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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(6)
Plague/Virus:(2)
Climate Chaos:(5)
Resource Depletion: (8)
Biology Breach:(11)
Recovery:(8)
This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
contamination  ~ technical cleverness  ~ heavy metals  ~ smart policy  ~ stupid humans  ~ technological innovation  ~ toxic sludge  ~ bad policy  ~ marine mammals  ~ global warming  ~ GMOs  



ApocaDocuments (7) matching "technical cleverness" from this week
[see full week] ~ [see all stories tagged "technical cleverness"]
Sun, Jan 11, 2009
from Canadian Press:
Scientists track climate change through whale teeth
WINNIPEG -- Researchers are hoping the huge tusks of the walrus and choppers of the beluga whale will help track the increasing impact of global warming on Canadian Arctic mammals and the Inuit communities that depend on the creatures for food. Scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Winnipeg are preparing to study the teeth of mammals killed during Inuit hunts to look for any signs that greenhouse gases are taking a toll. Although scientists have studied the teeth which have annular rings similar to those of a tree trunk for many years, this is the first time they are being used to unlock the impact climate change is having in the North. Experts expect to find a growing number of contaminants like mercury and PCBs in the teeth, as well as evidence of a thinning diet all attributable to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. ...


How charming that scientists are now using belugamancy -- divination via whale's teeth!

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Sun, Jan 11, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
20 big green ideas
as Emma Howard Boyd, head of socially responsible investing at Jupiter Asset Management sponsors of the Big Idea award, makes clear: "The urgency of what is required to combat issues such as climate change has not diminished as a result of the current financial crisis. We need big ideas -- and it is at times like these, when there is widespread disruption, that we see innovation and new thinking." Big ideas need not necessarily be a whistle-and-bells hi-tech response. At least one of our Big 20 can be described as an "ancient technique" on loan from the Aztecs. The modern genius lies in its rediscovery and deployment because, while it would be foolish to believe blindly in a silver bullet for all environmental problems, now is absolutely the time for faith in contemporary ingenuity. ...


This story makes me feel like, y'know, Yes We Can.

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Sun, Jan 11, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Two Google searches 'produce same CO2 as boiling a kettle'
A typical search through the online giant's website is thought to generate about 7g of carbon dioxide. Boiling a kettle produces about 15g. The emissions are caused both by the electricity required to power a user's computer and send their request to servers around the world. The discovery comes amid increasing warnings about the little-known environmental impact of computer and internet use. According to Gartner, an American research firm, IT now causes about two per cent of global CO2 emissions and its carbon footprint exceeded that of the world's aviation industry for the first time in 2007. ...


Guess I'll have to slow down on the English Breakfast, wot?

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Sat, Jan 10, 2009
from New Scientist:
'Climate fix' ship sets sail with plan to dump iron
The ambitious geoengineering expedition has caused a stir among some campaigning groups, but has the scientific backing of the UK, German, and Indian governments, as well as the International Maritime Organisation. Within weeks, the ship's crew hope to dump 20 tonnes of ferrous sulphate into the Southern Ocean. Plankton need iron to grow, and the aim of the expedition is to trigger a plankton bloom and boost the amount of carbon that is sucked out of the air and locked up at the bottom of the ocean.... "Twenty tonnes of iron particles in the vast ocean is very much drop in the bucket and is unlikely to have a lasting effect," says Ken Caldeira of Stanford University. "The rational concern is that experiments will lead down some slippery slope -- that small experiments could be scaled up without any regulation." ...


We have no doubts about humankind's ability to do such geoengineering. Nor about their eventual success in having unintended consequences.

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Thu, Jan 8, 2009
from Reuters:
Monsanto seeks FDA approval for drought-tolerant corn
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Monsanto Co said Wednesday it filed for U.S. regulatory approval for what could be the world's first drought-tolerant corn, a product that agricultural companies around the globe are racing to roll out amid fears of global warming and the needs of a growing population. Monsanto said it submitted its product to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for regulatory clearance. It is working with German-based BASF on the project. The two companies are jointly contributing $1.5 billion to a venture aimed at developing higher-yielding crops and crops more tolerant to adverse environmental conditions, such as drought, which has eroded production in countries around the world in recent years. "It's been everybody's dream to have a drought-tolerant crop," said Iowa State University agronomist Roger Elmore, though he pointed out advantages would vary widely depending on geography. ...


I know that's been my dream all along...

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Wed, Jan 7, 2009
from New Scientist:
Rise of the garage genome hackers
The competition is part of a do-it-yourself movement that hopes to spark a revolution in biotechnology. It is based on the emerging field of synthetic biology, which uses genes and other cell components as the building blocks for new organisms or devices. The movement is trying to open up this field to anyone with a passion for tweaking DNA in their spare time -- from biologists to software engineers to people who just like it as a hobby. The hope is that encouraging a wider mix of people to take part could lead to advances that would not happen otherwise, just as tinkering by the Homebrew Computer Club hackers of the 1970s spawned the first personal computers. "Biology is becoming less of a science and more of a technology," says Mackenzie Cowell, co-founder of the group DIYbio, which aims to be an "Institution for the Amateur", providing scientists with resources akin to those found in academia or industry. "There will be more opportunity for people who didn't spend up to seven years getting a PhD in the field," he says. ...


Oh boy! Soon we'll all be able to engineer Roundup-ready crops! And, as a bonus, a more slow-cycling Ebola virus!

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Mon, Jan 5, 2009
from London Daily Telegraph:
Satellite will show how the earth 'breathes'
The Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) has been created in Japan to monitor emissions from around the planet from space and it is hoped the data it provides will help in the fight against global warming. The orbiting satellite will track the emission of carbon dioxide and methane, gases that contribute heavily to the greenhouse effect. Dubbed Ibuki - Japanese for "breath" - the satellite will record greenhouse gas emissions in 56,000 locations across the globe while orbiting the planet once every three days at an altitude of 666km. While there are currently around 280 observations points around the world monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, the new satellite will offer scientists a non-terrestrial perspective of global emissions for the first time. ...


We can play the blame game!

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