Some Good News This Earth Day: A Few Ways the Natural World Is Improving
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earth day 2021 with a globe in the place of the zero

We hear a lot of doom and gloom regarding the health of our planet, but Bill Pekny says the news is not all bad. Just in time for Earth Day on April 22, he shares some encouraging bright spots.

There are lots of metrics to measure the health of our planet, but we only seem to hear about and focus on the ones that are getting worse.

“While we certainly must pay attention to the existing problems threatening the Earth, there are some compelling bright spots that we should remember to celebrate, especially as Earth Day approaches,” says Bill Pekny, author of A Tale of Two Climates: One Real, One Imaginary (Two Climates LLC, 2020, ISBN: 978-1-73493-960-6, $34.59). “There are in fact many ways in which our natural world is actually healthier now than it has been in the past.”

Pekny, who holds M.S. and B.S. degrees from Georgia Tech and DePaul, spent more than 50 years as a scientist in the U.S. Armed Forces and Aerospace industry. In A Tale of Two Climates, Pekny presents an honest, unbiased, evidence-based review of the state of our planet. Pekny says we should move the conversation away from abstract threats of doomsday scenarios, and focus on meaningful ways we can make things better instead of getting lost in debate that often just produces gridlock.

There’s a lot of good that we can do when we stop arguing, start listening, and become willing to change our minds if we learn something new. It’s through productive conversations that we can begin making a positive impact. And besides, we can all agree that we want clean land, air, and water. Further, people today are becoming more interested in preserving our natural resources. Because of COVID-19 we are spending increased time outdoors and seeing firsthand the importance of protecting the Earth. And we have entire generations of smart, resourceful young people dedicated to protecting the environment so it can be enjoyed for years to come. These are all things to be excited and optimistic about, says Pekny.

With all that in mind, here is some more good news about our natural world:

The number of wildfires, as well as acreage burned, has trended down over the last century. Although any wildfire metrics are staggering and tragic in terms of death, injury, and damage, the fact is, wildfires are down by a factor of five, from a peak of about 50 million acres burned in 1930 to about 10 million acres burned now. In the last 33 years, the number of U.S. wildfires has trended downward by about 25,000.

On a regional level, there are localized places, like California, Oregon, and Washington, where both dryness and wildfire frequency commonly increase in the fall. “While these periods can make us hyper-aware of wildfires, the good news is these events are tending to be less frequent and less severe,” says Pekny.

Long-term severe weather trends are down, not up. Prior to 1945, the only way we could keep track of severe storms was through visual observation by sailors and observers on land. Since then, airborne observation by Navy, Air Force, and NOAA Hurricane Hunters has dramatically improved position tracking and warning of these storms and hinted at their severity.

Even more significantly, we developed satellites and long range Doppler RADAR systems to monitor severe weather. These technology advancements have significantly improved worldwide monitoring of all types of severe weather activity.

What we have learned from improved global scale monitoring and data collection over the last 48 years, is that these extreme weather events are not only not getting more frequent, they’re actually getting less severe.

While many people point to increased property damage as evidence that these storms are getting worse, this is not actually the case. “We attribute these increased property damages mostly to human yearning to live near the water, regardless of its associated risks—and not to either storm frequency or intensity,” says Pekny.

While this doesn’t mean that we’ve got these threats handled, it is useful to remember that not everything is getting worse.

“Good stewardship of our planet is paramount, and everyone’s continuous responsibility,” says Pekny. “In order to do that effectively, we have to be in reality about where the real problems are and where they aren’t.”

About the Author:
Bill Pekny is the author of A Tale of Two Climates: One Real, One Imaginary. He holds physics M.S. and B.S. degrees from Georgia Tech and DePaul University, plus graduate study in physical meteorology and numerical analysis at Florida State University and the University of Utah, and a visiting scholar appointment at the Ginzton Laboratory of Applied Physics at Stanford University.

Bill’s career in science spans over 50 years in the U.S. Armed Forces and the aerospace industry.

His career highlights include: Project Stormfury with the U.S. Navy Hurricane Hunters; applied atmospheric physics and meteorology research; LASER RADAR development; new product testing in various atmospheric environments; aviation optics and electronics; global climate research; and more.

About the Book:
A Tale of Two Climates: One Real, One Imaginary (Two Climates LLC, 2020, ISBN: 978-1-73493-960-6, $34.59) is available from major online booksellers.

Has the electric car’s moment arrived at last?
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Woman kneeling down to charge her electric car

BY CRAIG WELCH, National Geographic

Joe Biden’s father sold used cars, steeping the future president in the world of combustion engines. The younger Biden washed vehicles on weekends, borrowed a Chrysler off the lot to drive to the prom, and hit automobile auctions to help stock his dad’s dealership. President Biden still owns the green ’67 Corvette his father gave him as a wedding gift, which he told Car and Driver magazine has “a rear-axle ratio that really gets up and goes.”

But if the White House’s resident motorhead gets his way—and that remains a big “if”—we may one day look back on the Biden presidency as the beginning of the end for gasoline-powered cars and trucks in the United States.

Biden is proposing sweeping reforms to the nation’s energy system to tackle climate change. But they aren’t just aimed at greening the electric grid or driving the nation away from coal and natural gas. Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions; it’s proven particularly thorny to figure out how to reduce that, given the number of vehicles on the roads. So, Biden is pitching a host of ways to steer the country toward electric vehicles, or EVs.

By nearly every measure, the popularity of EVs and hybrid vehicles is already surging. Yet despite an avalanche of promising news, the shift away from gas-fueled cars remains stubbornly marginal, compared with the scale of the problem, even as global temperature records driven by fossil fuel use are broken year after year. Clean vehicles still account for just 2 percent of cars sold in the United States, 5 percent in China, and 10 percent in Europe—and those are the world’s biggest markets.

