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Internet Television

Gigaom: Victory against Grooveshark shows music industry has upper hand on sharing sites
2 hours ago Sep. 30, 2014 - 8:33 AM PDT The music industry has been waging a bitter campaign against song-sharing sites for years and now, for better or worse, the industry is clearly winning. The latest evidence of this came
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Gigaom: Matchstick, the Firefox OS-based Chromecast competitor, launches on Kickstarter for $18
3 hours ago Sep. 30, 2014 - 7:45 AM PDT Remember that Firefox OS-based streaming stick we first told you about in June? It debuted on Kickstarter on Tuesday under the product name Matchstick, and it’s priced to pick a fight:
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Gigaom: Does it matter that some New York Times editors and writers don’t tweet? Yes and no
19 hours ago Sep. 29, 2014 - 3:39 PM PDT BuzzFeed recently ran a post on what it called the New York Times‘ “Twitter graveyard,” which turned out to be a list of accounts set up by the newspaper’s editorial staff that
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Gigaom: eMusic becomes once again an indie MP3 subscription service 29 September 2014, 19.16 Internet Television
Gigaom: eMusic becomes once again an indie MP3 subscription service
19 hours ago Sep. 29, 2014 - 3:08 PM PDT The dream of the 90s is alive at eMusic: The music subscription pioneer is going back to its roots and severing its ties with all three major labels to only offer indie music for
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Gigaom: Why the writing may be on the wall for Redbox Instant 29 September 2014, 19.16 Internet Television
Gigaom: Why the writing may be on the wall for Redbox Instant
22 hours ago Sep. 29, 2014 - 12:43 PM PDT Redbox Instant has a problem that may just break its neck: The video service disabled sign-ups for new users because of criminal activity three months ago, and has yet to open up the
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Earth News Reports

6 awesome designs for the kitchen 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
6 awesome designs for the kitchen
Are you having problem managing things in your houses, especially in kitchen due to lack of spaces? Well considering your management issue, here we have 6 awesome designs for your kitchen that will definitely make your kitchen
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Surreal photography by Hossein Zare 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
Surreal photography by Hossein Zare
Some clever photo manipulation by illustrator and photographer Hossein Zare. In these pieces, the artist combines both of his arts to add some surreal elements. The post Surreal photography by Hossein Zare appeared first on
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Ink Drawings on Vintage Book Pages by Loui Jover 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
Ink Drawings on Vintage Book Pages by Loui Jover
Loui Jover, a self-represented full time artist from Queensland, Australia says, “I paint, I draw, and I do it every day.” Apart from arts and cartoons, Jover wanted to do something creative and he finally came up with
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Notebooks covers with amazing embroidery 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
Notebooks covers with amazing embroidery
Fabulous Cat Papers is an Etsy shop with tons of amazing notebook covers, some of which include gorgeous embroidery that enhance the drawings. The post Notebooks covers with amazing embroidery appeared first on Design daily
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Intricate drawings by François Schmidt 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
Intricate drawings by François Schmidt
François Schmidt is a French illustrator who works for local TV, editorials, and all kinds of other clients. He creates drawings that are full of surprises, richly illustrated. The post Intricate drawings by François Schmidt
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7 great free fonts for your designs 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
7 great free fonts for your designs
If you are seeking for awesome fonts that enhance the beauty and uniqueness of your design then here you go. Below given are 7 great free fonts that any designer should not miss out. Have a look! 1. Metropolis Metropolis font
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Tiny paintings by Mesut Kul 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
Tiny paintings by Mesut Kul
The Internet has made me an hard-to-impress kind of person, but the level of precision required for the making of such paintings is just amazing. Mesut Kul is a Turkish artist who choses the smallest possible surfaces to create
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Spectacular 3D Paintings Sculptures 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
Spectacular 3D Paintings Sculptures
For these 3D sculptures/paintings, Paul Louise-Julie was inspired by recent trips to West Africa. He mixed several techniques to create artworks that pop to your face. The post Spectacular 3D Paintings Sculptures appeared first
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The 20 most creative business cards ideas 29 September 2014, 19.17 Green Architecture
The 20 most creative business cards ideas
Business cards are essential for every professional life. It gives your potential clients a very good impression. Your business card speaks for your brand and hence creativity counts in order to present your brand idea in more
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BB.Suit 0.2 is a 3D-Knitted “Onesie” That Purifies the Air Around It
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: BB.Suit: A 3D-Knitted “Onesie” That Doubles as Wi-Fi Hotspot Wearable Technology BB.Suit 0.2 is a 3D-Knitted “Onesie” That Purifies the Air Around It by Jasmin Malik Chua , 09/29/14   filed
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Future News Reports

