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@The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy
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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CA: A court ruling could wash away incentives to conserve water | Editorial | LATimes.com

CA: A court ruling could wash away incentives to conserve water | Editorial | LATimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The rich, it turns out, use more water than the rest of us. The Times reported last week that residents of wealthy cities such as Beverly Hills use up to four times as much water, on average, than residents of neighboring Los Angeles, even during the current drought.


Those folks in the 90210 might well respond, "So what? We pay for it." And of course they do, at higher rates per gallon as their usage increases. So is it their water and none of anyone else's business, or everyone's water and everyone's business?


There is plenty of room in law, history and politics to support many different answers to those questions, and more to the point, to answer the even more basic question: What is water in California?


It's a public resource, precious and finite, to be distributed equitably among residents while preserving enough for a sustainable environment and for future generations. It is a market commodity like oil or gold, to be traded publicly at prices set by inviolable laws of supply and demand. It is a human right, as basic as oxygen, undeniable to any person regardless of ability to pay and despite ownership claims asserted by landowners, agribusiness or municipalities. It is a government service like tree trimming or trash collection, provided at flat and predictable per-unit rates. It is sometimes one thing and sometimes another, like electricity, bought here from utilities traded on Wall Street and there from government, with regulated prices and rationing in times of shortage, or else free-floating rates set by a deregulated market.


If you accept the public resource model, wasting water is an offense against one's neighbors and progeny, and should be subject to punishment in the form of fines. Such a worldview is engrafted in the state Constitution as Article X, section 2, with conservation for reasonable and beneficial use of the state's water to be provided "in the interest of the people and for the public welfare."

But in a market system, there is no waste and there are no fines — only choices and prices. If you've got the money and you're willing to pay, you buy and you use as much as you like, as long as you're willing to ignore the nasty glares from the less wealthy folks down the street. If you don't have the money, well, tough; you go thirsty. Or, at least, you go without a lawn.


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First Florida, Now Wisconsin, Bans the Words ‘Climate Change’ | Anastasia Pantsios | NationofChange.org

First Florida, Now Wisconsin, Bans the Words ‘Climate Change’ | Anastasia Pantsios | NationofChange.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The idea that you can make climate change go away by not talking about it is spreading.

One month ago, we heard how officials and staff at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection were ordered not to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” even when they were discussing the all-too-obvious impacts to their vulnerable state.

Now it’s Wisconsin’s turn. The staff of its Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) has been told they can’t even discuss climate change, no matter what they call it. Staff members aren’t even permitted to respond to emails on the subject, following a vote this week by the three-member panel overseeing the agency. It includes two Republicans and one Democrat and the vote was 2-1.

“It’s not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries,” State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, a Republican member of the panel, told Bloomberg Business. “That’s what I want our employees working on. That’s it. Managing our trust funds.”

He suggested any emails relating to climate change be forwarded to the oversight board.


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‘eGovernance is transitioning into mGovernance’ | FinancialExpress.com

‘eGovernance is transitioning into mGovernance’ | FinancialExpress.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

“Being a global leader in mobility, Vodafone has worked with governments in many parts of the world. We have a very good understanding of the eGovernance and mGovernance space and we are in a position to partner with the government for taking the vision of Digital India forward,” says Shekhar Agrawal, Senior Vice President, Vodafone India.


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MD: Legislature sends fracking ban to Governor Hogan | Erin Cox | Baltimore Sun

MD: Legislature sends fracking ban to Governor Hogan | Erin Cox | Baltimore Sun | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Maryland lawmakers on Friday voted to send Gov. Larry Hogan a two-year ban on the natural gas extraction process known as fracking.

The action marks the first time the legislature voted for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and its most decisive statement yet on curbing the controversial practice.

It is unclear whether Hogan plans to sign the bill, which passed the House Friday 102-34 and cleared the Senate Tuesday 45-2. Both are veto-proof margins.


The proposed law both forbids any permits for natural gas drilling and requires the state to enact regulations for the process by 2016.  


Hogan, a Republican, has not taken a position on the bill but said he supports fracking as a way to bring jobs to economically depressed Western Maryland as long as the process can been done safely.


Environmentalists had backed a three-year moratorium that also called for further studying health and environmental impacts of fracking, but lawmakers instead passed a compromise that grants a shorter moratorium and forgoes another study.


