Viscous Cycle of Quartz

The title is a bit misleading,but what we learn is that quartz acts as a mechanism for stress release inrocks by releasing and I suspect reabsorbing water, thus shifting in and out ofa viscous state.

Perhaps, it certainly provides amechanism for healing rocks back together. It is noteworthy that quartz often jumps through structures and this isoften seen as replacement, while simple intrusion is just as satisfactory.  The actual fluids are the water basedsolutions that often are associated with quartz structures.

Thus stressed rocks crack and arethen rehealed by viscous quartz. This can happen repeatedly to form a largequartz rich structure.

Thus we gain a useful model for copperporphyry.  An intrusive quartz stockworkrises into a host rock inducing heavy cracking while providing hot mineralizedfluids that precipitate throughout the fracturing. The flow of mineral isongoing through the quartz over geologic time frames and it precipitates intothe halo of fractured rock as the chemistry changes.  This nicely ends my confusion over the propergenesis of such deposits.

The bigger the better as thatmeans a larger heat source and longer life.

Thus any attempt to understandgeological ‘viscosity’ begins rightly with the quartz content.  Making new quartz is another importantmatter.

Viscous Cycle: Quartz Is Key To Plate Tectonics

by Staff Writers

Washington DC (SPX) Mar 18, 2011

Quartz may play a major role in the movements of continents, known asplate tectonics. Credit: USGS

More than 40 years ago, pioneering tectonic geophysicist J. Tuzo Wilsonpublished a paper in the journal Nature describing how ocean basins opened andclosed along North America's eastern seaboard.

His observations, dubbed "The Wilson Tectonic Cycle,"suggested the process occurred many times during Earth's long history, mostrecently causing the giant supercontinent Pangaea to split into today's sevencontinents.

Wilson's ideas were central to the so-called Plate Tectonic Revolution,the foundation of contemporary theories for processes underlyingmountain-building and earthquakes.

Since his 1967 paper, additional studies have confirmed thatlarge-scale deformation of continents repeatedly occurs in some regions but notothers, though the reasons why remain poorly understood.

Now, new findings by Utah State Universitygeophysicist Tony Lowry and colleague Marta Perez-Gussinye of Royal Holloway, University of London, shed surprising light on theserestless rock cycles.

"It all begins with quartz," says Lowry, who publishedresults of the team's recent study in the March 17 issue of Nature.

The scientists describe a new approach to measuring properties of thedeep crust.

It reveals quartz's key role in initiating the churning chain of eventsthat cause Earth's surface tocrack, wrinkle, fold and stretch into mountains, plains and valleys.

"If you've ever traveled westward from the Midwest's GreatPlains toward the Rocky Mountains, you mayhave wondered why the flat plains suddenly rise into steep peaks at aparticular spot," Lowry says.

"It turns out that the crust beneath the plains has almost noquartz in it, whereas the Rockies are veryquartz-rich."

He thinks that those belts of quartz could be the catalyst thatsets the mountain-building rock cycle in motion.

"Earthquakes, mountain-building and other expressions ofcontinental tectonics depend on how rocks flow in response to stress,"says Lowry.

"We know that tectonics is a response to the effects of gravity,but we know less about rock flow properties and how they change from onelocation to another."

Wilson's theories provide an important clue, Lowry says, as scientistshave long observed that mountain belts and rift zones have formed again andagain at the same locations over long periods of time.

But why?

"Over the last few decades, we've learned that high temperatures,water and abundant quartz are all critical factors in making rocks flow more easily,"Lowry says. "Until now, we haven't had the tools to measure thesefactors and answer long-standing questions."

Since 2002, the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded EarthscopeTransportable Array of seismic stations across the western United States has provided remotesensing data about the continent's rock properties.

"We've combined Earthscope data with other geophysical measurementsof gravity and surface heat flow in an entirely new way, one that allows usto separate the effects of temperature, water and quartz in the crust,"Lowry says.

Earthscope measurements enabled the team to estimate the thickness,along with the seismic velocity ratio, of continental crust in the AmericanWest.

"This intriguing study provides new insights into the processesdriving large-scale continental deformation and dynamics," says GregAnderson, NSF program director for EarthScope. "These are key to understandingthe assembly and evolution ofcontinents."

Seismic velocity describes how quickly sound waves and shear wavestravel through rock, offering clues to its temperature and composition.

"Seismic velocities are sensitive to both temperature and rocktype," Lowry says.

"But if the velocities are combined as a ratio, the temperaturedependence drops out. We found that the velocity ratio was especially sensitiveto quartz abundance."

Even after separating out the effects of temperature, the scientistsfound that a low seismic velocity ratio, indicating weak, quartz-rich crust,systematically occurred in the same place as high lower-crustal temperaturesmodeled independently from surface heat flow.\

"That was a surprise," he says. "We think this indicatesa feedback cycle, where quartz starts the ball rolling."