Obama's War Against US Energy Independence:  Give Away Oil Rich Alaskan Islands to Russia!
  By Joe Miller The Obama administration, despite the nation’s economic woes, effectively killed the job-producing Keystone Pipeline last month. The Arab Spring is turning the oil production of Libya and other Arab
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OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials 08 April 2012, 02.33 Administrator Energy
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials Visit http://www.osbitpower.com for further information OSBIT Power (OP), Siemens Wind Power and Statoil have successfully completed offshore
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North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost 12 January 2012, 02.01 Administrator Energy
North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost
        North America’s EV charging infrastructure may soon see significant improvements, thanks to a recent agreement between Eaton Corporation and Coulomb Technologies. Under the deal, Eaton’s Level II and
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Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source? 28 May 2011, 01.34 Administrator Energy
Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source?
      Have scientists already unknowingly discovered the source for all atomic energy reactions, and could the discovery of the gravitomagnetic field be the ultimate energy source?  What if our understandings on how
Read More 4898 Hits 1 Rating
Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation 25 September 2011, 16.27 Administrator Energy
Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation
Physicists wary of junking light speed limit yet Physicist Antonio Ereditato poses before presenting the result of an experiment, which found a subatomic particle, the neutrino, seemed to move faster than the speed of
Read More 3118 Hits 0 Ratings
STEORN ORBO  FREE ENERGY:  What's Next a Self Charging Unit for your Electric Car?
Steorn's Free Energy Orbo -- From Permanent Magnets to Solid State Systems   My associate, Hank Mills composed this for PESN, Saturday, February 12, 2011 6:17 Steorn is a small company based in Dublin, Ireland. For
Read More 5142 Hits 1 Rating
Cold Fusion, Releases Energy from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field 16 January 2011, 09.17 Administrator Energy
Cold Fusion, Releases Energy  from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field
Cold Fusion "In Bologna we did it" By Ilaria VENTURI, La Republica News, Bolona, Italy For the first time in Italy, in front of experts, the process was carried out using nickel and hydrogen. It 's the way to achieve
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Abu Dhabi Media Zone to generate renewable energy through its façade
Eco Factor: Sustainable development to generate renewable solar energy. Bernard Tschumi Architects have re-imagined their master plan for the new Abu Dhabi Media Zone, by incorporating several environmentally-friendly
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The Great Barrier Reef is an effective wave absorber PDF Print E-mail

18 September 2014 | Environment

Great Barrier Reef: wave stopper

The largest coral reef system on Planet Earth extends 2,300 kilometers along the coast of Queensland, in Australia. It is a World Heritage Site since 1981.

A study led by five scientists proved that, despite large gaps between the reefs, the Great Barrier Reef dramatically reduces wave height landward of the coral line.

"There was no evidence that in less porous areas wave heights are lessened. This is because individual reefs, like islands, cast a 'wave shadow' over a large area, so that a matrix of individual reefs is remarkably efficient at reducing waves," explains Shari Gallop, researcher at the University of Southampton.

The porosity level is much lower in the north - where the continental shelf is narrow, and there is extensive reef flats - than it is in the south where the shelf reaches up to 300 kilometers wide, and there are extensive lagoons.

Scientists used a 16-year record of satellite altimeter measurements of wave heights to reach relevant conclusions. It was also proved that landward of the reefs, waves are mostly related to local winds rather than offshore wave conditions.

The study will have an impact on wave modelling near reef systems because models that consider individual reefs only may underestimate the wave reduction potential of a full reef matrix.

"It is of critical importance to know the potential impacts of climate change effects, such as sea level rise and variations in wave conditions, on wave attenuation and current circulation on the Great Barrier Reef. This will aid in the sustainable management of this natural wonder and the surrounding marine national park," adds Roshanka Ranasinghe, professor of Climate Change Impacts and Coastal Risk at the Australian National University.

