February 4, 2013

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ahmadinejad to Be Iran's First Astronaut

Eager to sacrifice himself

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has bravely volunteered to risk his life as the first Iranian astronaut sent into space. The often-embattled politician spoke to the country’s official news agency, IRNA, Monday, saying "I'm ready to be the first Iranian to sacrifice myself for our country's scientists.” Ahmadinejad would join Iran’s illustrious group of space pioneers, which includes a mouse, a turtle, some worms, and, as of last Monday, a monkey named Pishgam.

Ahmadinejad demonstrated no awareness of the fact that a woman, Anousheh Ansari, already became the first Iranian in space in September 2006. The telecommunications entrepreneur made the personally-funded journey to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule and became an inspiration to Iran’s oppressed female population.

Best of luck.

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The oil industry exacts a heavy toll on marine wildlife.     Photo: Daniel von Mentlen/Flickr

Oil Surveys Deafening Whales

Sonar blasts disrupt mating, eating habits

In a recent letter to President Obama, lawmakers expressed concern over some of the effects that recent oil survey practices may have on marine life. Energy companies map the ocean floor by using air guns that emit acoustic pulses down to the bottom of the sea and create images based on the type of sediment and its density. This gives researchers clues as to where they might find new repositories of oil. It's also leaving many animals deaf.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and Rep. Frank Lautenberg, both from New Jersey, asked Obama to stop the use of seismic testing before another "Deepwater Horizon type event occurs."

Environmentalists, conservationists, and fishermen say the sonar studies are so noisy they can damage the hearing of dolphins and other marine life, cause whales to beach themselves and disrupt animals’ mating and feeding habits.

Those blasts of compressed air can be more than 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine, said Jacqueline Savitz, deputy vice president of Oceana.

“These loud and constant blasts could lead to serious impacts for marine life,” Savitz said, noting that 900 dead dolphins washed ashore with signs of ear damage after seismic air gun testing in Peru.

According to the ocean energy bureau, 38 marine mammal species are in the area that could be surveyed, including endangered baleen whales and manatees. The bureau’s draft environmental study concluded that seismic surveys could affect as many as 11,748 bottle nose dolphins, 4,631 short-finned pilot whales, and 6,147 short-beaked common dolphins.

Via Fuel Fix

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    Photo: Andreube

2 Climbers Dead on Les Droites

After storm traps them

Two climbers have died on the north face of Les Droites in the French Alps after becoming pinned down by a snowstorm. The unidentified alpinists were attempting to climb the Lagarde Couloir when they took refuge from the storm in a snowcave.

While high winds prevented a rescue helicopter from reaching them, the two stayed in contact with authorities in nearby Chamonix via mobile phone; on Friday, one of the climbers told police that his partner had died. During a flyby on Saturday, high-mountain rescue personnel saw a climber dangling on a rope outside the cave and ascertained that he was dead. Rescuers said they would attempt to retrieve the bodies as soon as conditions stabilized.

This week's deaths on Les Droites are reminiscent of another tragedy on the mountain in 1999, when a storm trapped British climbers Jamie Andrew and Jamie Fisher on the peak for seven days. Fisher died while Andrew lost his hands and feet to frostbite.

Via U.K. Climbing

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Christmas trees are covering the beaches.     Photo: squacco/Flickr

Christmas Trees Rebuild Beaches

Hurricane Sandy victims look to repair dunes

Communities affected by Hurricane Sandy are using their old Christmas trees to help rebuild sand dunes on their beaches. The trees are being placed on the beaches with their tops facing the ocean in the hope that they will catch sand blowing from all directions. As the trees catch sand slowly the dunes will be rebuilt around them, but this is only the first step in the process of revitalizing the dunes. The addition of sea grasses and other plants will help stabilize the dunes for the future.

The practice is not uncommon in storm-prone regions of the U.S. such as the Carolinas or Florida, but it is quite a sight to see along the beaches of New York and New Jersey. Local Home Depots donated some trees and city residents have added their own.

City officials said that some areas lost as much as three to five feet in elevation on the beach and that over half a million cubic yards of sand were blown away by the storm. The project has brought the communities together and some hope the custom will last beyond this year.

Alison Kallelis, 33, who was among those to propose the Christmas tree idea, said laying the trees on the beach could become an annual tradition here.

“Every year you keep adding more trees,” she said, “and keep building it up higher and higher.”

Via The New York Times

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