Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘atmosphere’

Erik’s running buddy passed along a BBC story suggesting that cutting back on meat could have value for the planet.

Interestingly, that was the premise of Frances Moore Lappé‘s 1971 bestseller, Diet for a Small Planet, which my sister got me interested in when she was a vegetarian.

At the BBC, environment analyst Roger Harrabin notes research that confirms some of Lappé’s predictions.

“Research from Cambridge and Aberdeen universities estimates greenhouse gases from food production will go up 80% if meat and dairy consumption continues to rise at its current rate. That will make it harder to meet global targets on limiting emissions.

“The study urges eating two portions of red meat and seven of poultry per week. However that call comes as the world’s cities are seeing a boom in burger restaurants. …

“If [the trend] continues, more and more forest land or fields currently used for arable crops will be converted for use by livestock as the world’s farmers battle to keep up with demand.

“Deforestation will increase carbon emissions, and increased livestock production will raise methane levels and wider fertiliser use will further accelerate climate change. The lead researcher, Bojana Bajzelj from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘There are basic laws of biophysics that we cannot evade.’

“The average efficiency of livestock converting plant feed to meat is less than 3%, and as we eat more meat, more arable cultivation is turned over to producing feedstock for animals that provide meat for humans.” Read more here. And consider going in for mushroom burgers.

I only ever made the eggplant casserole Diet for a Small Planet, but it sure was yummy.

Photo: CiteLighter-Cards
In 1971, Frances Moore Lappé wrote that raising animals for food takes resources better used elsewhere. It can also put too much methane into the atmosphere.

Read Full Post »

Joe Palca, at National Public Radio, recently had a nice report about astronomy and optics.

I thought of John and his OpticsForHire team.

“It used to be that if astronomers wanted to get rid of the blurring effects of the atmosphere,” says Palca, “they had to put their telescopes in space. But a technology called adaptive optics has changed all that.

“Adaptive optics systems use computers to analyze the light coming from a star, and then compensate for changes wrought by the atmosphere, using mirrors that can change their shapes up to 1,000 times per second. The result: To anyone on Earth peering through the telescope, the star looks like the single point of light it really is.

“The reason the atmosphere blurs light is that there are tiny changes in temperature as you go from the Earth’s surface up into space. The degree to which air bends light depends on the air’s temperature.

“With adaptive optics systems, telescopes on Earth can see nearly as clearly as those in space.” More at NPR.

Photo: Heidi B. Hammel and Imke de Pater
The near-infrared images of Uranus show the planet as seen without adaptive optics (left) and with the technology turned on (right).

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: