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China's Toxic Sky | The Atlantic

China's Toxic Sky | The Atlantic | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Since the beginning of this year, the levels of air pollution in Beijing have been dangerously high, with thick clouds of smog chasing people indoors, disrupting air travel, and affecting the health of millions. The past two weeks have been especially bad -- at one point the pollution level measured 40 times recommended safety levels. Authorities are taking short-term measures to combat the current crisis, shutting down some factories and limiting government auto usage. However, long-term solutions seem distant, as China's use of coal continues to rise, and the government remains slow to acknowledge and address the problems.

 

* Starting with photo #2, a four-part set of these images is interactive, allowing you to click the photo and 'clear the air', viewing a difference over time. [31 photos]

 

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Our Global Future in the 21st Century is based on "The Third Industrial Revolution" which finally connects our new ICT infrastructure with distributed energy sources that are both renewable and sustainable
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Facebook's Internet.org opens platform to other online services | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com

Facebook's Internet.org opens platform to other online services | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Facebook’s Internet.org has opened its free Internet access platform to any low-bandwidth online service that meets its technical guidelines for running on basic phones.

Internet.org’s goal is to provide underprivileged people in Asia, Africa and Latin America with access to select online services without mobile data charges.

However, it ran into trouble in India where it was criticized by local net neutrality activists for creating “walled gardens” that provide free access only to a few preferred content providers and services, including Facebook.

Under pressure from the activists, some of the 38 websites and services that had joined Internet.org and operator Reliance Communications for the project opted out of the alliance or signaled that they were ready to leave. These included the Times Group, which withdrew some of its media sites, and travel site Cleartrip.

On Monday, Internet.org said it had decided to give people more choice over the services they use and would welcome to its platform websites that were simple and data efficient. Websites will not pay to be included, and operators won’t charge developers for the data people use for their services.


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Australian - broadband market - insights, statistics and forecasts | Paul Chapman | WhaTech.com

Australian - broadband market - insights, statistics and forecasts | Paul Chapman | WhaTech.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Overall, the initial development of the NBN reflected a serious response to the relatively poor quality of Australia's broadband infrastructure. It was also a response to the intransigence of the dominant telco, Telstra.

The government was minded to change its broadband infrastructure plan from a regional to a national focus, which to a degree has been linked to the development of the digital economy supporting policies relating to e-commerce, e-health, e-education and smart grid infrastructure. These are all aimed at utilising the NBN for a myriad of purposes beyond broadband.

Residential and business broadband markets: growing adoption of faster services

Although the business market in Australia was quick to embrace broadband, mainly to access faster data speeds, a significant proportion of smaller operators has yet to establish an online presence, and by early 2014 only about 38% had a business website.

The government's Broadband Availability and Quality' report, published in December 2013, showed that 1.4 million premises (13% of the total) across many areas of the country had no adequate broadband infrastructure. These areas include regional and remote regions but also pockets within urban communities.

Given the state of broadband availability and speeds, many businesses still depend on mobile rather than fixed-line broadband.


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European Commission reveals first details of copyright reform | Julia Reda | JuliaReda.eu

European Commission reveals first details of copyright reform | Julia Reda | JuliaReda.eu | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Commission Vice President Ansip yesterday announced that the Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy includes the harmonisation of copyright exceptions, notably for libraries, text & data mining and for people with disabilities.

He also clearly stated that geoblocking for the enforcement of copyright must be abolished completely.

With these announcements, the Commission is siding with my recommendations in the draft report on the evaluation of current EU copyright law, which several MEPs are attacking with amendments in Parliament.

It’s encouraging to see that the Commission is not giving in to lobby pressure and has identified that increased access to culture supports – rather than threatens – Europe’s cultural diversity.


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Court Orders UK ISPs to Block Popcorn Time Sites | TorrentFreak

Court Orders UK ISPs to Block Popcorn Time Sites | TorrentFreak | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Following a series of blocking orders issued by the High Court, UK Internet providers Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin, BT and EE are currently required to restrict access to many of the world’s largest torrent sites and streaming portals.

More than 100 websites have been blocked in recent years and today the court issued the first injunction against domains that offer no direct links, but only software.

The order, obtained today by Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association, targets five popular Popcorn Time forks: popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, and isoplex.isohunt.to.

In his order Judge Birss notes that the Popcorm Time software has little to no legal use. Instead, he mentions that it’s mostly used to download and stream pirated movies and TV-shows.

“It is manifest that the Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet and indeed it is also manifest that that is its purpose. No-one really uses Popcorn Time in order to watch lawfully available content,” Judge Birss writes.

