Category Archives: news

NASA on the Solar Shield

Since the beginning of the Space Age the total length of high-voltage power lines crisscrossing North America has increased nearly 10 fold. This has turned power grids into giant antennas for geomagnetically induced currents. With demand for power growing even faster than the grids themselves, modern networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limit—a recipe for trouble, according to the National Academy of Sciences: “The scale and speed of problems that could occur on [these modern grids] have the potential to impact the power system in ways not previously experienced.”

So, basically, ninjas, in an attempt to protect the power grid from a solar storm, NASA is developing tech that could monitor the sun and adjust the grid as necessary to let key components remain un-damaged against powerful electrical surges. Read the article below and click through to find out more!

Every hundred years or so, a solar storm comes along so potent it fills the skies of Earth with blood-red auroras, makes compass needles point in the wrong direction, and sends electric currents coursing through the planet’s topsoil. The most famous such storm, the Carrington Event of 1859, actually shocked telegraph operators and set some of their offices on fire. A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences warns that if such a storm occurred today, we could experience widespread power blackouts with permanent damage to many key transformers.

What’s a utility operator to do?

A new NASA project called “Solar Shield” could help keep the lights on.

“Solar Shield is a new and experimental forecasting system for the North American power grid,” explains project leader Antti Pulkkinen, a Catholic University of America research associate working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe we can zero in on specific transformers and predict which of them are going to be hit hardest by a space weather event.” -> Continue Reading at NASA Science

Since the beginning of the Space Age the total length of high-voltage power lines crisscrossing North America has increased nearly 10 fold. This has turned power grids into giant antennas for geomagnetically induced currents. With demand for power growing even faster than the grids themselves, modern networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limit—a recipe for trouble, according to the National Academy of Sciences: “The scale and speed of problems that could occur on [these modern grids] have the potential to impact the power system in ways not previously experienced.”

9.11.08 a day of many things


[image via]
I woke up early this morning to a mandatory evacuation of the county i am staying in here in TX, Jefferson County.  Hurricane Ike is on his way.  Now, intuition would tell you that a mandatory evacutation is just that, mandatory.  Apparently, not so.  After hearing about the evacuation, I went into work, a fairly large construction site, where the construction crews were hard at work securing the site for hurricane conditions.  Many of the folks on site i talked to were planning to evacuate north toward Dallas, or east toward Louisiana, or even west into Houston (where the storm is expected to hit directly), but a lot of the guys i talked to from the area are planning to ‘hunker down’ as they call it and brave the storm.  As it turns out, I am hunkering down as well (at least until I hear further word from my boss).  Needless to say, I have been glued to all the weather websites, my favorite of which is  Just in the past hour Ike has been forecast to downgrade to a Cat 2 when it hits the coast.  Here are some images:



The above image shows potential maximum storm surges.  For reference, Jefferson County is right there on the TX/LA boarder in the orange 24′ potential storm surge area.  the weather channel is telling me to expect a 10-20′ surge.  i have been told that the sea walls in this area hold until the surge surpasses 14′.  So yeah, I am starting to get nervous.

The red areas, which will see the highest surge, happen to be right in the Baytown area, where Exxon-Mobile has their largest oil refinery which, if you look it up on google maps, is the size of a small city.


Meanwhile, in happier news, i was shocked this evening to open an email from the ninjas over at amivectio (friends of the revolution) and find my face front & center (ok, bottom left) in the message.  amivectio is the blog-child of Hector Estrada, founder & creative mind behind Triko, a dope street-wear collection for ‘progressive and eclectic individuals’ that embraces environmentally friendly practices [we are big fans & have covered Triko here … I still have my fingers crossed for some ladies threads].


Several months ago Triko sent out a quick survey to their mailing list that I responded to, and this is the result:

Name: Jessie P.

