GREEN UPDATES, MONDAY AFTERNOON
Rocky Barker: When it comes to land management, is 'multiple use' relevant?
Idaho Statesman; Rocky Barker
The passage of the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 was designed to give each of these uses equality, since some in Congress worried then that logging was becoming the dominant use of national forests.
In practice, the act did not really hinder timber production or logging. Instead the term changed to reflect the majority support for productive use of federal lands and maximizing a sustainable yield of timber.
Four years later, when Congress passed the Wilderness Act of 1964, opponents labeled wilderness as a single, dominant use that went against the spirit if not the meaning of multiple-use management.
Hiking is not a multiple use. Nor camping.
Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife about wrong kind of bucks
Salt Lake Tribune; Tom Wharton
When Don Peay founded Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife in 1993, few could have dreamed that it would blossom into a powerful multi-million operation with a presence in seven western states and in national politics.
The group formed as Utah mule deer populations were crashing. Peay, an avid hunter, decided to do something about it.
There is little doubt that Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife has done much good. It has spent money to purchase or improve wildlife habitat and raised $7.2 million for conservation over the past 10 years. It recently wrote a check for more than $1 million to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Such expenditures bring the organization sway with state wildlife managers. Some think the relationship might be too cozy. Money and political clout often give the impression that SFW and not the DWR is in charge of wildlife in Utah.
Afghanistan's Forests A Casualty Of Timber Smuggling
NPR; Sean Carberry and Sultan Faizy
The United Nations Environmental Program estimates that over the past three decades, Afghanistan's forest cover has decreased by about 50 percent.
Wali Modaqiq, deputy director of Afghanistan's environmental protection agency, says that today forests cover only about 2 percent of Afghanistan. He says years of war and drought have felled more trees than wood stoves, which generally burn scrap wood. The big killer of trees, though, is economics.
"There is a huge demand for Afghan timber in the international market," Modaqiq says.
Commercial timber harvesting is illegal in Afghanistan - which leaves a massive smuggling industry to satisfy international demand. The remaining forest is in places like Kunar province bordering Pakistan, which is the main outlet for Afghan timber now.
Remember Haiti. Remember Haiti compared to the Dominican Republic. Thank you to JanF for sharing this story in the comments.
GREEN AROUND THE WORLD
Antarctica's warming temperatures make plane landings impossible
New Zealand Herald; Issac Davidson
New Zealand officials have warned that access to Antarctica is becoming more precarious as warming temperatures damaged the ice runways, making it impossible to land New Zealand Air Force planes.
Mr Sanson said that while the West Antarctic was rapidly warming, the East Antarctic was cooling. Ross Island, where Scott Base and the US' McMurdo Base were situated, was halfway in between the two ice sheets and was warming gradually.
Institute chair Rob Fenwick said that while the warming on the surface of the ice was well-understood, the effect of warm ocean currents under the sea ice was not as well known.
Investigating this phenomenon was crucial to understanding the impact of a warming world, and sea level rise, on New Zealand.
Fly-in fly-out workers spread benefits of boom
The Australian; Paige Taylor
THE extraordinary reach of Australia's resource sector has been revealed in the first study of the nation's long-distance commuter workforce, which finds the benefits of the boom are being shared with every state and territory.
The study finds about 100,000 workers fly and drive long distances to jobs in the resource and resource-allied sectors, out of a total of 213,773 Australians who commuted more than 100km to work at the time of the 2011 census.
This is behind a paywall, I am including the blurb to highlight the seeming insanity of using time and fossil fuel to reach jobs to extract energy and minerals.
Bihar govt set to resist national water policy
Ashok Mishra, Hindustan Times
Bihar government has decided to oppose the National Water Policy, 2012, as it believes the proposed move was tantamount to infringement of state's rights on its water resources.
Water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary on Friday said the central regulation and control of water
resources was 'unconstitutional' and 'detrimental' to Bihar's growth.
"It is a flagrant violation of the federal structure, as water comes under the state list of subjects," Choudhary said while replying to a debate on the budgetary demands of the department in the state assembly.
He said the state government has already raised objection to water being termed a national resource at the national water resource council meet held late last year.
Abu Dhabi seeks 10-fold increase in solar energy
Bloomberg via The Age
Abu Dhabi, the largest sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates, is making a 10-fold boost in its capacity to generate electricity from the sun by starting the Shams 1 solar plant with partners Total SA and Abengoa SA.
Masdar, the state-owned renewable energy company, will supply 100 megawatts of electricity from the Middle East's largest facility using concentrated solar technology, Chief Executive Officer Sultan al Jaber said today at the plant's inauguration in the inland desert west of the U.A.E.'s capital, also called Abu Dhabi.
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are developing sources of renewable energy to help satisfy the needs of growing populations and economies. Many of these states export oil and natural gas and are trying to cut their own demand for those fuels, which they use to produce power that governments generally sell at subsidized prices.
The conquest of nature and what we lost
Asia Times; Lewis H Lapham
How the Animal World lost its license to teach
Not much if the brutes are nowhere to be found. Over the course of the last two centuries, animals have become all but invisible in the American scheme of things, drummed out of the society of their myth-making companions, gone from the rural as well as the urban landscape. John James Audubon in 1813 on the shore of the Ohio River marveled at the slaughter of many thousands of wild pigeons by men amassed in the hundreds, armed with guns, torches, and iron poles. In 1880, on a Sioux reservation in the Dakota Territory, Luther Standing Bear could not eat of "the vile-smelling cattle" substituted for "our own wild buffalo" that the white people had been killing "as fast as possible".
And as observers, they were not alone. Many others have noted the departure of animals from our human world and culture. Between 150,000 and 200,000 horses could, for example, be found in the streets of New York City in 1900, requiring the daily collection of five million pounds (2.3 million kilograms) of manure. By 1912, their function as a means of transport had been outsourced to the automobile.
As with the carriage and dray horses, so also with the majority of mankind's farmyard associates and nonhuman acquaintances. Out of sight and out of mind, the chicken, the pig, and the cow lost their licenses to teach. The modern industrial society emerging into the twentieth century transformed them into products and commodities, swept up in the tide of economic and scientific progress otherwise known as the conquest of nature.
Wind-powered water holes for Gir lions
Himanshu Kaushik, TNN
Not just humans, even animals prefer flowing water. The drought-like situation in the Gir area has shown that water holes filled by wind or solar powered pumps attract more animals than those artificially filled by tankers.
Officials said stagnant water is less preferred. At a watering spot with flowing water, not just Asiatic lions, even chital, sambar and other wild animals are seen more frequently.
Officials said running water is cleaner and doesn't have dried leaves and other contaminants. It was also noticed that cemented ponds are less preferred. Places where water overflowing from such ponds accumulated nearby also proved better sites.
World's largest telescope at a cost of a billion Euros will be built in Chilean Andes
The giant eye on the sky with its 39 metres diameter main mirror made of 798 segments will gather light from distant stars and galaxies: 15 times more than the largest telescopes today.
"Every area of astronomy, from planets around other stars to the first galaxies in the universe, will be revolutionised by this telescope," said Professor Simon Morris of Durham University.
The giant observatory will become part of an array of telescopes built by the European Southern Observatory organisation in Chile. Built high in the Andes, these instruments avoid much of the atmospheric turbulence that affects observatories at lower altitudes.
Living Lab: Urban Planning Goes Digital in Spanish 'Smart City'
Der Spiegel; Marco Evers
Cities all around the world have set the same goal for themselves. Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Dubai, Helsinki, San Diego, Stockholm, Nanjing, Vienna, Yokohama -- they all share an aspiration to become "smart cities."
That sounds like an appealing aim, yet when urban planners try to explain more precisely how they plan to lead their cities into the digital future, their answers are less convincing, with each proposing a different plan. Despite the many symposiums that have been held on this subject, there is no consensus on how to pursue this ambition.
Essentially the only thing all parties can agree on is that "smart" cities will employ sensors, computers and smartphones, and they will implement new forms of city government, making administrative processes more transparent than ever before. The idea is that digital technology will help make urban living cleaner, more sustainable and more pleasant. And, of course, it should increase prosperity as well.
Amid this uncertainty, an old port city on Spain's Atlantic coast has surged to the forefront of those aspiring to be smart cities. Despite its cash-strapped finances, the city of Santander, birthplace of the major bank of the same name, is already quite smart.
China Environment Ministry Not Breathing Easy
Wall Street Journal hosting AP by Brian Spegele
Among the challenges the environmental ministry faces is a brewing battle with a Beijing lawyer over soil pollution data that the ministry has labeled a "state secret." The controversy has spurred widespread criticism of environmental protection officials online and even in some state-backed media, though somewhat oddly only one Chinese journalist attempted to ask about it on Friday.
The intrepid journalist, from a Shenzhen television station, posed the soil-pollution question as part of a two-part inquiry, first asking about environmental progress in Shenzhen, then asking about concerns over contaminated food as a result of soil pollution.
Mr. Wu answered the first question, praising Shenzhen for progress he said it had made in the pollution fight. He didn't answer the second question, which was also omitted from the official transcript of the news conference posted on the ministry's website.
