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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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EU Bailout Terms Are Designed to Force Syriza From Power | Alexander Reed Kelly | Truthdig.com

EU Bailout Terms Are Designed to Force Syriza From Power | Alexander Reed Kelly | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The aim of German chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU powers in the Greek debt crisis is “apparently to humiliate Tsipras and his government in preparation for its early replacement with a more pliable administration,” writes Seamus Milne, associate editor of The Guardian.

“We know from the IMF documents prepared for last week’s ‘final proposals’ and reported in the Guardian that the creditors were fully aware they meant unsustainable levels of debt and self-defeating austerity for Greece until at least 2030, even on the most fancifully optimistic scenario,” Milne continues.

That’s because, just as the earlier bailouts went to the banks not the country, and troika-imposed austerity has brought penury and a debt explosion, these demands are really about power, not money. If they are successful in forcing Tsipras out of office, a slightly less destructive package could then be offered to a more house-trained Greek leader who replaced him.

The EU authorities are deeply averse to referendums, Milne writes. Whenever they favor policies that oppose EU policy, EU authorities urge the voting country to hold another referendum.

The EU elite behind this predicament is presenting itself as a defender of the interest of taxpayers in other EU countries—including those that adopted austerity—who are said to be paying for the Greek bailout, and who would be enraged by any debt forgiveness for Greece that wasn’t offered to them. “The realty is the other way around,” Milne writes.


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In Oklahoma, Fracking Companies Can Now Be Sued Over Earthquakes | Emily Atkin | Think Progress

In Oklahoma, Fracking Companies Can Now Be Sued Over Earthquakes | Emily Atkin | Think Progress | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If you live in Oklahoma, and you’ve been injured by an earthquake that was possibly triggered by oil and gas operations, you can now sue the oil company for damages.

That’s the effect of a ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which on Tuesday rejected efforts by the oil industry to prevent earthquake injury lawsuits from being heard in court. Instead of being decided by juries and judges, the industry was arguing that cases should be resolved by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, a state regulatory agency.

The state’s high court rejected that argument.

“The Commission, although possessing many of the powers of a court of record, is without the authority to entertain a suit for damages,” the opinion reads. “Private tort actions, therefore, are exclusively within the jurisdiction of district courts.”

The ruling is a win for Sandra Ladra, the woman at the center of the lawsuit. Ladra claims that on Nov. 5, 2011, she was watching television with her family when a 5.6 magnitude intraplate earthquake struck, causing huge chunks of rock to fall from her fireplace and chimney. Some of the rocks fell onto Ladra’s legs and into her lap, causing what the lawsuit describes as “significant injury.”

Ladra claimed $75,000 in damages against Tulsa-based oil and gas company New Dominion LLC, and Cleveland, Oklahoma-based Spess Oil Co. for allegedly causing the earthquake. According to the lawsuit, the companies directly caused the earthquake through wastewater injection, a common process in which oil companies take the leftover water used to drill wells and inject it deep into the ground.

There is some science to back up Ladra’s claim. A joint study by the University of Oklahoma, Columbia University, and the U.S. Geological Survey linked the 2011 earthquake to a wastewater injection. However, the Oklahoma Geological Survey has disputed that study, asserting that the earthquake was more likely the result of natural causes.


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California Drought Taking Serious Toll On Aging Sewer System In San Francisco | CBS

California Drought Taking Serious Toll On Aging Sewer System In San Francisco | CBS | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

California’s severe drought is taking a serious toll on San Francisco’s aging sewer system.

Some of the city’s 1,000 miles of sewer pipes are more than 100 years old, among the first installed after the Gold Rush.

The waste was getting dumped into the streets, the streets were getting all muddy, and they thought, let’s do something about that. So, they built these pipes,” SFPUC Assistant General Manager Tommy Moala said.

Few things in America have lasted 150 years. San Francisco’s sewer system is a working relic but one that works

You might think that the drought would give the sewer system a break, with not as much water going through it. But, while San Franciscans are sending less water down the drain because of conservation, the same, or more sewage is being sent through the system that isn’t being drained as well as before.