If temperature and water are the same, Lowry says, rock flow willfocus where the quartz is located because that's the only weak link.

Once the flow starts, the movement of rock carries heat with it andthat efficient movement of heat raises temperature, resulting in weakening ofcrust.

"Rock, when it warms up, is forced to release water that'sotherwise chemically bound in crystals," he says.

Water further weakens the crust, which increasingly focuses thedeformation in a specific area.

Wind Power Cheaper Than Nuclear

The shoe has dropped.  In a straight out economic fight withnuclear, wind wins.  And worse, once paidoff, and they do get paid off, it is practically free.

Worse, they can be all done inmonths wherever it make sense and offshore is looking better every day.

The wind industry is mature andcan support a flat out building program that can make it the dominant source ofenergy.  Recall also that we are enteringthe age of superconducting power lines that will shift power across a continentat no real cost.  Thus a shortfall in Hungary will be replaced by power from Spaineasily.

Variable as it may be in terms oflocal output, tens of thousands of windmills throughout Europeonly experiences the average effect and that is never variable.

And it all comes down tocost.  Windmills are getting larger andtherefore cheaper in terms of cost to output. They never need fuel and that hand wave disappears.  They become ideal for pension funds to investin.

In fact they are perfect.  Buy a windmill at age twenty five with fortyyears amortization and at sixty five you owe no money and you sell your powerat the prevailing rate.  You even getdepreciation to use tax money to pay it off. In fact, in the years I have spent around investments, this is asperfect a retirement asset as one could hope to own.   Even better it is immune to inflation and thelike.

Wind power cheaper than nuclear, says EU climate chief

Connie Hedegaard says declining cost of offshore wind energy makes itgenuine alternative to crisis-hit nuclear industry

Thanet wind farm off the coast of Ramsgate, Kent. Photograph: GarethFuller/PA

Generating energy from wind turbinesat sea would be cheaper than building new atomic power plants, Europe's climate chief has said, in the latest challengeto the crisis-stricken nuclear industry.

ConnieHedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, said: "Some people tendto believe that nuclear is very, very cheap, but offshore wind is cheaper thannuclear. People should believe that this is very, very cheap."

Offshore wind energy has long been seen as an expensive way ofgenerating power, costing about two to three times more than erecting turbineson land, but the expense is likely to come down, while the costs of nuclearenergy are opaque, according to analysis by the European commission.

The nuclear crisis in Japanhas led the UK, France and other countries to tell theirnationals to consider leaving Tokyo, in response to fears of spreading nuclearcontamination. The crisis also prompted the EU's energy commissioner, G├╝ntherOettinger, to say: "There is talk of an apocalypse, and I think the wordis particularly well chosen."

Hedegaard told the European Wind Energy Association's annual conferencein Brussels that the problems facing nuclear power put renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, back in thespotlight.

"There are 143 nuclear power plants in Europeand they are not going to disappear," she said. "But when it comes tonew energy capacity that discussion is likely to be very much influenced bywhat is happening in Japan."

She suggested that the Japanese nuclear incidents, which have not yet been brought under control, would"automatically" turn attention to renewable power.

However, she was careful to insist that it was up to member states todecide on their energy mix, as long as they adhered to the Europe-wide targetsof cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and generating 20% of energyfrom renewable sources by the same date.

Hedegaard published a "roadmap to 2050" this monththat showed the EU was on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% ifcurrent policies are implemented. She said this strengthened the case put bysome member states that the EU's current target of cutting carbon dioxide by20% by 2020 should be toughened to 30%.

China and Germany have put nuclear projectson hold after the incidents at several Japanese nuclear reactors.

Europe's biggest nuclear operator, EDF of France, insisted that plansto build a new generation of reactors in Britainshould not be held back by the problems in Japan.

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, said:"While we understand the importance of adjusting the timetable to takeinto account the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate report [on the Japanesecrisis], it is also equally important that establishing the framework for newnuclear should not be subject to undue delay. The events in Japan do not change the need for nuclear in Britain."

He said meetings this week with local authorities regarding places suchas Hinkley Point in Somerset,where EDF wants to build a new reactor, had still been positive.

De Rivaz told the Nuclear Development Forum, including the energysecretary, Chris Huhne, that there was "local determination to press aheadwith our project, and the strong feeling that whilst we should learn anylessons we may need to from Japan, we should not delay our progress".

Saving 37 Million Lives

The serious point been made here isthat all this is easy and cheap and really needs little more today than thesimple will.

Ten years ago, the problem was overwhelminglogistical issues.  Today, the cell phonehas cut that Gordian knot.

With the cell phone, aresponsible agency can merely fund a bounty for confirmed delivery if it is amatter of delivering live bodies.  Thatis cheap and direct.

All the fixes are first a matterof education and that can be done by the cell phone.  An informed consumer then drives the market.

