Oil giants barred from new projects after missing pollution targets | South China Morning Post
China’s largest oil and gas producer, PetroChina, has been barred from expanding its refining and chemical production capacity.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection said yesterday the energy giant had failed to meet its target for cutting chemical oxygen demand (COD) - a measure of organic pollutants from waste water in rivers and lakes.
The fresh blow came after it emerged this week that three of its senior officials were being investigated by Beijing authorities for alleged discipline violations.
4:49 pm • 30 August 2013
China’s Rule-of-Law Trial - Council on Foreign Relations
The economy seems to have peaked. Its many unsolved problems seem to be coming home to roost and we don’t know how serious it’s going to be. So far the leaders have shown considerable ability to be resilient and be fast on their feet and put out every fire as it develops, but they’ve had to do so by ways that have proved to be costly in the long run and they know they can’t continue forever.
11:30 pm • 29 August 2013
Russia sends warships to Mediterranean as Syria tension rises | Reuters
Interfax quoted a source in the armed forces’ general staff as saying Russia, Syria’s most powerful ally, was deploying a missile cruiser from the Black Sea Fleet and a large anti-submarine ship from the Northern Fleet in the “coming days”.
Any strengthening of the navy’s presence could fuel tension, especially as the United States has said it is repositioning naval forces in the Mediterranean following an alleged chemical weapons attack which is blames on Syrian government forces.
11:29 pm • 29 August 2013
Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned. And that is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime
11:54 pm • 28 August 2013
Tropical cyclones form in most ocean basins – some more frequently than others. Before the advent of the satellite era, hurricane tracks were constructed from ship reports – and although reliable, some storms were probably missed. Geostationary satellites, such as NOAA’s GOES, revolutionized the ability of meteorologists to track cyclones. Not a single storm is missed as these eyes in the sky provide consistent scans of the globe every few minutes. NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center has assembled the best track data for 11,967 tropical cyclones into a single database, called IBTrACS, with information from 1842 to 2012. This image shows the output of that data. By coloring how many times any storm track overlapped another, certain patterns arise in the density of storms affecting a given area. Cyclone tracks overlapped the most in the western Pacific and Bay of Bengal (India), where typhoon season never ends since waters are always warm enough to sustain cyclone formation. The frequency of track overlaps is much lower in the Western Hemisphere than in the Eastern Hemisphere, however, a related map showing storm intensity seen here shows an interesting contrast.
— NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory - Tracking Cyclones: Frequency
12:28 pm • 27 August 2013 • 1 note
National Geographic uses drones and robots to capture stunning images of African lions | The Verge
After extensive trials and testing, Nichols and cinematographer Nathan Williamson sent a small, remote-controlled robot into the field to capture images from within inches of the lions. The camera-equipped “mini-tank” was manufactured by SuperDroid Robots, a North Carolina-based engineering company that specializes in bomb-defusing robotics. As the tank patrolled the ground, snapping the Vumbi pride from a bug’s-eye view, a German-made MikroKopter drone took to the skies, capturing aerial shots with an “off-the-shelf” Canon camera. Nichols and Williamson, meanwhile, were stationed in a customized Land Rover parked nearby, capturing wide shots from the floor of the car, and controlling the robot and drone remotely.
12:25 pm • 27 August 2013
Salmon-Challis National Forest - Special Places
The Frank Church-River of No Return is a wilderness of steep, rugged mountains, deep canyons, and wild, whitewater rivers. The Salmon River Mountains, located south of the Main Salmon and west of the Middle Fork, are the most massive range, and dominate the Wilderness. North of the Main Salmon River are the Clearwater Mountains, east of the Middle Fork are the Bighorn Crags. The Salmon River Canyon is one of the deepest gorges in North America, deeper even than the famous Grand Canyon of the Colorado in Arizona. But in contrast to the Grand Canyon, the Salmon River Canyon is not noted for sheer walls and towering heights, but instead for the variety of landscapes visible from the river; wooded ridges rising to the sky, huge eroded monuments and bluffs and slides, picturesque castles and towers, and solitary crags. The United States Congress designated the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in 1980 and it now encompasses a total of 2,366,757 acres. Administration of the wilderness is accomplished by two Forest Service Regions (Northern and Intermountain), and four National Forests, the Salmon Challis, Payette, Nez Perce, and Bitterroot. It is the second largest unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System in the Lower 48 (second in size only to California’s Death Valley Wilderness). The lead forest for managing the coordination of the Wilderness is the Salmon-Challis National Forest, located in Salmon, Idaho.
11:46 am • 27 August 2013
Taken with a short lens (50 millimeters), this west-looking image from the International Space Station includes much of forested central Idaho. The oblique image highlights part of the largest single wilderness area in the contiguous United States, the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness.
— Fires in Montana and Idaho : Natural Hazards
11:36 am • 27 August 2013
On August 22, 2013, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of the drought-fueled Rim fire burning in central California, near Yosemite National Park.
Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. Winds blew a thick smoke plume toward the northeast. A smaller fire—American fire—burned to the north. The lower image is a photograph that shows the fire burning at night on August 21.
— Rim Fire, California : Natural Hazards
10:51 am • 27 August 2013
Tomorrow’s cities: How the Venus Project is redesigning the future
Is it possible to create a radically different society? One where material possessions are unnecessary, where buildings are created in factories, where mundane jobs are automated?
Would you want to live in a city where the main aim of daily life is to improve personal knowledge, enjoy hobbies, or solve problems that could be common to all people in order to improve the standard of living for everyone?
Some may think it is idealistic, but 97-year old architect Jacque Fresco is convinced his vision of the future is far better than how we live today.
— BBC News - Tomorrow’s cities: How the Venus Project is redesigning the future
10:04 am • 27 August 2013
Firefighters in California are struggling to gain control of a huge wildfire which has reached the edge of Yosemite National Park.
The Rim Fire covers nearly 225 sq miles (582 sq km) and threatens a major reservoir serving San Francisco.
The fire is just 7% contained after burning for more than a week, officials say, up from 2% containment on Friday.
Strong winds have fanned the flames closer to nearby towns raising the risk of flying debris sparking more fires.
"This fire has continued to pose every challenge that there can be on a fire," said Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
"It’s a very difficult firefight.”
More than 5,000 homes are endangered by the blaze, which began on 17 August from still unknown causes in the Stanislaus National Forest.
— BBC News - Yosemite boundary burns in California Rim Fire
12:39 am • 27 August 2013
Navy ready to launch first strike on Syria - Telegraph
If military action is approved, the first wave of missiles could start within a week.
Military sources suggested the early hours of the 2011 campaign against Col Muammar Gaddafi could form a template for any operation. The Libya campaign began with a blitz of Tomahawk cruise missiles from US warships and from a British Trafalgar Class submarine.
12:37 am • 27 August 2013