“This transition is by no means inevitable,” says Nic Lutsey, with the International Council on Clean Transportation, an independent research outfit that works with policymakers around the world.

Yet analysts, environmentalists, clean-tech experts, and auto industry-backed researchers all say the right mix of regulation, consumer incentives, and research support might just be enough to spur dramatic acceleration. And thus far, these experts agree, Biden seems intent on pulling the right levers.

“The dam is breaking; the tipping point is here,” says Sam Ricketts, a member of the team that authored Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s climate action plan during his presidential run. Many of Inslee’s ideas have since found their way into Biden’s plans. “The question is how fast can the auto industry go,” Ricketts says, “and can it be fast enough to confront the climate crisis?”

That will depend in no small part on what happens next in Washington, D.C.—and whether Biden and the Democrats, who hold the White House and a razor-thin majority in Congress, can even get the pieces into place.

So close, yet so far
Vehicles powered by electricity have been around since the auto industry’s inception—several of the first 19th-century cars were powered by electrons. But their real promise wasn’t apparent until Toyota began globally mass-producing the Prius hybrid 20 years ago. Less than a decade later, Tesla introduced the Roadster, its all-electric sports car, and got a $465 million Department of Energy loan, jump-starting production of its all-electric sedans. The loan has since been repaid, and Tesla is currently worth seven times as much as General Motors.

Today, the trend is impossible to miss. Just since 2016 EVs and hybrid sales have nearly doubled in North America, and in 2018, for the first time ever, sales rose even as gas prices collapsed. Last year, with an economy wracked by COVID-19, electric or partly-electric vehicle purchases rose almost 5 percent over 2019 as auto sales overall declined by 15 percent.

There are electric Hummers, an electric Mustang, and an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and North American car manufacturers plan to triple the number of non-gas-powered models by 2024 to 203.

Battery and motor prices are falling, and the innovation and economies of scale that come into play when companies like Amazon, which plans to buy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles in coming years, require more mass-produced vehicles almost certainly will drive them down more. Just as solar and wind energy now cost pennies to produce, the cost of buying a fossil-fuel-free car or truck, by some estimates, may match traditional vehicle prices in five years or less. Ford expects that an upcoming electric version of its popular F150 pickup will be vastly cheaper to own, over time, than the gas-powered original.

In all, more than seven million electrified vehicles now travel the world’s streets. Tesla alone has produced more than one million. BMW has sold a half million and hopes to double that by this year. Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, has proposed dozens of electric models.

Click here to read the full article on National Geographic.

Diamonds That Formed Deep in the Earth’s Mantle Contain Evidence of Deep-Earth Recycling Processes
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This cartoon shows a subducting oceanic plate traveling like a conveyor belt from the surface down to the lower mantle. The white arrows show the comparatively well-established shallow recycling pathway in the top layer of the plate (crust and sediments), that feeds into arc volcanoes.

By CARNEGIE INSTITUTION FOR SCIENCE

Findings allow us to trace how minerals from the surface are drawn down into the mantle.

Diamonds that formed deep in the Earth’s mantle contain evidence of chemical reactions that occurred on the seafloor. Probing these gems can help geoscientists understand how material is exchanged between the planet’s surface and its depths.

New work published in Science Advances confirms that serpentinite — a rock that forms from peridotite, the main rock type in Earth’s mantle, when water penetrates cracks in the ocean floor — can carry surface water as far as 700 kilometers deep by plate tectonic processes.

“Nearly all tectonic plates that make up the seafloor eventually bend and slide down into the mantle — a process called subduction, which has the potential to recycle surface materials, such as water, into the Earth,” explained Carnegie’s Peng Ni, who co-led the research effort with Evan Smith of the Gemological Institute of America.
Serpentinite residing inside subducting plates may be one of the most significant, yet poorly known, geochemical pathways by which surface materials are captured and conveyed into the Earth’s depths. The presence of deeply-subducted serpentinites was previously suspected — due to Carnegie and GIA research about the origin of blue diamonds and to the chemical composition of erupted mantle material that makes up mid-ocean ridges, seamounts, and ocean islands. But evidence demonstrating this pathway had not been fully confirmed until now.

The research team — which also included Carnegie’s Steven Shirey, and Anat Shahar, as well as GIA’s Wuyi Wang and Stephen Richardson of the University of Cape Town — found physical evidence to confirm this suspicion by studying a type of large diamonds that originate deep inside the planet.

“Some of the most famous diamonds in the world fall into this special category of relatively large and pure gem diamonds, such as the world-famous Cullinan,” Smith said. “They form between 360 and 750 kilometers down, at least as deep as the transition zone between the upper and lower mantle.”
Sometimes they contain inclusions of tiny minerals trapped during diamond crystallization that provide a glimpse into what is happening at these extreme depths.

“Studying small samples of minerals formed during deep diamond crystallization can teach us so much about the composition and dynamics of the mantle, because diamond protects the minerals from additional changes on their path to the surface,” Shirey explained.

In this instance, the researchers were able to analyze the isotopic composition of iron in the metallic inclusions. Like other elements, iron can have different numbers of neutrons in its nucleus, which gives rise to iron atoms of slightly different mass, or different “isotopes” of iron. Measuring the ratios of “heavy” and “light” iron isotopes gives scientists a sort of fingerprint of the iron.

Read the full article at SciTechDaily.

New Effort To Clean Up Space Junk Reaches Orbit
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A rendering showing ELSA-d's concept of operations.

