Monday, December 28, 2009

Resomation or green cremation part of increased alternatives to traditional burials...

Resomation or green cremation is part of increased alternatives to traditional burial as cremations increase around the world, due to a scarcity of land. The highest national use of traditional cremations is Japan at a massive 97%, United Kingdom 70%, New Zealand 58% and China 41%, with US currently on 30%, but expected to rise to 38% in 2010.

Green burials where bodies are placed in biodegradable wooden or wicker caskets without being embalmed, and often under a tree have gained popularity around the world. Veterinarians have been using this process for years.

But it is green cremation or RESOMATION (a Greek term for rebirth of the body) that has gained interest in some quarters. Resomation is a water/alkali based alternative to burial and cremations with significant environmental benefits and is both dignified and respectful.

Islam is adamantly still opposed to cremation, Judaism isn't particularly thrilled with it either, and Catholics now apparently approve of it - but there appears to be no moral problem with using alkaline hydrolosis, which is "green cremation".

Most religions honour the body that houses the soul, and do not advocate scattering the ashes to the four winds.

What is Resomation or green cremation? Please read the following:

A body is placed inside a vault-like tube(after being wrapped in a silk bag)and the chamber is sealed, filled with water and lye, and steam heated to 300 degrees. After three hours all that is left are crumbly bone fragments(to bury in an urn or scatter) and 200 gallons of fluid with a ph level described being between handsoap and ammonia.

The end product is that the resulting fluids can be sent to the sewer like last night's bath water, or even spread on fields or gardens - making one a truly Green Being. The process has no sooty emissions and uses 80% less energy than regular cremation.

The total carbon footprint is allegedly 18 times less than standard cremation. It is reportedly 100% mercury free, and the hot trend with today's enviro-friendly crowd.

Resomation the green cremation

Friday, December 25, 2009

Nice bike you got there Kid...

On Christmas morning, a cop on horseback sits at a traffic light next to a kid on a shiny new bike.

The cop says to the kid, "Nice bike you got there. Did Santa bring that to you?"

The kid says, "Yeah."

The cop says, "Well, next year, tell Santa to put a tail light on that bike."

The cop then issues the kid a $20 bicycle safety violation ticket.

The kid takes the ticket and says, "By the way, that's a nice horse you got there. Did Santa bring that to you?"

Humoring the kid, the cop says, "Yeah, he sure did."

The kid says, "Well, next year tell Santa to put the d**k underneath the horse, instead of on top."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greenpeace: Emails, global scientific consensus and the winner is...

Greenpeace: Emails, global scientific consensus and the winner...

A few emails vs global scientific consensus: guess who the winner is?

(Thanks to Nick Anderson for the use of his cartoon.)

Like a bad smell, the theft of emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) hangs around the Copenhagen conference and threatens to distract people from what really needs to be discussed. Suddenly, everyone seems to be a scientific expert ready to denounce a global conspiracy but you don't have to dig down far to see just how misinformed some people are willing to be.

Many people have strong suspicions that it's no coincidence these emails surfaced a couple of weeks before the UN climate summit, or that the few emails highlighted out of 13 years' worth of data are part of a co-ordinated attempt to damage everyone's trust in the science which is driving these negotiations.

In his speech during the opening of the conference (pdf), chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Dr Rajendra Pachauri noted that "the recent incident of stealing the emails of scientists at the University of East Anglia shows that some would go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts perhaps in an attempt to discredit the IPCC."

And equally, many people have provided sound explanations for the suggestive words and out-of-context passages the increasingly-desperate climate deniers have pounced upon.

You'll know the three or four emails which have been held up as proof of an ongoing conspiracy amongst scientists. In particular, there's the one explaining how to use a "trick" to "hide the decline" in temperatures - John Cook explains on Skeptical Science how this relates to the divergence between temperature records derived from tree ring data and those from observed temperatures:

The "decline" refers to the "divergence problem". This is where tree ring proxies diverge from modern instrumental temperature records after 1960. The divergence problem is discussed as early as 1998, suggesting a change in the sensitivity of tree growth to temperature in recent decades (Briffa 1998). It is also examined more recently in Wilmking 2008 which explores techniques in eliminating the divergence problem. So when you look at Phil Jones's email in the context of the science discussed, it is not the schemings of a climate conspiracy but technical discussions of data handling techniques available in the peer reviewed literature.

