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Heavenly views: Sedona, Arizona, joins ‘Dark Sky’ towns

Sedona

Sedona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Steve Hammons  (originally posted 8/15/14 at Joint Recon Study Group)

(This article was featured 8/17/14 in “Knapp’s News” on the Coast to Coast AM radio show website. “Coast” has the largest late-night radio audience in the US. Award-winning investigative journalist George Knapp of KLAS-TV News in Las Vegas is a popular “C2C” host.)

Sedona, Arizona, just got more beautiful, if that is possible. Sedona is home to the world-famous “red-rock country” of magnificent stone formations and welcoming red earth located in the high-desert of central Arizona.

On Monday, Aug. 4, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) notified the city of Sedona and Keep Sedona Beautiful that Sedona had earned the rare designation as an International Dark Sky Community. There are only six communities in the U.S. who have achieved this designation.

Now, residents and visitors can enjoy the fantastic red-rock beauty during the day and appreciate to a greater degree the nighttime views of the stars and planets, and behold other sights as well.

According to an Aug. 6 news report in the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic newspaper, IDA representative John Barentine said the criteria for earning the Dark Sky Community status are challenging but do-able for many communities.

“We keep the bar set pretty high. That’s the reason there aren’t thousands of them,” Barentine was quoted as saying.

But communities can start looking at the issue of nighttime light pollution and start making changes, he told the Republic. “We think that the solutions are simple, and that first people just have know that there’s a problem to address,” Barentine said. He added that improving the view of the night skies can be achieved by communities of many sizes.

Sedona Arizona

Sedona Arizona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

INTELLIGENT LIGHTING

The Arizona Daily Sun newspaper in Flagstaff, Arizona, noted in an Aug. 7 article that the eight communities worldwide who have achieved the IDA’s Dark Sky Community rating are Flagstaff, Borrego Springs, Calif.; Homer Glenn, Ill.; Beverly Shores, Ind.; Dripping Springs, Texas; Isle of Coll in Scotland; and Isle of Sark in the Channel Islands, UK, and now, Sedona.

The IDA website points out that, “Once a source of wonder – and one half of the entire planet’s natural environment – the star-filled nights of just a few years ago are vanishing in a yellow haze.”

“Human-produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars; poor lighting threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the US alone,” the IDA claims.

The Daily Sun article also noted that Flagstaff will be the site of the Dark Skies and Emerging Technology Conference Aug. 18-20. The event “will bring together Southwest dark-sky advocates, municipal and business officials, the outdoor lighting industry and public land managers,” the Daily Sun reported.

“The goals include identifying new lighting technology and evaluating its cost and safety, along with developing a framework for collective dark skies protection across the Southwest,” the article explained.

Night lighting in communities, towns and cities can be used wisely or unwisely, according to the IDA. Their website points out that, “We promote one simple idea: light what you need, when you need it. We know some light at night is necessary for safety and recreation.”

“We work with manufacturers, planners, legislators, and citizens to provide energy-efficient options that direct the light where you want it to go, not uselessly up into the sky.”

“IDA is the recognized authority on light pollution,” according to their website. “Founded in 1988, IDA is the first organization to call attention to the hazards of light pollution, and in 24 years of operation our accomplishments have been tremendous.”

“Our approach of public awareness and extensive partnerships is improving nighttime lighting on six continents. IDA acts on numerous issues to create a platform as expansive as the sky itself.”

Sedona’s recent accomplishment in being designated an International Dark Sky Community may have benefits beyond those noted by Sedona community leaders, the IDA and those working to reduce light pollution in the US and worldwide.

Cairns in Sedona, Arizona, USA, where New Ager...

Cairns in Sedona, Arizona, USA, where some say they mark vortices (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MYSTERIOUS CONNECTIONS

The moon, stars, planets, meteors, comets and amazing views of our Milky Way galaxy may not be the only fascinating things in Sedona’s night skies. The area has long been known for interesting and unusual energy phenomena emanating from the red earth and red rock as well as unidentified lights and objects in the region’s skies.

And there could be a connection.

Research has indicated that the Sedona area rests on unique geological formations that include high levels of iron oxide in the region’s sandstone and limestone, combined with volcanic basalt embedded with high quantities of quartz. This combination is believed to affect Earth’s natural magnetic energy in the Sedona region. Quartz crystals themselves emit magnetic forces as well.