"We are unconvinced that a regulatory approach can protect Maryland, and we are also disappointed the panel to review the available public health studies on fracking was removed from the original bill," said Mitch Jones, a member of the Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition.


Opponents of fracking say the practice has been linked to groundwater contamination, earthquakes and other environmental damage in other parts of the country.


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PA: Court blocks environmental group's plea for radioactivity data on Marcellus Shale drilling | Matt Miller | PennLive.com

PA: Court blocks environmental group's plea for radioactivity data on Marcellus Shale drilling | Matt Miller | PennLive.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

An environmental group can't have access to raw data collected during a state probe into potential exposure to radioactivity from Marcellus Shale gas and oil drilling operations, a Commonwealth Court panel ruled Friday.

The ruling overturns a decision by the state Office of Open Records that ordered the Department of Environmental Protection to turn over that data to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

However, Judge Anne E. Covey wrote in the state court opinion that the information gathered by DEP's Bureau of Radiation Protection starting in 2013 is exempt from public disclosure as part of a "noncriminal investigation."

The Open Records Office had concluded that the information was part of a study, not an investigation, and should be open to the public.

DEP collected the information, and is still collecting it, under a mandate to evaluate "potential radiation exposure to workers, the public and the environment resulting from certain materials generated by gas and oil exploration and production activities," Covey noted in her opinion.


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Intel, Broadcom Look to Secure IoT Payments | Jeffrey Burt | eWeek.com

Intel, Broadcom Look to Secure IoT Payments | Jeffrey Burt | eWeek.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Intel and Broadcom are putting a focus on enabling secure and mobile payments as the Internet of things continues to grow.

Intel is partnering with European payment solutions provider Ingenico Group to develop a tablet that will support near-field communication (NFC) and Eurocard, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) chip cards—payment methods that banks use to help thwart credit card fraud, according to officials with both companies.

That announcement came a day after Broadcom unveiled new microcontrollers (MCUs) with integrated NFC support to enable a range of connected devices—including those that make up the Internet of things (IoT), as well as PCs and point-of-sale (POS) terminals—to securely accept mobile payments. The new BCM58100 family of MCUs is an expansion of Broadcom's StrataGX portfolio of chips.

The moves by Intel and Broadcom come as the IoT continues to grow, with Cisco Systems officials predicting that the number of devices, systems and sensors—from home appliance and cars to smartphones, notebooks, industrial systems, medical equipment and smart city technologies—that are connected to the Internet and each other will grow from 25 billion last year to more than 50 billion by 2020.


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KY: New plan for old pipe to carry fracked liquids | James Bruggers | Courier-Journal.com

KY: New plan for old pipe to carry fracked liquids | James Bruggers | Courier-Journal.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

With red dirt piled nearby on grassy green meadow, workers in a hole were welding a weak spot on Kentucky's latest controversial pipeline — putting on a Band-aide, as one of them described it.

Just a few hundred yards from his home, physician James Angel approached the crew in his pickup truck, saying the maintenance only punctuated his fears about a Texas company's plans for the natural gas pipeline that crosses his Marion County farm.

Under those plans, Kinder Morgan's pipeline will carry a more dangerous product, natural gas liquids, in pipes buried seven decades ago in what Angel, a well-known urologist, described as the patriotic rush of World War II.

"If that line ruptures, it would kill me," he said. "It would kill my family, and it would poison our (community's) water supply. It's a threat to everybody I take care of in this county."

Kentuckians across the commonwealth are voicing similar concerns this spring as Kinder Morgan's Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. becomes the second pipeline company in two years to make a play to move valuable natural gas liquids from fracking zones in Ohio and Pennsylvania across Kentucky to the nation's petrochemical hub in Louisiana and Texas.


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UK: A Long-Term Plan for Small Cell Backhaul | Denise Culver | Light Reading

UK: A Long-Term Plan for Small Cell Backhaul | Denise Culver | Light Reading | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Each of the companies featured in this month's Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider report, "Small Cells to Create a Bigger Backhaul Opportunity," were asked to submit a case study to illustrate how their solution is being utilized in a "real world" scenario. One of the most interesting of those responses was provided by Cambridge Broadband Networks, which is working with Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) to help backhaul the operator's first public small cell WiFi network in London.

The small cell WiFi network consists of more than 100 WiFi access points mounted on street furniture, such as lampposts, across the London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea, to deliver a great outdoor WiFi experience for O2's customers in London.