By , NPR

A demonstration mission to test an idea to clean up space debris launched Monday morning local time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Known as ELSA-d, the mission will exhibit technology that could help capture space junk, the millions of pieces of orbital debris that float above Earth.

 

 

 

The more than 8,000 metric tons of debris threaten the loss of services we rely on for Earth-bound life, including weather forecasting, telecommunications and GPS systems.

The spacecraft works by attempting to attach itself to dead satellites and pushing them toward Earth to burn up in the atmosphere.

ELSA-d, which stands for End-of-Life Services by Astroscale, will be carried out by a “servicer satellite” and a “client satellite” that launched together, according to Astroscale, the Japan-based company behind the mission. Using a magnetic docking technology, the servicer will release and try to “rendezvous” with the client, which will act as a mock piece of space junk.

The mission, which will be run from the U.K., will carry out this catch and release process repeatedly over the course of six months. The goal is to prove the servicer satellite’s ability to track down and dock with its target in varying levels of complexity.

The spacecraft is not designed to capture dead satellites already in orbit, but rather future satellites that would be launched with compatible docking plates on them.

Space junk has been a growing problem for years as human-made objects such as old satellites and spacecraft parts build up in low Earth orbit until they decay, deorbit, explode or collide with other objects, fragmenting into smaller pieces of waste.

In 2019, for example, India blew apart one of its satellites orbiting Earth, creating hundreds of pieces of debris that threatened to collide with the International Space Station.

According to a recent report by NASA, at least 26,000 of the millions of pieces of space junk are the size of a softball. Orbiting along at 17,500 mph, they could “destroy a satellite on impact.” More than 500,000 pieces are a “mission-ending threat” because of their ability to impact protective systems, fuel tanks and spacecraft cabins.

And the most common debris, more than 100 million pieces, is the size of a grain of salt and could puncture a spacesuit, “amplifying the risk of catastrophic collisions to spacecraft and crew,” the report said.

According to NASA, cleaning up space — and addressing the risks associated with debris — depend on preventing the accumulation of more waste and actively removing it.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Why Jane Goodall is hopeful in 2021
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A Chimpanzee hanging from a tree branch

By Laurie Wiegler, BBC

In the 1960s, Dr Jane Goodall upended the world’s understanding of chimpanzees by revealing that they are capable of making and using tools and engaging in complex social behaviours like kissing and tickling. Six decades later, the world-renowned primatologist, activist, author and humanitarian is not only still working, but reinventing herself with a new podcast called Hopecast, which offers reasons to be hopeful about the environment, wildlife and people in 2021.

We recently spoke with Goodall via Zoom from her childhood home in Bournemouth, UK, where she has been living with her younger sister and her sister’s family during the pandemic. During our talk, the British Dame and UN Messenger of Peace discussed the best days of her life, how storytelling is the best way to reach people’s hearts, and how each of us can help look after this wondrous world we all share.

Q: After all these years of studying primates, you broadened your focus to include humans. In doing so, you launched Hopecast, highlighting how we all can contribute to a more compassionate world. What inspired this?

The best days of my life were when I was out in Gombe, [Tanzania], with the chimps in nature, in the rainforest. And it was when I realised that right across Africa, forests were disappearing, chimpanzee numbers were dropping, [and] I had to try and do something to help. When I went to Africa to visit different chimp sites, I learned a lot about the problems for the wildlife but also about the problems faced by people and the crippling poverty, the lack of health and education.

And when I flew over the little tiny Gombe National Park in 1960, it was part of this great forest that stretched right across Africa. By 1990, it was a tiny little island of forests with more people than the land can support, who buy food from elsewhere and who are struggling to survive. And that was when I thought, “If we don’t do something to help the people find an alternative way of living without destroying the environment, then we can’t save chimps, forests or anything else.” So we began the Tacare programme.

In the villages that were around Gombe, [the programme] has improved lives, provided microcredit for women and scholarships to keep girls in school and ways of restoring fertility to the land without chemicals. Tacare is now throughout the chimp range in Tanzania at four villages and in six other African countries, and the people have learned to use smartphones to monitor their own environment. They’ve realised that saving the forests is for their own future, not just the chimpanzees’.

[I began] raising money for all of this [because] I wanted to raise awareness about Africa’s problems. So I was travelling further and further around the world and learning more about what we’re doing to harm this beautiful planet, and meeting young people who seemed to have lost hope. [They] told me that they’d given up because we’d compromised their future [and] there was nothing they could do about it.

Q: Did you sense that there was not enough hope or that young people, and people in general, needed hope?

People do need hope, because if you don’t have hope then you become apathetic. I mean, why would you bother to do anything to help the environment, people or animals if you didn’t think it was going to work? You need to hope that what you do is going to make a difference. Without hope, then you fall into apathy and do nothing.

Q: What are a few ideas or developments inspiring your sense of hope now, and what can each of us do to make the world healthier for people, animals and the environment?

We can think about the little choices we make each day. What did we buy? Where did it come from? And, could you buy it from somewhere nearer that uses less air miles? Was [its manufacture] cruel to animals? Is it cheap because of child slave labour? If everybody feels they’ve made ethical choices, then we move towards a better world.

Q: You have travelled extensively. What has surprised you or challenged you on your journeys?

First of all, growing up in the UK was during World War Two, and so I learned a lot about taking nothing for granted. Food was rationed; clothes were rationed; people we knew were dying, were killed. The stories of the Holocaust came out, and it was shocking to me that people could treat other people that way. After the war, my wise mother let me go out to a German family who wanted an English person to teach their children good English, and the reason she let me go was because she wanted me to understand that the Nazis and Germans were not the same; that all Germans were not Nazis. Because in the war, the sound of a German voice sent shivers down your spine.

