Viridian Note 00414: The Reek
- Key concepts
- global dimming, plastic
oceans, Viridian Aromatizer Contest
- Attention Conservation Notice:
two newspaper articles that got a lot
of press attention but probably less
than they should. Also announces
winner of the Viridian Aromatizer
Why you haven't been hearing much
from me lately.
Photovoltaic hiking bags.
Oil tanker causes shipfull of cars to sink.
Hmm, that's handy.
THE CONTEST JUDGE SPEAKS!
From: Paul F. Groepler (paulg*headspacetech.com)
"Good evening Bruce.
"We've been deliberating and have finally
reached a group consensus on the contest
winner for the Aromatizer ideas.
"In the end it came down to the 'dial-a-cologne,'
'ambient info device,' 'meals in the air,'
and 'alarm clock.' There were so many
creative folks out there, it made things
difficult! My personal favorite was the
'smell fences,' but there was a lot of debate,
and in the spirit of many generally good ideas,
we focused on near-term applicability.
"The winner is.... 'The Scent Socializer/Alarm'
by William Heath (William.Heath*kablenet.com)."
(((Mr Heath's reward, a safety gas mask, is
travelling all the way from Britain to Texas
and then back again.)))
(((Both these news stories were sent
to me by a number of Viridians. The
remarkable part is that they are much
the same story: one in the atmosphere,
one in the seas. Our skies are full
of industrial filth so thick it blocks
sunlight. Our sea is turning into a
soup of decades-old nano-bits of plastic.
Who knew? Nobody.)))
(((What else is going on that we
don't know we don't know?)))
"Globe Grows Darker as Sunshine Diminishes 10 to 37 percent"
May 13, 2004
By KENNETH CHANG
"In the second half of the 20th century, the world
became, quite literally, a darker place.
"Defying expectation and easy explanation,
hundreds of instruments around the world recorded
a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth,
as much as 10 percent from the late 1950's to the
early 90's, or 2 percent to 3 percent a decade.
(((So, by the 2060s....)))
"In some regions like Asia, the United States and
Europe, the drop was even steeper. In Hong Kong,
sunlight decreased 37 percent.
"No one is predicting that it may soon be night
all day, (((oh no?))) and some scientists theorize
that the skies have brightened in the last decade
as the suspected cause of global dimming,
air pollution, clears up in many parts of the world.
(((It's sheer filth, for heaven's sake...)))
"Yet the dimming trend noticed by a handful of
scientists 20 years ago but dismissed then as
unbelievable – is attracting wide attention.
Research on dimming and its implications for weather,
water supplies and agriculture will be presented
next week in Montreal at a joint meeting
of American and Canadian geological groups.
"'There could be a big gorilla sitting on the
dining table, and we didn't know about it," said
Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of climate
and atmospheric sciences at the University of
California, San Diego. 'There are
many, many issues that it raises." (((For instance,
the gorilla might be eating our lunch.)))
Satellite measurements show that the sun remains
as bright as ever, but that less and less sunlight
has been making it through the atmosphere to the
Pollution dims sunlight in two ways, scientists
theorize. Some light bounces off soot particles
in the air and goes back into outer space. The
pollution also causes more water droplets to
condense out of air, leading to thicker, darker
clouds, which also block more light. For that reason,
the dimming appears to be more pronounced on cloudy
days than sunny ones. Some less polluted regions
have had little or no dimming. (((We live in filth!)))
"The dynamics of global dimming are not completely
understood. Antarctica, which would be expected to have
clean air, has also dimmed. ((("Not completely
understood" – hey, nice euphemism.)))
But clearer, sunnier days could mean bad news for
global warming. Instead of cloudiness slowing rising
temperatures, sunshine would be expected to accelerate
the warming. (((Maybe we could all just fire up
cigarettes – that'd handle global warming, the
obesity crisis and the eldercare explosion all
at the same time.)))
(((Meanwhile, in the Washington Post:)))
Plastic Debris Found in Oceans
Bits of Refuse on Beaches and Ocean Floor, Study Reveals
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 7, 2004; Page A07
"Plastic debris dumped in the ocean over decades is
breaking into microscopic particles that are cropping
up everywhere from beaches to deep ocean sediment,
according to a study being published today by a group
of British scientists.
'This phenomenon has consequences that are just
beginning to unfold, the scientists warned. (((Same
song, second verse.)))
"Widespread littering has led to a steady accumulation
of plastic fragments at sea, according to Richard
Thompson, a professor at the University of Plymouth.
"'It's a cause for concern rather than alarm,' Thompson
said in a telephone interview yesterday. 'There's lots
and lots of microscopic bits of plastic. It appears
quite ubiquitous. It's likely to be a global problem,'
(((How much of the everyday fish on one's plate
is nanoplastic, I wonder? Maybe it's, for
some unexplained reason, especially plasticky
"The researchers collected sediment from beaches and
from estuarine and subtidal sediments around Plymouth,
England. They then examined an additional 17 beaches
and looked at plankton samples collected regularly
since the 1960s off British shores.
"Plastic turned up in small fragments and granules,
according to the researchers. Even 'biodegradable'
plastics leave behind plastic fragments, the
scientists discovered, and some cleaning agents
contain abrasive plastic bits. 'We found plastic
archived among the plankton to samples back to the
1960s, but with a significant increase in abundance
over time,' the authors wrote in today's issue of
(((The sky is a fog of smut, while the oceans
are plastic soup. Makes you want to pitch right
in and scrub yourself with 'abrasive cleaning
"Thompson, who received roughly $300,000 in grants
to study the prevalence of plastic refuse in the
ocean from the Leverhulme Trust, originally funded
by a Victorian businessman and entrepreneur, said
potentially 'it is quite a big problem.' (((Maybe
an Aromatizer the size of the Titanic... no,
"'We need to be a bit more responsible in the way
we deal with plastic waste,' he said.
"Seba Sheavly, director of pollution prevention and
monitoring at the Ocean Conservancy, said the study
highlights the negative consequences of 'poor solid
"'We can fix this. We know better,' Sheavly said.
'All the rules are out there; we're just not
"Rob Krebs, a spokesman for the American Plastics
Council, said a lot of the data in Thompson's study
'is old, and we'll have to review it.' (((It's old
because the plastic soup was dumped there by our
"'The most important thing industry can do about
ocean debris is educate each of us about the personal
responsibility we have to keep debris from getting
into the ocean, no matter what type it is,' Krebs
said. ((("Yeah, for God's sake don't regulate us
here at the American Plastics Council! Make it
everybody-and-nobody's problem, just like it's
"Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of legendary sea explorer
Jacques Cousteau, said his nonprofit Ocean Futures
Society seeks to educate the public about the
ramifications of tossing refuse into the ocean and
other environmental issues.
"'Our standard of living is completely dependent on
how we treat the environment,' Cousteau said. 'We have
to look at nature as capital. (((Very dirty, plastic-
soaked capital, but, well, capital.))) You either
manage it properly and you live off the interest
from the capital. The minute you go beyond the
interest to the capital you're heading toward
(((Maybe we're already there – although Swiss
Re says 2060-something, by which time the sky
should be about 15 percent darker than it is now.)))
"'What we throw away doesn't disappear. It comes
back one way or another,' he added. (((And the
harder it is to see, the less we fuss.)))
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
IT'S NOT ALL BAD – THINK
OF THE MASSIVE
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O