“The point of Popcorn Time is to infringe copyright. The Popcorn Time application has no legitimate purpose,” he adds.

Over the past year Popcorn Time has become a major threat to Hollywood so it doesn’t come as a complete surprise that the applications are now being targeted. Previously the movie studios took down code repositories on Github, for example.


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Quantum leap: IBM scientists lay the foundations for a practical, scalable quantum computer | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

Quantum leap: IBM scientists lay the foundations for a practical, scalable quantum computer | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

IBM scientists have unveiled two crucial advances toward the creation of a practical quantum computer: an effective way to detect and correct quantum errors, and the design of a silicon chip that can scale up to house a large number of entangled quantum bits.

Transistors in classical computers can only shrink so far. The current generation of transistors is 14 nanometers in size, meaning that only about thirty silicon atoms fit between the transistor’s "source" and "drain," the two ends of the electronic switch. Once that number gets reduced to only about four or five silicon atoms, the uncertainty brought on by quantum mechanic effects will make it impossible for such a switch to function properly. Electrons will spontaneously and randomly jump from one end of the other in unpredictable ways, creating a current even when the switch is off.

The idea behind quantum computers  –  first advanced by Richard Feynmann in 1981  –  is to harness quantum effects rather than see them as an obstacle. This is done not by building a more advanced transistor, but instead by harnessing the much greater potential of quantum information.


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The Information Age Is Over. Welcome to the Infrastructure Age. | Annalee Newitz | Gizmodo

The Information Age Is Over. Welcome to the Infrastructure Age. | Annalee Newitz | Gizmodo | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Nobody wants to say it outright, but the Apple Watch sucks. So do most smartwatches. Every time I use my beautiful Moto 360, its lack of functionality makes me despair. But the problem isn’t our gadgets. It’s that the future of consumer tech isn’t going to come from information devices. It’s going to come from infrastructure.

That’s why Elon Musk’s announcements of the new Tesla battery line last night were more revolutionary than Apple Watch and more exciting than Microsoft’s admittedly nifty HoloLens. Information tech isn’t dead — it has just matured to the point where all we’ll get are better iterations of the same thing. Better cameras and apps for our phones. VR that actually works. But these are not revolutionary gadgets. They are just realizations of dreams that began in the 1980s, when the information revolution transformed the consumer electronics market.

But now we’re we’re entering the age of infrastructure gadgets. Thanks to devices like Tesla’s household battery, Powerwall, electrical grid technology that was once hidden behind massive barbed wire fences, owned by municipalities and counties, is now seeping slowly into our homes. And this isn’t just about alternative energy like solar. It’s about how we conceive of what technology is. It’s about what kinds of gadgets we’ll be buying for ourselves in 20 years.

It’s about how the kids of tomorrow won’t freak out over terabytes of storage. They’ll freak out over kilowatt-hours.

Beyond transforming our relationship to energy, though, the infrastructure age is about where we expect computers to live. The so-called internet of things is a big part of this. Our computers aren’t living in isolated boxes on our desktops, and they aren’t going to be inside our phones either. The apps in your phone won’t always suck you into virtual worlds, where you can escape to build treehouses and tunnels in Minecraft. Instead, they will control your home, your transit, and even your body.

Once you accept that the thing our ancestors called the information superhighway will actually be controlling cars on real-life highways, you start to appreciate the sea change we’re witnessing. The internet isn’t that thing in there, inside your little glowing box. It’s in your washing machine, kitchen appliances, pet feeder, your internal organs, your car, your streets, the very walls of your house. You use your wearable to interface with the world out there.

It makes perfect sense to me that a company like Tesla could be at the heart of the new infrastructure age. Musk’s focus has always been relentlessly about remolding the physical world, changing the way we power our transit — and, with SpaceX, where future generations might live beyond Earth. The opposite of cyberspace is, well, physical space. And that’s where Tesla is taking us.


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Lake Mead Has Dropped To Its Lowest Level Ever | Mary Beth Griggs | Popular Science

Lake Mead Has Dropped To Its Lowest Level Ever | Mary Beth Griggs | Popular Science | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

California isn't the only one having a water crisis. Yesterday, Lake Mead sank to its lowest level yet. The watery behemoth created by the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s was reduced to a mere 1,080.07 feet above sea level, minimally smaller than the previous record of 1,080.19 set last August.

The difference of 1.44 inches might seem small, but it has a lot of people worried. With an incredibly dry summer anticipated out west, experts fear that the lake could sink to a water level of 1,073 feet. For comparison, the highest water level in the lake was 1225.85 feet, recorded back in 1983.