When I first went to Africa, there were no planes flying back and forth. There were a few, but they were very expensive. And the first place [where] I touched land in Africa was Cape Town, which is really beautiful and very exciting. But then I saw the backs of the seats and the doors to the hotels said “Slegs blankes”. I said to the two friends who were looking after me, “What do these words mean? “[They said], ‘It means white people only’.”. I didn’t grow up that way – my father was a congregational minister and we didn’t judge people by the colour of their skin, their culture or their religion. I couldn’t wait to leave South Africa.

You may also be interested in:
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• Signs of life and death in Africa

When I got to Kenya, where my friend was who’d invited me, it was much better. They were just on the brink of independence from British rule, and soon after I arrived in Tanzania, that country became independent too. But of course, the cultures are very different. I sort of grew up being told about different cultures – my great-great-grandfather had travelled all over the world and was very adventurous. So, [going to Africa] added to the knowledge that I had as a child, from reading and from stories.

Q: You are not only a scientist but an activist. Have you ever felt conflicted by the two hats you wear, or do they somehow complement each other?

I started off as a naturalist. I was only forced to become a scientist by [British paleoanthropologist] Dr Leakey, who told me he wasn’t always going to be around to get money for me for studying the chimps and I needed a degree and I had to get a PhD at Cambridge University. It was a very nerve-racking experience because I had never been to college and I was doing a PhD.

I did get the PhD and I was told I’d done everything wrong: I shouldn’t have given the chimps names; they should have had numbers; I couldn’t talk about personality, mind or emotions [as] those were unique to us. But I’d already been taught by my dog that that wasn’t true. So I just persevered, I got the degree, and gradually science changed. And now we know we’re not the only beings with personality, mind and emotion.

After I left Gombe, I began travelling around and learning about the needs of the people and learning about the way animals were treated in Europe, in America, in medical research labs, the cruel training of circus animals. I decided I needed to become an advocate. And it’s never conflicted at all. I’ve never had any conflict between what I am doing now (we still have a research team at Gombe) and our method of research.

You know, the heart is involved, and empathy with the animal subjects is involved. So it’s not what some people would call “hard science”. It’s not all about facts and figures, although they have their place. When science says you have to be coldly objective [and] you can’t have empathy, they’re completely wrong. So I was able to stick up for what I believed, and if you have empathy with your subject you are more likely to understand complex behaviour.

Click here to read the full article on BBC.

The Green Revolution Has Been Won, Says America’s New Wind Billionaire
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“I’m an engineer. Not an environmentalist,” says Michael Polsky, as if to explain why even after spending 17 years developing renewable-energy systems, he’s still enthralled by the sight of 125-foot-long wind turbine blades sweeping in elegant circles through the sky. It’s machines that this serial entrepreneur loves. And building. And making profitable deals. After becoming a centimillionaire by developing gas-fired turbines, the 71-year-old has ridden wind power to billionaire status.

We’re touring the Grand Ridge Energy Center, a renewable energy complex that Polsky’s private company, Invenergy, built and owns 80 miles southwest of its Chicago headquarters. He eagerly shows off his 140 wind turbines, 120 acres of solar panels, and a utility-scale battery installation that in an emergency can put out 38 megawatts (enough to power about 38,000 homes) for an hour. Then the slim septuagenarian with a mop of curly gray hair strides toward a row of new “bi-facial,” or double-sided, photovoltaic panels, which also catch sun rays bouncing off the ground, generating 8% more power on the same square footage as conventional solar panels. “The technology is so good and ripe. You get the conviction that it has to happen,’’ Polsky says in his slight Ukrainian accent. “The revolution has been won.”

Continue to the NBC News to read the full article.

 

Mexican Scientist Creates Biodegradable Plastic Straw From Cactus
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Sandra Ortiz stands in kitchen behind table filled with vaiations of her new plastic

Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the prickly pear cactus.

The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a matter of days. Plus, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.

“There were some publications that spoke of different materials with which biodegradable plastics could be made, including some plants,” Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, the research professor who developed the material, told Forbes.

“In this case the nopal cactus has certain chemical characteristics with which I thought it could be feasible to obtain a polymer, that if it was combined with some other substances, all of them natural, a non-toxic biodegradable plastic would be obtained. The process is a mixture of compounds whose base is the nopal. It’s totally non-toxic, all the materials we use could be ingested both by animals or humans and they wouldn’t cause any harm.”

This means that even if any of this material made its way into the ocean, it will safely dissolve. It’s estimated that between 1.15 million to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. Last month, divers found a plastic KFC bag from the 1970s during an ocean clean-up off the waters off Bulcock Beach in Queensland, Australia and earlier this year, during a dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the ocean – a plastic bag was found.

According to Ortiz, the project was born in a science Fair of the The nopal cactus sitting on table with blender in the backgroundDepartment of Exact Sciences and Engineering, in the chemistry class with industrial engineering students of the career. They began to make some attempts to obtain a plastic using cactus as raw material.

“From that I decided to start a research project in a formal way. Currently in the project collaborate researchers from the University of Guadalajara in conjunction with the University of Valle de Atemajac.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

10 Things Not to Miss at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach
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family of four look at WonderWorks museum exhibit

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina — As the summer temperatures heat up, many families will be looking for ways to keep cool. They will also want to entertain, make memories and keep their kids active. One good way to do that is to visit WonderWorks Myrtle Beach, where parents can find four levels of indoor nonstop fun, offering plenty of opportunities for people of all ages.

