Historic Dam Removal

Dam breached to provide upstream access for spawning salmon.

The UN predicts the world’s population explosion: visualised


WordPress won’t let me imbed flash objects, so you have to click on the link above to use the visualization – see predictions for every country over the next 60 years.

New Digital Elevation Maps and Data

Grand New View of the Canyon : Image of the Day

On October 17, 2011, NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) released a significantly improved version of a digital topographic map of Earth based on data from ASTER. Known as a global digital elevation model, the map was created from stereo-pair images; that is, sets of two slightly offset two-dimensional images were merged to create the three-dimensional effect of depth.

The maps drape an aerial photo over a digital elevation model, creating a three-dimensional view.

“These data can be used for a broad range of applications, from planning highways and protecting lands with cultural or environmental significance, to searching for natural resources,“ said Mike Abrams, ASTER science team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The map is available online to users everywhere at no cost.

Blue Christmas?

via At U.S. Ports, Flow of Imports Suggests Soft Holiday Shopping Season – NYTimes.com.

When retailers expect that Americans will be crowding into their stores, their orders pile into the nation’s ports in August and September for delivery to stores by late October. But logistics companies say that is not happening this year.

Shipping from Asia into California’s largest ports is down from last year.  Current trends point to levels equal to 2005.

While the port has not yet released September volumes, a spokesman, Art Wong, said it expected about a 15 percent drop from September 2010.

Eastern ports, as well as the port of Los Angeles, are also down.

The holidays receive outsize attention, because sales in November and December tend to make up about a fifth of retailers’ sales for the whole year. And retail sales are a crucial indicator of economic health, given the importance of personal consumption in keeping the economy afloat.

On Monday, a Citigroup retail analyst, Deborah Weinswig, revised her holiday forecast up by a percentage point, saying she expected 4 percent to 5 percent gains in same-store sales at department stores, up from 3 percent to 4 percent.

However, port shipments speak to a different scenario – lower sales.  Train traffic was also slower than expected.  Another indicator of lower sales:

FedEx was now expecting a 2.5 percent to 3 percent increase in holiday shipping volumes this year; in 2010, it had a 15.4 percent increase.

Does this point to a blue Christmas, with lower sales and less money being spent?  We’ll have to wait and see – only 73 days ’til Santa!

The Girl I talked about today

Nujood Ali was ten when she fled her abusive, much older husband and took a taxi to the courthouse in Sanaa, Yemen. The girl’s courageous act—and the landmark legal battle that ensued—turned her into an international heroine for women’s rights. Now divorced, she is back home with her family and attending school again.

Child Brides – Photo Gallery – Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine.

Ends up, she is a celebrity, and in a National Geographic article about child brides..

Chagas Disease May Be a Threat in South Texas, Says Researcher | News


via Chagas Disease May Be a Threat in South Texas, Says Researcher | News.

AUSTIN, Texas — Chagas disease, a tropical parasitic disease that can lead to life-threatening heart and digestive disorders, may be more widespread in Texas than previously thought, according to research from The University of Texas at Austin.

Because the intial stage is often misdiagnosed as the flu, researchers are unsure of the actual number of infected people in Texas.  Later stages of the disease can cause heart and digestive problems, which may be attributed to aging, rather than Chagas disease. 

Endemic to rural areas of Latin America, Chagas disease is often transmitted by triatomine bugs, also known as “kissing bugs.”

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