Author Archives: Andrea

Plastic, paper, or cotton bags?

NPR Planet Money: Are Plastic Bag Bans Garbage?

“It was only about 40 years ago that plastic bags became standard at U.S. grocery stores. This also made them standard in sewers, landfills, rivers and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They clog drains and cause floods, litter landscapes and kill wildlife. The national movement to get rid of them is gaining steam — with more than 240 cities and counties passing laws that ban or tax them since 2007. New York recently became the second U.S. state to ban them. But these bans may be hurting the environment more than helping it.
Plastic haters, it’s time to brace yourselves. A bunch of studies find that paper bags are actually worse for the environment. They require cutting down and processing trees, which involves lots of water, toxic chemicals, fuel and heavy machinery. While paper is biodegradable and avoids some of the problems of plastic, Taylor says, the huge increase of paper, together with the uptick in plastic trash bags, means banning plastic shopping bags increases greenhouse gas emissions. That said, these bans do reduce nonbiodegradable litter.
A 2011 study by the U.K. government found a person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times before it was better for climate change than using a plastic grocery bag once. The Danish government recently did a study that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.”

It’s neither black nor a hole

NPR: Earth Sees First Image Of A Black Hole.

“Researchers at the Event Horizon Telescope project say they were able to create an image of a black hole by using a network of eight radio telescopes to create “a virtual telescope dish as large as the Earth itself,” the National Science Foundation says.

The breakthrough, Doeleman said, came after a decade of work to align the myriad working parts of the project and gain the highest resolution possible from the Earth’s surface. Finally, in April of 2017, he said, “all of the dishes in the Event Horizon Telescope swiveled, turned and stared” at the core of M87. From that data came the image that was released Wednesday.”

See also: XKCD: M87 Black Hole Size Comparison.

“UK to leave ‘as soon as possible'”

Deutsche Welle: Brexit delayed until October 31, EU and UK agree. “Theresa May has accepted an offer from Brussels to extend the Brexit deadline to October 31. The delay could force the UK to take part in European elections unless it can pass a divorce deal through parliament.”

Der Brexit wird nochmal aufgeschoben – mit Bedingungen. “Fast hätte Frankreich eine Einigung mit Großbritannien verhindert und einen Chaos-Brexit provoziert. Doch jetzt hat London bis Ende Oktober Zeit, um den Austritt zu ordnen. Christoph Hasselbach berichtet aus Brüssel.”

““As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care about the Mueller report. I’ve been totally exonerated,” Trump said.”

The Washington Post: Trump says he was the target of ‘an attempted coup’ with Mueller investigation.

“President Trump claimed Wednesday that he had survived “an attempted coup” and said he no longer cares about the forthcoming release of a report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III because, in his view, he has been exonerated.
“It was an illegal investigation. It was started illegally. Everything about it was crooked,” Trump claimed. “This was an attempted coup. This was an attempted takedown of a president, and we beat them. We beat them.”
Trump also insisted Wednesday that “there is no law” that would require his tax returns to be shared with Congress.

House Democrats are asking for six years of Trump’s personal and business returns, using a federal law that says the treasury secretary “shall furnish” the records upon the request of House or Senate chairmen.

“There is no law. As you know, I got elected last time with the same issue,” Trump told reporters. “There’s no law whatsoever.”

Trump was referring to his decision to break with tradition during the 2016 election and not voluntarily release his returns, as other presidential candidates have done for decades.

Trump also repeated his false claim that being under audit prevents him from releasing his returns.”

Link via MetaFilter.

Graphische Biographie zum Humboldt-Jahr

Deutsche Welle: Andrea Wulf: “Humboldt bringt Kunst und Wissenschaft zusammen”. “Ihre Humboldt-Biografie wurde 2015 ein Weltbestseller. Zum Humboldt-Jahr veröffentlicht Andrea Wulf nun ein weiteres Werk über den berühmten Forscher. Mit der DW sprach sie über ihre “illustrierte Entdeckungsreise”.”

“Deutsche Welle: Frau Wulf, Sie haben 2015 mit der Monumentalbiografie “Alexander von Humboldt und die Erfindung der Natur ” einen preisgekrönten Weltbestseller vorgelegt. Was hat Sie veranlasst, sich Humboldt jetzt noch einmal auf ganz andere Weise zu nähern: mit einem farbenprächtigen, opulent illustrierten Buch über seine berühmte Südamerika-Expedition?

Andrea Wulf: Humboldt wird immer gern als Wissenschaftler dargestellt, dabei wird aber vergessen, dass er auch ein Künstler war. Humboldt bringt die Kunst und die Wissenschaft zusammen, und ich wollte ein Buch machen, das das auch wirklich zeigt. Der eigentliche Anlass dafür war, dass Ende 2013 die legendären Südamerika-Tagebücher von Humboldt, die bis dahin in Privatbesitz waren, erstmals der Öffentlichkeit verfügbar gemacht wurden, weil die Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz sie gekauft hat. Sie wurden digitalisiert und waren ab Ende 2014 online verfügbar. Als ich diese Dokumente gesehen habe, hat es mich einfach umgehauen.”