This item identifies a host ofobvious and cheap fixes.  The payoff ishuge and should drive governments to make it all so.

Saving 37 million lives per year, boosting IQ by 20 points for 4billion people and a better world economy - micronutrients, vaccines, airpollution control and more

MARCH 24, 2011

WHOestimates that better use of existing preventive measures could reducethe global burden of disease by as much as 70%. Affordablesteps can be taken to reduce the burden of disease and accidents. 

More creativity is needed to identifying and better solve these problems. Theproblems can be more difficult to solve then expected on a first pass.TheEconomist describes how it requires some stealth to get needed micronutrientsinto foods that people will eat. The healthier choiceneeds to be in an automatic process. The solution need to just happen withoutresistance or dodging.

- One hundred thousand non-grid connected generators and refrigerators couldhelp maintain the cold chain for vaccines. This would help reduceunder-vaccination and save 5 million lives per year. This also has a trickycomponent in that many people avoid vaccination because of misinformation andincorrect beliefs.

A richer and healthier society is safer and stronger (more robust). Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami thatwas 100 times stronger than the one that hit Haiti. Japan had over ten times lowerdeaths. Many aftershocks that hit Japanwere stronger than the initial Haitiearthquake.

37 million lives per year are very savable. The UN millennium projectsare a good start. More creativity is needed. The problems have multiplevulnerabilities to be more deeply and creatively analyzed and exploited. TheWorld economy could be sustainably increased several times.


Helping people/companies/governments get more creativeabout getting enough micronutrients to people would save millions of lives andincrease intelligence and boost local and world economies. There would bedirect boosting of health forlower medical costs and higher productivity and then the increased IQ wouldalso boost economies.

If everyone had optimal levels of micronutrients then the IQ of over half ofthe worlds population would be increased by up to 20 IQ points. (Enough Iodineand Zinc.)Energy levels, productivity and health would also be improved. Also, preventingbrain damage from pollution like lead would also help. Increased IQ provideseconomic benefits and reduced crime levels. It is like a massive initial"transhumanist boost" by giving half the world a 20 point IQ boostover a few decades.

Under-nutrition,including micronutrient deficiencies, accounts for up to 3.5 million maternaland child deaths annually and has life-long consequences on health,productivity and economic growth.

Public health (disease reduction during childhood and teenage development andnutrition) determines about 70% of average IQ and average IQ (and the IQ of thetop 5%) determines a lot of per capita GDP. For each one-point increase in acountry’s average IQ, the per capita GDP was $229 higher. It made an evenbigger difference if the smartest 5 percent of the population got smarter; forevery additional IQ point in that group, a country’s per capita GDP was $468higher.

Among the most severe consequences of micronutrient deficiencies are:

* 670,000 child deaths annually from vitamin A deficiency

* 38 million newborns at risk of falling victim to iodine deficiency disorders,which cause permanent brain damage, every year

* 115,000 maternal deaths annually from iron deficiency

* 1.5 million child deaths from diarrhoea, which could be easily treated withzinc and oral rehydration therapy

* An estimated 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient andit is likely that in vitamin A deficient areas a substantial proportion ofpregnant women is vitamin A deficient.

* An estimated 250 000 to 500 000 vitamin A-deficient children become blindevery year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.

Air pollution and safer energy

I also discuss lowering deaths per TWH from energy generation

Applying air pollution control devices onto coal, oil and natural andindustrial facilities and devices and checks on cars and trucks for ensuringbetter control of particulates could save hundreds of thousands of the800,000-1.2 million deaths per year from particulates.

An article that explains how much particulates pass through yourlungs every year

- applying stronger air pollution controls (affordable with good payback,economic for governments and societies)

- Helping developing countries to have safe indoor stoves and heaters (there isa UN program for this but it needs to be expanded (would save 1.9 millionpeople per year)

Stronger buildings and better construction codes

Improved low cost building construction would prevent the vulnerability shownin Haitito fragile buildings. Simple and affordable steps can be taken with things likehurriquake nails

Summarizing some other steps to prevent avoidable deaths

* 6 million deaths could be avoided by stopping the use of Tobacco. (requiresmore creativity)

* Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health.Diarrhoeal disease alone amounts to an estimated 4.1 % of the total DALY globalburden of disease and is responsible for the deaths of 1.8 million people everyyear (WHO, 2004)

* Spend $136 billion/year on sanitation and clean water or create a cheap andeffective diahrrea vaccines so that people can tolerate dirty water. Still workon clean sanitation but vaccinations could be 20 times cheaper and save 80-90%of the lives.

* 1.3 million people die each year from traffic accidents. Automation (roboticdriving) even partial automation could help a great deal in reducing thesedeaths and injuries. Partial Automation: detection of imminent crash andauto-avoidance or reduction of crash severity (auto-brake), automation atintersections where disproportionate accidents occur.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on ycombinator orStumbleUpon. Thanks

Early Christian Lead Books Discovered in Jordan

Making books using lead wasunusual even then.  Yet if they cast thepages, then it could be done easily by first using clay and writing text firstin the clay.  Then a number of copiescould be made.  It is still unusual andplausibly more of a marketing stunt than practical.  Besides there was no lack of papyrus in thispart of the world.

