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Sunday, August 11, 2013
Volume 6, No. 31
GREENHOUSE GASES EXPLAINED IN SEVEN BALLOONS
Hi again from the shores of the Salish Sea. Well, there’s been a lot of talk lately about correcting a mistake to which we all contributed. American president John F. Kennedy contended that since all of the problems facing humankind were essentially created by humankind, they could also be solved by humankind.
Let’s see what happens if we apply that to the some 50 gigatons (50 billion tons) of greenhouse gases we emitted in 2010. In an outstanding article entitled “Greenhouse Gases Explained, In Seven Balloons,” Lindsay Wilson explains where that toxic stuff comes from. Let’s take it by the numbers.
Energy, or rather the generation of it, produced 35%. What can we do about it? Hello? Find ways to decrease our own personal, public and commercial need for it.
Industry produced 18% in the form of fuels, cement production and chemicals. We’re already into a 21st Century “Small Is Beautiful” movement and we’re certainly moving beyond the use of traditional cement. And we’re replacing environmentally safe alternatives to corrosive or carcinogenic chemicals. So we need to stay that course.
Agriculture and forestry each produce 11% and that includes animal waste, manure management, fertilizer use, and rice production, forest fires, wood decay, and peat decay and fires. Much of this occurs naturally for good reason and I’m not sure there’s much more that can be done about this than the efforts I’ve already read about. Rice production is absolutely vital to several of the most populous nations on the planet and unless a solution keeps these people alive during implementation, I would be real reluctant to mess with this one too much.
Buildings account for 8% of 2010’s greenhouse gas emissions and specifically heating and cooling, cooking and hot water. With the Solar Energy Revolution, again, this is something that each of us can do by watching our own energy consumption and switching to environmentally friendly alternatives as soon as possible.
Surprising enough, landfills and wastewater produced only 4%. That does not mean, however, that these two sources are not polluting the planet in other ways. It just means they’re not contributing a whole lot to the junk our species inhales with each breath.
Lindsay’s article also cites the nations which produce the most greenhouse gases. I’m reluctant to say too much about that because of the efforts underway in the loss leader nations to deal with this. In this case, it’s a real numbers management game and before I’d slam a nation in a fit of environmental self-righteousness, I’d think about where the Industrial Revolution originated in the first place. Hint: It was not China or India.
Maybe it’s just us here at Northstar, but we agree with what John Kennedy said and the implications attendant. Family by family, house by house, block by block, community by community, we fix this. It’s clearly possible if so now the single question remains. Do we really want to?
I’m rather hoping we do.
IN OTHER NEWS
Well, here’s good news not just for us humans on the shores of the SalishSea but for another species and its global population. Last year, America’s National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration received a petition calling for the removal of orcas from the Endangered Species Act. Last week, NOAA denied that petition. We endorse and applaud their decision.
Most of us have heard the old saying, “Nice guys (people) finish last.” Apparently, scientifically, that simply isn’t true. Evolution, in fact, tends to punish the selfish.
Well, we’ve suspected this for some while. Now, we have confirmation and it is not going to make acerbic critics ecstatic. Positive ratings actually have more influence than negative ones. More people pay attention to praise of someone than they do criticism of the same individual.
WORLD NEWS SHORTS
TOPICAL NEWS SHORTS
MIDEAST PEACE TALKS
WAR ON TERROR
Two people have been arrested in connection with the alleged sexual assault and subsequent cyber-bullying of a 17-year-old Halifax girl who took her own life as a result. The crime assumed national importance after accusations that the RCMP had not done enough in this case. Prime Minister Harper promised to correct that and so did Nova Scotia’s minister of justice. See also: Rehtaeh’s Father: 4 Months After Her Death, I’m Only Treading Water
Well, here’s a decision we applaud but which ~ with all due respect ~ does not surprise us. Railway to stop transporting oil after Lac-Megantic disaster. If other carriers made the same decision, the entire province might one day become shed of this ubiquitous but environmentally unfriendly energy source.
British Columbia officials said no to a massive gathering of the Rainbow Nation by closing down the provincial park these colourful people were planning on living on for a month or so. It was a bit ironic to note that a group so associated in American culture with the “back to the land” movement obviously did not assess the impact of their celebration of life on the local ecology. Hello? This is not a farm in Woodstock, boys and girls.
