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January 29, 2006

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him


via NYTimes: 

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him
Published: January 29, 2006

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," Mr. Acosta said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."

He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.

Mr. Acosta said other reasons for requiring press officers to review interview requests were to have an orderly flow of information out of a sprawling agency and to avoid surprises. "This is not about any individual or any issue like global warming," he said. "It's about coordination."

Dr. Hansen strongly disagreed with this characterization, saying such procedures had already prevented the public from fully grasping recent findings about climate change that point to risks ahead.

"Communicating with the public seems to be essential," he said, "because public concern is probably the only thing capable of overcoming the special interests that have obfuscated the topic."

Dr. Hansen, 63, a physicist who joined the space agency in 1967, directs efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at the Goddard Institute in Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. He has had run-ins with politicians or their appointees in various administrations, including budget watchers in the first Bush administration and Vice President Al Gore.

In 2001, Dr. Hansen was invited twice to brief Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change. White House officials were interested in his findings showing that cleaning up soot, which also warms the atmosphere, was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide.

He fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech at the University of Iowa before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry.

But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.

In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

He said he was particularly incensed that the directives had come through telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents.

Dr. Hansen's supervisor, Franco Einaudi, said there had been no official "order or pressure to say shut Jim up." But Dr. Einaudi added, "That doesn't mean I like this kind of pressure being applied."

The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

Among the restrictions, according to Dr. Hansen and an internal draft memorandum he provided to The Times, was that his supervisors could stand in for him in any news media interviews. [read on...]

January 26, 2006

2005 Was Warmest Year on Record: NASA


Sea ice floats within the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Image Library. Last year was the warmest recorded on Earth's surface, and it was unusually hot in the Arctic, U.S. space agency NASA said on Tuesday. (HANDOUT/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Image Library/Reuters)

 via CommonDreams.org:

Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 by Reuters
2005 Was Warmest Year on Record: NASA
by Deborah Zabarenko
Last year was the warmest recorded on Earth's surface, and it was unusually hot in the Arctic, U.S. space agency NASA said on Tuesday.

All five of the hottest years since modern record-keeping began in the 1890s occurred within the last decade, according to analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In descending order, the years with the highest global average annual temperatures were 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004, NASA said in a statement.

"It's fair to say that it probably is the warmest since we have modern meteorological records," said Drew Shindell of the NASA institute in New York City.

"Using indirect measurements that go back farther, I think it's even fair to say that it's the warmest in the last several thousand years."

Some researchers had expected 1998 would be the hottest year on record, notably because a strong El Nino -- a warm-water pattern in the eastern Pacific -- boosted global temperatures.

But Shindell said last year was slightly warmer than 1998, even without any extraordinary weather pattern. Temperatures in the Arctic were unusually warm in 2005, NASA said.

"That very anomalously warm year (1998) has become the norm," Shindell said in a telephone interview.

"The rate of warming has been so rapid that this temperature that we only got when we had a real strong El Nino now has become something that we've gotten without any unusual worldwide weather disturbance."

Over the past 30 years, Earth has warmed by 1.08 degrees F (0.6 degrees C), NASA said. Over the past 100 years, it has warmed by 1.44 degrees F (0.8 degrees C).

Shindell, in line with the view held by most scientists, attributed the rise to emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and ozone, with the burning of fossil fuels being the primary source.

The 21st century could see global temperature increases of 6 to 10 degrees F (3 to 5 degrees C), Shindell said.

"That will really bring us up to the warmest temperatures the world has experienced probably in the last million years," he said.

To understand whether the Earth is cooling or warming, scientists use data from weather stations on land, satellite measurements of sea surface temperature since 1982, and data from ships for earlier years.

More info and images:
NASA: 2005 Warmest Year in Over a Century, 01.24.06
NASA: GISS Surface Temperature Analysis - Global Temperature Trends: 2005 Summation

The Rush Creek Wilderness Trail


 via Brett Stalbaum (Rhizome.org):

A typology of an interpretive trail sign indexing the Rush Creek Wilderness Trail (Phase 1) was produced for the University Art Gallery "New Faculty" exhibition, 1/13/2K6 to 3/25/2K6. The Rush Creek Trail was produced by a C5 Landscape Database API "virtual hiker" and then followed on foot through the actual wilderness.


The Rush Creek Wilderness Trail


The Rush Creek Wilderness Trail is possibly the world's first computationally derived, unofficial public wilderness trail. It traverses the backcountry of far northeastern California, extending to near the border with Nevada. It was first "discovered" by a computer algorithm called a "virtual hiker" that pre-explored the landscape by "hiking" through a virtual landscape consisting of data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. The virtual hiker found a traversable hiking path between the trailhead and the terminus, both of which were very much arbitrarily chosen by Brett Stalbaum, the author of many virtual hiker algorithms for C5 Corporation. The results of the virtual hiker's exploration produce a tracklog (computer file) which can be uploaded to a GPS device and then followed by a real hiker through the actual landscape. There is no "trail" per se, only a rugged overland backcountry track that can be followed with the assistance of a GPS device. The trail provides beautiful views of the Great Basin desert environment, plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities, and the unique experience of comparing the wayfinding abilities of a virtual hiker to your own wayfinding skills and intuition.

Phase 1 of the trail (From the Rush Creek Wilderness Trailhead to Rush Creek Spring) was opened by Stalbaum December 27th and 28th of 2005. (See Photo Journal for more info). Phase 2 (from Rush Creek Spring to the Nevada Border), will be opened sometime during 2006.

The Difference a Degree Makes

via SFGate:

Chronicle environment writer Jane Kay and photographer Kat Wade traveled from Alaska to Mexico to see how global warming is changing life along the coast of North America.

Sunday: Polar bears signal changing ice cap in the Arctic.
Today: Subtle seaside transformation in California.
Tuesday: A family sees its way of life threatened in Mexico.

E-mail Jane Kay at jkay@sfchronicle.com

Nature out of sync

Sea life depends on the intricate workings of wind and current, driven by temperatures of ocean and air. Animals depend on the natural timing of seasons to find food. In the past 60 years, as ocean temperatures off the California coast warmed by about 3 degrees, the tiny animals at the base of the food chain declined by 70 percent.


- Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
Monday, January 16, 2006


Click to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to View


Pacific Grove, Monterey County -- On the edge of the California coast, in the tide pools that tourists can see from Cannery Row, delicate anemones and sea stars are helping to tell the story of a warming world.

At low tide in the dawn light, John Pearse, a retired professor of biology at UC Santa Cruz, kneeled in the water in hip-high waders examining sunburst anemones. He found pink barnacles encrusting rocks, and the hard white shells of worm snails.