We also recall apparent talltales of non Christian scriptures make up in leafs of gold reported in variousodd venues.  This is the first bit ofhard evidence that such could even be attempted and it is linked to the knownera of interest.

Whatever happens, we will retrieveperhaps one of the most ancient texts, though I suspect it is from well afterthe crucifuiction.

In the event, it is a remarkablearcheological discovery.

Jordan battles to regain 'priceless' Christianrelics
By Robert Pigott BBC News religious affairs correspondent

29 March 2011 Last updated at 01:30 ET

They could be the earliest Christian writing in existence, survivingalmost 2,000 years in a Jordanian cave. They could, just possibly, change ourunderstanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianitywas born.

A group of 70 or so "books", each with between five and 15lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote aridvalley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007.

A flash flood had exposed two niches inside the cave, one of themmarked with a menorah or candlestick, the ancient Jewish religious symbol.

A Jordanian Bedouin opened these plugs, and what he found inside mightconstitute extremely rare relics of early Christianity.

That is certainly the view of the Jordanian government, which claimsthey were smuggled into Israelby another Bedouin.

“Start Quote

As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck”
Philip DaviesSheffield University

The Israeli Bedouin who currently holds the books has denied smugglingthem out of Jordan,and claims they have been in his family for 100 years.

Jordan says it will "exert all efforts at everylevel" to get the relics repatriated.

Incredible claims

The director of the Jordan'sDepartment of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, says the books might have been made byfollowers of Jesus in the few decades immediately following his crucifixion.

"They will really match, and perhaps be more significant than, theDead Sea Scrolls," says Mr Saad.

"Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticitychecks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging, and itseems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybethe most important discovery in the history of archaeology."

The texts might have been written in the decades following thecrucifixion

They seem almost incredible claims - so what is the evidence?

The books, or "codices", were apparently cast in lead, beforebeing bound by lead rings.

Their leaves - which are mostly about the size of a credit card -contain text in Ancient Hebrew, most of which is in code.

If the relics are of early Christian origin rather than Jewish, thenthey are of huge significance.

One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, ascholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team tryingto get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum.

He says they could be "the major discovery of Christianhistory", adding: "It's a breathtaking thought that we have heldthese objects that might have been held by the early saints of theChurch."

He believes the most telling evidence for an early Christian originlies in the images decorating the covers of the books and some of the pages ofthose which have so far been opened.

Mr Elkington says the relics feature signs that early Christians wouldhave interpreted as indicating Jesus, shown side-by-side with others they wouldhave regarded as representing the presence of God.

"It's talking about the coming of the messiah," he says.

"In the upper square [of one of the book covers] we have theseven-branch menorah, which Jews were utterly forbidden to represent because itresided in the holiest place in the Templein the presence of God.

"So we have the coming of the messiah to approach the holy ofholies, in other words to get legitimacy from God."
Location clues

Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies at SheffieldUniversity, says the most powerful evidence for a Christian origin lies inplates cast into a picture map of the holy city of Jerusalem.

"As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck. That struck me as soobviously a Christian image," he says.

"There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has tobe the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that thewalls of the city. There are walls depicted on other pages of these books tooand they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem."

The books were bound by lead rings

It is the cross that is the most telling feature, in the shape of acapital T, as the crosses used by Romans for crucifixion were.

"It is a Christian crucifixion taking place outside the citywalls," says Mr Davies.

Margaret Barker, an authority on New Testament history, points to thelocation of the reported discovery as evidence of Christian, rather than purelyJewish, origin.

"We do know that on two occasions groups of refugees from thetroubles in Jerusalem fled east, they crossed the Jordan near Jericho and thenthey fled east to very approximately where these books were said to have beenfound," she says.

"[Another] one of the things that is most likely pointing towardsa Christian provenance, is that these are not scrolls but books. The Christianswere particularly associated with writing in a book form rather than scrollform, and sealed books in particular as part of the secret tradition of earlyChristianity."

The Book of Revelation refers to such sealed texts.

Another potential link with the Bible is contained in one of the fewfragments of text from the collection to have been translated.

It appears with the image of the menorah and reads "I shall walkuprightly", a sentence that also appears in the Book of Revelation.

While it could be simply a sentiment common in Judaism, it could herebe designed to refer to the resurrection.

It is by no means certain that all of the artefacts in the collectionare from the same period.

But tests by metallurgists on the badly corroded lead suggest that thebooks were not made recently.

The archaeology of early Christianity is particularly sparse.

Little is known of the movement after Jesus' crucifixion until theletters of Paul several decades later, and they illuminate the westward spreadof Christianity outside the Jewish world.

