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Too hot to handle: life in a four-degree world | Climate Code Red

Too hot to handle: life in a four-degree world | Climate Code Red | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The book Four Degrees or More? Australia in a hot world, edited by political scientist Peter Christoff, is a timely overview of what we know currently about both global and local predicted impacts of climate change.

As Christoff notes, ‘this four-degree world is one of almost unimaginable social, economic and ecological consequences and catastrophes’ but, given current international and Australian energy and climate policies, it is "an impending reality". The book contains contributions by Australia’s leading scientists and economists, including Ross Garnaut, David Karoly and Will Steffen, setting out a four-degree future across the ecological, social and economic impacts, and the adaptation that will be required.

Previously, climate change dialogue has mainly focused on two degrees Celsius of global temperature rise, which had been identified as a key environmental "tipping point". Scientific consensus is now that our business-as-usual trajectory will cause the global average temperature to rise by a global average of four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2070-2100.

Nonetheless, regional increases will range from four to sixteen degrees on land, with the Arctic continuing to heat up the most, as it has done to date.

One of the key insights from Four degrees or More? is that almost nothing about the consequences of climate change will be uniform.


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Cooperation, confidence vital in opening Arctic to oil and gas exploration | Jan Mares Opinion | Alaska Dispatch News

Cooperation, confidence vital in opening Arctic to oil and gas exploration | Jan Mares Opinion | Alaska Dispatch News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The president’s visit to Alaska this week highlights the economic opportunity and concern for the future of Arctic people’s cultures and the environment in the face of changing climate and increased human activity. Recognizing that nations like Russia and China are moving forward with Arctic economic development, facilitating exploration and development in Alaska would enhance national, economic and energy security, benefit the people of the north and the United States as a whole and position us well to exercise global leadership.


While these benefits are clear, there remain diverse views on how to balance opportunities with environmental stewardship.


Based on centuries of knowledge handed down and decades of research, much is known about the physical, ecological and human environment, and sufficient information and developed technology is available to pursue Arctic exploration.

Realizing the promise of Alaska oil and gas resources requires public confidence that the opportunity can be safely pursued while ensuring environmental stewardship. Industry and government share the responsibility of securing and maintaining this public confidence.


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Canada: Fracking-caused earthquakes to grow alongside LNG an expert says | Laura Kane | Globe and Mail

Canada: Fracking-caused earthquakes to grow alongside LNG an expert says | Laura Kane | Globe and Mail | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If the liquefied natural gas industry proceeds as the British Columbia government hopes, there could be five times as many fracking-caused earthquakes, warns one expert.

But the company that would provide gas to a major LNG terminal – the same company found responsible for a 4.4 magnitude tremor last year – claims it won’t increase drilling.

Progress Energy said it doesn’t need to increase the number of wells it drills each year to supply Pacific NorthWest LNG’s planned liquefaction and export terminal near Prince Rupert.

“Our upstream drilling activity will remain relatively consistent with current levels over the life of the LNG project or may even decline and therefore pose no incremental risk,” spokeswoman Stacie Dley said in an e-mail.

The company paused its operations after a 4.6 magnitude quake in northeast B.C. on Aug. 17. The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission is investigating and has not established its cause.

The commission has, however, confirmed that Progress Energy triggered a 4.4 magnitude tremor last August – among the largest caused by the industry in Canada.


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Australia: The Turning Point Towards a Low-Carbon Future | Bill McKibben | EcoWatch.com

Australia: The Turning Point Towards a Low-Carbon Future | Bill McKibben | EcoWatch.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The news last week that the Australian Newcastle city council had voted to divest from fossil fuel stocks was one of those signposts that historians will some day cite to mark the greatest economic transition in human history.

A young councillor, Declan Clausen, was able to grasp the truth that eludes the Australian federal government and indeed so many world leaders: coal—and oil and gas—are not the future and they’re barely the present. We’re suddenly and decisively, in a one-way transition to a renewable future and the only question—perhaps the most important question humans have ever faced—is whether we can make that transition fast enough to save the planet.


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Triple trouble: Satellite sees three hurricanes in the Pacific | Amanda Kooser | CNET

Triple trouble: Satellite sees three hurricanes in the Pacific | Amanda Kooser | CNET | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Ignacio, Kilo and Jimena all got together during the weekend for a hurricane get-together over the Pacific. The rare occurrence was seen from orbit by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-West weather satellite.

The satellite captured the image on the morning of August 30. The three round-centered formations show (from left to right) Hurricane Kilo, Hurricane Ignacio and Hurricane Jimena, all classified as Category 4 at the time. Hawaii is visible between Kilo and Ignacio.

A Category 4 hurricane has sustained winds of 130-156 mph (209-251 kph) and is capable of inflicting severe damage on structures and landscapes. Both Kilo and Ignacio have since weakened and been downgraded (though their categorizations continue to vary).


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The disaster-recovery lessons we learned after Katrina | Tony Bradley | NetworkWorld

The disaster-recovery lessons we learned after Katrina | Tony Bradley | NetworkWorld | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A decade ago New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of the United States were devastated by the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive storm to ever strike the United States.

The destruction from the hurricane itself, and the subsequent flooding that put most of New Orleans underwater knocked many businesses out of commission—and more than a few completely out of existence. Thankfully, we have learned a lot of hard lessons in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that businesses can use to be better-prepared for the next major disaster.


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WTO Ruling Against India's Solar Push Threatens Climate, Clean Energy | Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams

WTO Ruling Against India's Solar Push Threatens Climate, Clean Energy | Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday ruled against India over its national solar energy program in a case brought by the U.S. government, sparking outrage from labor and environmental advocates.

As power demands grow in India, the country's government put forth a plan to create 100,000 megawatts of energy from solar cells and modules, and included incentives to domestic manufacturers to use locally-developed equipment.

According to Indian news outlets, the WTO ruled that India had discriminated against American manufacturers by providing such incentives, which violates global trade rules, and struck down those policies—siding with the U.S. government in a case that the Sierra Club said demonstrates the environmentally and economically destructive power of pro-corporate deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).


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Shape-shifting navigation device points you in the right direction | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com

Shape-shifting navigation device points you in the right direction | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Even in today's GPS-enabled world, asking someone to point you in the right direction can often be easier than wrestling with your smartphone. Enter the Animotus, a wirelessly-connected, 3D printed cube that acts like a sort of haptic compass. Developed by Yale engineer Adam Spiers, the device literally changes shape to point you in the right direction.

Spiers designed Animotus when he was involved in a performance of Flatland, an interactive play based on Edwin A. Abbott's 1884 story of a two-dimensional world. As part of the stage production, audience members – both sighted and visually impaired – were kept in complete darkness and walked four at a time though the performance space with narrative voice overs and sound effects telling the story as they wandered through.


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Crowd-sourced weather apps claim accuracy, but watch the sky anyway | Tim Hornyak | ComputerWorld.com

Crowd-sourced weather apps claim accuracy, but watch the sky anyway | Tim Hornyak | ComputerWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Predicting the weather is an inexact science. The weatherman often seems to get it wrong, and you find you really didn't need to lug that umbrella around on what turned out to be a sunny day.

Crowd-sourced, hyperlocal weather information has been touted as one solution, and web-oriented weather companies are pushing short-term forecasts, also known as "nowcasting," to sky watchers everywhere.

As weather apps and consumer hardware proliferate, advocates say millions of smartphones and other devices at hand are providing more accurate predictions than traditional models of forecasting.


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This is climate change: Alaskan villagers struggle as island is chewed up by the sea | Maria La Ganga | LATimes.com

This is climate change: Alaskan villagers struggle as island is chewed up by the sea | Maria La Ganga | LATimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This is what climate change looks like, up close and personal.

In this town of 403 residents 83 miles above the Arctic Circle, beaches are disappearing, ice is melting, temperatures are rising, and the barrier reef Kivalina calls home gets smaller and smaller with every storm.

There is no space left to build homes for the living. The dead are now flown to the mainland so the ocean won't encroach upon their graves. Most here agree that the town should be relocated; where, when and who will pay for it are the big questions. The Army Corps of Engineers figures Kivalina will be underwater in the next decade or so.


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Northern forests face onslaught from heat and drought | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Northern forests face onslaught from heat and drought | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In the long term, many of the great oak forests of Europe or the giant redwoods and pines of America may not survive. US researchers foresee potential widespread loss of the great temperate forests of both continents.

Under the combined assault of increasing global temperatures and unprecedented drought, some forests could inexorably slide into savannah or scrubland.

Constance Millar is an ecologist with the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Pacific Southwest Station. She and a colleague, Nathan Stephenson of the US Geological Survey, report in the journal Science that the boreal forests of the fast-warming sub-Arctic zones are not the only imperilled woodlands.

They see climate change – driven by rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in turn fuelled by ever-greater fossil fuel combustion – as an emerging “mega-disturbance”: the bringer of not just longer and hotter droughts but of a new class of affliction, the unprecedented “global-change-type drought”.

This cumbersome terminology masks a spell of longer, more severe and hotter droughts that will set the circumstances for new insect pests, fresh plant diseases, invasive competitor species and more extensive and more severe wildfires.


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UK: Fibre or nothing | The Conversation | MyBroadband.co.za

UK: Fibre or nothing | The Conversation | MyBroadband.co.za | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Despite the British government’s boasts of the steady roll-out of superfast broadband to more than four out of five homes and businesses, you needn’t be a statistician to realise that this means one out of five are still unconnected.

In fact, the recent story about a farmer who was so incensed by his slow broadband that he built his own 4G mast in a field to replace it shows that for much of the country, little has improved.

The government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme claims that it will provide internet access of at least 24Mbps (megabits per second) to 95% of the country by 2017 through fibre to the cabinet, where fast fibre optic networks connect BT’s exchanges to street cabinets dotted around towns and villages.

The final connection to the home comes via traditional (slower) copper cables.


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Those in rural communities are understandably sceptical of the government’s “huge achievement”, arguing that only a fraction of the properties included in the government’s running total can achieve reasonable broadband speeds, as signals drop off quickly with distance from BT’s street cabinets.

Millions of people are still struggling to achieve even basic broadband, and not necessarily just in the remote countryside, but in urban areas such as Redditch, Lancaster and even Pimlico in central London.

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Alaska: Mount McKinley Will Be Renamed Denali | Julie Hirschfeld Davis | NYTimes.com

Alaska: Mount McKinley Will Be Renamed Denali | Julie Hirschfeld Davis | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, restoring an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America.

The move came on the eve of Mr. Obama’s trip to Alaska, where he will spend three days promoting aggressive action to combat climate change, and is part of a series of steps meant to address the concerns of Alaska Native tribes.

The central Alaska mountain has been called Mount McKinley for more than a century. In announcing that Sally Jewell, the secretary of the interior, had used her power to rename it, Mr. Obama was paying tribute to the state’s Native population, which has referred to the site for generations as Denali, meaning “the high one” or “the great one.” The peak, at more than 20,000 feet, plays a central role in the creation story of the Koyukon Athabascans, a group that has lived in Alaska for thousands of years.


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Setting Aside Half the Earth for ''Rewilding'': The Ethical Dimension | William Lynn Op-Ed | Truth-Out.org

Setting Aside Half the Earth for ''Rewilding'': The Ethical Dimension | William Lynn Op-Ed | Truth-Out.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A much-anticipated book in conservation and natural science circles is EO Wilson's Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life, which is due early next year. It builds on his proposal to set aside half the Earth for the preservation of biodiversity.

The famous biologist and naturalist would do this by establishing huge biodiversity parks to protect, restore and connect habitats at a continental scale. Local people would be integrated into these parks as environmental educators, managers and rangers - a model drawn from existing large-scale conservation projects such as Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) in northwestern Costa Rica.