If paleoclimatology isn't your strong point, here's an entertaining video summary of how the emails have been misinterpreted.

Think about how many emails you'd send in 13 years. Then consider that if these examples are the best material to run a smear campaign with, then whoever did this is really desperate. Unlike most other people, Canada's Green party leader Elizabeth May read all the emails. Every single one. "How dare the world’s media fall into the trap set by contrarian propagandists without reading the whole set?" she says as she highlights how some without a scientific background have been only too eager to manipulate data they don't really understand to get the result they want. Which is exactly what Dr Phil Jones and others at the CRU are being accused of.

And there's been plenty of speculation about who did this, but maybe we'll never know. Of course the timing may be coincidental, the emails may have been hacked by somebody with entirely different motivations, we just don’t know. But what we do know is that there have been other reports of break-in and hacking attempts at other climate research centres, making it seem suspiciously like a deliberate attempt to undermine the Copenhagen talks.

The science of climate change is not based on the work of scientists at the CRU, but draws on thousands of peer-reviewed studies from all over the world, including sea-ice cover, sea level rise, glacial retreat, and temperatures of ocean, land and air. The assessments of the IPCC which are driving international action are the result of one of the most rigorous and robust scientific endeavour ever devised. Anyone who has doubts should get hold of a school textbook and revise, because it all rests on some very elementary science.

And the planet is still getting warmer. Earlier this week, the Met Office revealed that this decade has been the warmest on record, and 2009 is on track to be the fifth warmest year. As a result, sea levels are rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and the Arctic sea ice is melting.

Meanwhile, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has reiterated this, saying that "global climate change caused by human activities is now underway, and it is a growing threat to society." And for a neat summary of what is happening out there, I'd recommend reading the Copenhagen Diagnosis report (pdf) produced by the Climate Change Research Centre at University of New South Wales to provide a summary of the research published since the last IPCC one. It's not long and easy to follow, but if you can't face it just go for the summary. It's all there.

And we're expected to reject worldwide scientific consensus based on peer-reviewed research because of a few out-of-context emails which haven't even been through a spell check? Pull the other one.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hitler's remains identified by dental records, and fragment of skull exists...

Deep in the Lubyanka, headquarters of Russia’s secret police, a fragment of Hitler’s jaw is preserved as a trophy of the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany. A fragment of skull with a bullet hole lies in the State Archive.

So when American academics claimed that DNA tests showed the skull to be that of a woman, they challenged a long-cherished tale of the hunt for Hitler’s remains. Yesterday the chief archivist of the Federal Security Service (FSB) insisted that the bones were genuine and told of how the KGB destroyed almost all traces of the dictator’s corpse.

Lieutenant-General Vasily Khristoforov said that the remains had been incinerated in 1970 and the ashes thrown into a river in East Germany.

Agents under orders from the head of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, had dug up a grave containing Hitler, his wife Eva Braun and the family of his henchman Joseph Goebbels. The officers had removed the remains from a burial ground in a Soviet base at Magdeburg, Andropov having written to Soviet party chiefs recommending that the bodies be destroyed after it was decided to pass the base to East Germany.

Times Archive, 1945: Jawbones identified as Hitler's
Confirming a statement made by Russian officers, Hitler's body has been identified with certainty by dental evidence

Topic: Hitler's Suicide

Magdeburg shuns the Hitler connection:

In April 1970, Andropov compiled a report declaring that “the remains were burnt on a vacant area outside Schönebeck, 11 kilometres from Magdeburg, ground into ashes, gathered and thrown into the Biederitz river” — either the Ehle river near Biederitz suburb or the Biederitzer See.