“Most people are familiar with the outside of our building, but they are not familiar with what goes on inside it,” says Robert Stinnett, regional manager at WonderWorks. “The neat thing is that what we offer on the inside is every bit as interesting and unique. We are here for all ages to experience laughter, fun and joy by diving into history, science and releasing energy with our interactive exhibits!”

Here are 10 things not to miss at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach:

  1. Climb. Hit up the ropes course, where guests can test their endurance and locomotor skills as they climb over 28 different obstacles and physical activities in this 3-story indoor course.
  2. Throw. Take your chance at virtual sports, where you can find out what it’s like to pitch to a Major League Baseball player or throw a touchdown pass 50 yards to an NFL player. Virtual Sports allows you to test your athletic skills on a baseball, football, and soccer field.
  3. Ride. Take a seat within the virtual coaster with the ability to turn 360° in every direction. Hold on to your seats, while experiencing virtual physics! You can also feel the sensation of weightlessness like in outer space on the Astronaut Training Gyro Challenge.
  4. Play. Hit up the sandbox and bubble lab! Explore the depths of the ocean, a Jurassic landscape, and a wildlife safari in an interactive sandbox. Interact with various creatures with your hands and mold the sand by building mountains, volcanoes and much more! You can also create bubbles the size of basketballs, and even make a bubble big enough for you to fit inside.
  5. Learn. Test your knowledge about our world’s natural disasters. Show what you know and more from such categories as wild weather, quakes and blazes, manmade catastrophes and extreme disasters.
  6. Imagine. Enter a new dimension of reality and explore the unknown. Visit the Dr. Seuss Taxidermy, where the famous author’s creations come to life. Discover how perception and perspective are used in over 35 exhibits located throughout the Far Out Art Gallery where the unexplainable will come to life and the unusual will be the norm.
  7. Thrill. Enjoy the 12-seat theater that takes guests on an amazing adventure that transcends times, space, and imagination by combining the 3D film with special effects and full motion. Now playing 5 different movies: Cosmic Coaster-Mild, Wild Wild West- Moderate, Great Wall of China-Moderate, Dino Safari- Wild or Canyon Coaster-Wild.
  8. Adrenaline. Take the zipline challenge, where you will soar 50 feet above water and 1,000 feet between towers. This features a constant tension system, which ensures participants a smooth “zip” with intense fun.
  9. Extreme. Check out 360 Bikes, where you will buckle into your bike and start pedaling. You will try to generate enough power to spin a complete 360-degree revolution right back to where you started.
  10. Interact. Get interactive with laser tag! This family fun game combines innovative technology to provide you with a one-of-a-kind interactive experience. The object is to outplay, outlast and outshoot the other players.

“WonderWorks is happy to support energy in motion – we want our guests to feel like each time they come to us, not only are they having a blast, they are using their mind to learn and interact physically with our many hands-on exhibits,” added Stinnett. “Make some fun family memories right here at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach.”

WonderWorks in Myrtle Beach offers 50,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, showcasing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. For more information, log onto its site: wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment in our Astronaut Training Gyro and experience zero gravity. Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. Conquer your fear of heights on our indoor Glow-In-The-Dark Ropes Course. Don’t miss Soar + Explore, a WonderWorks sister attraction featuring an over water zipline and outdoor ropes challenge course guaranteed to get your heart pumping from total excitement. WonderWorks also hosts birthday parties, group outings and special events seasonally. Open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/.

Good News for the Oil and Gas Industry
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Arab woman engineer looking at plans

37% of U.S.-based companies surveyed expect to hire new employees in 2019

Looking for a strong industry that is poised for growth and offers a secure, bright future ahead? There’s good news in the global petroleum—or oil and gas—industry. Senior oil and gas professionals in the United States are among the global experts who are confident about the outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2019. Companies across the country are preparing for significant increases in capital expenditure over the coming year. That’s according to DNV GL, a Denmark-based, internationally accredited registrar and classification society that provides risk management and quality assurance services to the maritime, oil and gas, and power and renewables industries.

Full of confidence and buoyed by favorable government energy policies, the majority of senior oil and gas professionals in the United States—71 percent—agree that more large, capital-intensive oil and gas projects will be approved this year than in 2018.

These findings have been published in A Test of Resilience, DNV GL’s ninth annual benchmark study on the outlook for the oil and gas industry. The research is based on a global survey of nearly 800 senior oil and gas professionals and in-depth interviews with industry leaders.

The United States has the highest expectation of capital expenditure increases out of all countries and regions analyzed in DNV GL’s study. As many as 43 percent of respondents from the United States aim to increase capital spending in 2019, compared to just 23 percent a year ago. By contrast, only 30 percent of respondents globally expect to see a rise in capital expenditures this year. There are similarly optimistic findings for operating expenditure, with the 31 percent predicting increased expenditures in the United States outstripping both last year’s 20 percent tally and the 22 percent expectation level globally in 2019.

“Surging oil and gas industry confidence in the United States is built on the foundation of improved financial resilience due to hard-earned cost efficiencies, cost discipline, best practice, collaboration, standardization and the continued recovery and stabilization of oil and gas prices for most of 2018,” said Frank Ketelaars, Regional Manager, the Americas, DNV GL–Oil & Gas.

As the oil and gas industry prepares to increase capital and operational spending, DNV GL’s research reveals that companies in the United States also risk relaxing their tight grip on the cost efficiencies established during the recent market downturn. The proportion of respondents whose organizations will assign top priority to cost efficiency this year has fallen from 35 percent in 2018 to 15 percent in 2019; the lowest globally. In turn, the old spending habits that affected the sector during the pre-2014 period of high oil prices may be returning. A whopping 42 percent of respondents in the United States believe that suppliers will drive notable price inflation this year.