Never has there been a discovery of relics on this scale from the earlyChristian movement, in its homeland and so early in its history.

Is global warming drowning Bangladesh?

Md Saiful Haque Writes From Stockholm, Sweden

The impacts of global warming will be felt across the globe. Glaciers and ice caps will melt at faster rates. Occurrence of extreme floods and droughts will increase.

Water stress will increase globally while water quality will deteriorate. In South Asia, seasonal variation of water will increase. Water resource scarcity with enhanced climate variability will intensify. More than a billion people will experience water stress in the region. There's high risk of rain, riverine and glacier-melt related floods. Flooding due to sea-level rise and deterioration of water quality will intensify. And what's more grim, there are uncertainties in the projections. These are the basic findings of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s latest report by Bangladeshi scientist Dr Monirul Mirza, a lead author for IPCC, presented at the 2007 World Water Week high level panel discussion on climate change in Stockholm last August. The poorest countries have always been predicted to be worst hit by human-induced global warming and climate change. Bangladesh, as the lowest riparian country in the South Asian region that faces the sea -- and drains 92 percent of the snowmelt from the vast Himalayan mountain range -- is one of the most vulnerable places on earth to global warming and climate change. One of the poorest nations in the world, Bangladesh is projected to lose 17.5 percent of its land if sea level rises about 40 inches (1 m). And sea level is already rising in the Bay of Bengal even faster than expected, and pushing salty water inland, lowering the productivity of rice -- the country's key crop -- cultivation, especially in the south of the country. Coastal flooding will threaten animals, plants, and fresh water supplies. The current danger posed by storm surges when cyclones hit Bangladesh is likely to increase. Scientists believe global warming will make cyclones in the region bigger and more frequent. A UN report says: "Of the 12 hottest years on record 11 occurred between 1995 and 2006." What's more, the heat is only continuing to rise. Rising temperatures are creating havoc with the earth's weather, bringing too much rain to some, not enough to others. Climate change is likely to heavily hit Bangladesh by breaking down agricultural systems, which would seriously affect Bangladesh, leaving large sections of people facing malnutrition, worsening freshwater scarcity, increasing risks of fatal diseases, and triggering mass displacement due to recurring severe floods and storms like the recent Cyclone Sidr. Asia's largest rivers, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, join in the world's most extensive delta and flow into the Bay of Bengal. Here lies Bangladesh, a nation of 145 million people already beset with grinding poverty, severe frequent floods, and now also affected by rising sea levels. And the Kusiara and Surma rivers coming from the Himalayan-foot district Assam (in India) form the Meghna -- another mighty river. The Ganges and Brahmaputra meet the Meghna and then together course south in hundreds of distributaries to form the largest delta on the planet. Siltation of river-beds caused by sediments carried by rivers from upstream countries decelerates drainage and accentuates the intensity of floods. According to an estimate (Milliman, Meade 1983, taken from World Bank 1998), about 1.67 billion tons of suspended sediment discharged annually through the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, while Bangladesh Water Development Board estimated a suspended sediment discharge of about 1.27 billion tons excluding bed load which may amount to about 50 percent of the total sediment load. Ninety percent of the land is floodplain, and the country has the world's highest density of rivers per unit of area. Yet, with increased population and expanded economic activity, Bangladesh faces serious shortages of water during the dry season -- flooding during the monsoon and too little in the dry season. Bangladesh's location and topography make it particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change and also hard to protect, where the rivers are constantly shifting, making it difficult to build up protective banks or large dikes to hold back the sea. The soil here is mud and, as such -- not steady. About one million people a year are displaced by loss of land along rivers due to constant river-bank erosion, and this is increasing. People are little aware of the effect on them of sea level rise and a warming climate. Because of its poverty -- 78 percent of its population lives on less than $2 a day -- Bangladesh cannot afford the kind of defences planned in Europe. World Bank reported, in 2001 that sea level was rising about 3 mm a year in the Bay of Bengal. It warned of loss of Bengal tigers in the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest -- and a world heritage site -- and threat to hundreds of bird species. 15 to 20 percent of Bangladesh is within one metre rise of sea level. The World Bank warned of a decline of rice crop up to 30 percent with predicted sea level rise. This is not a one-time event that sometime in the future will affect so many. It is a constant process of ever higher tides, which affects more and more people even in time of lower river flow and good weather. According to the latest UN Human Development Report (HDR) released in November, Bangladesh is among the countries to be worst-affected by climate change that may cause a large-scale reversal in human development. Describing the effects of climate change on the poorest countries as horrible, the HDR states: "Those who have largely caused the problem -- the rich countries -- are not going to be those who suffer the most in the short term. It is the poorest, who are not contributing significantly to green house gas emissions, who are the most vulnerable." The HDR report titled 'Fighting Climate Change' cautioned "Business-as-usual scenarios will trigger large scale reversals in human development, undermining livelihoods and causing mass displacement." UNDP administrator Kemal Dervis, in his introduction to the report, said: "It is the poor, a constituency with no responsibility for the ecological debt we are running up, who face the most immediate, and severe, human costs." With only 15 percent of world's population, rich countries account for nearly half of global carbon dioxide emissions, with the United States -- the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases -- leaving a carbon footprint that is nearly 70 times higher than in Bangladesh. Global carbon dioxide output in 2006 approached a staggering 32 billion tons, with about 25 percent of that coming from the US. There's not much Bangladesh can do. Unless developed countries cut their greenhouse emissions, our efforts will be undercut. The country is particularly vulnerable because it has a low institutional capacity and lacks resources to combat the changing climate. But the immediate consequences of climate change are in Bangladesh -- and also in Africa. As for Bangladesh, both adaptation and mitigation measures are essential to reduce high risks. Adaptation measures in poor countries like ours should be subsidised by rich countries. It is poor countries that are "suffering the brunt of climate change". But it is rich countries' greenhouse-gas emissions that have "caused this crisis in the first place". Without aid from richer countries to pay for more durable raised roads, hospitals and other infrastructures, Bangladesh will be unable to handle more disasters like deadly Sidr and frequent, ravaging deluges. With sea levels rising and rivers swelling in the coming decades, vast areas of the country would disappear, sparking an exodus of climate refugees. The terrible question is, where will they go? However, world leaders at the UN climate conference in mid-December, on the resort island of Bali, Indonesia, have agreed to reach a new deal on fighting global warming by 2009. The contentious, two-week conference ended with the United States, facing angry criticism from other delegations, relenting in its opposition to a request from developing nations for more technological help for fighting climate change. The new deal does not commit countries to specific actions against global warming. It simply sets an agenda and schedule for negotiators to find ways to reduce pollution and help poor countries adapt to environmental changes by speeding up the transfer of technology and financial

