by Staff Writers
Seattle WA (SPX)
Pieces of plastic debris found in the oceans are smaller than many people think. Most are measured in millimeters. Credit: Sea Education Association.
While working on a research sailboat gliding over glassy seas in the Pacific Ocean, oceanographer Giora Proskurowski noticed something new: The water was littered with confetti-size pieces of plastic debris, until the moment the wind picked up and most of the particles disappeared.
After taking samples of water at a depth of 16 feet (5 meters), Proskurowski, a researcher at the University of Washington, discovered that wind was pushing the lightweight plastic particles below the surface. That meant that decades of research into how much plastic litters the ocean, conducted by skimming only the surface, may in some cases vastly underestimate the true amount of plastic debris in the oceans, Proskurowski said.
Reporting in the journal of Geophysical Research Letters this month, Proskurowski and co-lead author Tobias Kukulka, University of Delaware, said that data collected from just the surface of the water commonly underestimates the total amount of plastic in the water by an average factor of 2.5. In high winds the volume of plastic could be underestimated by a factor of 27.
“That really puts a lot of error into the compilation of the data set,” Proskurowski said. The paper also detailed a new model that researchers and environmental groups can use to collect more accurate data in the future.
Plastic waste in the oceans is a concern because of the impact it might have on the environment. For instance, when fish ingest the plastics, it may degrade their liver functions. In addition, the particles make nice homes for bacteria and algae, which are then transported along with the particles into different regions of the ocean where they may be invasive and cause problems.
Proskurowski gathered data on a 2010 North Atlantic expedition where he and his team collected samples at the surface, plus an additional three or four depths down as far as 100 feet.
“Almost every tow we did contained plastic regardless of the depth,” he said.
By combining the data with wind measurements, Proskurowski and his co-authors developed a simplified mathematical model that could potentially be used to match historical weather data, collected by satellite, with previous surface sampling to more accurately estimate the amount of plastic in the oceans.
In addition, armed with the new model, organizations and researchers in the future might monitor wind data and combine it with surface collections in order to better estimate how much plastic waste is in our oceans.
“By factoring in the wind, which is fundamentally important to the physical behavior, you’re increasing the rigor of the science and doing something that has a major impact on the data,” Proskurowski said.
The team plans to publish a “recipe” that simplifies the model so that a wide range of groups investigating ocean plastics, including those that aren’t oceanographers, can easily use the model. Following the recipe, which is available now by request, might encourage some consistency among the studies, he said.
“On this topic, what science needs to be geared toward is building confidence that scientists have solid numbers and that policy makers aren’t making judgments based on CNN reports,” he said. Descriptions of the so-called great Pacific garbage patch in widespread news reports may have led many people to imagine a giant, dense island of garbage while in fact the patch is made up of widely dispersed, millimeter-size pieces of debris, he said.
In the future, Proskurowski hopes to examine additional factors, including the drag of the plastics in water, complex ocean turbulence and wave height, that might improve the accuracy of the model. He also may have the chance to examine the relationship between wind speed and depth of plastic particles. The 2010 expedition had near-uniform wind conditions so the researchers were unable to test that relationship.
“This is a first pass,” he said.
Other co-authors of the paper are Kara Lavendar Law and Skye Moret-Ferguson, Sea Education Association, and Dylan Meyer, an undergraduate student from Eckerd College. Support for the project came from NOAA and the University of Delaware. The researchers relied on data collected by students participating in the Sea Education Association’s Plastics at SEA program. Paper abstract.
by Staff Writers
Australia moved Monday to protect its most vulnerable koalas, listing the much-loved furry tree-dwellers as a threatened species in parts of the country.
Environment Minister Tony Burke said the most at-risk koalas needed to be on the national list of threatened species, and populations in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory would be listed as vulnerable.
“Koalas are an iconic Australian animal and they hold a special place in the community,” he said.
