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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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UK: Backers say Perthshire broadband boost can deliver new jobs down the line | Mark MacKay | The Courier

A broadband revolution is coming to Highland Perthshire — and those behind the scheme believe it could provide a jobs bonanza for the region.

In July, The Courier first unveiled details of the DIY plan to bring superfast speeds to previously deprived areas.

The ambitious project has progressed apace and now the Highland Perthshire Communities Partnership (HPCP) expects its first subscribers to go live in the spring.

It believes that jobs will be created through training a network of locally-based engineers, while access to cutting-edge services will enable a new generation of entrepreneurs to start rural businesses.

The partnership has been running for more than 15 years but the broadband project is by far its most ambitious.

It came about as a solution to the region’s on-going broadband woes after it became clear that the promised roll-out of speedy connection would take years to arrive.

The internet has become vital to the rural economy and it was felt that a three-year wait for decent connection speeds could cause families to leave the area and put businesses in jeopardy.

To tackle that problem head-on, the partnership devised its scheme, with phase one covering Amulree, Trochry and Struan before extending to all of Highland Perthshire.


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Tropical forests may be giving climate extra help | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network

Tropical forests may be giving climate extra help | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Scientists in the US say the world’s tropical forests may be making a much larger contribution to slowing climate change than many of their colleagues have previously recognised.

A new study − led by the space agency NASA and the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences − suggests that the forests are absorbing far more carbon dioxide from human sources than they are given credit for.

It estimates that the forests are absorbing 1.4 billion tonnes of human-derived CO2 − a sizeable slice of the total global absorption of 2.5 billion tonnes.

If the tropical forests are left undisturbed, the trees should be able to go on reducing the rate of global warming by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.


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New Hope for the Climate Crusade | Alexander Reed Kelly | Truthdig.com

New Hope for the Climate Crusade | Alexander Reed Kelly | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A promising new legal framework called atmospheric trust litigation could compel local and state legislators to take action to protect the Earth by convincing courts that ecological protection is the responsibility of the government, held in its trust to ensure the survival of all generations to come.

In the final episode Thursday of Bill Moyers’ long-running interview show, legal scholar Mary Christina Wood, author of the book “Nature’s Trust,” traced use of the public trust doctrine through American history and all the way back to Rome.

“The heart of the approach,” Wood explained, is “that government is a trustee of the resources that support our public welfare and survival. And so a trust means that one entity or person manages a certain wealth, an endowment, so to speak, for the benefit of others. And in the case of the public trust, the beneficiaries are the present and future generations of citizens. So it is a statement of, in essence, public property rights that have been known since Roman times.

“In fact, this was articulated by the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a landmark public trust decision last year. And the decision basically overturned a statute that the Pennsylvania Legislature had passed to promote fracking. And the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Chief Justice Castille, said this violates the public trust. And he began his opinion by saying that citizens hold inalienable environmental rights to assure the habitability of their communities.

“And that these are ensconced in the social contract that citizens make with government. They cannot be alienated. They are inherent and reserved. So they are of a constitutional nature. And the point of the public trust is that the citizens hold these constitutional rights in an enduring natural endowment that is supposed to support all future generations of citizens in this country. It is so basic to democracy; in fact, the late Joseph Sax said the trust distinguishes a society of citizens from serfs.”


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Who’s the true enemy of internet freedom - China, Russia, or the US? | Evgeny Morozov | The Guardian

Who’s the true enemy of internet freedom - China, Russia, or the US? | Evgeny Morozov | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Recent reports that China has imposed further restrictions on Gmail, Google’s flagship email service, should not really come as much of a surprise. While Chinese users have been unable to access Gmail’s site for several years now, they were still able to use much of its functionality, thanks to third-party services such as Outlook or Apple Mail.

This loophole has now been closed (albeit temporarily – some of the new restrictions seem to have been mysteriously lifted already), which means determined Chinese users have had to turn to more advanced circumvention tools. Those unable or unwilling to perform any such acrobatics can simply switch to a service run by a domestic Chinese company – which is precisely what the Chinese government wants them to do.

