way to light

Found this on Flick this evening when I really should have been doing home­work, but oh well. I love images like this that cre­ate tex­ture through the trees and their leaves. The con­trast between the dark wood and bark and the light green­ery is just fan­tas­tic. Enjoy.

The Grand Canyon

 

found on Flickr

There is no way that enough pho­tos can be taken of the Grand Canyon. When I went back­pack­ing through it for five days I took over 600 and still feel like there’s shots that I missed out on.

Re: Arctic Sea Ice

 

Another blog out there posted an entry that was very crit­i­cal of the orig­i­nal Daily Tech and Boing Boing sto­ries about Arctic Sea Ice lev­els that I posted about the other day. Among other charges, the post claims that:

You can see that there might be a down­ward trend, and any idiot (well, appar­ently not any idiot) can see that con­nect­ing two data points and draw­ing a con­clu­sion about the trend, or what we might expect the future to bring, is … you get the idea.

In response to this arti­cle I posted a com­ment ask­ing where the author got their graphs and infor­ma­tion. The author responded by writ­ing that:

[Response: I made the graphs myself using data avail­able from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (there’s a link on the Climate Data Links page).

The sto­ries repro­duce a graph from Cryosphere Today, which shows the same trend. It’s just as sig­nif­i­cant sta­tis­ti­cally but not as evi­dent visu­ally, because the y-axis is on a much smaller scale so they can include more infor­ma­tion on a sin­gle graph.

 

And there is a con­cen­sus on the issue — among those who know!]

This is exactly the prob­lem that I have with any debates about cli­mate change or global warm­ing. The two extremes are just so set in their beliefs that they con­sider any­one who dis­agrees with their stance as an “idiot.” Each side picks some data com­posed of mea­sure­ments, graphs, and “indis­putable facts” that come from var­i­ous orga­ni­za­tions, etc. What nei­ther one seems to real­ize is that they are pick­ing the data that matches their view­point. With the mul­ti­tude of sources out there for “facts” about global warm­ing each side uses those that match their opin­ion and then decry every­thing else for being mis­lead­ing and untrustworthy.

Furthermore, what gives either side the con­fi­dence that they can accu­rately pre­dict what the cli­mate and the Earth will do in 50 to 100 years? We got into this whole mess because those in con­trol of indus­try believed that they could con­trol and har­ness the power of nature to do their bid­ding with­out suf­fer­ing con­se­quences. Well, isn’t it just as mis­guided and ego­tis­ti­cal to believe that we can pre­dict the course of events in the nat­ural world through com­puter mod­els and an assem­blage of “facts”? To me this falls into the same trap as the indus­trial greed that led us here.

Why does change need to be forced down people’s throats? I would like to see each side advo­cate for just liv­ing con­scious and sus­tain­able lives for the social and per­sonal ben­e­fits that it brings and not feel the need to force this stuff upon peo­ple with tales of doom and gloom. If cut­ting car­bon emis­sions and becom­ing more environmentally-friendly is truly as reward­ing a change as some peo­ple claim then why can’t they argue for their posi­tion through pos­i­tive claims? Instead of pro­pound­ing the ben­e­fits each side resorts to threats and pes­simistic procla­ma­tions as to why we must change now.

Stimulus money to national parks?

Daily KOS has an arti­cle detail­ing a recent report by the NPCA that asks from money from Obama’s eco­nomic stim­u­lus pack­age in order to revamp national parks. The author over at KOS writes that:

There are any num­ber of things that could be done with the upcom­ing, huge stim­u­lus pack­age to put Americans back to work and and improve infra­struc­ture. About $2.5 bil­lion of that to go to our national parks, says the National Parks Conservation Association, and they have a plan.

This makes sense to me, and I would love to see the National Parks get money in order to prop­erly main­tain their ser­vices. What I am wor­ried about is that main­te­nance would turn into expan­sion. I live right out­side of Yosemite National Park and just cringe every time I drive through the val­ley. It’s one thing to make National Parks acces­si­ble and pro­vide for sim­ple accom­mo­da­tions, but that ought to be it. The amount of build­ings, paved road­ways, etc. in Yosemite Valley and other National Parks is just too bad.

This is what I am wor­ried about see­ing stim­u­lus money go toward. If the NPCA wants money to main­tain the cur­rent roads and build­ings then that’s fine; how­ever, if the money is intended for widen­ing roads, build­ing even more hous­ing, and other forms of expan­sion, then I would have to say that I would be opposed to that. At some point we must real­ize that by accom­mo­dat­ing every­one into a National Park we will sim­ply lose what the park is there for: to pro­tect the nat­ural beauty of the place.

Link via Daily Kos: State of the Nation.

The Passive House

I do apol­o­gize for the glut of links to NY Times arti­cles in the past few days, but I just keep find­ing inter­est­ing arti­cles. Here’s one about energy effi­cient hous­ing that is becom­ing pop­u­lar in Germany and Scandinavia. The whole idea is that the house heats itself through what already gives off heat in the home. The dis­cus­sion of the ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem is also great because it describes the genius inge­nu­ity of the sys­tem. Here’s an excerpt below explain­ing the con­cept of a “pas­sive house”:

The con­cept of the pas­sive house, pio­neered in this city of 140,000 out­side Frankfurt, approaches the chal­lenge from a dif­fer­ent angle. Using ultra­thick insu­la­tion and com­plex doors and win­dows, the archi­tect engi­neers a home encased in an air­tight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a pas­sive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appli­ances and even from occu­pants’ bodies.

Link via The Energy Challenge — No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in Innovative ‘Passive Houses’ — Series — NYTimes.com.

The Coal Ash Spill in Tennessee

Concerning the coal ash spill in Tennessee:

Authority offi­cials ini­tially said that about 1.7 mil­lion cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retain­ing wall of an ash pond breached, but on Thursday they released the results of an aer­ial sur­vey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 mil­lion cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep. The amount now said to have been spilled is larger than the amount the Authority ini­tially said was in the pond, 2.6 mil­lion cubic yards.

You would think that after so years and so many dis­as­ters ala Exxon Valdez com­pa­nies would learn their lessons and go through every effort to try and assure that any toxic byprod­ucts were well-contained. I just can’t imag­ine why a com­pany (even a government-owned util­ity like the TVA) would risk the PR night­mare in order to save a lit­tle bit of money or cut a lit­tle corner.

What worse is that all these peo­ple liv­ing in the flooded area now have homes that are in a toxic epi­cen­ter. Even if the CEO of TVA relo­cates all the res­i­dents, which he claims he will, it still doesn’t replace the homes that were lost and the mem­o­ries that can only be con­tained within them.

via Coal Ash Spill Is Much Larger Than Initially Estimated — NYTimes.com.