Additionally, ancient volcanic activity in the Sedona region has created tunnel-like “plugs,” now filled with a different mineral composition, which “tend to produce intense, somewhat ‘circular’ magnetic anomalies,” according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

In Sedona, “Geologic structures often produce small magnetic fields that ‘distort’ the main magnetic field of the Earth,” according to the USGS.

These geological and magnetic conditions are believed by some people to be the source of the so-called energy “vortexes” in Sedona. Visitors from around the US and around the world come to Sedona to explore and experience these alleged unusual forces which are believed by some to affect human consciousness.

The vortexes may be the outflow and inflow of Earth’s natural magnetic energy, changed by the iron oxide and quartz in the region, then emerging through the volcanic plugs and returning to the ground nearby. That’s the view of some researchers like electrical engineer Benjamin Lonetree. He has examined Sedona’s geology and its apparent effect on human consciousness.

English: A picture of the Chapel of the Holy C...

A picture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona near sunset. The chapel appears to rise out of the rock formations characteristic of the area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Could the factors affecting Sedona’s magnetic fields also have traits similar to a natural transistor, transmitter or receiver? Lonetree speculates that this is possible.

If that is the case, other unusual or anomalous sightings in Sedona’s skies could be connected in some way.

One thing seems certain – Sedona residents and visitors looking up into the night sky will have an excellent view of whatever is above, from the glorious cosmos to interesting anomalous lights and objects that we are learning more about.

What better place for such a connection than planet Earth’s newest International Dark Sky Community?

About the Author

Steve Hammons is the author of two novels about a U.S. Government and military joint-service research team investigating unusual phenomena. MISSION INTO LIGHT and the sequel LIGHT’S HAND introduce readers to the ten women and men of the “Joint Reconnaissance Study Group” and their exciting adventures exploring the unknown.


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The other side of Global Warming

Anyone who can think for themselves will realize that there are at least, and I mean, AT LEAST, two sides to any given argument. That’s why it’s important to consider these 7 links. They basically show another side to the near hegemonic discourse about global warming.

Image credit: NASA (via Flickr)

1- http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/21/rahn-the-world-did-not-end/

2- http://www.scienceclarified.com/scitech/Global-Warming/Global-Warming-and-the-Future.html

3- http://www.dailytech.com/After+Missing+5+Predictions+IPCC+Cuts+Global+Warming+Forecast/article33457.htm

4 – http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2014/02/18/5-scientific-reasons-that-global-warming-isnt-happening-n1796423/page/full

5 – http://www.thecommentator.com/article/2472/global_warming_just_isn_t_happening_official

6 – http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/12/19/lawrence-solomon-for-global-warming-believers-2013-was-the-year-from-hell/

7 – http://www.thegwpf.org/nasahansen-climate-model-prediction-global-warming-vs-climate-reality/


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Is the Age of Oil coming to a close?

Image via Tumblr (Flickr)

Two very different stories about oil production in Canada…

Story 1 – http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/why-clean-cars/oil-use/what-are-tar-sands.html

Story 2 – http://www.oilsandstoday.ca/whatareoilsands/Pages/QuickFacts.aspx

Original image credit: kris krüg http://bit.ly/1niNBQO


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Earthpages gets a new Facebook page!

ep-fb

Earthpages new Facebook page

There’s an old saying that success is like a snowball. The more it rolls down the hill, the bigger it gets. This has certainly been the case with my use of Facebook.

Since opening my personal Facebook page to the public, I’ve met a lot of really interesting people. People who I’ll probably never meet in person but who are open to relating through the web. Not everyone has that kind of global perspective. Some want to keep their Facebook page private for known friends and family. And I can appreciate that. But I believe the broader perspective will become increasingly normal in the future (it already is with musicians, who collaborate with like-minded souls at a distance).

It’s only a matter of time before mankind’s little boundaries get bigger. And I want Earthpages to be at the forefront of that change.

Funny thing is, as I get to know my new Facebook friends (whom I haven’t met in person), the whole bunch starts to feel like an extended family. Or maybe a circle of acquaintances. We all have common interests. And many post vital stories that I want to share with the rest of my Earthpages visitors.

But still, there’s a slight tension – I’ll be honest – with my extended circle, on the one hand, and my old friends and family, on the other hand. I have to think before posting family photos or divulging somewhat personal info. So far, I’ve managed the two realms on one Facebook page pretty well.

But it’s time to break free and start up a whole new page. And that’s why I’ve launched a second Facebook page for Earthpages. It’s quite new and doesn’t have many followers yet. But I am delighted that the search engines have picked it up.