Those invertebrates normally are more common in warmer southern waters. But over decades, they have increased in numbers here. Invertebrates that do well in colder water, such as giant green sea anemones and porcelain crabs, have declined. Central California has become more like Southern California.

"Animals are responding to changes in temperature, and the change in temperature is very rapid,'' said Pearse, who began studying the low-tide zone as a graduate student nearly 50 years ago.

Unlike in the Arctic, where floating sea ice and land glaciers dramatically melt before Alaskans' eyes, along the California coast the signs of a changing environment are more subtle.

Those who know where to look can see that a few degrees increase in the temperature of the Pacific and a couple of inches rise in sea level have already changed life in Monterey Bay's fragile tide pools.

While some species will prosper, others may die. The question scientists up and down the coast are pursuing is just how the continued warming of the atmosphere and water may disrupt the ocean's intricate web of life.

In the ocean, the whales, seabirds and fish at the top of the hierarchy depend on lower organisms for food. In the last six decades, as sea water temperatures on the Monterey coast increased about 3 degrees Fahrenheit, scientists measured a 70 percent decline in zooplankton, the tiny animals at the base of the food chain.

What does it matter if a warmer world loses some inedible crabs or sea stars?

"It's hard to predict,'' said George Somero, director of the Hopkins Marine Station, the state's oldest marine laboratory, which looks down on the rocky shore here. "If you remove one species from the ecosystem, there could very well be severe perturbations in the system. In many cases, we can't predict what that means.''

[read full article

January 22, 2006

Open Call: Music, Art and Climate Change


Music, Art and Climate Change
In Association with Newcastle Science Festival
2006 & Furthernoise.org

You are invited to submit either an electro / acoustic composition or a visual art presentation lasting no longer than 10 minutes on the theme of climate change.

The winning entries and a selection of runners-up in each category will be presented in a lunchtime concert in King's Hall, Newcastle University on Friday 17th March.

A CD/ROM of the best entries will be compiled by Furthernoise.org will be available at the concert and through the web site. The winners in each category will also be presented with prizes of £150.

Although the prizes are only available to students all submissions will be considered for inclusion on the CD-ROM.

The deadline is the 10th February 2006.

Any questions regarding performance requirements should be discussed with Alison Lewis on [0191] 222 6093 or a.m.lewis@ncl.ac.uk

To submit, just send a link to your MP3 [don't send the actual file!]
to david@furthernoise.org

or send a CDR marked 'Music & Climate Change' to -
86 Sidney Grove, Fenham,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE4 5PE.

January 21, 2006

Invisible Aesthetic: Mel Chin's Hyperaccumulators


excerpts via Eyeteeth

Mel Chin's "invisible aesthetic" 

In 1990, as part of a residency at the Walker Art Center, sculptor Mel Chin began a work every bit as monumental as Michelangelo's but far less visible: with USDA scientist Rufus L. Chaney, he planted hyperaccumulators, plants that can extract and store heavy metals from soil, at the Pig's Eye Landfill in St. Paul, a plot so polluted by incinerator ash that it's on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Permanent List of Priorities. The work, a fenced-in area reminiscent of a crop circle, was called Revival Field and consisted of a target-shaped square of land circumscribed with a circle with an X in the middle, a reference to the project's pinpoint cleanup. As Pruned quotes:

The divisions are also functional, separating different varieties of plants from each other for study. In the circular field the intersecting paths create four fields where six types of plants and two pH and two fertilizer tests can occur in each quadrant. The land area between the square and circle functions as a control plot where plants will be seeded with local grasses. The design for revival field facilitates the chemical analysis of each section.

When the project concluded in 1993, research showed that Alpine pennycress was the best at leeching heavy metals, although no plants were effective enough at cleaning up the land. But it did seem to provide an expansive definition of art. Chin said, "For a time, an intended invisible aesthetic will exist that can be measured scientifically by the quality of a revitalized earth. Eventually that aesthetic will be revealed in the return of growth to the soil.

For more on Land Art, visit the Center for Land Use Interpretation's catalogue of projects.

January 20, 2006

James Lovelock on "The Revenge of Gaia"


via The Independent, Jan. 16, 2006:

The Earth is About to Catch a Morbid Fever That May Last as Long as 100,000 Years
Each nation must find the best use of its resources to sustain civilization for as long as they can
by James Lovelock 

[...] This article is the most difficult I have written and for the same reasons. My Gaia theory sees the Earth behaving as if it were alive, and clearly anything alive can enjoy good health, or suffer disease. Gaia has made me a planetary physician and I take my profession seriously, and now I, too, have to bring bad news.

The climate centres around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology lab of a hospital, have reported the Earth's physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger.

Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma. She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years. We are responsible and will suffer the consequences: as the century progresses, the temperature will rise 8 degrees centigrade in temperate regions and 5 degrees in the tropics.

Much of the tropical land mass will become scrub and desert, and will no longer serve for regulation; this adds to the 40 percent of the Earth's surface we have depleted to feed ourselves.

Curiously, aerosol pollution of the northern hemisphere reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back to space. This "global dimming" is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse. We are in a fool's climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.

By failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible - and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us.

To understand how impossible it is, think about how you would regulate your own temperature or the composition of your blood. Those with failing kidneys know the never-ending daily difficulty of adjusting water, salt and protein intake. The technological fix of dialysis helps, but is no replacement for living healthy kidneys.

My new book, The Revenge of Gaia expands these thoughts, but you still may ask why science took so long to recognize the true nature of the Earth. I think it is because Darwin's vision was so good and clear that it has taken until now to digest it. In his time, little was known about the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans, and there would have been little reason for him to wonder if organisms changed their environment as well as adapting to it.

Had it been known then that life and the environment are closely coupled, Darwin would have seen that evolution involved not just the organisms, but the whole planetary surface. We might then have looked upon the Earth as if it were alive, and known that we cannot pollute the air or use the Earth's skin - its forest and ocean ecosystems - as a mere source of products to feed ourselves and furnish our homes. We would have felt instinctively that those ecosystems must be left untouched because they were part of the living Earth.

So what should we do?

[read full article]

Bottle-nosed Whale Spotted in Thames

John Griffiths/Reuters
Edwin Talliwell attempted to usher a northern bottle-nosed whale away from the Chelsea embankment of the Thames River. 

via NYTimes:

A Whale of a Tale on The Thames
Published: January 20, 2006

LONDON, Jan. 20 - As urban pursuits go, it had the ring of the strange and the short-lived: whale-watching on the River Thames.

