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Solar plane, 1st of its kind, Airbus-sized, around the world without fuel & with zero emissions: prototype runway debut

Solar Impulse solar plane, and its founders / pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg

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The prototype of a solar-powered plane, the size of an Airbus and the weight of a mid-sized car, destined for a record round-the-world journey has made its 1st trip across a runway. The plane covered at least 2km at speeds of up to 5 knots on the landing strip in Switzerland. This test run saw the Solar Impulse plane outside its hangar for the first time, with tests of its motors and computer. As wide as a jumbo jet but weighing just 1,500 kg, the plane's maiden flight is scheduled for February in 2010, and a final version will attempt to cross the Atlantic in 2012. HB-SIA’s mission is to demonstrate the feasibility of a night flight making sole use of solar energy. It is a “no frills” plane built solely for verifying our technological choices. It is a true “flying lab”. The results gained from it will be used for optimizing the construction of the HB-SIB, whose mission it will be to fly around the world without fuel and with zero emissions as from 2012.

Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype: plane made of carbon fiber, on-board computing system helps minimize energy consumption, gondolas (x4) contain motor and batteries for storing power; wingspan: 61m, weight: 1500kg, max altitude: 8500m, speed: 70km/h  read more »

COP15: what does encroaching seas and melting of Arctic ice cap tell us?

Former US vice-president Al Gore delivers a speech in the Bella center, Copenhagen.

How simple the question: do we have Planet B, or Earth C? Can we ask Nature to wait for our negotiation while CO2 are being pumped non-stop into our atmosphere; temperature goes higher, ice cap becomes thinner; sea level is rising and our land is shrinking? Lord Stern described the summit as the "most important gathering since the second world war, given what is at stake". Scientists say, "on climate, lost decade now leads to final chance, 'last' decade." "The decade of the 2000s will end as the warmest ever on global temperature charts. Warmer still lies ahead. Through 10 years of global boom and bust, of breakneck change around the planet, of terrorism, war and division, all people everywhere under that warming sun faced one threat together: the buildup of greenhouse gases, the rise in temperatures, the danger of a shifting climate, of drought, weather extremes and encroaching seas, of untold damage to the world humanity has created for itself over millennia." Al Gore is calling for "Humanity's Fateful Fight", "latest science on melting of Arctic ice cap, evidence "only reckless fools would ignore".

Kurihamari, India: Villagers row a boat carrying relief materials past submerged homes

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"I do not believe we can wait till next November or December."  read more »

Ocean guardians - Earthrace joins Sea Shepherd to stop whale slaughter. Global community's tried but so far failed

Inset: [Left] Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd leader. [Right] Pete Bethune, skipper of Earthrace (Ady Gil). [Center] Endangered white whale, migaloo. Bottom: Japanese fisherman butchering captured whale

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Ady Gil, formerly Earthrace, joins Sea Shepherd fleet

Thanks to a $1 million donation from its namesake, US multi-millionaire Ady Gil, formerly known as Earthrace, the Ady Gil has become the latest addition to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's protest fleet. The Ady Gil will bear down on whalers at 40 knots, blaring Maori-inspired war cries through a 9000W speaker system. "They're going to think 'what the f..k have we got here?' " laughed Ady Gil's skipper Pete Bethune.

"It deflects radar signals, so it's very hard for radar systems to pick us up. It's effectively a stealth boat. Made of carbon, with carbon flecks in the paint you can have a big boat with a 20kW radar 400m away and they won't see you. In the past, the Steve Irwin has only been fast enough to keep up with the processing ship, the Nissan Maru, but not the harpooners. We can keep up with the harpoon vessels.” "The point of conflict will shift to include the harpoon vessels now, so it gives us a chance to stop the whales being harpooned." The boat holds the world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe.  read more »

World Vegan Day & Vegan month: plant-based diet vs meat-eating diet, which way health-wise? Your choice.

5,000 vs. 25: gallons of water needed to produce a pound of California beef: 5,000; to produce a pound of wheat: 25

November is US National Vegan Month, starting with World Vegan Day on Nov. 1st. So, turkeys may have less fear this year though Thanksgiving is around the corner. Why go vegan? Here are some alarming facts, or "tough reality", such as – fewer than 1 out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues; 55% of U.S. antibiotics is fed to livestock; 91% of staphylococci infections are resistant to penicillin in 1988; BAN is the response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock while the response of U.S. meat & pharmaceutical industries is full & complete support. The world’s meat consumption was estimated to be 284 million tons in one year (2007), and it takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce a pound of California beef, compared to 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat.
Heart disease is number one killer, but one can reduce heart-attack risk by 90% just by eliminating meat, dairy and eggs from diet. In other words, 5000 gallons of water can be spared and risk of heart attack can be lessened when one eats one less pound of meat.

choices: poultry or fruits & vegetables

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Can a purely vegan diet be healthy?  read more »

Humor and Cartoons: "I may wear size of 7 shoe, but I leave a size 14..." "truck tires still not a match"

Captain Planet is pissed, and headed to Copenhagen to demand action. ‘I can barely breathe this air and my stomach is full of plastic! It’s time for you guys to pull together and stop polluting the earth!’

How far from awareness to action? Ice is now melting fast, sea level rising non-stop… When will pollution be decisively and extensively checked to reverse the wheel of climate change?

cartoon: ’I may wear a size 7 shoe, but I leave a size 14 carbon footprint.’

Scientists: rising seas will flood historic sites ~ CNN ~ (These estimates are much, much too conservative... the sea level rise will happen a lot quicker than this... already scientists are predicting one foot rise a year... possibly 20 feet rise by 2050... perhaps even sooner  read more »

World Solar Challenge 2009 underway: 1,864-mile solar car race across Australia, part of Global Green Challenge

the Phoenix II, by Canada's McMaster Solar Car Project, is seen before the start of the race

The World Solar Challenge, part of the Global Green Challenge, is currently taking place in Australia. Some 35 solar-powered cars from 15 different countries are racing from Darwin to Adelaide - a distance of more than 3,000km (1,864 miles) through the Outback.

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The leading cars in this year’s Global Green Challenge solar car race have passed the halfway point in their epic 1,864-mile (3,000-kilometre) race across some of Australia's harshest terrain from Darwin to Adelaide.

solar powered cars line up at the start of the World Solar Challenge in Darwin

The Global Green Challenge - an evolution of the acclaimed World Solar Challenge - is the world's leading, cross-continental showcase of the latest advances in hybrid, electric, solar, low emission, and alternative energy vehicles. The race, which is now in its tenth year, was pioneered by the South Australian Tourism Commission and aims to highlight the latest advances in hybrid, electric, solar and alternative energy vehicles.  read more »

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