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Internet Television

HBO will unbundle from cable TV in 2015, but CEO hints at internet bundles
Oct. 15, 2014 - 8:45 AM PDT Oct. 15, 2014 - 8:45 AM PDT HBO will finally offer its HBO Go service to customers without a TV subscription next year: HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler said at an investor meeting Wednesday that
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This is why Netflix loves the little ones: 75 of its kids shows have 2+ million viewers
Oct. 15, 2014 - 4:01 PM PDT Oct. 15, 2014 - 4:01 PM PDT Netflix continues to be everyone’s favorite babysitter: 75 of the kids shows currently on Netflix have attracted more than two million viewers in the U.S. alone this
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How did GamerGate become a lightning rod for violence — and is social media helping or making it worse?
Oct. 15, 2014 - 3:44 PM PDT Oct. 15, 2014 - 3:44 PM PDT Every now and then, the roiling sea of bitterness and even outright malevolence that lurks in the dark corners of the internet gets forced out into the open, and the
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In Q3 Netflix added two international subscribers for every new U.S. member, but price hike slowed growth
Oct. 15, 2014 - 1:10 PM PDT Oct. 15, 2014 - 1:10 PM PDT Netflix experienced slower-than expected growth in Q3 of 2014, adding a total of 3 million members worldwide. Growth was especially slower on the domestic side: Netflix
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Here comes the Nexus Player: Google and Asus release first Android TV device for $99
Oct. 15, 2014 - 9:18 AM PDT Oct. 15, 2014 - 9:18 AM PDT Android TV is here: Google will start to sell the very first Android TV device next month. The Nexus Player, which was announced in conjunction with the Nexus 6 phone,
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Earth News Reports

Michigan Poised to Start Banning Tesla Sales 19 October 2014, 22.26 Transportation
Michigan Poised to Start Banning Tesla Sales
Share on TumblrEmail Michigan just passed a bill in state legislature that essentially bans Tesla from selling cars within the state. HB 5606 prohibits vehicle manufacturers from selling cars directly to
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The Startram Maglev Train Could Make Space Travel Cheaper & More Efficient
Share on TumblrEmail Space travel is a costly and inefficient process. Not only does it take a large amount of fuel to send the lightest payload into orbit (the Space Shuttle used over one million pounds of
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Insane Russian Attack Bike is Powered by a Chainsaw 19 October 2014, 22.26 Transportation
Insane Russian Attack Bike is Powered by a Chainsaw
Share on TumblrEmail Other than the fact that it was constructed in Russia, we aren’t entirely sure who’s responsible for this mean-looking chainsaw bike. While it may look like it’s designed for the
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The Key Art Awards 2014: the best movie posters of the year 19 October 2014, 22.26 Green Architecture
The Key Art Awards 2014: the best movie posters of the year
The Key Art Awards are more famous for their focus on teasers and previews, but they also reward posters. On this post you can see a few of the print finalists, for the full list, just check this page on their website. The post
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Print love: new fine art prints published this week 19 October 2014, 22.26 Green Architecture
Print love: new fine art prints published this week
Poetic, funny, witty, or just beautiful, new art prints are published online every day. With this new weekly feature, I’ll try to share the best of new digital printmaking projects on a regular basis. The great escape by
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20 awesome typographic packaging designs 19 October 2014, 22.26 Green Architecture
20 awesome typographic packaging designs
In this competitive marketplace, if you want to survive with your products then packaging design plays a vital role. For a designer, when it’s the matter of packaging designs, typography is the first thing that hits his/her
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6 WordPress plugins to create cool image effects 19 October 2014, 22.26 Green Architecture
6 WordPress plugins to create cool image effects
As we all know “A picture speaks a thousand words,” it is very essential to pay close attention to images in websites. It has the power to attract your potential customers. That is why today we are here with 6 WordPress
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Illustrations by Jared Muralt 19 October 2014, 22.26 Green Architecture
Illustrations by Jared Muralt
Stunning illustrations by Jared Muralt, a talented illustrator from Bern, Switzerland. Make sure you don’t miss his shop. The post Illustrations by Jared Muralt appeared first on Design daily news. Download the free
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Amazing wooden tables by Lee Jae-Hyo 19 October 2014, 22.26 Green Architecture
Amazing wooden tables by Lee Jae-Hyo
Someone please explain me how these are made technically. Lee Jae-Hyo, a Korean artist, created a set of tables and furnitures made of pieces of wood attached together by some kind of magical technique. He also creates
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Historic photos where guns are replaced by flowers 19 October 2014, 22.26 Green Architecture
Historic photos where guns are replaced by flowers
Blick, a French creative artist, had fun with old war photos and made a pacific statement by exchanging guns in the pictures with flowers. Some powerful images. The post Historic photos where guns are replaced by flowers
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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
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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
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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
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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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Chad Nelsen's top priorities for Surfrider Foundation PDF Print E-mail

10 October 2014 | Environment

Chad Nelsen: leading the Surfrider ship | Photo: Surfrider

He's been in the Surfrider Foundation for 16 years. Chad Nelsen, former lifeguard, comes from Laguna Beach, California. When he volunteered for Surfrider in 1995, he used his research in artificial surfing reefs for his Masters thesis.

