Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Answer Is Within the Individual

by Martin LeFevre
A friend wrote with a question that goes right to the heart of the human crisis: “In the negation of thought when we experience the still place within us, isn't this when the fragmentation [of humankind] has the potential to cease?”
The passive observation that characterizes methodless meditation initiates the unwilled negation of thought. Division and fragmentation then automatically end within one. That’s what I experience in my daily ‘practice’ of sittings and walks in nature here in northern California. First the observer/self falls away; then the dominance of thought in the brain falls away; and finally psychological time itself falls away.
On the individual level (not personal level, which is a very different thing), this is how I understand my friend’s question. But it also points to the much larger issue of ending the trajectory of human fragmentation on this earth, and the way (or rather, the negative way) that that can be achieved in human consciousness.

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Resolving the Riddle of Man

Los Angeles escapes earthquake relatively unscathed

"Los Angeles "dodged a bullet" by escaping a magnitude 5.4 earthquake shook California with little damage and few injuries, city officials said today. "

The quake shook southern California on Tuesday, spooking millions from Los Angeles to San Diego in a juddering reminder of the region's vulnerability to seismic shocks.
Buildings across the region swayed and shuddered, and many offices evacuated workers as a precaution following the quake, which was followed by 27 aftershocks and rattled buildings as far away as San Diego and Las Vegas.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, said the region had been lucky to avoid a major disaster.
"Thank God that there have not been any reports of serious injuries or damage to properties," Mr Schwarzenegger said. "This reminds us once again that in California we have to be prepared for anything and everything."

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Remake a Living: The jobs, my friend, are blowin' in the wind

As the hype about "green" jobs has grown, the wind-energy industry has done a pretty good job of reporting accurately on their job creation. Industry analysts estimate that wind energy currently employs about 50,000 domestic workers, both on-site at wind farms and down the chain of products and services needed to build, transport, install, and operate all those turbines.
The number of jobs is growing quickly, however, and wind companies could support as many as 500,000 jobs 20 years from now. That's according to a Department of Energy report that outlines a plan for the nation to get 20 percent of our electricity from wind power by 2030.
Think 20 percent by 2030 sounds far-fetched? The World Wind Power Association says that wind already provides 19 percent of electricity production in Denmark, 9 percent in Spain and Portugal, and 6 percent in Germany and Ireland. And they're not just blowing ... oh, never mind.

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Earthquake should be San Diego wake-up call

"Minster said geologists are especially concerned about the southern portion of the San Andreas fault, which extends roughly from the Salton Sea to Wrightwood. That portion usually breaks every 220 years or so but hasn't done so since 1680, he said."

Lots of county residents did – and it had nothing to do with meeting that someone special. The morning's 5.4 earthquake was centered well north, in San Bernardino County, but it still made buildings sway and pulses race throughout the San Diego region.
And it was a reminder that – even though we're pretty safe from hurricanes and tornadoes, and just about immune from blizzards and avalanches – the Southern California lifestyle can still be a shaky proposition.

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Creature feature: Dead zones vs. killer hurricanes

The seasonal low-oxygen "dead zone" off the coast of Louisiana and Texas didn't live up to the forecast as the largest in history. Instead, it was merely the second largest.
The reason appears to be that Hurricane Dolly swept through the area, stirring up and re-oxygenating the waters just before scientists could complete their annual survey."If it were not for Hurricane Dolly, the size of the dead zone would have been substantially larger," said Nancy Rabalais, director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Nonetheless, she added, "an amazingly large area of [low-oxygen] hypoxia persisted."
R. Eugene Turner of Louisiana State University had predicted that the dead zone would be the largest ever recorded because of the 37% increase this year in fertilizer runoff -- a form of nitrogen, mostly -- that spilled out of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers into the Gulf of Mexico.

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Dome collapses at Montserrat volcano; ash blasts into stratosphere

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Volcano monitors say the Caribbean's Montserrat volcano has blasted a column of ash some 12 kilometres high into the sky.
The director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory says last night's collapse of a dome at the crater sent bursts of volcanic material sweeping down into the island's abandoned former capital of Plymouth and the sea.
The town was buried in a 1997 eruption that killed 19 people on the tiny Caribbean island.
Roderick Stewart says last night's the collapse occurred on the west side of the Soufriere Hills volcano.
The volcano spewed columns of ash thousands of metres into the sky over the weekend. It became active in 1995 and forced the departure of half of the island's inhabitants.

