Today – from WeatherUndergroundNews:
Behold — a way to capture a maximum amount of solar power in one of the sunniest regions on the planet.
Located in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates that cozy up to the Persian Gulf in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi announced the opening of the Shams 1 solar plant last month. Shams 1, which translates to “the Sun” in Arabic, according to the BBC, utilizes more than 250,000 mirrors to capture and harness the power of the sun.
Officials in Abu Dhabi hope the new plant will save 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year, reports an NPR blog. That’s the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road, they say, and several more of these mega-plants are in the works.
The other reason for building the Shams 1? The country will be able to export more of their vast natural oil reserves instead of using it within the country. It will lead to even more profit for the UAE, says Bloomberg. The plant cost $750 million to build, but according to the report, it’s just the first step in a plan to generate one-third of the country’s energy from solar power by the year 2032.
Found this morning on AOL News; this is not good news.
Summer Ice Melt In Antarctica Is At The Highest Point In 1,000 Years, Researchers Say
Reuters | Posted: 04/15/2013 2:39 am EDT | Updated: 04/15/2013 6:36 pm EDT
CANBERRA (Reuters) – The summer ice melt in parts of Antarctica is at its highest level in 1,000 years, Australian and British researchers reported on Monday, adding new evidence of the impact of global warming on sensitive Antarctic glaciers and ice shelves.
Researchers from the Australian National University and the British Antarctic Survey found data taken from an ice core also shows the summer ice melt has been 10 times more intense over the past 50 years compared with 600 years ago.
“It’s definitely evidence that the climate and the environment is changing in this part of Antarctica,” lead researcher Nerilie Abram said.
Abram and her team drilled a 364-metre (400-yard) deep ice core on James Ross Island, near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, to measure historical temperatures and compare them with summer ice melt levels in the area.
They found that, while the temperatures have gradually increased by 1.6 degrees Celsius (2.9 degrees Fahrenheit) over 600 years, the rate of ice melting has been most intense over the past 50 years.
That shows the ice melt can increase dramatically in climate terms once temperatures hit a tipping point.
“Once your climate is at that level where it is starting to go above zero degrees, the amount of melt that will happen is very sensitive to any further increase in temperature you may have,” Abram said.
Robert Mulvaney, from the British Antarctic Survey, said the stronger ice melts are likely responsible for faster glacier ice loss and some of the dramatic collapses from the Antarctic ice shelf over the past 50 years.
Their research was published in the Nature Geoscience journal.
(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Paul Tait)
So cool! I found this article this morning on Weather Underground. I’m shocked – camels originated in North America?
Giant Camels Once Roamed the Arctic
By: Tanya Lewis
Published: March 5, 2013
Camels are the poster animals for the desert, but researchers now have evidence that these shaggy beasts once lived in the Canadian High Arctic.
The fossil remains of a 3.5-million-year-old camel were found on Ellesmere Island in Canada’s northernmost territory, Nunavut. The camel was about 30 percent bigger than modern camels and was identified using a technique called collagen fingerprinting. The finding, detailed today (March 5) in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that modern camels stemmed from giant relatives that lived in a forested Arctic that was somewhat warmer than today.
“It’s the first evidence that camels were ever there,” lead study author and paleobiologist Natalia Rybczynski of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa told LiveScience.”It is surprising because usually we associate camels with arid and semi-arid habitats.”
Camels, which belong to the Camelus genus, originated in North America during the Eocene period about 45 million years ago, and later crossed to Eurasia over the Bering Isthmus, a landbridge between Alaska and Russia. Their closest relatives are llamas, alpacas, vicunas and guanacos.
The researchers found about 30 pieces of bone that were part of a camel’s tibia, or shinbone. The fossil’s location moves the known range of North American camels northward by about 745 miles.
The camel’s identity and age were determined via collagen fingerprinting, a technique that measures the amount of a bone protein called Type I collagen. Different mammals have characteristic amounts of this protein, which survives longer than many other biological molecules in the body.