The backdrop for this discussion is that we are in the sixth great extinction event in earth's history. More species are being lost today than at any time since the end of the dinosaurs. There is no mystery as to why this is happening: it is a direct result of human depredations, habitat destruction, overpopulation, resource depletion, urban sprawl and climate change.

Wilson is one of the world's premier natural scientists - an expert on ants, the father of island biogeography, apostle of the notion that humans share a bond with other species (biophilia) and a herald about the danger posed by extinction. On these and other matters he is also an eloquent writer, having written numerous books on biodiversity, science, and society. So when Wilson started to talk about half-Earth several years ago, people started to listen.


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New iOS Malware Compromises 225,000 Apple Accounts | Lily Hay Newman | Slate.com

New iOS Malware Compromises 225,000 Apple Accounts | Lily Hay Newman | Slate.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new family of malware being called KeyRaider has been used to compromise 225,000 Apple accounts, including private keys and purchase histories, along with other personal data and device control.


Though it is a huge breach—“We believe this to be the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware,” researchers wrote—the malware is only effective on jailbroken iDevices.


So if you haven’t monkeyed with your iOS, you’re probably safe.

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Global warming carving changes into Alaska in fire and ice | Seth Borenstein & Dan Joling | AP.org

Global warming carving changes into Alaska in fire and ice | Seth Borenstein & Dan Joling | AP.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Global warming is carving measurable changes into Alaska, and President Barack Obama is about to see it.

Obama leaves Monday for a three-day visit to the 49th state in which he will speak at a State Department climate change conference and become the first president to visit the Alaska Arctic. There, and in the sub-Arctic part of the state, he will see the damage caused by warming — damage that has been evident to scientists for years.

More than 3.5 trillion tons of water have melted off of Alaska's glaciers since 1959, when Alaska first became a state, studies show — enough to fill more than 1 billion Olympic-sized pools.

The crucial, coast-hugging sea ice that protects villages from storms and makes hunting easier is dwindling in summer and is now absent each year a month longer than it was in the 1970s, other studies find. The Army Corps of Engineers identified 26 villages where erosion linked to sea ice loss threatens the communities' very existence.


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Western NY should begin taking the steps needed to tap into the ‘blue economy’ | Opinion | The Buffalo News

Western NY should begin taking the steps needed to tap into the ‘blue economy’  | Opinion | The Buffalo News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

First question: What does the Buffalo area have more of than the vast majority of American communities?

Answer: Water.

Second question: What abundant resource are other communities taking smarter advantage of than Buffalo is?

Answer: Water.

Last question: Who is going to do something about it?

To that question there could be several answers, but if Howard Zemsky’s phone isn’t ringing, then Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo must be distracted.

The issue arises from reporter Tom Precious’ fascinating story on the front page of today’s Buffalo News. As other American communities become increasingly parched, especially those in the West, cities that border the Great Lakes are presented an opportunity that they overlook at their own peril.

Those that don’t take advantage of the best responsible use of the inland seas that border them are ceding that economic potential to those that do. So far, that appears mainly to be Milwaukee and Chicago, both on the western shore of Lake Michigan. With two Great Lakes to make use of, Western New York needs to get in on the act quickly.

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KY: Council Supports Solar Power in Coal-Centric Louisville | Marielle Mondon | Next City

KY: Council Supports Solar Power in Coal-Centric Louisville | Marielle Mondon | Next City | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The number of solar-powered homes and businesses in Louisville has grown rapidly in the last three years, at a 70 percent rate from 111 in 2012 to 189 this year. The Courier-Journal reports that though the number is still relatively small, it shows great progress since 2008, when only two solar-powered homes or businesses were reported by Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E).

And solar is also gaining support from public officials. Last week, the Louisville Metro Council passed a resolution in support of solar power, and is considering an ordinance that would help with solar energy financing.

“Over 30 states have done this, and progressive states and communities have made this work, and I think we should, too,” said one council member, who’s also pushing solar-powered street lighting.

Advocates for solar power in Louisville hope to engage younger people in what has traditionally been a big coal state.