Such short-term and long-term disruptions of Gmail connections are part of China’s long-running efforts to protect its technological sovereignty by reducing its citizens’ reliance on American-run communication services. After North Korea saw its internet access blacked out temporarily in the Interview brouhaha – with little evidence that the country actually had anything to do with the massive hacking of Sony – the concept of technological sovereignty is poised to emerge as one of the most important and contentious doctrines of 2015.

And it’s not just the Chinese: the Russian government is pursuing a similar agenda. A new law that came into effect last summer obliges all internet companies to store Russian citizens’ data on servers inside the country. This has already prompted Google to close down its engineering operations in Moscow. The Kremlin’s recent success in getting Facebook to block a page calling for protests in solidarity with the charged activist Alexey Navalny indicates that the government is rapidly re-establishing control over its citizens’ digital activities.

But it’s hardly a global defeat for Google: the company is still expanding elsewhere, building communications infrastructure that extends far beyond simple email services. Thus, as South American countries began exploring plans to counter NSA surveillance with a fibre optic network of their own that would reduce their reliance on the US, Google opened its coffers to fund a $60m undersea cable connecting Brazil to Florida.

The aim was to ensure that Google’s own services run better for users in Brazil, but it is a potent reminder that extricating oneself from the grasp of America’s tech empire requires a multidimensional strategy attuned to the fact that Google today is not a mere search and email company – it also runs devices, operating systems, and even connectivity itself.

Given that Russia and China are not known for their commitment to freedoms of expression and assembly, it is tempting to view their quest for information sovereignty as yet another stab at censorship and control. In fact, even when the far more benign government of Brazil toyed with the idea of forcing American companies to store user data locally – an idea it eventually abandoned – it was widely accused of draconian overreach.


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Inside New York City's solar renaissance | Brad Quick | CNBC.com

Inside New York City's solar renaissance | Brad Quick | CNBC.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Forty-six floors above the streets of Manhattan, the top view from the Atelier—a luxury development—has everything you'd expect given its midtown location.

From the roof, you can easily pick out the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and peer down at the deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

But there's one sight that might come as a bit of a surprise: Black solar panels sitting on the southwest corner of the building's roof.

Dan Neiditch, president of River 2 River Realty which operates the Atelier, had the panels installed in 2011. He says the system generates about 5 percent of the building's energy, subsequently cutting utility costs by roughly $40,000 a year.

The Atelier isn't the only New York City location experimenting with alternative energy. More solar projects are popping up across the Empire State, with sun technology increasingly dotting the skyscrapers and buildings of New York's urban landscape.

The proposed Lowline Project, which will convert the abandoned Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal into an underground park, will use solar energy to create "remote skylights" that will light up the space.

And Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is calling for solar to power LinkNYC kiosks. The structures will replace New York's public payphones with free Wi-Fi and charging stations.


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Microsoft's Reported 'Spartan' Browser Will Be Lighter, More Flexible Than Internet Explorer | Mark Hachman | CIO.com

Microsoft's Reported 'Spartan' Browser Will Be Lighter, More Flexible Than Internet Explorer | Mark Hachman | CIO.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Instead of revamping Internet Explorer for the launch of Windows 10, a new report claims Microsoft plans to start from scratch with a new browser, dubbed “Spartan.”

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet reported Monday that Spartan could ship alongside Internet Explorer 11 in Windows 10, due sometime in the latter half of 2015. The purpose of Spartan is twofold, Foley reports: first, as a lightweight alternative to IE, but with the foundation for third-party extensions; and as a marketing “do-over” for Internet Explorer, to do away with Internet Explorer’s legacy once and for all.

Finally, Foley suggests that eventually Spartan could debut on alternative platforms like iOS and Android, much like the Bing search app can replace the search widget on Android devices, for example.

Technically, the browser will use Microsoft’s Chakra JavaScript engine and Microsoft’s Trident rendering engine (not WebKit), according to Foley. But the more interesting aspect is probably Microsoft’s marketing thrust.

In aggregate, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is still the most popular browser in the world, holding steady at 58 percent of the user base throughout all of 2014, according to NetApplications. Google’s Chrome is steadily climbing, however, from 16.4 percent to over 20 percent at the end of November. (Opera and Firefox are steadily losing share.)