The team dated the fossil to roughly 3.5 million years ago, a period known as the mid-Pliocene warm period. The global temperature was about 3.5 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today, Rybczynski said, and about 33 degrees F warmer where the camel was found, with temperatures averaging around 30 degrees F. The Canadian High Arctic was forested then.
The fossil specimen closely resembles modern dromedary camels, based on the fingerprinting, but was about a third larger in size. It also bears similarity to the giant Yukon camels that lived about 1,240 miles away from the site where the ancient camel bones were discovered.
The researchers plan to continue searching for camel remains in the High Arctic. “We hope to find more,” Rybczynski said.
“We’re going to drive ‘all the way’ out there,” AdventureMan tells me and we laugh, because ‘all the way’ is such a relative term. When we lived in Kuwait and in Qatar, we would drive a minimum 30 minutes to get to a restaurant, any restaurant, not only because of distances but also because of traffic, horrendous traffic, in the evenings. While the Seafood Platter Deli is 13 miles away, it takes us less than 20 minutes to get there. Welcome to Pensacola
This is a very unusual restaurant. It is so old-timey Gulf Seacoast, and at the same time, I thought as we entered “My Moslem friends would love this!”
Many of my Moslem friends think Americans are unbelievers. They think we don’t talk about God. They don’t know we pray – sometimes without ceasing. Just as I was astounded as I learned things about Islam and Moslem culture living in the Middle East, they were also astounded learning things about us, like that we take care of our families. Think about it – most of what many people in the world know about Americans comes from the impact of cable TV. They watch American TV and they think they understand American culture. Horrifying thought, isn’t it?
So how amazing is it to walk into a restaurant where, as you stand at the counter to order, and you look at the big menu on the wall, there is a stand, with a bible on it. And there is paper, and a pencil, and a sign saying “Prayer requests.” I don’t know about your restaurant experiences, but this is unique in my experience – in America. In the Middle East, there are all kinds of restaurants with Qu’ranic verses on the walls, and the sounds of religious services piped into the restaurant. People talk about God all the time. It’s a whole different world; and my Moslem friends would feel right at home in the Seafood Platter Deli.
Of course, in Saudi Arabia, we would rush to buy our pre-sunset felafels, and then sit and munch, listening to all the souk grates coming down as shops closed for the Mahgrib prayer. Everything closed, five times a day, in Saudi Arabia, for prayer.
At the Gulf Coast Seafood Deli / Seafood Platter Deli (I don’t know what the real name is, and both names appear when you Google it) there are scriptures on the wall. When you sit down, the little basket holding condiments tells you to “count your blessings.”
The interior dining room (as opposed to the deli section, and the counter where you order food when you come in) is wall-to-wall sea mural, family friendly, Fish and sea life everywhere. There are also families who pray when their meal is delivered to the table, before they eat. The wait-staff is patient, and personal. You get the impression they truly want you to have a good experience at this restaurant.
We were hungry. We are mildly disgruntled to see piping hot food delivered to tables around us who arrived after we did, but not very. Even though we are hungry, we know that our ordering our food grilled or blackened slows things up in the kitchen, where the majority of the meals are fried. It is really really hard for people like us to watch other customers thoroughly enjoying their fried shrimp, fried catfish, fried grouper, fried scallops, etc. They look SO delicious. Every now and then, maybe once every couple months, we slip up and eat something deep fried, just because yes, yes, it tastes so good, and we know it is like the WORST thing for us. What a pity that deliciousness can be so lethal.
Ah! There it is! Our meals! We tuck right in and then I remember “Oh no! I haven’t taken any pictures!” AdventureMan is used to this, and bless his heart, he stops eating so I can shoot what is left of his grilled scallops, so tasty and delicious, so fresh!
I had so much salmon on my platter that I had salmon and steamed vegetables for dinner, too! The salmon was copious, lightly blackened, seared on the outside, moist on the inside, just the way I love it. It was some of the best salmon I have had in Pensacola (not exactly salmon country, but that little Alaska girl still lives in my heart and I can’t resist salmon when I see it on the menu.)