In the future, scientists will investigate the wave attenuation characteristics over the reef in more detail, using sophisticated numerical modelling.

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Ocean temperatures hit historic levels PDF Print E-mail

26 September 2014 | Environment

Oceans: temperatures keep rising

NOAA has revealed that, in August 2014, global sea surface temperature was 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.4°F).

The historic number means that the rise in the temperature of the oceans is deeply affecting the health of marine ecosystems.

This record high departure from average not only beats the previous August record set in 2005 by 0.08°C (0.14°F), but also beats the previous all-time record set just two months ago in June 2014 by 0.03°C (0.05°F).

Simultaneously, the global ocean surface temperature observed between June–August period was 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average, the highest on record for the period. This beats the previous record set in 2009 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).

The global land surface temperature was 0.99°C (1.78°F) above the 20th century average of 13.8°C (56.9°F), the second highest on record for August, behind 1998.

In other words, Planet Earth is clearly heating up. It's up to everyone to take action and help reducing the impact of climate change, with daily eco-friendly practices.

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Surfrider wins first legal battle at Martin's Beach PDF Print E-mail

25 September 2014 | Environment

Martin's Beach: nobody owns the beach | Photo: Surfrider

The Surfrider Foundation is celebrating a very significant victory in the battle against the man who wants to block public access to Martin's Beach, in San Mateo. Khosla has been also forced to begin a public process to consider the changes to the property and beach access.

"Today's court decision upholding the Coastal Act is an important victory for Martin's Beach and ultimately strengthens the publics right to beach access in California," says Angela Howe, Legal Director for the Surfrider Foundation.

"The Surfrider Foundation remains vigilant to protect beach access rights, not only in this case, but also in other cases where the beach is wrongfully cut off from the public." Nevertheless, the war is not yet over, and Khosla is believed to appeal.

The legal battle started in 2010 when Vinod violated the California Coastal Act by, without authorization, closing the only public access road to Martin's Beach and posting signage to deter visitors.

Nobody owns the beach. Support Surfrider and stand up for your right to access your beach today, tomorrow and for years to come.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
 
Gone Marching PDF Print E-mail

By Betsy Pantazelos

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Today did not start like most other days for the employees of Patagonia stores in New York City. We didn’t restock shelves, we didn’t organize products and we didn’t open the doors at normal hours for our customers. Instead, with the blessing of the company—and our CEO, Rose Marcario, at our side—we joined our neighbors for the People’s Climate March.

After a gathering at the Upper West Side store with Protect Our Winters, Catskill Mountainkeeper, HeadCount, employees and supporters, we all headed for the streets to reinforce the importance of keeping the health of the environment at the forefront of world discussions instead of on the back burner. What followed was the largest rally of its kind to date.

Above: Employees and customers assembled to march. Photo: Betsy Pantazelos

The event was aptly named the People’s Climate March because people are intrinsically linked to the environment—as creatures of the planet—but also as the ones to blame for the climate issues we face. So we gathered, en masse, from near and from far to be the change we hope to see.

By recent estimates, more than 400,000 people joined the effort, standing collectively to support countless environment causes—all vast and intriguingly disparate. But the day was not about delineating our different passions; the march marked a pause in many New Yorkers’ busy lives to stand in solidarity. The whole experience served as a friendly reminder that environmentalism is a cross-party issue, where all factions have a singular vested interest in the only planet we have.

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Miles of city blocks were densely packed with concerned citizens. Photo: Betsy Pantazelos

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Employees and friends encouraged everyone to Vote the Environment. Photo: Betsy Pantazelos

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Even Kodiak and Bella joined the peaceful march to encourage voter activism. Photo: Betsy Pantazelos

Hopefully today served as a catalyst for many citizens, a call to action to vote on behalf of the environment and also as a spark for world leaders to actively discuss and create global reform to address climate change. After all, this is a mess of our own making, and—no matter your reasons for marching today—it’s time we cleaned things up.

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Betsy Pantazelos is an avid skier and the District Manager of Patagonia Retail Stores in New York City.

Check out more photos from the march by Tim Davis:

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Couldn't make the march? Raise your voice by voting the environment this November in the mid-term elections.