Geos, a Sustainable GeoSolar Community

Geos is a community located in Arvada, Colorado. With homes starting in the low $200,000, it is an affordable green community seeking status as the first fossil fuel free community in the United States. The homes combine the benefits of both geothermal and solar energy. Homes range from 850 to 3500+ square feet and include a variety of living options from live/work townhomes to single level flats.

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Geos Website

Monday, July 28, 2008

Kyoto, city against global warming, sees threat to gardens

KYOTO, Japan (AFP) — Kyoto, the city whose name is synonymous with the fight against global warming, is feeling the effects of climate change first-hand as the moss dries out in its celebrated gardens.
The ancient capital in western Japan was the venue for negotiations in 1997 that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark UN treaty that for the first time legally requires cuts in carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
But long before the treaty, Kyoto was also known for another sort of greenery -- a landscape studded with hundreds of historic temples, shrines and castles where the gardens are said to be in harmony with each season.
At Tenryu-ji temple, listed as a World Heritage site, the gates close to tourists at twilight to allow the Zen monks meditate in front of the garden to try to conquer their worldly desires.

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Floods kill 22 in Ukraine, 4 in Romania

KIEV (Reuters) - Floods in western Ukraine have killed 22 people, destroyed homes, farmland and roads and prompted the evacuation of 20,000 residents, officials said on Monday.
Television footage showed President Viktor Yushchenko wading knee-deep through village streets, visiting devastated homes and discussing action plans with local officials at the weekend.
Ukraine's cabinet was called into emergency session to discuss assistance and repair work. The National Security and Defense Council, chaired by the president, was also due to meet.
A senior government official at the weekend described the flooding as the worst in a century.
Water levels after five days of uninterrupted rain remained dangerously high on the Prut and Dnestr rivers. More than 40,000 homes were flooded.

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Two Alaskan Volcanoes Erupt, One In Chile Being Watched

Two volcanoes in Alaska are still erupting, while one in Chile that erupted on Saturday has stopped, although another one threatens to erupt again.
In Alaska both Mount Cleveland and the Okmok volcano are erupting, but seismic activity at the Okmok decreased Sunday after more activity was recorded beginning on Friday. While in Chile, the Llaima volcano erupted on Saturday, then stopped, while the Chaitén volcano there could be ready to erupt again.
Okmok is located on Umnak Island.
The United States National Weather Service on Sunday issued a 24-hour ash-fall advisory, which expires at noon Monday, for Umnak Island and the southwest part of Unalaska Island.
In Chile, authorities issued a state of alert for villages near the 9,400-foot Llaima volcano. It is one of Chile's most active and since 1640 it has had 38 large eruptions. Chaitén had a major eruption on May 2, forcing the evacuation of nearby villagers who still haven't returned.
Llaima is located 400 miles south of Santiago. Chaitén is located 745 miles south of Santiago.

Asteroid heading our way

Astronomers are battling to work out the trajectory of an asteroid that will cause havoc if it hits the Earth in 2036. Called Apophis, the giant meteor is hurtling through space at 10km per second. Scientists are warning that an impact would be far more devastating than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WW2.
At the Zvenigorod Observatory near Moscow, space researchers keep watch on cosmic bodies and study known meteorites to understand their size and inner structure. They are tracking the path of the asteroid Apophis as well. They aim to determine how real the danger is but that will only be clear in a decade's time. Astronomer Sergey Barabanov explains the predicted course of events: “The critical moment will be in 2029, when Apophis passes so close to Earth that it will be visible to the naked eye. The consequence of this fly-by will tell us whether it will come back again and collide with us in 2036,” he said.

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New Piece Of Climate Change Puzzle Found In Ancient Sedimentary Rocks

ScienceDaily — University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers have added a new source of carbon dioxide to the complex climate change puzzle by showing that ancient rocks can release substantial amounts of organic matter into Earth’s rivers and oceans, and that this organic matter is easily converted by bacteria to carbon dioxide, which enters the atmosphere and contributes to climate change.
“Sedimentary rocks contain the largest mass of organic carbon on Earth, but these reservoirs are not well-integrated into modern carbon budgets” says Steven Petsch, a professor of geosciences. “Since we need to know the budget of the natural carbon cycle in order to determine human climate impacts, this information will lead to more accurate climate modeling.” The research was conducted by Petsch and UMass Amherst graduate student Sarah Schillawski.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Democrats: White House must publish 'chilling' climate change document

by Elana Schor

The row over US inaction on carbon emissions reached new heights yesterday after the White House allowed Congress to look at last year's government proposal to officially deem climate change a threat to public health – a plan that aides to George Bush refused to acknowledge or read.
The climate plan was finished in December by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to a supreme court ruling that required the Bush administration to state whether carbon emissions should be regulated to protect public health.
The EPA concluded that regulation was needed, but whistleblowers have revealed that the White House ordered the agency to scrap its proposal. Democratic attempts to investigate the backroom dealings were stymied until this week, when senators were finally permitted a look at the plan.
The chairman of the Senate environment committee, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, released a summary of the proposal to reporters. Boxer was allowed to take notes on the plan but not given a copy.