And what does that mean for the industry? Good news—hiring will be on the rise. Senior oil and gas industry professionals report they are looking to recruit new talent this year: 37 percent of U.S.-based respondents expect to hire new employees in 2019, compared to just 20 percent in 2018. New DNV GL research shows that 85 percent of gas and oil industry leaders in the United States are optimistic about the industry’s growth prospects in the year ahead, up sharply from 60 percent in 2018. This compares with 76 percent reporting confidence among respondents globally.

Key Trends for 2019

  • 85% of oil and gas industry leaders in the United States are optimistic about the industry’s growth prospects in the year ahead, compared to 60% going into 2018

 

  • 71% expect more large, capital-intensive oil and gas projects to be approved this year than in 2018

 

  • 42% believe suppliers will drive notable price increases this year

 

  • 15% say cost efficiency is a top priority for their companies in 2019, compared to 35% in 2018
Energy Efficiency Takes the Lead in Job Growth
LinkedIn
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Energy efficiency added more new jobs than any other industry in the entire U.S. energy sector in 2017 and now employs nearly 2.25 million Americans, according to a new jobs analysis from E4TheFuture and the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).

The new report, Energy Efficiency Jobs in America 2018, finds energy efficiency workers now outnumber elementary and middle school teachers and are nearly double the number of Americans who work in law enforcement.

“This good news buoys us beyond politics to unite a focus on the positive,” said Steve Cowell, president of E4TheFuture. “We have long known that energy efficiency is a major source of jobs, and by conservative estimates, about one in every hundred U.S. adults now works in energy efficiency. Efficiency is also a key strategy for meeting multiple policy objectives. It saves money, improves health, lowers carbon emissions, and creates local jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

The report highlights energy efficiency’s growing economic importance. Efficiency added 67,000 new jobs in 2017, making it the fastest-growing job category in the energy sector. Energy efficiency employs twice as many workers as all fossil fuel industries combined. Efficiency workers now account for 35 percent of all U.S. energy jobs.

“We all know energy efficiency creates savings for consumers and businesses with every month’s electric bill,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “We also now know that energy efficiency creates jobs – millions of them – all across America. These are good-paying jobs at your neighborhood construction company, upgrading windows and installing insulation; at your hometown HVAC contractor, installing heat pumps and high-efficiency air conditioners; at your local factory, manufacturing Energy Star appliances and LED lighting systems; and at thousands of related companies nationwide.”

Among the states, California leads energy-efficiency employment with 310,000 jobs, followed by Texas (154,000), New York (117,000), Florida (112,000), and Illinois (87,000). Seventeen states now employ more than 50,000 workers and the 25 states with the most energy efficiency sector jobs all now employ more than 30,000 workers (1.9 million total). Only four states saw a decline in energy efficiency employment in 2017.

With workers in 99.7 percent of U.S. counties, energy efficiency has become a nationwide job engine integral to state and local economic growth. More than 300,000 energy efficiency jobs are located in America’s rural areas, and 900,000 jobs are found in the nation’s top 25 metro areas. One out of every six U.S. construction workers are involved in energy efficiency, as are more than 315,000 manufacturing jobs, according to the report.

More detailed breakdowns of energy efficiency jobs for all 50 states and the District of Columbia—including job totals for every state’s congressional and legislative district and maps of each state’s top counties—can be found at e2.org/eejobsamerica.

Other key findings:

  • 11 percent of energy efficiency jobs are held by veterans, nearly double the national average for veterans’ share of employment (6 percent)
  • In 40 states and the District of Columbia, more Americans work in energy efficiency than work with fossil fuels
  • Construction and manufacturing make up more than 70 percent of U.S. energy efficiency jobs
  • More than 1 million energy efficiency jobs are in heating, ventilation, and cooling technologies
  • Energy efficiency employers are expecting 9 percent job growth in 2018
  • Energy efficiency now employs workers in 3,000 of America’s 3,007 counties
    · Small businesses are driving America’s energy efficiency job boom, with 79 percent of energy efficiency businesses employing fewer than 20 workers.

Source: e4thefuture.org

Dover’s First Robotic Community Garden
LinkedIn

Local “Salonprenuer”, Cyber Streets, and Inner City Cultural League (ICCL) team up to #RecodeTheCommunity and #MakeI.T.Happen in Dover with state’s first Robotic Community Garden!

Tracy Torres is not only the local “salonpreneur” and owner of Artt Studio 4 Hair INC. in Camden, Delaware, but she has served on Camden Town Cancel since 2014, and is also serving her community as the Vice Mayor on her second term.  Living to serve her community, she is also passionate about youth and community empowerment.  So much that as soon as she heard about Cyber Streets (CyberStreets.org), a local forward thinking, veteran led, tech-mentor program that is quickly gaining popularity across Delaware, she jumped to be first to host a fund raising event to support their newest cutting edge project:  building and deploying the state’s first robotic community gardens to inspire, empower, and serve at-risk inner city communities.  Extraordinarily, within 2 hours her and her community managed to raise enough of the remaining funding needed for Cyber Streets to secure their newest innovative “AgTech” community project.

Born to Serve

Tracy resiliently knows the challenges of finding opportunity all too well.  “I have been a licensed Cosmetologist since 1996 and before relocating to Delaware with my husband and then 8 month old daughter in late 2005, I worked full time in a Pharmaceutical Company and part time in a Hair Salon.  I had no idea how hard it would be to get a job in Delaware and actually commuted back and forth to NJ as a contract employee training new employees on the systems and policies for Sanofi-Aventis for almost a year. In 2006, I decided to leave corporate America and took a job in Delaware at a salon making $6.15 per hour and by October of 2007.  Soon after I decided I was going to open my own salon and on December 8, 2007.  I opened ‘ARTT Studio 4 Hair’ and haven’t looked back.  My love for helping others and constant need to keep my mind challenged, I decided to run for Camden Town Council in 2014.”