Millions of people in the region rely on Lake Mead for water and electricity generated at Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, as water levels fall, it gets more difficult for the dam's turbines to produce electricity. Engineers at the dam are installing turbines that could extend the ability of the dam to produce power, even if the water levels fall to 950 feet, but that's a worst case scenario.


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Vatican official calls for moral awakening on global warming | Stephanie Kirchgaessner | The Guardian

Vatican official calls for moral awakening on global warming |  Stephanie Kirchgaessner | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Increasing use of fossil fuels is disrupting Earth on an “almost unfathomable scale”, a top Vatican official has said, warning that a “full conversion” of hearts and minds is needed if global warming is to be conquered.

The statement by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Pope Francis’s point man for peace and justice issues, was made at a Vatican summit on Tuesday, which focused on climate change and poverty. His call for a moral awakening of politicians and people of faith is a likely precursor to the highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, which was drafted by Turkson and which Pope Francis is expected to release in June.

“In our recklessness, we are traversing some of the planet’s most fundamental natural boundaries,” warned Turkson. “And the lesson from the Garden of Eden still rings true today: pride, hubris, self-centredness are always perilous, indeed destructive. The very technology that has brought great reward is now poised to bring great ruin.”

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general who delivered the keynote address at the summit, said he believed the pope’s encyclical – coupled with the pontiff’s planned speeches before the UN general assembly and a joint session of the US Congress – would have a profound impact on climate change negotiations.

“[The encyclical] will convey to the world that protecting our environment is an urgent moral imperative and a sacred duty for all people of faith and people of conscience,” Ban said.

While he declined to comment on any details of the encyclical following his morning meeting with the Argentinean pontiff – the document has already been written and is being translated – he said he was counting on the pope’s “moral voice and moral leadership” to help accelerate talks.

Pope Francis’s September address will be the first time any pope has spoken before a special session of the general assembly.


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Mitch McConnell Has a New Plan to Block Obama’s Climate Agenda | Clare Foran | National Journal

Mitch McConnell Has a New Plan to Block Obama’s Climate Agenda | Clare Foran | National Journal | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell launched a new push to thwart President Obama's climate agenda on Wednesday, suggesting that Congress may be able to block regulations to curb power-plant emissions using an obscure provision of the Clean Air Act.

So far, McConnell's most high-profile effort to sink the regulatory regime that stands as the centerpiece of the president's climate agenda has been a campaign urging states not to comply with the rule.

But during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Wednesday, McConnell suggested that section 102(c) of the Clean Air Act could allow Congress to check the administration's authority to enact the regulation. The provision applies to multi-state pacts that derive from the Clean Air Act.

"The law reads: 'No such agreement or compact shall be binding or obligatory upon any state unless and until it has been approved by Congress," McConnell said, adding: "Doesn't seem ambivalent to me."

McConnell continued: "I can assure you that as long as I'm majority leader of the Senate, this body is not going to be signing off on any backdoor energy tax."

McCarthy defended the regulation, saying: "I believe we are acting under the authority Congress gave us in the Clean Air Act."

The EPA administrator added that the agency has given states "tremendous flexibility" to comply with the rule and said that she is "more than happy to take comment and to work with any governor of any state at any time."

Obama is all but guaranteed to veto any legislative attempt at sabotaging the rule. The president's former climate adviser, John Podesta, has said that attacks on the rule "have zero percent chance of working."

But the regulation faces a wide array of challenges in Congress, in the courts, and in the states.


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AT&T, China Telecom, DT, FT excluding all competition from LTE-U | 5G Wireless News

AT&T, China Telecom, DT, FT excluding all competition from LTE-U | 5G Wireless News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

11 of world's largest telcos want LTE-U blocked except for incumbents with LTE networks. For practical purposes, that's 4 in the U.S., 3 in Germany, 3 in China ... Since LTE will be the primary mobile phone protocol, this will prevent all but incumbent telcos from the common mobile connection.

The title is blunt: Precluding standalone access of LTE on unlicensed carriers. Why is this important? "Standalone deployment in unlicensed spectrum implies drastically different business models from nowadays and might impact the value chain."

They fear "Possible disintermediation of cellular operators due to standalone operation." In other words, users and competitors can bypass the telcos, cutting revenue. Even 3-5% of telco revenue is a large number.

The carriers want to take "standalone access to unlicensed spectrum" out of the standard. At almost the last minute, they want to change the Rel 13 Standard. Currently, Rel 13 "does not preclude possible use of unlicensed carriers in standalone manner." I.e. by a competitor or local access that isn't one of the very few with an existing LTE network. The original spec was designed to let telcos or anyone else use the technology.