There’s another thing we loved about the Seafood Platter Deli – remember Dembo’s Smokehouse? We love restaurants that honor their heritage, and the Seafood Platter Deli has this wonderful wall:
Last, but not least, the food was so good, and so plentiful, that we couldn’t eat it all and ended up taking some home. We also took home some dessert, one dessert, $1.99 for a goodly portion of Vanilla Wafer pudding, that old-fashioned kind, maybe Banana pudding. It was so GOOD, we wish we’d gotten two.
Gulf Coast Seafood Deli / Seafood Platter Deli
Address: 2250 W Nine Mile Rd, Pensacola, FL 32534
We love this place, and look forward to driving ‘all the way out there’ for more fabulous Gulf seafood.
Thank you, Hayfa, for sending this truly horrifying video about our food, and where it comes from . . .
I found this article in the Weather Underground News this morning:
DOHA, Qatar — An amount of freshwater almost the size of the Dead Sea has been lost in parts of the Middle East due to poor management, increased demands for groundwater and the effects of a 2007 drought, according to a NASA study.
The study, to be published Friday in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, examined data over seven years from 2003 from a pair of gravity-measuring satellites which is part of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment or GRACE. Researchers found freshwater reserves in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins had lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of its total stored freshwater, the second fastest loss of groundwater storage loss after India.
About 60 percent of the loss resulted from pumping underground reservoirs for ground water, including 1,000 wells in Iraq, and another fifth was due to impacts of the drought including declining snow packs and soil drying up. Loss of surface water from lakes and reservoirs accounted for about another fifth of the decline, the study found.
“This rate of water loss is among the largest liquid freshwater losses on the continents,” the authors wrote in the study, noting the declines were most obvious after a drought.
The study is the latest evidence of a worsening water crisis in the Middle East, where demands from growing populations, war and the worsening effects of climate change are raising the prospect that some countries could face sever water shortages in the decades to come. Some like impoverished Yemen blame their water woes on the semi-arid conditions and the grinding poverty while the oil-rich Gulf faces water shortages mostly due to the economic boom that has created glistening cities out of the desert.
In a report released during the U.N. climate talks in Qatar, the World Bank concluded among the most critical problems in the Middle East and North Africa will be worsening water shortages. The region already has the lowest amount of freshwater in the world. With climate change, droughts in the region are expected to turn more extreme, water runoff is expected to decline 10 percent by 2050 while demand for water is expected to increase 60 percent by 2045.
One of the biggest challenges to improving water conservation is often competing demands which has worsened the problem in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins.
Turkey controls the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters, as well as the reservoirs and infrastructure of Turkey’s Greater Anatolia Project, which dictates how much water flows downstream into Syria and Iraq, the researchers said. With no coordinated water management between the three countries, tensions have intensified since the 2007 drought because Turkey continues to divert water to irrigate farmland.
“That decline in stream flow put a lot of pressure on northern Iraq,” Kate Voss, lead author of the study and a water policy fellow with the University of California’s Center for Hydrological Modeling in Irvine, said. “Both the UN and anecdotal reports from area residents note that once stream flow declined, this northern region of Iraq had to switch to groundwater. In an already fragile social, economic and political environment, this did not help the situation.”
Jay Famiglietti, principle investigator of the new study and a hydrologist and UC Irvine professor of Earth System Science, plans to visit the region later this month, along with Voss and two other UC Irvine colleagues, to discuss their findings and raise awareness of the problem and the need for a regional approach to solve the problem.
“They just do not have that much water to begin with, and they’re in a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change,” Famiglietti said. “Those dry areas are getting dryer. They and everyone else in the world’s arid regions need to manage their available water resources as best they can.”
