Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Stewart L. Udall, 90, interior secretary was guardian of America’s wild places (Wash Post)

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

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[Editor's note: We continue to expand Natural Earth coverage this week by adding U.S. National Parks. Do you have a few hours to spare? We'd like to add National Forests, large state parks, and wilderness areas.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Matt Schudel. Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stewart L. Udall, who as secretary of the interior in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations launched a series of far-reaching conservation reforms that made him one of the most significant figures in protecting America’s natural environment, died March 20 at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 90 and had complications from a recent fall.

Mr. Udall had served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Arizona when President John F. Kennedy tapped him for the top job at the Interior Department. Mr. Udall initiated the first White House conference on conservation since the administration of Theodore Roosevelt and stated his credo at the beginning of his tenure: “Nature will take precedence over the needs of the modern man.”

He brought conservation and environmental concerns into the national consciousness and was the guiding force behind landmark legislation that preserved millions of acres of land, expanded the national park system and protected water and land from pollution. From the Cape Cod seashore in Massachusetts to the untamed wilds of Alaska, Mr. Udall left a monumental legacy as a guardian of America’s natural beauty.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Sweden’s Acme Advertising creates arresting green motorcoach marketing (Acne Advertising)

Monday, February 1st, 2010

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[Editor's note: Video (below) showing creation of a 3d art installation showing how 50 cars = 1 bus for CO2 emissions in Sweden. Thanks @jnack!]

Republished from Acne Advertising and AutoBlog.

Sweden’s Flygbussarna Airport Coaches asked Acne Advertising to make the case for travelers to take a coach to the airport instead of a car. Instead of leading with price, comfort, or ease, Acne went for hot air and green – as in CO2 and the environment.

To vividly illustrate that one Flyggbussarna coach can hold about 50 people – as opposed to the typical Swedish passenger car, which averages 1.2 occupants – while emitting the pollution of just four passenger cars, Acne built a coach out of fifty crushed cars – primarily expired Volvos and Saabs.

The installation was placed next to the road to Sweden’s largest airport, and what ensued was lots of public awareness. And traffic jams. Which would have increased CO2, ironically. Follow the jump for a video on the campaign. Even if the resultant congestion made the earth a bit warmer, it’s still very cool.

50 cars or 1 coach? from acneadvertising on Vimeo.

Industrial-Strength Carbon Footprints (NY Times)

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

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[Editor's note: Carbon dioxide emissions charted by ton, economic sector, and revenue.]

Republished from the New York Times. Dec. 28, 2009.

Emissions Disclosure as a Business Virtue

Cupping their hands near holes drilled for cable routing, workers at the Boeing Company’s four-acre data processing site near Seattle noticed this year that air used to keep the computers cool was seeping through floor openings.

Mindful of the company’s drive to slash electricity consumption by 25 percent, they tucked insulation into holes there and at five similar sites. The resulting savings are projected at $55,000, or some 685,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Yet Boeing’s goal is not just to save money. The hope is to keep pace with other companies that have joined in a vast global experiment in tracking the carbon dioxide emissions generated by industry.

Boeing and other enterprises are voluntarily doing what some might fiercely resist being forced to do: submitting detailed reports on how much they emit, largely through fossil fuel consumption, to a central clearinghouse.

The information flows to the Carbon Disclosure Project, a small nonprofit organization based in London that sifts through the numbers and generates snapshots by industry sectors in different nations.

By giving enterprises a road map for measuring their emissions and pointing out how they compare with their peers, experts say, the voluntary project is persuading companies to change their energy practices well before many governments step in to regulate emissions.

Scientists estimate that industry and energy providers produce nearly 45 percent of the heat-trapping emissions that contribute to global warming. While some governments are convinced that reining in such pollution is crucial to protecting the atmosphere, a binding global pact is not on the immediate horizon, as negotiations in Copenhagen showed this month.

Until broad regulation is at hand, many investors and company executives say, voluntary reporting programs like the Carbon Disclosure Project may be the best way to leverage market forces for change.

Continue reading at the New York Times . . .

What is the difference between a sea and a lake? (Environment Canada)

Friday, December 11th, 2009

[Editor's note: This Q&A from Environment Canada explains the rough difference between types of hydrological features. Names in the real world are often messier than this text book explanation. One way we've tried to help in Natural Earth is by indicating if a lake is freshwater, saline, natural, artificial, stable water level, seasonal water level, or simply ephemeral.]

Republished from Environment Canada. Feb. 2002.

What is the difference between a sea and a lake? Looking at the names of many sea and many lakes does not readily demonstrate an identifiable difference. There are salt water lakes and fresh water seas and some lakes that are bigger than other seas.
Bruce Schoenegge, Irvine, California, USA

Salt crust resulting from receding lake, Lake Frome, Australia.
Salt crust resulting from receding lake, Lake Frome, Australia.

In order to understand why some smaller salt water bodies are called lakes and others seas it is necessary to realize that lakes are, in geological time scales, transitory in nature–they form, mature and die.

Some water bodies that started out as saltwater seas over time became closed-off from the oceans. Depending on the quantity of fresh water flowing in from rivers, glacial melt water, or other sources, the salinity could have declined to the point where the water became relatively fresh. The Sea of Aral is probably an example of where this transition has occurred. Similarly the reverse can occur whereby freshwater lakes can become open to the sea so that the salinity increases, as in the Baltic Sea. The Black Sea is an example that has alternated between fresh and salt water conditions over geological time. Evidence for these changes can be found in ancient fossils of organisms some of which were known to be tolerant of saltwater while others were known to have been intolerant.

