Bee die-offs tied to tobacco plant ‘STD’


CC BY-SA 2.0 Flickr

Honeybees have been dying in huge numbers since 2006, and a new study finds that a virus may be one cause. The tobacco ringspot virus has mutated quickly and jumped from tobacco plants to soy plants to bees, researchers say, and the annual increase in honeybee deaths between autumn and winter correlates with an increasing number of infections. (more…)

China added more solar capacity in 2013 than any other country ever has in a single year (12GW)

SunTech solar panel maker from china© SunTech

While the US reached 10 gigawatts of total installed solar PV last summer and should end 2013 a bit above that (official numbers aren't out yet), China has also had a very productive 2013 on the solar front. Depending on the source, China has installed between 9.5 and 12 gigawatt of solar panels during the year alone (this is not a cumulative number). This is more than has ever been installed by any country in a single year, and it's also more than the cumulative total of all previous years in China! That's truly remarkable, and it's only the beginning: the country expects to install 14 gigawatts in 2014. (more…)

The Internet of Things knows where you are and what you are doing

Mother at CESCC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter

Lloyd Alter is visiting the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as a guest of Bosch, and is looking at how technology will change the way we live.

The word on everyone's lips this year is the Internet of Things, defined byRobert Ouellette of MeshCities as "the embedding of computing in the world around us." This has all kinds of possibilities and promise, but is also, frankly, a little scary. An example of where this might all be going is a French product called Mother.

Perhaps inventor Rafi Haladjian never saw Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, but there is definitely something about Mother that is a bit off. You plug her into your router and she detects the presence of "motion cookies" that you can attach to things, so that you know how long your kid brushes his teeth for, how many expressos you drank, how many steps you walked, everything that you do can be monitored and analyzed.
As with your real mother, Mother cares about you and loves you. Yet this Mother is programmable. You decide what aspects of your life you want her to handle and she tunes to your current needs. Unlike other devices that specialize in only one area, this Mother knows how to help you in many areas of your daily life: fitness, health, security, well-being and comfort. You decide how she can help simplify your life, ultimately helping you live better, healthier and happier.

The cookies are powerful little things, smaller and more intelligent than a house arrest ankle bracelet.
Mother is the head of a family of Motion Cookies, a unique, new generation of multipurpose, autonomous sensors that connect real-life actions, detecting and understanding movements, temperature and more. Small and slick, yet powerful with the exceptional ability to analyze, find patterns, learn and continuously readapt, turning everyday objects into something smart.

“Mother is the first true advent of the Internet of Things in everyday life,” said Haladjian. “We have made sensors that unobtrusively blend into your life. She offers the knowledge and comfort you want, when and how you want it, all while remaining discreet.”

But there are some things that perhaps people don't want mother to know. This may be a brilliant bit of engineering, but I wonder if we aren't entering a world where there is just too much information on that Internet of Things. Too little privacy. Too few controls.

More on Mother

By Lloyd Alter

Non-profit wants to clone the world’s oldest trees to reforest the planet

Old growth trees with lumberjacks

Public Domain Humboldt State University

Earth Day 2013: Bring out the clones

Here's a catch 22 for you: Let's say that some trees have great genes that allow them to live for millennia and grow to be almost as big as skyscrapers, but that because they are so big, they are ideal targets for lumberjacks so they almost all get cut down (a kind of inverse natural selection -- destruction of the fittest, so to speak).

Industrial agriculture has reached its ‘peak,’ say scientists; time for a return to small-scale organics

root-cellar-vegetables-hm-md(NaturalNews) The era of large-scale monoculture, with all of its toxic pesticides and untested genetically modified organisms (GMOs), could finally be coming to an end. Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) discovered recently that yield expansion rates for most major industrial food crops are plateauing or even declining in many areas of the world, a fact that further supports the case for a return to small-scale, diversified agriculture grown organically.
Published in a recent issue of the journal Nature Communications, these and other findings, including updated projections on future crop yields, help obliterate the myth that modern, industrial methods of food production (e.g., transgenic modification, pesticide use and single-crop cultivation) have led to dramatic advancements in agriculture, when it has actually accomplished quite the opposite. (more…)