Is Iceland the Tip of a Vast Lost Continent?

A vast sunken continent called “Icelandia” may exist under the North Atlantic Ocean, a finding that, if proven, could upend long-standing assumptions about the region’s geological history and inform the search for other submerged continents around the globe.

The proposed continent is estimated to extend for at least 230,000 square miles, reaching Greenland to the north and potentially Europe to the east. Iceland is the uppermost tip of this hidden continental mass, according to researchers led by Gillian Foulger, emeritus professor of geophysics at Durham University…

“The existence of Icelandia needs to be tested,” Foulger and her colleagues said…adding that Icelandia is “a convenient example” to pioneer new methods and hypotheses that ”could be applied to other candidate sunken continents that are common in the oceans.”

With its dramatic landscapes and frequent volcanic eruptions, Iceland is a geological hotspot that has attracted attention from Earth scientists for centuries. The island is located on top of the divergent boundary of the North American and Eurasian continental plates, which cause tectonic turbulence on the island as they move apart.

This small nation, potentially atop a vast submerged continent, is a beautiful place. One of my favorite travel destinations in decades past. It’s been way too long; but, any trip abroad that could be routed through Iceland automatically decided my choices. It’s fierce and wild climate is matched by the independent culture of the folk who live there.

1972 MIT study on target for potential 21st century economic collapse


This Blue Marble in the Milky Way has finite resources

According to a new peer-reviewed scientific report, industrial civilisation is likely to deplete its low-cost mineral resources within the next century, with debilitating impacts for the global economy and key infrastructures within the coming decade.

The study, the 33rd report to the Club of Rome, is authored by Prof Ugo Bardi of the University of Florence’s Earth Sciences Department, and includes contributions from a wide range of senior scientists across relevant disciplines.

Its first report in 1972, The Limits to Growth, was conducted by a scientific team at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), and warned that limited availability of natural resources relative to rising costs would undermine continued economic growth by around the second decade of the 21st century…

Although widely ridiculed, recent scientific reviews confirm that the original report’s projections in its ‘base scenario’ remain robust. In 2008, Australia’s federal government scientific research agency CSIRO concluded that The Limits to Growth forecast of potential “global ecological and economic collapse coming up in the middle of the 21st Century” due to convergence of “peak oil, climate change, and food and water security”, is “on-track.” Actual current trends in these areas “resonate strongly with the overshoot and collapse displayed in the book’s ‘business-as-usual scenario.'”

RTFA for more depth to this confirmation. There are multiple sources, newer, more advanced methods available. Not exactly cheerful news from modern economics.

Thanks, Ray Koenig

Afghanistan can’t wait for the U.S. to get out of the way — to let in China and Pakistan

As the U.S. exits Afghanistan, Beijing is preparing to swoop into the war-torn country and fill the vacuum left by the departed U.S. and NATO troops.

China is poised to make an exclusive entry into post-U.S. Afghanistan with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source close to government officials in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast that Kabul authorities are growing more intensively engaged with China on an extension of the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — the flagship project of BRI, which involves the construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines between Pakistan and China — to Afghanistan…

In other words: The Afghan government, behind the scenes, is welcoming China immediately after saying goodbye to America.

Yup. All part of an obviously subversive plot. Here’s Uncle Sugar finishing decades of superb foreign policy – stationing tens of thousands of American troops in yet one more small nation to show off the benefits of American democracy [and military hardware]. We’re going out the door. Meanwhile, the “subversive” Chinese and their Pakistani allies in the Belt-and-Road Initiative are actually going to build highways, railways and energy pipelines – making the country a key link in East/West infrastructure. And profits.

How sly.

Oregon Legalizes Human Composting


Photo/Recompose

Oregon is now the third state in the US to allow a deathcare option that’s gaining popularity for its environmental benefits: human composting.

Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 2574 into law on Tuesday, adding natural organic reduction to the range of approved after-life options in the west coast state. Sponsored and developed by Rep. Pam Marsh (D – Southern Jackson County), the bill met Oregonians’ growing interest in sustainable alternatives to traditional deathcare…

…The process of so-called natural organic reduction, which breaks down the body into soil, has a small environmental footprint. For example, Recompose, the country’s first human composting funeral home does it like this: a corpse is placed in a cylinder with organic materials, like wood chips, plants, and straw, then heated and turned repeatedly for several weeks with a hook until it’s broken down into a nutrient-rich soil that can be delivered back to the family or used for planting.