New Evolutionary History Of Primates

The first take home is that wehave 186 separate species of primates. No doubt many more were eliminated in competition with ourselves.  This new paper apparently resolves the shapeof the various lineages and establishes linkages that will resolve keyquestions and inform future debate and investigation.

We are a long way from the ideasexpressed in the accompanying illustration.

Again we are watching a rapidexpansion of understanding taking place as the tools of the past couple ofdecades are vigorously applied.

A New Evolutionary History Of Primates

by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 22, 2011

The findings illustrate events in primate evolutionfromancient to recent and clarify numerous taxonomic controversies. Ongoingspeciation, reticulate evolution, ancient relic lineages, unequal rates ofevolution and disparate distributions of genetic insertions/deletions among thereconstructed primate lineages are uncovered.

‘A robust new phylogenetic tree resolves many long-standing issues inprimate taxonomy. The genomes ofliving primates harbor remarkable differences in diversity and provide anintriguing context for interpreting human evolution.

The phylogenetic analysis was conducted by international researchers todetermine the origin, evolution, patterns of speciation, and unique features ingenome divergence among primate lineages. This evolutionary history will bepublished on March 17 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics.

The authors sequenced 54 gene regions from 186 species spanning theprimate radiation.The analysis illustrates the importance of resolving complex, species-richphylogenies using large-scale comparative genomic approach.

Patterns of species and gene sequence evolution and adaptation relatenot only to human genome organization and genetic disease sensitivity, but alsoto global emergence of zoonoses (human pathogens originating from non-humandisease reservoirs), to mammalian comparative genomics, to primate taxonomy andto species conservation.

To date, available molecular genetic data applied to primatesystematics has been informative, but limited in scope and constrained to justspecific subsets of taxa. Now, a team of international researchers from the US, Brazil,France and Germany, haveprovided a highly robust depiction of the divergence hierarchy, mode and tempogoverning the extraordinarily divergent primate lineages.

The findings illustrate events in primate evolution from ancient torecent and clarify numerous taxonomic controversies. Ongoing speciation,reticulate evolution, ancient relic lineages, unequal rates of evolution anddisparate distributions of genetic insertions/deletions among the reconstructedprimate lineages are uncovered.

The authors said: "Advances in human biomedicine, including thosefocused on changes in genes triggeredor disrupted in development, resistance/susceptibility to infectious disease,cancers, and mechanisms of recombination and genome plasticity, can not beadequately interpreted in the absence of a precise evolutionary context orhierarchy. Resolution of the primate species phylogeny here provides avalidated framework essential in the development, interpretation and discoveryof the genetic underpinnings of human adaptation and disease."

Biochar Sequesters Nitrogen in Pastures

Anyone following this blog backeven to 2007, knows that I am unapologetic when it comes to the subject ofbiochar.  Quite simply every acre of soilon earth needs to be beneficiated with ten percent biochar to the depth ofrooting.  There may be exceptions and I maybe surprised, but rapidly expanding research is step by step bearing this out.