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California’s Katrina Is Coming | Nick Stockton | Wired.com

California’s Katrina Is Coming | Nick Stockton | Wired.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

California’s always been for dreamers. Dreams of gold brought the forty-niners. Easy seasons and expansive arable acreage brought farmers, dreaming of an agricultural paradise. Fame, natural beauty, and the hang-loose cultural mosaic have brought dreaming millions to the state where summer never seems to end.

The summer dream has become a nightmare drought. But the years-long dry spell isn’t what keeps engineers, economists, and state water planners awake at night. No, they worry about the network of levees at the crux of California’s plumbing—a massive freshwater confluence called the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Most of the state’s water is drawn from the Delta, protected by levees that pretty much amount to mounds of dirt, even when compared to infrastructure that infamously failed New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Hurricanes don’t hit NorCal, but these levees are alarmingly susceptible to disaster. If enough were to breach—in an earthquake perhaps, or severe El Niño storm—sea water from San Francisco Bay could rush in, tainting the water supply serving two-thirds of the state. The worst-case scenario could cause up to three years of severely curtailed water for most Californians.

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Tiny solar cells could soon charge electric vehicles while on the road | Eric Mack | GizMag.com

Tiny solar cells could soon charge electric vehicles while on the road | Eric Mack | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers claim to have hit on the right combination of solar cell type and battery to charge an electric vehicle battery with higher efficiency than ever before. The team behind the research says the system could soon make it possible to attach small cells to a car that will charge the vehicle while being driven – on a sunny day, at least.

The researchers from Case Western Reserve University wired four perovskite solar cells in series to directly photo-charge lithium batteries with 7.8 percent efficiency, which they believe to be the most efficient configuration reported to date.


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Gremlins in the works: DARPA's vision for future air operations | David Szondy | GizMag.com

Gremlins in the works: DARPA's vision for future air operations | David Szondy | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The United States boasts some of the most advanced multi-mission combat aircraft in the world, but this can be a liability as well as an asset. True, each aircraft can outperform an entire squadron of a few decades ago, but they're also very expensive, incredibly complex, and not exactly expendable. For these reasons DARPA has launched the Gremlins program, which aims to develop swarms of cheaper, smarter aircraft that can be deployed and collected in midair.

Despite gaining popularity in the 1980s through the movie of the same name, the term "gremlins" was originally RAF slang for mischievous creatures that plagued airmen by causing all sorts of mechanical mishaps. During the Second World War they passed into popular culture after Roald Dahl, then the Assistant Air attaché at the British embassy in Washington, wrote The Gremlins, a children's novel that inspired a 1943 cartoon where Bugs Bunny did battle with one of the creatures.

Today, DARPA has adopted the name for its new project designed to create technology that will allow future air fighters to deploy swarms of low-cost, reusable unmanned platforms that can be dropped and retrieved by other aircraft.


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New report examines Kochs' role in Hurricane Katrina damage and slow recovery | Joan McCarter | Daily Kos

New report examines Kochs' role in Hurricane Katrina damage and slow recovery | Joan McCarter | Daily Kos | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Democratic opposition research group American Bridge Project issued a new report Thursday on the Koch brothers and Hurricane Katrina. It examines how the company "both contributed to the damages and took advantage of the situation to increase their profits."

The report looks at:

  • The Kochs’ destruction of the wetlands that compounded Katrina’s harmful effects.
  • The federal class-action lawsuit against Koch Pipeline Co.
  • Charges that Koch subsidiaries including Flint Hills and Georgia-Pacific used Katrina’s aftermath as an opportunity to expand profits.
  • The Koch brothers’ opposition to and lobbying efforts against the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act in 2014.


Among the most damning parts of the report details the damage Koch Pipelines, along with other oil and gas companies, caused by constructing pipelines that destroyed wetlands south of New Orleans which exacerbated the damage done when Katrina hit.