The telcos Proposal is "Non-CA LAA operation is not supported in Rel-13." "Non-CA LAA operation" I believe covers anything done except by one of the LTE carriers. The remainder of the proposal below provides some specifics on how that might be accomplished.

It has not escaped my notice that the specific decisions they have proposed immediately suggest a possible mechanism for reducing competition.


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The GOP attack on climate change science takes a big step forward | Michael Hiltzik | LATimes.com

The GOP attack on climate change science takes a big step forward | Michael Hiltzik | LATimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Living down to our worst expectations, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology voted Thursday to cut deeply into NASA's budget for Earth science, in a clear swipe at the study of climate change.

The committee's markup of the NASA authorization bill for fiscal 2016 and 2017 passed on a party-line vote, Republicans in the majority. The action followed what appears to be a deliberate attempt to keep Democrats out of the loop. According to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the committee's ranking Democrat, her caucus "did not even know [the markup] existed before last Friday. ... After we saw the bill, we understood why."

As outlined by Marcia Smith at SpacePolicyOnline, the measure would cut NASA's Earth science budget to at most $1.45 billion in fiscal 2016, from $1.77 billion currently -- a cut of $323 million, or nearly 20%. Under some circumstances, the budget could shrink even further to $1.12 billion, a cut of nearly one-third. Compared with President Obama's request for fiscal 2016, which is $1.95 billion, the proposal would amount to a cut of at least 26%.


The budget plan perfectly reflects the House GOP's glorification of space exploration, which masks its disdain for research on climate change. Unsurprisingly, it has created consternation among experts. The American Geophysical Union observed just before the vote that NASA's Earth science programs involve more than the study of climate change as such, but "provide a basis for knowledge and understanding of natural hazards, weather forecasting, air quality, and water availability."


The Earth Science division, the organization continued, helped monitor the movement of oil into Gulf of Mexico coastal waters after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, track severe storms and tornadoes, and assisted with flood predictions and earthquake response.


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CA: Desert oasis collides with drought | Ian James | The Desert Sun

CA: Desert oasis collides with drought | Ian James | The Desert Sun | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

For decades, water pumped from beneath the California desert has flowed to an oasis of lawns, golf courses, pools and lakes. That lush lifestyle has sold homes, promoted growth and helped transform the Palm Springs area into a world-renowned destination.

But the mirage of water abundance is colliding like never before with one of the most severe droughts ever recorded in California. State water officials have called for cuts of up to 35 percent, which could dictate an extraordinary shift in the area's insatiable water habits.

If the state-mandated drought measures are effective, some of the grass that covers vast expanses of the Coachella Valley could fade from green to brown, and gradually turn into desert gardens.

It's a water diet brought on by an increasingly bleak statewide water outlook. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada has shrunk to a record low. Groundwater levels have plummeted across much of California.

With reservoirs running low, deliveries of water through the canals and pipelines of the State Water Project have been slashed. And that has reduced the amounts of imported water reaching a series of ponds on the outskirts of Palm Springs. The oblong ponds beneath Mount San Jacinto are normally used to recharge the groundwater, but lately they have sat bone dry, leaving a crust of cracked silt.

Even as water from the Colorado River has kept flowing to other ponds in La Quinta, the drought has meant less water seeping down to an aquifer that has declined for decades in much of the Coachella Valley.

Groundwater data for more than 300 wells in the area show significant long-term declines in water levels, even as imported water has helped partially counteract that trend.

The Desert Sun first analyzed the state of the aquifer in 2013, and has now updated that review to track the impact of the historic drought through the end of 2014. The updated data reveal a similar picture: a valley drawing heavily on its underground water while its water agencies try to combat falling water levels.


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How to fix California's drought problem | Terry Tamminen | CNBC.com

How to fix California's drought problem | Terry Tamminen | CNBC.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

By now you've heard about the epic drought threatening every California water user, from almond growers to swimming-pool owners, resulting in mandatory cutbacks and ostracism from neighbors for being the last on the block with a green lawn. So would it surprise you to learn that the state actually has more than enough water to go around?

About a decade ago, the blue-collar community of Sun Valley in Los Angeles County was faced with flooding that impacted homes and businesses during winter rains. The county had planned a $47 million storm sewer system to drain the flood waters from streets and dump it in the Pacific Ocean via the Los Angeles River (itself now a mostly concrete flood management canal). Instead, clever community planners decided to invest those funds in underground cisterns that would capture the water for later use.