“It’s an organic material. It breaks down. It creates hydrogen sulfide. That eats up the concrete in the pipes if it sits there long enough,” Moala said.

With thousands of people moving into San Francisco, the city’s infrastructure continues to be taxed, no more so than the sewer system. But, sewer workers say they’ll do their best. It’s their duty.


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Amnesty International Told That GCHQ Spied On Its Communications | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Amnesty International Told That GCHQ Spied On Its Communications | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Amnesty International has been heavily engaged in fights against mass surveillance, recognizing that many of the people it communicates with need an expectation of privacy in their communications with the group. Last year, Ed Snowden revealed that the NSA specifically spied on Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. And, while Amnesty International was unable to gain standing by the US Supreme Court, since it couldn't prove that the NSA had spied on its communications, the story appears to be somewhat different over in the UK.

Last year a legal challenge was filed in the UK via the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) concerning Amnesty International. And now, the group has been informed that, yes, it was spied on by GCHQ in the UK.


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Leaked TPP Chapter Shows How It's A Massive Gift To Big Pharma And Against Public Health | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Leaked TPP Chapter Shows How It's A Massive Gift To Big Pharma And Against Public Health | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Over the last few years, we've seen leaks here and there of the various chapters of the TPP agreement, but generally ones that are quite out of date. The latest public leak of the "intellectual property" chapter that I'm aware of was done last October by Wikileaks and was the version from the previous May (2014). Now, Politico claims that someone has leaked the May 2015 version, though Politico has not published the document (which, frankly, is pretty lame for a journalism property). But, based on Politico's report, the agreement still looks to be what everyone's been saying it would be: a huge gift to giant corporate special interests, such as Big Pharma:

The draft text includes provisions that could make it extremely tough for generics to challenge brand-name pharmaceuticals abroad. Those provisions could also help block copycats from selling cheaper versions of the expensive cutting-edge drugs known as “biologics” inside the U.S., restricting treatment for American patients while jacking up Medicare and Medicaid costs for American taxpayers. “There’s very little distance between what Pharma wants and what the U.S. is demanding,” said Rohat Malpini, director of policy for Doctors Without Borders.

In response, the USTR falls back on its standard lame reply, about how draft texts are not "final." But this is why it's actually important to post these draft texts publicly, because what the draft Politico saw appears to show is that, whether or not it gets it, the USTR is fighting for policies that would harm poor, sick people, and massively benefit giant pharmaceutical conglomerates.


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Farm Waste and Animal Fats Will Help Power a United Jet | Jad Mouawad & Diane Cardwell | NYTimes.com

Farm Waste and Animal Fats Will Help Power a United Jet | Jad Mouawad & Diane Cardwell | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Sometime this summer, a United Airlines flight will take off from Los Angeles International Airport bound for San Francisco using fuel generated from farm waste and oils derived from animal fats.

For passengers, little will be different — the engines will still roar, the seats in economy will still be cramped — but for the airlines and the biofuels industry, the flight will represent a long-awaited milestone: the first time a domestic airline operates regular passenger flights using an alternative jet fuel.

For years, biofuels have been seen as an important part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And airlines, with their concentration around airports and use of the same kind of fuel, have been seen as a promising customer in a biofuels industry that has struggled to gain traction.

Now that relationship is showing signs of taking off.

On Tuesday, United plans to announce a $30 million investment in one of the largest producers of aviation biofuels, Fulcrum BioEnergy, the biggest investment so far by a domestic airline in the small but growing field of alternative fuels. (Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong, last year announced a smaller investment in Fulcrum.)

The quantities that United is planning to buy from Fulcrum constitute a small drop in its voluminous fuel consumption. Last year, United’s fleet consumed 3.9 billion gallons of fuel, at a cost of $11.6 billion.

But airlines are increasingly under pressure to reduce carbon emissions. The Obama administration proposed this month that new limits on aviation emissions be developed, and the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, is expected to complete its own negotiations on limiting carbon pollution by February 2016.