Of course, London's great stream is no stranger to the bizarre and fascinating. There have been bodies hung from bridges, seals and porpoises in the water and even a piranha that fell from the sky when a sea-gull dropped it onto a boat.

But when a northern bottlenose whale measuring around 17 feet and weighing up to 7 tons was spotted today heading upstream near the London Eye Ferris Wheel, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, even the most jaded Londoners sensed they were in the presence of something unusual.

"There have been dolphins and porpoises but we've never heard of a whale here," said Carla Redmond, 21, a disc jockey on a pleasure boat moored on the river. Experts said it was the only whale-sighting in over 90 years of formal records.

Thousands left their offices to line the river to watch. TV helicopters took to the skies. Friends exchanged text message photographs of sightings. At one point, in early afternoon, the whale seemed to beach off Cheyne Walk - one of the most fashionable streets in already fashionable Chelsea - and a man waded into the Thames, flapping his hands to get the whale back into deeper water.

"It's quite surreal," said a BBC television reporter as she bobbed in one of the flotilla of small boats that formed in an attempt - unsuccessful by nightfall - to herd the whale back downstream.

Plumes of water from the whale's breathing hole marked its slow, zigzag progress, hither and thither, as the tide changed. It blundered into a moored pleasure boat, its big dark tail flapping forlornly in sharp contrast to the usual whale-watching images of T-shaped tails over crystal waters.

It evoked something of the magic that comes when one species meets another at close quarters - like sitting with mountain gorillas in Rwanda or stalking lions by open Land Rover in Tanzania. And it touched something, too, in the soul of a nation with a traditional fondness for waifs and strays.

"I hope somebody escorts it out to sea again; otherwise it's going to get a bit confused," said Joan MacLeod, a retiree from Guildford, south of London, as she disembarked from a river cruise - without, disappointingly, sighting the whale.

"I think half of London will be out there trying to rescue it," said her husband, Michael.

All in all, it was a mystery, many on the river bank and elsewhere agreed, particularly since whales of this kind usually inhabit the deep, cold waters of the northern Atlantic off Norway, rather than the murky, brackish shallows of the Thames.

Generally, the northern bottlenose whale is held to be one of the deepest-diving whales, capable of plunging up to 3,000 feet under water to hunt quid, starfish and other prey by using its sonar capabilities.

To reach central London, moreover, the whale must have crossed the Thames Barrier, a series of movable gates downstream from central London designed to guard the city from flooding.

"I wonder why it's here, I'm curious about it," said a man on the Golden Jubilee Bridge who identified himself only as Sean, 43, a vendor of the Big Issue, a magazine usually sold by homeless people.

"Number one, I wonder how it managed to get past the Thames Barrier, which you know can't be that easy for a whale,"he said, "unless it does Free Willy tricks or something. I'm concerned: why would a whale choose to come up the river? I just hope they get it back in one piece."

Liz Sandeman, a spokeswoman for Marine Connection, a not-for-profit whale and dolphin protection group, said: "No one will ever know why this animal has come up here."

According to Richard Sabin, an expert on whales and dolphins at London's Natural History Museum, there has been no sighting of an animal of this kind in the Thames since records were first kept in 1913.

That did not prevent the theories among onlookers, though the facts remained scant: had its sonar systems been damaged? Had it been following food? Was it sick and seeking a place to die? Was it simply disorientated? Would the whale survive?

"The last few hours have given me great concern," Ms. Sandeman said as night began to fall.

There were reports today, Ms. Sandeman said, that a second whale had been spotted in the sea off Southend, near the mouth of the Thames, and seemed distressed. Were the two mammals related?

According to the Press Association news agency, Alan Knight, a spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue Group, said: "Yesterday we had a report of two whales going up the Thames and we sent divers but we found only one."

"About 6 p.m. it went back out again," he said. "Then at 8.30 a.m. today we got a phone call from someone on a train who thought they had just hallucinated and seen a whale going up the Thames near Waterloo Bridge."

Pamela Kent contributed reporting for this article.


January 19, 2006

Glaciers + Volcanoes: Signs of Unrest in Iceland


An eruption caused a jokulhlaup, or outburst flood. Courtesy of Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson

via NYTimes: 

With Glaciers Atop Volcanoes, Iceland Zooms In on Signs of Unrest
Published: January 17, 2006

SKAFTAFELL, Iceland - The terrain in southern Iceland is as gritty as burned toast, pockmarked by glacial craters and sprinkled with boulders that can be as big as dump trucks. Keep driving, and you come upon fields of bumpy lava blanketed with moss. Hot air rises off the blackened plains like distant fumes.

These flood plains, known as sandar, extend some 800 square miles. Parts of the southern coast were formed some 9,000 years ago, when meltwater spilled out from under Iceland's cloak of glacial ice and galloped forward in violent surges called jokulhlaups, or glacial outburst floods. But jokulhlaups (pronounced YOKE-uhl-howps) are no geologic remnant of the distant past. They occur with almost predictable regularity today, and they may pose great risks to life and property in Iceland.

Glacial floods occur in many regions of the world where mountaintop glaciers sit on top of volcanic regions, as they do here. Fluids, gases and steam from active volcanoes continuously melt the overlying ice, creating pools of water sandwiched by glacial ice. Some of this water drains off at intervals, at times trickling out and other times leading to floods.

Courtesy of Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson
An Icelandic volcano that erupted in November 2004.

But the most potent type of glacial flood is caused by an erupting volcano. Glacial ice cloaks 10 percent of Iceland, a country that straddles the mid-Atlantic ridge and is a simmering cauldron of geothermal and volcanic activity.

Nearly 60 percent of volcanic eruptions in Iceland occur beneath glacial ice.

That is what worries scientists. Katla, one of Iceland's most notorious volcanoes, has erupted five times since 1721, at intervals ranging from 34 to 78 years. The last one was in 1918, so an eruption may be overdue.

"Basically everything you see to the east of Reykjavik is a wall of mountains formed in eruptions under glaciers," said Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland, who added, "Katla has been showing signs of unrest over the last few years."

To head off catastrophe, geologists and civil engineers here have developed an extensive, exquisitely sensitive monitoring system intended to provide early warnings of floods. It has issued 16 accurate forecasts since 2001, though it has yet to contend with a major eruption.

When the birth pains of an eruption begin, pressurized magma oozes toward the surface of the volcano, leaving boiling groundwater in its path. Glacial ice acts as a lid on a giant pressure cooker: the thicker the ice, the more force with which it presses back against the erupting lava.

When a volcano erupts, magma as hot as 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit meets ice and boiling water, sending vast plumes of steam and rock particles rocketing upward in what Matthew J. Roberts, a glaciologist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, compares to a classic mushroom cloud.