A dilapidated city park was remodeled with cisterns below, as were medians along broad boulevards that were themselves underwater during heavy rains. The result was a system, using ancient Roman technology (see photo above), that captures 8,000 acre feet of water each year, about twice what the entire city consumes, solving the flooding problem and creating a source of fresh water for thousands of residents. The investment also gave the city a new park with ball fields and picnic grounds and higher adjacent property values.


But could something this simple be the solution for a thirsty state that is getting hotter, growing faster, and producing more food crops than ever before? According to the National Weather Service, the average annual rainfall in Los Angeles for the past 100 years is about 14", more than enough to serve the needs of the region and then some.

During the decade from 2003 to 2012, we had wet years of nearly 38" of rain and dry ones of less than 4", but the average was still just under 14", meaning there is no drought in the most populous region of the state.


So what's the problem?


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How to Make it On Social Media Without Really Trying | Doug Bock Clark | The New Republic

How to Make it On Social Media Without Really Trying | Doug Bock Clark | The New Republic | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Every morning, Kim Casipong strolls past barbed wire, six dogs, and a watchman in order to get to her job in a pink apartment building decorated with ornate stonework in Lapu-Lapu City. The building towers above the slums surrounding it—houses made of scrap wood with muddy goat pens in place of yards. She is a pretty, milk-skinned, 17-year-old girl who loves the movie Frozen and whose favorite pastime is singing karaoke. She is on her way to do her part in bringing down Facebook.

Casipong huffs to the third floor of the apartment building, opens a door decorated with a crucifix, and greets her co-workers. The curtains are drawn, and the artificial moonlight of computer screens illuminates the room. Eight workers sit in two rows, their tools arranged on their desks: a computer, a minaret of cell phone SIM cards, and an old cell phone. Tens of thousands of additional SIM cards are taped into bricks and stored under chairs, on top of computers, and in old instant noodle boxes around the room.

Richard Braggs, Casipong’s boss, sits at a desk positioned behind his employees, occasionally glancing up from his double monitor to survey their screens. Even in the gloom, he wears Ray-Ban sunglasses to shield his eyes from the glare of his computer. (“Richard Braggs” is the alias he uses for business purposes; he uses a number of pseudonyms for various online activities.)

Casipong inserts earbuds, queues up dance music—Paramore and Avicii—and checks her client’s instructions. Their specifications are often quite pointed. A São Paulo gym might request 75 female Brazilian fitness fanatics, or a Castro-district bar might want 1,000 gay men living in San Francisco. Her current order is the most common: Facebook profiles of beautiful American women between the ages of 20 and 30. Once they’ve received the accounts, the client will probably use them to sell Facebook likes to customers looking for an illicit social media boost.

Most of the accounts Casipong creates are sold to these digital middlemen—“click farms” as they have come to be known. Just as fast as Silicon Valley conjures something valuable from digital ephemera, click farms seek ways to create counterfeits. Google “buy Facebook likes” and you’ll see how easy it is to purchase black-market influence on the Internet: 1,000 Facebook likes for $29.99; 1,000 Twitter followers for $12; or any other type of fake social media credential, from YouTube views to Pinterest followers to SoundCloud plays. Social media is now the engine of the Internet, but that engine is running on some pretty suspect fuel.

Casipong plays her role in hijacking the currencies of social media—Facebook likes, Twitter followers—by performing the same routine over and over again.


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New "4D-printing" material can change shape in hot water | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

New "4D-printing" material can change shape in hot water | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at the University of Wollongong, Australia have created a 3D printer-compatible hydrogel that is mechanically tough and able to repeatedly change shape in response to water temperature. The scientists have demonstrated the technology by 3D-printing an autonomous water valve, but the material could also be used to create soft robots, custom designed sensors and self-assembling macrostructures.

The aim of so-called "4D printing" is to extend additive manufacturing to the dimension of time. The idea is to create 3D-printed objects using special materials that are sensitive to heat, water or pressure that can autonomously change shape in very specific, purposeful ways in response to environmental conditions, long after they’ve come out of the printer. In some cases, the objects can even revert back to their original shape.

Examples of 4D printing have included simple self-assembling bodies that fold together when baked, polymers that bend into shape in response to water, heat or pressure, and smart strands inspired by self-assembling nanostructures. Admittedly, 4D printing is far from practical in its current iteration, but the technology is very young and will likely take big steps forward as 3D printing becomes more accessible.


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Facebook's "free" Internet.org ploy shouldn't be allowed | Peter Nowak | AlphaBeatic.com

Facebook's "free" Internet.org ploy shouldn't be allowed | Peter Nowak | AlphaBeatic.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

You may have seen the billboards around town advertising something called Internet.org. The posters say the next generation of magicians or inventors in developing countries shouldn’t be denied the privilege of connecting to each other because they can’t get onto the internet.