But Microsoft still seems determined to pick at the scab of its legacy browsers, with a video campaign mocking “the browser you loved to hate” and similar exercises. (IE 6 still stands as one of the 25 worst tech products ever invented.) Chrome developed as an alternative to Microsoft’s conservatism in standards adoption, and Chrome still stands atop IE in terms of support for HTML5 standards. Nevertheless, most would argue that IE has substantially improved from prior versions, even if some techies pooh-pooh using it in favor of an alternative.


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Playing Dumb on Climate Change | Naomi Oreskes Opinion | NYTimes.com

Playing Dumb on Climate Change | Naomi Oreskes Opinion | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

SCIENTISTS have often been accused of exaggerating the threat of climate change, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they ought to be more emphatic about the risk. The year just concluded is about to be declared the hottest one on record, and across the globe climate change is happening faster than scientists predicted.

Science is conservative, and new claims of knowledge are greeted with high degrees of skepticism. When Copernicus said the Earth orbited the sun, when Wegener said the continents drifted, and when Darwin said species evolved by natural selection, the burden of proof was on them to show that it was so. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this conservatism generally took the form of a demand for a large amount of evidence; in the 20th century, it took on the form of a demand for statistical significance.

We’ve all heard the slogan “correlation is not causation,” but that’s a misleading way to think about the issue. It would be better to say that correlation is not necessarily causation, because we need to rule out the possibility that we are just observing a coincidence. Typically, scientists apply a 95 percent confidence limit, meaning that they will accept a causal claim only if they can show that the odds of the relationship’s occurring by chance are no more than one in 20. But it also means that if there’s more than even a scant 5 percent possibility that an event occurred by chance, scientists will reject the causal claim. It’s like not gambling in Las Vegas even though you had a nearly 95 percent chance of winning.

Where does this severe standard come from? The 95 percent confidence level is generally credited to the British statistician R. A. Fisher, who was interested in the problem of how to be sure an observed effect of an experiment was not just the result of chance. While there have been enormous arguments among statisticians about what a 95 percent confidence level really means, working scientists routinely use it.

But the 95 percent level has no actual basis in nature. It is a convention, a value judgment. The value it reflects is one that says that the worst mistake a scientist can make is to think an effect is real when it is not.


This is the familiar “Type 1 error.” You can think of it as being gullible, fooling yourself, or having undue faith in your own ideas. To avoid it, scientists place the burden of proof on the person making an affirmative claim. But this means that science is prone to “Type 2 errors”: being too conservative and missing causes and effects that are really there.


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Climate Change Threatens Quechua and Their Crops in Peru's Andes | Fabriola Ortiz | Truth-Out.org

Climate Change Threatens Quechua and Their Crops in Peru's Andes | Fabriola Ortiz | Truth-Out.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In the Pisac, Peru's highlands over 3,000 metres above sea level, in the mountains surrounding the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Quechua Indians who have lived here since time immemorial are worried about threats to their potato crops from alterations in rainfall patterns and temperatures.

"The families' food security is definitely at risk," agricultural technician Lino Loayza told IPS. "The rainy season started in September, and the fields should be green, but it has only rained two or three days, and we're really worried about the effects of the heat."

If the drought stretches on, as expected, "we won't have a good harvest next year," said Loayza, who is head of the Parque de la Papa or Potato Park, a biocultural conservation unit created to safeguard native crops in the rural municipality of Pisac in the southeastern department or region of Cuzco.

In the Parque de la Papa, which is at an altitude of up to 4,500 metres and covers 9,200 hectares, 6,000 indigenous villagers from five communities – Amaru, Chawaytire, Pampallaqta, Paru Paru and Sacaca – are preserving potatoes and biodiversity, along with their spiritual rites and traditional farming techniques.

The Parque de la Papa, a mosaic of fields that hold the greatest diversity of potatoes in the world, 1,460 varieties, was created in 2002 with the support of the Asociación Andes.

This protected area in the Sacred Valley of the Incas is surrounded by lofty peaks known as 'Apus' or divine guardians of life, which until recently were snow-capped year-round.

"People are finally waking up to the problem of climate change. They're starting to think about the future of life, the future of the family. What will the weather be like? Will we have food?" 50-year-old community leader Lino Mamani, one of the 'papa arariwa' – potato guardians, in Quechua – told IPS.