That is not all. Steam combines with tiny particles raining out of the eruption to create high static charges, causing lightning strikes several times a second. The 1918 eruption of Katla is said to have killed hundreds of heads of livestock grazing nearby - by electrocution.

Then come the jokulhlaups. "An eruption beneath a thick glacier often leads to a hazardous glacial flood that can begin within minutes to several hours after the eruption has started," Dr. Roberts said.

Floods after a volcanic eruption are a mixture of water, ash, mud and ice; they tend to leave the surrounding countryside covered in ash.

Records from floods in the 1800's indicate that icebergs of Titanic proportions were seen drifting near farmhouses. And one flood is thought to have heaved ice blocks for miles. Geologists are still uncovering this ice, which was buried by so much insulating debris that it is still there more than 150 years later.

In 1996, an eruption beneath the Vatnajokull ice cap, Europe's largest ice mass, led to a jokulhlaup that forced sediment, meltwater and ice out along the 12-mile stretch of the glacier's edge. The flow of water out of the glacier created a river to rival the Amazon in size, at least for a few minutes. It demolished a bridge and added almost three square miles to the area of Iceland. (The flood did not reach nearby settlements, and no one was killed or injured.) [read full article]


January 17, 2006

The Coded Utopia of Makrolab

via Rhizome.org: 

January 15th, 2006, 5:41 pm
By Brian Holmes

Makrolab is one of the more seminal and enduring projects to have developed out of the tactical media canon. Brian Holmes sets the project in the context of epochal shifts underway in the former Yugoslavia during its inception and fixes our vision firmly on the utopian horizon that this living laboratory probes.

Originally from Mute magazine - Culture and politics after the net - CULTURE AND POLITICS AFTER THE NET at January 15, 2006, 08:58, published by Marisa S. Olson


continued: excerpts from MUTE Magazine:

Makrolab is a collaborative project that emerges from the vision of the Slovene artist Marko Peljhan. It offers some answers to these questions – singular answers. To make them useful in any general way, one would first have to approach the project in its multiple dimensions, to discover its stakes and challenges, to locate its contexts and learn to read its codes. Is it sculpture or architecture? A concept or a performance piece? A nomadic war machine, or a theater to replay history? The difficulty, when you want to perceive a project like this, is to let yourself enter the horizon of its possibilities, even while analyzing its specific features. [...]

Considerable stakes underlie this kind of project, though they are rarely formulated in any explicit way. No one can work on the recurrently traumatic structure of technological civilization without realizing how deeply its military origins reach into the fabric of our daily lives. Indeed, the American military expansionism of the Second Cold War (1980-89) is what sparked the globalization process, culminating in the events of September 11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. At the very outset of the eighties, Deleuze and Guattari conceived the heteronomous model of the 'nomadic war machine' as a way to dissolve the military hierarchies of contemporary civilization. This is what Peljhan more pragmatically calls the conversion to civil technologies. But to understand how this could even be attempted, is it really enough to say that art becomes life, and artwork becomes documentation?

The language of Makrolab suggests something else: a generative matrix, close to the models of social evolution developed in Guattari's complexity theory.23 Guattari tried to understand how people can displace their embodied routines, their existential territories, by transiting through a machinic assemblage capable of producing collective enunciations. Makrolab achieves this by bringing the deterritorializing force of scientific formulas and artistic images into play on the experiential level, the level of temporary habitation. What results for the participants is not a simple 'decoding' of encrypted contents. Rather, within a device that itself encapsulates certain aspects of the Slovene artistic experience, fragmented images from a wider variety of vanguard projects can knit together into complex sensorial refrains, interrupting the normalized modulation of time imposed by the commercial and military cultures of transnational capitalism, and loosening up subjectivity for original work with the most challenging scientific and symbolic material, at variance with the dominant patterns. Each of participants then adds something to the device, to its pool of references, tools, algorithms and images – to its horizon of evolutionary code.

The end-products of the 'dataesthetic' can therefore be interpreted somewhat differently, outside the gap between raw documentation and the ineffable immanence of lived experience. For the vital activity of the researcher does not just produce data in the etymological sense, mere 'givens' excerpted from the dominant flux. Instead these maps, images, films, diaries, programs, soundscapes, texts and streaming signals are artistic and scientific gifts – offered to other sites, other devices, other possible futures. [read full article]


January 14, 2006

4,134-foot Augustine Volcano Erupts 3 Times in a Week

Alaska Volcano Observatory
Augustine Volcano in Alaska has been erupting ash and steam for two days. 

via NYTimes: 

Alaskan Volcano Erupts for the Third Time in a Week
Published: January 13, 2006
Filed at 8:18 p.m. ET

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A volcano on an uninhabited island 180 miles from Anchorage erupted three times Friday, sending plumes of ash more than six miles into the sky.

Airplanes were warned to keep at least five miles away from 4,134-foot Augustine Volcano.

The National Weather Service warned about 16,000 residents of Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island to the south -- an area that includes the city of Kodiak -- about the ash cloud. But the Alaska Volcano Observatory said it did not expect a heavy accumulation of ash.

Some schools on the Kenai Peninsula closed, affecting about 2,500 students.

Anchorage was in no danger.

Ash can pose a health risk -- especially for people with respiratory problems -- and can damage the engines of vehicles on the ground and aircraft that fly through the plumes.

The eruptions occurred around 4 a.m., 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Alaska time, and followed two bursts from the volcano on Wednesday. Those earlier eruptions were the volcano's first in 20 years.

Similar short-lived explosive activity is expected to continue over the next several days or weeks, observatory spokeswoman Jennifer Adleman said, and additional eruptions could occur with little or no warning.


On the Net:

Alaska Volcano Observatory: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/

Weather Service: http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/augustine.php

January 13, 2006

Debris Fire Burns in New Orleans


Bill Haber/Associated Press
A fire was burning in a 100-foot-high pile of hurricane debris in the Lower Ninth Ward. 

via NYTimes:

Debris Fire Burns in New Orleans
Published: January 13, 2006
Filed at 10:54 a.m. ET

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A smoky fire was burning Friday in a 100-foot-high pile of furniture, refrigerators and other hurricane debris in the city's hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward.

The fire, reported late Thursday, covered about 4.6 acres and was largely under control, firefighters said. They were dropping water from helicopters and planned to let the blaze burn itself out.

No injuries were reported. The area remains largely uninhabited due to the extent of the damage from Hurricane Katrina's floods.

The pile included wood, furniture, water heaters, stoves and refrigerators.


Trade, biodiversity and climate change

via 'Scoop' Independent News, New Zealand:

Trade, biodiversity and climate change
 January 6, 2006

By Stephen Knight  

Success in trade and attempts to be sustainable make for an uncomfortable partnership. By Stephen Knight.