The ads, which come off as bizarre thanks to their lack of context, are the brainchild of Facebook, as is the whole concept of the Internet.org effort they’re designed to promote.

If you haven’t heard, Internet.org is the pet project of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Its goal is to connect the billions of people in developing countries who aren’t yet online by giving them access to certain portions of the internet for free.

Along with Facebook itself, a few health, education and jobs services are exempted from wireless data fees, meaning that poor individuals can get at least some of the internet rather than none of it.

Facebook, in partnership with local telecom companies and tech concerns including Nokia and Samsung, has rolled the project out to nine countries including India, Colombia and Guatemala, reaching some 800 million users.

But net neutrality supporters around the world don’t like it one bit – and with good reason. The argument is the same in places such as India as it is in North America – that Facebook, a giant, rich corporation, is skewing the equality of the internet in its favour by giving users some parts of it for free while the rest remains “for pay.”

The practice is known as “zero rating” and it’s increasingly being frowned on in developed nations. The Netherlands,  Slovenia and Chile have explicitly banned the favouring of certain internet content over others via data cap manipulation, while Canadian regulators effectively outlawed it in January by ordering Bell and Videotron to stop exempting their own chosen video services from wireless usage limits.

U.S. regulators have also taken a dim view of zero rating, indicating in their recent net neutrality rules that any such efforts will be scrutinized for potential anti-competitive effects.

The battle over net neutrality and zero rating has exploded in India too as regulators debate how much control telecom providers should have over internet access. In a hilarious video reminiscent of John Oliver’s now-famous rant on U.S. net neutrality, Indian comedians have similarly gone viral in outlining what’s at stake:


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Indonesia: Telkom FTTH live in 60 cities | TeleGeography.com

PT Telkom Indonesia (Telkom) says that its IndiHome branded fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service is now available in 60 towns and cities across the country.


Jemy Confido, vice president for consumer marketing and sales, told local news portal IndoTelko that the telco’s coverage now spans not only Java, but also outside that island.


Telkom is continuing to strengthen the triple-play IndiHome service, he says, with a view to having signed up three million subscribers by the end of 2015.


The official pointed to the carrier’s commitment to deliver fibre country-wide, noting that it is currently investing approximately USD71.1 million to build fibre-optic backbone networks in eastern Indonesia, the Mataram Kupang Cable System (MKCS), as well as the Sulawesi, Maluku Papua Cable System (SMPCS) which connects islands in eastern Indonesia.

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Incredible: U.S. Navy Makes Gasoline from Seawater for $3 Per Gallon! | AATTP.org

Incredible:  U.S. Navy Makes Gasoline from Seawater for $3 Per Gallon! | AATTP.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Navy’s turning seawater into jet fuel, and a research team at Virginia Tech has worked out a way to power cars with sugar. That’s right: sugar and seawater. The two most commonly encountered hydrocarbon chains on Earth; the stuff that makes up the majority of your body, and powers it. While we can’t say these two innovations will prove the be-all-end-all of fuel production on Earth, there’s no denying that both have a great deal of potential. More to the point, both represent a shift from our Culture of Burning Death (in the form of oil and fossil fuels), to a Culture of Life.

Using these mechanisms of life, of the very energy and stuff that we’re made of, we’re one day closer to finding a way to live as a part of Earth’s biosphere, instead dying while we try to exempt ourselves from it. Both technologies are new, and will certainly require some development before we can consider them as primary energy sources — if we ever do. But just the fact that sheer practicality has driven us to think along these lines is a sign that maybe, just maybe, mankind might prove worthy to avoid extinction after all.


If the Navy’s seawater fuel is a bolt from the blue, Virginia Tech’s sugar battery is more of a slowly rolling thunderhead on the horizon. Earlier on in this article, we touched on how fuel cells work. “Bio-batteries” as they’re called kind of straddle the line between a traditional battery and a fuel cell. They’re constructed very much like any other battery, with the main difference being in the materials used. But, unlike a regular battery, they can be instantly recharged just by draining the used-up fuel and replacing it. That makes them more akin to fuel cells. In reality, though, they may offer the best of both worlds.


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How average Oregonians challenged the timber industry – and lost | Rob Davis | OregonLive.com

How average Oregonians challenged the timber industry – and lost | Rob Davis | OregonLive.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In March, she again made the five-hour drive north to Salem, hoping her legislators would listen.

Seventeen months had passed since a helicopter repeatedly flew over Kathyrn Rickard's neighborhood in Curry County while spraying weed killers. She and more than 20 neighbors complained about being exposed to the chemicals.