Update 9/25: Peoople's Climage March just released this recap video.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
 
The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 1 PDF Print E-mail

By Christian Beamish

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If I’ve learned anything in these recent years of open boat adventuring aboard my 18-footer, Cormorant, it’s that everything is fine until it isn’t. But also, as Yvon says, “The real adventure starts when something goes wrong…”

Late July, 2014—Shoving off from Gaviota for the 27-mile crossing to San Miguel Island came with a new kind of anxiety, as I no longer travel solo in life but am now married with a soon-to-be three-year-old daughter. When the State Parks Lifeguard pointed to Natasha and our little girl, Josephine, and asked me if I was planning to bring them along, I vehemently replied, “Nooo!” aghast at the thought.

But another thought came on its heels, and that was that if it this sailing journey was too dangerous to consider bringing my young family along, why was it OK to go alone? I’ve rationalized this by telling myself that I pick my days carefully (the forecast was for light-to-moderate winds), wear a lifejacket and lifeline, and carry a Spot satellite device if I really blow it and need to be rescued. So with the mental shrug of the shoulders that it takes to do these types of trips, I pulled Cormorant off the trailer, got her down the beach, and kissed my ladies goodbye.

Above: High-seas selfie, 15-miles into a 27-mile crossing. All photos by Christian Beamish

I’d wrangled four days from my job stocking shelves and providing excellent customer service at Trader Joe’s in Santa Barbara, provisioned Cormorant with my 10% employee discount, and intended to sail across the channel—anchoring at either San Miguel or Santa Rosa Island, depending on wind and currents. It was slow going, and by 1 p.m. I’d only ghosted a couple of miles up the coast on the merest breath of wind from the southwest, which didn’t afford me any progress seaward. But the breeze finally clocked around and I set my course straight on for the oil platform Heritage, some miles off.

There is nothing practical about this mode of travel in terms of its slow pace. But then again, what’s “practical” about climbing a rock face, or riding a wave? I suspect it’s the sheer practicality of 21st-century, digitized life that drives us to do these things. Of course, it’s also a feeling we’re after. And aboard Cormorant it’s the feeling of the water slipping by, speaking its own language along the hull; the incongruity of this sliver of a craft, ancient in design, carried across the big water with nary a ripple behind. Hours and hours passed, and I dropped into the quiet of sailing alone, the sea running deep blue beneath a high ceiling of gray—not another boat or bird, whale or seal to be seen—until the faintest outline of a ridge appeared far away on the horizon. San Miguel, the furthest out of the Northern Channel Islands, rose clearer as I approached, 5-hours melting into 7-hours, a gray oozing fog laying over the rocky crags. The wind held light at about 8-knots from the northwest and I glided in below the big rock pinnacle at Cuyler Harbor, rounding up and dropping the hook in a neat little cove hemmed in by high sea cliffs as the light faded.

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The Harvest oil platform, one-quarter of the way across.

I felt the crossing in a stiffer back and sorer butt than I recalled from previous sails, and I hadn’t remembered the rolling of my little ship making it so hard to sleep. But there was still that great sense of adventure when I awoke the next morning and peeked from under the boat tent at the high cliffs above my anchorage, and watched the guillemots come in for their seemingly out-of-control, splay footed water landings. After a quick breakfast of granola and instant coffee I organized my gear, pulled anchor, and set out under oars. Gray skies persisted as I worked down the rocky coast, harbor seals eyeing me and splashing under as I approached. The high rock walls gave way to lower shelves and the broad curve of beach at the southeast end of the island—Carrington Point. About one thousand sea lions stood huddled in a nervous crowd, the larger Stellar’s sea lions further up the beach seemed more stoic, their heads held high, backs arched, chests thrown out as if impressed by their own magnificence. Although I was well off the beach, the sea lions got spooked and made a charge for the sea en mass, soon swarming Cormorant with their rollicking dives and bellows.