Today’s Ash Wednesday reading the Lectionary is a great reading for a season of introspection and meditation:
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’
Ignorant militants destroy ancient Islamic documents and writings; from yesterday’s BBC News:
A group of jihadis came knocking at the gate late on Wednesday night last week. But the Ahmed Baba centre in the Malian city of Timbuktu is not the kind of library that would accept visitors after dark.
The Islamist militants tricked the guard and said they were coming to secure the place. But once inside, they ransacked the centre’s reading room.
When historian Abdoulaye Cisse arrived early in the morning, the pile of ashes was still warm.
“They probably spent most of the night in there,” he said.
Dozens of empty handcrafted boxes still litter the floor of the hallway. Ashes haven’t been removed yet either.
A few people come in and out surveying the irreparable damage and lament the remains of a cultural trove kept in Timbuktu for centuries.
Treasure trove of African history
At least 2,000 manuscripts were stored in this centre that was opened in 2009, funded by the South African government.
The project was meant to catalogue and preserve the city’s historical documents, many of which continue to be held by families or smaller libraries.
Another 28,000 were due to be transferred to the Ahmed Baba premises but were instead sent to the capital after al-Qaeda militants arrived in the city last year.
Each box is tagged with a reference number and if the search is properly done, these tags should reveal the full extent of the damage.
It could also reveal how many were simply stolen.
“These fighters know too well how much these papers are valued, it’s a huge wealth that will be impossible to replace,” Mr Cisse told the BBC.
The Institute’s manuscripts date back to the 13th century (file image)
“When I surveyed the reading room, I found about 30 left so I brought them home to secure them,” he said.
The offending texts ranged from history to geography and astronomy, medicine and Islamic law; writings dating back in some cases as far as the 13th Century.
In the reading room, shelves were emptied and the desk equipped with a magnifying glass vandalised.
Named after a saint of the ancient city who wrote many manuscripts himself, the Ahmed Baba centre stands out for its modernity but was designed to echo the famous Timbuktu style of dry-mud walls.
The Islamist militants prepared to flee last week knowing that an assault by the French-led forces on their positions here was imminent.
But in their haste, they took the time to commit one last act of vengeance.
They had sparked worldwide condemnation last year when they destroyed sacred tombs and shrines designated as Unesco World Heritage sites on the pretext that they violated principles of Islamic law.
Timbuktu was a centre of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th Centuries
700,000 manuscripts had survived in public libraries and private collections
Books on religion, law, literature and science
Elhadj Djitteye, who used to guide visitors in town, reckons that the fighters linked to al-Qaeda carried out the attack on the library in response to the French military intervention ordered earlier in January by President Francois Hollande.
Noting that the jihadis hadn’t touched the manuscripts in 10 months of occupation, Mr Djitteye sadly comments that they “hit Timbuktu straight at its heart”.
The militants’ destructive parting gesture left many residents feeling that another part of their celebrated city’s history had just been erased.
The people of Timbuktu have been anxious to return to some kind of normal life since the French and Malian troops entered they city and were hailed as “liberators”.
Reminders of the extremists, like the black banners proclaiming sharia at the city gates, are being removed.
But in just under a year, the Islamist militants have inflicted lasting damage on Mali’s most renowned cultural centre. The scars left by Timbuktu’s occupation are likely to take much longer to heal.
• Timbuktu was a centre of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th Centuries
700,000 manuscripts survive in public libraries and private collections, books on religion, law, literature and science
• Added to Unesco world heritage list in 1988 for its three mosques and 16 cemeteries and mausoleums
• They played a major role in spreading Islam in West Africa; the oldest dates from 1329
• Islamists destroyed mausoleums after seizing the city
Today’s Gospel reading in The Lectionary is the very first chapter of Mark, featuring John the Baptist. As I read it, I had a memory flash of sitting in the Anglican Church in Kuwait, hearing a reading on John the Baptist’s Feast Day, a new reading I had never heard before, and it was beautiful, read in the rich, plummy tones of British English by their Ambassador. At the end, he said it was from the Quran.
John the Baptist in the Quran?