Now, with the Legislature in session, lawmakers were closer to deciding whether to tighten laws for aerial sprays, used by timber companies to control weeds on clear cuts so trees can grow.

Along with her neighbors, Rickard, a 51-year-old studying to be a medical assistant, had become a voice for the risks the practice posed.

Her Rhodesian ridgeback mix, Mr. Leo, fell ill shortly after the October 2013 incident. The rescue dog soon lost 40 pounds and was put to sleep the following spring. Rickard's vet said the spray was likely to blame.

Rickard developed a sinus infection so severe she required two surgeries. Neighbors complained of severe sinus problems, dizziness and fatigue.

The incident attracted fresh attention to an issue that has festered for decades in coastal communities. In Oregon, timber companies spray chemicals from the air under the West Coast's weakest protections.


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Emissions from natural gas wells may travel far downwind | PHYS.org

Emissions from natural gas wells may travel far downwind | PHYS.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Emissions linked to hydraulic fracturing, the method of drilling for natural gas commonly known as "fracking," can be detected hundreds of miles away in states that that forbid or strictly control the practice, according to a UMD study published in the journal Atmospheric Environment. The study is among the latest data presented in the ongoing debate over fracking's long-term effects on the environment.

The team used years' worth of hourly measurements from photochemical assessment monitoring stations (PAMS) in the Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C., areas to identify the sources of organic carbons in the region's air. Starting in 2010, the data didn't seem to make sense.

"While there's been an overall decline in non-methane organic carbons and improvement in air quality since 1996, the atmospheric concentration of ethane, one of the components of natural gas, rose 30 percent between 2010 and 2013," says Sheryl Ehrman, professor and chair of UMD's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the paper's corresponding author.

Methane accounts for 80-95 percent of the makeup of natural gas, and it is thought to have a global warming potential roughly 30 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. However, until recently, monitoring it has not been a priority. Ehrman and her team could not acquire enough long-term methane data for the study, so they instead tracked other "tracer" species (molecules) such as ethane, the second most abundant compound in natural gas, and indicative of emissions associated with natural gas drilling, production, and transport.


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Central Valley's growing concern: Crops raised with oil field water | Julie Cart | LATimes.com

Central Valley's growing concern: Crops raised with oil field water | Julie Cart | LATimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Here in California's thirsty farm belt, where pumpjacks nod amid neat rows of crops, it's a proposition that seems to make sense: using treated oil field wastewater to irrigate crops.

Oil giant Chevron recycles 21 million gallons of that water each day and sells it to farmers who use it on about 45,000 acres of crops, about 10% of Kern County's farmland.

State and local officials praise the 2-decade-old program as a national model for coping with the region's water shortages. As California's four-year drought lingers and authorities scramble to conserve every drop, agricultural officials have said that more companies are seeking permits to begin similar programs. The heightened interest in recycling oil field wastewater has raised concern over the adequacy of safety measures in place to prevent contamination from toxic oil production chemicals.


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Did Tesla Just Kill Nuclear Power? | Jeff McMahon | Forbes.com

Did Tesla Just Kill Nuclear Power? | Jeff McMahon | Forbes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It would be almost three hours until Tesla’s big announcement, but inside a Northwestern University classroom near Chicago Thursday night, the famed nuclear critic Arnie Gundersen had the inside scoop:

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was about to announce an industrial-scale battery, Gundersen said, that would cost about 2¢ per kilowatt hour to use, putting the final nail in the coffin of nuclear power.

Thus Tesla’s big news broke first not amongst the throng of reporters gathered under swirling colored lights at the carmaker’s Hawthorne, Calif. headquarters, but in the middle of a debate on the future of nuclear power sponsored by students agitating for a “Fossil Free NU.” It was Gundersen vs. Jordi Roglans-Ribas, the director of the Nuclear Engineering Division of Argonne National Laboratory.

Roglans-Ribas had just finished arguing that any future free of fossil fuels would need nuclear power, which provides carbon-free energy 24 hours a day, supplying the reliability lacking in renewables like solar and wind.

Gundersen called that claim a “marketing ploy.”

“We all know that the wind doesn’t blow consistently and the sun doesn’t shine every day,” he said, “but the nuclear industry would have you believe that humankind is smart enough to develop techniques to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, but at the same time human kind is so dumb we can’t figure out a way to store solar electricity overnight. To me that doesn’t make sense.”