The transition from Environmental Director to CEO was a natural step. Now, Nelsen wants to work on the challenges raised by sea level rise and ocean acidification. Three priorities have been drawn up.

"To build more support for our chapter and activist network through additional tools and resources, and to do a better job sharing their stories; to shift our strategy from a reactive to a proactive approach," explains Chad Nelsen.

Finally, the new man behind Surfrider underlines that the "biggest challenge we face in the next 30 years" are the impacts of climate change on our oceans and coasts.

Join Surfrider Foundation and support our maritime treasures.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
 
Surfers Against Sewage wants 50% marine litter reduction in the UK PDF Print E-mail

17 October 2014 | Environment

Marine litter sources: UK spends £18 million annually removing beach litter

The British campaigners have released the "Marine Litter Report", a document that highlights the dimension of the problem and suggests radical new measures to stem the flow of litter to oceans, waves and beaches.

Marine litter is typically classified into the following: cardboard and paper, glass, metal, plastics, processed timber, rubber, sewage-related debris, and textiles and clothing.

"Marine litter is one of the biggest threats to the health of our precious marine environment and it's vital that we ramp up our collective actions to combat the crisis," underlines Hugo Tagholm, CEO at Surfers Against Sewage.

"'Marine Litter Report' maps out radical, yet tried and tested, new measures that can deliver a cleaner, greener coastline by 2020. Cutting off the flow of marine litter at source is critical to our vision to stop plastic and other debris from polluting our beaches."

Smoking bans on beaches, environmental health warnings on single-use packaging, container deposit schemes and better enforcing fines for littering along the coastline are some of the proposals advanced by Surfers Against Sewage.

Did you know that approximately eight million individual items of litter enter the sea every day and that the amount of beach litter in the UK has doubled in the last 20 years?

Save one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles from dying annually from ingestion of, and entanglement in marine litter. UK can do more than spending £18 million annually removing beach litter.

Support Surfers Against Sewage, spread the message and act in your daily routine.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
 
Solutions Series, Part 7: Vote! PDF Print E-mail

By Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff Project

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, U.S. citizens will vote in the 2014 midterm elections. Patagonia supports candidates who will push hard for clean, renewable energy, restore clean water and air and turn away from risky, carbon-intensive fuels. We support leaders who will act on behalf of the future and the planet.

Voting is an action we can all take, the ballot a place we can all be heard.

In this installment of her Solutions Series, Annie Leonard, founder of The Story of Stuff Project, writes about the importance of voting, especially in the midterm elections where participation is disturbingly low.

Todd_Gilloon

“Good citizens take an interest in people and issues outside themselves. . . . They inform themselves. They volunteer. They listen. They take the long view. They vote.”
                                               
–Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

In 1990, I visited Haiti just after the country chose its first democratically elected president. In the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haitians proudly showed me their inked thumbs, marked as they entered the polls. They were so excited at being able to vote that two weeks later they hadn’t washed off the ink.

Contrast that with the United States, where about 60 percent of those eligible vote in presidential elections. The midterm congressional elections in November draw about 40 percent. Compared to other countries such as Australia, Belgium or Chile, where 9 out of 10 voters turn out, that’s pitiful.

Artwork (above): Besties by Todd Gilloon, part of our crowd-sourced poster project to get the vote out. A portion of the proceeds benefit the artists and HeadCount.

In this age of political gridlock and partisan mudslinging, it may seem futile to expect government to work for real solutions to our environmental, economic and social problems. But—after excellent citizen organizing—government gave us the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and many other laws that have made our environment cleaner and safer. Government gave us national parks, wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers.

Government is often slow, clunky and frustrating, but it remains a powerful vehicle for progress—if we get involved to make it so! The vehicle has been hijacked by corporate interests and paralyzed by partisan ideologues, but we can—and must—fight to reclaim it as an ally for advancing solutions.

Here are some essential things We The People can do to take back our government.

1. Vote.

Voting matters, which is why people around the world, from Hong Kong to the Amazon take to the streets to demand the right to vote. Leaders of the women’s movement and the civil rights movement risked arrest, violence, even their lives, to expand voting rights to all U.S. citizens, and we owe it to them—and to future generations—to exercise this most basic right. It’s frustrating to choose between two candidates if neither truly reflects our values. But remember that our votes are not full-on endorsements, but tactical steps to keep us moving in the right direction. Vote for the candidate who gets us closer to the goal, even if it’s not as far as we’d like.

I join Patagonia in calling for us to Vote the Environment. A vote for pro-environmental candidates covers a lot of bases. As recording artist (and lifelong surfer) Jack Johnson says, a vote for a candidate who supports renewable energy is a vote for jobs and independence from oil imports, which is an investment in peace. A vote for candidates who will protect clean air and safe drinking water is a vote for public health.

If you aren’t registered yet, Rock the Vote can get you signed up. HeadCount can help you recruit others at concerts and festivals around the country. We also need to protect the right to vote. Key provisions of the Voting Rights Act are under attack, and we have to fight back to protect this critical democratic right.

Anna_Dulaney
Artwork: Happy Bear by Anna Dulaney.