I was so ignorant about so many things. I still have so much to learn.
Here is today’s reading from Mark:
1The beginning of the good news* of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.*
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,*
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,*
who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
4John the baptizer appeared* in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with* water; but he will baptize you with* the Holy Spirit.’
This is from an Islamic website, Soundvision, one which uses many sources to illuminate the teachings of the Quran and the Bible:
The birth of Prophet John is miraculous because he is the offspring of a barren mother and an elderly father. His father, it should be noted, was also a Prophet named Zecheriah.
“‘Zecheriah, We bring you the good news of the birth of a son whose name shall be John, one whose namesake We never created before.’ He said: ‘My Lord! How can I have a boy when my wife is barren and I have reached an extremely old age?’ He answered: ‘So shall it be.’ Your Lord says: ‘It is easy for Me’, and then added: ‘For beyond doubt, I created you earlier when you were nothing’ (Quran 19:7-9).
“Zecheriah exclaimed: ‘My Lord! How shall I have a son when old age has overtaken me and my wife is barren?’ He said: ‘Thus shall it be; Allah does what He wills’”(Quran 3:40).
With the birth of John, Allah granted Zecheriah his desire for an heir.
“And We bestowed favor upon Zecheriah, when he cried to his Lord: ‘Lord! Leave me not solitary [without any issue]. You are the best Inheritor.’ So We accepted his prayer and bestowed upon him John, and We made his wife fit (to bear a child). Verily they hastened in doing good works and called upon Us with longing and fear, and humbled themselves to Us” (Quran 21:89-90).
The beautiful qualities of John
Allah did not just miraculously grant Zecheriah a son. He made this child a blessing for his parents and beautiful in character. Prophet John is described in the Quran as chaste and righteous.
“Then Zecheriah prayed to his Lord: ‘O Lord! Grant me from Yourself out of Your grace the gift of a goodly offspring, for indeed You alone heed all Prayers. As he stood praying in the sanctuary, the angels called out to him: ‘Allah gives you good tidings of John, who shall confirm a command of Allah, shall be outstanding among men, utterly chaste, and a Prophet from among the righteous” (Quran 3:38-39).
“‘O John! Hold fast the Book with all your strength. We had bestowed wisdom upon him while he was still a child; and We also endowed him with tenderness and purity; and he was exceedingly pious and cherishing to his parents. Never was he insolent or rebellious. Peace be upon him, the day he was born, and the day he will die, and the day he will be raised up alive. (Quran 19: 12-15).
Part of a line of honored Prophets
Finally, as mentioned above, Prophet John is one of the Prophets Muslims must believe in. He is one of the 25 mentioned in the Quran.
“And We bestowed upon Abraham (offspring) Isaac and Jacob and each of them did We guide to the right way as We had earlier guided Noah to the right way; and (of his descendants We guided) David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward those who do good. (And of his descendants We guided) Zecheriah, John, Jesus and Elias: each one of them was of the righteous.” (Quran 6:84-85).
When I was living in Kuwait, and my son married, one of my new daughter-in-law’s aunts sent me pecans from Texas. She didn’t just send me a pound or two, she sent like 15 pounds of pecans! It was a wondrous gift, and oh, we had pecan muffins, pecan date pies, pecans in everything. Pecans in Kuwait cost dear, you can’t imagine, and these pecans were TASTY, so so good. She tells me it is because they are from Texas, where everything tastes better.
At Thanksgiving, she gave me a HUGE bag of pecan meats.
“I want you to have pecans from TEXAS!” she told me. Her car was packed with sweet gifts for all her nieces and nephews and all the little ones related to her in any remote way. It’s just the way she is. She can’t help it, she is wired to be loving and generous.
AR, I am so thankful you are in my life! I am enjoying every cup of pecans I use, and although I have used a lot, there are so many pecans left it is like I haven’t used any! You are so generous, and I am enjoying your pecans so much! All of Pensacola is enjoying your pecans!