Tracy continued, “The first day I met Jason and heard about Cyber Streets, I knew I wanted to help him or work with him in some way. Helping kids understand, no matter their financial upbringing, that they can be successful is so important to me. I did not grow up with money but I have never let that hold me back and any organization that takes the time to teach a child their worth, is an organization I will support! “

“I was blown away when I received a call from Jason (Stewart, VP Cyber Streets) the night before the event informing me that she wanted her business to support us with a short notice fundraiser!” said Rob Bentley, Founder/President of Cyber Streets.  “Since I don’t ask to raise funds, which are historically independently funded from my own time and resources, for any of my community projects that we have been building for the last year and a half, I was pretty shocked when she called us out of the blue.  When others are willing to voluntarily get behind your mission to change the future technological talent pool across your state and country, big things are soon to happen, and we truly appreciate her support for the youth of tomorrow!”

#Opportunity4All

Rob Bentley, a former TEDx speaker and multi award winning Global Enterprise IT leader for the Department of Defense, is historically known for independently focusing his extraordinary positive “energy” by #TakingAction to manifest his community ideas to reality, of which he coined the hashtag/slogan #Vision2Fruition.  Over the last year and a half him and Jason, both military veterans dedicating their lives to serving communities in need several years after active duty,  have partnered and transformed the Inner City Cultural League (ICCL)/Sankofa Cultural Arts Center into an independent, community tech hub delivering #Opportunity4All.  The center now hosts their ongoing, self-sustaining, weekly tech-mentor program that runs not just 1 day, not 1 week, but year round all through the summer.   In that short time they have reached and positively impacted over 300 lives of youth and families across the state.  The majority of those impacted, for the moment, reside in the state’s capital of Dover.  Thus far Cyber Street’s methodical efforts have already empowered not just youth, but single mother’s/father’s, foster children, combat veteran’s, teachers, musicians, high school/college students, and technologists with new enlightened career choices to pursue at no cost to them other than finding internet access.

Rob decided to start Cyber Streets for several reasons, one being that he himself is no stranger to the adversity of the communities he so passionately serves which is sometimes very challenging for him to talk about.  Growing up was rough as his family like so many from his community often struggled to make ends meet.  Often they would live in unsavory environments, without electric or water on several extended occasions.  At 9 he began to strategize and coordinate the free food he could gather from local grocery store and restaurant dumpsters.  “You would be amazed at the amount of good food restaurants and grocery chains throw away for insurance reasons. I soon realized that just because something was out of date didn’t necessarily mean it was bad or spoiled”.

As a youth Rob had also been homeless for a couple spells living in motels for several weeks.  “It was really emotionally challenging for 7 of us living in a motel room or a 2 bedroom duplex while trying to succeed in school after transferring from high school to high school.”  It became such a stressing challenge that he eventually dropped out and went back to ace his GED and aggressively pursued a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry.  No matter what happened growing up, he was always appreciative that his stepdad did the best he could to keep some sort of roof over their head.

Then his whole world traumatically turned upside down when his brother/best friend commit suicide because he never truly knew how to love and take care of himself.  “That was by far the most challenging part of my life.  It took me years to eventually heal.  During that time, I was only living through the pain for others, not myself.  But after I did heal, I began looking for more opportunities to help serve and support others struggling with adversity in hopes someone else would not have to endure the pain and heartbreak that me and my family did.”

“When we work with all these communities that struggle with intense adversity, my heart gets feverously motivated and driven to gather and shed tremendous light and hope in their lives, because I see myself and my brother in ALL of them.”

He eventually left the restaurant industry to pursue a career in education, but soon after 9/11 took place and several months after the country went to war he felt that he should be serving as well.   After achieving some of the highest scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) he received his choice to go into the Information Technology (I.T.) field with the USAF, and since then hasn’t looked back.  “I.T. was a gift that truly enabled me with versatile and limitless opportunity!  All I wanted to do is share the opportunity and inspire others, so eventually I began my journey of #TakingCyberToTheStreets!”

#STEMingTheFuture

Today, a year and a half later, the program has rapidly evolved from teaching communities to rebuild and repurpose donated computers, to 3D printing violins for their community strings programs, to 3D printing custom prosthetic arms for the community, to now building and donating the newest Robotic Community Garden back to the community.  “One of our core purposes is that we (Cyber Streets) don’t just provide the typical popular STEM camp/class into the community.” Bentley states. “We recruit the gardeners (mentors) to plant, nurture, and water the seeds (people) in the garden (community) and provide the sunlight/water (inspiring hope/opportunity) for them to grow into the opportunistic, high-demand, technological future.  That is precisely why we branded one of our slogans “#FindThemPlantThemGrowThem.”

“This is why this new Robotic Community Garden is the perfect symbol of our community’s collective efforts.” Bentley states.  “We ensure everything that we put into the community also provides them the capability and requirement to sustainably give back to the community through what they have been provided and exposed to, basically paying-it-forward and #STEMingTheFuture, #4TheCommunityByTheCommunity.”