“There is a significant role for biofuels within the aviation sector, specifically for reducing carbon emissions,” said Debbie Hammel, a senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who focuses on biofuel.

Airlines, in turn, say they have every reason to adapt, not only to reduce pollution but also to lower what is usually their biggest cost: jet fuel.


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VPN users, beware: You may not be as safe as you think you are | Katherine Noyes | NetworkWorld.com

VPN users, beware: You may not be as safe as you think you are | Katherine Noyes | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It’s become common practice to use virtual private networks for extra privacy and security in this era of mass surveillance, but a study published this week suggests such networks may not be as safe as they’re commonly made out to be.

In fact, because of a vulnerability known as IPv6 leakage, many of them can expose user information to prying eyes, according to a paper from researchers at Sapienza University of Rome and Queen Mary University of London.

Entitled “A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients,” the report describes a study conducted late last year that examined 14 popular commercial VPN providers around the world.

Specifically, the researchers tested the VPNs by attempting two kinds of attacks: passive monitoring, whereby a hacker might simply collect the user’s unencrypted information, and DNS hijacking, where the hacker would redirect the user’s browser to a controlled Web server by pretending to be a popular site like Google or Facebook.

What they found was unnerving: 11 of the 14 providers leaked information, including the websites the user was accessing and the actual content of the user’s communications. The only three that didn’t were Private Internet Access, Mullvad and VyprVPN. TorGuard offered a way around the problem, they noted, but it wasn’t enabled by default.


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FL: Battery maker may create 1,000 new jobs in Palm Bay | Rick Neale | Florida Today

FL: Battery maker may create 1,000 new jobs in Palm Bay | Rick Neale | Florida Today | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Oakridge Global Energy Solutions, a Melbourne lithium battery manufacturer, proposes to invest $270 million in Palm Bay facilities and create 1,000 new jobs with average wages of $50,075.

This once-secret business expansion is dubbed "Project Charge2" in Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast documents.

If all goes according to plan, the company will boost its workforce from 25 to 1,000 employees by the end of 2018.

The target battery-plant site is the former MC Assembly facility on Kirby Circle Northeast. MC Assembly moved last summer to North Drive in Melbourne.

"This is a big win for South Brevard on the manufacturing front. To get something on this scale with this kind of technology is what we've been looking for not only in Palm Bay, but across the Space Coast," said Andy Anderson, Palm Bay economic development administrator.

"It's a big deal for Palm Bay and for Brevard County," he said.


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World's first 3D-printed office building to go up layer by layer in Dubai | Darren Quick | Gizmag.com

World's first 3D-printed office building to go up layer by layer in Dubai | Darren Quick | Gizmag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Already home to numerous architectural wonders, including the world's tallest building, Dubai is set to add the world's first 3D-printed office building to its streets. It will be printed layer by layer by a 3D printer standing 20 ft (6 m) tall, with the layers to be assembled on site to produce a building covering approximately 2,000 sq ft (186 sq m) in a process that is set to take a matter of weeks.

The office building, which wouldn't look out of place in a 1970's science fiction show set in the present day, will serve as a temporary headquarters for staff of the nearby "Museum of the Future" that launched earlier this year. As such, it won't be quite as intricate as some other 3D-printed architecture we've seen, but will feature a flexible open plan to accommodate a range of uses and team sizes. It will also house a small digital fabrication facility and 3D printing exhibition space, with all interior furniture, detailing and structural components to be produced using 3D printing technology.

The project is the Museum's first major initiative and part of a partnership between Dubai and WinSun Global, which is a joint venture between Chinese 3D printing technology company WinSun and international investors. WinSun is also the company responsible for constructing 10 small houses in one day last year using a 22-ft (6.6-m) tall 3D printer. The Museum claims the office building will be the most advanced 3D-printed structure ever built, and the first to be put to actual use.


