Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fighting Climate Change in the Fields

Graze your way to sustainability.
The centerpiece of Savory’s work is the 2,630-hectare Dimbangombe Ranch in northwestern Zimbabwe near Victoria Falls, home to his Africa Centre for Holistic Management. In the hot, dry, depleted landscape of this region, “the rains are not what they used to be” is a frequent refrain. But Dimbangombe looks as though it’s been uniquely favored by the rain gods. It has lush, varied grasses, flowing rivers and streams, and thriving livestock—some four times the number of neighboring ranches. Thanks to the renewed flow of the Dimbangombe River, elephant herds no longer have to travel to pools but can water on the river. Women who used to walk as much as five kilometers daily for water now have it available in their communities. Dimbangombe has become productive and vibrant while its neighbors, and similar environments around the globe, are turning to desert. How? “Two things: we brought in increased cattle numbers with holistic planned grazing, and [we] minimized the fires,” says Savory.

Desertification—and associated problems such as flooding, wildfires, and water shortages—can be seen as a symptom of the carbon cycle gone awry, says Savory. In the same way that plants need animals, as seen in the relationship between ruminants and grasses, soil needs plants. “For soil to form, it needs to be living, and to be living, soil needs to be covered,” says Australian scientist Christine Jones. Without a cover of plants in various stages of growth and decomposition, much of the carbon oxidizes and enters the atmosphere as CO2.So soil carbon has huge implications for climate change. Rattan Lal, Distinguished Professor of soil science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University, estimates that soil-carbon restoration can potentially store about one billion tons of atmospheric carbon per year. This means that the soil could effectively offset around one-third of human-generated emissions annually absorbed in the atmosphere. Building soil carbon would also enhance food production; and, because carbon-rich soil holds significantly more water than its dried-out counterpart, it would help to secure watersheds and protect against flooding and drought.

Why Are Finland's Schools Successful?

We should be learning from Finnish education practices.  They give free reign for teachers to do whatever it takes to get a child educated.  Their success points the way for the rest of us.

The Real Class Warfare

Professor Krugman points out that class warfare has been going on for some time now.  But most of the middle class don't seem to be aware that the ones doing the complaining about it are the ones who have been on the attack.  When middle-class incomes have risen by a modes 21 %, the income of the top 1 % of the distribution have risen by 480 %.  This concentration of wealth is not good for the country.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Effortless sailing

The cloaking craze comes to boating.  The idea is to move the vessel through the water with a minimum of disturbance.
"The goal is make it so the water passing through the porous material leaves the cloak at the same speed as the water surrounding by the vessel," Urzhumov said. "In this way, the water outside the hull would appear to be still relative to the vessel, thereby greatly reducing the amount of energy needed by the vessel to push vast quantities of water out of the way as it progresses."
Perhaps it will be coming to an America's Cup vessel near you.

Dental Revolution

A new method of filling cavities actually rebuilds the tooth without drilling or foreign material.

Bacterially produced wires

The same bacteria that immobilizes uranium mentioned in a previous post also creates a network of nanowires that conduct electricity.

Real Mystery Meat

For all the ethical vegetarians out there, advances continue to be made in growing meat in a culture
 instead of on an animal.   Probably tastes like chicken.

Breakthrough in wireless.

By going to full duplex on the current frequencies, we could double wireless capacity without building any new towers.  But even that probably wouldn't be enough.

Uranium bugs

There's a microbe that thrives on uranium in the soil.  It stabilizes the stuff by forming it into nanowires.

Mitt Romney and Medicare

Mitt Romney's plan simply fails to address the biggest budgetary problem in the coming years.  It completely ignores the budget-busting consequences of rising healthcare costs among Medicare recipients.  For Romney's plan to work, we would have to kill Medicare.  But he fails to say that out loud.

Petri dish testing

cell-based alternative to animal testing would let industry test new products without harming helpless animals.  It probably would be cheaper and quicker too.