Saturday Planetary Reading

Venus has a special place in the sun’s family of planets. It is the solar system’s most inhospitable world.

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Its surface temperature, around 460C, would melt lead and sear a human to death in seconds while his or her remains were crushed to pulp by an atmosphere 92 times denser than Earth’s. For good measure, thick clouds of toxic sulphuric acid perpetually cloak the planet.

Venus may get its name from the goddess of love but it is more like a vision of medieval hell. Nevertheless, astronomers and space engineers – whose robot craft first revealed the nature of the horrors on Venus 50 years ago – have recently rekindled a desire to return to this blighted, uninhabitable world. Ironically for such an inhospitable place, they believe it could provide crucial information about the existence of habitable exoplanets orbiting other stars in our galaxy. For good measure, it is reckoned Venus could hold important clues about the geological evolution of our own planet and the emergence of life here.

As a result, travel to Venus has found its way back on to the interplanetary agenda. In recent months, a flurry of new proposals to send unmanned spacecraft to our closest planetary neighbour have been put forward to the European Space Agency (Esa) and to its US counterpart, Nasa. Venus, Earth’s evil twin, may soon find itself back in the spotlight.

@ THE GUARDIAN

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PHRYdae PHUNneez

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Thursday Tragedy

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A recently published report has revealed that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1 million Iraqis, which is 5 percent of the total population of the country. The report also tallies hundreds of thousands of casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Authors of the report, titled “Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror,'” have told Truthout that other casualty reports, like the often-quoted Iraq Body Count (IBC), which has a high-end estimate at the time of this writing of 154,563, are far too low in their estimates, and that the real numbers reach “genocidal dimensions.”

Joachim Guilliard, the author of the Iraq portion of the study, told Truthout that the new study relied heavily on extrapolations from a previous study published in the prestigious Lancet medical journal, which put Iraq’s numbers at 655,000, but the study was published in 2006 and is now dramatically out of date.

“The numbers of Lancet, reaching genocidal dimensions, represent a massive indictment of the US administration,” Guilliard said. “Most Western media are not interested in it. The IBC numbers, however, are [seen as] acceptable. They are in line with the general picture of the war in Iraq according to which the Iraqis themselves are primarily responsible for most violence.”

Dahr Jamail @ TRUTHOUT
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“genocidal dimensions” We are such a wonderful country, thank you Obomber.

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Wednesdays Sorrows

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One of the longest and most pointless arguments that constantly recycles up in the media is the question of whether or not there’s a class war going on in this country, and if so, who started it. If, for instance, anyone brings up a) the question of the widening gap between rich and poor, b) the need for a hike in the minimum wage, c) a proposal to increase taxes on the very wealthy, or d) any other issue likely to raise a reminder of how few have so much and how many have so little, the right wingers trot out their usual wounded cry that liberals are, once again, picking on the maligned and outnumbered plutocrats, and trying to instigate class warfare. They’ll talk about the “politics of envy,” and they’ll repeat the assertions that anyone who thinks that maybe the system is just a little tilted toward favoring the very wealthy is merely jealous, and they’ll base that idea on the rather foolish notion that we’d all like to be Donald Trump or Sheldon Adelson or Rush Limbaugh, or any of that repugnant tribe of obscenely wealthy trolls we are told we would like to be.

Jaime Oneill @ The SMIRKING CHIMP

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Picture Day Tuesday

IMG_0757French Meadows from Above

IMG_0758As seen from the Dam

IMG_0761Snow!

IMG_0764More Snow!

IMG_0766Snow Blanket on Granite Chief

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Energy Revolution Monday

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“Long ago, fire made us human, and then fossil fuels made us modern,” Lovins said. “But now we need a new fire that makes us safe, secure, healthy and durable, and that turns out to be feasible, and in fact, to be cheaper than what we are doing.”

The lecture was part of a series of events at Harvard Climate Week. Other speakers will address issues such as climate change and public health, and the role of corporations in climate action.

Lovins doesn’t see himself as an optimist. Instead, he aspires to what he calls “applied hope.” His vision for 2050 shows the U.S. relying on wind, solar, biomass, hydropower and other renewables, along with some natural gas—but a third less than the country consumes today. Throughout his talk, he shared numerous examples of how the world is already turning from fossil fuels and why the trend will continue.

@ ICN

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Startling Sunny Sunday

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Looking after the world’s tropical forests would be worthwhile in its own right, for the sake of their human and animal inhabitants and their wider effects on the natural world.

But researchers say it would also have a significant bonus. Properly cared for, the forests could cancel out between a quarter and a third of the planet’s carbon emissions.

They argue that it is not just outright destruction of the trees that is the problem, but the ways in which the forests become degraded by the incursion of different forms of development − logging, obviously, but also fires, mining, ranching, roads, and their effect in splitting the huge tracts of forested land into smaller and more isolated patches.

In a report commissioned by Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, they say deforestation and degradation of the forests may account together for between 14% and 21% (1.4-2.2 gigatonnes of carbon, or GtC; a gigatonne is a billion metric tonnes) of all emissions of carbon, and perhaps even more if tropical peatlands and mangroves are included.
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No shit Sherlock! Rainforests also feed the atmosphere moisture in return for the carbon input, so why are these dummies hacking the Rainforests down at an alarming pace?? Morons once again.

@ CNN

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