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Japan: DOCOMO unveils 5G launch details and looks to ‘5G+’ | TeleGeography.com

Japan’s NTT DOCOMO used the forum of the LTE World Summit 2015 to announce more details of its planned 5G launch, starting from 2020, which it says will be delivered in two key phases – dubbed 5G and 5G+.


Mobile World Live quotes Takehiro Nakamura, VP and director of RAN for the company, as saying that to meet the deadline its first-phase deployment will focus on enhancing its existing LTE 4G coverage alongside the development of some new radio access technologies, noting that: ‘In 2020 it will be very difficult to use the higher spectrum bands. So maybe below 6GHz is the main target.’


Nakamura acknowledges that the timeline will be affected by the ‘availability of higher frequency spectrum assigned for mobile use’, decisions on which are unlikely to take place until after the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019.


The DOCOMO official points out that: ‘Below 6GHz there is a risk that we can’t use enough spectrum. If we cannot have enough spectrum, we have to consider use of the unlicensed band, with the ongoing discussion of LAA [licence assisted access technologies].’


Nevertheless, once new spectrum bands come on-stream after 2020 – what the cellco is labelling 5G+ – DOCOMO is confident it will be able to commercialise a ‘full package of 5G’ by 2022 or 2023.

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How Cisco brings communications to disaster relief efforts | Zeus Kerravala | NetworkWorld.com

How Cisco brings communications to disaster relief efforts | Zeus Kerravala | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Although Cisco Live 2015 is in the books now, the memories of it certainly lives on. Each event I attend is different and gives me a better understanding of how Cisco operates as a company. I've written many posts over the years on Cisco's ability to be innovative to capture market transitions and drive the company's growth.


One of the things I've liked about Cisco over the years is the philanthropic side to the company that resonates from CEO John Chambers down to all of the employees. I've heard Mr. Chambers talk on more than one occasion about corporate social responsibility and how important that is to the Cisco culture.

One of the more interesting discussions I had around this topic at Cisco Live was with Sue-Lynn Hinson, who manages what Cisco calls the Tactical Operations (TacOps) team. The goal of this group isn't to drive sales or to market the latest and greatest product.


Sue-Lynn never goes on sales calls and she and her team have no quota to fill. Instead, the TacOps team spends its time travelling the globe to establish emergency IP-based communications to first responders, government agencies, relief organizations, and others in times of emergency caused by disasters or other incidents.

The TacOps team has at their disposal a number of custom-built emergency response solutions to establish communications in disaster areas. For example, the Cisco Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV) is a mobile communication center that is designed to establish communications in emergency situations.

The NERV can be up and going in 15 minutes and can run for up to four days without requiring any resources, which is essential in situations that are already likely to be resource-constrained. The NERV provides a number of services to disaster workers such as:


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China tightens grip over the Internet with new security law | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld

China tightens grip over the Internet with new security law | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

China has adopted a new security law that gives the government control over its Internet infrastructure, along with any critical data.


On Wednesday, China’s legislature passed the national security law, which covers a wide range of areas including military defense, food safety, and the technology sector.

A full text of the law’s final draft has yet to be released, but it calls for better cybersecurity, according to a report from China’s state-controlled Xinhua News Agency. The country’s key information systems and data will also be made “secure and controllable” under the law.

Previous drafts of the legislation don’t state in detail what that control might mean, exactly. But U.S. trade groups have expressed ongoing concern that China’s security policies are going too far, and could push foreign businesses out of the country.

Earlier this year, China’s anti-terror legislation drew complaints because it could require U.S. tech companies to hand over encryption keys to the country’s government. U.S. President Obama even weighed in and has asked China to change the legislation.

In recent years, however, China has made cybersecurity a priority, following leaks from security contractor Edward Snowden that claim the U.S. had been secretly spying on Chinese companies. The Chinese government has even said it would block IT products from being sold in the country, if they failed an upcoming “vetting system.”

The policy changes in China probably won’t bode well for U.S. tech companies, especially for those who supply IT products to the government or state-owned companies, according to analysts. Already, China heavily censors its Internet, and has blocked many U.S. sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.


