The Viridian Design Movement

Viridian Note 00414: The Reek

Key concepts
global dimming, plastic oceans, Viridian Aromatizer Contest
Attention Conservation Notice:
Contains two newspaper articles that got a lot of press attention but probably less than they should. Also announces winner of the Viridian Aromatizer Contest.

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.


From: Paul F. Groepler (paulg*

"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*"

(((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

"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 ground.

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,' he said.

(((How much of the everyday fish on one's plate is nanoplastic, I wonder? Maybe it's, for some unexplained reason, especially plasticky in Antarctica.)))

"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 Science magazine.

(((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 agents,' eh?)))

"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, never mind.)))

"'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 waste management.'

"'We can fix this. We know better,' Sheavly said. 'All the rules are out there; we're just not following them.'

"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 grandparents.)))

"'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 always been!")))

"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 bankruptcy.'

(((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
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