Traffic from the WiFi network will be aggregated across the mesh and transferred to several Cambridge Broadband Networks Ltd. 's VectaStar Metro point-to-multipoint nodes, where it will be backhauled to a hub in central London.

According to Cambridge, "Small cells offer an enormous opportunity for operators to deliver high-speed and high-capacity data access to their subscribers. But the significant uplift in the number of radios needed for a small cell network, compared to today's macrocellular networks, requires a new approach to backhaul."

These are just some of the findings.


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Clean Energy Revolution Is Ahead of Schedule | Noah Smith | BloombergView.com

Clean Energy Revolution Is Ahead of Schedule | Noah Smith | BloombergView.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The most important piece of news on the energy front isn't the plunge in oil prices, but the progress that is being made in battery technology.


A new study in Nature Climate Change, by Bjorn Nykvist and Mans Nilsson of the Stockholm Environment Institute, shows that electric vehicle batteries have been getting cheaper much faster than expected.


From 2007 to 2011, average battery costs for battery-powered electric vehicles fell by about 14 percent a year. For the leading electric vehicle makers, Tesla and Nissan, costs fell by 8 percent a year.


This astounding decline puts battery costs right around the level that the International Energy Agency predicted they would reach in 2020.

We are six years ahead of the curve.


It's a bit hard to read, but here is the graph from the paper:


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Canada will lose many glaciers as climate warms | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Canada will lose many glaciers as climate warms | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As the world warms, many of the great frozen rivers of Canada will not just retreat, but could vanish altogether.

New research suggests that maritime glaciers in the far northwest might survive, but more than two-thirds of Canada’s existing glaciers in British Columbia and Alberta could be lost altogether by 2100.

Garry Clarke, a glaciologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says: “Soon our mountains could look like those in Colorado or California, and you don’t see much ice in those landscapes.”

The consequences for the forests, grasslands, animals and communities that depend on glacial meltwater could be serious. The disappearance of the glaciers will also create problems for Canada’s hydroelectric industry, for agriculture and grazing, for the mining industry, for the salmon fishery, and for tourism.

Professor Clarke and his colleagues report in Nature Geoscience that they devised a model – a high-resolution computer simulation – of the glaciers of western Canada that explicitly mimicked glacial flow. Then they tested it with a range of scenarios for climate change, driven by human combustion of fossil fuels and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the last two centuries.


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Whether blue or red, Americans are generally purple when it comes to ways to fight climate change | Susan Cosier | onEarth.org

Whether blue or red, Americans are generally purple when it comes to ways to fight climate change | Susan Cosier | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

American opinions about what's causing climate change can be pretty polarized, but a study published yesterday in Nature Climate Change shows that we actually agree on some things that will help us fight the warming of our world. For instance, 74 percent—Democrats and Republicans alike—support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and even more of us (77 percent) say the country should invest in research for renewable fuels. Whhaaaaa?

It's true, according researchers from Yale and Utah State University who compiled a data set of roughly 13,000 surveys and put the info into a statistical model. They then mapped out (down to the county level) how people feel about issues related to climate change.

Sure, your science-denying uncle may continue to rant about snowstorms in the spring, but that doesn't mean he doesn't see the sense in generating electricity from renewable sources. So instead of the constant squabbling about what's causing the problem, maybe we should start focusing our attention on ways to solve it. Because in that, at least, we're united.


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Flexible, fast-charging aluminum-ion battery offers safer alternative to lithium-ion | Darren Quick | GizMag.com

Flexible, fast-charging aluminum-ion battery offers safer alternative to lithium-ion | Darren Quick | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at Stanford University have created a fast-charging and long-lasting rechargeable battery that is inexpensive to produce, and which they claim could replace many of the lithium-ion and alkaline batteries powering our gadgets today. The prototype aluminum-ion battery is also safer, not bursting into flames as some of its lithium-ion brethren are wont to do.

The prototype battery features an anode made of aluminum, a cathode of graphite and an ionic liquid electrolyte, all packed within a flexible, polymer-coated pouch. And unlike lithium-ion batteries, which can short circuit and explode or catch fire when punctured, the aluminum-ion battery will actually continue working for a short while before not bursting into flames.

"The electrolyte is basically a salt that's liquid at room temperature, so it's very safe," said Stanford graduate student Ming Gong, co-lead author of the study.