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Climate change increasing stresses on fragile states | Paul Brown | Climate News Network

Climate change increasing stresses on fragile states | Paul Brown | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A chilling account of how climate change is already adding to the problems of conflict and social breakdown in fragile states is contained in an advice document to the staff of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

“Topic Guides” on a variety of subjects are briefings to staff on key problems and how to deal with them when providing overseas aid. This guide, called “Conflict, Climate Change and Environment”, describes how and where society is already breaking down.

Although the guide – compiled by experts from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and International Alert (IA)− says climate change is only part of the problem, it concludes that it adds to food and water shortages, rapid urbanisation, unemployment, and weak and corrupt governance, which increase the chance of conflict.


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Can you believe it's 30 YEARS since the UK's first mobile phone call? | Olivia Solon | Mirror.co.uk

Can you believe it's 30 YEARS since the UK's first mobile phone call? | Olivia Solon | Mirror.co.uk | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

On January 1, 1985, the first mobile phone call was made in the UK.

It was made by Michael Harrison, the son of Sir Earnest Harrison who was the first chairman of Vodafone.

The call was made on the Transportable Vodafone VT1, a 4.7 kilo device that cost a whopping £1,650 (equivalent to £4,600 today) and was the size of at least two bricks stacked on top of each other.

He said: "Hi Dad, it's Mike. Happy New Year. This is the first ever call on a UK mobile network."

At least that's what Vodafone's PR team want us to believe. It was probably more like: "Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? It's me... Dad? Dad? Dad? It's me. No, the other me. MIKE. Your son? Sorry the line's a bit dodgy..."

For the first nine days of 1985, Vodafone was the mobile network in the UK - but on 10 January Cellnet (now known as O2) launched its own service.

Mobile phones became yuppy status symbols in the mid-1980s despite the fact that they were the size of a briefcase and used analogue radio signals to communicate, so were very easy to eavesdrop on.

Since then, phones have got a lot smaller, slicker, smarter and a hell of a lot more common.

There are are a whopping 83 million active mobile subscriptions in the UK - distributed among 93% of people in the UK. 16% of people now live in mobile-only homes - with no need for a landline.


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4 Signs the Arctic Is Getting Baked by Climate Change | Tim McDonnell | BillMoyers.com

4 Signs the Arctic Is Getting Baked by Climate Change | Tim McDonnell | BillMoyers.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If you’re looking for the ground zero of climate change, head to the Arctic. Nowhere else on Earth is changing as quickly or as dramatically; air temperatures there are rising twice as fast as at lower latitudes. In the summer of 2012, Arctic sea ice reached the lowest level ever recorded, shrinking to less than half the area it occupied a few decades ago. Ice has rebounded somewhat in the two years since, but it is still on a downward trajectory of about 13 percent per decade and could disappear altogether in summer months by 2030.

The distressing Arctic prognosis is made abundantly clear in a new report card issued this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report card comes out every winter and provides an update of where things currently stand in the Arctic. Here are a few key findings:


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How solar power and electric cars could make suburban living awesome again | Chris Mooney | WashPost.com

How solar power and electric cars could make suburban living awesome again | Chris Mooney | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The suburbs have had it rough in the last few years. The 2008-2009 economic collapse led to waves of foreclosures in suburbia, as home prices plummeted. More recently, census data suggest that Americans are actually shifting back closer to city centers, often giving up on the dream of a big home in suburbs (much less the far-flung "exurbs").

It doesn't help that suburbia has long been the poster child for unsustainable living. You have to drive farther to work, so you use a lot of gas. Meanwhile, while having a bigger home may be a plus, that home is also costlier to heat and cool. It all adds up -- not just in electricity bills, but in overall greenhouse gas emissions. That's why suburbanites, in general, tend to have bigger carbon footprints than city dwellers.

You can see as much in this amazing map from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, showing how carbon footprints go up sharply along the east coast as you move away from city centers.


But now, a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Magali A. Delmas and two colleagues from the UCLA Institute of the Environment suggests that recent technologies may help to eradicate this suburban energy use problem. The paper contemplates the possibility that suburbanites -- including politically conservative ones -- may increasingly become "accidental environmentalists," simply because of the growing consumer appeal of two green products that are even greener together: electric vehicles and solar panels.


"There’s kind of hope for the suburbs, basically," says Delmas -- even though suburbia "has always been described as the worst model for footprint per capita, but also the attitude towards the environment."