Burke said while some koala populations were under serious threat from habitat loss and urban expansion, as well as cars, dogs and disease, in other areas they were thriving to the point they needed to be controlled.
“In fact, in some areas in Victoria and South Australia, koalas are eating themselves out of suitable foraging habitat and their numbers need to be managed,” he said.
“But the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory koala populations are very clearly in trouble, so we must take action.”
An official report issued last year found the sleepy, furry marsupials were under increasing threat and should be considered a vulnerable species, with habitat loss seeing their numbers plunge.
Believed to number in the millions before British settlers arrived in 1788, the hunting and slaughter of the animals for their furs in the 1920s devastated the species in parts of the country.
Public outrage over the killing of the big-eyed “bears” put an end to the practice but numbers have never fully recovered, with estimates on the population varying from several hundred thousand to as few as 43,515.
Environmentalists have for years been pushing for greater protections for the koala, which sleeps about 20 hours a day and eats only the leaves of the eucalyptus tree.
University of Tasmania zoology professor Chris Johnson said the government’s move was sensible.
“The northern and southern populations are now basically separate,” Johnson said, saying they almost needed be considered as different species.
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com
Google sued in France over ‘Jewish’ searches
By suggesting the term ‘Jewish’ with its autocomplete tool, the Internet giant is violating French laws against keeping ‘ethnic files,’ opponents claim
SOS Racisme, a French organization that fights discrimination, is taking the Internet giant to court over a feature intended to speed up searches, but which often suggests the term “Jewish” when users type in the names of famous French people. (Google’s English sites use the same autocomplete tool, suggesting “Jewish” when you look up names including Rupert Murdoch and Jon Hamm. Neither is Jewish, but the suggestion, based on Google’s search algorithm, shows that many users are trying to find out if they are.)
Patrick Kulgman, a lawyer for SOS Racisme, told Agence France Presse that the feature amounts to “the creation of what is probably the biggest Jewish file in history.” That would be a non-issue in many countries, but France has outlawed the compilation of “ethnic files,” AFP reports.
SOS Racisme is joined in the lawsuit by France’s Union of Jewish Students and the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples, among other organizations.
Mozilla Criticizes CISPA for Having Broad, Alarming Reach
Mozilla has publicly decried the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a controversial cybersecurity bill recently approved by the House of Representatives that is now being considered in the Senate.
In a statement to Forbes, the head of Mozilla’s Privacy and Public Policy Department said:
“While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security. The bill infringes on our privacy, includes vague definitions of cybersecurity, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with this legislation.”
The purpose of CISPA, which was introduced to the House in November 2011, is to allow the government and corporations to work together to protect the United States from foreign online attacks. The bill has been criticized because it includes a provision that would let companies share users’ private data with government agencies, in the event of cyberattacks.
The bill passed last Friday after the House added new amendments that extended that controversial provision beyond just cyberattacks; companies will now be able to share users’ private data in the event of “computer crime,” exploitation of minors, and to protect individuals from “the danger of death or serious bodily harm.”
Needless to say, such a broad definition of when data can be shared concerns many people. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is avidly against CISPA, and claims that the proponents of the bill are “inciting fears of security threats” that have existed for years.
CISPA “opens the floodgates” for companies to “intercept communications of everyday Internet users and pass unredacted personal information to the governments,” says Rainey Reitman, activism director for the Frontier Foundation.
A group of security experts, professors and academics and engineers wrote an open letter to Congress, stating their criticism of CISPA.
Survival / Sustainability
‘Preppers’: Ready for anything
By Tim Graham
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
To the average passer-by, the Peter J. Crotty Casino in Cazenovia Park looks like a monument to teenage vagrancy.
Skateboarders wheel past walls of vulgar, sometimes racist graffiti. Sullen kids sneak cigarettes under the canopy on the way home from school. Pop bottles and junk-food wrappers litter the shrubbery.
But in Howard Marston’s mind, it’s a castle.
