The ‘Xeriscaping With Burton Knight’ Show Canceled Too Early In Hotter And Drier Dallas Texas.

Burton Knight - XeriscapingBurton Knight, resident of Junius Heights in East Dallas, decided to proactively deal with Texas’ water shortage by xeriscaping it; he removed his lawn and replaced it with rocks and native low-water consuming plants and cacti. Unfortunately, his neighborhood’s Landmark Commission voted on March 4th that Mr. Knight had to bring back the grass because they didn’t like how his lawn looked and he has said that he’ll comply. According to city planner Carolyn Horner: There are historically appropriate and acceptable ways to save water, she said. “This isn’t it.”

Nuts! Imagine if every law and ordinance was guided solely on the idea that there are historically appropriate and acceptable ways to… deal with food safety? Healthcare? Witches? I think the land commission in Dallas needs to update their thinking and consider revisiting Mr. Knight’s lawn-free, low-water consuming yard. His case might be the jolt they need to help keep Dallas from completely drying up and turning back into Mr. Knight’s xeriscaped yard. [Dallas Morning News via Treehugger]

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TransCanada/Keystone XL: Turning Climate Deniers Into Believers One Section Of Pipeline At A Time.

Michael Bishop vs TransCanadaMichael Bishop is currently doing battle with TransCanada for coercing him into letting the Keystone XL pipeline through his land. The section of pipeline is now in but Mr. Bishop is going to fight TransCanada in court to have it removed.

Watch the video below from The David Pakman Show to hear the full-story about Mr. Bishop’s fight with TransCanada and how his opinion of climate change has taken an about-face. [CDCW]


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GEOlino’s MELTDOWN Board Game: Lead A Polar Bear Family To Safety Over Actual Melting Ice.

GEOlino MELTDOWN Polar Bear Board Game.GEOlino’s MELTDOWN is a board game and the object is to save a family of polar bears before actual ice melts. Here’s a description of MELTDOWN from their website:

“The aim of the game is to take a polar bear family from the permanent ice floes to safety on the mainland. It’s a race against time, as the way leads across real, slowly melting ice floes, which children can make themselves with the accompanying mould, a bit of water and a freezer compartment. The chunks of ice are arranged on a blue polar sea sponge to form a small Arctic. The sponge is used as the game board and absorbs the melted ice at the same time. Now you can start saving polar bears.”

GEOlino MELTDOWN board game polar bearsMy take: after playing 100+ mind-numbing games of Candy Land, playing MELTDOWN would be a treat. Saving the polar bear family is a group goal in MELTDOWN so there are no winners or losers and MELTDOWN’s message about our environment is subtly delivered. What’s not to like?

Another nice feature of MELTDOWN: for parents who get stuck in the “lets play it again” loop – the melting ice is the clock and once it’s gone, you have to wait for it to re-freeze to play another game. Take that Candy Land. [MELTDOWN via Grist]


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What Would It Take To Power New York State On Only Wind, Water And Sunlight?

Wind, water and sunlight power.

“We must be ambitious if we want to promote energy independence and curb global warming,”
Study co-author Robert Howarth, Cornell University

Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy, led a study to calculate what it would take to power the State of New York by 2030 with only renewable energy generated from wind, water and sunlight. Currently, almost all of New York’s power comes from gas, oil and coal.

Based on power demand forecasts for all industries, here’s what Professor Jacobson and his team determined would be needed:

  • 4,020 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 12,770 offshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 387 100-megawatt concentrated solar plants
  • 828 50-megawatt photovoltaic power plants
  • 5 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 500,000 100-kilowatt commercial/government rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 36 100-megawatt geothermal plants
  • 1,910 0.75-megawatt wave devices
  • 2,600 1-megawatt tidal turbines
  • 7 1,300-megawatt hydroelectric power plants, of which most exist

Looks like a lot and it is but it’s an investment. If installed, renewable energy would be the fuel source for vehicles, home heating and all industries in the state – it would be powering everything. Check out the full article on the study and find out how the plan, if implemented, would save billions in pollution related healthcare costs and help mitigate the future costs of climate change. [EurekAlert via e360]

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Worst Cruise Ever? Scientists Predict That In 2050, Ships Will Be Able To Sail Directly Over North Pole.

North Pole signThe northern sea route, or trans-arctic passage, has been passable by ships for the last 7 summers and now comes information that the North Pole may be open to ship traffic by 2050. According to a report from Dr. Laurence C. Smith and Scott R. Stephenson, the shortest route connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans will be accessible in 2050 by ice-strengthened ships that can travel directly over the North Pole. From the Guardian:

“The scientists took two classes of vessels and then simulated whether they would be able to steam through the sea ice expected in seven different climate models. In each case they found that the sea routes opened up considerably after 2049.”

The recent opening of the Northern Sea Route, for ship traffic from Norway to China, has saved shipping companies between $230,000 – 400,000 in time and bunker fuel; crossing directly over the North Pole could save shipping companies an additional 40%. To counter these savings, putting a value on the “holy crap!” factor of sending ships over the North Pole in our lifetime is incalculable. Sailing over the North Pole should not be a goal – it should be viewed as an obstacle that needs to be avoided. [Guardian]

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Sinkhole In Florida Consumes A Man And His Bedroom.

Sinkhole in Florida swallows a man and his bedroom.Scary stuff. A 30′ sinkhole opened up under a house in Florida last night and swallowed an entire bedroom and one person who is presumed dead. From the Guardian:

“A Florida man screamed for help and disappeared as a large sinkhole opened up under the bedroom of a house, his brother said on Friday. The brother told rescue crews he heard a loud crash near midnight on Thursday, then heard his brother screaming. “When he got there, there was no bedroom left,” the Hillsborough county fire rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico said. “There was no furniture. All he saw was a piece of the mattress sticking up.”

Sinkholes occur naturally but land development (construction, heavy water retention ponds) and new water-diversion systems (lowering the water table, runoff etc.) may contribute to the process. [Guardian via Gizmodo]

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