As with the previous day, there was the just the merest hint of a westerly breeze, Santa Rosa three miles across with sandstone cliffs and rock coves along the long western shore. I sailed at the pace of a slow walk, and that was the attitude I took as well—just a country stroll… Later, weaving the kelp beds a quarter mile off of Rosa in a slightly improved breeze, I marveled at how remote all this was even as RVs battled for parking spots not thirty miles away. Then, in an instant, the rudder knocked free of its gudgeons and the main pintle (the pin that makes steering possible) was bent outward and made useless by an unlucky tangle with the kelp. I dropped the sails and scrambled forward to tie the boat off to the kelp in the lee of an offshore rock stack, and then set to trying to fix the rudder. Another five minutes saw the situation go from bad to worse as my attempt to bend the pintle back only resulted in snapping it off clean. Now I sat on the far side of Rosa with no rudder.

Yessir, Yvon, I was on an adventure now…

(To be continued tomorrow)

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Christian Beamish, author of The Voyage of the Cormorant (Patagonia Books, 2012), lives in Santa Barbara County with his wife and daughter.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
 
Fault Lines: Facts About Cracks in the Earth PDF Print E-mail

Faults are fractures in Earth's crust where rocks on either side of the crack have slid past each other.

Sometimes the cracks are tiny, as thin as hair, with barely noticeable movement between the rock layers. But faults can also be hundreds of miles long, such as the San Andreas Fault in California and the Anatolian Fault in Turkey, both of which are visible from space.

Three types of faults

There are three kinds of faults: strike-slip, normal and thrust (reverse) faults, said Nicholas van der Elst, a seismologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. Each type is the outcome of different forces pushing or pulling on the crust, causing rocks to slide up, down or past each other.

"Each describes a different kind of relative motion," van der Elst said.

Strike-slip faults indicate rocks are sliding past each other horizontally, with little to no vertical movement. Both the San Andreas and Anatolian Faults are strike-slip.

Normal faults create space. Two blocks of crust pull apart, stretching the crust into a valley. The Basin and Range Province in North America and the East African Rift Zone are two well-known regions where normal faults are spreading apart Earth's crust.

Reverse faults, also called thrust faults, slide one block of crust on top of another. These faults are commonly found in collisions zones, where tectonic plates push up mountain ranges such as the Himalayas and the Rocky Mountains.

Strike-slip faults are usually vertical, while normal and reverse faults are often at an angle to the surface of the Earth. The different styles of faulting can also combine in a single event, with one fault moving in both a vertical and strike-slip motion during an earthquake. [Countdown: 13 Crazy Earthquake Facts]

All faults are related to the movement of Earth's tectonic plates. The biggest faults mark the boundary between two plates. Seen from above, these appear as broad zones of deformation, with many faults braided together. "Plate boundaries are always growing and changing, so these faults develop kinks and bends as they slide past each other, which generates more faults," van der Elst said.

Individual fault lines are usually narrower than their length or depth. Most earthquakes strike less than 50 miles (80 kilometers) below the Earth’s surface. The deepest earthquakes occur on reverse faults at about 375 miles (600 km) below the surface. Below these depths, rocks are probably too warm for faults to generate enough friction to create earthquakes, van der Elst said.

Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+.

For the latest information on earthquakes, visit:



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U.S. International Aid Gets a Climate Makeover PDF Print E-mail

  • Published: September 24th, 2014

The U.S. will change the way it approaches international development projects, helping communities adapt to the climatic changes that its fossil fuel burning has helped to create. But experts question whether the new initiative, announced Tuesday, will be enough to help Bangladeshis who are suffering worsening floods, Pacific Islanders whose lands are sinking beneath rising seas, or any of a long list of other nationalities that are struggling with the effects of global warming.

Those experts say President Obama should focus on committing American money to a new climate adaptation fund set up during U.N. climate negotiations to help the developing world adapt to climate change.

A home in Bangladesh, completely surrounded by floodwater. 
Credit: U.K. Department for International Development/flickr

“We recognize our role in creating this problem; we embrace our responsibility to combat it. We will do our part, and we will help developing nations do theirs,” President Obama said in his speech on Tuesday.

“The truth is that no matter what we do, some populations will still be at risk. Nations that contribute the least to climate change often stand to lose the most. That’s why, since I took office, the United States has expanded our direct adaptation assistance eightfold — and we’re going to do more. ”

President Obama’s remarks came at the U.N. Climate Summit, an event that brought together the world’s leaders to discuss their country’s commitments to address climate change. In addition to touting recent drops in greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to develop a plan to reduce emissions further ahead of major climate negotiations this December and next, President Obama announced an executive order requiring every international aid project the U.S. funds to incorporate climate resilience into planning and decision making.

