Archives for March 2013

Book Review: What's the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses …

Book Review: What's the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences by Brian Solis. Share. Author: pfaulhaber — Published: Mar 06, 2013 at 7:58 pm 0 comments. BC Books Premium. Annie's Island by Annette Kelsey Annie lives
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An Improvable Feast

An Italian Christmas Eve celebratory meal with an ecological twist.
NYT > Oceans

Is Hemp Farming the next Green Job growth industry

Though Obama has frequently spoken of the need for more “green jobs,” he has failed to acknowledge the inherent environmental advantages associated with a curious plant called hemp. One of the earliest domesticated crops, hemp is incredibly versatile and can be utilized for everything from food, clothing, rope, paper and plastic to even car parts. In an era of high unemployment, hemp could provide welcome relief to the states and help to spur the transition from antiquated and polluting manufacturing jobs to the new green economy. What is more, in lieu of our warming world and climate change, the need for environmentally sustainable industries like hemp has never been greater. Given all of these benefits, why have Obama and the political establishment chosen to remain silent? The explanation has to do with retrograde and backward beliefs which have been hindering environmental progress for a generation. A biological cousin of marijuana, hemp contains minute amounts of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive chemical. Even though advocates say one would have to smoke huge amounts of hemp to get high, the plant occupies a highly dubious legal status in the U.S. During the 1970s, Congress declared hemp a “Schedule I” drug under the Controlled Substances Act, ridiculously lopping the plant in the same category as heroin. Though the authorities allow farmers to petition the federal government to grow hemp, the Drug Enforcement Administration or D.E.A. has proven incredibly resistant to such licenses and for all intents and purposes the crop has remained illegal [ironically enough, however, the U.S. imports many hemp-related products from abroad].
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Wow Scientists confirm first two-headed bull shark. (Science Daily)

Wow Scientists confirm first two-headed bull shark. (Science Daily)

News Items

Tagging, Satellite Tracking Reveals Mystery of Blue Whales

  Australian researchers use an airgun to tag an endangered blue whale with satellite tracking equipment in the Southern Ocean, Antartica in this handout photo taken February 24, 2013 and released March 28 by the Australian Antarctic Division. (Credit: REUTERS/Australian Antarctic Division/Handout)

(Click to enlarge)
Australian researchers use an airgun to tag an endangered blue whale with satellite tracking equipment in the Southern Ocean, Antartica in this handout photo taken February 24, 2013 and released March 28 by the Australian Antarctic Division. (Credit: REUTERS/Australian Antarctic Division/Handout)

Balancing in small boats in choppy Antarctic waters, sometimes for hours and covered in ice, Australian researchers shot at endangered blue whales with an airgun to tag the giant creature with satellite tracking equipment.

(From Reuters / by Pauline Askin) – During a seven-week voyage the scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division tagged the world’s largest creature and then tracked the rarely seen whales using sonar attached to special buoys to gain an insight into the threatened species.

Little has been known up to now about the habits of blue whales, which despite their huge bodies – the heart of a full grown adult is the size of a small car – were hunted to the brink of extinction in the 1900s and still remain endangered.

“This kind of detailed movement hasn’t been collected yet, so that’s really important,” Virginia Andrews-Goff, a member of the research team and expert in whale tagging, told Reuters.

“We’re using the biopsy samples and the photos to work out individual identities. In the future that individual information will lead to getting an idea of the abundance of Antarctic blue whale and how well they’re recovering from whaling.”

Among the many mysteries surrounding blue whales – which can grow up to 30 meters (98 ft) long and weigh 170 tonnes (374,800 lbs) – is their number. Several thousand are believed to exist throughout the world, but more precise data is lacking.

The mechanics of the scientific venture were challenging, as tagging could only be deployed using air guns at closer range. Taggers underwent intensive firearms training and a fitness program to build core strength and thigh muscles in order to stabilize themselves in the small boats and shoot accurately.

“We were tagging, taking biopsy samples and taking photos…So you could be out on the water for four hours at a time,” said Andrews-Goff.

“We were heading out in conditions that were below 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit). Sometimes it was snowing, sometimes the ice would actually freeze on you.”

The method, which is non-lethal and has the potential to be adapted for use with other whale species, was announced on Wednesday at a news conference in the southern island of Tasmania.

“The achievements of this non-lethal research method clearly show it is not necessary to kill whales in order to study them,” Environment Minister Tony Burke said in a statement.

The group plans to present their results at this year’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission, the international body set up to manage whales.