No doubt there was also some confusion in the naming of water bodies by the early explorers based on their first impressions and certainly one can understand why some may have been inappropriately named. In addition the subsequent translation of the names between different languages could also have added to the confusion.

Here are some definitions of water bodies:

Ocean
The whole body of salt water that covers nearly 3/4 of the surface area of the globe. In particular, each of the main areas into which the sea is divided geographically, e.g. Atlantic, Pacific. Oceans are tidal, living systems containing a multitude of biological organisms.

  • Average depth of the world’s oceans: 3,962 metres(13,000ft)
  • Maximum depth: 10,680 meters; (35,040ft)
  • Average salt content – 3.5% (mostly common salt, NaCl but with some magnesium and calcium salts)
  • Average density – 1.026
Sea
The expanse of salt water that covers most of the earth’s surface and surrounds the land masses. A body of salt water that is secondary in size to oceans.
Lake
A large area of water surrounded by land. Normally fresh water but in some cases can be appreciably saline depending on the geology of the underlying and surrounding terrain. Lakes are living systems containing various quantities of biological organisms. Lakes can be classified according to the level of bioproductivity as oligotrophic (low productivity), mesotrophic or eutrophic (high productivity). The productivity is usually controlled by the amount of nutrients (mostly phosphorus and nitrogen) present in the water and the amount of light that can penetrate the water column.
River
A large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake or another such river. The flow can be permanent of seasonal.
Stream
A small, narrow river flowing on the surface of, or beneath, the ground.

Scientific Visualizations from Hillside Pictures, CA

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

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(above) Vegetation Removal: Removing vegetation from a LiDAR dataset reveals the highly detailed bare-earth topography.

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(above) Gabilan Mesa: Landscape renderings based on high resolution LiDAR data for Gabilan Mesa, an old erosional surface featuring gently sloping plateaus strongly aligned with each other along the eastern side of the Salinas Valley, CA.

[Editor's note: Scientific data visualizations and presentations using GIS data from Dorel Iordache, a northern California visual designer. Check out the videos. Thanks Sebastian!]

Republished from Hillside Pictures, Calif.

Hillside Pictures was born out of the desire to blend my lifelong passion for moving pictures and graphic design with my background in computer science and remote sensing. The results are complex visualizations of landscapes and natural environments with emphasis on both scientific accuracy and visual aesthetics. My work is grounded in broad technical expertise, highest attention to detail and years of work experience in the academic environment. Stepping outside the field of data visualization, I enjoy working on motion graphics and visual effects projects, including animated DVD menus, titles or intros.

Continue to Hillside Pictures artwork gallery . . .

One Planet Many People: Atlas of Our Changing Environment (UNEP)

Friday, July 31st, 2009

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[Editor's note: Fun site from the United Nations Environment Programme highlighting changes in the natural environment with side-by-side remotely sensed imagery and full write up of each place. Done both in Google Maps and available as a Google Earth feed. Map is fairly decent.]

Republished from United Nations Environment Programme.

Increasing concern as to how human activities impact the Earth has led to documentation and quantification of environmental changes taking place on land, in the water, and in the air. Through a combination of ground photographs, current and historical satellite images, and narrative based on extensive scientific evidence, this publication illustrates how humans have altered their surroundings and continue to make observable and measurable changes to the global environment.

Continue to Interactive Atlas: Google Maps | Google Earth

Vue 7 Pioneer Landscape Creation App Now Open Beta (MacNN)

Friday, December 19th, 2008

[Editor's note: Alex Tait demonstrated Vue as a 3d application cartographers should be migrating to, away from Bryce, for creating 3d map scenes at his 2008 NACIS presentation in Missoula. E-on is starting to beta test a new version.]

Republished from MacNN.

e-on software has released an open beta of Vue 7 Pioneer, an application for creating 3D landscapes. Starting with an empty screen, users can grow trees, add terrain or water, make alterations to the atmosphere, and tweak colors or materials before animating the environment. Objects can also be either created or loaded into the software, and modeled to preference.

Using the virtual camera, creators are able to move anywhere inside the scene, zoom in or out, and change lens type to obtain a desired shot. Vue 7 Pioneer is available for free from the company website; any modules purchased for the open beta should work with the final release.

Google, Not Ghosts, Behind Creepy View of Chesapeake (Washington Post)

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

google skull chesapeak

(Editor’s note: Okay, this is just “weird science” on the Environment page in today’s Post. It was quite amusing to watch this story develop!)

By David A. Fahrenthold. Published by The Washington Post on Saturday, June 21, 2008; Page B04.

Ever get the feeling that the Chesapeake Bay is trying to tell you something?

To get it, go online to a Google Maps image of the bay, and zoom in on a patch of water a few miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. There’s a pattern of blue and green patches that coalesces into a shape.

Which looks an awful lot like . . .

“No way!” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Olivia Campbell.

“It really, almost, looks like a skull,” said Kim Couranz of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It looks like a green skull the size of Baltimore.

There are so many tantalizing possibilities here: Is the Chesapeake death’s-head a large algae bloom? A signal of impending doom? An ingeniously placed ad for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”?

The actual cause, as usual, turns out to be the least exciting.

According to Google, the skull is probably a computer glitch.

Chikai Ohazama, who oversees mapmaking operations at the Internet giant, said the skull never actually appeared in the water. Instead, he said, it was created by accident on a computer as Google technicians digitally combined two satellite photos of the same area.

“I’m sure they just missed” the skull shape that was produced in the combined image, Ohazama said.

Ohazama said that the image had probably been up for a year at least and that there were no plans to remove it. He said there was no evidence that anyone at Google had drawn the skull on purpose.

(more…)