Stripped to the bone, the public face of climate change, biodiversity management and trade issues go something like this.

Climate change is a natural phenomenon. It is made a worrisome thing by humans transferring carbon stored in the earth into the atmosphere at a rate much, much greater than would occur otherwise. Associated climate change is likely to be equally unnaturally rapid. We need low carbon-intensity economies.

The biological diversity of the planet is changing. This has always been so, but again the concern is the rate of change, the fact that it is in one direction (overall species diversity loss) and that the transplantation of species between continents and islands is creating a dangerous amount of homogenisation. Rapid climate change worsens these problems.

In terms of trade, taking a narrow focus, success in reducing farm export subsidies or import tariff duties protecting producers in other countries will benefit countries such as New Zealand. The December Hong Kong meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Development Agenda was the latest in this round. Consequent success will be a strong driver to boost primary productivity and create clever agricultural value-added goods.

Frustratingly, freeing up global trade also increases the risk of increasing rates of climate change and further reductions in global and local biodiversity. To avoid this risk, the three need to be tied together during decision-making. To a limited extent they are at a research and analysis level, such as with investment in sustainable farming. But such knowledge is poorly presented in public discussions over how to manage the closely related issues of productivity, land use, biodiversity and global climate change. Consequently, there is limited political pressure to take this research and analysis and create incentives for it to be taken up more broadly. [read on...]

Stephen Knight is an environmental scientist based in Wellington.

January 11, 2006

Warming Devastates Frogs in Latin America

About two-thirds of over 110 species of brightly colored harlequin frogs, in the genus Atelopus, in the American tropics, have vanished since the 1980's.

via NYTimes: 

Scientists Say Warming Devastates Frogs in Latin America
Published: January 11, 2006

Scientists studying a fast-dwindling genus of colorful frogs in Central and South America say that recent global warming has combined with a spreading fungus to create a killing zone, driving many species restricted to misty mountainsides to extinction.

The researchers said they had implicated widespread warming, as opposed to local variations in temperature or other conditions affecting the frogs, by finding that patterns of fungus outbreaks and species loss in widely dispersed patches of habitat were synchronized in a way that was statistically impossible to explain by chance.

Climate scientists have already linked most of the recent rise in the earth's average temperature to the buildup of greenhouse emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes. Thus the new findings, according to the researchers and some independent experts on amphibians, imply that warming driven by human activity may have already fostered outbreaks of disease and imperiled species with restricted habitats.

The study, led by J. Alan Pounds, the resident biologist at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica, is to be published on Thursday in the journal Nature.

In an accompanying commentary, two scientists not involved in the research, Andy Dobson, a Princeton University ecologist, and Andrew R. Blaustein, a zoologist at Oregon State University, said the research provided "compelling evidence" that warming caused by human activity was already disrupting ecology.

"The frogs are sending an alarm call to all concerned about the future of biodiversity and the need to protect the greatest of all open-access resources -- the atmosphere," they wrote.

But other climate and amphibian experts criticized the paper, saying there were several layers of significant uncertainty that were not eliminated by the analysis.

Among those, they said, it is still unclear whether the lethal fungus, which attacks amphibian skin, has long been in the affected areas and dormant or is a recent arrival.

Some amphibian and climate experts who read the paper said it contained definitive statements - like "our study sheds light on the amphibian-decline mystery by showing that large-scale warming is a key factor" - that were not supported by data.

Over 110 species of brightly colored harlequin frogs, in the genus Atelopus, once lived near streams in the American tropics, but about two-thirds of them have vanished since the 1980's.

Implicated in many of those vanishings, as well as amphibian die-offs around the world, is a chytrid fungus that grows on amphibian skin from deserts to lowland tropical forests to mountainsides.

A paradox confronting biologists studying possible links to climate change is that the fungus thrives best in cooler conditions, challenging the theory that warming is contributing to the amphibian declines.

But Dr. Pounds and his team, in studying trends in temperature and disease around the American tropics and, in particular detail, in the cloud-shrouded ridges of Costa Rica where he lives and works, found patterns that they say explain the situation.

Rising cloudiness, a long-projected consequence as warming increases evaporation, can keep days cooler by blocking some sunlight and nights warmer by holding in some heat.

At intermediate elevations on the mountain slopes of places like Costa Rica, that could have created a favorable zone for the spread of the chytrid fungus, Dr. Pounds said in an interview.

He said that because the apparent harlequin frog extinctions have occurred in lockstep in widely dispersed field sites, they are hard to attribute to anything other than the broad warming trend linked by other scientists to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.

While the fungus is the bullet, he said, the broader ongoing warming and resulting shifts in clouds are the trigger.

Cynthia Carey, an expert in amphibian diseases who teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said that while both climate and amphibian die-offs are serious problems, this particular paper failed to offer anything beyond circumstantial evidence of links between the fungal illness and warming.

"It is difficult to prove cause and effect on the ground where multiple factors interact in complex ways," Dr. Carey said.

January 09, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green


[image source

The New Red, White and Blue
NYTimes OP-ED, Published: January 6, 2006

As we enter 2006, we find ourselves in trouble, at home and abroad. We are in trouble because we are led by defeatists - wimps, actually.

What's so disturbing about President Bush and Dick Cheney is that they talk tough about the necessity of invading Iraq, torturing terror suspects and engaging in domestic spying - all to defend our way of life and promote democracy around the globe.

But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today - making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green - they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.

Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence - that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.

Living green is not just a "personal virtue," as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.

The biggest threat to America and its values today is not communism, authoritarianism or Islamism. It's petrolism. Petrolism is my term for the corrupting, antidemocratic governing practices - in oil states from Russia to Nigeria and Iran - that result from a long run of $60-a-barrel oil. Petrolism is the politics of using oil income to buy off one's citizens with subsidies and government jobs, using oil and gas exports to intimidate or buy off one's enemies, and using oil profits to build up one's internal security forces and army to keep oneself ensconced in power, without any transparency or checks and balances.

When a nation's leaders can practice petrolism, they never have to tap their people's energy and creativity; they simply have to tap an oil well. And therefore politics in a petrolist state is not about building a society or an educational system that maximizes its people's ability to innovate, export and compete. It is simply about who controls the oil tap.

In petrolist states like Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Sudan, people get rich by being in government and sucking the treasury dry - so they never want to cede power. In non-petrolist states, like Taiwan, Singapore and Korea, people get rich by staying outside government and building real businesses.