Here's why that could someday change.


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How Big Data Will Transform Our Economy And Our Lives In 2015 | Deven Parekh | Tech Crunch

How Big Data Will Transform Our Economy And Our Lives In 2015 | Deven Parekh | Tech Crunch | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Editor’s note: Deven Parekh is a managing director at Insight Venture Partners where he manages investments in e-commerce, consumer Internet data, and application software businesses on a global basis.

The great Danish physicist Niels Bohr once observed that “prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” Particularly in the ever-changing world of technology, today’s bold prediction is liable to prove tomorrow’s historical artifact. But thinking ahead about wide-ranging technology and market trends is a useful exercise for those of us engaged in the business of partnering with entrepreneurs and executives that are building the next great company.

Moreover, let’s face it: gazing into the crystal ball is a time-honored, end-of-year parlor game. And it’s fun.

So in the spirit of the season, I have identified five big data themes to watch in 2015. As a marketing term or industry description, big data is so omnipresent these days that it doesn’t mean much. But it is pretty clear that we are at a tipping point. The global scale of the Internet, the ubiquity of mobile devices, the ever-declining costs of cloud computing and storage, and an increasingly networked physical word create an explosion of data unlike anything we’ve seen before.

The creation of all of this data isn’t as interesting as the possible uses of it. I think 2015 may well be the year we start to see the true potential (and real risks) of how big data can transform our economy and our lives.


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Four Actions that Latin America's Cities Can Explore to Combat Climate Change | Sam Hoyle | The Energy Collective

Four Actions that Latin America's Cities Can Explore to Combat Climate Change | Sam Hoyle | The Energy Collective | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Between now and 2050 global urban populations are projected to grow from 3.4 to 6.4 billion people. Latin America and the Caribbean is the most urbanized region in the world, with 80 percent of its inhabitants living in cities.


In 2050, this number could exceed 90 percent. This type of rapid growth creates new and higher demand for resources, especially in the transport sector — already a large source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) — and pollution, as well as an inescapable energy cost.


A crucial decision for Latin American and Caribbean policymakers, civil society, the private sector, and citizens is how to adapt to this trend in a sustainable way. If urban population growth is not managed sustainably, the negative effects of this growth will only continue to mount, not only for public health, but also for the environment and global climate.

In order to avoid these negative effects, we have created a list of four priorities that will help the cities of Latin America — and particularly their urban transport sectors — grow more efficiently, cleanly, and sustainably:


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Forget photo-sharing --- these 7 startups are solving real problems (without VC bucks) | Vivek Wadhwa | Venture Beat

Forget photo-sharing --- these 7 startups are solving real problems (without VC bucks) | Vivek Wadhwa | Venture Beat | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A standing joke in Silicon Valley is that the smartest people go into online advertising, virtual currency, or dumb online games. And you surely have to wonder what has gone wrong when the industry’s heavy hitters and VCs provide $1.5 million to seed a useless app such as Yo.

Fortunately, there are many tech startups that are solving real problems — and many entrepreneurs who care. The venture capital community is also beginning to see the light.


Witness Google Ventures’ recent decision to back away from consumer Internet startups and focus more on health care and life sciences companies, and Y Combinator, the most powerful startup accelerator in the world, backing seven non-profits in its latest class.

There is surely hope for tech. Here are seven companies that stand out:


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Cooler weather helps firefighters contain huge bushfire in Australia | Mashable.com

Cooler weather helps firefighters contain huge bushfire in Australia | Mashable.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Cooler conditions on Sunday were helping hundreds of firefighters working to contain a massive wildfire that had forced thousands of people to flee their homes in southern Australia.

A dozen homes have been destroyed by the fire in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, with another 20 also feared lost, state Premier Jay Weatherill said. Twenty-two people have been injured, though none seriously, Weatherill said.

Hot and windy conditions that had fanned the flames since Friday eased on Sunday, prompting officials to lower the fire's danger rating from the highest level. Firefighters were working to clear roads and police hoped to return some residents to their homes Sunday morning, Police Commissioner Gary Burns said.

"We will be reopening areas once it's safe to do so," Weatherill said. "However, there remains serious risks associated with falling trees and falling power lines."