Improved safety is great, but what many people want is a reduction in recharge times. The aluminum-ion battery hits the target here, too, with the Stanford team claiming "unprecedented charging times" of just one minute for recharging the prototype battery.


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15 before-and-after images that show how we're transforming the planet | Brad Plumer | Vox.com

Human beings have replaced nature as the dominant force shaping Earth. We've cleared away forests, dammed up mighty rivers, paved vast roads, and transported thousands of species around the world. "To a large extent," two scientists recently wrote, "the future of the only place where life is known to exist is being determined by the actions of humans."

So what does this look like? In recent decades, NASA has been tracking the major transformations we've wrought via satellite. In its "Images of Change" series, the agency has posted a number of before-and-after images showing the exact same rainforest or glacier or city years or decades apart. The differences are often breathtaking. Here are 14 of the most revealing changes:


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Stop overfishing and coral reefs will rebound quickly (but we’ll need to fix that climate problem) | Brian Palmer | onEarth.org

Stop overfishing and coral reefs will rebound quickly (but we’ll need to fix that climate problem) | Brian Palmer | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Biodiversity on the world’s coral reefs is suffering badly, but simple restrictions on fishing could help restore most of these ecosystems in just a few decades, according to research published this week in the journal Nature. I love this study for its focus on solutions, which are too often an afterthought in the doomsday field of ecological research. That’s not to say there’s no doomsday stuff—ecological research, like a superhero movie, needs a bit of darkness.

M. Aaron McNeil of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and his colleagues started by estimating the weight of fish swimming around coral reefs in pristine stretches of ocean—areas protected by law or so remote that humans rarely bother to fish them. In these relatively untouched stretches of sea, coral reef ecosystems contain about one ton of fish per hectare. They used that statistic as a baseline to estimate what coral reefs could be like without the influence of fishermen.

The researchers then looked at the fished coral reefs and found that the overwhelming majority of them—83 percent, to be precise—are missing at least half of their natural fish numbers. One in four of those reefs have below 25 percent of their historic fish density, a threshold that previous research suggests represents the early stages of an ecosystem’s death spiral. Coral reefs near Papua New Guinea and Guam have lost 90 percent of their fish biomass, which indicates near-total collapse.

The most effective solution is to ban fishing in and around the suffering coral reefs. According to McNeil’s data, that could bring the ecosystems almost back to health in approximately 35 years, which means your grandchildren could be born into a world with robust coral reef ecosystems, bursting with color and life. (Unless you’re already a grandparent. Congratulations, by the way.)

Unfortunately, comprehensive fishing bans aren’t always practical. Many of the world’s reefs are near developing countries, where exploding populations and poverty make it nearly impossible to stop people from overfishing their coastal waters. Even for those heavily stressed regions, though, there’s some good news. The study shows that areas with basic restrictions have 27 percent more fish than ecosystems with no limitations. Doing a little bit is far more effective than doing nothing.


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Smart homes: Consumers are ready to start living like the Jetsons | Sead Fadilpaic | BetaNews.com

Smart homes: Consumers are ready to start living like the Jetsons | Sead Fadilpaic | BetaNews.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Consumers clearly see the benefits offered by home automation but they also have very specific requirements that need to be met before they’d consider investing, a new survey has shown.

The survey, which asked US, UK and German consumers their attitudes towards the smart home, showed that almost half (46 percent) of consumers think smart home devices will become mainstream within five years and revealed a strong preference for smart home solutions that offer tangible benefits.

The new research from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group released today shows that most appealing smart home gadgets are those that allow consumers to control their environment, such as smart heating/thermostats, smart lighting and smart security/monitoring devices.

But consumers know exactly what their devices should be like: 54 percent said a device should be straightforward to use, and 41 percent believe it should be easy to set up.

Price and security also figured prominently, with 42 percent of consumers feel that both keeping their data secure and offering products at competitive price points will make smart home devices much more desirable.

Currently, 67 percent of consumers are concerned that some smart home devices would make their data vulnerable.

"This study confirms consumers are looking for smart home products that 'just work'," said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. "It’s evident demand for smart home devices is ramping up and consumers are keen to live in the scenarios conjured up by the Jetsons over 60 years ago. Smart home manufacturers need to deliver products that are simple, cost-effective and secure for this segment to become mainstream".