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Go to EPA Website, Climate Change Health Facts, U. S. Regions

Monday, July 21, 2008

NSF Awards Grant to Track 'Space Weather' in Earth's Near-Space Environment

Global and real-time "space weather" observations of near-Earth space--and the solar storms that can knock out electric power grids--is about to happen for the first time, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., have been awarded an NSF grant to perform an experiment called the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE).
AMPERE will use the Iridium constellation of communications satellites to measure the electric currents that link Earth's atmosphere and space. By measuring this key component of the space weather system, AMPERE will allow 24/7 tracking of Earth's response to supersonic blasts of plasma ejected from the sun.
"Earth's space environment can completely reconfigure in as little as 30 minutes," says APL's Brian Anderson, lead scientist on AMPERE. "With a new ability to continually monitor these electric currents, we can track the transformations of our planet's space environment for the first time, and gain a new understanding of how Earth reacts to the sun."
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Ecovillages: Our way into the future

Eco-villages are people-based initiatives to model sustainable, low-impact, human settlements and lifestyles.
They are applicable to both rural and urban settings and accessible to all. Eco-villagers utilize green energy technology, ecological building techniques, and human-scale design to reduce exploitation of natural resources, facilitate community self-reliance, and improve quality of life.
It is about creating new settlements as well as retrofitting existing rural villages and urban areas. An eco-village is designed in harmony with its environment instead of the landscape being unduly engineered to fit construction plans. By thinking in terms of bioregions/ecosystem environments, sustainable settlements are planned considering water availability, the ability to grow food, and accessibility.
Ecovillages defined
In 1991, Robert Gilman one of the pioneers in the world ecovillage movement, set out a definition of an ecovillage that was to become a standard. Gilman defined an ecovillage as: Human scale, (somewhere where you can feel you know the neighbors in your community); fully-featured settlements, (comprising housing, businesses/livelihood, agriculture, culture, spiritual & educational development, as appropriate to the local setting); human activity is integrated harmlessly into the natural world; supports human development; can be continued into the indefinite future; and must have multiple centers of initiative.

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go to: Global Ecovillage Network

Icelandic Volcanoes Help Researchers Understand Potential Effects Of Eruptions

ScienceDaily (July 17, 2008) — For the first time, researchers have taken a detailed look at what lies beneath all of Iceland’s volcanoes – and found a world far more complex than they ever imagined.
They mapped an elaborate maze of magma chambers - work that could one day help scientists better understand how earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in Iceland and elsewhere in the world.
Knowing where magma chambers are located is a key first step to understanding the chemical composition of the molten rock that is flowing within them - and of the gases that are released when a volcano erupts, explained Daniel Kelley, doctoral student in earth sciences at Ohio State University.
Kelley and Michael Barton, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State, have determined that the volcanoes in Iceland are likely to have explosive eruptions that shoot debris far into the atmosphere. That’s because the magma moves very quickly to the surface from deep within the magma chambers. Fast-moving magma propels sulfur and ash out of a volcano and high into the atmosphere, where it can spread around the planet.

Strong earthquake jolts northern Japan

TOKYO (AFP) — A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 jolted northern Japan on Monday, the US Geological Survey said, but there was no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
The undersea quake struck at 8:30 pm (1130 GMT) off the east coast of Japan's main island of Honshu, at a depth of 33 kilometres (20 miles).
The epicentre was located about 100 kilometres east of the city of Iwaki.

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Tropical Storm Dolly over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

CANCUN, Mexico: Tropical Storm Dolly was moving over the northern Yucatan Peninsula and about to enter the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, forecasters said.
Dolly was expected to strengthen once the center of the storm moves into the Gulf and it could be become a hurricane by Tuesday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The storm lashed the peninsula with heavy rains and high winds. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Campeche, Mexico, to the Belize border.
Dolly could dump 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain on the Yucatan, with up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) in isolated spots, the hurricane center said.

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