2. Make your voice heard.

A friend who worked in the White House told me that President Obama gets yelled at every day by people pushing for or against an issue, but almost never by people who care about the environment. Our movement is so silent, he said, that environmental concerns don’t even register in decision-making. So let’s turn the volume up and make sure our voices are heard. Write letters to your elected officials about issues important to you. Better yet, show up at a town hall meeting and ask them a question in public. If you’re visiting City Hall, the state capital or Washington, D.C., request an appointment to tell elected officials in person what is important to you. Elected officials won’t know what we want unless we tell them—loudly and frequently.

Misia
Artwork: Vote the Environment by Misia.

3. Keep an eye on your elected officials—and vote accordingly.

Remember, we’re paying their salary. We wouldn’t hire a carpenter or mechanic and not check on how they are doing. After we tell elected officials what we want, we have to monitor their voting records and reward or punish them accordingly at the polls.

There are many online resources that make it easy to track how elected officials vote and how much corporate money they’re taking. The League of Conservation Voters publishes an annual guide grading members of Congress on the most important environmental issues. Most states also have their own conservation voters’ groups. Oil Change International maintains a Dirty Money website that tracks how much fossil fuel money goes to elected officials.

Erika_Pitcher
Artwork: Vote the Environment by Erika Pitcher.

4. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Periodically, an inspiring, unconventional candidate excites and energizes millions of people who’ve never voted. Unfortunately, after their champion wins (or loses), many of those new voters return to the ranks of the apathetic. But the special interests we’re up against are in it for the long run, so we have to stay with it also. We have to make voting, speaking out and being a watchdog a basic part of our daily routine—part of who we are.

Shane_P_Bowman
Artwork: Environmental Growth by Shane P Bowman.

5. Work for a return to true democracy.

Beyond voting, making our voices heard and monitoring officials’ performance, there’s still more we can do to get government working on the side of solutions. Our most important task is reducing the influence of money in politics. Recent Supreme Court decisions have opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign contributions from corporations and the One Percent, skewing the one person-one vote principle that’s supposed to be the cornerstone of democracy. Fortunately, a host of groups are working to restore the balance. To get involved, check out Money Out-Voters In.

Molly
Artwork: Ghost Trees by Molly.

I have no illusions that it is going to be easy to get the government working for environmental and other solutions. In fact, I know it’s hard, but it’s not impossible and that sense of possibility gives me hope. Lots of things worth doing are hard—from climbing a mountain to running a responsible company; that never stopped us before. Every journey starts with the first step. So register to vote. Then take the next step, and then the next. Each step brings us closer to the solutions we, and our planet, urgently need.

Annie_bio_photo_2

Annie Leonard is the founder of the The Story of Stuff Project and the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. She has dedicated nearly two decades of her life to investigating and reporting on environmental health and justice issues. Her podcast, The Good Stuff, features interviews with inspiring activists, entrepreneurs, scientists and others who’ve succeeded in making change.

Read the entire Solutions Series
Part 1: Babies in the River
Part 2: Solutions in Our Communities
Part 3: Dive In
Part 4: Solutions in Business
Part 5: Taking Action
Part 6: Resist giving in to disillusionment
Part 7: Vote!
Part 8: coming soon

Katie

Join us. Get informed. Take the planet into the voting booth on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Artwork: Rose Valley Spring Bloom by Katie.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
 
The Cleanest Power – $20 Million & Change invests in Hawaiian rooftop solar project PDF Print E-mail

Last year, Patagonia Works announced the launch of $20 Million & Change, an investment fund for companies and initiatives that, in the words of our founder Yvon Chouinard, “work with nature rather than use it up.” We promised to update you from time to time on how this project is shaping up.

Patagonia Solar infographic

We’re entering into an agreement with Kina‘ole Capital Partners to create a $27 million fund that will purchase more than 1,000 rooftop solar power systems in Hawai‘i, where most homeowners currently use electricity generated by coal and oil.

If more businesses followed this investment strategy, we’d have a full-on renewable energy movement on our hands. Conventional wisdom too often assumes business success is incompatible with helping the planet. This investment shows we can do good business by working with nature, rather than using it up—and we’re providing a roadmap for other companies interested in getting their dollars involved too.

Read how it works—and then help us spread the word on social media!

Homeowners in Hawai‘i currently pay three times the U.S. average for electricity. This project will make affordable clean power available to a lot more people—especially those who cannot afford to buy solar power systems outright. The difference will be huge for Hawai‘i, both environmentally and socially. 

The 1,000 new solar power systems purchased through the Kina’ole Solar Fund will supplant dirty oil- and coal-sourced electricity with the cleanest power available. Over their lifetime, these systems will displace 153,000 tons of CO2 emissions—the equivalent of:

  • 323,000 barrels of oil
  • 75,000 tons of coal
  • or taking 29,000 passenger vehicles off the road

The social benefits are equally big. State residential ratepayers now fork over 37.7 cents per kilowatt hour—more than three times the U.S. average (12.31 cents per kWh). Ratepayers, without having to dig into their pockets for any upfront investment, are projected to save 35 percent on their energy bills after solar installation. And there are other benefits as well.