“I’m announcing a new effort to deploy the unique scientific and technological capabilities of the United States, from climate data to early warning systems,” Obama said. “This effort includes a new partnership and will draw on the resources and expertise of our leading private sector companies and philanthropies to help vulnerable nations prepare for weather-related disasters and better plan for long-term threats like steadily rising seas.”

That means everything from sanitation to irrigation to health projects will have to consider any significant climate risks they face based on both past observations and future projections. The executive order notes that in addition to relying on advanced tools and data available in the U.S. from satellites and supercomputing power, observations and expertise in developing countries should also inform any decisions.

Flooding in Fiji, 2009.
Credit: Snapboot/flickr

Lisa Goddard, director of the International Research for Climate and Society, said that making a concerted effort to provide the best available science as clearly as possible could help meet those goals.

“Today’s new executive order on resilience marks a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, without additional financial commitments, ultimately these actions will be a drop in the bucket when it comes to the United States’ responsibility to deliver on its obligations under the Copenhagen Accord,” said Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America, in a press release.

Those commitments are related to the Green Climate Fund, a pot of money conceived at  international negotiations in 2009 in Copenhagen to help fund adaptation projects in developing countries. Developing countries agreed to add $100 billion to it by 2020 with an interim goal of $14 billion by this year’s end. Following $1 billion pledge by France on Tuesday, the fund stood at only $2.2 billion to date, though.

Uncertainties in future climate projects could also reduce the efficacy of planning for specific impacts. Global temperatures are likely to continue rising into the next century even if greenhouse gas emissions are slowed as are rates of sea level rise and cyclone intensity. But specific local impacts and shifts in rainfall are less certain.

“We can’t just come in with our climate projections,” Goddard said. “The first questions anyone ever asks is what we should do with them. And until you have an understanding of how climate affects a particular sector and how those sectors work together, you can’t do much.”

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Follow the author on Twitter @blkahn or @ClimateCentral. We're also on Facebook & other social networks.



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Itâs Time to Abandon the Delusion of a Carbon Tax PDF Print E-mail

At the United Nations last week, President Obama urged the nations of the world to follow our lead and begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The president has moved aggressively to use the powers of the Clean Air Act to begin the decade-long process of regulating greenhouse gases as air pollutants. Still, even though the president is articulating a strong policy on climate change, he is being criticized because the U.S. is not willing to set a price on carbon. As Coral Davenport reported in the New York Times:

...a major new declaration calling for a global price on carbon -- signed by 74 countries and more than 1,000 businesses and investors -- is missing a key signatory: the United States. The declaration, released by the World Bank the day before Mr. Obama's speech at the United Nations Climate Summit, has been signed by China, Shell, Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola. It calls on all nations to enact laws forcing industries to pay for the carbon emissions that scientists say are the leading cause of global warming.

The Times article notes that 40 countries have some form of carbon pricing and the European Union has had cap-and-trade for nearly a decade. It also reported the administration's sympathy for a carbon price that they would happily push if only they could get it approved by the conservatives in Congress. Unfortunately, even an American and European carbon tax would just be a drop in the carbon bucket. The real problem is not in the District of Columbia, but in China and India. Greenhouse gases are being reduced in Europe and the U.S. but are growing worldwide anyway.

It is easy to blame the conservatives in Congress for making a carbon tax politically infeasible in the United States. My guess is that even without the Tea Party, a carbon tax would be a heavy lift around here. Since we can't even raise the level of gas taxes to pay for pothole repairs, I don't think a carbon tax would get very far in any American congress.

While I consider global warming one of the great policy and management challenges of our time, I do not take seriously this effort to reduce greenhouse gases by raising the price of fossil fuels. A generous interpretation of the proposed carbon tax is that it is an act of political symbolism or perhaps impassioned idealism. A less generous interpretation would label it cynical baloney. No political leader responsible for ensuring the material well-being of his or her people in the modern global economy is going to willingly raise the price of something so central to that economy as the price of energy. This is especially true in the developing world. It makes for interesting cocktail party chitchat and impassioned rhetoric in global talks and academic conferences, but it bears no resemblance to political or economic reality. Fortunately, while price influences corporate and public behavior, and a carbon tax could work, we have other policy tools at our disposal that are politically feasible.