Here are the survey’s key stats at a glance:


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Catherine Devin's curator insight, April 13, 2:18 AM

Une enquête réalisée aux US au UK et en Allemagne. Les résultats montrent des consommateurs ouverts mais très pragmatiques sur les finalités des équipements : d'abord le confort thermique, ensuite l'éclairage, enfin la sécurité... donc plutôt des attentes relatives à la simplification et à la fiabilité de la gestion du domicile au quotidien - et ce avec simplicité.

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Wind turbine advances creating a 'modern-day wind rush' | Barbara Lundin | Fierce Energy

Wind turbine advances creating a 'modern-day wind rush' | Barbara Lundin | Fierce Energy | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Advanced wind turbines are accessing faster, steadier winds at higher altitudes so they can generate more electricity, creating a modern-day "wind rush" as new areas in the Great Lakes states and the Southeastern U.S. become economical sites to develop more wind energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).


"Wind turbine technology has advanced in just a few decades from the Model T era to more like that of a Tesla," said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. "Taller towers, longer blades and improved electronics to operate and maintain the turbines are all part of this revolution."

Modern wind turbines require a wind speed of only about 8 miles per hour (5 meters per second) to start generating utility-scale quantities of electricity. Sites with comparatively lower average wind speeds can now be considered for commercial turbines for the first time.

High-wind areas are becoming even more productive thanks to longer blades, as the average annual "capacity factor" or percentage of the maximum rated capacity that a turbine generates year-round now tops 50 percent in some cases. Some older sites are being repowered by new turbines. Others are receiving a variety of refinements to existing turbines such as blade tip extensions, vortex generators, and improved electronics, making them more productive.


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OR: ODFW agrees to new approach for Nestle bottled water plant in Cascade Locks | Kelly House | OregonLive.com

OR: ODFW agrees to new approach for Nestle bottled water plant in Cascade Locks | Kelly House | OregonLive.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has agreed to trade its water rights at Oxbow Springs to pave the way for a Nestle bottled water plant in Cascade Locks.

Cascade Locks City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman said the city and the state wildlife agency jointly submitted paperwork Friday morning to initiate a water rights cross transfer, with the state trading spring water for the city's well water.

The Columbia River Gorge city will then pass the spring water on to Nestle, which will bottle and sell it.

Nestle's proposal to bottle 100 million gallons of Oxbow Springs water annually for sale throughout the Northwest has been controversial, with multiple environmental organizations, public health groups and unions protesting the deal.

The plan is complicated. Cascade Locks doesn't own the right to draw water from Oxbow Springs; ODFW does, and uses it to feed a fish hatchery. So, in order to sell spring water to Nestle, Cascade Locks must first get access to the spring.

Controversy over the plant - mostly rooted in concerns about the environmental impact of bottled water as well as skepticism about the company's plan to sell an essential resource for hundreds of times the price it costs to draw from the tap -- has stalled plans since Nestle first arrived in town in 2008.

The water rights cross transfer is an attempt to speed up the process. Unlike a previous plan to trade water gallon-for-gallon, swapping rights to the water eliminates state regulators' need to consider public interest when deciding whether to approve the trade.


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China Said to Be Censoring Internet With Powerful New Weapon | Truthdig.com

China Said to Be Censoring Internet With Powerful New Weapon | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In late March, China began flooding American websites with Internet traffic in an apparent effort to disrupt services that allow China’s Internet users to access sites otherwise blocked in the country.

The New York Times reports:

Initial security reports suggested that China had crippled the services by exploiting its own Internet filter — known as the Great Firewall — to redirect overwhelming amounts of traffic to its targets. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Toronto say China did not use the Great Firewall after all, but rather a powerful new weapon that they are calling the Great Cannon.

The Great Cannon, the researchers said in a report published on Friday, allows China to intercept foreign web traffic as it flows to Chinese websites, inject malicious code and repurpose the traffic as Beijing sees fit.

The system was used, they said, to intercept web and advertising traffic intended for Baidu — China’s biggest search engine company — and fire it at GitHub, a popular site for programmers, and GreatFire.org, a nonprofit that runs mirror images of sites that are blocked inside China. The attacks against the services continued on Thursday, the researchers said, even though both sites appeared to be operating normally.

Read more here.