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CETA Isn't Dead, But Its Corporate Sovereignty Chapter Is Still A Huge, Unresolved Problem | Glyn Moody |Techdirt

CETA Isn't Dead, But Its Corporate Sovereignty Chapter Is Still A Huge, Unresolved Problem | Glyn Moody |Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It's been a while since we last wrote about CETA, the trade deal between Canada and the European Union. Back in March, we noted that the French Secretary of State for External Commerce, Matthias Fekl, said that France would not ratify CETA unless the corporate sovereignty, or investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), provisions were removed or replaced by something completely different.


Of course, it's hard not to be sceptical about these statements, since politicians like to grandstand, and are happy to change their positions every few months. But not, it seems, Matthias Fekl. According to a report on the French site Le Devoir (original in French), he's still of the same opinion:

For the Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Matthias Fekl, who expresses the official position of France, it is not only a question of principle but a fact of life today. If negotiators do not rewrite Article 33 of the [CETA] Treaty which deals with dispute resolution, there will be no ratification.

And it's not just France that has a problem here. According to the article, Fekl said:

Look, this [refusal to accept the corporate sovereignty provisions in CETA] will also be the case in other countries. This isn't meant as a threat. But as far as this chapter is concerned, things must definitely move.

The EU Commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmström, is well aware of the issues here -- not least because 145,000 people told her in the ISDS consultation last year -- and has presented a concept paper entitled "Investment in TTIP and beyond – the path for reform" (pdf). These are quite similar to proposals made by Fekl for the creation of a new European court to settle trade disputes. But there are two big problems with following that path.


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Planned new submarine cable between Europe and Latin America: Joint Venture agreement signed | Europa.eu

Planned new submarine cable between Europe and Latin America: Joint Venture agreement signed | Europa.eu | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The submarine optical fibre cable between Europe and Latin America will link Lisbon (Portugal) with Fortaleza (Brazil). This initiative will bring the 2 continents closer and boost education, research and innovation as well as business exchanges. It should reduce connection costs and provide many more households, organisations and companies with a very high-speed Internet connection. A EULALINK Joint Venture agreement between the two consortium partners, Telebras of Brazil and Islalink of Spain, has just been signed.
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The European Commission will support a group of public actors gathered in the consortium BELLA (Building European Link to Latin America) who can take advantage of the new capabilities offered by the future cable. The goals are to improve the interconnection of the regional research and education networks of Europe and Latin-America and the intra-regional academic connectivity in Latin-America, in order to achieve policy objectives related to international cooperation and regional development, e-infrastructure, security and space.

BELLA is composed of 12 European and Latin American Research and Education Networks: RedCLARA (the Latin American regional network), GEANT (the European regional network), and the networks from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Germany. BELLA will count on the support of several European and Latin American public actors, and the expected contribution of the European Commission is around 26 m€.


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Thirsty Yet? Eight Cities That Are Improbably Running out of Water | Marc Herman | TakePart.com

Thirsty Yet? Eight Cities That Are Improbably Running out of Water | Marc Herman | TakePart.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Earlier this year, an obscure United Nations document, the World Water Development Report, unexpectedly made headlines around the world. The report made the startling claim that the world would face a 40 percent shortfall in freshwater in as soon as 15 years. Crops would fail. Businesses dependent on water would fail. Illness would spread. A financial crash was likely, as was deepening poverty for those just getting by.

The U.N. also concluded that the forces destroying the world’s freshwater supply were not strictly meteorological, but largely the result of human activity. That means that with some changes in how water is managed, there is still time—very little, but enough—for children born this year to graduate from high school with the same access to clean water their parents enjoyed.

Though the U.N. looked at the issue across the globe, the solutions it recommended—capturing rainwater, recycling wastewater, improving sewage and plumbing, and more—need to be implemented locally. Some of the greatest challenges will come in cities, where bursting populations strain systems designed to supply far fewer people and much of the clean water available is lost to waste and shoddy, centuries-old infrastructure.