What do you currently do for a living?
chemical engineer & part time ninja (

Where are you originally from?
new england & tucson AZ, i can never decide which

How would you describe your style?
comfortable but with flavor

What inspires you in your daily pursuit of Life?
good people working for good things. bad people making us work a little harder

How do you feel about the environment?
it teaches us, we waste it away. in the end, it will have the upper hand

Do you prefer shopping online or in person?
in person. i have to be able to feel the textiles & see the colors. besides, fit is always tricky

Do you believe in extraterrestrials?
i believe it is ignorant to think we are the only beings in this massive universe

What books are you currently reading?
GRUB: ideas for an urban organic kitchen, by Anna Lappé & Bryant Terry; Oil!, by Upton Sinclair

What’s your favorite sound of nature?
a horse neighing in recognition

What does success mean to you?
making steps toward something you believe in

Many thanks to amivectio for calling me a friend of the revolution!

A few words on amivectio from the source:

Our new blog: is clean and simple.  We’ll be covering progressive people and lifestyles with features on art, world affairs, music, friends, events, our daily grind, and of course fashion, style, and design.  If you submitted an “Art of Life” entry, these will now be feature at, under the “friends of the revolution” category.  Please stop by our community blog and leave us a comment.  Enjoy!

In summation:
.:: for peace –> stop war

.:: for safety –> track Ike & get the hell out of dodge

.:: for fly earf-friendly street-wear –> check Triko, amivectio & become a friend of the revolution



I don’t know why anybody expected this man to have anything intelligent or productive to say on this topic this time around.

Here are the three things you need to know about Bush’s speech — the same three things you needed to know about his previous speeches on the subject:

  1. Bush’s speech is not meant to advance serious efforts to address climate change, but to thwart the efforts of others. This has been true of all three speeches he’s given — see Dan Froomkin on this. This time around, it’s meant to thwart Congressional Democrats, who show every sign of being on the verge of passing a carbon cap-and-trade bill.
  2. The targets Bush does announce would doom the planet. Last time around it was improving the “carbon intensity” of the economy — that is, releasing less CO2 per unit of GDP, even though total CO2 would continue rising. This time around, it’s “halting the growth” of U.S. emissions by 2025. By way of contrast, international folks are pushing for a peak in global emissions by 2020. If U.S. emissions keep rising until 2025 — and that’s what Bush is calling for, rising CO2 emissions for another 17 years — efforts to keep global CO2 levels below 450ppm, or even 550ppm, are futile, and unthinkable human misery lies on the horizon.
  3. The Republican Party will not accept even the weak initiatives Bush lays out. This piece in Roll Call ($ub. req’d) tells the story:

    Years after President Bush torpedoed the Kyoto global warming treaty, he is expected to outline principles this afternoon for passing legislation to reduce carbon emissions, but it’s unclear how much support he will find among Congressional Republicans.


Food Riots Lead to Increased Push for Food Security

In response to the violent food riots in Haiti, Yemen, Egypt, and the riots that have taken place over the past year in Mexico, West Bengal, Camaroon, Burkina Faso and Senegal, French Agriculture minister Michel Barnier is urging the EU to take action immediately against biofuels sourced from edible crops. Four of France’s ministers also insist that similar food riots are on the brink in some 30 other countries.

A demonstrator ate grass in front of a U.N. peacekeeping soldier during a protest against the high cost of living in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Political leaders from poor countries contend that biofuels, which Western countries have been encouraging, are driving up food prices and starving poor people, making biofuels a new flash point in global diplomacy.

Meanwhile, today marks the official enforcement of the 2.5% biofuels mandate UK-wide.

[BBC News; NYTimes, Daily Kos; Celsias]

The End of the Earth (in 7.59 Billion years)


If nature is left to its own devices, about 7.59 billion years from now Earth will be dragged from its orbit by an engorged red Sun and spiral to a rapid vaporous death. That is the forecast according to new calculations by a pair of astronomers, Klaus-Peter Schroeder of the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and Robert Connon Smith of the University of Sussex in England.

Their report, to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is the latest and gloomiest installment yet in a long-running debate about the ultimate fate of our planet. Only last year, the discovery of a giant planet orbiting the faint burned-out cinder of a star in Pegasus had suggested that Earth could survive the Sun’s death.

Dr. Smith called the new result “a touch depressing” in a series of e-mail messages. But “looked at another way,” he added, “it is an incentive to do something about finding ways to leave our planet and colonize other areas in the galaxy.”

