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april 2009

Oil barrel politics

As a new president and Congress entered office in January, current events continue to keep energy in the forefront of national concern. Volatile prices, resource depletion, climate change and national security impacts of energy trade have become a part of daily news and policy discussion. Americans will be watching the new policymakers to see how they respond to energy concerns. How they treat energy research and development — particularly the amount of funds dedicated to R&D, and the portion of that R&D that is allocated through earmarks — will be telling.

08 Apr 2009

Running into the brick wall of Creationism again

I had recently moved to a new community and begun a new job. One night I was dining with some potential new friends. Upon learning that I am both a Christian and a passionate student of geology, one of my dinner mates proclaimed, “So, I suppose you believe in evolution, right? Well, I need to let you know that I HATE evolution.” I somehow managed to keep my cool. “And exactly why do you hate evolution?” I queried. “My minister has taught us that it is false Christian teaching,” she retorted. By that time, I could not hold myself back.

31 Mar 2009

Coal-to-liquids: Can fuel made from coal replace gasoline?

Amid all the attention to the converging of three energy-related crises — climate change, resource depletion and international extremism funded by the energy trade — a surprising energy choice keeps rearing its head: coal. That especially includes liquid fuels made from coal, which can be a substitute for gasoline, jet fuel and just about any other transportation fuel on which we currently rely.

08 Apr 2009

Storms brewing over volcanoes

Two hundred years ago, a sea captain was sailing in the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, when he observed “an immense body of smoke rising from the sea.” As he watched, the smoke, from a volcanic vent offshore of the island of St. Michael’s, began to rotate on the water “like a horizontal wheel,” the captain wrote in his 1811 account of the event. The rotating smoke and ash grew into a dark column and ascended high into the sky, spawning waterspouts and flashes of lightning.

09 Apr 2009

Lack of water threatens "Garden of Eden"

Since the downfall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqis and scientists from around the world have been working hard to restore Iraq’s once-lush marshes. But after several years of measurable improvement, drought and competition over limited water supplies threaten to reverse this progress. Those working on the marshes are confident that the marshes can come back — but whether the people who rely on these wetlands for their livelihood will be as resilient remains to be seen.

15 Apr 2009

Earth: The movie (not the magazine)

Blogging on EARTH (the magazine)

Earth Day is over. But you don’t have to wait until next year to celebrate the planet. Disney’s new movie “Earth,” which opened Apr. 22, offers some spectacular views of the planet and its inhabitants.

23 Apr 2009

Seal missing link found in the Arctic

A newly discovered web-footed mammal may be a “missing link” between land-based and marine pinnipeds, a group that includes seals, walruses and sea lions. The find, occurring on the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s "On the Origin of Species," may shed new light on the land-to-sea animal evolutionary theory.

24 Apr 2009

Benchmarks: Nuclear explosion at Chernobyl

April 26, 1986

A rusting Ferris wheel dominates the skyline of Prypiat, Ukraine’s ghost town. A few kilometers away, within a massive concrete structure called the Sarcophagus, are the remnants of the worst nuclear disaster in history: the ruins of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s reactor number four — and about 200 tons of highly radioactive material.

24 Apr 2009

Travels in Geology: Exploring Lake Baikal, the Sacred Sea

Deepest. Oldest. Most biologically diverse. Siberia’s superlative-laden Lake Baikal is one of the planet’s great geological treasures. Located 4,200 kilometers east of Moscow and 2,100 kilometers west of Vladivostok, the lake known locally as the Sacred Sea is like no other.

28 Apr 2009

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