We’ve looked at eight cities facing different though representative challenges. The amount of water in the earth’s atmosphere is more or less fixed, meaning that as populations and economies grow, what we have needs to be clean, available, and conserved. Economies, infrastructure, river systems, and climates vary from place to place, and the solutions will have to as well.


Here is how eight of the world’s major cities are running out of water, and trying to save it.


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Why Pope Francis Killed It on Addressing Climate Change | George Lakoff | AlterNet

Why Pope Francis Killed It on Addressing Climate Change | George Lakoff | AlterNet | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Beginning with my book Moral Politics in 1996 (Ch. 12), I have been arguing that environmental issues are moral issues. There I reviewed and critiqued conservative metaphors of nature as a resource, as property, as an adversary to be conquered.

Instead I argued that we needed to conceptualize nature as the giver of all life, as sustainer and provider, as having inherent value, imposing responsibility, and deserving gratitude, love, adoration, and commitment.

I suggested alternative metaphors of nature as mother, as a divine being, as a living organism, as a home, as a victim to be cared for, and a whole with us as parts inseparable from nature and from each other.

Pope Francis in his Encyclical used all of these and then went much further. First, he got all the science right -- no small task. I have been writing for some time about role of systemic causation in global warming and the environment. The Pope not only got the ecological system effects right, but he went much, much further linking the environmental effects to effects on those most oppressed on earth by poverty, weather disasters, disease, ocean rise, lack of drinking water, the degradation of agriculture, and the essential aesthetic and spiritual contact with unspoiled nature. And more, he spoke of our moral responsibility toward animals.

He spoke in metaphors that might sound strange coming in a scientific or political speech, but somehow seem entirely natural for the Pope.

The title of the encyclical is "On Care for our Common Home." This simple phrase establishes the most important frame right from the start. Using the metaphor of the "Earth as Home," he triggers a frame in which all the people of the world are a family, living in a common home.

This frame carries with it many assumptions: As one family, we should care for each other and take responsibility for each other. A home is something we all depend on, physically and emotionally. A home is something inherently worth maintaining and protecting.


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Urban turbines mine wind power | Chelsey Coombs | Scienceline.org

Urban turbines mine wind power | Chelsey Coombs | Scienceline.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The skyline is changing in the outer boroughs of New York City, especially in Brooklyn and Queens, where an influx of young, rich people has led to an influx of tall, luxury office buildings and residential towers. Atop these buildings, the wind whips back and forth, turbulent and sporadic — and mostly wasted.

But on some of those buildings, whether they are residential, such as Long Island City’s Pearson Court Square and Downtown Brooklyn’s 388 Bridge St., or commercial, such as the Whole Foods in Gowanus, wind turbines stand tall, a testament to both engineering ingenuity and the public’s increasing green conscience.

“I don’t know if it’s Generation X or Generation Y, but we anticipated a lot of our tenants would be drawn to something different,” Ron Moelis, chief executive of the building’s developers, L&M Development, told the New York Times when Pearson Court Square was completed in May 2014.

Moelis’ statement hints at the dilemma of the urban wind turbine: it looks cool and seems like a nice idea, but its practicality is debatable. While more and more buildings are featuring small wind turbines — from those luxury apartment buildings in NYC to the Eiffel Tower — the economics of small turbines still generally don’t add up, experts say.


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Global warming threatens colder climate for Europe | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Global warming threatens colder climate for Europe | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Scientists have yet again warned that weakening ocean circulation in the North Atlantic could deliver a climate paradox − a colder Europe as a consequence of global warming.

A study published in Nature Climate Change found that as sea ice off Iceland and Greenland retreats, the flow of cold, dense water to the bottom of the North Atlantic ocean could be reduced, and therefore weaken the warming effects of the Gulf Stream.

The great submarine current − sometimes called the Atlantic Conveyor − flows south to surface in the tropics as the Gulf Stream, which then flows north again to deliver tropic warmth to European coasts.

