The Real Alternative

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Saving the Earth with unsavory science?

English: Edward O. Wilson

Edward O. Wilson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Michael Clark, PhD

The other day I saw a documentary on TV about the sociobiologist and environmental spokesperson, E. O. Wilson. So intrigued by this video, I dug into our public library to try to find it. Regrettably, it wasn’t there, but I did find another DVD about E. O. Wilson called Lord of the Ants.

Now don’t get me wrong, I care about the environment just as much as the next person. And Wilson seems like a congenial fellow fighting for a good cause—namely, saving the Earth from mankind’s destructive activities.  But oh, my God. While watching this otherwise enjoyable DVD, there were a few scenes I just couldn’t believe.

Here’s the first one.

Animation created from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

Animation – 1 – from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

In this sequence, Wilson demonstrates how fire ants vigorously defend their turf. He disturbs their nest to purposely irritate them. Worker ants suddenly emerge, mad as hell. Wilson puts his hand on top of the angry ants, and in about a second, it’s covered. He’s now getting stung by the ants, which he can only tolerate for a moment or two.

Okay, all very interesting. But what surprises me is how Wilson, with a casual smile, hurriedly wipes the ants off his hands. I’m no expert but I think that if I wiped a carpet of ants off my hand in a second or two, I’d mangle them pretty badly. Not necessarily kill but most likely mutilate the poor devils before they fell to the ground.

Now, some might think that ants don’t really matter. After all, they’re just tiny insects, right? Well, this film argues that our bitsy neighbors do, in fact, matter. They’re very much like us, Wilson tells us. And cutting edge photography and computer graphics magnify the micro environment to drive the point home. So if ants matter, why does Wilson mutilate them with a smile?

Animation created from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

Animation – 2 – from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

By now you might think I’m a fanatical bleeding heart, dead against experimental scientists. Well, before coming to that conclusion, let’s take a look at the next sequence.

Animations 2 and 3 show Wilson holding a defenseless, living ant in something that looks like a pair of metal pliers. Wilson wants to demonstrate that ants communicate through chemicals. So he’s going to literally force a chemical out of this ant’s abdomen to show that other ants will follow a chemical trail to food, even when the first ant, itself, did not leave the trail.

Animation created from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

Animation – 3 – from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

A few moments later it gets pretty sad. The test ant is showing less signs of life as Wilson prods it with some kind of science probe. Eventually, after poking away at it, and apparently damaging the abdomen, the desired chemical oozes out of the squashed insect.

Wilson spreads the chemical out on the ground and sure enough, the other ants follow its trail to the food.  Again, all very interesting. But was it really worth this disquieting scene? Remember, Wilson says that ants are quite like us.

Still not convinced this is bad news? Maybe animation 4 will convince you.

Animation - 4 - from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

Animation – 4 – from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

Just prior to this clip, Wilson calls up a fumigator in the Florida Keys to ask an unusual favor. Wilson wants to fumigate an entire small island of insects! What? A naturalist and leading environmental spokesperson plans to exterminate gazillions of tiny lives?

Yes, he does. And all in the name of science.

Apparently we can learn about how larger species might recover from mankind’s globally destructive activity if we utterly destroy smaller species on an dwarf island.

So what did Wilson find? Well, a population did return after he conducted the utterly toxic experiment, but the diversity of species differed from the original mix. Basically, Wilson and his crew annihilated countless small creatures for this valuable info (sic).

Animation - 5 - from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

Animation – 5 – from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

Anyone with enough elementary science and logic will recognize that Wilson’s interpretation of the experimental results reveals an unjustified leap from a tiny to a huge frame of reference.

Last but not least, Lord of the Ants includes the usual photo op with some big shots—big shots who often consume oodles of energy jetting around the globe, releasing their self-congratulatory hot air about how the rest of us should consume less. Sequence 5 shows Bill Clinton raising a glass to Wilson at a TED talk. And here’s a link to an overhead view of the Clinton’s estate:
I’m sure those digs really save on energy consumption!

Image - this isn't animated because the subjects are dead - from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

Image – not animated because the subjects are dead – from Lord of the Ants, 2008 Windfall Films. (Fair Use / Fair Dealing Rationale).

So what I can say about this film?

Honestly, Wilson reminds me of some environmentalists I’ve encountered who don’t always practice what they preach. They can be very nice, honorable people. And I don’t dispute that sometimes cruel methods might bring about a greater good. But other times, I wonder if the ethical cost of some natural science research and teaching methods measures up to the actual benefit.