Residents of 19 communities had been forced to flee their homes as the fire raged. A large number of cats and dogs were killed when a kennel was destroyed in the blaze.

Several firefighters were treated for minor conditions such as smoke inhalation, but no major injuries were reported, the Country Fire Service said.


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Heavyweight Response to Local Fracking Bans | Jack Healy | NYTimes.com

Heavyweight Response to Local Fracking Bans | Jack Healy | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This northern Colorado city vaulted onto the front lines of the battle over oil and gas drilling two years ago, when residents voted to ban hydraulic fracturing from their grassy open spaces and a snow-fed reservoir where anglers catch smallmouth bass.

But these days, Longmont has become a cautionary tale of what can happen when cities decide to confront the oil and gas industry. In an aggressive response to a wave of citizen-led drilling bans, state officials, energy companies and industry groups are taking Longmont and other municipalities to court, forcing local governments into what critics say are expensive, long-shot efforts to defend the measures.

While the details vary — some municipalities have voted for outright bans, and others for multiyear suspensions of fracking — energy companies in city after city argue that they have a right to extract underground minerals, and that the drilling bans amount to voter-approved theft. They also say state agencies, not individual communities, are the ones with the power to set oil and gas rules.


Because the cases are being fought one by one at the state level, they are not expected to set any immediate nationwide standard on whether homeowners and local leaders have the power to keep drilling rigs out of their towns. But they are being watched as legal litmus tests as more governments plunge into the acrimonious debate over fracking, the process of pumping huge amounts of water, sand and chemicals underground to release oil and gas buried in shale rock.


New York State’s move to ban fracking last month, for example, was foreshadowed by a ruling in June by the state’s highest court that towns could use their zoning laws to outlaw the practice. In the wake of New York’s announcement, anti-fracking activists in California, Maryland and Pennsylvania, among other states, renewed their calls for bans.


Citizens’ groups and environmental organizations say residents have the right to live on suburban streets and walk their children to school without worrying about methane leaks from wellheads, or traffic and noise from the drilling rigs and tractor-trailers that haul machinery and water to fracking sites. Other property owners and residents, of course, embrace fracking as an economic powerhouse that has provided thousands of jobs, enriched local governments and opened new economic opportunities in rural communities.


Here in Colorado, the energy industry, which argues that cities lack the authority to outlaw fracking, has already won rulings overturning three fracking prohibitions.


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Netflix Cracks Down on VPN and Proxy "Pirates" | TorrentFreak

Netflix Cracks Down on VPN and Proxy "Pirates" | TorrentFreak | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library.

Some people bypass these content and access restrictions by using VPNs or other circumvention tools that change their geographical location. This makes it easy for people all around the world to pay for access to the U.S. version of Netflix, for example.

The movie studios are not happy with these deviant subscribers as it hurts their licensing agreements. Previously entertainment industry sources in Australia complained bitterly that tens of thousands of Netflix “VPN-pirates” were hurting their business.

Over the past weeks Netflix has started to take action against people who use certain circumvention tools. The Android application started to force Google DNS which now makes it harder to use DNS based location unblockers, and several VPN IP-ranges were targeted as well.

Thus far the actions are limited in scope, so not all VPN users may experience problems just yet. However, TorGuard is one of the VPN providers which noticed a surge in access problems by its users, starting mid-December.

“This is a brand new development. A few weeks ago we received the first report from a handful of clients that Netflix blocked access due to VPN or proxy usage. This is the very first time I’ve ever heard Netflix displaying this type of error message to a VPN user,” TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt tells us.

In TorGuard’s case the users were able to quickly gain access again by logging into another U.S. location. It further appears that some of the blocking efforts were temporary, probably as a test for a full-scale rollout at a later date.

“I have a sneaking suspicion that Netflix may be testing these new IP blocking methods temporarily in certain markets. At this time the blocks do not seem aggressive and may only be targeted at IP ranges that exceed too many simultaneous logins.”


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Florida's Alan Grayson: "TPP Should Be Put To Death." | Jerry Alatalo | Oneness Of Humanity

Florida's Alan Grayson: "TPP Should Be Put To Death." | Jerry Alatalo | Oneness Of Humanity | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida told Acronym TV’s Dennis Trainor that the United States did not go to war in Syria in September 2013 because the American public “rose up”. He says the same response to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) can prevent an unwise, democracy-killing trade bill from passing the Congress into law.