This is a particularly importantpaper, because it bears out that nitrogen is trapped by the biochar until it isused, even in pastures.  Optimizing itall means achieving that ten percent mark which takes years at least anddecades if one is more leisurely about it.

Everyone is arguing the carbonsequestration issue but that is irrelevant compared to the fact that thisprotocol swiftly manufactures real living soils were none existed.  Those soils retain nutrients naturally untilthey are extracted by a living plant.

What more do you need tounderstand?

Can Biochar Help Suppress Greenhouse Gases

by Staff Writers

Madison WI(SPX) Mar 23, 2011

Addition of biochar to the soil allowed for a 70% reduction in nitrous oxide fluxesover the course of the study. Nitrogen contribution from livestock urine to theemitted nitrous oxide decreased as well.

Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas and a precursor to compounds thatcontribute to the destruction of the ozone. Intensively managed, grazedpastures are responsible for an increase in nitrous oxide emissions fromgrazing animals' excrement.

Biochar is potentially a mitigation option for reducing the world'selevated carbon dioxide emissions, since the embodied carbon canbe sequestered in the soil. Biochar also has the potential to beneficiallyalter soil nitrogen transformations.

Laboratory tests have indicated that adding biochar to the soil couldbe used to suppress nitrous oxide derived from livestock. Biochar has been usedfor soil carbon sequestration in the same manner.

In a study funded by the Foundation for Research Science andTechnology, scientists at Lincoln University in New Zealand, conducted an experiment overan 86-day spring/summer period to determined the effect of incorporatingbiochar into the soil on nitrous oxide emissions from the urine patchesproduced by cattle.

Biochar was added to the soil during pasture renovation and gas sampleswere taken on 33 different occasions. The study was published in theMarch/April 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Addition of biochar to the soil allowed for a 70% reduction in nitrousoxide fluxes over the course of the study. Nitrogen contribution from livestockurine to the emitted nitrous oxide decreased as well. The incorporation ofbiochar into the soil had no detrimental effects on dry matter yield or totalnitrogen content in the pasture.

Arezoo Taghizadeh-Toosi who conducted the study, says that under thehighest rate of biochar, ammonia formation and its subsequent adsorption ontoor into the biochar, reduced the inorganic-nitrogen pool available fornitrifiers and thus nitrate concentrations were reduced. Such effects wouldhave diminished the substrate available for microbial nitrous oxide production.
Research work is ongoing and still required to determine seasonaleffects, and the effects of repeated urine deposition.

The fullarticle is available for no charge for 30 days following the date ofthis summary.

Nuclear In Context?

Yet a nuclear disaster is adisaster like no other.  Neither Chernobyl nor Three mile Islandhave as yet been properly dismantled and the site restored to conventionalusage.

The tsunami is something we canhandle.  We grieve and we clean up themess as in Katrina and a decade later we have reports on lessons learned andthe world turns.  Nuclear isdifferent.  The contained metal itself isitself a storage problem because it is all irradiated and strange isotopes areproduced that are risky.  And no, I donot wish to put my body onto the work site to clean up anything.

I would like to see just onedisaster site properly torn down.  In theevent we are presently back to the conditions at TMI in which months of carefulwork was required to remove all the uranium from the site before it was simplysealed up and abandoned.  The good newsis that it can be done.

The Japannuclear emergency in context 

The Fukushimanuclear power plants survived the onslaught well, and we learned a great deal.The lessons learned will be shared with the rest of the world to the bettermentof all. Current designs could withstand even this worst-case scenario. Nuclearpower remains, safe, viable and vital.

March 24, 2011

The earthquake and tsunami in Japandelivered a devastating one-two punch to that island nation and to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclearplant. So what does much of the world do? You guessed it. They blamed thedesigners, builders and operators of the nuclear plant for not doing a goodenough job. They call for all reactors in the world to be closed down.

Electricity has been restored to all the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Thatmeans that the control panels have lit up and banished the inky darkness.Electricity is available to the electrical cooling pumps.

The overall situation is looking much better. They are not out of the woodsyet, but day by day the residual nuclear decay heat, in the reactor fuelelements, is dropping and the prospect for any major release of nuclearmaterial is diminishing.

It seems likely that the main toll from the nuclear emergency will be to asmall number of heroic plant workers and emergency responders who continue tobrave exposure to radiation to restore cooling to the reactors.

The focus for Japanand the world should remain on recovery from this crisis and we should be waryof any seeking to exploit, rather than solve the situation.