Installation and maintenance of the systems will provide jobs for hundreds of workers, including employees of Patagonia surf ambassador Kohl Christensen’s O‘ahu-based solar installation company.

Davis_t_1341_2
Kohl (left) and crew on the job. O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. Photo: Tim Davis

Patagonia Works’ contribution of $13 million comprises nearly half the fund. This investment makes business sense thanks in part to federal and state tax credits that help repay our investment—and allow us to reinvest to fund future installations.

“This is smart business for Patagonia and good news for homeowners in Hawai‘i,” says Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. “I hope other companies will see how this strategy can bring strong returns and think seriously about doing the same thing. Business can be a driver of change.”

We’re happy to work with a local business like Kina‘ole Capital Partners that shares our business values. Kina‘ole has decades of experience in solar and is committed to local relationships and networks, with transparent marketing and sales practices.

Additionally, at a given point in the lease, customers are free to purchase the solar power system at a fraction of its original cost. In 2011, Forbes Magazine reported that single-family houses with solar PV systems gain about $20,000 in value and sell faster than conventionally powered houses. You can find more information about Kina‘ole at kinaolecapital.com.

Those interested in joining Patagonia to do good business by doing good for the planet can visit this link to learn more about how any company can take advantage of federal and state tax credits offered for investments in clean energy.

Energy customers who live in Hawai‘i and are interested in going solar, please click here to learn more.

We’re excited to share this news and will keep you posted as the solar installations start making their way onto rooftops in Hawai‘i.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
 
Solutions Series, Part 6: Resist giving in to disillusionment PDF Print E-mail

By Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff Project

The 2014 midterm elections are fast approaching in the United States. Patagonia supports candidates who will push hard for clean, renewable energy, restore clean water and air and turn away from risky, carbon-intensive fuels. We support leaders who will act on behalf of the future and the planet.

Voting is an action we can all take, the ballot a place we can all be heard.

In this installment of her Solutions Series, Annie Leonard, founder of The Story of Stuff Project, writes about what voting and citizenship mean to her. Stay tuned for a follow-up post, with actions you can take, later this week

Amy_Diebolt

“True patriotism . . . is loyalty to the Nation all the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it.”
                                                                                    
–Mark Twain

Recently, trying to fix a discrepancy between my passport and driver’s license, I had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles. I arrived at dawn to stand in a line down the block. It started raining; soaked and frustrated, I left. Before the next visit I made an appointment on the DMV website, but when I got there the queue still looked like Soviet-era shoppers outside a Moscow grocery store. Finally someone suggested I go the day before a holiday, and so it was that I spent the morning of Christmas Eve rectifying a bureaucratic error.

Artwork (above): Flower Power by Amy Diebolt. A portion of the proceeds benefit the artist and HeadCount.

The dysfunction of local bureaucracies like the DMV—government at its most up-close and personal—can lead us to think of government as more a source of frustration than solutions. And this frustration reaches to the highest levels.

Disgusted by partisan sniping and bureaucratic inefficiency, Americans hold a historically low opinion of our government: 80% or more of us don’t like the job our elected officials in Washington are doing. Of all the words that come to mind when thinking of our government these days, “solutions” doesn’t top the list. In fact, the other day my teenager joked that if the opposite of pro is con, the opposite of progress is Congress.

It makes me sad. Because the thing is, I want to believe my government is working for our—and the planet’s—well-being. I want to love my government. I want to feel the same enthusiasm as the people I met in Haiti after they voted in the country’s first democratically elected leader, ecstatically waving signs proudly proclaiming that Jean-Bertrand Aristide was “My President.” I actually carry around a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution to remind me of the high ideals on which our government was founded. (It’s also something to read when stuck in line at the DMV.) But since there’s such a gap between our government’s potential and day-to-day reality, I often feel like John Lennon when he sang, “It’s so hard loving you.”

Kat_bush
Artwork: The Eagle Has Landed by Kat Bush

How can those of us who want our government to promote solutions for a clean environment, a fair economy and equal rights for all resist giving in to disillusionment when it so glaringly fails to live up to its promise?

Let’s start by reminding ourselves what government is, or is supposed to be. It’s a vehicle the nation’s founders created to take us to a better future. The problem is that the vehicle has gone off track.

Think how you’d feel if your car was stolen. Irresponsible hoodlums take it for an out-of-control joyride, start driving it in the wrong direction, terrorize innocent pedestrians and cut donuts on the lawn in front of City Hall. If you have a chance to get it back, do you shrug and say, “Nevermind, they can keep it. That car sucks so bad I’m not going to drive anymore?”

I didn’t think so. But that’s the same attitude as people who—dismayed by the hijacking of democracy by corporate polluters, Wall Street fat cats and corrupt politicians-for-sale—shrug and write off government. Today, too many Americans can’t be bothered to vote, much less lend their energy to a campaign to strengthen the Clean Air Act, protect wilderness or raise the minimum wage.

Vikram_Nongmaithem
Artwork: Vote the Environment 2 by Vikram Nongmaithem.