Heroism doesn’t come much finer than this. Man Pushes Elderly Couple’s Stalled Car From Train Tracks JUST In Time
At 12, Rachel Parent decided that we all had a right to know if any of what we were eating contained Genetically Modified Organisms. She, personally, did not want GMOs in her food but she didn’t necessarily want them banned. She wanted us to have an informed choice. Two years later, on Lang & Leary, co-host Dennis Leary said that only stupid people protest Monsanto. Rachel, now 14, heard about it and challenged Leary to an on-air debate. Rachel, now 14, counterattacked and essentially challenged Mr. Leary to an on air debate on GMOs. You be the judge who came out on top of that “main event.”
The plan is ambitious but if it succeeds, a two million square mile (3 million square kilometer) area of one of the organically richest oceans in the world will be preserved. Called “Halo” and backed by The Pew Charitable Trust and famed undersea explorer Phillipe Costeau (yep, one of Jacque Yve’s grandsons), it would establish a marine sanctuary in the Sargasso Sea and encircle the island of Bermuda. We happen to think this is a totally excellent idea and back it without reservation. For more information, please go here.
Sometimes I am sooo glad I live in a city often caricatured for its politeness. Like when some 46,000 of Conde Nast Travelers readers cast their votes for the world’s most unfriendly places and Seattle is not on that list. To see if where you live is, please go here.
This dude needs to be recalled back to his home world, in a galaxy far, far away. Viral Video Lampoons German Language, But What Do Linguists Say?
This is why deception and prevarication are such fun games, whether it’s cheating on a spouse, spying on the competition or jealously guarding information that might be of benefit to a cooperative effort. When karma catches up with these folks, I sure hope they have lots of sunscreen. They’re going to need it where they’re going. DEA Special Operations Division Covers Up Surveillance Used To Investigate Americans: Report
A CHANCE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
As some of you know, the co-founder of this publication died in 2001 of cancer. Since then, we here at Northstar honour her memory by providing you, the readership ~ and to whom Shannon referred as “all my twinkling lights” ~ an opportunity to fight this disease. This is a petition from change.org.
EXPLORATION, HISTORY, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
From an historical perspective, human exploration and colonization of the most dramatic kind has a pattern. Whether it was the Vikings sailing up Russian rivers or island hopping across the Atlantic. the ‘Westward Ho of North America, or the decision to look beyond our own planet for breathing room, it started somewhat like this.
Our intrepid little buddy, Martian rover Curiosity, celebrated his first anniversary on the Red Planet last week. Nice going, Kid. You rock.
There are some who contend that electric vehicles are only as “clean” as the power source. That is not in the strictest sense true and this is where I think the Green Movement may be going too far. To imply that it would be better to drive a conventional gasoline or diesel powered vehicle in states where electricity is produced by coal is to compound the problem. It means that in a state like Kentucky, motorists would get to risk respiratory disease by driving their conventionally fueled vehicle past a hydroelectric plant belching coal fumes into the atmosphere. Would someone please explain to me the alternate physics that make this a good idea?
SHORTS – OUTER SPACE
Incredible Technology: How to Build a Space Station Colony — The science of building a space station in complicated, but what are the hardest technological issues scientists have to overcome?
A Village in Orbit: Inside NASA’s Space Colony Concepts (Infographic) — In the 1970s, NASA scientists studied the possibilities of building giant space colonies. See how colossal space communities would work.
SHORTS — CLOSER TO HOME
Incredible Technology: How Companies Use Your Online Data — A vast amount of consumers’ personal data is stored online, yet most people are unaware of how companies store and use this trove of information.
Mad Geniuses: The 10 Oddest Tales — From Tycho Brahe’s pet elk to Pythagoras’ deadly fear of beans, here are 10 of the weirdest stories about famous scientists
NORTHSTAR WEEKLY READER QUIZ
Okay, gang. How much do you know about world geography?
THE GREEN AGENDA
If you’re not eating your fruits and vegetables, you are probably doing your health a dramatic disservice and raising concerns on the part of those who love you. See if this video will change that for you. Video: Making the Case for Eating Fruit
Okay, we’ve seen this one bounced back and forth a few times in recent memory. Apparently the latest is that men do go through menopause.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it might be because you’re eating one of these eight foods too close to zzz time.
ON THE CANCER FRONT
There is a direct link between a higher risk of cancer and excessive cell phone use, according to a TelAvivUniversity study recently published in the scientific journal “Antioxidants and Redox Signaling.” For more information, please go here.