Serious risks remain, however, it is appropriate to place the harm and riskfrom Japan'snuclear emergency in context of the full scope of the tragedy. The death tollfrom the earthquake and tsunami stands at 9,300 with 13,800 missing. Thesenumbers continue to rise. Any death or injury is tragic, but inside the nuclearplant only one person, a crane driver died from injury sustained, and somenuclear workers may have been exposed to high levels of radiation. Outside thenuclear plant no people have been injured in any way from any radiation. Weshould also compare the harm done from this and other nuclear power emergencieswith past power plant disasters. Look at the following list (from “What is the worst kind of power plant disaster? Hint: It's notnuclear” by Annalee Newitz):

1975: Shimantan/Banqiao Dam Failure
Type of power: Hydroelectric
Human lives lost: 171,000
Cost: $8,700,000,000

What happened: Shimantan Dam in China'sHenanprovince fails and releases 15.738 billion tons of water, causing widespreadflooding that destroys 18 villages and 1500 homes and induces disease epidemicsand famine.

1979: Morvi Dam Failure
Type of power: Hydroelectric
Human lives lost: 1500 (estimated)
Cost: $1,024,000,000

What happened: Torrential rain and unprecidented flooding caused theMachchu-2 dam, situated on the Machhu river, to burst. This sent a wall ofwater through the town of Morvi in the Indian Stateof Gujarat.

1998: Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Jess Oil Pipeline Explosion
Type of power: Oil
Human lives lost: 1,078
Cost: $54,000,000

What happened:Petroleum pipeline ruptures and explodes, destroying two villagesand hundreds of villagers scavenging gasoline.

1944: East Ohio Gas Company
Type of power: Liquified natural gas (LNG)
Human lives lost: 130
Cost: $890,000,000

What happened: Explosion at LNG facility destroys one square mile of Cleveland, OH.

1907: Monongah Coal Mine
Type of power: Coal
Human lives lost: 362
Cost: $162,000,000

What happened: Underground explosion traps workers and destroys railroadbridges leading into the mine.
Compare these to:

1986: ChernobylNuclear Power Plant
Type of power: Nuclear
Human lives lost: 4,056 (Source for this number: UnitedNations Scientific Subcommittee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation)
Cost: $6,700,000,000

What happened: Mishandled reactor safety test at Chernobylnuclear reactor causes steam explosion and meltdown, necessitating theevacuation of 300,000 people from Kiev, Ukraine and dispersing radioactive materialsacross Europe.

NOTE: Monetary damage is measured in 1996 US dollars, except in accidents sincethat time measured in the dollar values of that year.

Consider had a passenger jet landed as the devastation struck. Thepilot loses power and makes an emergency landing. The aircraft touches down,runs 300 metres beautifully, then runs into the debris. The wheels dig in andpromptly sheer off. The aircraft spins, a wing breaks off, fuel spills acrossthe sand and catches fire. The automatic escape slides deploy and most peopleget out safely and run from the wreckage.

The international news media hear of the story and splash it across the world.There is immediate concern for the passengers, but the crew does a good jobcalming them all down.

Then TV commentators say that the wheels should never have come off theaircraft. They add that the aircraft was poorly designed and built because awing came off too. Others add that the fuel tanks should never have ruptured.Other commentators want to ban all 747’s from flying, yet others want to banall aircraft from flying until the deficient designs have been corrected. TheGermans ground all their aircraft, even though their pilots say that there isnothing wrong with their fleet.

This whole scenario sounds a bit silly. Nobody would react that way. They wouldall say; “Who on earth would have expected the 747 to have landed safely underthose totally unforeseen circumstances.” They would have said that no aircraftwould ever have been designed to have survived such an attempted landing. Thepilots would have been praised for their skill and dedication.

But that is not what happened at the FukushimaDaiichi nuclear power plant. The world jumped on the plant owners, operators,designers and builders. The media wanted answers concerning the “catastrophe.”

Think about the similarity to the Boeing scenario. The largest Japaneseearthquake on record Miyagi-ken Oki strikes the nuclear power plant, closelyfollowed by the largest ever tsunami.

The plant shuts down, as designed. The cooling pumps operate, as designed, butthe earthquake disrupts the electric grid from which the pumps usually drawtheir power in an emergency. So the diesel backup pumps switch on, as designed,but only run for a short time before the tsunami sweeps their fuel supply tanksaway. The plant then goes over to battery power, as designed, but the batteriesonly last eight hours.

The roads have been washed away, the fire brigade and emergency units are notcoming, they cannot get through the obstructions.

The Fukushimaplant was forty years old, near retirement. Its staff did a fantastic job underthe circumstances. There was no disaster. No people outside the plant gotinjured, no property outside the plant was damaged by nuclear material. Givethe reactor crew a round of applause. Nuclear power just got a whole lot betterand safer. Nuclear power survived the onslaught well, and we learned a greatdeal. The lessons learned will be shared with the rest of the world to thebetterment of all. Current designs could withstand even this worst-casescenario. Nuclear power remains, safe, viable and vital.

Dr. Kelvin Kemm is a CFACT scientific advisor. He holds a PhD innuclear physics, is currently CEO of Stratek and lives in Pretoria, South Africa.