Instead of only focusing on the ways our government annoys or disappoints us, I like to remember the good stuff government does for us every day: putting out fires. Providing clean drinking water (in most places) from our very own taps. Keeping airplanes from crashing into each other. For inspiration about government’s potential on bigger issues, I like to remember the times government stepped up—often after lengthy citizen campaigns—to do the right thing like ending child labor, banning lead in gasoline and enforcing desegregation. And, above all, I like to remember that it’s a government “by the people” and “for the people.” That we have a hand in what direction we want the government to go, and influence over how it gets there. We’ll talk about how to do that next time.

Annie_bio_photo_2

Annie Leonard is the founder of the The Story of Stuff Project and the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. She has dedicated nearly two decades of her life to investigating and reporting on environmental health and justice issues. Her podcast, The Good Stuff, features interviews with inspiring activists, entrepreneurs, scientists and others who’ve succeeded in making change.

Read the entire Solutions Series
Part 1: Babies in the River
Part 2: Solutions in Our Communities
Part 3: Dive In
Part 4: Solutions in Business
Part 5: Taking Action
Part 6: Resist giving in to disillusionment
Part 7: coming soon

Andrew_Lynne

Join us. Get informed. Take the planet into the voting booth on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Artwork: One Vote Can Change Everything by Andrew Lynne.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
 
Relay Handoff on a Slovenian Alpine Playground PDF Print E-mail

By Luka Krajnc

DSC_6418c

All stories have to start somewhere. This one started over a cold beer when Marko Prezelj, Tadej Krišelj and I were sitting on the porch of Marko´s house on a warm, early summer evening discussing future plans. The debate evolved and ideas flew by when Marko briefly mentioned that together with Klemen Mali, more than ten years ago, he tried to climb a new route on the northwest face of Vežica in the Kamnik–Savinja Alps. The wall lies in the northern part of Slovenia and is known for its steep nature and quality limestone. After climbing one long pitch and scoping the central part of the wall they realized that their fitness did not meet the requirements needed for climbing the route in the imagined style, so they put the project aside for a time when they might be stronger. After several years they decided to pass the idea on to younger adventure-seeking climbers.

Every seed needs to be planted before it can grow and develop into something bigger. This one immediately fell onto fertile ground as we were highly motivated and eager to face the challenge. A few days later, we found ourselves on the steep approach in a joyful atmosphere full of excitement and expectation. Marko showed us the proposed line, we discussed various technical and ethical strategies and then he left us for our reality check.

Above: Searching for friction on the vertical playground. All photos by Marko Prezelj.

Climbers choose the rules by which we want to play the game. When making first ascents, this fact is even more evident and essential. Our plan was to climb the route with minimum use of fixed gear in a style that would help us discover (the proximity of) our physical and psychological limits. We accepted the challenge by free climbing ground up, using technical help only for placing protection and never for advancing. We knew, that by following this recipe, a highly memorable experience would be guaranteed.

What started as a short-term objective, evolved into a project that took us more than 15 different days over two seasons to complete—most of them found us stepping far out of the comfort zone in search of our inner borders. The steep and sloping nature of the rock proved difficult for placing protection. We encountered many intense moments and multiple long falls, after which our balls shrunk to the size of peanuts and our hearts raced as if we were at the Olympics. There were times when progress seemed elusive and accompanied with fatigue; the thoughts of failure started crawling into our minds. In moments like that we felt tempted to adjust the strict rules of the game that we had set and equip the route from the top. Luckily, we soon came to our senses and didn’t react to the temptations that we would regret right away. We realized that what we really enjoy is the whole process.

So we didn´t give up and, countless falls later, spread over two and a half days of effort, we finally succeeded in passing the most difficult second pitch. The remaining terrain ahead proved to be physically easier but required the same serious and focused approach. On many of the visits, our stubbornness clashed with the weather and brought us to situations where we had to descend back to the valley soaked to the bone in the middle of a rainstorm. But all of that was part of the experience and we realized that none of the days we spent up there were wasted.

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Despite the majority of the obvious features being climbed, there are plenty of challenges left for those looking from the right perspective.

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An international mix of motivated personalities with the same passion and lots of positive spirit.

This summer our alpine team hosted a group of French climbers to introduce them to our climbing environment and share the spirit. At the start, the weather was not in our favor but motivation was high and nothing kept us away from climbing at some steep rain-proof crags. Our energy potentiated as everyone tried to push our own and each other’s limits. The days went by and the weather finally improved so it was time to head for the mountains.

All of our guests already had their partners and plans for the following day, so together with Tadej we decided to give our project one more try. At the same time, I promised a strong French lady, Aurelie Didillon, that we would climb another interesting route together in my home mountains the day after. She decided to take a rest day for that reason, and Tadej and I got an early start to make the most out of the day and return before the evening.

Martin and Renaud also joined us to climb a different route on the same wall, so the drive and approach were full of laughter and passed quickly. The closer to the wall we came, the less I laughed as my head knew what was approaching. All of a sudden I started feeling the pressure of the job ahead and it was obvious everything would have to come together perfectly to make our goal a reality.