This new page contains cutting edge stories and alternative commentary. It won’t tell you how I feel today or if I brushed my teeth after dinner! That kinda stuff will be at my first Facebook page, which everyone is still welcome to join. My new page, simply called “Earthpages“, is about what’s happening now. And what will make a difference tomorrow.

Check it out!  https://www.facebook.com/earth5569

—MC


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Does Your Home Have A Radon Problem?

radon

radon (Photo credit: oparvez)

The following comes from a Canadian source, but it seems the Radon threat is just as bad in the US. Scientists generally agree that Radon is the second mostly likely cause of lung cancer, after smoking. The real horror, however, is that Radon occurs naturally in the soil, beneath unsuspecting homeowners. — MC

By News Canada

All homes contain some radon gas. The question is whether your home’s radon level presents a danger that can be avoided. The amount of radon gas present in your home will depend on various factors such as soil characteristics, geographic location, a home’s construction type, foundation condition, and weather.

It’s almost impossible to predict your home’s radon level based on these factors, but the good news is that a simple test can tell you if you’re in the safe zone or not. There are a number or testing kits available to the Canadian public. Health Canada recommends that the radon test performed in a home or public building be a long-term measurement for a minimum of 3 months.

Alpha Track

These detectors use a small piece of special plastic or film inside a container with a filter-covered opening. Air being tested diffuses (passive detector) or is pumped (active detector) through a filter covering a hole in the container. At the end of the test period the container is sealed and returned to a laboratory for analysis. The testing period of an alpha track detector is usually 1 to 12 months.

Electret Ion Chamber

Two versions of this detector exist: one for short-term tests of a few days or weeks and another for tests of several weeks or months. The detector is exposed during the measurement period, allowing radon to diffuse through a filter-covered opening into the chamber. Results can be read in the home using a special analysis device, or mailed for laboratory analysis. This type of detector can be deployed for 1 to 12 months.

Continuous Monitors

This detector plugs into a standard wall outlet much like a consumer carbon monoxide detector, and continuously monitors for radon. It allows the homeowner to make radon measurements in different areas of the home. After being plugged in for an initial period of 48 hours, the device displays the average radon concentration continuously. This convenience comes at a price though: continuous monitors are generally more expensive than other radon-testing devices.

Charcoal Detectors

Like most testing kits, charcoal detectors need to be exposed to home air for a specified time period. Charcoal detectors consisting of a charcoal-filled container covered with a screen and filter are exposed to a home’s air for two to seven days. They are then sealed and sent to a lab for analysis.

You can find Canadian radon testing service providers listed in the yellow pages, on the Canadian Radiation Protection Association (CRPA) website at: http://www.crpa-acrp.com/biz_directory/radon/ or on the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) website at: http://www.neha-nrpp.org/Canada_Measurement.html. You can also find out more about radon at Health Canada’s website, http://www.healthcanada.gc.ca/radon, where you can order the free booklet Radon – A Guide for Canadian Homeowners.

All homes contain some radon gas. The question is whether your home’s radon level presents a danger that can be avoided? The amount of radon gas present in your home will depend on various factors such as soil characteristics, geographic location, a home’s construction type, foundation condition, and weather.

It’s almost impossible to predict your home’s radon level based on these factors, but the good news is that a simple test can tell you if you’re in the safe zone or not. There are a number or testing kits available to the Canadian public. Health Canada recommends that the radon test performed in a home or public building be a long-term measurement for a minimum of 3 months.

Alpha Track

These detectors use a small piece of special plastic or film inside a container with a filter-covered opening. Air being tested diffuses (passive detector) or is pumped (active detector) through a filter covering a hole in the container. At the end of the test period the container is sealed and returned to a laboratory for analysis. The testing period of an alpha track detector is usually 1 to 12 months.

Electret Ion Chamber

Two versions of this detector exist: one for short-term tests of a few days or weeks and another for tests of several weeks or months. The detector is exposed during the measurement period, allowing radon to diffuse through a filter-covered opening into the chamber. Results can be read in the home using a special analysis device, or mailed for laboratory analysis. This type of detector can be deployed for 1 to 12 months.

Continuous Monitors

This detector plugs into a standard wall outlet much like a consumer carbon monoxide detector, and continuously monitors for radon. It allows the homeowner to make radon measurements in different areas of the home. After being plugged in for an initial period of 48 hours, the device displays the average radon concentration continuously. This convenience comes at a price though: continuous monitors are generally more expensive than other radon-testing devices.