However, a slowdown in the natural overturning of the ocean could weaken the Gulf Stream, which in turn could cool the atmosphere over the British Isles and western Europe.

“A warm western Europe requires a cold North Atlantic, and the warming that the North Atlantic is now experiencing has the potential to result in a cooling over Western Europe,” says Kent Moore, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada.


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China, US to hold climate-smart cities summit in Los Angeles this year: official | GlobalTimes.cn

The United States and China will convene a climate-smart and low-carbon cities summit in the US west coast city of Los Angeles in September, Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative for climate change, said Tuesday."It shows not only the central government, but local governments, including cities and enterprises, are invited to get actively involved in the efforts to combat climate change," Xie told a press briefing on the first day of the two-day seventh China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington.

The veteran climate negotiator revealed that both countries have specified 13 priority areas for cooperation, eight of which have already launched more than 30 projects.

"All these projects have made positive progress," he said.

During the ongoing meeting, both sides have agreed to start cooperation on the remaining five priority areas, including shale gas, nuclear energy, clean energy, carbon capture, utilization and storage, as well as green trade.

As the largest developing country and the largest developed country respectively, China and the US have set "a good example" for the world when it comes to fighting climate change, Xie said, adding "It shows the South and the North can cooperate, and this cooperation can be win-win."

Xie also revealed that China will submit its post-2020 climate action plan, called the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), to the UN by the end of the month.

"We will announce a series of objectives to address climate change by 2030. We will also cover a lot of policies, measures and projects to reach these objectives," he said, implying that China' s announcements will be "ambitious".


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Carbon capture goes down the tubes | Paul Brown | Climate News Network

Carbon capture goes down the tubes | Paul Brown | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is backed by governments and the International Energy Agency (IEA) as one of the best methods of reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and saving the planet from overheating.

The problem is that despite this enthusiasm and the fact that CCS (also called carbon sequestration) is technically possible, it is not happening. It is cheaper and easier to build wind and solar farms to produce electricity than it is to collect and store the carbon from coal-powered plants’ emissions.

For years CO2 has been used by injecting it into old oil wells to extract more fuel, but the cost of building new plants just to store the gas is proving prohibitive.

Hundreds of plants were expected to be up and running by 2030, but so far none has been built. Despite this, the IEA and governments across the world are relying on CCS to save the planet from climate change.

For example, official policy in the UK still envisages up to fifty industrial plants and power stations using CCS being linked to CO2 pipelines which would inject the gas into old oil and gas wells, removing it from the atmosphere for ever.

But research by Mads Dahl Gjefsen, a scientist at the TIK Centre of Technology, Innovation and Culture at the University of Oslo, Norway, says pessimism prevails within the industry about the future of carbon capture and storage in both the US and the European Union.


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Brick-laying robot can build a full-sized house in two days | David Nield | GizMag.com

Brick-laying robot can build a full-sized house in two days | David Nield | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As robots get smarter, cheaper and more versatile, they're taking on a growing number of challenges – and bricklaying can now be added to the list. Engineers in Perth, Australia, have created a fully working house-building machine that can create the brick framework of a property in just two days, working about 20 times faster than a human bricklayer.

Named Hadrian (after Hadrian's Wall in the UK), the robot has a top laying speed of 1,000 bricks per hour, which works out as the equivalent of about 150 homes a year. Of course there's no need for the machine to sleep, eat or take tea breaks either, giving it another advantage over manual laborers.

At the heart of Hadrian is a 28 m (92 ft) articulated telescopic boom. Though mounted on an excavator in the photo below, the finished version will sit on a truck, allowing it easier movement from place to place. The robot brick-layer uses information fed from a 3D CAD representation of the home for brick placement, with mortar or adhesive delivered under pressure to the head of the boom.


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New Zealand fibre project gets 100,000th subscriber | TeleGeography.com

New Zealand’s Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) programme has attracted its 100,000th subscriber, with the country’s Communications Minister Amy Adams labelling it ‘a considerable milestone for the project’. Adams added that the rollout programme is ahead of expectations, local news portal Stuff reports, with 13.8% of premises covered by the UFB networks subscribing to its services.