After the initial routine, I slowly started to move up the crux pitch feeling the inner tension while unsuccessfully trying to convince myself it’s not a big deal. Fueled by the positive energy that was present during the whole week, my body stayed in correlation with my mind and I managed to free climb the pitch on my first try of the day. For a few moments I couldn’t believe what just happened, but later the hormones of happiness kicked in and a big smile grew on my face. Tadej also gave it a few good tries but success unfortunately eluded him for the day. By that time it was already late in the afternoon and we had several pitches of serious climbing to go, so I called Marko and asked if he could find Aurelie a substitute for me, as it was clear we wouldn’t be back soon enough to head to the mountains the next day. It became dark three pitches before the summit and we had to try really hard to fight the cramps in our muscles and minds to safely follow the glow of our head lamps to the top.

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Happy faces at the end of a great journey. 

At the end of the day my mind was full of mixed emotions. I was thrilled to finally succeed in free climbing the route that took so much effort out of us, but on the other hand I felt sorry for Tadej and kind of guilty that I didn´t keep the promise I made to Aurelie the day before. We arrived back to the valley in the middle of the night and were too tired to drive safely, so my girlfriend Ajda helped us out and drove us back to our starting point where we arrived 25 hours after our departure. Luckily, Aurelie found another partner and headed out an hour after we returned. A deserved rest day followed and in the evening we all celebrated a week full of laughter and great moments, while a mix of French and Slovenian beverages helped to give the final evening an even more relaxed international feel.

It’s in our nature to always seek bigger goals and more difficult challenges. If we are lucky and look close enough, we can find them almost at our doorstep. We found what we were searching for and really came close to the limit of our current capabilities. We decided to name the route Štafeta which translates into “Relay” and symbolizes the evolution of an idea, from the first thoughts and attempt by Marko and Klemen more than ten years ago, to the finishing experience that Tadej and I had while climbing, talking or just dreaming about the route. We are thankful to our forerunners for the handoff of the idea that enabled us to have this memorable experience. To enrich it, Marko joined us again at the end to take some photos.

After returning to the valley, we were sitting on our backpacks, discussing the simplicity of life and sipping on a can of chilled beer. The circle has obviously been concluded and now we are passing the adventure torch forward.

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Spending a rest day surrounded by the beauty of Soča river gorge.

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French impressions after a week of exploring the hidden corners of Slovenia.

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A true master of vertical ground demonstrates the relativity of climbing difficulty on our crux pitch.

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From technical perspective, the route is 400 meters long and apart from 12 bolts, of which 10 are used to protect the climbing and two for a belay, it is mostly protected by traditional gear. It offers a diverse collection of moves from overhangs to compact technical slabs with a common coefficient of serious character and limited protection. We estimate the difficulties of the crux pitch to be somewhere in the 8a+ (5.13c) range and several others require up to 7b+ (5.12c) fitness combined with a calm head.

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Seemingly lost in the greatness of the wall.

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Feeling thankful for sharing good energy and motivation together with Marko (left) and Tadej (right) from the initial idea to the finishing epilogue.

Patagonia Europe ambassador Luka Krajnc lives in Celje, Slovenia where he is a member of the Celje mountaineering club. During the last few years, he’s been actively traveling around the world, searching for vertical challenges that inspire and motivate him, including new routes in Patagonia, Venezuela, Morocco and around Europe. When he needs a break from climbing, Luka enjoys windsurfing and running. For more from Luka and Marko, check out their previous post, "Snow Tsunami in Tibet – A Mentoring Expedition for Young Slovenian Alpinists."

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U.S. Tornadoes Form in Swarms PDF Print E-mail

Over the past couple of decades, tornado season has seen a lot more variation than it used to. Not only have some of the earliest and latest starts to the tornado season been recorded since the mid-1990s, but tornadoes are seeming to cluster together so that there are fewer days with tornadoes, but more tornadoes on the days that do have them, a new study finds.

This clustering of tornadoes could be due in part to larger changes in atmospheric patterns wrought by global warming, but there is still much work to be done to find those connections, said study author Harold Brooks, a senior scientist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla.

The findings, detailed in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Science, are the latest in a series of recent studies suggesting that tornado variability has been on the rise, said Michael Tippett, a senior research scientist with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University.

“It’s interesting that a couple of studies have come out all about the same time with a similar message,” Tippett, who conducted one of those studies but was not involved with the new work, told Climate Central. He suggested that the gap between tornado forecasters and the climate community could be narrowing, much as it did between hurricane researchers and climatologists about a decade ago.

Big Months, Small Months
Brooks and his colleague Greg Carbin, a warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center, also in Norman, have been combing through the tornado database, which extends to 1954, looking for trends. Their quest started, in part, because of some peculiarities during the 2012 tornado season.

The prior season, in 2011, had been tremendously busy, with 1,691 tornadoes (the second most reported for any season), including a massive late April outbreak across the Southeast that became one of the deadliest since the infamous 1974 Super Tornado Outbreak. The 2012 season seemed to be following suit, starting off at a brisk pace — eliciting comments that warming might be causing the season to start earlier — but then “the season, it turned out, was pretty much over by March 2,” Brooks told Climate Central.