Marston sees beyond all the clutter. To him, the historic structure is a fortress, one he could retreat to when catastrophe strikes.
Solar flares might knock out power grids. A massive earthquake or meteor strike could cause widespread destruction. A pandemic might occur. A restricted oil supply or terrorist attack could trigger panic. A global financial collapse may cause riots on Main Street.
Marston has concerns. He’s always on guard and strives to be ready for life’s uncertainties. It’s how he’s wired.
He anticipates scenarios, foresees trouble — perhaps coming soon, real soon.
If a cataclysmic event drives him from his West Seneca home, Marston plans to flee with his wife and 5-year-old daughter to the Crotty Casino. The sturdy brick building has a fireplace and is near a water supply. The doors are steel. Upstairs windows face every direction, helping to defend against approaching marauders. Eight concrete steps provide high ground and can stop vehicles from ramming through the entryway.
“That’s almost too good to be true from a defensibility aspect,” Marston said.
Many would view Marston’s mindset as a form of radical paranoia, but he’s not alone — not nearly. He is what’s known as a “prepper,” someone who readies for the possibility of significant change, and there are millions across the country.
Preppers, also referred to as survivalists, have a dubious, often unfair reputation. They’re generally labeled right-wing kooks, although they come from all walks of life. Cable television series “Doomsday Preppers” on the National Geographic Channel and “Doomsday Bunkers” on the Discovery Channel have put them in the spotlight.
Such fictional characters as Robinson Crusoe and, less classically, MacGyver romanticized survivalism. But the ideal has been stigmatized by infamous real-life survivalists like Theodore Kaczynski (aka the Unabomber) and Timothy McVeigh, who were also terrorists.
Preppers frequently are ridiculed because of the oddball fringe that believes the Mayans might have been onto something with their 2012 Armageddon forecast or that a horde of zombies will overtake the planet.
But the prepper spectrum is expansive. The needle can point anywhere from incredibly practical to practically certifiable.
Some preppers merely cultivate a backyard garden to stock cellar shelves. They might be on alert for nothing more than an emergency weather situation, with a generator at the ready and enough provisions to last a week.
Others, such as members of the Mormon church, store food and supplies as faith-based policy.
There also is a group that takes the prepping lifestyle to an extreme, literal diehards who maintain underground bunkers or isolated backwoods retreats.
“Many people think the worst when they hear certain comments about survivalists,” said Bill Heffron, a retired National Guard colonel from the Town of Tonawanda. Heffron spent much of his career as a commander at the Connecticut Street Armory.
“It’s just comfort for some people. When you’re prepared ahead of time, then that’s just good planning. That’s never a problem.
“But when you start getting guns out, you start to wonder.”
Regardless of commitment levels or reasons for doing it, a critical component to a prepper’s lifestyle is anonymity.
Preppers want to stay off the grid to avoid social persecution and for one particularly important, sensible reason. When the SHTF (an abbreviation preppers commonly use for “stuff” hitting the fan) or TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) is at hand, they don’t want panicky nonpreppers trying to crowd their space or raid their reserves.
“We’re not into exposing ourselves even to close friends and family,” said the 31-year-old Marston, who asked that his real name not be used in this story. “People might be shocked to learn a family member is a prepper, an uncle, a cousin.
“The fear of being rejected is there. Yeah, there’s a lot of crazies out here. But there are crazies into everything else. There are legitimate, upstanding people doing this. It bothers me that when you say ‘I’m a prepper,’ you get the eye roll.”
Marston’s wife does that quite a bit.
While he considers prepping a serious and vital pursuit, Jill Marston finds it amusing and borderline silly.
“Lay off the comics, people,” Jill Marston said, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a giggle. “You’ll be all right. Nothing’s going to happen.”
The Marstons met as online pen pals when Jill (also not her actual name) was working on an English project at Hamburg High. He was living near the Alaska-Canada border. After several visits over a few years, he moved here to marry her.