Human composting is the latest of a handful of environmental deathcare options to gain traction across the country as available cemetery space declines and emissions from cremation mount.

More on this topic – and other alternatives – this article from the GREEN BURIAL COUNCIL seems useful.

Texas Deep Freeze disaster had a backup plan. It failed, as well.


Thomas Ryan Allison/Bloomberg

Texas’ days-long power outages during last February’s deep freeze almost stretched into weeks or even months thanks to a string of failures at “black start” generators.

More than half of the state’s 28 black start generators, which are crucial for bringing a collapsed grid back to life, experienced outages themselves, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. Of the 13 primary generators, nine encountered trouble, as did six of 15 secondary generators acting as backups in case the primary backups failed. Some had trouble getting enough fuel to run, while others were damaged by the cold weather.

Every North American grid has black start generators, but there’s no nationwide standard regulating them. Each state or grid operator decides how to operate the generators. Some use a mix of fossil fuel generators and hydroelectric dams…

But Texas no longer has any hydroelectric black start facilities. All of its black start generators use natural gas as a primary fuel, and only 13 generators at six sites can use fuel oil as a backup. When natural gas supplies run short, generators without an alternate fuel source are unable to provide vital services to the grid. Plant operators are required to maintain a reserve supply of fuel, but it wasn’t clear during the February freeze that they were all fulfilling this obligation. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which manages most of the state’s electrical grid, is reportedly in the process of trying to recover some of the payments made to black start facilities that failed during the outage.

The Black Start facilities were getting regular payments to provide an emergency service. When this disaster struck, they were unable to provide that service. IMHO, they not only do not deserve payment for that immediate incident, they must be able to provide proof of previous readiness or refund payment for some or all of that previous period.

Texas Governor knew NatGas shortages caused blackout — Blamed wind generators, anyway!

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office knew of looming natural gas shortages on February 10, days before a deep freeze plunged much of the state into blackouts, according to documents obtained by E&E News and reviewed by Ars.

Abbott’s office first learned of the likely shortfall in a phone call from then-chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas DeAnne Walker. In the days leading up to the power outages that began on February 15, Walker and the governor’s office spoke 31 more times…

After the blackouts began, Abbott appeared on Fox News to falsely assert that wind turbines were the driving force behind the outages.

Wind turbines were a factor, but only a small one. Wind in Texas doesn’t produce as much power in the winter, and regulators don’t typically rely on wind turbines to provide significant amounts of power. Instead, regulators anticipated that natural gas and coal power plants would meet demand.

I think lying has become such a habit among American politicians – especially the rightwing flavor – that even when they must know the truth will come out, they trudge ahead with their lies as if with modern communications, pretty ordinary record-keeping by 21st Century standards … the thinking portion of Americans still won’t notice.

Not any more, man!

Air pollution from cars and trucks increases Alzheimer’s risk two ways

Researchers have found a link between traffic-related air pollution and an increased risk for age-related dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease…

Pamela Lein worked with atmospheric scientist Anthony Wexler…to develop a novel approach to study the impacts of traffic-related air pollution in real time. Researchers set up a rodent vivarium near a traffic tunnel in Northern California so they could mimic, as closely as possible, what humans might experience from traffic-related air pollution…

The researchers exposed male and female rats for up to 14 months to filtered air or polluted air drawn from the tunnel and delivered it to animals unchanged in real time. The subjects were divided into two groups: wild type rats and those that express Alzheimer’s disease risk genes that are relevant to humans…

“We saw that traffic-related air pollution accelerated Alzheimer’s disease characteristics not only in the animals who express the risk gene (which we anticipated) but also in the wild type rats,” Lein says.

“We didn’t anticipate that. The big, exciting discovery is that traffic-related air pollution is a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This is important because this pollution is everywhere and could explain the increased number of people impacted by Alzheimer’s disease across the world.”

What remains unclear is which component of that pollution is predominately responsible for the effects on the brain. There are gases, particulate matter, road dust, tire wear, vibration, and noise involved in traffic-related air pollution.

“The next set of studies is to try and tease apart specific components of traffic-related air pollution that drive these Alzheimer’s disease traits,” Lein says. “Or is it the collective mix that causes the damage?”

The good news is that these studies provide a baseline comparison for traffic pollution after we complete the changeover to electric vehicles. Then we can finish the task by reducing elements other than vehicle power-plants causing pollution.