That quiet extended into the prime part of tornado season, with May 2012 “among the quietest Mays ever” Brooks said. Looking back at the previous year, he and Carbin saw that the first three weeks of May 2011 were also unusually quiet — until the deadly outbreak that leveled parts of Joplin, Mo.

With the wild swing from 2011 to 2012 and the ups and downs within the seasons, Brooks and Carbin started looking into how tornado seasons had varied over the course of the database’s record. They focused on tornadoes of F1/EF1 strength or higher. The Enhanced Fujita scale, a revamped version of the original Fujita scale, rates tornadoes by the damage they cause, from 0 to 5, with 5 being the strongest. Tornadoes with a 0 rating were omitted because changes in reporting practices over the course of the database have led to many of what Tippett called “warts and wrinkles” in the data, particularly for the weakest tornadoes.

While Brooks and his colleagues found that the number of tornadoes could swing wildly from year to year, there didn’t seem to be any long-term trend. But when they looked at the tornado activity of individual months, they found that “there are more extreme months in the most recent 15 years of the database than in the first 45 years,” they wrote in the study. And those extremes fell both in the very active and very quiet camps.

“We had a whole bunch of big months in recent years and a whole bunch of really small months,” Brooks said.

Season’s Start
The team, which included the SPC’s Patrick Marsh, also looked into how the start of the tornado season had been changing.

First, though, they had to come up with a definition for the beginning of the season. Unlike hurricane season, which has a defined sixth-month period, tornado season is much more fluid. Tornadoes have occurred on every date in the calendar in the U.S., so simply going by when the first tornado popped up wouldn’t work — a tornado could spin up on Jan. 1, but then not be followed by another one for many weeks.

The team decided to define the start of the season as the point when 50 tornadoes of F1/EF1 strength or higher had been reported ­— or about 10 percent of the total number of tornadoes typically seen during a year.

They found that while the average start date had remained about the same (March 22), there had been more late and early starts to the season in recent years. The four latest starts to any season in the 60-year records had occurred between 1999 and 2013, the authors wrote, while seven of the 10 earliest starts had happened since 1996.

Clustering Tornadoes
The researchers uncovered something else that underlies those trends: the distribution of tornadoes per day had substantially changed over the decades.

On the one hand, the number of days with at least one F1/EF1 tornado has dropped from 150 to 100, a significant change as Brooks noted.

But on the other hand, the days with many tornadoes has risen. For example, there were only about 0.5 to 1 days per year with 30 or more F1/EF1 tornadoes during the 1960s and 70s. But over the past decade that number has risen to three such days per year.

“What we used to think of as a rare day is now a relatively common day,” Brooks said.

The blockbuster tornado years of 1973 and 2011 provide an illustrative example: In 1973, there were 187 tornado days, but only two that had 30 or more twisters. In 2011, by contrast, there were only 110 tornado days and nine days with 30 or more. That’s the same number of 30-plus days as the entire period from 1961-1981.

Brooks and his colleagues can’t think of any changes in the way tornadoes are reported that could account for the opposing trends, and nor could Tippett.

Bridging the Gap
That means it is likely that something in the atmospheric environment is behind the trends in tornado variability. What exactly is changing and what’s causing the change, be it natural variability or global warming, is the next step in the research.

One problem is that tornadoes are a small-scale phenomenon, which can’t be produced in climate models. So instead, researchers must look for trends in the tornado data, as well as trends in the atmospheric environments that are needed for tornadoes to form.

Tippett’s work has found that some of the atmospheric ingredients needed for tornadoes have also become more variable over the past few decades. He says that his and Brooks’ results are “very similar,” even though they used different approaches, which Tippett says bolsters both sets of findings. And because the ingredients also seem to be changing, that strengthens the argument that some change in the environment, not in reporting, is behind the trends.

To say whether warming is behind any changes in the environment, though, those changes would have to be linked to some clear global warming forcing. Brooks said one possible global warming link could be the changes to the bending of the jet stream that scientists like Jennifer Francis have linked to declining Arctic sea ice, but he added that the association is still a controversial one. And even if it is found to be solid, it might have nothing to do with the tornado environment.

Tippett says that research into a connection between tornado trends and climate change is now at a similar point to where hurricane-climate change research was at around the time of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While the gap between hurricane specialists and climatologists has substantially narrowed in the decade since, the gap between tornado specialists and climate researchers is “at least as big, if not bigger,” Tippett said. And it’s a gap that so far Brooks has been largely alone in trying to bridge, he said.

The daily probability of a tornado touchdown somewhere in the U.S. Credit: Climate Central


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Where Is El Nino? And Why Do We Care

This article is reproduced with permission from Climate Central. The article was first published on October 16, 2014.



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Ebola Highlights a U.S. Public-Health Crisis PDF Print E-mail

Editor's note: Irwin Redlener is director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Earth Institute and the author of "Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now." The views expressed are his own.

(CNN) -- The death of Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who succumbed to Ebola in a Dallas hospital, is of course tragic. But the extraordinarily poor way his case appears to have been handled may also inadvertently have done the United States an enormous service -- not just in shining a light on the threat posed by this virus but also by revealing the profound problems both in our health care delivery system and the public health programs supposed to help prevent outbreaks, track contacts and control the spread of disease.