Here’s one that might not enhance your offline social life a whole lot but will keep you on the proverbial Hit Parade awhile longer. Apparently eating raw garlic twice a week helps prevent cancer.
Mom Wants You Married? So Does the State — In South Korea, the government is playing a bigger role in matchmaking amid plunging birthrates and changing expectations over matrimony.
Video: An Attack on Equality — In New York, widely regarded as a gay-friendly city, reports of attacks on same-sex couples are on the rise. Here, one young couple tell their story.
Many of us do not take the time we need to unplug from the production or the nurturing mode and totally lose themselves in stuff that has nothing to do with quotas or care giving. As sacrilegious as that might seem to passionate adherents of the Judeo-Christian work ethic, it’s necessary for physical, emotional and mental health. So take a few minutes with this feature. You can always go back to being a work fanatic after. Rusty
LOOK: How One Photographer Made A Kid’s Cowboy Dreams Come True — This is absolutely heart-warming.
SITES WE PERSONALLY ENJOY EACH WEEK
Image of the Day — A gallery of amazing photos from around the world – and above it! Our Image of the Day archive features stunning pictures of nature and space.
BLOGS WE FOLLOW
The Tomatoman Times – Sardonic, ironic, sometimes poignantly incisive, this is also one of the longest running human interest blogs on the Net and well worth the read.
Meade’s California Coast is moving commentary and photos by one of that state’s premier photojournalists. Short, poignant and memorable, it is a tribute to both the craft and the subject.
No Camels – Weekly Israeli Innovation News is like a blend of Popular Mechanics, Scientific American and the science pages of the New York Times and the Huffington Post. I totally geek out when I read these folks.
All photos used in Seattle Scenes, unless otherwise noted, were taken by the editor. For a virtual tour of the Northstar Gallery, please go here.
With blackberries going in some places now for about six dollars the quart/liter, it is reassuring to know that in Seattle, you can pick them for free. I’ve harvested about three quarts so far personally and yet new ones keep showing up daily, it seems. This patch, like so many of them, is on public right of way or access so no jumping a fence and swiping from a neighbor’s yard. Even in a city which put the “laid” in “laid back,” trespassing is considered extremely poor form and punishable by a stern tsk tsk.
NEWS, WEATHER & INFORMATION
One of the things I love about this town is how proactive our media are and how willing we are to voice our opinions about anything and everything, even when we haven’t the faintest idea what we’re talking about. In this case, our NBC affiliate, KING 5 News, asked its readers to essentially define what it’s like to live here. Whether you’re a native or not, this should offer a whimsical window on the 44th rainiest city in the United States of America.
KOMO 4 News (ABC)
KIRO 7 (CBS)
KING 5 News (NBC)
ALL CREATURES, GREAT AND SMALL
Meet Ludwig, the baby elephant, especially if the summer heat starts getting to you. This little guy rocks, trust me.
Well, it seems like the older some of us get, the smarter our parents seem in retrospect. Apply the same observation to what we keep learning about dolphin intelligence and sooner or later it might just dawn on us that nope, we are not the Albert W. Einsteins of the planet.
We would say this little dude has more guts per gram that any creature we’ve seen in awhile. Check out what this Yorkie terrier did to protect its owner.
YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP
And then there was the British Zoo employee who has been suspended pending investigation of allegations of animal abuse. The zoo keeper is accused of punching an American fur seal in the mouth. We find this rather ironic in a country which gave us the Marquis of Queensbury Rules. And certainly this would be considered poor form on the playing fields of Eton, would it not? Shame on you guys.
AVAILABLE FROM NORTHSTAR
WRATH OF THE TESTAMENT
an exciting seagoing saga of war and rebellion
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There was no such thing as half-trying. Whether it was running a race or catching a football, competing in school — we were to try. And we were to try harder than anyone else. We might not be the best, and none of us were, but we were to make the effort to be the best.
~ Robert F. Kennedy
Another “out of the mouths of babes:”
As I was nursing my baby, my cousin’s six-year-old daughter, Krissy, came into the room. Never having seen anyone breast feed before, she was intrigued and full of all kinds of questions about what I was doing. After mulling over my answers, she remarked, “My mom has some of those, but I don’t think she knows how to use them.”
To subscribe to this Thought of the Day, contact Amy at SpringggRain@aol.com
A FINAL WORLD
The Northstar Journal is one hundred percent supported by readers like you. If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute ~ however modestly ~ to the next, please go here and with our thanks.
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Until next week, then, take care and Godspeed. Rusty