet (about 17 trillion gallons) of freshwater between 2004-2013 — almost double the volume of the nation's largest reservoir, Nevada's Lake Mead, which itself recently fell to its lowest level since the 1930s. More than three-quarters of the total water loss in the Colorado River Basin was from groundwater. The basin has been experiencing the driest 14-year period in the last 100 years.


"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out," said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at the UC-Irvine and lead author of the study. "This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking."


Because pumping from underground aquifers is regulated by individual states and is often not well documented, it is difficult to quantify how groundwater reserves are affected by drought. But the NASA/Irvine study, which measured gravitational attraction as a way to assess rising and falling water levels, reveals that a crucial water source for seven basin states and Mexico has been compromised. The study also indicates that declines in the snowpack that feeds the river and population growth could further compound the problem.


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Global Project Looks At Takedown Notices Across The Internet | Intellectual Property Watch

The Takedown Project is a recent initiative bringing the research community together to explore how the notice-and-takedown procedure in cases of alleged online copyright infringement are handled by internet service providers around the world. The project aims to create greater transparency in order to improve the quality of this global regulatory system.


The project was launched in 2013 by Joe Karaganis, vice-president of the American Assembly at Columbia University and Jennifer M. Urban, assistant clinical professor of law and director of the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.


Presently, the project comprises more than 35 affiliated researchers from US, Europe, Middle East and Australia and seven partner organisations, including the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Its first meeting took place in Amsterdam in June 2013.


A takedown notice is defined by Urban as “a notification sent to an online service provider, requesting that content or links to content be removed,” in case of infringement of copyright and related rights.

In the US, under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), this procedure is one of the requirements for internet service providers (ISPs) to benefit from an exemption from liability. But in the European Union, there is no consensus on this point.


However, this Section 512 model has been increasingly replicated in other jurisdictions and followed formally or informally for other – non-copyright – claims, like privacy or trademarks, Urban told Intellectual Property Watch.


Over the years, the practice has also dramatically changed. Search takedown requests to Google, for instance, have increased from hundreds per year to millions per week, she said.


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Facebook is no longer a social network. It’s the world's most powerful news reader | Pando Daily

Facebook is no longer a social network. It’s the world's most powerful news reader | Pando Daily | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It was barely two years ago that things were starting to look absolutely awful for Facebook.


Its stock was hitting one new low after another, at one point falling to half of its IPO value. General Motors announced that Facebook ads were basically useless. The same people who named Mark Zuckerberg the Person of the Year began the calls for him to resign. And the whole “teens hate Facebook” line began to emerge, along with accusations that the company overpaid for Instagram.


The perception was that Facebook was sick, and the list of symptoms could have filled a Pepto Bismol commercial. What’s more, the company’s app and gaming platform, which at one point had seemed so promising, was falling apart as Zynga collapsed.


But the disease itself could not have been more clear — Facebook’s mission statement and core value proposition were not working. Maybe people didn’t want to connect with their friends and family anymore. Perhaps all those years of baby pictures and FarmVille sheep had turned them off from The Stream. Or could it have been that youngsters were paranoid about Mom and Dad spying on their social life? Some argued that an “everybody in one place” social network was giving way to specialized niche networks — a clear sign that Facebook was the next AOL or Yahoo.


Everybody was right, insofar as every dissatisfied user probably had a different reason for losing interest.


But as Facebook was losing tens of billions of dollars in valuation, a company thousands of miles away was growing like a weed — BuzzFeed. In fact, during the worst of Zuckerberg’s trials, CEO Jonah Peretti was in the process of raising big dollars at valuations rarely seen in media companies.


We didn’t fully realize it at the time, but BuzzFeed was giving Facebook the ultimate lesson. Through a combination of data savvy, content experimentation, and an almost shameless desire to win, Jonah Peretti was proving that what Facebook users really wanted… was to read shit.


Nobody will give BuzzFeed credit for making us human beings feel better about our species. Even the executives in Palo Alto confess their frustration at how the typical user would prefer a funny cat listicle over a long-form Mother Jones investigation on lead poisoning… by a margin of about 100-to-1. But that isn’t relevant. What BuzzFeed proved was that all people — young, old, black, white, male, female, gay, straight — find great delight in a story that resonates with them. Enough to keep coming back to Facebook.


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Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet | GizMag.com

Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers working at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering claim to have produced a sponge-like substance that helps convert water to steam using sunlight one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. A composite of graphite flakes layered on a bed of carbon foam, the new material is reported to convert as much as 85 percent of received solar energy into steam.


In practice, the scientists say that the graphite flakes and carbon foam composite that they've created forms a porous insulating material structure that floats on water. After a number of experiments, the scientists found that the best method to maximize heat retention properties in the top layer was to exfoliate (expand a material by heating so that it increases in volume and lowers in density) graphite by cooking it in a microwave, causing it to bubble and swell. The outcome is an exceedingly permeable top layer able to maximize absorption and retention of solar energy.


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Italy: BioCasa 82 boasts bragging rights as Europe's first LEED Platinum home | GizMag.com

Italy: BioCasa 82 boasts bragging rights as Europe's first LEED Platinum home | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There are very few LEED Platinum homes around – the green building standard's highest rating – and this scarcity becomes even more pronounced once you leave the US. Italian home BioCasa 82 boasts bragging rights for being the first private residence in Europe to achieve LEED Platinum, and as you'd expect, it's a very energy-efficient home, deriving 55 percent of all required energy from renewable sources.


Designed by Italy's Rosario Picciotto Architects and built by green building specialists Welldom, BioCasa 82 was completed earlier this year and comprises a total floorspace of 484 sq m (5,209 sq ft). The two-story home is based just outside Montebelluna, a small town not too far from Venice, Italy.


Its rural placement is cited by the architects as the reason that the home scored "only" 117 points out of a total possible 136 and not higher, reflecting LEED's preference for urban homes in a system that also awards points for categories such as the use of sustainably-sourced materials and on-site renewable energy sources.


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Frack Quietly, Please: Sage Grouse Is Nesting | NYTimes.com

Frack Quietly, Please: Sage Grouse Is Nesting | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In a new oil field among the rolling hills near here, Chesapeake Energy limits truck traffic to avoid disturbing the breeding and nesting of a finicky bird called the greater sage grouse. To the west, on a gas field near Yellowstone National Park, Shell Oil is sowing its own special seed mix to grow plants that nourish the birds and hide their chicks from predators.


And on a 320,000-acre ranch near the northern tail of the Sierra Madres, developers of an enormous wind farm have decided not to plant turbines where some of the best onshore winds in the world blow because it is in prime grouse territory.


The spotted owl never had it this good. But like that bird, which became a bitter symbol of the conflict between the environment and economic development a generation ago, the greater sage grouse — a chickenlike bird known for its flamboyant courtship strut — has seen its numbers plunge far and fast.


Now, federal officials are weighing putting it on the endangered species list — setting off a mad scramble among the unlikeliest of allies to save the bird and avoid disrupting the nation’s enormous growth in energy production. With a range stretching over more than 165 million resource-rich acres across 11 states, the grouse is at the center of one of the country’s most important struggles: to balance the demand for energy against the needs of nature. And in the process, it has put two environmental priorities — preserving species and fostering renewable energy — on a collision course.


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