Then Gundersen told the audience of about 80 students and visitors that it was a momentous day in history—because of something that was about to happen in California. He evoked Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal , chairman of SpaceX and SolarCity, and the product architect for Tesla Motors:

“At about ten ‘o’clock tonight he’s going to hold a press conference and he’s going to announce that he’s going to build industrial scale storage batteries. While the announcement is still two hours away, it appears that they’ll be able to produce these large batteries for about 2¢ per kilowatt hour. That’s an enormous breakthrough,” Gundersen said.

“So the nuclear argument that they’re the only 24-7 source is off the table now because Elon Musk has convinced me that industrial scale storage is in fact possible, and it’s here.”


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Nicolas Nath's curator insight, May 3, 7:27 AM

Interesting perspective on energy storage !  Lets start re-allocating research resources to energy storage rather than 50 year nuclear power research!  France needs to get witht he program and start focusing on storage solutions now, rather than promoting nuclear power !

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GOP rep introduces bill to gut EPA | Tim Cama | The Hill

GOP rep introduces bill to gut EPA | Tim Cama | The Hill | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A House Republican wants to cut 13 programs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including all of its grants and its ability to regulate ground-level ozone and carbon dioxide.

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) introduced a bill, the Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act, which he said is a money-saving measure, citing a Heritage Foundation forecast that it would save $7.5 billion over 10 years.

“As a fiscal conservative, I believe Washington should be respectful of taxpayers’ dollars and live within its means,” Johnson said in a Thursday statement.

“American taxpayers certainly don’t need to be paying for the EPA’s empty and unused buildings and its wasteful programs,” he said. “This bill does right by the hardworking folks in my district and across the country and is part of my ongoing effort to get our fiscal house in order.”

The measure would force the EPA to close all of its field offices, sell or lease certain properties, cut various climate change programs and stop its environmental justice activities.


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Fracking Wells Could Pollute The Air Hundreds Of Miles Away | Katie Valentine | Think Progress

Fracking Wells Could Pollute The Air Hundreds Of Miles Away | Katie Valentine | Think Progress | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Air pollution from hydraulic fracturing operations can likely travel hundreds of miles, even into states with little or no fracking, a new study has found.

The study, published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, looked at hourly measurements of air pollutants like ethane and methane — gases that are found in natural gas — in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. between 2010 and 2013. It found that ethane measurements increased by 30 percent between 2010 and 2013 in the region.

The researchers focused on ethane because they couldn’t find enough data for methane emissions during the time period, and ethane is the second-most abundant compound in natural gas. Ethane spikes in Maryland and D.C.’s air isn’t good news for residents of the region: when ethane is breathed in, it can cause nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

But Maryland doesn’t currently allow fracking — former Gov. Martin O’Malley didn’t propose fracking regulations until the end of his term, and the state didn’t have any fracking between 2010 and 2013. So the researchers compared the ethane data to natural gas production in neighboring states atop the Marcellus shale play, including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. By doing so, the researchers found that the ethane emissions they found in Maryland appeared to be coming from these neighboring states’ natural gas operations.

“As shale natural gas production continues to expand, this increasing trend will continue in downwind regions until more efficient control technologies are applied,” the authors write in the study.

The authors reviewed levels of ethane in Atlanta, Georgia, a city that isn’t downwind of fracking operations, and found no increase in ethane levels between 2010 and 2013. They were also able to rule out other potential sources of the ethane, including natural gas storage fields in nearby Garrett County, Maryland, and vehicles. Neither of these potential sources saw a spike in natural gas use between 2010 and 2013. But, the report notes, Pennsylvania and West Virginia “house thousands of wells responsible for a tenfold increase in natural gas production volumes from 2009 to 2013.”


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With EPA Lawsuit, Environmental Groups Step Up Fight Against 'Super-Toxic Chemical Cocktail' | Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams

With EPA Lawsuit, Environmental Groups Step Up Fight Against 'Super-Toxic Chemical Cocktail' | Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A coalition of health and environmental organizations on Monday challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to expand the use of a new herbicide in nine states, which the groups say could endanger wildlife and public health.

The lawsuit (pdf) is the most recent step in a fight to push back against the use of the weed killer, Dow's Enlist Duo, which combines glyphosate, found in Monsanto's Roundup, and 2,4-D, the key ingredient in the infamous warfare herbicide Agent Orange.

As the coalition points out in a press release following its lawsuit, 2,4-D "has been linked to serious illnesses like Parkinson's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and reproductive problems. It also threatens endangered species that reside in the approved states, like the whooping crane, the Louisiana black bear, and the Indiana bat."

In March, the research arm of the World Health Organization declared that glyphosate was a "probable" source of cancer in humans and should be considered a carcinogen.


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Jan Vajda's curator insight, May 2, 1:49 PM

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