Garden of Cosmic Speculation

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is at Portrack House, near Dumfries in South West Scotland. It is a private garden created by Charles Jencks. The garden is inspired by science and mathematics, with sculptures and landscaping on these themes, such as Black Holes and Fractals. The garden is not abundant with plants, but sets mathematical formulae and scientific phenomenae in a setting which elegantly combines natural features and artificial symmetry and curves. It is probably unique among gardens, and contrasts nicely with the historical and philosophical themes of the less spectacular but equally thoughtful Little Sparta. Little Sparta is a garden at Dunsyre in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, created by artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay and his wife Sue Finlay. This Dumfries garden, known as The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, is not your everyday example of landscaping; instead it is based on mathematics and science mixed with nature and man-made lakes. Built in 1989, it has been called by some the most important garden in the 21st century.

Power Generation from Renewables Surpasses Nuclear

The latest issue of the Monthly Energy Review published by the US Energy Information Administration, electric power generation from renewable sources has surpassed production from nuclear sources, and is now "closing in on oil," says Ken Bossong Executive Director of the Sun Day Campaign. In the first quarter of 2011 renewable energy sources accounted for 11.73 percent of US domestic energy production. Renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass/biofuel. As of the first quarter of 2011, energy production from these sources was 5.65 percent more than production from nuclear. As Bossing further explains from the report, renewable sources are closing the gap with generation from oil-fired sources, with renewable source equal to 77.15 percent of total oil based generation.

Cross State Air Pollution Rule aims to cut smog, soot from coal plants

U.S. environmental regulators finalized a rule on Thursday to slash air pollution from coal-fired power plants in 27 states east of the Rocky Mountains that result in unhealthy levels of smog and soot. The Environmental Protection Agency measure, known as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, will add costs for some power generators, but should cut health care bills for Americans. Companies that could see higher costs include large coal burners Southern Co, Duke Energy and American Electric Power. "No community should have to bear the burden of another community's polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The EPA rule will reduce power plant sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent by 2014, from 2005 levels, when combined with state environmental laws. It will cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 54 percent by 2014. Those cuts are slightly deeper than ones proposed by the EPA last year.

Rain in Australia

Decreasing autumn and winter rainfall over southern Australia has been attributed to a 50-year decrease in the average intensity of storms in the region – a trend which is forecast to continue for another 50 years. In an address to the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics conference in Melbourne, CSIRO climate scientist, Dr Jorgen Frederiksen, said these changes are due to reductions in the strength of the mid-latitude jet stream and changes in atmospheric temperatures. The jet stream comprises fast moving westerly winds in the upper atmosphere. A long, severe drought, the worst on record is being experienced in many parts of Australia. As of November 2006, the late-winter to mid-spring rainfalls had failed. The average rainfall in the state of South Australia was the lowest since 1900. Across Victoria and the Murray-Darling Basin the season was the second driest since 1900. New South Wales' rainfall was boosted by above normal falls along the north coast of the state, however the state average rainfall for the season is the third driest since 1900. The situation has been worsened by temperatures being the highest on record since the 1950s.

CSR With Hotel Soap and “Clean the World”

Have you ever given much thought to what happens to those little bars of soap that you come across in hotel rooms? What happens when you open one of those neatly packaged bars and use it? Perhaps you don’t even finish it and leave it there and assume housekeeping will throw it away. According to Clean the World, hotels discard millions of pounds of soap and shampoo in the U.S. These products often end up in already overflowing landfills and contaminate fragile groundwater systems. Clean the World is a non-profit organization that distributes recycled soap products, along with appropriate educational materials to impoverished communities and to domestic homeless shelters. According to them, each year more than five million lives are lost to severe respiratory diseases with the majority of deaths being among children less than five years old. Studies have shown that simple hand washing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases. Unfortunately, the essential items for proper hand washing are unobtainable for millions of people worldwide.

How Hot Was It Long Ago

The question seems simple enough: What happens to the Earth’s temperature when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase? It has happened in the past. The answer is elusive. However, clues are hidden in the fossil record. A new study by researchers from Syracuse and Yale universities provides a much clearer picture of the Earth’s temperature approximately 50 million years ago when CO2 concentrations were higher than today. The results may shed light on what to expect in the future if CO2 levels keep rising. The study which for the first time compared multiple geochemical and temperature proxies to determine mean annual and seasonal temperatures, is published online in the journal Geology, the premier publication of the Geological Society of America, and will be published in print on August 1.

Montana pipeline repairs to take weeks

Exxon Mobil Corp is working on a plan to repair and restart a ruptured Montana pipeline that spilled up to 1,000 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone River last weekend, but restoration is not expected for at least two weeks, an executive said on Wednesday. "Restoration of the line is something we'll look at separately," said Gary Pruessing, president of Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company. "It's not something that's going to happen in the next day, or week, or couple of weeks." He said the immediate concern is cleanup of leaked oil from the Silvertip line. The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency are investigating the cause of the spill, along with Exxon Mobil and Montana state environmental regulators.

Activism special Just Do It: the story of modern-day outlaws

A new film launching on July 15th gives an in-depth look inside the clandestine world of environmental direct action. 'Taking tea is what the British do whenever they are in a difficult circumstance', says Marina Pepper, obsessive tea maker, community activist and domestic extremist. She's served tea to bailiffs, the police, politicians, and factory workers. What makes her a domestic extremist is that she 'cares passionately about politics on a global level but works on it on a local level' but has 'gone well beyond, in my climate change activities recycling and walking the kids to school. I put my body in the way and I don't mind being arrested'.

The Amazing Lifestyle of the Gyrfalcon

The gyrfalcon is a species of falcon which lives on the arctic coasts and islands of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is the largest of all the falcon species. Being well adapted to cold weather, the gyrfalcon has thick plumage and spotted white feathers for blending into the icy background. A recent study from the University of Oxford has uncovered a very unique trait which this species possesses. It is the only known land-based predatory bird to make its home on icebergs floating over the ocean.

In the News: Serengeti highway cancelled

In what is being hailed as a victory for conservationists and the wildlife of the Serengeti, the Tanzanian government has cancelled plans for a controversial highway that would have dissected the Serengeti National Park.