About the Author

I’m the administrator of and I usually like to post other folks’ articles. But every once in a while I have my own say. Read more here:

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Caring for the world ecology

Evan Leeson via Flickr

By goyal.ishaa

BOTH THE developed and the developing countries are between the devil and the deep sea. The developed countries do not wish to cut green house gas emissions as it would slow down their progress and enable competing countries to take over. The developing countries including China, a surprise entrant, take the plea that they have to reach the level of the developed countries and for that cutting the green house-gas emissions would be like committing Harakiri.

Be that as it may, numerous conferences on promoting ecology and checking environmental pollution have turned out to be mere discussions in a debating club. Be it Kyoto, or Latin America or now Copenhagen in December 2009, the talking shops did not produce any positive results. Many hundred reams of paper, secretarial work, a lot of wining and dining and track two diplomacy failed to produce any positive results. Time and energy went down the drain.

Now some light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. On Sunday, November 15, 2009, at Singapore at the session of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, President Obama of the United States and other opinion makers and shapers arrived at an agreement ahead of the Copenhagen Summit on Ecology to tone down criticism of the advanced nations.

A deal was struck by agreeing to tone down the target and also to renew efforts to achieve positive results.The Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Lokke Rasmussen put forth the compromise formula and called it one agreement two steps that would be legally binding as a treaty by 2010.

Indeed, the developed nations may be happy but it is a compromise that would not reduce the global warming substantially. In another 11 years, China will account for 50 per cent of the global emissions. Maldives and parts of Mumbai and London may bid adieu to the earth and become a part of the surging waters of the sea.

Let us hope and pray that the Gangotri, source of our Ganges river does not melt as it would spell disaster for the plains of India. We must keep on convincing those who are not affected now by global warming and climate change to listen to the suffering humanity.

About the Author:

Hi, I am Ishaa Goyal from India, by profession i am a journalist. Recently i m covering news on Global Warming and China News. I have written number of climate related articles.

Article Source: Caring for the world ecology

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Biotechnology in Renewable Energy Resources

By Edward Hunter

Alternative energy is defined as energy that comes from a natural source and is renewable or naturally occurring. Alternative energy typically does not produce pollution and comes from such sources as the sun, wind, and water.

There have been many recent innovations to alternative energy as a result of expanding alternative energy technologies.

Alternative energy technologies have made it possible to do much more research on how to use the alternative energy sources that we have more effectively to generate the most power out of the various sources.

Alternative energy technologies have also been instrumental in discovering new ways to produce heating fuels, such as bio-diesel, methanol, and ethanol from bio-mass for energy consumption.

It is imperative that companies who are dedicated to alternative energy options continue to develop their alternative energy technologies to keep up with the demand to make alternative energy more readily accessible to a larger amount of people as the dwindling supply of fossil fuels and concerns over our dependence on foreign oils drives many more people towards considering alternative energy sources.

In recent years alternative energy technologies have propelled bio-mass and bio-deisel into the fore front of the alternative energy movement. Biotechnology has become an extremely important area of research and development as a result of the record high gas and heating fuel prices.

Biomass is organic material made from plants or animals that originates from agricultural and forestry residue as well as municipal and industrial wastes and terrestrial and aquatic crops. Through the use of alternative energy technologies bio-mass has been able to be transferred into usable fules such as methane, ethanol, dio-deisel, methanol and biocrude.

These products are viable and readily available alternatives to pertroleum and gasoline. Through the use of alternative energy technologies bio-mass has also been found to be a source of biopower. Biopower uses biomass to produce electricity using alternative energy technologies such as direct firing, co-firing, gasification, pyrolysis, and anaerobic digestion.

The direct firing method biomass is burned to produce steam. The steam drives a turbine that turns a generator to convert power into electricity. Without alternative energy technologies it would be much more difficult to develop new ways to use the resources that are available naturally.

Alternative energy technologies also make it possible to discover new ways to develop alternative energy and make it more user friendly and efficient in usage and installation.

Alternative energy technologies truly are changing the face of the alternative energy movement and creating more innovative ways to use natural resources as well as providing new products that rely on alternative energy as their source of power.

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Learn more about alternetive energy at

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Are we living in an overmedicalized society?

People talk about the water supply, and water shortages in California. How many stop to consider all those “medications” (a bit of a euphemism, in some cases) that are being urinated into the water supply? And why isn’t this kind of drug problem making the headlines?

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


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)


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)


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)




4 –

5 –

6 –

7 –


Is the Age of Oil coming to a close?

Image via Tumblr (Flickr)

Two very different stories about oil production in Canada…

Story 1 –

Story 2 –

Original image credit: kris krüg


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