Some of the hospital's actions -- including failing to communicate the level of concern for Duncan as a possible Ebola case, sending him home before properly evaluating him and possibly delaying in getting him medications that might have helped if given earlier -- were judgment errors that should never have happened.

We can, I hope, presume that every hospital in the country took note -- and none would repeat those steps.

And we should probably presume, as well, that the Dallas and Texas health departments will get their collective acts together. The fact that terrified family members and friends who had been in direct contact with Duncan were left to fend for themselves in an apartment filled with contaminated bedding, towels and surfaces for days is inexplicable.

Then there was the announcement by top officials in Dallas that they were desperately trying to find good Samaritans to take the family into their homes. Really, was there no empty apartment in the city that could accommodate this family?

I wish I could be confident that a similar set of problems would not have occurred elsewhere, but there is ample reason to believe that some version of the Dallas story could have happened in many other cities around the nation.

So beyond the drama and attention directed at a single disease and foul-ups in care, the Obama administration and Congress have bigger and far more important actions to take with respect to making sure that we are ready to manage future large-scale public health crises.

First, we need to restore -- if not increase -- federal funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program. The purpose of this program is to bolster hospital readiness to deal with major disasters, including serious epidemics. In 2003 and 2004, the program provided $515 million each year to fund preparedness initiatives in America's approximately 5,000 hospitals. A decade later, funding is forecast to fall to $255 million -- essentially half of what it had been.

This is a problem because it takes money to develop disaster protocols, hire staff and do ongoing training to make sure our health care system is -- and remains -- ready for whatever catastrophe the future holds. And with more than one in three U.S. hospitals facing severe financial crises, this is not something that can happen without federal support. Congress needs to restore full funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program immediately.

Second, while there may be some notable exceptions, like in New York and Los Angeles, severe funding cutbacks have put the vast majority of the nation's public health agencies in a state of serious fragility, truly lacking sufficient capacity to surge up at a time of a major public health crisis. How did this happen?

Importantly, a federal initiative known as the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program has been cut back from a peak of about $900 million in 2005 to $610 million estimated this year. As a result, and exacerbated by many other program cutbacks, we are seeing a loss of some 50,000 public health workers in less than a decade. It's no wonder that so many health departments are struggling to keep up with routine functions, no less be adequately prepared and trained to respond to disasters.

Ebola is clearly the latest "disaster wake-up call." But if history is any indication, we are likely to treat this by hitting the snooze button on the alarm. That means lots of media coverage -- and public anxiety -- until the reporters leave. Then it's back to our usual state of complacency without making the definitive changes we desperately need.

Hopefully, this time will be different. But it will only be so if the administration and the Congress restore critical disaster preparedness funding and, simultaneously, restore the confidence of the American public that deserves better than what we saw in the weeks following Duncan's arrival in Dallas.

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Worst Drought of Last 1,000 Years Was 1934 PDF Print E-mail

The worst drought of the last 1,000 years was in 1934

The current drought in the U.S. certainly feels like it's one for the history books. But it's likely not the worst North America has seen in the last millennium. A new study from NASA shows that a drought in 1934 was by far the worst to strike the continent in 1000 years.

Scientists from NASA and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have been looking at tree-ring data from 1000 to 2005, as well as contemporary weather records, to examine several exceptional drought events. They've determined that the drought of 1934 was off-the-charts bad, with extremely dry conditions spreading over 71.6 percent of North America. The second-worst drought was back in 1580. (There aren't final figures for 2014 yet.)

"It was the worst by a large margin, falling pretty far outside the normal range of variability that we see in the record," said NASA's Ben Cook of the 1934 event.

The worst drought of the last 1,000 years was in 1934

The 1934 drought, showing how dry conditions covered almost 3/4 of the continent.

The 1934 drought was actually one of four drought events that happened one after another over an entire decade, without normal weather patterns in between for the country to recover. The droughts of 1930-31, 1934, 1936, and 1939-40 would collectively be named the Dust Bowl for the way they transformed large swaths of the Midwest and Western U.S. into swirling black walls of dirt.

The most frightening thing about the 1934 drought was that it was exacerbated by human intervention. Although a high-pressure weather system over the Western U.S. suppressed normal rainfall patterns (similar to what happened last winter, and what might happen this winter again), it was the poor land management practices by farmers which ended up causing the deadly dust storms that spring.

The worst drought of the last 1,000 years was in 1934

A dust storm in South Dakota. Photo via National Archives FDR Library Public Domain Photographs.

The dust storms acted as a kind of solar shield, preventing natural sunlight from reaching crops, but they also blocked the evaporation process that would normally generate rain clouds. As spring turned into summer, it was dust storms, not rain storms, which were pushed eastward by that high-pressure system. This cycle repeated across the U.S. for several years, until finally, above-average rainfall ended the decade of dryness.

The good news is that more efficient farming techniques pretty much guarantee that we won't see Dust Bowl-level storms in the U.S. again. However, due to other variables in weather events which are brought on by climate change, we may find ourselves just as vulnerable to a megadrought that lasts a decade—or longer. [NASA]

Top photo: Cimarron County, Oklahoma, by Arthur Rothstein, Farm Security Administration


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