Our energy gluttony fosters and strengthens various kinds of petrolist regimes. It emboldens authoritarian petrolism in Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan and Central Asia. It empowers Islamist petrolism in Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It even helps sustain communism in Castro's Cuba, which survives today in part thanks to cheap oil from Venezuela. Most of these petrolist regimes would have collapsed long ago, having proved utterly incapable of delivering a modern future for their people, but they have been saved by our energy excesses.

No matter what happens in Iraq, we cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent Islamism in the Middle East without also drying up our consumption of oil - thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money and, most important, the lives of our young people.

That's because there is a huge difference in what these bad regimes can do with $20-a-barrel oil compared with the current $60-a-barrel oil. It is no accident that the reform era in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, and in Iran under Mohammad Khatami, coincided with low oil prices. When prices soared again, petrolist authoritarians in both societies reasserted themselves.

We need a president and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy with long-term incentives for renewable energy - wind, solar, biofuels - rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies-and-special-interests that masqueraded last year as an energy bill.

Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can't afford. I can't think of anything more cowardly or un-American. Real patriots, real advocates of spreading democracy around the world, live green.

Green is the new red, white and blue.

A Dozen Weird Weather Moments


[image source

via Bruce Sterling's Viridian Note #00456: The State of the World 2006

From LA Times, 1/6 - 1/12: 

Zeitlist: Politics
Running Hot and Cold: A Dozen Weird Weather Moments

Katrina turned the weather into the year’s biggest news event, as the natural world against which Bush has made war since 2000 decided to send back a return salvo. The storm quickly became a political portent for both ends of the spectrum, with Christian conservatives interpreting the supposed fetal shape of Katrina to be a pro-life meteorological statement sent by a vengeful Lord to ravage the Gulf of Mexico, and the sane world noting apprehensively that hurricane season has been worsening with steadily increasing ocean-surface temperatures. Bad as it was, the scientists added, 2005’s weather is just a taste of what’s to come. Here’s the rest of the year in bad weather.

1. 2005 was the hottest year on record. This year’s global average temperature topped the previous record, set in 1998.

2. The Amazon River basin experienced its worst drought in recorded history.

3. The National Climate Data Center (NCDC) reported that nine of the 10 warmest years in history have occurred in the past decade.

4. Satellite monitoring in September revealed that the summer Arctic sea ice has shrunk as much as 40 percent since monitoring began in the late 1970s. At the current rate of decline, there will be no summer Arctic ice pack within two decades.

5. Multiple studies showed that the higher average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the last decade are unprecedented over the past 2,000 years.

6. Swiss and U.S. climatologists working in Antarctica built “EPICA Dome C,” the longest ice-core record to date. Gas bubbles trapped in ice crystals record the atmospheric compositions over time. From this, researchers reported that today’s levels of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years.

7. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that sea-surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico this summer were the highest since measurements began in 1890.

8. The warm waters contributed to the year’s record-breaking hurricane season, with 26 named storms forming in the Atlantic. Fourteen became hurricanes, and Katrina, Rita and Wilma created an unprecedented triumvirate of category 5 storms. The NOAA also exhausted its pre-assigned list of storm names, and for the first time had to turn to the Greek alphabet. On the last official day in hurricane season, tropical storm Epsilon strengthened into a hurricane.

9. Wilma played second fiddle to Katrina despite being the stronger storm. In Florida, Wilma was “the Big One” they’ve been expecting for a century. It knocked out the power for weeks, and left a destruction path wider than any previous hurricane in the state. With a central ultralow pressure of 882 millibars, Wilma surpassed 1988’s Gilbert as the strongest hurricane on record.

10. Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology reported in the May issue of Science that the long-term process of global dimming, a diminishing of the sun’s effects caused by an accumulation of particulate matter in the atmosphere, began to turn around in 1990. Since global dimming has a cooling effect, its decline could speed the effects of global warming.

11. Researchers on a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean discovered that the strength of the current that drives the Gulf Stream — and bathes Britain and Northern Europe in warm waters from the tropics each summer — has slowed by 30 percent in just the past decade. Thought to be a consequence of global warming, the weakened current could trigger severe winters and cooler summers on both sides of the North Atlantic.

12. Outlandish weather effects materialized all over the world. On July 26, 37 inches of rain fell in Mumbai, India’s financial center, during one 24-hour period. Four hundred thirty-eight people drowned or were buried in landslides in India’s highest recorded rainfall. A record 22 tornadoes hit Southwest Australia in May, causing the state’s most expensive natural disaster. In October, 78.9 inches of snow fell on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, nearly doubling the previous record of 39.8 inches, set in 2000.

January 07, 2006

Warming Trend Continues

A reservoir bed in Alcora, Spain, attests to the hot, dry weather in the region this year, which was called either the hottest or second hottest on record.

Photo Credit: By Fernando Bustamante -- Associated Press


via Washington Post:

2005 Continues the Warming Trend
Year's Temperatures Are Among the Highest on Record, Scientists Announce

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005; Page A02

This year has been one of the hottest on record, scientists in the United States and Britain reported yesterday, a finding that puts eight of the past 10 years at the top of the charts in terms of high temperatures.

Three studies released yesterday differ slightly, but they all indicate the Earth is rapidly warming. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has concluded 2005 was the warmest year in recorded history, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.K. Meteorological Office call it the second hottest, after 1998. All three groups agree that 2005 is the hottest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere, at roughly 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the historical average.

Jay Lawrimore, who heads NOAA's Climate Monitoring Branch in its National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., called the new data "one of the indicators that the climate is changing." He added: "It's certainly something the administration is taking seriously."

The three teams used the same set of ocean and land temperature records, but they analyzed the data and compensated for gaps in the climatic record differently. As a result, NASA scientists estimate that 2005 average global land and sea temperatures were 1.04 degrees Fahrenheit above average, just beating out 1998's 1-degree elevation. NOAA researchers, by contrast, say this year's global average is 1.06 degrees Fahrenheit above average, compared with 1.1 degrees in 1998.

The analyses were based on data through the end of November and projections of December temperatures.

Scientists said yesterday that these differences should not detract from their common conclusion that the world is experiencing serious climate change, driven in part by human activity. Researchers recently found by drilling ice cores that there is a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in any time in the last 650,000 years, which reflects that humans are burning an increased amount of fossil fuels to power automobiles and utilities.

The Earth has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century, with 1 degree of this increase occurring in the past 30 years. This climate change has brought unusually prolonged droughts in some regions and heavy precipitation in others, while the Arctic's sea ice has shrunk to its lowest level since observers started using satellite records in 1979.

James Hansen, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute, said this year's statistics were particularly significant because in 1998 the world experienced El Nio, which drove up temperatures dramatically. This year, by contrast, the world reached record levels without such a dramatic climatic event.