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6 UK teenagers arrested for allegedly using Lizard Squad's Lizard Stresser DDoS service | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

6 UK teenagers arrested for allegedly using Lizard Squad's Lizard Stresser DDoS service | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The National Crime Agency (NCA), which is like a British version of the FBI, arrested six UK teenagers for allegedly using a DDoS-for-hire service to attack corporate websites.


During Operation Vivarium, warrants were executed for six male teenagers – ages 15, 16, 17 and three 18-year-olds – accused of using the hacking group Lizard Squad's Lizard Stresser tool, which is capable of knocking websites offline for up to eight hours at a time.


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Post-sanctions Iran must focus on building a knowledge economy | Kayvan Vakili | Quartz.com

Post-sanctions Iran must focus on building a knowledge economy | Kayvan Vakili | Quartz.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In 1979, the Islamic Revolution rid Iran of over two and a half millennia of monarchy. It also led to a three-decade exodus of highly educated Iranians from the country. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for over twenty-five years, Iran has consistently had one of the highest rates of brain drain in the world.


As revealed by various World Bank reports, the annual emigration of at least 150,000 skilled individuals from Iran costs the country’s economy tens of billions of dollars per year. According to an oft-cited 2012 survey by the National Science Foundation, which is based in Washington, DC, 89% of Iranian doctoral students stay in the United States after graduation.

Last year, Bloomberg News’s Golnar Motevalli reported that “at least 40% of top-performing students with undergraduate degrees in science and engineering left the country to pursue advanced degrees.” This staggering statistic, due mostly to Iran’s high unemployment rate and lingering lack of job security (attributable at least partly to years of economic sanctions), came directly from the country’s National Elites Foundation, “a government-run organization that supports academically gifted and high-achieving students.”

While these issues have been simmering for decades, the administration of president Hassan Rouhani has been more forthcoming than its predecessor in combating and acknowledging this devastating reality. “In today’s world, a traditional economy cannot rival the world and we can compete with the world economy if we have a knowledge-based economy,” the Shana news agency quoted Rouhani as saying last year.

Even Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest political and religious authority, agrees. The Supreme Leader has directed the government to offer “incentives” to attract investment from the millions of successful and affluent Iranians abroad in order to create a “foundation to attract the expertise and scientific capability of the diaspora towards national growth.”


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Blame pepper for imperialism, bananas for misery | Stephen Kinzer | The Boston Globe

Blame pepper for imperialism, bananas for misery | Stephen Kinzer | The Boston Globe | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Strong countries attack weaker ones mainly because they want more of whatever is good to have. Over centuries, that has ranged from women to gold to oil — to food. Culinary appetites have played an important role in shaping history. If people in Western countries had not developed a taste for sugar, spices, and tropical fruits, the world might have evolved quite differently. Restless taste buds have produced much global turmoil.

Food was drab and tasteless for much of human history. As Europe began awakening into the modern age, people were eager for new sensations. The arrival of exotic spices dazzled them. Pepper is the reason modern imperialism was invented.


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The troubling reasons why NASA is so focused on studying sea level rise | Chris Mooney | WashPost.com

The troubling reasons why NASA is so focused on studying sea level rise | Chris Mooney | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

NASA is undertaking an “intensive research effort” into the problem of rising seas brought on by global warming, the agency announced Wednesday. And it will include satellite mounted tools so accurate that “if they were mounted on a commercial jetliner, flying at 40,000 feet, they could detect the bump caused by a dime lying flat on the ground,” as agency earth science director Mike Freilich put it Wednesday.

The focus reflects the growing urgency of the topic. Recent scientific reports have documented apparently accelerating ice loss from Greenland, and potential destabilization of parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

The agency says that we’ve seen 3 inches of global sea level increase since the year 1992 — with large regional variation — and a further rise of three feet has likely been “locked in” by warming that has already occurred. Other scientists have recently suggested that we may be about to unleash considerably more than that.

“The data shows that sea level is rising faster than it was 50 years ago, and it’s very likely to get worse in the future,” Steve Nerem, who leads NASA’s new Sea Level Change Team, said in a press call Wednesday.


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