Although Mr. Grayson didn’t mention his theory of the TPP beyond, agreeably, the further concentration of corporate power at the expense of the people and their right to democratic actions in nations signing on to the trade deal, perhaps the real motivation behind TPP – plus the equally gigantic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – is corporate solidification of legal rules in their favor, before the people of the world can gather enough strength in unity to stop the trade deals. The reason both TPP and TTIP are so, so secretive is precisely to prevent the people of the world from becoming fully aware and rising in opposition – strongly enough for the people and democracy to prevail.

The feature of TPP which has outraged the most men and women, one of the few provisions which has become known – through “leaks” by Wikileaks and other avenues, is given the legal term “Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement”. This is how every dispute will become resolved among the signatory nations and their people. The angering aspect is that corporate tribunals – not traditional, neutral, government legal institutions – are given the power to make all the legal determinations.


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You Can Turn A $2000 Shipping Container Into An Epic Off-Grid Home | TrueActivist.com

You Can Turn A $2000 Shipping Container Into An Epic Off-Grid Home | TrueActivist.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

All you need is around $2000 to begin building one of these epic homes – made from recycled shipping containers! Check out some of these amazing creations!

A luxury home doesn’t always necessarily mean thousands of square footage, towering great rooms and gilded toilets. Take these homes for example: to begin building one of these epic houses, all you need is $2,000. That $2,000 will buy you a shipping container.


What you do with that shipping container… well, that’s completely up to you. Some creative people have found a way to transform this rudimentary “room” with metal siding into luxury housing that blows us away. These homes are epic.


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BBC staff ordered to stop giving equal airtime to climate deniers | Lindsay Abrams | Salon.com

BBC staff ordered to stop giving equal airtime to climate deniers | Lindsay Abrams | Salon.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Good news for viewers of BBC News: You’ll no longer be subjected to the unhinged ravings of climate deniers and other members of the anti-science fringe. In a report published Thursday by the BBC Trust, the network’s journalists were criticized for devoting too much airtime (as in, any airtime) to unqualified people with “marginal views” about non-contentious issues in a misguided attempt to provide editorial balance.

“The Trust wishes to emphasize the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,” the report reads. “Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.” So far, according to the Telegraph, about 200 staff members have attended seminars and workshops aimed at improving their coverage.

To illustrate the ridiculousness of having one fringe “expert” come in to undermine a scientific consensus, the report points to the network’s coverage of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in September released a report concluding, with 95 percent certainty, that man-made climate change is happening. As was their due diligence, BBC reporters called a dozen prominent U.K. scientists, trying to drum up an opposing viewpoint. When that didn’t happen — probably because 97 percent of scientists agree that man-made climate change is happening — they turned instead to retired Australian geologist Bob Carter, who has ties to the industry-affiliated Heartland Institute.


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Police In Scotland Tweet Out Plans To 'Investigate' Any 'Offensive Comments' On Social Media | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Police In Scotland Tweet Out Plans To 'Investigate' Any 'Offensive Comments' On Social Media | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

So we just had a story about a 19-year-old guy being arrested for making a (bad) joke tweet about an out of control garbage truck.


The Northumbria police who arrested Ross Loraine are insisting that the bad joke was a "malicious communication" under The Communications Act. Many people have been calling out this rather ridiculous attack on free speech, but police in Scotland seem to be doubling down. They just sent out this tweet


If you can't read it, it says:

Please be aware that we will continue to monitor comments on social media & any offensive comments will be investigated.

In other words: "fuck free speech -- if you say something we deem offensive, we can arrest you." So far, nearly all of the reply tweets seem to be mocking the police. Here are just a few examples:


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Squeezed By Austerity Imposed By Germany, Greece and Spain on Verge of Revolt | Harold Meyerson | The American Prospect

Squeezed By Austerity Imposed By Germany, Greece and Spain on Verge of Revolt | Harold Meyerson | The American Prospect | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A New Left is rising in Europe as the new year begins. And despite the fears it engenders in polite society, this New Left is less Marxian than it is—oh, the horror—Keynesian.