Still, she didn’t know he was a prepper until they began watching the TV shows together. He began to tip his hand.
“He’s always been a lumberjack,” Jill Marston said. “I was marrying him for who he was, but this whole prepping thing? I think he’s nuts. He sees this as a strategy of survival, and I see it as a hobby. But he enjoys it.”
Howard Marston doesn’t come off as the least bit unreasonable. He’s a burly man, soft-spoken and articulate. His salt-and-pepper hair makes him look weathered and wise when talking about constantly scouting out locales that are easy to defend.
He said he has thought this way since he was 13, when he had a vivid dream about a nuclear blast destroying the hydroelectric Bennett Dam on the Peace River in northern British Columbia. He furiously jotted ideas in his spiral notebook and mapped areas that would be safe or unsafe to travel under various emergency scenarios. He read whatever he could find about survivalist techniques.
Howard Marston never stopped pondering TEOTWAWKI circumstances. He once worked for a major big-box retailer (he didn’t want to reveal the name) and figured it was a darn-near-perfect refuge.
“Those [stores] are designed so that no one can get in anywhere but usually two places, some of them only one place,” he said. “There are very few windows, concrete walls, an outdoor garden center that has 30-, 40-foot chain-link fence up the side of it. Some of these places, it wouldn’t take much to seal them up. Then you also have supplies.”
Howard Marston would gather with his co-workers and, much like a football coach at a chalkboard, X-and-O the store map. They would discuss who would be included, where they would be stationed, what roles they would have when the SHTF.
“I wouldn’t be surprised that if something were to happen now,” Howard Marston said, “a lot of those guys still would go there and execute the plan.”
Jill Marston insisted she wouldn’t execute any disaster plan her husband devises for an impromptu stronghold, whether it’s an abandoned Walmart or Cazenovia Park.
“I’ve already told him ‘If anything ever happens, consider me dead.’ I won’t survive,” Jill Marston said, laughing again. “It would be too much a shock to me and my system.
“To me, that’s just the way it is. It’s not real until it happens.”
Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Protests in May Day Revival
Henry Goldman and Esmé E. Deprez, ©2012 Bloomberg News
(Adds rainfall in third paragraph.)
May 1 (Bloomberg) — Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe today calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth.
Organizers say they hope the coordinated events will mark a spring resurgence of the movement after a quiet winter. Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.
In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower. Rain may limit the number of protesters.
“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.
Occupy groups across the U.S. have protested economic disparity, decrying high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. In the past six months, similar groups, using social media and other tools, have sprung up in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
FBI: 5 men charged in Ohio bridge bomb plot
KANTELE FRANKO THOMAS J. SHEERAN Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Five men described by federal authorities as anarchists angry with corporate America and the government were charged Tuesday with plotting to bomb an Ohio bridge linking two wealthy Cleveland suburbs.
The men were arrested Monday night after unknowingly working with an FBI informant for months, a strategy that federal investigators have used repeatedly in recent years to nab alleged terrorists.
“They talked about making a statement against corporate America and the government as some of the motivations for their actions,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said in announcing the arrests with the head of the FBI in Cleveland, Stephen Anthony.
The alleged plotters researched explosives and obtained what they thought was C-4 explosives. The material, in fact, was harmless and the public was never at risk, because the men got it from the informant, officials said.
The men planted the fake explosives at the base of the bridge, armed them, went to a remote spot and “entered the codes that they thought would blow up the bridge with innocent people traveling over it,” Dettelbach said.
Court documents detail several conversations the FBI secretly recorded in which its informant discussed the bomb plans with some of the suspects.
Occupy Bilderberg To Unify The Resistance
By. J.G Vibes
Throughout the long history of political and economic enslavement there has been many times where the average people realized that they were being taken advantage of and fought back against the established orders of the time. Unfortunately, in so many of these revolutions the justified anger of the masses was misdirected onto meaningless issues or scapegoats who were merely slaves themselves. This is why we have remained enslaved over all of these generations, because each time we have had an opportunity to achieve freedom, we were intentionally divided and misdirected by the “powers that shouldn’t be”.