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The Media's Failure With the Biggest Story in the World | David Ray Griffin | Truth-Out.org

The Media's Failure With the Biggest Story in the World | David Ray Griffin | Truth-Out.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The subtitle of David Ray Griffin's new book, Unprecedented, asks the most serious question raised by global warming, Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis? The book argues that of all the factors that have led to this crisis, none is more important than the failure of America's mainstream media.


The following excerpt, after introducing this issue, discusses one of the most important dimensions of the media's failure. The book was published before The Guardian, which had all along provided the best coverage, began its climate-change campaign, referring to the threat from climate change as "the biggest story in the world."

Excerpt:


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Forests can soak up a third of carbon emissions | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network

Forests can soak up a third of carbon emissions | Alex Kirby |  Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Looking after the world’s tropical forests would be worthwhile in its own right, for the sake of their human and animal inhabitants and their wider effects on the natural world.

But researchers say it would also have a significant bonus. Properly cared for, the forests could cancel out between a quarter and a third of the planet’s carbon emissions.

They argue that it is not just outright destruction of the trees that is the problem, but the ways in which the forests become degraded by the incursion of different forms of development − logging, obviously, but also fires, mining, ranching, roads, and their effect in splitting the huge tracts of forested land into smaller and more isolated patches.

In a report commissioned by Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, they say deforestation and degradation of the forests may account together for between 14% and 21% (1.4-2.2 gigatonnes of carbon, or GtC; a gigatonne is a billion metric tonnes) of all emissions of carbon, and perhaps even more if tropical peatlands and mangroves are included.


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Stephane Bilodeau's curator insight, April 12, 4:02 PM

In a foreword, Prince Charles writes: “It is an alarming fact that rates of deforestation and degradationcontinue to rise, and that the underlying causes of this increase are set to become very much more acute…”

 

But he sounds an encouraging note: “We can act on forests now, therefore buying much-needed time to enable the transformation to a low-carbon economy.”

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More than Honey | Su Avasthi | Modern Farmer

More than Honey | Su Avasthi | Modern Farmer | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Thanks to countless news articles and a spate of documentaries on the baffling disappearance of the domestic honeybee, most of us have heard about bee death, Colony Collapse Disorder and the grave prospect of extinction.

More than Honey may cover familiar territory, but this 95-minute film is generally hailed as the most comprehensive on the topic and has the distinction of being nominated for a 2013 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It doesn’t take long to figure out what sets this film apart: It is visually stunning.


Let’s start with the landscapes. The filmmakers take us to the wildflower meadows in the Swiss Alps and blossoming orchards throughout the U.S. where crates of domestic honeybees are released to pollinate away. We glimpse craggy rock cliffs in the Australian outback, mesquites in the desert Southwest and take a trip into the ravaged almond orchards in China, where honeybees actually have become extinct.


The most impressive footage, however, takes us on an up-close and personal tour of the hive.


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Skype can now translate English to Chinese, Italian in real time | Andy Patrizio | NetworkWorld.com

Skype can now translate English to Chinese, Italian in real time | Andy Patrizio | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Star Trek fans know of the Universal Communicator, which is a part of the Star Fleet logo worn on their chests. It instantly translates alien speech into English and vice versa, enabling inter-species communication. We've all wanted something like that, and Microsoft is getting very close with Skype Translate.

Skype Translate is a function in its Skype communication tool that translates languages in real time. It takes English audio and converts it to the foreign language in both audio and text. The audio comes out in a natural-sounding voice, instead of the usual computer-generated voice, and text is displayed in the Skype client.

"Today, we meet another chapter for Skype Translator on our journey to enrich the way we communicate with family and friends around the world. Our long term goal is to translate as many languages as possible on all relevant platforms, and deliver the best Skype Translator experience for our more than 300 million connected customers," Yasmin Khan of the Skype team wrote in a blog post.

Microsoft initially introduced it with Spanish translations, understandable given the ubiquity of Spanish in the Americas, and is now rolling out Italian and Mandarin Chinese. The latter makes sense, but Italian was a bit of a pleasant surprise. The Skype team said in the blog post that it received a lot of feedback requesting Italian from people who signed up for the Skype Translator preview test program.

Not that I need it. The entire Italian side of my family (on my father's side, obviously, given my surname) is here in the U.S., but my mother is German and all of her family is in Germany. We've tried Skyping in the past and the language barrier was a real nuisance for me.