Under the UFB scheme the government is supporting the deployment of high speed fibre-optic networks in a number of areas, with the rollouts being carried out by four Local Fibre Companies (LFCs): Spark (formerly Telecom New Zealand), Northpower Fibre, Ultrafast Fibre and Enable Networks.


Services to end users are then resold by third-party internet service providers (ISPs), including Vodafone, 2degrees, Orcon, Kordia and CallPlus. UFB connections will eventually be offered to 80% of homes and business in New Zealand.

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As Arctic Warms, Shrinking Ice Brings Unwelcome Surprises for Drillers, Shippers | Peter Sinclair | ClimateCrocks.com

As Arctic Warms, Shrinking Ice Brings Unwelcome Surprises for Drillers, Shippers | Peter Sinclair | ClimateCrocks.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

David Barber is a fascinating speaker and great personality in the arctic ice world.


His TED talk here dovetails nicely with the Stanford Research on Extreme weather profiled today, and yesterday’s piece on the risks of new Arctic Drilling.

If you are pressed for time, start at 9:14 for a paradoxical surprise – decrease in sea ice coincides with increase in hazards, due to new kinds of very unpredictable ice dynamics. Ironic and very significant for those interested in exploiting the melting Arctic, no?

At 11:05 there is a discussion of arctic effects on global jet stream circulation and weather patterns.

In March, Arctic sea ice reached the lowest maximum extent on record. That in itself is probably not an indicator of what the ice will do this summer. Far too much variability in the arctic system to characterize this early.

The dotted line in the graph represents the course of the record low 2012 season, and you can see that for much of the spring, this year’s ice (blue) has tracked below that, recently poking somewhat higher.

But the melt season is upon us, so I’ll be checking and updating regularly.


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Facebook Privacy Suit Thrown Out By Austrian Court | Pavithra Mohan | Fast Company

Facebook Privacy Suit Thrown Out By Austrian Court | Pavithra Mohan | Fast Company | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In April, Facebook argued that a Vienna court didn't have the jurisdiction to consider charges brought by Austrian activist Max Schrems, who claimed Facebook was breaking European privacy laws. The court has now thrown out the case, citing the fact that Schrems might not qualify as a private individual, and that many of the complaints Schrems has collected come from Facebook users not based in Austria.

Schrems alleges that Facebook is violating E.U. privacy laws by collecting and using individual data without adequate consent, and by tracking its users even outside of the Facebook ecosystem by keeping tabs on their "Like" button activity.

"The court rejected the complaint because the international jurisdiction doesn’t apply," a court spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. This is in part because Facebook's European and global operations are largely centered in Dublin.


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Big Texas Oil and Gas Torpedo a Small City's Effort to Ban Fracking—Bye Bye Local Democracy | Reynard Loki | AlterNet

Big Texas Oil and Gas Torpedo a Small City's Effort to Ban Fracking—Bye Bye Local Democracy | Reynard Loki | AlterNet | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Following litigation from corporate interests including the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) and the Texas General Land Office (GLO), as well as pressure from the Texas legislature, the Denton City Council has repealed a first-of-its-kind voter approved ban on fracking that had been passed through a ballot measure during the November 2014 general election. Drilling operations have resumed, while residents have vowed to uphold the ban.


Just hours after the fracking ban was passed, TXOGA, the oldest and largest trade organization in Texas representing petroleum interests, whose approximately 4,000 members produce in excess of 92 percent of the state's crude oil and natural gas, and the GLO, the state agency responsible for managing lands and mineral rights owned by the state, filed two separate lawsuits against Denton, saying that the ban was arbitrary and unconstitutional.


In voluntarily giving up its local control, the Denton City Council cited HB 40, a GOP-drafted state bill that was signed into law on May 18 by Governor Greg Abbot, conceding that the local fracking ban was unenforceable under a new state law.


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