The new community garden is one of several projects that Cyber Streets is planning for each county.  As a predominantly agricultural state Delaware understands how critical agriculture is for the survival of the planet.  However, most of the communities Cyber Streets serves aren’t aware of  the amount of complex technology that is required to support the rapid evolution of “stack farming”, robotic harvesting,  drone mapping, GPS navigated farm machines,  and other remarkable innovations in agricultural technologies to name a few.  In a rapidly evolving farming era that is increasingly supported and driven by new tech, this also means there are exciting AgTech jobs that have a serious demand to be filled across the region, country, and world.  Like many other critical STEM fields, one of the problems is that many communities are not exposed over the long term to these exciting opportunities.  Although there may be amazing facilities they can go to for educational exposure, they are often miles away, out of reach, and out of mind.  This robotic garden changes that AgTech opportunity for exposure by bringing it to the community, Cyber Streets core mission, and placing amazing scalable AgTech in their own backyard.  This technology has the capability to migrate a farmer into a techie and a techie into a farmer while reducing the carbon footprint, which can be very exciting for the future of humanity.

The robotic technology behind the garden is an open-source solution provided and developed by FarmBot.  Currently educators, non-profits, and farmers are joining the small growing community around the globe (including NASA) for research, development, and STEM/STEAM education purposes.  It provides an extraordinarily dynamic educational opportunity to combine elements of (but not limited to) agricultural sciences, meteorology, coding, engineering, data analytics, gaming, IoT, mathematics, computer science, and much more.  Currently Rob Bentley has specific research and development plans for his second unit to work with FarmBot and the local community to make it fully portable, affordable, and accessible to any community.

“We can always tell our communities that endless opportunity is out there, but unless we find a way to place it in their hands and enable them to truly experience it in every location possible, then they may never truly experience how important and exciting it is.  It is not merely enough to build really amazing state-of-the-art tech/innovation centers several miles away from the communities that truly need them.” Bentley says.  “We need the capability to place it in their hands wherever they are.  That is where we come in by ‘replacing idle hands with keyboards’, and by enforcing #UnityInTheCommunity, #SafetyOnOurStreets, and #Opportunity4All!  We accomplish all this by harnessing the extraordinary power of technology, innovation, and human spirit!  We often accomplish our efforts with an engaging and empowering conversation followed by a detailed email with a specific custom roadmap for the free tools/resources and career pathways they desire.  Fortunately, now AgTech can be included in that critical and empowering conversation as well.”

#ST(R)EAMingForward

Cyber Streets and ICCL say this is only the beginning.  Over the last year and a half they have partnered and built several alliances across the state with direct support advocate organizations like that have donated considerable time, personnel, resources, and public advocacy directly to the program and its outreach initiatives.  Those remarkable organizations include the Delaware Youth Philanthropy Board,   SecureNetMD, Dover Air Force Base, Dover Capital City Rotary Club, Leadership Delaware, Transcore (DELDOT), Bob Johnson’s Computer Stuff, Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education, Sussex County STEM Alliance, and University of Delaware to name just a few.  Additionally, they have several strategic plans already in motion to not only infuse Computer Science into the school system with their various national partners, but will soon begin a new partnership that empowers struggling, and sometimes hopeless families across the state and around the globe by providing a family building/bonding model which provides a new world of opportunity for everyone!

“We ensure that we are very clear on our message.  This being that the “T” in STEM/STEAM, Tech, touches EVERYTHING.  This means that because the world of tech is the fundamental foundational fabric for virtually all industries that you have opportunity to traverse into virtually ANY field of your desire!  The beautiful thing about technology is that it is FULLY inclusive and does NOT discriminate against race, religion, political affiliation, disability, or gender.  After they are exposed, the only thing holding a person back from opportunity is their own mind, and that is where mentors play a crucial motivational role.  With tech ANYONE, from the affluent to non-affluent, can find a passionate career in science, engineering, art, agriculture, government, academia, banking, marketing, healthcare, and the sky is the limit!

Probably some of the most powerful testimony about Cyber Streets comes directly from the community itself.  In a recent statement the ICCL Director, Kathrina Stroud, stated the following about working with Cyber Streets for the last year and a half to pilot their empowering philosophy:

“Cyber Streets is not just a program. It is a philosophy.  It is a way of life.  It is a way of thinking.  Rob has a vision of positively impacting the world.  Yes, the WORLD!  When you see him, you see unchecked drive, determination, creativity, imagination, and ENERGY.  That is Cyber Streets!  If you have an idea or a problem to solve, research it; make a plan; put it into action; never give up! It doesn’t take a technology center, or a lot of money.  It can be in your basement or backyard with your children and their friends. There are plugged-in and unplugged activities that are fun and educational.  There aren’t many things I can think of that aren’t related in some way to technology.  My daughter and I changed light bulbs on her car this summer. That may sound like a simple task to some, but neither of us had ever done it. Technology related?  You decide.  I, no… WE have been bitten by the Cyber Streets bug.  I can!  You can!  We can!  I love this philosophy.  What’s that song?  ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now!’

ICCL is uber excited to begin implementing this new project into their community!  The newly hired english teacher turned tech teacher/mentor, local community techie father turned technology leader/mentor, meteorology/media/communications mentor, and the rest of the ICCL staff are all motivated to embark on this new exciting journey with Cyber Streets together!

“When several growing communities across the state and country get behind your empowerment efforts, extraordinary things begin to manifest at an accelerated pace!” Bentley states.  “When they do, you had better be ready to #TakeAction and #MakeITHappen!”

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Upcoming Events

  1. Commercial UAV Expo Americas, Las Vegas
    September 7, 2021 - September 9, 2021
  2. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
  3. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  4. HACU’s 35th Annual Conference
    October 30, 2021 - November 1, 2021
  5. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. Commercial UAV Expo Americas, Las Vegas
    September 7, 2021 - September 9, 2021
  2. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
  3. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  4. HACU’s 35th Annual Conference
    October 30, 2021 - November 1, 2021
  5. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022