World Leaders To Debate Role Of Nuclear Power At U.N. Climate Summit

NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with Matthew Bunn, a nuclear and energy policy analyst and professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School, about the role nuclear power will play in the future. As world leaders meet in Paris for the U.N. climate summit, they discuss if countries are moving away or toward nuclear energy and and given safety and budget concerns, whether atomic power makes sense anymore.

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The Río Marañón is Moving: Dam Construction in a Volatile Landscape

Rafting down the Río Marañón.

By expedition member, Alice Hill

On a tight curve on a dirt road, rock fall spat off the top of the 30-foot bank, pelting the road. By the looks of the piles of debris in the carriageway, it had been doing this for hours. Rockslides seemed to be a normal occurrence along the road to the Río Marañón in Peru’s Andean Cordillera Blanca. This landscape is active!

The proposed 300 MW Rupac dam site lies at the site of an old bridge where the Río Marañón exits the inner gorge. The canyon walls can be used to buttress the impoundment while the relative openness of the valley downstream facilitates access to the site for construction. Photo: Christian Martin

We were a team of 15 – scientists, writers, a videographer, lawyer, doctor, river guides, entrepreneurs, environmental planner and energy expert – from five countries that set out to run 620 km of the Río Marañón, the headwater stem to the globally important Amazon River. Río Marañón is subject to 20 proposed dams, two of which are approved. Construction of these dams would dissect the free flowing Río Marañón into a series of pools and drops to produce energy to fuel the hungry and growing mining sector in Peru.

With the support of National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration our team had two main objectives – first to document our expedition through film and photography, and second to leverage our scientific and river-running expertise to collect baseline data along the river corridor prior to dam construction. With little-to-no information currently available relating to the Río Marañón corridor, a baseline data set initiates a data record and allows for evaluating impacts after major land use or river change.

Graduate student and hydrologist Alice Hill samples water quality on a pristine tributary in —> Read More

This Pig’s Cute Tummy Rub Could Make You Rethink Eating That Pork Belly

Most of the animals who look like Esther the Wonder Pig become meat. Through lucky circumstance, Esther became a top notch hedonist.

It’s a fact her human family is hoping will change how you see all animals, even those who aren’t fortunate enough to get regular belly rubs.

“We can’t handle the thought of the life Esther was born for,” says Steve Jenkins, one of Esther’s adoptive dads. “These animals are loving, intelligent and sensitive animals. Not just a product or a piece of pork.”

Esther was not supposed to grow to be 700 pounds. Her first owner was told she’d be one-tenth of that size, tops.

As it turns out, Esther was bred to be an industrial pig, not the miniature variety that the first owner had been promised.

And when the piggy’s enormity became apparent, animal lovers Jenkins and Derek Walter were asked if they could take her in.

This was back in 2012 — and at the time, these guys were meat-eating city-dwellers who worked as a professional magician and a real estate agent.

Once Esther took over their lives — and their home — things changed.

Now the family lives on a 50-acre sanctuary in the Canadian countryside, and are huge advocates for plant-based eating.

Yes, if watching Esther delight in her belly rub makes you feel like perhaps it’s time to rethink pork bellies more generally — well, that’s part of the point. They even call it the “Esther effect.”

Genetically, Esther’s the same as the hundred million other pigs raised for slaughter every year in the U.S.

The only difference between Esther and these other millions of —> Read More

The Solar Heliospheric Observatory at 20

Image credit:

Solar cycle #23 as seen via SOHO, and an artist’s conception of the observatory in space. All images credit of NASA/ESA/SOHO

Flashback to 1995: Clinton was in the White House, Star Trek Voyager premiered, we all carried pagers in the pre-mobile phone era, and Windows 95 and the Internet itself was shiny and new to most of us. It was also on this day in late 1995 when our premier eyes on the Sun—The SOlar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)—was launched. (…)
Read the rest of The Solar Heliospheric Observatory at 20 (779 words)

© David Dickinson for Universe Today, 2015. |
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