I am assuming (and hoping) Dr. Smith has a very geeky sense of humor. I am just trying to make it past 2012. If, however, we do make it through 7.59 billions years, surely we will have at least figured out time travel. If not, we probably don’t deserve to stick around anyway.

Unrelatedly, this picture kind of reminds me of the sun in the opening scene of Watership Down, which always terrified and captivated me as a child.


Eeeee, the scene at the end of that clip still gives me the shivers.


Memories of shell top adidas, he was fresh


Yesterday adidas Group released their Corporate Responsibility Publications for the year 2007. The report highlights the strides adidas has taken in areas of “big business and sustainability, preparing for major sporting events, ‘Made in China’, and climate change” over the past year. It also gives some transparency into cases where the corporate responsibility of the Group was questioned. In order to reach a broader audience with their corporate responsibility report this year, the adidas Group has published a slick magazine-style review that is more accessible to their general audience, as well as the usual in-depth online report:

The Review: Giving 110%

In this review, the Group has tried to give a sense of its efforts in 2007 to be a responsible and sustainable business. It takes a broader view than the traditional reports, covering four main topics: big business and sustainability, preparing for major sporting events, ‘Made in China’, and climate change.

The Online Report 2007: Striving to improve performance

Going into more detail than the review, the online report looks at what the adidas Group has achieved in 2007. It is the first report containing Group-wide performance data since Reebok became part of the adidas Group on 31 January 2006. It includes performance data, a review of the progress against the targets the company sets itself for the year and more information on its approach to managing social and environmental issues.


I would strongly recommend all you sneaker heads out there read through the Giving 110% document, or for you studious ninjas, the entire in-depth report. There is some real interesting info in there on adidas’ history with workers’ rights, their current efforts to get sustainable, and their future in all of the above. Here are a few highlights from a Q&A in the green section:

Q: Are products and materials checked for harmful or hazardous substances?
A: Chemical substances that may cause harm to human health or the environment are covered by our policy or the control and monitoring of hazardous substances. S uppliers must not intentionally use restricted substances, and must ensure that materials are non-toxic in use and disposal and that they meet the standards set by retailers and consumer organisations. S uppliers must prove that materials comply with our standards by providing regular test reports from independent external test institutes. Materials that do not meet standards and specifications are not used in our products.

Q: Does the adidas Group use PVC in its products?
A: We have had a policy in place to eliminate PVC materials from our products since 2000. Nearly all our product lines are now PVC-free, though for a few applications technically feasible substitutions for PVC are still not available. Since this is an industrywide challenge, we have developed a three-year plan to work with our suppliers and factories on solutions that also meet our quality standards.

Q: Does the adidas Group plan to use organic cotton in its products?
A: The adidas Group already uses organic cotton for some products and will be adding more in 2008. It is our goal to secure more sustainable cotton sources, but we recognize that the use of certified organic cotton is not without challenges as it does not address the most critical environmental impact of cotton farming – excessive water consumption. Supported by international companies and NGOs, our approach is to provide training and capacity building to farmers in sustainable cotton farming methods without causing big price premiums.

In addition to maintaining transparency on their environmental practices, adidas is launching an entire line dedicated to greenery, catching onto the growing demand from consumers for sustainable products and the growing trend of apparel companies to appease them. The adidas Grün, a line coming out Spring of this year, “minimises its environmental impact by using the natural resources involved in its production and packaging as efficiently as possible.”

The adidas Grün range consists of three product categories:

The Reground line of products is made of environmentally friendly materials such as hemp, jute, bamboo, crepe rubber, chrome-free leather and recycled rice husks. A highlight from the women’s collection is a shirt made from a mix of soybean and organic cotton fabric that features a neckline inlaid with sunflower seeds.

The Recycled line consists of summery apparel and footwear made from recycled and re-used materials. Key pieces include a dress made from recycled cotton scraps and a hooded track top that uses recycled polyester.

The Made From line presents original adidas silhouettes made from environmentally friendly fibres in more colourful tones.

And, the sneakers are FLY:





Tip: if you want be in-the-know on corporate responsibility announcements such as this one, sign up for the email list over at Report Alert, the report announcement service for the global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) community.