Keynesianism is a complex economic theory, but its central insight is simple enough: If every institution stops spending, economic activity will decline. Self-evident though this may be, this insight has eluded such global economic institutions as the International Monetary Fund, as well as Europe’s economic hegemon, Germany, when dealing with the depression that has devastated southern Europe, and Greece in particular.

In confronting the economic crisis that began with the 2008 implosion of Wall Street, nations such as Greece and Spain were unable to bolster their economies by devaluing their currencies, which would have made their products more competitive. They didn’t have currencies of their own; they had the euro, over which they had no control. The other way they could have bolstered their economies, at a time when their banks and businesses were reeling and had no capacity to invest, was to follow the Keynesian course of having their governments invest more by enacting a stimulus, as our government did at the outset of Barack Obama’s presidency. But the European Union, steered by Germany, blocked that option by threatening to cut off credit and loans to southern Europe unless those governments enacted major cuts in spending. Cowed, that’s what the governments of Greece and Spain did.

The counter-Keynesian “logic” behind these cuts was that, by injecting more fiscal discipline into their systems, these nations would improve their competitiveness and return to prosperity. The consequence of these cuts, however, has been exactly what the Keynesians predicted: With both private and public spending drying up, the economies of these nations tanked. And with Germany continuing to insist on even deeper cuts, their economies stayed tanked.


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House Oversight Chair Vows ‘New Approach’ to Energy, Environment, Technology | Charles Clark | GovExec.com

House Oversight Chair Vows ‘New Approach’ to Energy, Environment, Technology | Charles Clark | GovExec.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, announced a reworking of specialties on the House Oversight and Government Reform panel that he will chair when Congress reconvenes later this month, adopting titles that stress energy and the environment over economic issues and jobs, and creating an information technology subcommittee.

“These changes will allow the subcommittee chairs and members to take a new approach to addressing the matters that come before the committee,” Chaffettz said in a statement. “Each of the incoming chairs brings valuable knowledge and experience to the subcommittees they have been selected to lead, and I am grateful for their commitment to bringing vigorous oversight to the federal government.”

Chaffettz has hinted at a new focus on energy and the environment. “Federal policies that restrict access, limit uses, or delay progress harm local economic activity, job creation, and public education,” he says on his website. “Misguided decisions are generally made because Washington D.C. bureaucrats often wield more power than those on the ground. Local and state leaders should not be trumped by out-of-state officials.”

The new structure expands the number of subcommittees from five to six. They are:


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Dixie, LA family finds their tap water is flammable | Victoria Shirley | KSLA.com

Dixie, LA family finds their tap water is flammable | Victoria Shirley | KSLA.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A Dixie, Louisiana family made a startling discovery recently when they lit a flame next to the water coming out of their household faucet and it burst into flames. They don't live far from a natural gas drilling site, but experts say that may have nothing to do with it.

The Parker family has two houses on property that shares a private well. They explained they've been having issues with their water for about a year, but didn't know how serious it was until now.

"Especially in the morning, you come in and turn the water on and there is so much air pressure in the lines that is just blows water everywhere, you're soaked," said Sarah Evans, who was visiting her parents from out of town, when she came up with the idea to put a lighter to her parents' faucet.

"I did it because I'd seen it on TV before and a flame came up," she said. That's when she walked next door to her brother's house, that's connected to the same well, and did the same thing. "His water blew up and caught the fringe of the curtains, that is how high the flames came up," Evans explained.

That's not the only strange thing that happened with their water. The Parkers also claim their 17-year-old daughter, Meaghan, has passed out while doing the dishes. "My dad came out and tried to talk to me, he said I leaned back, let go, and hit the floor." Meaghan says she went to the hospital, but doctors couldn't pinpoint the reason for her fainting spell.


The family suspects they have methane gas leaking into their private well water. John Parker suspects the leak is coming from a nearby oil and gas company that drills close to their homes. "This only started once they started drilling those wells," Parker said.

That company, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, tells KSLA News 12 they will be doing some testing to see whether there is a leak. "At this time, no one knows the source of this issue, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Office of Conservation has been notified so that a third-party expert can collect samples, conduct further testing and determine the source," External Communications Director John Christiansen said in a written statement. In the meantime, the company has delivered several cases of water to the families to be, as they put it, "good neighbors."


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