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19 July 2011

Throwing in with the Pickens Plan

The family’s out with the van shopping or something, so, I’ve got the place to myself. I downloaded an archived broadcast (April 2011) of C-Span’s coverage of a National Press Club lunch meeting. Obviously, I lead an exciting life. The guest speakers were Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens, talking about energy. Pickens makes a good sales pitch and I’m about ready to “throw in” with his energy security plan …

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5 June 2011

Introducing Paul Gipe

Paul Gipe is an author, international consultant, frequent presenter, and expert on renewable energy and feed-in-tariffs. To keep up on recent developments in wind power and other renewable energy technologies and policies, I recommend Wind-Works.org, by Paul Gipe. I met Paul a couple of years ago at a seminar in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he presented a very feasible strategy for meeting all our electrical generating needs using renewables, particularly …

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1 May 2011

Iceberg Drag Marks on the Bottom of Glacial Lake Agassiz

The linear streaks shown on the aerial photograph to the right are believed to have been gouged by icebergs dragging on the bottom of wind swept Glacial Lake Agassiz. The streaks (Lat. 48 50′ 45″ N; Lon. 97 16′ 30″ W) are up to several miles long, hundreds of feet wide and several feet deep. Glacial Lake Agassiz, named after the 19th Century naturalist Louis Agassiz, was the largest of …

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20 November 2010

Economic and Ecological Benefits of Perennial Wheat

The Wheat Field, Sunset by Vincent van Gogh (1890). Researchers at Michigan State University, Washington State University and The Land Institute at Kansas State University have been running trials on “perennial wheat.” Perennial wheat gets planted once and is harvested several times, unlike conventional wheat that requires tilling and seeding the soil every growing season. With only a few months to grow, conventional wheat develops shallow roots and soil is …

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20 September 2010

High Risk Coal Ash Impoundment: Pleasants Power Station

Pleasants Power Station, near Belmont, WV. Not to pick on this power plant, which is owned by Allegheny Energy Supply Company, but it is a good example of this type of facility. Coal-fired power plants need a lot of cooling water, so they are located on large bodies of water, like the Ohio River. The power plant is a relatively minor portion of the overall footprint of the entire power …

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25 June 2010

Multi-Year Sea Ice Thins in the Arctic

Professor David Barber of the University of Manitoba Center for Earth Observation Science recently spoke at the International Polar Year conference in Oslo. An excerpt from his talk refers to the sea ice cover satellite data produced by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which describes areal extent only: “Scientists spend a lot of energy discussing the ‘squiggly line’ generated by satellite data on sea ice extent,” Dr. Barber …

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20 June 2010

A Tragic Ignorance of Mineral Weathering

Rainwater harvesting offers a safe alternative to arsenic-tainted groundwater. Following up on a report from the British journal Lancet, global news agency AFP reports: “Up to 77 million Bangladeshis have been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from contaminated drinking water, and even low-level exposure to the poison is not risk-free, The Lancet medical journal reported. Over the past decade, more than 20 percent of deaths recorded in a study …

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15 June 2010

Sharp Decrease in May Arctic Sea Ice Cover

May saw a sharp decrease in Arctic sea ice cover, based on satellite observations. The average ice cover for the month was about 13 million square kilometers, 500,000 square kilometers less than the 30-year average. The rate of icemelt averaged 46,000 kilometers per day, the fastest rate recorded. The graph above indicates the area of Arctic sea ice is now below two standard deviations of the mean ice coverage observed …

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8 April 2010

Coast of Alaska: Accelerated Erosion 2002-2007

A five-year study in Alaska led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found that shoreline erosion along a 40-mile stretch of the Beaufort Sea has been accelerating from about 20-feet per year fifty years ago, to 45-feet per year by 2007. The research makes obvious the importance of considering the specific properties of the earthen materials exposed to erosive forces. In this case, the land contains permafrost, a consituent of …

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13 March 2010

Methane Venting From East Siberian Arctic Shelf

As a greenhouse gas, methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. According to University of Alaska Arctic researchers Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, methane gas is venting from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) at a surprisingly high rate. The vents are coming through leaks in permafrost, which forms a cap over methane stored in deeper sediments. Video interview with Natalia Shakhova While permafrost is generally viewed as …

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