The world's temperatures are on an upward trend, Hansen wrote in an e-mail, "because it is being driven by the Earth's present energy imbalance, which is substantial." As long as humans keep adding more heat-trapping greenhouse gases, Hansen added, "the planet stays out of energy balance."

Some global-warming skeptics questioned the significance of yesterday's findings. "Saying that 2005 was a near-record is like saying that a plane that landed safely could have crashed," said William O'Keefe, chief executive officer of the George C. Marshall Institute. "It is trying to make news where none exists."

But Climate Policy Center Chairman Rafe Pomerance, whose bipartisan group backs mandatory limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, disagreed. "The temperature trend is a wake-up call for the Congress and the president to craft a response that will begin to dramatically reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," he said.

A Matter of Degrees


January 03, 2006

Weather Wear

via Thoughts from the Middle of Nowhere:

I've been complaining about the unusually warm temperatures we have been having the past couple of weeks and while I stand by my complaints, it could be worse. Look at what is going on in the weather all over our country.

We have excessive rain and flooding in northern California, severe drought and out of control fires burning up Texas and Oklahoma, and while not in the country, Tropical Storm Zeta is running around the Atlantic. It's just unbelievable. I don't think there is any "normal" in the weather anymore. It just does what it wants.

Bad weather always looks worse through a window. Tom Lehrer

January 02, 2006

Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky

Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky

The Brooklyn Museum
Through January 15, 2006

from the press release:

The first major retrospective of the internationally renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky will bring together more than 60 works by the Toronto-born artist from both public and private collections.

Burtynsky, a modern-day counterpart to nineteenth-century landscape photographers, examines the intersection between land and technology, creating images of unorthodox beauty. His subjects include locations that have been changed by modern industrial activity such as mining, quarrying, rail cutting, recycling, and oil refining.

[read on...]

The Hurrican Poster Project

via Social Design Notes:

The Hurrican Poster Project hits a few good notes. From the site:

The Hurricane Poster Project seeks limited edition sets of hurricane-related posters from high-profile and up-and-coming artists, designers, and firms from the United States and abroad. The donated posters will be sold online, and all profits will go directly to the Red Cross.

As of this writing, the site shows 108 posters from around the U.S. and the world. As with any open call, the sophistication of the messages is checkered — but there are a few that do a good job. It's also instructive to see the wide variety of approaches. And, despite the depoliticized context the campaign, several images do hold FEMA, Bush, and the media to account.

European satellite launch challenges GPS

The fully deployed Galileo system will consist of 30 satellites, positioned in three circular Medium Earth Orbit planes. Credit: ESA

European satellite launch challenges GPS (Reuters)

The European Union launched its first Galileo navigation satellite on
Wednesday, moving to challenge the United States' Global Positioning
System (GPS).

Russian space agency Roskosmos said the 1,300-pound satellite named
Giove-A (Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element) went into its orbit
15,000 miles from the earth after its launch on a Soyuz rocket from the
Baikonur cosmodrome in the middle of Kazakhstan's steppe.

"The launch of Giove is the proof that Europe can deliver ambitious
projects to the benefit of its citizens and companies," EU Transport
Commissioner Jacques Barrot said in a statement.

The $4.27-billion Galileo program, due to go into service in 2008 and
eventually deploy 30 satellites, may end Europe's reliance on GPS and
offer a commercial alternative to the GPS system run by the U.S.

"Radio-navigation based on Galileo will be a feature of everyday life,
helping to avoid traffic jams and tracking dangerous cargos," Barrot

GPS is presently the only worldwide system offering services ranging
from driver assistance to search-and-rescue help. Critics say its
services for civilians offer less precision than those for military or
intelligence purposes.

Galileo's accuracy in positioning is to be 3 feet or less, while GPS's
precision is more than 15 feet.

EU officials also say Galileo would never be switched off for strategic
reasons, which could sometimes be the case with GPS. [read on...]

Eco Artists + Projects


Superflex: http://www.superflex.net Members: Jakob Fenger 1968 (DK); Rasmus Nielsen 1969 (DK); Bjørnstjerne Christiansen 1969 (DK)
Superflex Biogas in Africa (1997)
Exhibition at ARKEN Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Denmark

toward creating an ecologically sustainable energy source for poor, isolated farming families in Third World countries. In 1997 Superflex introduced a biogas plant which was installed in a village in Tanzania. Since then, two orange balloons in the village have converted biological waste into gas, thus making an African household self-sufficient in terms of heating and lighting.
The project spawned the company Supergas Ltd in which engineers, Superflex and various investors expand the project for commercial use in different parts of the world. read more


Huit Facettes (Founded 1996 in Dakar, Senegal) Current members: Abdoulaye N'Doye, El Hadji Sy, Fode Camara, Cheikh Niass, Jean Marie Bruce, Mor Lisa Ba and Amadou Kane Sy (Kan-Si).
Documentation of the workshops in Hamdallaye, Senegal, since 1999.

The collective of fine artists organizes workshops in rural areas of Senegal. In 1999 it built a sociocultural center of creativity in cooperation with on-location developers, such as Maat Mbay (farmer and autodidactic fresco painter), in his home village Hamdallaye Samba M'Baye. Through "establishing a personalized graphic register for the villagers by decorating huts with a new form of alphabet, a mode of corporate identity was collectively conceived."



Lillian Ball
Sands of Time

Aviva Rahmani
Ghost Nets (1991 - 2000)
Restoring Salt Marsh Habitats 

January 01, 2006

Blogroll + links

All Points Blog: weblog for Location Technology & GIS 

All Things Geography (GIS)

Andrea Polli's weblog: http://www.danchan.com/weblog/andreapolli
not the usual blog of daily events. It contains a series of notes/thoughts designed to make connections between science and media art.  

Arts & Ecology 

Beyond the Beyond: Bruce Sterling's weblog (hosted by Wired)

Biophilia: To the extent that each person can feel like a naturalist, the old excitement of the untrammeled world will be regained.


Brian Flood (GIS) 

Cartography: weblog of the Canadian Cartographic Association

Cascadia Scorecard Weblog: Northwest Environment Watch's take on the news that really matters

Climate Change Action

Climate Change News 

Climate Change Resources

deconsumption: The party's over. Turn out the lights.... 