The Skype team called mandarin a "very challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator." That's because there are around 10,000 characters and multiple tones to master, making it one of the most difficult languages to program.

The Italian side was presumably much easier. Skype already had Spanish and both languages have a Latin root with a lot of overlap. Having taken Italian in college, I can somewhat make out the constant stream of Spanish I hear living in Southern California.


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Piling Sand in a Disputed Sea, China Literally Gains Ground | David Sanger & Rick Gladstone | NYTimes.com

Piling Sand in a Disputed Sea, China Literally Gains Ground | David Sanger & Rick Gladstone | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The clusters of Chinese vessels busily dredge white sand and pump it onto partly submerged coral, aptly named Mischief Reef, transforming it into an island.

Over a matter of weeks, satellite photographs show the island growing bigger, its few shacks on stilts replaced by buildings. What appears to be an amphibious warship, capable of holding 500 to 800 troops, patrols the reef’s southern opening.

China has long asserted ownership of the archipelago in the South China Sea known as the Spratly Islands, also claimed by at least three other countries, including the Philippines, an American ally. But the series of detailed photographs taken of Mischief Reef shows the remarkable speed, scale and ambition of China’s effort to literally gain ground in the dispute.

The photographs show that since January, China has been dredging enormous amounts of sand from around the reef and using it to build up land mass — what military analysts at the Pentagon are calling “facts on the water” — hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland.

The Chinese have clearly concluded that it is unlikely anyone will challenge them in an area believed rich in oil and gas and, perhaps more important, strategically vital. Last week Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the United States Pacific fleet, accused China of undertaking an enormous and unprecedented artificial land creation operation.

“China is creating a great wall of sand with dredges and bulldozers,” Admiral Harris said in a speech in Canberra, Australia.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, on his first trip to Asia, put the American concerns in more diplomatic language, but the message was the same. In an interview to coincide with his visit, published Wednesday in the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest dailies, Mr. Carter said China’s actions “seriously increase tensions and reduce prospects for diplomatic solutions” in territory claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam, and indirectly by Taiwan.

He urged Beijing to “limit its activities and exercise restraint to improve regional trust.” That is the same diplomatic message the Obama administration has been giving to China since Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, and her Chinese counterpart faced off over the issue at an Asian summit meeting in 2010.


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Landmark Dutch Lawsuit Puts Governments Around the World on Notice | Kelly Rigg | BillMoyers.com

Landmark Dutch Lawsuit Puts Governments Around the World on Notice | Kelly Rigg | BillMoyers.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Since the days of Watergate, the question “What did he know, and when did he know it?” has been a key litmus test for assessing guilt and innocence. Forty years later that question is now being asked in relation to climate change.

Where I live, in the Netherlands, a landmark case will be heard in the Den Haag District Court on Tuesday. The Urgenda Foundation is suing the Dutch government for knowingly endangering its citizens by failing to prevent dangerous climate change.

It comes at a time when an increasing number of legal experts around the world have come to believe that the lack of action represents a gross violation of the rights of those who will suffer the consequences. They also argue that the failure of governments to negotiate international agreements does not absolve them of their legal obligation to do their share in preventing dangerous climate change. These arguments are at the core of the Dutch lawsuit and will undoubtedly be put to the test in other countries before too long.

To adapt the first question: What did governments know and when did they know it?


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SkyOrbiter internet drone completes maiden test flight | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

SkyOrbiter internet drone completes maiden test flight | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A Portuguese company that wants to use drones to provide internet access to offline areas of the world has completed its first test flight. Quarkson plans to use solar-powered SkyOrbiter drones that will stay airborne for weeks, months or even years at a time and will fly at altitudes of up to 22,000 m (72,000 ft).

The test flight took place on April 2 at an undisclosed location. The drone was equipped with Wi-Fi-transmitting equipment that can provide internet access to local users on the ground via a patch antenna that receives the signal.

The drone tested was a small version of those planned for eventual use with a wingspan of 5 m (16 ft). It was flown within line of sight up to an altitude of 330 ft (100 m) and successfully relayed a Wi-Fi signal to the ground. Quarkson founder and CEO Miguel Angelo Martins da Silva says the test has provided proof of the concept's viability.

One of Quarkson's larger SkyOrbiter LA25 drones with a wingspan of 22 m (72 ft) has reportedly already been built, but da Silva says it could not be tested due to opposition by the Portuguese government.


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