News Nuggets: Carbon, Pebble Mine & the Encyclopedia of Life | Seventh Generation
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News Nuggets: Carbon, Pebble Mine & the Encyclopedia of Life

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here in the Northern Vermont Hinterlands, I’m preparing for a brief escape. A long weekend in the big city. Going on blind faith to see a little music. Catch a flick. Peruse the shops for weird Moroccan light fixtures. Eat some foods I can’t pronounce. Enjoy a few adult beverages. Should be just the thing to forestall cabin fever a bit longer. Cause it be getting crazy. 15 inches of new snow on the way to push us into the snowiest February ever and one of the top ten snowiest winters, which up here is really saying something. Gotta get out from under it for a bit. But before I go, here are a few interesting items of note from the news desk…

Scientists at Los Alamos have devised a way to strip carbon out of the air and turn it into fuel, an interesting idea that could transform the world’s auto fleet into a bizarre internal combustion closed loop system in which the waste that burning fuel produces is turned into more fuel to be burned thus negating transportation impacts on the climate. It’s what comes out goes right back in. But I find that I don’t really get this. It’s hard to see how what’s spewed from my tailpipe is going to get recycled by some plant a thousand miles away. And the process is apparently highly energy intensive, which is a downer right there. But the technology could have some sort of a role in whatever sustainable systems we end up with. So let’s not discount it until these guys can hammer out the details…

While we’re on the subject of hammers, there’s a bunch of them poised to start pounding in southwest Alaska, where development of the proposed Pebble copper mine is worrying many. The mine, which gives new meaning to the term “ginourmous,” would occupy the headwaters of two of the five rivers feeding Bristol Bay, one of the biggest best last wild salmon fisheries in the world. In addition to copper, the mine would produce gold, and now five major jewelers have signed the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge and agreed not to buy gold from the Pebble mine. Tiffany, Ben Bridge, Helzberg Diamonds, Fortunoff, Leber Jewelers, and Robb Blake, all deserve to be congratulated. As for the rest of us, we need to be aware that the price of gold is paid in far more than dollars. Mining a single ounce of gold creates around 76 tons of waste as just one example of the utter havoc its mining causes. Gold may be a precious metal, but it’s not nearly as precious as beautiful Earth. The No Dirty Gold campaign has a lot more information. Consult them before you buy.

If gold mining is bad, animal testing is worse. So it’s extremely heartening to hear that the scientific community, most of which has relied on animal testing for important toxicology data, believes it can end animal testing within a decade and obtain the knowledge it needs from a new screening technology instead. This is magnificent news. As long as we torture innocent creatures in the name of progress we cannot be said to have progressed at all.

Finally something that’s just plain amazing. The Encyclopedia of Life has gone live with the first 30,000 online entries out of an eventual 1.8 million that will catalog every single living thing on Planet Earth. The massive database is a extraordinary milestone in scientific history and is expected to be helpful in all kinds of important research efforts. But really more than anything, what it really is is simply too cool for words. If you don’t believe our world is home to an absolutely bewildering variety of truly remarkable life forms so stunningly diverse as to be nothing short of, well… sacred, you need to check this out. And if you do believe that it’s all one big honkin’ miracle of life worthy of profound admiration and your deepest awe, you may never be able to pull yourself away from it.

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