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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

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Lord God Bird seen again...maybe!

When James Audubon made his classic illustrations of American birds in the late 19th Century, one stood out among them all -- the Ivory Billed Woodpecker -- or Lord God Bird. Audubon hunted multiple animals to obtain specimens for his famous painting. [caption id="attachment_3816" align="aligncenter" width="220" caption="Ivory Billed Woodpecker. Source: James Aububon"][/caption] Destruction of their original forest habitats and rampant hunting combined to eliminate this largest ...
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Melting away

One glacier region found to contribute 10% of the world's melting ice was the subject of a recent report by University of Michigan researchers and colleagues from Norway and The Netherlands. It was published in Nature just before Earth Day. The title caught my attention. What the environmental researchers were observing in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is now seen as the third largest source of water running into the oceans even though this region contains only a very small portion of ...
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Here comes the Sun

On Abbey Road The Beatles sang: Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here Here comes the Sun, here comes the Sun and I say it's all right We should all be singing "it's all right" after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the creation of transparent solar cells. If this new MIT technology proves amenable to industrial scale, we could see the entire surface area of a building's windows turn into ...
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What's next? Pistachios, no less!

Recently, Riled Up posted my commentary about the impacts erratic weather was having on coffee bean production and beverage prices. I posed the  question, "What's next?"  to see  if other commodities might not experience similar availability or price fluctuations from climate related events. We didn’t need long to wait for an answer. Wired Science has just reported the devastating impact massive rains — recently deluging parts of Queensland and elsewhere in Australia — have had on ...
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An ice chunk that dwarfs the Big Apple

Dear deniers of climate change: Anybody know what a gigaton is? Especially when used in this sentence, about the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and colleagues found that the two sheets lost a combined average of 36.3 gigatonnes more than they did the previous year. Giga- means billion. So the ice sheets lost 36 billion tons MORE ice than they did the previous years.  That seems like a lot. [caption id="" align="alignleft" ...
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Bad Brew

In the beverage category, I'm mostly a fan of drinks made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis (tea). However, today I needed something stronger and purchased a grande Kona coffee with half & half, to go, at my local coffee shop. Just as I began driving on down the road, reporters from American Public Media's (APM) Marketplace came on the airwaves telling me the bad news about coffee ( Coffea arabica ) supplies and bean prices. [caption id="attachment_3679" align="aligncenter" ...
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Earth Day, Good Friday, a story for each

By Reilly Capps It's Good Friday as well as Earth Day, and there's a story in the Bible from the week before Jesus is hung on the cross. It's a week full of action, when he threw the money changers out of the temple and gave the sermon on the mount. And, for some reason, he stopped to kill something for no good reason. The story goes like this: From a distance, Jesus spots a fig tree. He walks over to it and sees that there are no figs hanging from its branches. Jesus addresses it, and ...
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Earth Day 2011

We are reminded that Earth Day is today. Two examples illustrate the meaning of this day. Established in 1970, Earth Day was originally intended "to inspire awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment". This was a worthy objective considering our dependence on the natural ecosystems that sustain us all. Today is also the first anniversary of the explosion/sinking of the  Deep Water Horizon drilling platform that resulted in one of the biggest oil spills ever. This ...
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Weirder and weirder by the day

Here at Riled Up we pay major attention to ecosystems on Earth and their condition. Terrestrial life is endlessly fascinating, important, and beautiful. However, observations by orbiting cameras like Cassini at Saturn and the Kepler Space Telescope, have opened up alien worlds and their environments that just keep getting weirder by the day. Two reports showcase such strangeness observed and predicted. NASA recently reported that it is raining methane on Titan, Saturn's huge moon, as ...
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The weak evidence for UFOs

Or, how not to ruin a party By Reilly Capps Here's Neil DeGrasse Tyson on how evidence for UFOs is so weak. A funny, passionate, easy-to-understand rant that will help you shoot down all those visitation stories your friends tell you.  (Read note below after viewing.) Note: this kind of thing has serious buzzkill potential. Water cooler discussions and parties tend to roll when we all nod our heads at inane/insane theories from boring/tipsy people about how they saw a UFO. So be ...
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Humans give birth like chimps do

Monkey news: chimp babies are born facing the same direction as human babies, that is, backward relative to the mother. This is big monkey news, reported by Nature. Somehow, researchers hadn't seen chimps giving birth before. Unlike humans, chimp mothers go off by themselves when they give birth. But a team in Japan slept in the chimp cages long enough to gain their trust and be allowed to see the births. And while most primates give birth to offspring that face the same way as the ...
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Ted Danson on the oceans

The actor Ted Danson emerges as a spokesman for the seas and an author of the new book "Oceana," in a good short convo with Mark Bittman of the New York Times. -RC
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Amazing pictures from a volcano

The Nyiragongo Crater, in the heart of the Great Lakes region of Africa, from the Boston Globe. - RC  
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Solar game changer?

Solar energy is plentiful, limitless, arrives free of charge as the sun rises, and may finally be coming into its own as a source of renewable electricity. A graph prepared by the German Advisory Council on Global Change shows 21st Century growth projections for solar power in comparison to other energy resources. The  percentage contribution from solar constantly increases.   [caption id="attachment_3541" align="aligncenter" width="700" caption="Solar energy growth. Source: German ...
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McKibben's speech

We have to get carbon dioxide levels down to 350 parts per million. "We know why we're in trouble," says author Bill McKibben. "There's no use complaining, it's just physics, chemistry and biology." Here's his great speech from PowerShift.
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DeChristopher's keynote at PowerShift2011

Tim DeChristopher gave a keynote address at PowerShift 2011 in DC, after which our friend Jake and at least 20 others got arrested. While we're waiting to hear how Jake's story ends, we watched DeChristopher's keynote. As usual, DeChristopher took a strong stand. (Al Gore also gave a keynote address.) "Let this be the last PowerShift where we come to make a statement," he says. "From now on, our movement needs to take a stand." - RC
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A friend goes to jail

Our buddy is in prison. Jake Hanson, one of the people who run this website, was arrested today in Washington at the Department of the Interior. Two dozen people were arrested. They were arrested protesting the department's land use policies. Here's Jake being hauled off: [caption id="attachment_3512" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="DOI, April 18, 2011, Jake Hanson arrested"][/caption] This was at the end of the giant PowerShift 2011 conference, a gathering of tens of ...
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Bursting with Life

The great Australian Outback is bursting with life this year. Record breaking rains are rejuvenating vast landscapes awakening long dormant roots, seeds, and tubers in the desert. Iconic places like the Simpson Desert, the Kimberley, and Lake Eyre have been transformed into gardens of wildflowers, ponds, and wide muddy lakes and rivers. Lake Eyre , a large and normally dry basin in South Australia, has been filled with runoff from rains double the amount normally registered for the ...
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Politicians fibbing on global warming

By Reilly Capps There are a lot of things that can be debated honestly. The designated hitter. Abortion. Whether the Kardashians ought to be famous. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="104" caption="Khloe Kardashian. Totally famous. "][/caption] But climate change is not one of them. Thankfully, an honest voice spoke up today. In a surprising editorial for the Washington Post, the editorial page editor there, Fred Hiatt, who often leans conservative, calls out Republicans ...
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The cameras and the mystery

The unknowns still outnumber the knowns By Reilly Capps Google Maps knows what America looks like, and so the world is becoming more known. Google can get you from the ice cream shop to the coffee place to the supermarket, tell you how many seconds exactly until the bus arrives, let you see a 360 degree view of streets you're not even on. It's an engineering marvel, and one of the reasons that Google will someday be as powerful as many countries. When Google Maps starts to operate in ...
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