Deep North: a virtual expedition 

Digital Earth

Digitally Distributed Environments 

Earthquake Prediction by Tiempe 

Eyeteeth: a journal of incisive ideas 

Free Soil 

Fresh Bilge 

Futurefarmers: cultivating consciousness since 1995

Futurefarmers Project Site 


High Earth Orbit

Hungry Hyaena: Art Conservation Ecology Politics 

Invasive Species Weblog 

The Map Room: a weblog about maps

MetroBlogging New Orleans 

My Weather Blog

North 2006: parallel research about the north pole and deep arctic 

Ogle Earth: blog about the wonderful things being done with Google Earth

The Scientific Activist: Reporting from the Crossroads of Science and Politics

Secrecy News: from the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy

Sphere: Independent reporting, commentary and observations about the environment and other things in the Long Island Sound region

sustainablog: news, information and personal meanderings related to environmental and economic sustainability, green and sustainable business, and environmental politics 

ThinkLemon: Geospatial tag(soup)-based collaborative document editing via instant messaging 


Thoughts from the Middle of Nowhere: A Cattle Rancher's views and Opinions on the World from "The Last Best Place," Montana

Tom's Astronomy Blog: Astronomy News, Notes, and Observations 

treehugger: The future is green. Find it here.


Urban Cartography 

The Viridian Design Movement

Virtual Earth: Act Global, Search Local 



WeatherMatrix: community weather blog 

webmapper: what the map can be 

The Well

West Coast Earthquakes

WorldChanging: another world is here


Art Journals: Special Issues

Cabinet Magazine Issue 3 Summer 2001 Weather

The third issue of Cabinet is 112 pages and features a special section on the Weather. It comes with a CD of sound art by artists who use weather phenomena as a means of generating sound. The issue carries special art projects by Joe Amrhein and Spencer Finch and a postcard project by Mike Ballou. Full contents available online.

New Media Artists + Projects

Andrea Polli: http://www.andreapolli.com

N.: (pronounced n-point)

a project created in collaboration with Joe Gilmore, a web artist and programmer from the UK. Climate change in the Arctic is an important indicator of global climate changes. N. is a near-real time sonification of arctic data, updated regularly, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration"s (NOAA) Arctic research program. Important to this project is a custom piece of software created by Polli in collaboration with computer programmer and video artist Kurt Ralske. This software is open source and is available to other artists at: http://www.andreapolli.com/datareader/. N. was commissioned by the Lovebytes 2005 Festival in Sheffield, UK
"The overall effect is mysterious; while giving an approximation of windswept desolation, it is also as melancholy as a whale song...It is remarkable that this work, almost entirely constructed from empirical scientific data, manages to produce such a palpable and emotive sense of loss." -David Barrett, Art Monthly

Queensbridge Wind Power Project

presents a vision of a future when meeting energy needs can enhance the beauty of a city by investigating how clean, renewable wind power could be integrated into the landmark architecture of the Queensboro Bridge. 

Heat + the Heartbeat of the City

a series of sonifications (translations of data to sound) that illustrate scientifically predicted climate changes focusing on the heart of New York City and one of the first urban locations for climate monitoring, Central Park. According to a 1999 report published by the Environmental Defense Fund, New York City will be dramatically impacted by global warming in the near future. 

<Atmospherics/Weather Works>

Interactive work; a system for understanding weather patterns through sound. More info (Whitney Artport: Gate page, May 2004)

central park climate from 1901-2001 

Listening to the Earth, a short paper on Heat and the Heartbeat of the City, Hz Journal #7, Fylkingen, Stockholm.

Millie Niss
News from the Earthquake Zone (2005) Design & Programming by Millie Niss, Art by Regina Celia Pinto

Christina McPhee, Jeremy Hight + Sindee Nakatani
Carrizo-Parkfield Diaries Online Data Project, 2005, Whitney Museum of American Art / Artport
Live data diaries, part of a larger multimedia installation, formerly on exhibit at Transport Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. The Project ran from 5 March 2005 until 22 September 2005. Its currently running off of 30,000 records of seismic data collected while being live.

About the live project:
Drawing from live, micro-seismic measurements of peak ground velocity, peak ground accceleration and spectral response, we compile hourly updates into number sequences that, in turn, 'crash' into an archived seismic database from a recent quake. At seismically active zones in central California from Carrizo Plains, called the Cadillac of San Andreas Fault geomorphology, about 150 miles north of Los Angeles, to nearby Parkfield, where a 6.0 quake on September 28, 2004 has delivered a rich trove of geomorphologic data, the diaries are a live communication from a continuously active seismic landscape. Part of an ongoing multimedia project on seismic memory on the San Andreas Fault. view diaries

Jeremy Hight

Right as Rain: A Weather-Dependent Love Sonnet (2002)

34 north 118 west with Jeff Knowlton and Naomi Spellman

Narrative Archaeology: Reading the Landscape

GPS has been used for military weapon tracking, for navigation and mapping, but it and wireless are now able to be used to set locations as triggers in physical space for narrative segments that build as one moves across the city space. The act of reading/ interacting with technology and nonlinear narrative now moves from the isolation of individuals and their computers to a new sense of community as the work is to be experienced in groups and in the city at large. A writer can set scenes in physical locations but now can also use narrative segments to tell of unseen layers of architecture, history, ethnography and other areas where the person can read the places in city. There will be anthologies, not in books on shelves, but laid out in physical space as artists explore linking areas with locative media-driven narratives across city spaces.

Christina McPhee
Slipstreamkonza (2001-2004)

A sonification project of carbon absorption and release on the tallgrass prairie.  Sonification is from a database that covers seasonal weather changes. The project is in collaboration with microclimatologist Jay Ham Phd who is studying the microclimate changes at the 1 cubic meter level above ground (ie literally grass roots) as part of a global 12 site research initiative to assess grassland biospheres in relation to carbon levels worldwide.  The work is still in progress as it is an ongoing art/science resesarch effort.  Most recent pieces include some collaborative visualizations of the data using Jitter and aerial photographs (myself with Nick Fox-Gieg) in 2005, and, in 2003, a sound work with Henry Warwick.  I also have extensive documentary still photography of the microclimatologic instrumentation on the field sites. 

related pages:  http://www.christinamcphee.net/slipkonza/slipkcosign04.htm

Roxana Torre: http://www.torre.nl
Personal World Map

The Personal World Map has been developed with the idea of giving users another perception of the world. Normally we measure distances between places in km (or miles) but in the Personal World Map these distances have been replaced by travel time and travel costs. These two factors can give a better indication of relative position between places than geographical distances.

Michael Sellam

Echoes is a project of "field recordings" and is about the relation between culture/nature, the contemporary socio-economic ecology. It questions the control of nature by man, against the exhaustion of the natural resources. It is also a reflection on the way in which our signs invade space. To some extent small insects are the inhabitants of an empty landscape, hardly distinct, their movements frantic; they are activated, reactive and chaotic behaviors.


Gustavo Romano