Charcoal Detectors

Like most testing kits, charcoal detectors need to be exposed to home air for a specified time period. Charcoal detectors consisting of a charcoal-filled container covered with a screen and filter are exposed to a home’s air for two to seven days. They are then sealed and sent to a lab for analysis.

You can find Canadian radon testing service providers listed in the yellow pages, on the Canadian Radiation Protection Association (CRPA) website at: http://www.crpa-acrp.com/biz_directory/radon/ or on the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) website at: www.neha-nrpp.org/Canada_Measurement.html. You can also find out more about radon at Health Canada’s website, www.healthcanada.gc.ca/radon, where you can order the free booklet Radon – A Guide for Canadian Homeowners.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/wellness-articles/does-your-home-have-a-radon-problem-1961379.html

About the Author

For over 25 years, News Canada has been providing the media with ready-to-use, timely, credible and copyright-free news content. Editors, broadcasters, web and video content providers rely on News Canada for newsworthy content to effectively enhance their websites, newspapers and broadcasts. Content is made available to you, the media, in the format you need, when you need it.

www.newscanada.com


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Soy vs. Paraffin Candles – The Great Debate

soy colourful!  Handmade, soy candles.

soy colourful! Handmade, soy candles by lindsay.dee.bunny via Flickr

By Stephanie Davies

You may have heard stories recently about the benefits of soy wax, or about how paraffin wax is unhealthy or not good for you. In this article we will examine the myths and rumors and give the straight facts on both soy and paraffin wax candles and allow you to see what the truth and fuss is all about.

Before we start, it is important for you to know what the actual difference is between soy and paraffin waxes, and to see how each are produced. Let’s start with paraffin wax, the most common wax to create candles with today. If you purchase a candle that isn’t marked as soy, beeswax, or any other special blend of wax, chances are that you have purchased a candle that is made from a paraffin blend of wax.

Paraffin wax is a heavy hydrocarbon that comes from crude oil. Paraffin waxes are produced by refining or separating the waxes out of crude mineral oils. Obtained from the ground, crude oil is a compositionally varied product, consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons. Another name for crude oil is fossil fuel. Crude oil is transported to refineries where it is refined into finished products by complex processes. One of the many products derived from refining is lubricating oil. It is from the lube oil refining process that petroleum waxes are derived. There are three general categories of petroleum wax that are obtained from lube oil refining. They include paraffin, microcrystalline and petrolatum. Paraffin waxes are derived from the light lubricating oil distillates. Paraffin waxes contain predominantly straight-chain hydrocarbons with an average chain length of 20 to 30 carbon atoms.

Soy wax, on the other hand is made from vegetable matter. Soy wax is a vegetable wax made from the oil of soybeans. After harvesting, the beans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes. The oil is then extracted from the flakes and hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process converts some of the fatty acids in the oil from unsaturated to saturated. This process dramatically alters the melting point of the oil, making it a solid at room temperature. The leftover bean husks are commonly used as animal feed. The U.S. grows the vast majority of the world’s soybeans, primarily in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana.

So now that you know how both soy and paraffin candles are made, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of both types.

There are a lot of myths surrounding soy candles. Most of these are designed to sell soy candles better, and have very little truth in them. A great example is the great ‘no soot’ myth. Sites that sell soy candles love to say that there is absolutely no soot produced with a soy candle. However, there is no truth and all hype to that claim. Absolutely, positively, and most importantly, scientifically, all organic compounds when burned will emit some carbon (soot) due to incomplete combustion. Sooting is primarily a factor of wick length and disturbance of the flame’s steady teardrop shape. There is no such thing as a soot-free candle. Further, while soy wax is all-natural and will not produce the thick black soot that you see on some paraffin containers, it does produce soot. An important fact to remember is that not all soot is black. Soot can be a ‘white soot’ that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Soy wax will produce little black soot – unless the candle is improperly wicked, made, or burnt, but it may produce white soot.

But before you get scared of soot, let me tell you, that soot is in fact not harmful to you. Candle soot is composed primarily of elemental carbon particles, and is similar to the soot given off by kitchen toasters and cooking oils. These everyday household sources of soot are not considered a health concern, and are chemically different from the soot formed by the burning of diesel fuel, coal, gasoline, etc. So the myth of ‘soot free soy candles’ is not only inaccurate, but simply an effort by some companies to scare the general public into buying their candles.