General Khristoforov told the Interfax news agency that Hitler’s remains had been destroyed out of concern that his grave could become a Nazi shrine. “It was not worth leaving any grounds for the rise of a cult of worship . . . there are people who profess the fascist ideology, regrettably even in Russia.”

Hitler’s remains arrived in Magdeburg in early 1946 after a peripatetic eight months. The bodies of Hitler and Braun had been crudely cremated on April 30, 1945, at the site of his bunker in Berlin. He had bitten a cyanide pellet then shot himself.

When the Red Army reached the bunker they found the two charred corpses alongside the bodies of Goebbels and his wife. At first there was some doubt as to whether it was really Hitler. It was transported for examination to a field hospital near Berlin.

Hitler’s dental records were located and glass splinters found in his jawbone, suggesting that he had bitten a poison capsule. The early report made no mention of a gunshot wound, perhaps because Soviet officers did not want to anger Stalin by suggesting that Hitler had died a “hero’s death”. But in the meantime, witnesses from the bunker were telling their interrogators that Hitler had indeed shot himself.

The mixed signals must have unsettled Stalin. As long as uncertainty remained, the counterintelligence organisation Smersh and NKVD units wanted to hang on to Hitler’s remains. Every time the Smersh unit moved, Hitler went with it — buried in a wood on the fringes of Berlin, then in Rathenow, and then again when an investigation committee was set up and he was taken to Magdeburg.

Hitler’s jawbone and a fragment of his skull had been sent to the Kremlin. The rest of the remains were kept at the Soviet compound in Magdeburg until it was decided to hand the barracks to the East German military.

General Khristoforov insisted that the FSB had no reason to question the authenticity of the skull fragments in its possession. In September professors at the University of Connecticut had claimed that DNA samples showed the skull to have come from a woman aged up to 40.

General Khristoforov said: “Hitler’s jaw is at the FSB archives, the fragment of skull at the State Archive. These materials are the only documentary evidence of Hitler’s death.” He did not offer DNA proof. The jaw has never been seen in public.


Hitlers remains

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A maori village is to be built in Qufu City in China...

A multi-million dollar venture is putting Northcote's Awataha Marae in Auckland on the international map. It has signed a cooperation agreement with a major Chinese company to open up tourism opportunities for both China and New Zealand. The venture will see Awataha building a Maori Cultural Village on a two-hectare site in Qufu City - in China's northeast province of Shandong - the birthplace of Confucius. Awataha leader and spokesman Anthony Wilson says the agreement "secures for the Maori people and New Zealand a stake in a $200 million tourism development project in the city".

"This is an important deal for us. It's a great big project and it will create not only job and training opportunities but also open up a new gateway for Maori and New Zealand culture to flourish globally," he says. Mr Wilson was in Qufu recently to formally sign the agreement with his counterparts from the New Zealand Gardens Qufu. The company is building the New Zealand Gardens theme park at the Shimenshan Scenic National Forest Park north of Qufu. The 670ha development will feature the Maori village as the main gateway to the park, tipped to attract millions of tourists from China and around the world.

The park will have a 54-hole golf course, a dairy farm, organic orchards, vineyard and winery, equestrian club, hotels, luxury villas and spa resort and an international school. "The level of investment being poured into this project is in excess of two billion Chinese yuan or around $200m. "To be part of a massive development with limitless potential is historic for Awataha and it signals a new dawn for the Maori people," he says. Awataha's part of the project would be to build and maintain the Maori village.

It will erect an exact replica of its wharenui or meeting house on the Shore and build a 36-metre tall waharoa or gateway into the complex. "The cultural protocol that we've agreed upon provides that everything comes through the village," he says. The gateway will be adorned with traditional carvings promoting the principle of kotahitanga or unity of people. He says Awataha is also able to leverage ownership of part of the village and become "stakeholders of the whole thing".

"It also opens up a direct link between New Zealand, China and the world and provides a window for Maori culture and New Zealand in general," he says. The joint venture will be formally launched in Wellington on Monday with a powerhouse delegation from China coming over for the ceremony.

Acknowledgements: Awataha Marae Project

Elly's story