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Consortium for Ocean Leadership

The week in wildlife – in pictures

An accommodating whale shark, an iridescent butterfly and a soaring African eagle … here is this week’s pick of images from the natural world

Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian | guardian.co.uk

From Rubber Ducks to Dog Food, Spilling Everything But Oil

Sometimes when responders can’t spill oil, they spill rubber ducks. (Credit: Jason Ahrns. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

(Click to enlarge) Sometimes when responders can’t spill oil, they spill rubber ducks. (Credit: Jason Ahrns. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.)

What do rubber duckies, dog food, oranges, wood chips, green dye, hula hoops, peat moss, popcorn, and rice hulls have in common? 

(From NOAA’s Response and Restoration Blog / by doughelton) — All have been used to mimic the behavior of spilled oil.  These materials are used because in the U.S. dumping oil in the ocean is prohibited, even if it is done intentionally for training, experimental, or testing purposes.

Tank testing has been an alternative, and we use real oil in test tanks such as the one at Ohmsett (an oil spill response and research testing facility in New Jersey), but there are questions about how well these tanks simulate real world conditions, including rough seas, currents, and waves.

During the “Safe Seas 2006″ emergency response drill off San Francisco, Calif., responders deployed nontoxic green dye to simulate an oil spill. (Credit: NOAA)

During the “Safe Seas 2006″ emergency response drill off San Francisco, Calif., responders deployed nontoxic green dye to simulate an oil spill. (Credit: NOAA)

That means there is a real need for materials that both realistically mimic oil behavior and are safe for use in the environment. They allow us to test computer models, such as NOAA’s GNOME oil forecasting model, and to improve how containment booms and other response tactics work.

On March 21, 2013, experts from around the country gathered at NOAA offices in Seattle, Wash., to discuss the need and best options for oil spill simulants. What alternatives are best? What are the environmental effects of those simulants? What permits are needed? And most importantly, how similar is the behavior compared with real oil?

One of the preliminary conclusions from this meeting is that oil behavior is difficult to emulate, and all of the existing simulants have drawbacks.

We’ll post a future story about progress in this area, and in the meantime, if you notice a bunch of oranges (or grapefruits or lemons) floating in the water, you may be seeing a test of oil spill preparedness like this one in Florida: Coast Guard, partnering agencies conduct Tidal Inlet Protection Strategy exercise.

In August of 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard and partnering agencies conducted an exercise aimed at testing the ability to protect Biscayne Bay (Florida) from offshore oil and involved deploying approximately 7,500 feet of boom and 240 pieces of surrogate oil or fruit, including grapefruits, oranges, and lemons across the channel. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard)

(Click to enlarge) In August of 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard and partnering agencies conducted an exercise aimed at testing the ability to protect Biscayne Bay (Florida) from offshore oil and involved deploying approximately 7,500 feet of boom and 240 pieces of surrogate oil or fruit, including grapefruits, oranges, and lemons across the channel. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard)

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Consortium for Ocean Leadership

‘Titanic’ director James Cameron donates deep-sea sub to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (NY Times)

‘Titanic’ director James Cameron donates deep-sea sub to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (NY Times)

News Items

Bob Gagosian – From the President’s Office: 3-28-2013

Bob Gagosian

From Bob Gagosian

Last week, the FY13 appropriations process was finally completed and just moments after that the House passed its FY14 budget resolution.  The Senate took a bit longer as they had to slowly move their way through more than 13 hours of nonstop votes on 70 amendments.  The Senate has a much more deliberative budget process.  As you can imagine, the plans are quite different, with Republicans in the House calling for deeper spending cuts in the House budget and the Democrats in the Senate calling for increased revenues to reduce the deficit.  While the differences are significant, there is still some hope that a deal can be reached to considerably reduce the deficit through a combination of savings from entitlement programs and reforms to the tax code.  If this does not happen, then we expect to see domestic programs, including science funding, to continue to be extremely tight for the foreseeable future.  This is, of course, a very serious issue, and we are weighing in on it with anyone who will listen!  Flat to slightly lower budgets for several years is not a good scenario.

On another note, Trustee Jim Sanders from Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and I had a very good visit to Georgia Tech earlier this week to introduce Ocean Leadership to the Provost, Raphael Bras, and the Vice President for Research, Stephen Cross.  I have known both of them for some time, and Jim and I felt that there are some clear synergies between Ocean Leadership and their research and priorities, so my hope is that they will become Members.  It is an impressive university with a number of growing initiatives and new buildings to house them.

This weekend is the predicted full bloom for the cherry blossom season, so if you are in the Washington area, I highly recommend you take some time to go down to the Tidal Pool to see an explosion of color and beauty.  It is just an extraordinary experience that never gets old.

Bob

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Consortium for Ocean Leadership

How High Could the Tide Go?

Researchers are studying ancient rock formations in search of clues from records of past climate change to help predict sea level rises from global warming.
NYT > Oceans