With that being said, there are some benefits to purchasing soy wax candles. While petroleum based paraffin wax is a limited resource, soy wax is a renewable resource that is limited only by how many soybeans we can grow. It is also beneficial to farmers who sell soybean crops, as well as lasting almost twice as long as paraffin wax.

However, soy wax is naturally a ‘soft’ wax. While container candles, tealights, and small tarts may be made entirely of soy, it is extremely difficult to make good pillar candles and votives out of 100 pure soy wax. Additives are used to make them better, but in most cases, paraffin wax is still a much better solution for those types of candles. In my own company, Mystickal Incense & More, we use a blend of 50 soy wax and 50 paraffin wax for our free-standing candles.

In the end, both paraffin wax and soy wax are both good choices for candle wax. Neither is more ‘environmentally friendly’ than the other, as there has never been scientific evidence that paraffin wax is harmful to your health in any way at all. It is a personal choice of which type you prefer to use, and both types hold scent and dye just as well. The only benefit that there is in all reality, is that container candles using soy wax do burn longer. And it does benefit the farmers of the Mid-western United States. However, most other claims regarding soy wax are false and/or misleading.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/environment-articles/soy-vs-paraffin-candles-the-great-debate-39919.html

About the Author
Stephanie Davies is a 27 year old Missourian with a loving husband and an 8 year old son. She currently owns her own business, Mystickal Incense & More, and sells handmade candles, incense, bath & body products and more at http://www.mystickalincense.com


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Technology Looks to Hydrogen Fuel Cells

English: Cutaway illustration of a fuel cell car

Cutaway illustration of a fuel cell car (via Wikipedia)

By Velma Harvey

Apple has consistently set an example within the computer industry by pursuing and instituting environmentally friendly practices wherever possible. Most recently, Apple has applied for a few patents that suggest the company may be looking into using hydrogen as a source of power for future devices.

Since the creation of the first uni-body MacBook Pro, which was made from recycled aluminum and glass and contained few of the toxic chemicals present in most laptop computers, Apple has banked on its reputation for producing environmentally friendly devices.

In late 2011, Apple upped the ante, publishing multiple patents for a hydrogen fuel cell to be used in portable computing devices. According to Apple, fuel cells, ‘can potentially enable continued operation of portable electronic devices for days or even weeks without refueling.’

Hydrogen fuel cells look to be the new frontier for portable computing. Verizon already has a hydrogen powered charging device on the market called the MINIPAK, which is a pocket-sized device that uses a refillable hydrogen cartridge to produce the energy equivalent of about 10 AA batteries. If you plan to try carrying 10 AA batteries in your pocket, expect to be walking with a noticeable limp.

The benefits of using hydrogen fuel cells over the current lithium-polymer batteries are pretty compelling. Hydrogen fuel cells are lighter, can hold longer lasting charges, and can potentially be powered entirely by carbon neutral fuel sources. The byproducts of a hydrogen fuel cell are electricity and water, making it far cleaner and easier to dispose of than traditional batteries.

English: Hydrogen engine.

Hydrogen engine (via Wikipedia)

Hydrogen does have its hurdles to overcome, however. Currently, fossil fuels are used to produce most of the hydrogen available on the market. While the hydrogen and oxygen that fuel cells require can be produced through electrolysis, the electrolysis process requires an electrical input in order to work. If that electricity is produced from fossil fuels, your fuel cell is no greener than any other device you already own.

Hydrogen is also difficult to store. In its gaseous state, hydrogen takes up a lot of space, so it is usually highly pressurized in order to reach effective densities. Liquid hydrogen can store even higher densities, but it requires constant cooling, which, for portable devices, seems unrealistic. In either case, you would be carrying a highly pressurized container of explosive fuel in your pocket. This may make boarding an airplane a tad difficult. There is a lot of research being done on ways to store hydrogen in a solid state, but these technologies are not yet market ready.

One of the most exciting prospects of Apple’s investigation of hydrogen power is that they might actually pull it off. Hydrogen fuel cells are on the precipice of becoming one of the most important technologies of our generation. With Apple’s research capabilities and vast funding, it’s possible to imagine that they will provide the push this technology needs to become a real competitor with traditional energy sources. Apple has already revolutionized the personal computing industry and the music industry; maybe they can do the same for energy.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/environment-articles/technology-looks-to-hydrogen-fuel-cells-6154840.html

About the Author

Velma Harvey lives in Californa, USA and has a passion for preserving the earth and green energy products.

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