We will make the transition to a fossil fuel-free economy because our survival depends on it, but we won't do it through a tax or treaty that prices energy at its complete cost. I know some economists consider a carbon tax, or internalizing the price of externalities, to be the magic bullet of environmental policy. They seem to have sold many climate scientists (and possibly our Secretary of State) on its mathematical elegance, but any realistic analysis of political and economic power and the force of self-interest make it clear that a global carbon tax will never happen. The political leaders of the developing world need to ensure that they have the energy required to grow their economies. Their political power and survival depend on it. Right now, that means they need fossil fuels. In the developed world, the fossil fuel companies will continue their ultimately futile battle to hold back the forces of technological change. They will fail because new technology creates new wealth and shifting wealth tends to alter the balance of economic and political power.

The real battle -- and the one we should be fighting -- is not over the economics of carbon, but over public funding of the basic research needed to make the transition to a fossil fuel-free economy. Raising the price of energy does not magically create new renewable energy technologies. While it would force some efficiency, innovation and fuel substitution, energy is so central to modern life that price alone may not force carbon reduction. I live in a city where the high cost of housing is borne as the price of living around here. People pay whatever it takes. Perhaps energy is different from housing in New York City. Still, politics blocked Mike Bloomberg's effort to enact congestion pricing in New York despite the gridlock that only gets worse. In other words, even if one grants the theoretical attraction of a carbon tax and the power of price on behavior, it is still not politically feasible.

What we need is a combination of government-funded basic research along with public-funded private incentives to stimulate rapid commercialization and widespread global diffusion of new renewable energy technologies. We need to lower the price of renewable energy directly and drive fossil fuels from the marketplace. Renewables need to be cheaper, more reliable and more convenient than fossil fuels. That should be the basic climate policy strategy pursued by the United States and the rest of the world. That is a policy prescription rooted in history and reality. It is true that the fossil fuel companies will fight this policy with all the force they can muster, but it will not be enough. They will lose.

The history of economic development over the past two centuries (and longer) has been a story of technological development. Technology advances, reaches its limits, and is replaced by new technologies. New technologies change the way we live and improve our standard of living. Sometimes companies change with the times and continue to thrive like IBM and GE; other times they fail to keep up and struggle like Kodak and the folks who make the Blackberry. I do not see divestment from fossil fuel companies as a moral imperative, but as a reasonable investment strategy focused on the future.

In addition to R&D, a meaningful climate policy would include an emphasis on energy efficiency, smart grid infrastructure and the use of short-term bridge fuels such as natural gas. It would also include a strong signal from government, possibly in the form of a command and control regulation that the fossil fuel era is going to gradually come to an end. That is why the president's admonition to reduce greenhouse gases and his use of executive authority to do so is a meaningful and important piece of climate policy. America knows how to limit pollutants through regulation. Our air is cleaner today than it was in 1970 because of the Clean Air Act. That old-fashioned, blunt-edged policy tool has two profound advantages: We know how to implement it and we know that it works. The fact that the U.S. has not signed onto a meaningless non-binding resolution on the way to another round of meaningless climate talks in Paris next year is a non-issue.

Instead of wasting time and effort on a futile attempt to tax carbon, we should be gearing up our national laboratories, research universities and high-tech sector on a massive effort to invent new forms of renewable energy. New battery technology, carbon capture and storage, new energy efficiency technologies and smart energy transmission technologies should be part of the mix.

While we work on technological innovation, we should do everything we can to reduce greenhouse gases using existing technologies. But we should focus on steps that are politically feasible. We should take steps that have a high probability of adoption, ones that are aligned with economic and political reality. A carbon tax is an elegant policy poorly suited for our messy and inelegant political world.



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A Poet at the Climate Summit PDF Print E-mail

Dear Matafele Peinem

On 23 September 2014, 26 year old poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands, addressed the Opening Ceremony of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. Kathy was selected from among over 500 civil society candidates in an open, global nomination process conducted by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service.

Kathy performed her new poem entitled “Dear Matafele Peinem”, written to her daughter. The poem received a standing ovation. Kathy is also a teacher, journalist and founder of the environmental NGO, Jo-jikum.

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