Aegean lake Bafa faces ecological catastrophe due to industrial waste
Hurriyet;Doğan News Agency
A large number of plants, birds and other species are at severe risk amid continuing pollution problems that are seriously affecting southwestern Turkey's Bafa Lake, which is not far from the Aegean resort town of Didim.
"First the water turned green, and now snow-like foam has formed on it, meaning that it is getting dirtier each day," Ecosystem Protection and Nature-Lovers Association (EKODOSD) member Professor Erol Kesici recently said.
Untreated wastewater from factories in Muğla's Bafa town is draining into the lake, EKODOSD said, adding that in addition to the pollution coming from factories to the east, a fish farm on the lake's western shore was also directly releasing waste into the body of water.
Shell cashes in on apartheid-era land law
Mail & Guardian; Andisiwe Makinana
Shell is paying rent of R48 a year for each of the two properties it uses for two service stations in the province.
A parliamentary committee now wants Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini or President Jacob Zuma to intervene. During a meeting of the parliamentary oversight committee on rural development and land reform this week, committee chairperson Stone Sizani spoke of the "trauma" of hearing that the service stations along the N2 highway in Umgababa, south of Amanzimtoti, were operating on traditional land and paying only R48 a year.
The service stations are beneficiaries of the Bantu Administration Act, which granted the owners permission to occupy certificates [PTOs] but barred black South Africans from having title deeds to the land.
AROUND THE WORLD: General
Most popular human cell in science gets sequenced
Nature; Ewen Calloway
The research world's most famous human cell has had its genome decoded, and it's a mess. German researchers this week report the genome sequence of the HeLa cell line, which originates from a deadly cervical tumour taken from a patient named Henrietta Lacks.
Established after Lacks died in 1951, HeLa cells were the first human cells to grow well in the laboratory. The cells have contributed to more than 60,000 research papers, the development of a polio vaccine in the 1950s and, most recently, an international effort to characterize the genome, known as ENCODE.
Days of mischief against democracy over, hopes Raja: PPP-led coalition makes history
The term of the government was linked to the expiry of the five-year term of the 342-seat National Assembly at midnight, though the prime minister might hang on for about a week until a caretaker successor takes over to oversee the next national elections within two months.
In a late-night televised farewell address, the prime minister said that in a meeting with him earlier in the day, the chief ministers of all the four provinces had "agreed in principle" with his suggestion to hold elections to the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies on the same day, which, under the constitution, must come about within 60 days of their dissolution.
And he said he would pursue his already-begun efforts to create a consensus on the formation of caretaker administrations at the centre and the provinces, as the issue seemed bogged down mainly at the centre and in Punjab because of sharp disagreements over the nominees between the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).
As much as I highlight Pakistan's instability, I wanted to point out this fine achievement.
GREEN ACROSS THE COUNTRY
It's Time to Rethink America's Corn System
Scientific American; Jonathan Foley
The American corn system is inefficient at feeding people. Most people would agree that the primary goal of agriculture should be feeding people. While other goals-especially producing income, creating jobs and fostering rural development-are critically important too, the ultimate success of any agricultural system should be measured in part by how well it delivers food to a growing population. After all, feeding people is why agriculture exists in the first place.
Although U.S. corn is a highly productive crop, with typical yields between 140 and 160 bushels per acre, the resulting delivery of food by the corn system is far lower. Today's corn crop is mainly used for biofuels (roughly 40 percent of U.S. corn is used for ethanol) and as animal feed (roughly 36 percent of U.S. corn, plus distillers grains left over from ethanol production, is fed to cattle, pigs and chickens). Much of the rest is exported. Only a tiny fraction of the national corn crop is directly used for food for Americans, much of that for high-fructose corn syrup.
Yes, the corn fed to animals does produce valuable food to people, mainly in the form of dairy and meat products, but only after suffering major losses of calories and protein along the way. For corn-fed animals, the efficiency of converting grain to meat and dairy calories ranges from roughly 3 percent to 40 percent, depending on the animal production system in question. What this all means is that little of the corn crop actually ends up feeding American people. It's just math. The average Iowa cornfield has the potential to deliver more than 15 million calories per acre each year (enough to sustain 14 people per acre, with a 3,000 calorie-per-day diet, if we ate all of the corn ourselves), but with the current allocation of corn to ethanol and animal production, we end up with an estimated 3 million calories of food per acre per year, mainly as dairy and meat products, enough to sustain only three people per acre. That is lower than the average delivery of food calories from farms in Bangladesh, Egypt and Vietnam.
crossposted in orange.