August 2013 Archives

An Initial Assessment of Winter Trends in Indoor Particulate Pollution (PM2.5) in the Ger Region of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Hill LD, Temuujin B, Yumchindorj D, Edwards R, Suvdaa G, Jargalsaikhan G, Lam NL, Chumedsuren O, Damka O, Pillarisetti A, Smith KR. An Initial Assessment of Winter Trends in Indoor Particulate Pollution (PM2.5) in the Ger Region of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. ISEE/ISES/ISIAQ Joint Conference 2013. Basel, Switzerland: August 20, 2013.

Rim Fire images from NASA & the KPCC Fire Tracker

Devastating. KPCC has an interesting, interactive tool for monitoring California’s wildfires. A bit is embedded below, but the whole thing is worth a look.

NASA’s posted a number of photos of the fire from space. A smattering are embedded below.

In some of the photos, you can see the plume from the Rim Fire and the plume from the American Fire in Tahoe National Forest.

Reno’s been adversely affected by the plume from the Rim Fire, reporting unhealthy on their AQI (can’t find any numbers, at the moment); NASA projects that the plume is impacting AQ in 4 states.

Good luck to the firefighters and rangers working to control the blaze. Our thoughts are with them and others in the surrounding communities.

EIA: World petroleum use sets record high in 2012 despite declines in North America and Europe

U.S. Energy Information Administration:

The world’s consumption of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heating oil, and other petroleum products reached a record high of 88.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2012, as declining consumption in North America and Europe was more than outpaced by growth in Asia and other regions (see animated map). A previous article examined regional trends in petroleum consumption between 1980 and 2010; today’s article extends that analysis through 2012.

Some other specific points of interest:

Between 2008 and 2012, Asia’s consumption increased by 4.4 million bbl/d. The rapidly industrializing economies of China and India fueled much of Asia’s demand increase, growing 2.8 million bbl/d and 800,000 bbl/d, respectively. If China’s use of petroleum continues to grow as projected, it is expected to replace the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer this fall.

Petroleum use in Europe has declined in every year since 2006. Part of this decline was related to a reduction in overall energy intensity and government policies that encourage energy efficiency. Europe’s weak economic performance has also affected its petroleum use, with declines of 780,000 bbl/d in 2009 and 570,000 bbl/d in 2012 occurring at a time of slow growth and/or recessions in many European countries.

Evaluating the impacts of an advanced stove intervention on traditional cooking patterns and pollutant exposures in India using Stove Use Monitors

Pillarisetti A, Sankar S, Vaswani M, Arora NK, Balakrishnan K, Bates MN, Jack D, Mukhopadhyway K, Mukhopadhyay R, Arul Selvan A, Smith KR. Evaluating the impacts of an advanced stove intervention on traditional cooking patterns and pollutant exposures in India using Stove Use Monitors. ISEE/ISES/ISIAQ Joint Conference 2013. Basel, Switzerland: August 20, 2013.

Mark Kingwell on the future of the book

My own set of self-serving predictions about the future of reading begins with the belief that long-form reading will be with us as long as there is such a thing as individual human consciousness. That consciousness is a complicated burden. There is stimulation and pleasure in consciousness but also boredom, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, and grief. Books are my friends when nobody else can be; they offer a form of intimacy nothing else does. They do not make me a better person, but they give me respite from the incessant noise of existence. That market will never collapse. In the future, some people will be able to make a living as writers, others won’t. But writing will remain among the cheapest forms of cultural production ever, especially relative to its effect.

John Nelson's A Breathing Earth

John Nelson, writing about the creation of these images:

Having spent much of my life living near the center of that mitten-shaped peninsula in North America, I have had a consistent seasonal metronome through which I track the years of my life. When I stitch together what can be an impersonal snapshot of an entire planet, all of the sudden I see a thing with a heartbeat. I can track one location throughout a year to compare the annual push and pull of snow and plant life there, while in my periphery I see the oscillating wave of life advancing and retreating, advancing and retreating. And I’m reassured by it.

Of course there are the global characteristics of climate and the nature of land to heat and cool more rapidly than water. The effects of warm currents feeding a surprisingly mild climate in the British Isles. The snowy head start of winter in high elevations like the Himalayas, Rockies, and Caucuses, that spread downward to join the later snowiness of lower elevations. The continental wave of growing grasses in African plains.

But, overall, to me it looks like breathing.

George Saunders's speech to the Syracuse U class of 2013

This speech slays.

Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf - seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things - travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) - but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality - your soul, if you will - is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been. I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.

The New Yorker: Mapping the Rise of Craft Beer

As part of their Ideas of the Week series, the New Yorker mapped craft beer breweries and other beer related statistics. The interactive maps are particularly fun to play with.

As of March, the United States was home to nearly two thousand four hundred craft breweries, the small producers best known for India pale ales and other decidedly non-Budweiser-esque beers. What’s more, they are rapidly colonizing what one might call the craft-beer frontier: the South, the Southwest, and, really, almost any part of the country that isn’t the West or the Northeast. The interactive map below, based on newly released 2012 data gathered by the Brewers Association, illustrates this phenomenon and offers a detailed overview of the American craft-beer industry.

Past EPA Administrators: The US "must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally."

Writing in an NYT Editorial, four previous EPA administrators make a strong case for climate action now.

Climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk. If we could articulate one framework for successful governance, perhaps it should be this: When confronted by a problem, deal with it. Look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution and get it done.

We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.

Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.

The writers are former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency: William D. Ruckelshaus, from its founding in 1970 to 1973, and again from 1983 to 1985; Lee M. Thomas, from 1985 to 1989; William K. Reilly, from 1989 to 1993; and Christine Todd Whitman, from 2001 to 2003.

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