Once again, the world is on the brink of both collapse and revolution, so we can be sure that there is a lot to gain, and a whole lot to lose for those who have spent their entire lives in control. With that being said there is no doubt that they will attempt to thwart any resistance movement that may gain momentum. We saw this recently with both the Republican Party hijack of the tea party and how establishment fronts such as George Soros and moveon have consistently attempted to funnel occupy Wall Street into counterproductive political goals.
There is hope though, because this is the first time in history where we have had this much information about our society and this kind of ability to quickly communicate instantly with millions of people, all over the world. This puts a huge monkey wrench in the plans of the global elite, because it is now more difficult for them to completely co-opt revolutionary movements without getting noticed. This doesn’t mean that they still aren’t trying to do it, because they obviously are, this just means that we can actually notice it when it’s happening, call it out and then focus our attention in the right direction.
Articles of Interest
What If A Collapse Happened And Nobody Noticed?
Every once and awhile I’ll be listening to a podcast with one or the other writers specializing on the subject of Peak Oil or collapse and the subject of timetables will come up. When will the collapse finally be here, the callers ask insistently, almost pleadingly, so that they can finally justify their investments in freeze-dried foods, water purification tablets and solid gold coins. Inevitably the guest will demur, and speak more in general terms. But I’m going to be the first pundit to go out on the limb and assign a timeline for the collapse. Spread it far and wide, and let’s see just how good my predictive powers are. Are you ready? Here it is:
What do they think a collapse is supposed to look like? It seems people just cannot just cannot get past the “Zombie Apocalypse” theory of collapse. They imagine hordes of disease-ridden folks dressed in rags stumbling around and fighting over cans of petrol and stripping cans of food from shelves. That’s not what collapse looks like. It never has been. In fact, there’s very little evidence that a Zombie Apocalypse style collapse ever occurred in the historical record. Instead we see subtle patterns of abandonment and decay that unfold over long periods of time. Big projects stop. Population thins. Trade routes shrink and people revert to barter. Things get simpler and more local. Culture coarsens. High art stagnates. People disperse. Expectations are adjusted downward. Investments are no longer made in the future and previous investments are cannibalized just to maintain the status quo. Extend and pretend is hardly a recent invention.
No, what happens in a collapse is very much more subtle than a Zombie Apocalypse. Things tend to look pretty normal for the following reasons:
1.) People and Institutions are resistant to change.
2.) The system has a formidable array of resources to preserve the status quo.
3.) Sheer momentum.
4.) Creeping Normalcy
This is how history says collapses go down, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Based on recent archaeology, it seems this is how the Roman collapse unfolded was well. Although images of pillaging barbarians looting burning cities sticks in people’s imaginations when they think of the fall of the Roman Empire, this was not the experience for most people according to recent scholarship. Big events tended to come down to us in the written record, but for ordinary people, it probably seemed much less dramatic. Yes, there were some famines and plagues, as there had always been. The population declined, but there were no apocalyptic battles or mass starvation. Many of the cities appear to have been continually inhabited. There were no mass graves, ruined cities or signs of malnutrition found in excavations. Most people who survived the plagues lived right through the transition from Classical Antiquity to Late Antiquity to the Medieval period with remarkable continuity, just a change of institutions and expectations. But something clearly was happening, because we know it from history. Buildings got plainer. Citizens got poorer. Trade routes shrank. Economies became local. Lawlessness increased. The old Roman Empire had been around since far before anyone could remember, and as it broke down more and more and failed to do things it had once done easily, it must have seen to some people like the world was collapsing in on them. It wasn’t, but something was happening. Much depended on who you were, where you were, what your expectations were, and how much you had invested in the status quo, both mentally and in terms of status and resources.
What brought this thought about was reading the heartbreaking article: Suicides in Greece increase 40%
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